The Fifth And The Sixth Patriarchs


Tao Sin transmitted the Law to Hung Jan (Ko-nin), who being educated

from infancy, distinguished himself as the Abbot of the Hwang Mei

Monastery at Ki Cheu. The Fifth Patriarch, according to his

biographer, gathered about him seven hundred pupils, who came from

all quarters. Of these seven hundred pupils the venerable Shang Sin

(Jin-shu) was most noted for his learning and virtues, and he might

have become the legiti
ate successor of Hung Jan, had not the Kachaya

of Bodhidharma been carried away by a poor farmer's son of Sin Cheu.

Hwui Nang, the Sixth Patriarch, seems to have been born a Zen

teacher. The spiritual light of Buddha first flashed in his mind

when he happened to hear a monk reciting a sutra. On questioning the

monk, be learned that the book was

Vajracchedika-prajnya-paramita-sutra,[FN#42] and that Hung Jan, the

Abbot of the Hwang Mei Monastery, was used to make his disciples

recite the book that it might help them in their spiritual

discipline. Hereupon he made up his mind to practise Zen, and called

on Hung Jan at the Monastery. Who are you, demanded the Fifth

Patriarch, and whence have you come? I am a son of the farmer,

replied the man, of Sin Cheu in the South of Ta Yu Ling. What has

brought you here? asked the master again. I have no other purpose

than to attain to Buddhahood, answered the man. O, you, people of

the South, exclaimed the patriarch, you are not endowed with the

nature of Buddha. There may be some difference between the

Southern and the Northern people, objected the man, but how could

you distinguish one from the other as to the nature of Buddha? The

teacher recognized a genius in the man, but he did not admit the

promising newcomer into the order, so Hwui Nang had to stay in the

Monastery for eight months as a pounder of rice in order to qualify

himself to be a Zen teacher.

[FN#42] The book was translated into Chinese by Kumarajiva in A.D.

384. 417; also by Bodhiruci in A.D. 509, and by Paramartha in A.D.

592; then by Hiuen Tsang in A.D. 648. Many commentaries have been

written on it by the prominent Buddhist authors of China and Japan.