The Master was born in Xinzhou to the Fu family. He went to study with Master Boshan. Upon seeing a monk rub his nose, he had an awakening. Then he presented a verse. Master Boshan said, he conscious mind must die before you can attain it.” The Master went into seclusion for six years. Suddenly he experienced an enlightenment. He wrote “The Cloud Seclusion Song” and presented it to Master Boshan, who praised it and told him to come out of seclusion and lead the assembly.
Master Boshan asked, “What is meant by ‘an eye for humans and gods’?” The Master said, “It's on the crown of the head.”
“Do you need a mirror to see it?”
The Master said, “Don't you see it?”
Master Boshan said, “You have not come to see me in vain.” The Master covered his ears.
In the year of dingmao he dwelt at Yingshan Monastery. In the year of xinwei he assumed Master Boshan’s position. In the year of bingwu he went to Hupao (Tiger's Run) Monastery in Zhejiang Province. Following that he served as Abbot at Miaoheng (Wonderful Conduct) Monastery. In the year of dingchou of the Chongzhen Reign Period, he returned to Gushan, where he manifested a slight illness, but was still in high spirits. The Venerable Bi asked him, “Venerable One, are you all right?” The Master snapped his fingers. Bi said, “The final instructions still need to be given. The Master said, “Would you say I am alive or dead? When Bi took a look at him, the Master had already passed away.
The Master was born in Xinzhou to the Chuan family. Xinzhou is in Shangyang County in Jiangxi Province. His family name was Chuan. He went to study with Master Boshan. He drew near to and followed the Venerable Boshan.
Upon seeing a monk rub his nose, he had an awakening. In a community of left-home people, there are all sorts of characters. Some deliberately act very bizarre in order to make people laugh. They might stick their finger in their ear, rub their nose, squeeze their eyes shut, raise their eyebrows, or wink their eyes. They make these strange and funny-looking gestures. At that time the Master saw a monk rubbing his nose in a funny fashion, and he became enlightened.
Then he presented a verse. He composed a verse. In the verse, he must have analyzed the state he had, and it must have sounded like a joke. And so Master Boshan said, “The conscious mind must die before you can attain it. You shouldn't use your conscious mind to discriminate this kind of state. Then you'll get it.”
At that point, the Master went into seclusion for six years. Suddenly he experienced an enlightenment. As the saying goes, “In grinding an iron pestle down to the size of a sewing needle, when you have put in the effort, you will naturally accomplish it.” He put in enough effort, so he naturally became greatly enlightened.
He wrote “The Cloud Seclusion Song” and presented it to Master Boshan, who praised it and told him to come out of seclusion and lead the assembly. Since he had watched the clouds during his seclusion, he called it “The Cloud Seclusion Song.” When he showed it to the Venerable Boshan, the Venerable Master said, “That's a fine song you wrote!” Then he told the Master not to stay in seclusion anymore, but to come out and lead the assembly to cultivate. To “lead the assembly” means to be the leader of living beings, to lead everyone in cultivation.
Master Boshan asked, “What is meant by ‘an eye for humans and gods’?” He was sparring verbally with him. The Master said, “It's on the crown of the head.” There are some non-Buddhist religions that also talk about a “third eye” On the crown of the head of someone refers to one who has opened the Five Eyes. “An eye for humans and gods” refers to a person who can be a teacher and a model for people and gods. Master Boshan was asking him, “What makes you think you can be ‘an eye for humans and gods’? On what basis are you qualified to be a teacher and model for people and gods?” The Master very bluntly, without courtesy, said, “It's on the crown of the head.” Since he had opened the “eye,” he spoke of his own state, saying that he had opened the heavenly eye. Originally ‘an eye for humans and gods’ meant a model or teacher for people, but the Master answered that it was on the crown of his head. This was the talk of a seasoned cultivator. And only another seasoned cultivator could have understood it.
Master Boshan asked, “Do you need to use a mirror to see it--the eye?” He was testing him out further. “Do you need to look in the mirror to see the eye on the crown of your head?”
The Master said, “Don't you see it? Do you still need a mirror? Have you not seen it?” Master Boshan said, “You have not come to see me in vain.” Your trip here has not been in vain. When he heard that, the Master covered his ears. He didn't want to hear such talk. Master Boshan was saying that he hadn't come in vain, that he had attained something. But he plugged up his ears and refused to listen. Why? Because basically there is nothing to be understood and nothing to attain. So what is there to say? What is there to listen to? And so he covered his ears. This was also part of the Chan banter. He would not listen to praise or slander. If you praised him, he paid no heed. If you slandered him, he didn't listen either. Saying that he hadn't come in vain was praising him, but he didn't listen.
In the year of dingmao he dwelt at Yingshan Monastery. In the year of xinwei he assumed Master Boshan's position as the Abbot. In the year of bingwu he went to Hupao (Tiger's Run) Monastery in Zhejiang Province to be the Abbot. Following that he served as Abbot at Miaoheng (Wonderful Conduct) Monastery. In the year of dingchou of the Chongzhen Reign Period, he returned to Gushan, where he manifested a slight illness, but was still in high spirits. The Venerable Bi of Tianran, one of the monks, asked him, “Venerable One, are you all right? Is your health all right?” The Master snapped his fingers. He meant it would be as fast as a snap.
The Venerable Bi said, “The final instructions still need to be given. You should give us some last instructions.” The Master said, “Would you say I am alive or dead? Tell me, am I still alive or am I dead right now?” After the Master said that, when the Venerable Bi took a look at him, looking at his head, his hands and feet, and his body, what do you suppose happened? The Master had already passed away. He had already entered perfect stillness. See? He was chatting and joking even as he died.
To be continued
One day when the Elder Master was teaching his disciples about making vows, a young novice made the following vow: “I vow to go the the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss. I don’t want to go to the Eastern Vaidurya Land because everyone there has see-through stomachs. I really love to eat pizza and if I sneak pizza to eat, then people will be able to see it in my stomach!