The Master was born during the year yihai (1635) of the Chongzhen reign period. At the age of twenty-four, he paid homage to the Elder Lingzhan and donned the dyed robes. He investigated the phrase, "the cloth robe of Qingzhou." Later he studied with Venerable Tan of Bao'en (Repaying Kindness) Monastery. Tan asked him, "What Dharma do you practice?" The Master said, "The cloth robe of Qing-zhou." When Tan questioned him, the Master could not answer. At that point his doubt grew immense. He delved into the topic day and night, always sitting and never lying down. Going downstairs one evening, he tripped and fell on the stairs. His heart felt totally empty, and he ripped the cloth robe of Qingzhou. In the spring of the year jiyou (1669), he visited Venerable Ji at Zuoxi. The Venerable beckoned him to enter the room, and then pounded and hammered at him repeatedly, until he attained the Great Dharma. In the year renzi (1672) of the Kangxi reign period, he established the Dharma at Doulyu (Tushita) Monastery. He was also the abbot at Zuoxi. The Dharma flourished and spread, and many outstanding Buddhists went there.
This is a Patriarch of the Seventy-second Generation. His name is Dhyana Master Zixian Xingji. The Master was born during the year yihai (1635) of the Chongzhen reign period. At the age of twenty-four, he paid homage to the Elder Lingzhan. Lingzhan was an elder of the time, a venerable scholar. The character qi for "senior" usually means seventy years old, although Teacher Zhou explained it as being ninety. In general, it means being advanced in age. Not only was he a senior, but he had virtue and experience. He was a seasoned cultivator in a senior position. One could also say he was long-lived.
And there in Venerable Lingzhan's monastery, the Master shaved his head and donned the dyed robes, leaving the home-life. He investigated the phrase, "The cloth robe of Qing-zhou." He investigated that topic for quite a long time. Later he studied with Venerable Tan of Bao'en (Repaying Kindness) Monastery. Tan asked him, "What Dharma do you practice?" The Master said, "The cloth robe of Qingzhou." When Tan questioned him on how he investigated it. He asked him how he applied his effort. He asked, "Where does the cloth robe of Qingzhou come from? What level have you reached in your investigation of it?"
The Master could not answer, because he didn't have the skill. Although he had delved into it, he had not yet understood it. He was still an outsider. Since he didn't understand, he couldn't reply. He didn't know what to say. Since he didn't understand, he had been very casual in his investigation, just plunging into it. But now that someone questioned him, he could not answer. At that point his doubt grew immense, and he could not put it out of his mind. "What Dharma are you grasping and unable to let go of?" He could not let go.
He delved into the topic of the cloth robe day and night. Ultimately what kind of cloth was it made of? What was it like? Was it seven and a half pounds, eight and a half pounds, or five and a half pounds? How heavy was the cloth? What material was it made of? The more he investigated that topic, the more muddled he became, and the more muddled he was, the more he investigated. It was like plucking silk. The more one plucks, the more chaotic it becomes. He didn't know what else to do, so he investigated, always sitting and never lying down. If he lay down, he would not have been able to investigate. And so he remained sitting, so that he would sleep less and be awake more. That way he could continue to investigate.
Going downstairs one evening, probably to use the restroom or something, he tripped and fell on the stairs. It was at night, and he probably wasn't using a lamp or a lantern. And probably there was no electric lighting back then. With no light of any kind, not even an oil lamp, he went downstairs in pitch dark. Probably there was a loose nail or some other object on the stairs, so his foot got caught and he stumbled. It must have been a painful fall, and he was oblivious to everything but the pain. In that state of oblivion, his heart felt totally empty. There was nothing on his mind; it was totally pure and clean. And he ripped the cloth robe of Qingzhou. That means his doubts were dispelled. The seven and a half pounds was too heavy, and he didn't want it anymore.
In the spring of the year jiyou (1669), he visited Venerable Ji at Zuoxi. The Venerable beckoned him to enter the room, which indicates that he transmitted the Dharma to the Master, and then pounded and hammered at him repeatedly. After transmitting the Dharma to him, he scolded and beat the Master, deliberately giving him a hard time. That kind of method is called "pounding and hammering," and he rained down the blows left and right, purposefully making a lot of trouble. He would criticize the Master even when the Master had done the right thing. The Venerable was testing him to see if he was ready. If he had not yet been smelted sufficiently, he could not be allowed to go forth. So the Venerable kept picking on him and correcting him, pruning his stray branchesso he could make great contributions to Buddhism in the future.
Until he attained the Great Dharma. After being constantlylambasted, he had some accomplishment. Then the Dharma wasformally transmitted to him, and in the year renzi (1672) of theKangxi reign period, he established the Dharma at Doulyu(Tushita) Monastery. The character lyu is the correctpronunciation, but most people pronounce it shuai now, as in theDoushuai (Tushita) Heaven Palace. He was also the abbot of amonastery at Zuoxi. The Dharma flourished and spread, andmany outstanding Buddhists went there. The Buddhadharmawas very popular at that time, and many people who could embodythe Dharma, many talented Buddhists, drew near to study with the Master.
To be continued