THE BODHI SEAL OF THE PATRIARCHS
the Venerable Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua
THE FIRST PATRIARCH, THE VENERABLE MAHAKASHYAPA
The Venerable One was a native of the country of Magadha and was born into a Brahman family. His complexion was the color of gold. Upon seeing the Buddha he left the home life, with the intention of saving all living beings. The Buddha declared him foremost in the Assembly. One day the Buddha, in the Assembly on Magic Mountain, picked up a golden utpala bloom and showed it to the Assembly. At the time the great Assembly was silent, except for the Venerable One, whose countenance broke into a smile. The Buddha said, "The Proper Dharma Eye Treasury which I possess, the wonderful mind of Nirvana, of real mark with no mark, the subtle and wonderful Dharma door, which establishes no texts and is a special transmission outside the teachings, I entrust to Mahakashyapa." He also handed on to him the samghati robe of gold thread saying, "Pass this on to the future Buddha Maitreya." The Venerable One bowed and replied, "I shall revere the Buddha’s instructions." Afterwards the Venerable One transmitted the Dharma to Ananda then, taking the samghati, went into Chicken Foot Mountain and entered samadhi to wait for Maitreya to be born.
A verse in praise of him goes:
He broke out in a smile:
Ghee and deadly poison!
The golden kashaya robe—
What was it put on?
What was there transmitted?
Error met with error,
A plague on the descendents:
Tortoise hair and rabbits’ horns.