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There Is No Mortal Who Is Purely Moral
By nature man should be either good or bad; or he should be g...

Our Conception Of Buddha Is Not Final
Has, then, the divine nature of Universal Spirit been complet...

The Fourth Patriarch And The Emperor Tai Tsung (tai-so)
The Third[FN#40] Patriarch was succeeded by Tao Sin (Do-shin)...

Difficulties Are No Match For The Optimist
How can we suppose that we, the children of Buddha, are put a...

Introduction Of Zen Into China By Bodhidharma
An epoch-making event took place in the Buddhist history of C...

The Errors Of Philosophical Pessimists And Religious Optimists
Philosophical pessimists[FN#214] maintain that there are on e...

Buddha Is Unnamable
Give a definite name to Deity, He would be no more than what ...

Zen After The Downfall Of The Ho-jo Regency
Towards the end of the Ho-Jo period,[FN#90] and after the dow...

The First Step In The Mental Training
Some of the old Zen masters are said to have attained to supr...

The Bad Are The Good In The Egg
This is not only the case with a robber or a murderer, but al...

The Courage And The Composure Of Mind Of The Zen Monk And Of The Samurai
Fourthly, our Samurai encountered death, as is well known, wi...

Buddha Dwelling In The Individual Mind
Enlightened Consciousness in the individual mind acquires for...

Let Go Of Your Idle Thoughts
[FN#263] A famous Zenist, Mu-go-koku-shi, is said to ha...

Sutras Used By Zen Masters
Ten Dai failed to explain away the discrepancies and contradi...

A Sutra Equal In Size To The Whole World
The holy writ that Zen masters admire is not one of parchment...

The Parable Of The Monk And The Stupid Woman
The confused or unenlightened may be compared with a monk and...

Zen Is Not Nihilistic
Zen judged from ancient Zen masters' aphorisms may seem, at t...

The Great Person And Small Person
For these reasons Zen proposes to call man Buddha-natured or ...

The Usual Explanation Of The Canon
An eminent Chinese Buddhist scholar, well known as Ten Dai Da...

Where Does The Root Of The Illusion Lie?
Now let us examine where illusion lies hidden from the view o...




The Spiritual Attainment Of The Sixth Patriarch








Some time before his death (in 675 A.D.) the Fifth Patriarch
announced to all disciples that the Spirit of Shakya Muni is hard to
realize, that they should express their own views on it, on condition
that anyone who could prove his right realization should be given
with the Kachaya and created the Sixth Patriarch. Then the venerable
Sung Siu, the head of the seven hundred disciples, who was considered
by his brothers to be the man entitled to the honour, composed the
following verses:

The body is the Bodhi-tree.[FN#43]
The mind is like a mirror bright on its stand.
Dust it and wipe it from time to time,
Lest it be dimmed by dust and dirt.


[FN#43] The idea expressed by these lines is clear enough. Body is
likened to the Bodhi-tree, under which Shakya Muni attained to his
supreme enlightenment; for it is not in another body in the future
existence, but in this very body that one had to get enlightened.
And mind is pure and bright in its nature like a mirror, but the dirt
and dust of passions and of low desires often pollute and dim it.
Therefore one should dust and wipe it from time to time in order to
keep it bright.


All who read these lines thought that the writer was worthy of the
expected reward, and the Fifth Patriarch also, appreciating the
significance of the verses, said: If men in the future would
practise Zen according to this view, they would acquire an excellent
result. Hwui Nang, the rice-pounder, hearing of them, however,
secretly remarked that they are beautiful, but hardly expressive of
the Spirit of Shakya Muni, and wrote his own verses, which ran as
follows:

There is no Bodhi-tree,[FN#44]
Nor is there a mirror stand.
Nothing exists from the first
What can be dimmed by dust and dirt?


[FN#44] These verses have often been misunderstood as expressive of
a nihilistic view, but the real meaning is anything but nihilistic.
Mind is pure and bright in its essence. It is always free from
passions and mean desires, just as the sun is always bright, despite
of cloud and mist that cover its face. Therefore one must get an
insight into this essential nature of Mind, and realize that one has
no mean desires and passions from the first, and also that there is
no tree of Bodhi nor the mirror of Enlightenment without him, but
they are within him.


Perhaps nobody ever dreamed such an insignificant fellow as the
rice-pounder could surpass the venerable scholar in a religious
insight, but the Fifth Patriarch saw at once an Enlightened Soul
expressed in those lines; therefore he made up his mind to give the
Kachaya to the writer, in whom he found a great spiritual leader of
future generations. But he did it secretly at midnight, lest some of
the disciples from envy do violence to Hwui Nang. He was, moreover,
cautious enough to advise his successor to leave the Monastery at
once, and go back to the South, that the latter might conceal his
Enlightenment until a time would come for his missionary activities.






Next: Flight Of The Sixth Patriarch

Previous: The Fifth And The Sixth Patriarchs



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