The Master was born in Gu Hou Shr County in Henan. His lay surname was Fan. First he visited the two Venerables, Jau of Jyang Ywe and Rang of Syi An. He had an understanding with both. Then he visited Tswun Jwo to present what he had understood. Jwo said, "Have you heard that you shouldn't taste the water from families involved with gu-poison?" The Master said, "One must be able to swallow it as well as spit it out." Jwo said,"You are just causing more unnecessary suffering in the world." The Master said," I thank the Venerable One for his instruction." He opened up the Dharma in Wan An of Nan Yang, Pu Jau of Jen, Tyan Ning of Da Du, Yun Fu of Je, Tyan Ching Monastery of Syi Jing. In the year of Ji You of the reign of Emperor Hung, he was also made the Abbot of Shau Lin Monastery in Sung Shan by imperial decree. In the winter of the year Ren Syu, his Reverence Jou requested the Master to speak Dharma to cross over the mother of the country, Queen Tsz Syau. The Master was granted a title and a purple kashaya. He was exceptionally honored. He retired at the age of seventy.
This Dhyana Master was the 61st Patriarch of the Tsau Dung School. He
was born in Gu Hou Shr County in Henan Province. Gu Hou is a person's name, and this person's name was used as the name of the county.
His lay surname was Fan. First he visited the two Venerables, Jau of Jyang Ywe and Rang of Syi An. At first, he went to visit, Dhyana Master Jau at Jyang Ywe (River Moon) Monastery. Then he went to Syi An (Restful Convent) Monastery to visit Dhyana Master Rang (Yielding).
He had an understanding with both. When he went to each of these two Dhyana Masters, his understanding increased, and he received very great benefit.
Then he visited Tswun Jwo to present what he had understood. Dhyana Master Dz Yen told Dhyana Master Tswun Jwo everything he understood, knew, and had attained without reserve and requested his instruction, asking whether his views and understanding were correct or not. Jwo said,
"Have you heard that you shouldn't taste the water from families involved with gu-poison?" Dhyana Master Tswun Jwo said, "Haven't you heard before? You cannot drink the water in the homes of those who know how to cast hexes with gu-poison. You cannot even taste their water." That is to say, you must be very cautious - you can't be too casual.
Probably at the time, Dhyana Master Dz Yen must have drawn near some externalists, especially of the Secret School. The dharma of casting gu-posion hexes is closely related to the Secret School. The dharma of the Secret School were transmitted very early on to Thailand and the South Pacific area, but perhaps at that time they didn't want to publically say that they were the Secret School, so they just said that they had Dharma tricks. In China, these were called Mau Mountain tricks. In the past, in China's Yunnan Province, transportation was inconvenient. For instance, if someone died and they wanted to take the corpse back to his hometown to be buried, there was no means of transport. At this time, there were people who could recite mantras; they were the type of people who cast gu-poison hexes. They could recite a mantra, and the corpse would be able to walk around by itself. But it couldn't walk during the day. It could only walk at night. At the break of dawn, the mantra would cease to work. It would be time to rest, and the corpse would go to sleep. Actually the corpse doesn't sleep - it's just that this trick doesn't work in the daytime. But they regarded the corpse as a living person, so they thought the corpse would travel by night, and rest by day. There were people who especially engaged in this kind of business, in the area around Yunnan Province. This is what's called gu-poison.
Probably Dhyana Master Dz Yen had drawn near that sort of people, so Dhyana Master Tswun Jwo was afraid he might get attached to those kinds of dharmas, and those kinds of spiritual penetrations, and be satisfied with attaining a little. Fearing that he might be infatuated by that sort of thing, he told him, "Haven't you heard it said? In the homes of those who can cast gu-poison hexes, you must not even drink the water. You have to be very cautious."
The Master said, "One must be able to swallow it as well as spit it out." Dhyana Master Dz Yen said, "Although I have learned this kind of dharma, I am not attached to it, meaning that I can swallow it, and I can also expel it through my metabolic system.
Jwo said, "You're just causing more unnecessary suffering in the world." Dhyana Master Tswun Jwo replied, "How troublesome and unnecessary of you to do this! Basically you don't need this at all. Wouldn't you be better off without it?" Hearing this, Dhyana Master Dz Yen understood - one cannot believe the side doors and external ways, and one must have proper views and knowledge, not deviant views and knowledge.
The Master said, "I thank the Venerable One for his instruction." He finally understood, so he said, "I thank the Venerable One for speaking Dharma for me, for giving me instruction, thank you very much."
He opened up the Dharma in Wan An of Nan Yang, Pu Jau of Jen, Tyan Ning of Da Du, Yun Fu of Je, Tyan Ching of Syi Jing. Later, he "opened the Dharma" at Wan An (All At Peace) Monastery at Nanyang, serving as the Abbot there, and lecturing the Sutras and speaking the Dharma. After that, he became the Abbot of Pu Jau (Universal Illumination) Monastery in Jen Jou, and also of Tyan Ning (Heavenly Peace) Monastery in the great capital, which at the time was Beijing. He was also the Abbot of Yun Fu (Cloud of Blessing) Monastery in Je-jyang, and Tyan Ching (Heavenly Celebration) Monastery in Syi-jing.
In the year of Ji You of the reign of Emperor Hung, he was made the Abbot of Shau Lin (Young Forest)
Monastery in Sung Shan (Pine Mountain)
by imperial decree. In the winter of the year Ren Syu, his Reverence Jou requested the Master to speak Dharma to cross over the mother of the country, Queen Tsz Syau. In the winter of the year Ren Syu, His Reverence Jou invited him to Beijing to speak Dharma and cross over the Crown Prince's mother, the Empress Tsz Syau (Compassionate and Filial).
The Master was granted a title and a purple kashaya. The Emperor also conferred a title upon him, and gave him a purple kashaya sash, as a sign of his repect.
He was exceptionally honored. The Emperor bestowed many praises and awards upon him.
He retired at the age of seventy. When he reached the age of seventy, he made plans to retire, and no longer concerned himself with others' affairs.
A Verse in Praise Says:
He completely renounced all views and knowledge.
Like a hanging the Chin mirror.
The multi-layered brilliance shone forth.
Shining universally on the superior and the inferior.
Flowers bloom on the withered wood.
Clouds block the ancient path.
Sitting till the tongue is stopped.
Monks came to him begging for life.
He completely renounced all views and knowledge. He gave up all the wisdom of deviant knowledge and deviant views, and no longer wanted worldly intelligence and argumentative skill.
Like a hanging the Chin mirror. It was just like the mirror of the Chin Dynasty, suspended high up, so that nothing escaped its reflection.
The multi-layered brilliance shone forth. His awesome virtue and wisdom were inexhaustible, layer upon layer.
Shining universally on the superior and the inferior. Regardless of whether living beings are endowed with superior faculties, medium faculties, or the most inferior faculties and nature, he is able to pervasively teach and transform them all.
Flowers bloom on the withered wood. "Withered wood" refers to dry wood which no longer contains any life-force. Nevertheless, it is able to produce blossoms, which means it is very special, just like the stones which nodded their heads.
Clouds block the ancient path. He was just like a Dharma cloud, an auspicious cloud. Sealing all the small and difficult-to-travel paths. Leaving only the great path which was easy to travel, for the people of the future to walk on.
Sitting till the tongue is stopped. His skill was such that he could sit until he no longer knew how to talk. He sat until his tongue couldn't speak anymore. This is for real. In Manchuria, the Abbot at my monastery didn't speak for three years, and when it was time to talk, his tongue didn't know how.
Monks came to him begging for life. This line is not saying that,all the monks are begging him to live. It's that these monks themselves were all about to die, and were hoping that he could save their lives Earlier, you said that they were asking him not to retire or complete the stillness. This is your way of looking at it. My viewpoint is that before these monks are enlightened, it's as if they have no life, and are all about to die. So they asked Dhyana Master Dz Yen to prolong their life, to teach them how to put an end to birth and death. They requested Dhyana Master Dz Yen to speak Dharma for them and teach them the way to end birth and death. I think this is what it means. But your interpretation is also acceptable. This is just my way of explaining it. So this Dharma is such that, "If you direct it east, it will flow eastward. If you direct it to the west, it will flow westward." No matter how you explain it, you think it makes sense, then it's fine. As for the monks requesting him to stay in the world, and not complete the stillness, this is not an appropriate explanation. The monks, referring to all the left home people, all wanted to go to his place to ask him to speak the Dharma for ending birth and death, to anoint their crown with sweet dew. This is what "Monks came to him begging for life" means. What you just said is also okay and makes sense. Now I've also brought up this point for you to consider. If his life were truly to end, then no matter how the monks beg him, they would not succeed.