COMPOSED BY TRIPITAKA MASTER HSUAN-HUA                                                             

                           Translated by Bhikshuni Heng Hsien 
                           Reviewed by Shramanerika Heng Ch’ing
                           Edited by Shramanerika Heng Chen

      The Second Patriarch was the High Monk Kuan Ming. This is the Third Patriarch, the Great Master Ch’eng Yuan of Po Chou. Po Chou refers to his Way Place, which was Po Chou Bodhimanda. Ch'eng Yuan was his personal name.  Therefore it says, "The Master's personal name was Ch'eng Yuan." This Patriarch was named Ch'eng Yuan. "There are no details concerning his origins." No one knew where he came from or how old he was. "He drew near and Studied with Venerable Chen of Yu Ch'uan." Formerly, when he was studying the Buddhadharma, he studied under the Venerable Master Chen of Yu Ch'uan Monastery, on Yu Ch'uan Mountain, "who had him stay upon Heng Mountain and open a school." The Venerable Chen told him to go live on Nan Yao Heng Mountain. Heng Mountain is in Hu Nan Province, and since Heng Mountain is called Nan Yao (Southern Mountain) this is Nan Yao Heng Mountain. "And open a school:" he founded a Buddhist Academy. "The people with him whom he taught," that is, the people who studied Buddhadharma with him, "are reckoned as ten thousand." There were more than ten thousand people. "He dwelt beneath a cliff of stone." The mountain had a stone cliff under which he lived. "Of wasted shape and filthy-faced..." "Wasted" means he was very thin. He was very thin of body, "and filthy-faced." He did not wash his face, so his face was oily and grimy with lots of dust, quite dirty.      


"He gathered his own firewood." He went out and looked for his own firewood, and carried the firewood back on his own back. He took care of everything himself, and did not want any assistance. "Whenever he taught people," whenever he gave people instruction, "he took his stand in the Middle Way, "but when he taught people, he taught them provisional dharmas, "yet taught them the provisional." "He primarily set forth the Dharma-door of Buddha-recitation." What he essentially did was teach people Buddha-recitation, how to recite the Buddha's name and be single-mindedly mindful of the Buddha. "He wrote it in the lanes and carved it in the alleys." Everywhere he went he wrote AMITABHA BUDDHA, the name of that Buddha, to teach people to recite NAMO AMITABHA BUDDHA, NAMO AMITABHA BUDDHA, "and carved it in the alleys." In the small streets and the alleyways as well, they all recited NAMO AMITABHA BUDDHA, the name of the Buddha. "On riverbeds and rocks." He in addition wrote NAMO AMITABHA BUDDHA on places where water flowed, and, where there were rocks, he also wrote NAMO AMITABHA BUDDHA. "He was most diligent with inducements." He used a great deal of energy to teach people to practice reciting the Buddha's name, he was most diligent with inducements, "inducements" means all kinds of expedient Dharma-doors. "You don't believe in reciting the Buddha's name?" He would say. Then he would tell you, "The Dharma-door of reciting the Buddha's name 'horizontally transcends the Triple Realm. You take your karma with you to rebirth.' Cultivating other Dharma-doors is being like an insect that must gnaw his way section by section through the length of a stalk of bamboo, able to emerge only from the top, while the Dharma-door of reciting the Buddha's name is like the insect that chews his way through the side of the bamboo stalk, and does not need to go to so much trouble. Through the power of Amitabha Buddha's vows, in the Dharma-door of reciting the Buddha's name, whoever recites the Buddha's name is guided by Amitabha Buddha to become a Buddha. Just rely on the power of Amitabha Buddha's vows." He would use all kinds of inducements, all kinds of persuasive methods, to teach people to recite the Buddha's name.

"People built him akshetra." Everybody saw how bitter it was for him to be living under a stone cliff, and so afterwards they all got together and built him a temple. "And named it Amitabha Monastery." The temple's name was Amitabha Monastery.

"It has previously occurred that..." Previous to that there had been a person, a certain "Shramana Fa Chao." A Shramana, a Dharma Master, named Fa Chao (Dharma Illumination), "in samadhi had hastened to the Abode of Peace."  While seated in meditation, absorbed in concentration, he had gone to the Land of Ultimate Bliss, the Abode of Peace. When he arrived at the Land of Ultimate Bliss, he saw Amitabha Buddha. After he had seen' Amitabha Buddha, at the side of Amitabha Buddha, "He saw someone in filthy, vile garments."  There was someone wearing the dirtiest and most ragged of garments, terribly ragged, filthy vile rags. Not only were his clothes dirty, they were in shreds, both filthy and tattered. There was a person dressed like that. "Vile garments,” means clothes that are not good--filthy vile garments. "Who attended at the Buddha's side..." He was in attendance at the side of Amitabha Buddha. Thereupon, "The Buddha spoke to him and said." That is, Amitabha Buddha spoke to Fa Chao and said, "This is Ch'eng Yuan of Heng Mountain." He said, "Do you know who this is? This is Ch'eng Yuan, Great Master Ch'eng Yuan of Nan Yao Heng Mountain in China. Now he has already come here with me." "He set out in search of him." When he emerged from samadhi, he went in search of the person, went to Heng Mountain to look for Ch'eng Yuan. "He was just the same." He was exactly like the person whom he had seen while in samadhi, the one who was dressed in filthy, vile garments. He was just the same. "He then followed him and studied." He stayed with him, did not leave him, and studied Buddhadharma with him. "He passed on his teaching under heaven." Furthermore, he went everywhere and said, "Great Master Ch'eng Yuan, my Teacher"--he studied with him and so had bowed to him as his Teacher--"has already been reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. Yet he still stays here and reaches living beings, but you are all unaware of it." Because he talked that way, it is uncertain how many people came and drew near to his Teacher. He was like whoever it was who told one of my disciples, "In San Francisco there is an enlightened Chinese Dharma Master," leading her to come here from Texas. If each one of you had gone out and promoted your Teacher like that, it is uncertain bow many people would have come. Probably not just that disciple would have come, but hundreds of millions of other disciples would have turned up. However, as it is, I have not been reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss, and you have not promoted me, so now there are still so few of us. He passed on his teaching under heaven."

"Later, in the time of T'ai Tsung," at the time of T'ang T'ai Tsung, afterwards--"later" means afterwards--afterwards Dharma Master Fa Chao, in the time of T'ai Tsung, "as National Master, told of his Teacher's accomplished virtue." He said to the Emperor, "The Dharma Master to whom I drew near, by whom I mean Ch'eng Yuan, my Teacher, has more virtue in the Way than anyone. He has more cultivation than anyone." Upon hearing him talk that way, the son of Heaven said, "Can we invite him here, invite him here so I can see him?" Fa Chao said, "He cannot come. He's already old. He cannot come. Now he cannot come here to you." The Son of Heaven said, "Then if he cannot come, what am I to do? Very well, then, I will now bow down in his direction." He thereupon faced towards Nan Yao Heng Mountain and bowed a full prostration, so it says, "The Son of Heaven faced the South and bowed." That refers to the Son of Heaven facing Nan Yao Heng Mountain and making a full prostration to him. "He conferred upon his dwelling the name..." he gave his Bodhimanda the name of "Po Chou Bodhimanda." He called it Po Chou Bodhimanda.

"In the eighteenth year of Chen Yuan" It was during the eighteenth year of the Chen Yuan period that, "he became still in the monastery." He completed the stillness inside the monastery. "His eulogy says,"

He established the provisional at Heng Mountain.

In the Middle Way there is nothing whatsoever.

How grapple with the sea of suffering?

He transmitted recitation of the Buddha’s name.

His body now dwells in Saha.

At first he waited upon the Buddha.

The Son of Heaven wished to do him reverence.

To come for him was just not feasible.

On Heng Mountain he established the provisional teaching. In the Middle Way there is nothing whatsoever, nothing whatsoever in the Middle Way. What can one do within the sea of suffering? "How grapple with" means what can one do about it? What would you say one can do? What to do? How deal with the sea of suffering? What can one do about it? What did he do about it? He showed everyone how to recite the Buddha's name, that's what he did about it. He told them "Why not just recite the Buddha's name?" His body is presently within the Saha world. Before that, he was an attendant at the side of Amitabha Buddha. The Son of Heaven wanted to invite him to come, but, what an idea! It was impossible. He could not come.

"A further eulogy says,"

The Third Pure Land Patriarch has the title Po Chou

Who taught Buddha-recitation as exclusive practice.

Long since reborn in the Abode of Peace at Amitabha's side

He still transforms the Saha living beings' turbidity.

The Son of Heaven southwards bowed, revering virtuous conduct.

The Compassionate Father led him West, respecting vows to gather.

Seated free he left the world and attained to comfort.

Horned tiger, flying dragon, his Vehicle was Maha.

The Third Patriarch of the Pure Land is Great Master Ch'eng Yuan of Po Chou Bodhimanda, his title is Po Chou. He exclusively taught people to recite the Buddha's name. In reciting the Buddha's name you should focus your mind solely upon your recitation. If you focus your mind solely upon it then you will have a response. His spirit, his nature, had already been reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss, beside Amitabha Buddha. He is still within the Saha world, teaching and transforming living beings, cleaning up the turbidity of living beings. The Son of Heaven faced the south and bowed to him, because he had virtue in the Way. He had "accomplished virtue," and so it says, "revering virtuous conduct."

The Compassionate Father" is Amitabha Buddha. Amitabha Buddha in the West came to lead him, since Amitabha Buddha has vow-power. Whoever recites the name of Amitabha Buddha will certainly be reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss, and so Amitabha Buddha himself has respectful regard for the power of his own vows, and comes and gathers in all living beings of the Saha world. While seated he completed the stillness, that is, became very comfortable. He was like a tiger with a dragon flying heavenwards. He was a Great Vehicle Dharma Master. Teaching living beings is a Great Vehicle dharma. The dharma of reciting the Buddha's name is a Great Vehicle Dharma.


The Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva. One of the last Sutras spoken by Shakyamuni Buddha, the Earth Store Sutra is known as the Sutra of Filial Piety, because the Buddha spoke it to rescue his mother and in it discusses the filial conduct of Earth Store Bodhisattva. Earth Store Bodhisattva, known as the Bodhisattva of Great Vows, vowed over and over in life after life that he would not become a Buddha until all living beings were saved—until the hells were empty. The Sutra is an invaluable practical manual on what to do when there is a birth, when there is sickness, and when there is a death in the family. It explains clearly and in detail the principle of cause and effect and describes which retributions result from which offenses. In the Sutra Earth Store Bodhisattva says: "I transform into tens of thousands of millions of bodies, each of which crosses over a hundred thousand tens of thousands of people and causes them to return respectfully to the Triple Jewel, eternally leave birth and death, and reach the bliss of nirvana. Even if their good deeds within the Buddhadharma are as little as a hair, a drop, a grain of sand, a mote of dust, or a down feather, I shall gradually cause them to be liberated and attain great benefit. World Honored One, do not be concerned about future living beings with evil karma." Paperback, 235 pp. Hard cover, 235 pp.

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