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No Need Of The Scriptural Authority For Zen
Some Occidental scholars erroneously identify Buddhism with t...

The Errors Of Philosophical Pessimists And Religious Optimists
Philosophical pessimists maintain that there are on earth ma...

Wang Yang Ming O-yo-mei And A Thief
One evening when Wang was giving a lecture to a number of stu...

The Resemblance Of The Zen Monk To The Samurai
Let us point out in brief the similarities between Zen and Ja...

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

Let Go Of Your Idle Thoughts
A famous Zenist, Mu-go-koku-shi, is said to have replied ...

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

Zen And Nirvana
The beatitude of Zen is Nirvana, not in the Hinayanistic sens...

Origin Of Zen In India
To-day Zen as a living faith can be found in its pure form on...

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

Real Self
If there be no individual soul either in mind or body, where ...

The Progress And Hope Of Life
How many myriads of years have passed since the germs of life...

The Spiritual Attainment Of The Sixth Patriarch
Some time before his death (in 675 A.D.) the Fifth Patriarch ...

Man Is Good-natured According To Mencius
Oriental scholars, especially the Chinese men of letters, see...

The Breathing Exercise Of The Yogi
Breathing exercise is one of the practices of Yoga, and somew...

There Is No Mortal Who Is Non-moral Or Purely Immoral
The same is the case with the third and the fourth class of p...

The Parable Of The Robber Kih
Chwang Tsz (So-shi) remarks in a humorous way to the followin...

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

Calmness Of Mind
The Yogi breathing above mentioned is fit rather for physical...

Hinayanism And Its Doctrine
The doctrine of Transience was the first entrance gate of Hin...




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.
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."


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,
Nor is there a mirror stand.
Nothing exists from the first
What can be dimmed by dust and dirt?"


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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