The Master was a native of Fuliang, and a son of the Lin family. His other name was Baojue (Precious Enlightenment). At the moment of his birth an auspicious light appeared, and as an infant, he was replete with hair and beard. At age two, he was already able to recite poems and other texts from memory. As he grew up, he became proficient in all the ancient classics and treatises; and he had no need to open his books anymore. Once, while studying the
Shurangama Sutra, the Master had an awakening. Then he bid his parents goodbye and left the home-life at Baoji (Accumulation of Jewels) Monastery. There he passed an examination on the Dharma Flower Sutra, administered to him by his teacher. After receiving the complete precepts, he went to bow to Master Xuan of Kaixian Monastery at Mount Lu. The Master was swift and accurate in debate, and Cultivator Xuan thought highly of him and praised him. Then he transmitted the Dharma to him.
Afterwards the Master went to visit Master Na of Yuantong Monastery. Master Na remarked, “He has the bones of Master Dao. He’s a young man with remarkable potential!” Then Master Na gave the Master the position of secretary and asked him to stay.
From Chengtian Monastery in the Jiangzhou prefecture, the Master moved to Shifang Monastery of Huainan County. Successively he presided over the following monasteries: Kaixian and Guizong Monasteries at Mount Lu; Jinshan and Jiaoshan Monasteries in Ren Prefecture, and Dayang and Yunju Monasteries in Jiangxi Province. For upwards of forty years, many eminent members of the gentry and government officials sought the Master’s company.
On the fourth day of the first lunar month, during the first year of the Yuanfu reign (1098 c.e.) of the Song Dynasty, as the Master was listening to a guest, he saw that the guest understood his mind. The Master then smiled and passed on. This showed the Master’s true essence.
This patriarch’s name is Dhyana Master Fo Yin Liao Yuan. He was the 44th Patriarch.
The Master was a native of Fuliang. Dhyana Master Fo Yin lived in FlLiang (today’s Jingdezheng in Jiangxi Province)
and a son of the Lin family. His other name was Baojue (Precious Enlightenment). His last name was Lin, and first name was Baojue.
At the moment of his birth an auspicious light appeared. When he was born, Buddha light filled the room. It was very auspicious.
And as an infant, he was replete with hair and beard. It was very strange that this baby was born like an old man with hair and mustache. You might ask, was he a monster? Fortunately, his parents had some samadhi and were not scared to death by him. His birth was similar to Master Xu Yun’s, who was born a ball of human flesh. His mother was scared to death because of that.
At age two, he was already able to recite poems and other texts from memory. Though he resembled a monster at birth, he was very smart. At two years old, he could read some books and poems.
As he grew up, he became proficient in all the ancient classics and treatises; he read many ancient books and classics—these were not Buddhist sutras, but Confucian classics, such as
Four Books and Five Classics. There were the treatises composed by the Three Kings and the Five Rulers. Yet those ancient books have been lost and people now refer to ordinary books as “ancient classics and treatises.”
And he had no need to open his books anymore. Once he read a book, he didn’t need to open it again. It was not because he was lazy. It was because his memory was so good that he remembered everything he had read.
Once, while studying the Shurangama Sutra, the Master had an awakening. Because of his intelligence, he studied all the books written by the ancient scholars and the philosophers of the hundred schools. He started reading Buddhist sutras. The
Shurangama Sutra is called the Sutra for opening people’s wisdom. After he read it, sure enough, he gained wisdom and understood the truth. It was as if a black barrel’s bottom had fallen off, letting the light shine in. However, this “enlightenment” was only a beginning; he was not fully enlightened. Once his realization started to develop, he didn’t want to stay in the black barrel anymore. So what did he do?
Then he bid his parents goodbye and left the home-life. He wanted to become a monk to continue his studies so he could understand more. He asked for his parents’ permission to leave home. Then he became a monk.
He paid respects at Baoji (Accumulation of Jewels) Monastery. After he left home, he went to worship at Baoji Monastery.
There he passed an examination on the Dharma Flower Sutra, administered to him by his teacher. It was not easy to leave home because one needed to pass exams. His exam was on the
Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra. It tested him to see if he understood the dharma of “opening the provisional to reveal the real,” and “the nonduality of the provisional and real.”
After receiving the complete precepts, he received the full precepts.
He went to bow to Cultivator Xuan of Kaixian Monastery at Mount Lu.: He went to Mount Lu to visit the cultivator named Xuan at Kaixian Monastery. Mount Lu is a very beautiful mountain in Jiangxi Province. It is often covered by drifting clouds and fog, so it is said, “You don’t see the true face of Mount Lu, simply because you are on the mountain.”
The Master was swift and accurate in debate. Chan Master Xuan Dao engaged in Chan banter with him and he answered very sharply and swiftly.
And Master Xuan Dao thought highly of him and praised him. Then he transmitted the Dharma to him. Thus Chan Master Xuan Dao transmitted him the mind-seal dharma and asked him to inherit the lineage.
Afterwards the Master went to visit Master Na of Yuantong Monastery. He then visited Chan Master Na at Yuan Tong Monastery.
Master Na remarked, “He has the bones of Master Dao.” Chan Master Na said, “His spirit is similar to Chan Master Xuedao of Chongxian Monastery.
He’s a young man with remarkable potential!” He will be a dragon or an elephant in Buddhism, an outstanding person.
Then Master Na gave the Master the position of secretary and asked him to stay. Chan Master Na valued him and asked him to stay and be in charge of secretarial work.
From Chengtian Monastery in Jiangzhou prefecture... Later he came to Chengtian Monastery in Jiangzhou (presently Jiujiang county in Jiangxi Province),
the Master moved to Shifang Monastery of Huainan County (i.e. Yangzhou, which is now Hefei county in Anhui Province).
Successively he presided over the following monasteries: Kaixian and Guizong Monasteries at Mount Lu; he went back to Kaixian and Guizong Monastery in Mount Lu,
Jinshan and Jiaoshan Monasteries in Ren prefecture (Zhengjiang county in Jiangsu Province. Since Jinshan and Jiaoshan Monasteries faced each other in the middle of the Yangzi River, they are referred to collectively as “Jin and Jiao”.)
Also the monasteries of Dayang and Yunju Mountains of Jiangxi Province. He also visited Dayang and Yunju Monastery in Jiangxi.
For upwards of forty years, many eminent members of the gentry and government officials, those more virtuous ones among the government officials,
sought the Master’s company. Many of them had interactions with him. Among them, the most famous one was Su Dongpo.
Su Dongpo often engaged in Chan banter and joked with Dhyana Master Fo Yin. There are many tales. I’ve often told the story of “One fart blowing him across the river.” Once Su Dongpo wrote a poem that went: “Unmoved by the eight winds, I sit calmly on a purple golden lotus.” The eight winds are misfortune, benefit, slander, renown, praise, ridicule, suffering, happiness. One who lacks samadhi will be affected by those eight favorable or adverse conditions, just as a strong wind can blow and move everything. His poem claims that his mind is like the Buddha’s mind, unmoved by favorable or adverse conditions, and that he can sit in stillness on a purple golden lotus. He was very satisfied with his poem and asked people to take his poem to Chan Master Fo Yin on the other side of the river to seek his certification. Maybe he wanted Chan Master Fo Yin to praise him. In fact, if you want to be praised, you have already been moved by one of the eight winds. So, Chan Master Fo Yin didn’t say a word but simply wrote a very large character for “fart” on the poem and asked a messenger to take it back. Su Dongpo read it and got angry. He took a boat across the river to question Chan Master Fo Yin: “What do you mean by this?!” Chan Master Fo Yin laughed and said: “Aren’t you supposed to be unmoved by the eight winds? How come my “fart” blew you across the river just like a fan?” Su Dongpo then realized that he still had a long way to go in his cultivation. He didn’t pass this test. So, cultivation requires one to develop real spiritual skill. Intellectual debate is useless and will not help you to pass the test.
On the fourth day of the first month, during the first year of the Yuanfu reign (1098) of the Song Dynasty, the reign of Emperor Zhe,
as the Master was listening to a guest speaking,
he saw that the guest understood his mind. The Master listened and knew that this person was expressing the Master’s mind.
The Master then smiled and passed on. He smiled gently and entered Nirvana. See, the ancient patriarchs were able to come and go freely like this.
This showed the Master’s true essence. His smiling face looked exactly the same as his original true appearance. This “true essence” refers to one’s inherent true nature or original true appearance.
To be continued