Chapter X – His Final Instructions

One day the Patriarch sent for his disciples, Fat Hoi, Chi Shing, Fat Tat, Shin Wui, Chi Sheung, Chi Tong, Chi Chai, Chi Tao, Fat Chun, Fat U, etc., and addressed them as follows:-

“You men are different from the common lot. After my entering into Parinirvana, each of you will be the Dhyana Master of a certain district. I am, therefore, going to give you some hints on preaching, so that when doing so, you may keep up the tradition of our School.

Parinirvana of Buddha
Parinirvana of Buddha Sakyamuni (Image by Albert Dezetter from Pixabay)

First mention the three Categories of Dharmas, and then the thirty-six ‘pairs of opposites’ in the activities (of the Essence of Mind). Then teach how to avoid the two extremes of ‘coming in’ or ‘going out’. In all preaching, stray not from the Essence of Mind.

Whenever a man puts a question to you, answer him in antonyms, so that a ‘pair of opposites’ will be formed. (For example), ‘coming’ and ‘going’ are the reciprocal cause of each other; when the interdependence of the two is entirely done away with there would be, in the absolute sense, neither ‘coming’ nor ‘going’. Continue reading “Chapter X – His Final Instructions”

Chapter VI – On Repentance

Once there was a big gathering of scholars and commoners from Kwong Chow, Shiu Chow, and other places to wait upon the Patriarch to preach to them. Seeing this, the Patriarch mounted the pulpit and delivered the following address:

In Buddhism,

we should start from our
Essence of Mind
At all times let us
purify our own mind
from one Ksana (thought moment)
to another,
tread the Path by our own efforts,
realise our own Dharmakaya,
realise the Buddha in our own mind,
and deliver ourselves by a
personal observance of Silas;

then your visit will not have been in vain. Since all of you have come from afar, the fact of our meeting here shows that there is a good affinity between us. Now let us sit down in the Indian fashion, and I will give you the

“Formless” Repentance.

Continue reading “Chapter VI – On Repentance”

Chapter III – Questions and Answers (Bodhidharma, Amitabha, Pure Land)

One day Prefect Wai entertained the Patriarch and asked him to preach to a big gathering. At the end of the feast, Prefect Wai asked him to mount the pulpit (to which the Patriarch consented). After bowing twice reverently, in company with other officials, scholars, and commoners, Prefect Wai said, “I have heard what Your Holiness preached. It is really so deep that it is beyond our mind and speech, and I have certain doubts which I hope you will clear up for me.” “If you have any doubts,” replied the Patriarch, “please ask, and I will explain.”

“What you preach are

the fundamental principles
taught by

are they not?” “Yes,” replied the Patriarch. “I was told,” said Prefect Wai, “that at Bodhidharma’s first interview with Emperor Wu of Liang he was asked what merits the Emperor would get for the work of his life in building temples, allowing new monks to be ordained (royal consent was necessary at that time), Continue reading “Chapter III – Questions and Answers (Bodhidharma, Amitabha, Pure Land)”

Chapter II – On Prajna

Next day Prefect Wai asked the Patriarch to give another address. Thereupon, having taken his seat and asked the assembly to purify their mind collectively, and to recite the Maha PrajnaparamitaSutra, he gave the following address:-

Learned Audience, the Wisdom of Enlightenment is inherent in every one of us. It is because of the delusion under which our mind works that we fail to realise it ourselves, and that we have to seek the advice and the guidance of enlightened ones before we can know our own Essence of Mind. You should know that

so far as Buddha-nature is concerned,
there is no difference between an
enlightened man and an ignorant one.

What makes the difference is that
one realises it, while the other
is ignorant of it.

Now, let me talk to you about Maha Prajnaparamita, so that each of you can attain wisdom.

Learned Audience, those who recite the word ‘Prajna‘ the whole day long do not seem to know that Prajna is inherent in their own nature. But mere talking on food will not appease hunger, and this is exactly the case with these people. Continue reading “Chapter II – On Prajna”

Chapter I – Autobiography

Once, when the Patriarch had arrived at Pao Lam Monastery, Prefect Wai of Shiu Chow and other officials went there to ask him to deliver public lectures on Buddhism in the hall of Tai Fan Temple in the City (of Canton).

In due course, there were assembled (in the lecture hall) Prefect Wai, government officials and Confucian scholars, about thirty each, and Bhikkhus, Bhikkhunis, Taoists and laymen, to the number of about one thousand. After the Patriarch had taken his seat, the congregation in a body paid him homage and asked him to preach on the fundamental laws of Buddhism. Whereupon, His Holiness delivered the following address:-

Learned Audience,

our Essence of Mind
(literally, self-nature)
which is the seed or
kernel of enlightenment (Bodhi)
is pure by nature, and
by making use of this mind alone
we can reach Buddhahood directly.

Continue reading “Chapter I – Autobiography”