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.
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”
*Note by the late Mr. Dwight Goddard.
When Hui-Neng (Wei Lang) was at the Patriarch’s monastery at Wong-mui, the Master (or Dean as we should call him) was Shin-shau, a notably learned monk of the Dhyana School. After Hui-Neng left Wong-mui he lived in retirement for a number of years, but Shin-shau, in disappointment at not receiving the appointment of Sixth Patriarch, returned to his home in the North and founded his own School which later, under Imperial patronage, came into great prominence. But after the death of Shin-shau the School steadily lost prestige, and later dropped out of importance. But the different principles of the two schools, “Sudden Enlightenment” of the Sixth Patriarch’s Sudden School and “Gradual Attainment” of Shin-shau’s Northern School, have continued to divide Buddhism and do so today. The principle in dispute is whether enlightenment comes as a gradual attainment, through study of the scriptures and the practice of Dhyana or, as the Japanese say, it comes in some sudden and convincing “satori.” It is not a question of quickness or slowness in arriving at it; “gradual attainment” may arrive sooner than “sudden enlightenment.” It is the question whether enlightenment comes as the culmination of a gradual process of mental growth, or whether it is a sudden turning at the seat of consciousness, from a habitual reliance on the thinking faculty (a looking outward) to a new use of a higher intuitive faculty (a looking inward).
While the Patriarch was living in Po Lam Monastery, the Grand Master Shin Shau was preaching in Yuk Chuen Monastery of King Nam. At that time the two Schools, that of Wei Lang of the South and Shin Shau of the North, flourished side by side. As the two Schools were distinguished from each other by the names “Sudden” (the South) and “Gradual” (the North), the question which sect they should follow baffled certain Buddhist scholars (of that time). Continue reading “Chapter VIII – The Sudden School and the Gradual School*“
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:
we should start from our
Essence of Mind.
At all times let us
purify our own mind
from one Ksana (thought moment)
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
Continue reading “Chapter VI – On Repentance”
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 Bodhidharma,
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)”
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 Prajnaparamita’ Sutra, 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”