Someone, another monk, asked, “What is the great bright mirror?” The Master replied, “A broken (earthenware)
pot.” Right now you are covered over by ignorance and it seems as if your basic, great perfect mirror-like wisdom is clouded. However, if you can smash this broken earthen pot—a symbol for ignorance—then your mirror-like wisdom will manifest. Once your ignorance is smashed, your basic, great perfect mirror-like wisdom will appear.
On the twenty-sixth day of the twelfth month, in the eighth year of the Kai Bao (the first emperor Tai Zu’s)
reign (975 b.c.e.) of the Song Dynasty, during the period of chen (7 ~ 9 a.m.),
the Master lit incense and bade farewell to the assembly. Didn’t he say that the wonderful purport of Yongming was to light another stick of incense? That’s what he did. And then he said good-bye to the group. Dhyana Master Yongming was the third patriarch of the Fayan (Dharma Eye) Ch’an Sect. He advocated the combined cultivation of the Chan and Pure Land Schools. He said,
With Chan and Pure Land,
One is like a tiger with horns.
In this life one can be a teacher;
In the future one will become a Buddha or a Patriarch.
However, with only Chan and no Pure Land,
Nine out of ten will go down the wrong road.
After he said good-bye to everybody,
he sat in full lotus and departed. His stupa was built at Daci (Greatly Kind)
Monastery and later relocated to Yongming Monastery. Emperor Tai Zong (the second emperor)
of the Song Dynasty conferred a plaque to the monastery that read, “Shou Ning Yuan” (Hall of Serene Lifespan).
A verse in praise says:
Take hold of an earthenware pot: break it!
A great, perfect mirror manifested.
It illumines heaven and earth
So that those above and below universally respond.
The mirror of the Chan School was extensively revealed,
Encompassing all worthies and sages.
He had eyes resembling a river and a sea-like mouth:
Every beat was a command.
Commentary for the praise:
Take hold of an earthenware pot: break it! / A great perfect mirror manifested. Once you smash the earthen pot, which is your ignorance, your wisdom will manifest, a mirror-like wisdom. It
illumines heaven and earth / So that those above and below universally respond. Living beings with sharp or dull wisdom and superior or inferior roots, and those endowed with various dispositions and faculties will all be taken across.
The mirror of the Chan School was extensively revealed. He authored a huge, one-hundred volume work, called the
Records of the Mirror of the Chan School (Zongjinglu), which is evidence of his great, bright, mirror-like wisdom,
encompassing all worthies and sages. That work includes the principles of how to become a Buddha or a Bodhisattva.
He had eyes resembling a river and a sea-like mouth: He had far-reaching, vast vision, and his mouth was ocean-like. He spoke Dharma like a vast, flowing river—the principles poured forth without interruption. His mouth was like an ocean, and his eyes were like a river. They were endless and inconceivable. Compare this to the lines in the Amitabha Praise:
The white hallmark encircles Five Sumerus;
His violet eyes are clear like the Four Seas.
Dhyana Master Yongming’s eyes were not as clear and profuse as the Four Seas; nonetheless, he had eyes resembling a river and a sea-like mouth.
Every beat was a command. Everything he said was like a command to wake people up, to make them change from the deviant and return to the proper and no longer remain confused.
I don’t know whether my explanation of the text has been correct or not. I seek the advice of those with lofty learning.
Another verse says:
Clear about both dhyana and the Pure Land, one is like a tiger with horns.
If one recites the holy name ten thousand times, then one becomes a Buddha or a Patriarch.
As the third patriarch of the Dharma Eye Sect, he transmitted the school’s purport.
Teaching the nine grades of lotuses of the Pure Land, he continues the mind seal (of Amitabha).
The wisdom-light of the great, perfect mirror shines.
Once the broken pot is smashed, the original Honored One is revealed.
The water in the lake is calm, and waves have not arisen.
His lofty character transformed those destitute and lonely.
Clear about both Chan and the Pure Land, one is like a tiger with horns. He advocated the dual cultivation of meditation and reciting the Buddha’s name. The Masters of old stressed investigating Chan. And then, after they became enlightened, since they did not have much else to do, they recited the Buddha’s name and sought rebirth in the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss. From this we can see that investigating Chan and reciting the Buddha’s name are basically one. However, because living beings have many discriminating thoughts, the division between Chan and Pure Land came about. Basically, when you investigate Chan to the extreme, you are reciting the Buddha’s name. When you recite the Buddha’s name to the utmost point, you are investigating Chan. When you gain the Buddha-recitation Samadhi, just that is concentration. When you investigate Chan to the extreme point, you will arrive at unmoving, single-minded concentration. Reciting the Buddha’s name to the utmost point, you will also arrive at a single, unconfused mind. Therefore, you should not look upon those two disciplines as being different. In essence they are one. Therefore, if one can cultivate both those disciplines, one is like a tiger with horns. A tiger that sports horns on his head is even fiercer than an ordinary tiger!
If one recites the holy name ten thousand times, then one becomes a Buddha and a Patriarch. Master Yongming recited the Buddha’s name ten thousand times each day. Every time he recited, a transformation-Buddha would emerge from his mouth, and so he had attained the Buddha-recitation Samadhi. He was always reciting the Buddha’s name, except when performing his daily chores, such as welcoming and receiving guests,. Even with his superior roots and keen wisdom, he recited the Buddha’s name. So, how can we common people look lightly on this dharma-door and think that it is very ordinary? Therefore, there is nothing loftier than the dharma-door of reciting the Buddha’s name. It is simple and economical, and it takes very little effort. You don’t have to make any special arrangements. It’s not the case that rich people who have enough money can buy Buddha-recitation, or that poor people who do not have enough money cannot buy Buddha-recitation. No, it’s not that way. All people, whether rich or poor, have the opportunity to recite the Buddha’s name and be taken across by it.
The Sutras also say: “During the Dharma-ending Age, even if millions of people cultivate, rarely will one person attain the Way, with the exception of those who recite the Buddha’s name. They will be saved.” They will have a chance. Just for this reason, we know that it is of utmost importance to learn this dharma door. You should not look lightly on it.
As the third patriarch of the Dharma Eye Chan Sect, he transmitted the school’s purport. Teaching the nine grades of lotuses of the Pure Land, he continues the mind seal (of Amitabha). There are nine grades of lotuses from which one is born: Upper-superior grade, middle-superior grade, lower-superior grade; upper-average grade, middle-average grade, lower-average grade; upper-inferior grade, middle-inferior grade, and lower-inferior grade. There is a meshing of minds, the mind sealing the mind. Our minds and the mind of Amitabha Buddha become one. That is why if one acquires the Buddha-recitation Samadhi, one will surely be born in the Land of Ultimate Bliss.
The wisdom-light of the great perfect mirror shines. The mirror is an analogy for great wisdom. This wisdom light shines throughout the three thousand great thousand world system and transforms living beings.
Once the broken pot is smashed, the original Honored One is revealed. The pot refers to our ignorance. Once you have broken your ignorance, your original face, the scenery of your original landscape manifests.
The water in the lake is calm, and waves have not arisen. At that time, the lake is still calm without waves. Nothing is going on. You neither see the slightest dharma arise nor diminish. Everything is so natural.
His lofty character transformed those destitute and lonely. The “destitute” refers to those who have no blessings while “the lonely” refers to those who have no virtue, which also means no wisdom. Therefore, with his lofty integrity and noble character, the Master transformed countless ordinary beings who were deficient in blessings and wisdom.