By the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua
Translated by Bhiksuni Heng Ch’ih


      The Venerable One was from the country of Kamala, in India. He had a flesh cowl on his crown. He was born with this flesh cowl, which can be seen clearly in the picture of him. His eloquence was unobstructed. No matter who spoke with him, they could not outtalk him. He always triumphed.

      When he first met the seventh patriarch, the Venerable Vasumita, they had a discussion. The Patriarch said, the seventh patriarch said to him, "The theory is not the meaning; the meaning is not theoretical." Theoretical suppositions are not the true meaning; the true meaning is not theoretical. If you reflect upon theoretical discussions, they held no real meaning. If you use the thinking process to investigate true principle, you will not find the true meaning.

      The Venerable One knew that the Patriarch’s meaning was victorious. Buddhanandi knew that the seventh patriarch’s principles were higher than his own; because genuine principle cannot be expressed. And with his heart full of respect he said, "I wish to seek the Way. I want to seek the Way from the Patriarch. And be saturated with the flavor of sweet dew."

      The Patriarch shaved his head and administered the complete precepts. He transmitted the great Dharma, the Dharma of the Mind Seal. In a verse he said,

With a mind like the realm of emptiness

I explain a Dharma like emptiness.

When you certify to emptiness

            There is nothing, which is, nor is not Dharma.

At that time there is no meaning which can be discussed.

      After the Venerable One obtained the Dharma he led a multitude with his practice and teaching. When he reached the country of T’i Ch’ieh he transmitted the Dharma to Buddhamitra, the ninth patriarch. Immediately he manifested spiritual transformations. He ascended into empty space and displayed the eighteen transformations. Then he returned to his seat, sat erect and departed. He sat in full lotus posture and went off to rebirth. Thereupon the assembly made a precious stupa and placed his body in it.

A verse in his praise says,

Discussions are not the meaning

In a single word he understood.

Penetrating to the efficacious source

He renounced all worldly wealth.

The passageway for sweet dew opened

At the third watch the sun blazed.

It’s that way now as it was of old

The light of purity is dazzling.

Theorizing and investigating are not the true principle. As soon as he heard this one sentence he became enlightened. He already understood his original face. He did not want his gems; the Dharma door of sweet dew was open. The sun came out at midnight. This is an analogy for achieving a state of light which allows it to be as if sunny even at midnight. It’s that way now and it was that way in the past, the light of purity is extremely bright.

Another verse says:

The flesh cowl on his crown

Revealed the true source.

His hallmark was a fine appearance;

The strength of his vows were firm.

With unobstructed eloquence

And profound prajna,

He opened great enlightenment

Perceiving perfectly the esoteric meaning.

With a mind like empty space

He transcends the Dharma-realm.

His capacity includes the universe,

Yet enters a mote of dust.

Instantly displaying his spiritual transformations

He returned then to his seat.

The third watch dazzled with sun

As if it were tomorrow.

His flesh cowl shows that he had big things going for him in the past; he had a solid foundation. He came from the Buddha.

"Hallmark" refers again to his flesh cowl, one of the thirty-two hallmarks of a Buddha. And the power of his vows was such that he would never renounce them. His vows were eternal.

He had wonderful eloquence and great wisdom. When he had that discussion with the seventh patriarch it was indeed mysterious and wonderful "The theory is not the meaning and the meaning is not theoretical," the patriarch told him.

The mind is vast and goes beyond the bounds of the Dharma-realm. At midnight it was as if the sun had come out, although it actually hadn't.



THE WONDERFUL DHARMA LOTUS FLOWER SUTRA, VOLUME II. This volume, complete with the Venerable Tripitaka Master Hua's brilliant commentary, contains Chapter I of the Sutra. 300 pages of traditional text with modern commentary explained in the orthodox oral tradition. Volume III containing Chapter 2 is coming soon.

WITH ONE HEART, BOWING TO THE CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS Records, letters, news articles and photographs of Bhiksu Heng Sure and Sramanera Heng Ch'au as they journey bowing once every three steps from Gold Wheel Temple in Los Angeles to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, Mendocino County, California.