The Second And The Third Patriarchs


After the death of the First Patriarch, in A.D. 528, Hwui Ko did his

best to propagate the new faith over sixty years. On one occasion a

man suffering from some chronic disease called on him, and requested

him in earnest: Pray, Reverend Sir, be my confessor and grant me

absolution, for I suffer long from an incurable disease. Bring out

your sin (if there be such a thing as sin), replied the Second

Patriarch, here bef
re me. I shall grant you absolution. It is

impossible, said the man after a short consideration, to seek out

my sin. Then, exclaimed the master, I have absolved you.

Henceforth live up to Buddha, Dharma, and Samgha.[FN#37] I know,

your reverence, said the man, that you belong to Samgha; but what

are Buddha and Dharma? Buddha is Mind itself. Mind itself is

Dharma. Buddha is identical with Dharma. So is Samgha. Then I

understand, replied the man, there is no such thing as sin within

my body nor without it, nor anywhere else. Mind is beyond and above

sin. It is no other than Buddha and Dharma. Thereupon the Second

Patriarch saw the man was well qualified to be taught in the new

faith, and converted him, giving him the name of Sang Tsung (So-san).

After two years' instruction and discipline, he[FN#38] bestowed on

Sang Tsung the Kachaya handed down from Bodhidharma, and authorized

him as the Third Patriarch. It is by Sang Tsung that the doctrine of

Zen was first reduced to writing by his composition of Sin Sin[FN#39]

Ming (Sin zin-mei, On Faith and Mind), a metrical exposition of the


[FN#37] The so-called Three Treasures of the Buddha, the Law, and

the Order.

[FN#38] The Second Patriarch died in A.D. 593--that is, sixty-five

years after the departure of the First Patriarch.

[FN#39] A good many commentaries were written on the book, and it is

considered as one of the best books on Zen.