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The Second And The Third Patriarchs








After the death of the First Patriarch, in A.D. 528, Hwui Ko did his
best to propagate the new faith over sixty years. On one occasion a
man suffering from some chronic disease called on him, and requested
him in earnest: Pray, Reverend Sir, be my confessor and grant me
absolution, for I suffer long from an incurable disease. Bring out
your sin (if there be such a thing as sin), replied the Second
Patriarch, here before me. I shall grant you absolution. It is
impossible, said the man after a short consideration, to seek out
my sin. Then, exclaimed the master, I have absolved you.
Henceforth live up to Buddha, Dharma, and Samgha.[FN#37] I know,
your reverence, said the man, that you belong to Samgha; but what
are Buddha and Dharma? Buddha is Mind itself. Mind itself is
Dharma. Buddha is identical with Dharma. So is Samgha. Then I
understand, replied the man, there is no such thing as sin within
my body nor without it, nor anywhere else. Mind is beyond and above
sin. It is no other than Buddha and Dharma. Thereupon the Second
Patriarch saw the man was well qualified to be taught in the new
faith, and converted him, giving him the name of Sang Tsung (So-san).
After two years' instruction and discipline, he[FN#38] bestowed on
Sang Tsung the Kachaya handed down from Bodhidharma, and authorized
him as the Third Patriarch. It is by Sang Tsung that the doctrine of
Zen was first reduced to writing by his composition of Sin Sin[FN#39]
Ming (Sin zin-mei, On Faith and Mind), a metrical exposition of the
faith.


[FN#37] The so-called Three Treasures of the Buddha, the Law, and
the Order.

[FN#38] The Second Patriarch died in A.D. 593--that is, sixty-five
years after the departure of the First Patriarch.

[FN#39] A good many commentaries were written on the book, and it is
considered as one of the best books on Zen.






Next: The Fourth Patriarch And The Emperor Tai Tsung (tai-so)

Previous: Bodhidharma's Disciples And The Transmission Of The Law[fn#31]



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