Our great perfect mirror wisdom cannot be understood through
the delusive thinking of the conscious mind.
The Master was born in Jinxian County of Nanchang District, to the Wong family. He studied the Shurangama Sutra. When he read to the part of the Sutra that says, "The perfect bright understanding is not due to the conscious mind," he experienced an awakening. He went to visit Venerable Lian of Dafang, but did not get certified. So the Master went to visit Dhyana Master Xiaoshan and repeated his story. However, when Master Xiaoshan questioned him, he could not respond. One day, Master Xiaoshan asked him, "Have you come to understand the things which you had doubts about before?" The Master raised his palm. Master Xiaoshan said, "Do not fake a response and ask people to identify your state." The Master asked, "What is there besides this?" Master Xiaoshan said, "Why don't you put on your clothes and try to find out for yourself?" The Master did as he was told, and worked even more vigorously. After two years, he certified to it. He made a verse out of Dhyana Master Dongshan's Chan topic. An excerpt of it says, "If you want to know this person, here is some real news: that which has no appearance fills all of space. Things with form do not leave any trace." Upon hearing the verse, Master Xiaoshan transmitted the Dharma to him. In the fourth month of year Yi You of the Wanli reign in the Ming Dynasty, the Master bid farewell to everyone and entered the perfect stillness. The story of the Master's life was recorded. Official Da Zongbo established the Master's fame, and layman Lu wrote an epitaph and carved it onto a stone monument.
This is the Sixty-seventh Generational Patriarch of Chaodong sect. This Patriarch's name was Huanxiu, and he was also known as Changrun. This Dhyana Master was born in Jinxian County of Nanchang District, in Jiangxi Province. His lay surname was Wong. He read the Shurangama Sutra to the part which says, "The perfect and bright understanding is not due to the conscious mind."The perfect and bright understanding refers to the great perfect mirror wisdom that we possess. This kind of wisdom is not due to mental consciousness. It cannot be understood through the delusive thinking of the conscious mind. "Not due to" means it does not come from there; it is not from the mind consciousness, the sixth consciousness which engages in delusive thinking. It cannot be understood by the mind which discriminates. What should you do then? Work hard! When your skill is mature, you'll be able to understand. If your skill hasn't ripened then you won't understand.
"Experienced an awakening" means when he got to that line in the Sutra, his mind opened up. He had a bit of enlightenment, but it wasn't thorough. He seemed to understand, and yet he didn't understand thoroughly. There was still a tail end that hadn't been cut off, a bit of doubt that wasn't cleared up. So he went to study under Venerable Lian of Dafang, but did not get certified.He didn't get his enlightenment certified. Then he went to visit and bow to Dhyana Master Xiaoshan ( Small Mountain), who is just the Dhyana Master Zongshu mentioned earlier, and repeated his story. He again mentioned the principles that he had enlightened to. However, when Master Xiaoshan questioned him, he could not respond.Why couldn't he answer? Because he hadn't developed his wisdom. He didn't truly understand this "perfect and bright understanding," so he couldn't respond.
One day, Master Xiaoshan asked him, "Have you come to understand the things which you had doubts about before?" "Have you resolved the things that you didn't understand clearly before? Do you understand now? Do you know now?" At this time the Master put on a show of understanding. Maybe he'd listened to too many Chan stories and he wanted to "make tea with cold water" - - to pretend that he understood. How did he do that? He raised his palm. The act of raising his palm indicated that he was faking enlightenment. The gesture is an empty cliche of Chan. It means he didn't truly understand. He had seen other people raise their hands, raise a foot, blink their eyes, or frown, and he was imitating their gestures.
Master Xiaoshan took one look, and it didn't look real to him. It is said, "The expert can tell whether you've got it just by seeing how you stretch your hand out." The experts all know whether you are real or fake. So, Master Xiaoshan said, "Do not fake a response and ask people to identify your state. Is it because you don't have any response that you ask, "How's this? What state is it?" Is that what you're doing?" He was testing him again. Dhyana Master Changrun asked, "What is there besides this?" Aside from this, what else is there? When Master Xiaoshan asked him, he could have just said "Originally there was nothing, so where can the dust settle?" But he still had one thing: "What is there besides this?" This is also an empty Chan cliche.
Master Xiaoshan said to him, "Why don't you put on your clothes and try to find out for yourself?" He said, "Try it, put on your clothes." This means to examine yourself to see if you are right. The Master did as he was told. Dhyana Master Changrun was very obedient, and did just that. Once he did that, he knew his skill had not matured yet. He still didn't truly understand, and so he worked even more vigorously. Since he knew he wasn't good enough, he studied hard and vigorously investigated what it was all about.
After two years, he certified to it. He cultivated there for another two years, and then he understood. He made a verse out of Dhyana Master Dongshan's Chan topic. So he took the verse left by Dhyana Master Dongshan and made his own verse out of it. The verse says, "If you want to know this person..." Who is this person? This person is one's own Buddha-nature. However, no one recognizes his own Buddha-nature. Even if we say we know there's a Buddha-nature, we don't truly believe it. This is an inquiry. "If you want to know this person" means, "Do you want to know this person? Do you wish to know him?" Here is some real news to tell you. What is the news?
That which has no appearance fills empty space. Although it has no appearance, it pervades all of space. What is it then? It is the Dharma-body which fills up space. Things with form do not leave any trace. Things without shape or form pervasively fill empty space, while things with form, which can be seen, don't leave a single trace. Therefore, forms and appearances are false. Since they are false, there is no trace of them. He told Master Xiaoshan about the verse, and Master Xiaoshan transmitted the Dharma to him. Upon hearing the verse, Master Xiaoshan knew that the Master understood that the Dharma-body pervaded everywhere, and that everything else was false. So Master Xiaoshan transmitted the robe and bowl to him.
To be continued