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


The Third[FN#40] Patriarch was succeeded by Tao Sin (Do-shin), who

being initiated at the age of fourteen, was created the Fourth

Patriarch after nine years' study and discipline. Tao Sin is said

never to have gone to bed for more than forty years of his

patriarchal career.[FN#41] In A.D. 643 the Emperor Tai Tsung

(627-649), knowing of his virtues, sent him a special messenger,

requesting him to call on His Majesty a
the palace. But he declined

the invitation by a memorial, saying that be was too aged and infirm

to visit the august personage. The Emperor, desirous of seeing the

reputed patriarch, sent for him thrice, but in vain. Then the

enraged monarch ordered the messenger to behead the inflexible monk,

and bring the head before the throne, in case he should disobey the

order for the fourth time. As Tao Sin was told of the order of the

Emperor, he stretched out his neck ready to be decapitated. The

Emperor, learning from the messenger what had happened, admired all

the more the imperturbable patriarch, and bestowed rich gifts upon

him. This example of his was followed by later Zen masters, who

would not condescend to bend their knees before temporal power, and

it became one of the characteristics of Zen monks that they would

never approach rulers and statesmen for the sake of worldly fame and

profit, which they set at naught.

[FN#40] He died in A.D. 606, after his labour of thirteen years as

the teacher.

[FN#41] He died in A.D. 651-that is, forty-five years after the

death of the Third Patriarch.