by Tripitaka Master Hua, Translated
by Bhiksuni Heng Ch’ih
The Venerable One was from "Flower Citadel." "Flower Citadel," Kusumpura, is a country in India. In the course of the Tenth Patriarch’s travels and teaching he reached this country. The Tenth Patriarch is the Venerable "Ribs" whose ribs never touched the mat. He came to that country of "Flower Citadel." I've never been to "Flower Citadel"; I don't know if any of you have or not. In general this is the ancient name of a city in India. Whether you know which one it is, is no great problem. It will be enough if you just remember he is not from China. Right? He's Indian. There's no need to go into the fact that "Flower Citadel," Kusumapura, was later called Pataliputra and is modern-day Patna. This is too much trouble. Don't spend your effort on that kind of work, looking up ancient things and looking up modern things, looking up and looking up until you die from looking up things. You think about it, isn't it this way? After you die of looking things up, you get reborn and start looking things up again. Reposing under a tree. He didn't want to retire in a room since his ribs didn't touch the mat, so he stayed outside, ate once a day at noon, and sat beneath a tree to rest. Pretty much like we do.
The Venerable One came and stood before him with his palms together. The Venerable One referred to here is the Eleventh Patriarch. He saw the Venerable Ribs sitting beneath a tree meditating and he went and stood as stiff as a board before the Master. I'm not slandering the Patriarch, that's really how he did it:
The Patriarch said: "Where have you come from?"
Answer: "My mind doesn’t go."
The Patriarch said: "Where do you dwell?"
"My mind doesn’t stop."
Answer: "That’s the way all Buddhas are."
Patriarch said: "You are not all Buddhas."
And with that, the Patriarch (Eleventh) spoke verses:
This ground has turned to gold.
Knowing in advance that a sage has come.
Sitting beneath the Bodhi tree
The flower of enlightenment blossomed.
The Patriarch (Tenth) knew his intent, shaved his head, and transmitted to him the complete precepts. Then he transmitted to him the Great Dharma, the wonderful Dharma of using the mind to seal the mind, which cannot be expressed in words. Another way of saying it is that it's just "this." If you know what "this" is, then you can cultivate the Way.
After the Venerable Master the Eleventh Patriarch got the Dharma he traveled and taught until he reached Varanasi. There he transmitted the Dharma to "Horse Cry," Ashvaghosha Bodhisattva. Then he manifested spiritual transformations, the eighteen transformations of an Arhat. And quietly completed the stillness. He was very clear, not the least bit muddled. Clear like a mirror. Clear like water that you can see into all the way down to the bottom. The assembly made a jeweled pagoda to enshrine his body.
A verse in his praise says:
All Buddhas are not
So where do sagely and ordinary stand?
While arranging his seat beneath the tree
For him the earth turned golden.
He expressed the true and actual meaning
Which neither gods nor people can fathom.
The flower of enlightenment opened
The sun of wisdom hung on high.
Everything is empty is the meaning of the first line of this verse.
Realms to the number of myriad Ganges' sands
are but a bubble in the sea
Juxtapositions of yin and yang
are but a lightning flash.
There are no people, everything is empty. He arranged his seat, shooing away all the bugs and ants. "I'm going to sit here in meditation," he told them, "You'd better move on." Even the black widow spiders had to go.
The earth was golden colored like in the Lotus Sutra when the Buddha transforms the earth three times. Then he spoke the true and precise meaning, but people and gods didn't know what was being said. His enlightenment had already blossomed. His wisdom was like a sun arisen in the sky.
Another verse in his praise says:
Originally no coming or going
--Wonderful Enlightenment Mountain.
Apart from dwelling or stopping
--the transformation of ten thousand Buddhas.
The earth turns golden-colored
--a favorable portent.
The heavens rain precious flowers
--an auspicious response beforehand.
Spirits and dragons act as protectors
--a prophetic omen.
All Buddhas are also not,
--so what is there?
So it is, so it is,
--but don’t raise your voice.
Originally no coming or going—Wonderful Enlightenment Mountain. Tell, me, where does Wonderful Enlightenment Mountain go? Apart from dwelling or stopping—the transformation of ten thousand Buddhas. This is the Mind-Dharma transmitted by the Ten Thousand Buddhas. At the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, the Mind-Dharma transmitted is that there isn’t any place to dwell, so people sleep in the streets!
The earth turns golden-colored—a favorable portent. We say, "A sage is coming we should clean up the place, sweep, and roll out the red carpet." This is the way ordinary people give a royal welcome. Like at airports, they roll a red carpet all the way from the airplane to the reception room. In this case the earth itself turns golden in welcome of the coming of a sage, that’s the favorable portent.
The heavens rain precious flowers—an auspicious response beforehand. The heavens rained precious flowers in colorful profusion. A sage descends to the world to teach the masses. A sage comes into the world to teach and transform all living beings, that’s why all these special things happen. Spirits and dragons act as protectors—a prophetic omen. A prophetic occurrence of the "response and the Way intertwined." All Buddhas are also not—so what is there? So it is, so it is—but don’t raise your voice. Yes, yes that’s the way it is but don’t shout about it. Keep studying well.