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Zen And Supernatural Power
Yoga[FN#250] claims that various supernatural powers can be a...

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

How To Worship Buddha
The author of Vimalakirtti-nirdeca-sutra well explains our at...

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...

Man Is Bad-natured According To Siun Tsz
The weaknesses of Mencius's theory are fully exposed by anot...

Bodhidharma And The Emperor Wu
No sooner had Bodhidharma landed at Kwang Cheu in Southern Ch...

Enlightened Consciousness Is Not An Intellectual Insight
Enlightened Consciousness is not a bare intellectual insight,...

Universal Life Is Universal Spirit
These considerations naturally lead us to see that Universal ...

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

Enlightenment Is Beyond Description And Analysis
In the foregoing chapters we have had several occasions to re...

The Betterment Of Life
Again, people nowadays seem to feel keenly the wound of the ...

The Second And The Third Patriarchs
After the death of the First Patriarch, in A.D. 528, Hwui Ko ...

Change As Seen By Zen
Zen, like Hinayanism, does not deny the doctrine of Transienc...

Zazen And The Forgetting Of Self
Zazen is a most effectual means of destroying selfishness, th...

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

Buddha-nature Is The Common Source Of Morals
Furthermore, Buddha-nature or real self, being the seat of lo...

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

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

Three Important Elements Of Zen
To understand how Zen developed during some four hundred year...

Zen And Idealism
Next Zen makes use of Idealism as explained by the Dharmalaks...




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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