The Master was a son of the Jia Family of Jianzhou County (of Sichuan Province). At age twenty he became a monk. He had a thorough awakening under the Master of Mt. Hibiscus. Once, he discoursed on the Dharma, exclaiming, “Within heaven and earth, in the midst of the universe, there is a jewel secretly hidden away in the body’s ‘mountain.’ Dharma Master Zhao only managed to point his finger at the traces and understood it literally. But he was unable to reveal it to others. Today I, Dan Xia, will cleave open the universe, sunder the body’s mountain, and reveal the jewel to everyone! Those who have eyes should clearly recognize it for what it is.” Then he struck the ground with his staff loudly and cried out, “Do you see it? A white egret standing in the snow: they are not the same color. The bright moon and flowering reeds: these two do not look alike.”
In the springtime of the
Ji Hai year (first year) during the
Xuan He Reign, the Master entered the stillness. His body was housed in a
stupa on the south side of Mount Hong.
The Forty-sixth Generation of Patriarchs: Dhyana Master
Zi Chun (Simple and Pure) of
Danxia (Red Cloud): This Dhyana Master was the forty-sixth patriarch. Danxia (Red Cloud) Mountain is in Henan Province. His name was Dhyana Master Zi Chun. The Master was a son of the Jia family of Zitong of Sichuan Province, known as Jianzhou, or Jiange in the past. There is an ancient verse that describes how hard it is to travel on the crooked mountain paths of Sichuan:
As one journeys along the twisting, curving roads,
Slow as if a silkworm,
Mountains loom right before one’s face;
Clouds sweep across the horse’s head.
At age twenty he became a monk. According to the Chinese rites of passage, the legal age of manhood was twenty, not eighteen. When a young man reached the age of twenty, he could put on a cap, and so this age was literally called “newly-capped” (ruo guan), because he had just undergone the capping ceremony. But, just having put on his cap, the Master took it off and became a monk; he shaved his head. Afterwards, he traveled all over the country in search of wise teachers.
He had a thorough awakening under the Dhyana Master of Mt. Hibiscus. When Dhyana Master Dao Kai transmitted the Dharma to the Master, the Master was not even thirty years old. Like a young calf that is not afraid of tigers, he was bold and dared to speak his mind. Taking the Dharma seat in the hall, he started to speak in a grandiose fashion.
Once, he discoursed on the Dharma, exclaiming, “Within heaven and earth, in the midst of the universe, without going beyond the four directions, above and below, not venturing outside of these confines,
there is a jewel secretly hidden away in the body’s ‘mountain’.” There is an invaluable gem. Where is that gem? It is concealed in the body’s ‘mountain’ and is invisible.
What is this jewel? It is our true wisdom, our basic Buddha-nature, also known as True Suchness. The Dhyana Master called it a “jewel” because everyone likes jewels, and so once he mentioned “jewels,” everybody paid attention. He changed the name to “jewel.” Most jewels can be sold for money; however, nobody recognized this jewel and nobody offered to buy it.
Where is this jewel hidden? It is hidden in the body’s “mountain”. Our physical body is known as Mount Sumeru. It’s not easy to smash this mountain. When people complain about you, or act rudely to you, you get very upset. At all times you want to protect this mountain. Actually, it’s a false thing, but we take it as something real. We won’t allow it to become cold, or hot, or thirsty, or hungry. In every thought we’re scheming for this body of ours. People are attached to physical appearance, while the jewel
Master Danxia continued with his statement,
“Dharma Master Zhao only managed to point his finger at the traces, and understood it literally.” This Dharma Master was merely able to point in that direction and say a few words.
But he was unable to reveal it to others. He did not tell us the entire truth about it or what it was all about.”
That’s why I said Master Danxia was firing blank shells. He was “deprecating others and lauding himself,” implying that he could reveal what others had not been able to say. The purpose of this was to show that he had talent, and he understood what other people failed to understand. He said, “Dharma Master Zhao failed to truly reveal the Truth to people. He was merely mouthing the words, without truly enabling people to understand it.
“Today I, Dan Xia, will for your sakes,
cleave open the universe, sunder the body’s ‘mountain’, and reveal the jewel to everyone!”
I consider myself arrogant, but Dhyana Master Danxia is even worse. He’s even more arrogant. He said to everyone, “I’ll show you the jewel.
Those who have eyes should clearly recognize it for what it is.” This refers to those who have opened their Five Eyes. When the real eye at the top of your head is open, you can clearly discern and recognize living beings as they are. Do not mistake fish eyes for pearls, or mistake the false for the true.
Then he struck the ground with his staff loudly. Right at the critical moment, just as everyone was intent on taking a look at the jewel, he pounded his tin staff on the ground with a loud boom, scaring the wits out of all the people. When this happens, a person can become enlightened. Do you understand? As soon as he did that, he
cried out, “Do you see it?” He was lying with his eyes wide open. He asked if people saw it, but did he himself see it? I don’t know. Have you seen it? I don’t know either. Had he seen it? I don’t know.
After he asked his question, he cried out,
“A white egret standing in the snow: they are not the same color. The bright moon and flowering reeds: these two do not look alike.”
The meaning of the verse is: “A white egret standing in the snow.” Both are white, but they are actually different. The whiteness of the egret is different from the whiteness of snow. To say it more clearly, the real meaning is this: Do not mistake fish eyes for pearls or mistake a thief for your son. If you haven’t attained it, don’t assume that you have. “The bright moon and flowering reeds: these two do not look alike.” The bright moon is pale white and luminous, and so are flowering reeds. However, on the other hand, these two are actually different. You must clearly discern those differences.
This was to cause them to awaken. He gave them all a good scolding. Some people got enlightened upon hearing his verse. He was speaking Dharma at the supremely adorned meal offering. If Dharma is spoken right to the potential, people get enlightened. If it is not, they remain muddled; the teaching of Dharma is like this. This occasion was called “ascending the hall to speak the Dharma.”
In the springtime of the Ji Hai year (first year) during the Xuan He Reign of the Emperor Hui Zong of the (Northern) Song Dynasty (c.e. 1119),
the Master entered the stillness. His entire body was housed in a stupa on the south side of Mount Hong. As to where the Mount Hong is, I don’t know. I am not very familiar with the geography of China, in fact I have no idea at all! [Mount Hong is located in present-day Suixian County in Hubei Province.]