The Master was born the son of the Yuan family in the region of Huai, in the year of jiawu , during the reign of Chongzhen. He became a monk at the age of nine when he accompanied his father to pay respects to the Venerable Putimi. He did not nurse when he was born, at first. He only began nursing when his mother lit incense, prayed, and vowed that he would be a vegetarian. At the age of twelve, he heard Putimi teach people how to meditate and his heart fluttered all of a sudden. Once having received a koan, he investigated the koan day and night. During the spring of binshen , he visited the Sleeping Elder, Venerable Yi, at Bao'en (Repaying Kindness) Monastery. The Venerable One severely beat anyone who made an inquiry. Having learned his lesson, the Master began to travel. When he greeted the Venerable Ning of Tiantong, he was beaten as soon as he began to bow. Master Xingwan said, “1 have seen the secrets of the Wonderful Hands Hall according to your lineage. Please do instruct me further.” Tiantong beats him again. Instantaneously, the Master felt a sense of ease and relief in his body and mind. Therefore, the Master returned to bow to Monk Yi and to request his Dharma. Residing initially at Manjushri Monastery and thereafter at the Heart of the Lake Monastery, he continued to compile records of contemporary models of honor and circulated such writing around the world.
This is a patriarch of the seventy-second generation of the Caodong School. His name is Guyan (“Ancient Cliff”). He also has the title of Dhyana Master Xingguan. This Dhyana Master was bom
in the year of jiawu , during the reign of Chongzheng near the end of Ming Dynasty.
The Master was born the son of the Yuan family in the region of Huai. The region of Huai is the area around the Huai River. His family name is Yuan. I don't know if he's related to Yuan Shikai.
He became a monk at the age of nine when he accompanied his father to pay respects to the Venerable Putimi. He did not nurse when he was born, at first. He refused to nurse when he was just born. He had never been starved before probably, so he didn't want to drink milk. His mother Couldn't stand the fact that he wasn't nursing, for she thought her baby would starve to death if he didn't drink any milk. Huang Guo Jun's daughter doesn't drink any milk either, but her mother isn't as superstitious as this mother—burning incense and praying and promising to raise him as a vegetarian. That's why Huang's daughter is still a non-vegetarian.
He only began nursing when his mother lit incense, prayed, and vowed that he would be a vegetarian. He began to drink milk only after his mother agreed that he would be a vegetarian. Being half superstitious, his family probably figured that since the child was vegetarian, he ought to become a monk. Therefore, at the age of nine, his father, being muddled, took him to Putimi as a pupil. He must have been chewed out by his wife when he went home.
At the age of twelve, he heard Putimi teach people how to meditate and cultivate,
and his heart fluttered all of a sudden. He was eager to try. “I want to try it. I want to investigate dhyana too.” This child was quite innocent, saying, “Master, Master, I want to investigate dhyana too. I won't eat if I don't get to investigate dhyana.” The Master must have seen how this child refused to drink milk when he was born and now would not eat meat, so he agreed to teach him a koan.
What koan did he teach him? Perhaps he taught him how to investigate, “Who is mindful of the Buddha?” or “What is my original face before my parents gave birth to me?” or “Why didn't I drink milk when I was born?” All these different koans are meditation topics. He couldn't figure out the answer to the question: “Why didn't 1 drink milk when I was born?” Since he didn't understand, he had to investigate it. Therefore,
he investigated the koan day and night.
During the spring of bingshen , he visited the Sleeping Elder. The Sleeping Elder must have enjoyed sleeping. His koan must have been, “How can I wake up?”
Venerable Yi, at Bao'en (Repaying Kindness) Monastery. He took Venerable Yi for his teacher and drew near him at the Bao'en Monastery.
The Venerable One severely beat anyone who made an inquiry. Since he was quite young, he worked as a little attendant. Whoever come to ask the Sleeping Elder for instructions was severely beaten. Venerable Yi said, “I'm sleeping and you came to wake me up; you're really annoying.” The person making the inquiry received a good beating just like that. He disturbed the sleep of Venerable Yi, and that's why he was beaten.
Having learned his lesson. He saw that it wasn't so bad to be beaten. You're speechless once you're whacked. Henceforth,
he began to travel. He went to visit many places to learn the traditions of this lineage here and that lineage there.
When he greeted the Venerable Ning of Tiantong. He again ran to Tiantong Monastery to draw near Venerable Ning. He must've wanted to taste some beating. He said, “I saw how Putimi smacks people, but I haven't seen enough of those performances.” So he went to try it himself at Tiantong and experience exactly how it felt to be beaten by a monk. That's why he went there. Guess what happened after he went there?
He was beaten as soon as he bowed. Guess what Venerable Ning of Tiantong did? Without any politeness, he beat him before he was even finished with his prostrations.
Dhyana Master Xingguan said, “I have seen the monk's wonderful hands, the profundity of the hall. I have already seen the likes of such your tradition. I have seen these ways of teaching people. I have already noticed your wonderful hands, the way in which you teach and transform people. The profundity of the hall refers to the most profound aspect of your teaching, which I know.
Please do instruct me further.” I would like to request that you explain more of the meaning of your instruction for me.
Tiantong beat him again. “Okay,” Venerable Ning must have thought, “All right, since you want more instructions...” He beat him again. He must have hit him even harder that time. That's why,
instantaneously, the Master felt a sense of ease and relief in his body and mind. He felt a sense of ease and relief both physically and mentally when he had been beaten. He felt quite comfortable. He probably thought, “This old monk is loosening my joints for me, chasing away all of my habits and faults.” He must have put down all the burdens that he carried then.
Therefore, the Master returned to bow to Venerable Yi. He again went back to the tyrant, the Sleeping Elder, and saw that the Sleeping Elder was still there asleep.
...and to request his Dharma. The Master asked Putimi, “How's this dharma of sleeping? Can you pass this practice to me?” The Sleeping Elder said, “Okay! I will transmit my Dharma to you.” I don't know how he transmitted ways to sleep because they were all secret dharmas at the time, so don't ask me.
Residing initially at Manjushri Monastery and thereafter at the Heart of the Lake Monastery, he continued to compile records of contemporary models of honor and circulated such writings around the world. His writings were something similar to Lives of the Patriarchs, for instance. They resembled not Records of High Sanghans, but Lives of the Patriarchs. He continued to write about honorable Good Advisors whose visions are bright. He recorded and collected them as models for future generations. These writings were circulated throughout the world.
To be continued