Bodhidharma And His Successor The Second Patriarch

China was not, however, an uncultivated land for the seed of

Zen--nay, there had been many practisers of Zen before Bodhidharma.

The translation of Hinayana Zen sutras first paved the way

for our faith. Fourteen Zen sutras, including such important books

as Mahanapanadhyana-sutra, Dhyanacarya-dharmasanyjnya-sutra,

Dhyanacarya-saptatrimcadvarga-sutra, were translated by Ngan Shi Kao

-ko) as early as A.D. 148-170. Cullamargabhumi-sutra was

translated by K' Yao (Shi-yo) in A.D. 185; Dharmatara-dhyana-sutra by

Buddhabhadra in A.D. 398-421;

Dhyananisthitasamadhi-dharma-parygya-sutra by Kumarajiva in A.D. 402;

'An Abridged Law on the Importance of Meditation' by Kumarajiva in

A.D. 405; Pancadvara-dhyanasutra-maharthadharma by Dharmamitra in

A.D. 424-441. Furthermore, Mahayana books closely related to the

doctrine of Zen were not unknown to China before Bodhidharma.

Pratyutpanna-buddhasammukhavasthita-samadhi was translated by K' Leu

Cia Chan (Shi-ru-ga-sen) in A.D. 164-186; Vimalakirttinirdeca-sutra,

which is much used in Zen, by Kumarajiva in A.D. 384-412;

Lankavatara-sutra, which is said to have been pointed out by

Bodhidharma as the best explanation of Zen, by Gunabhadra in A.D.

433; Saddharma-pundarika-sutra, in its complete form, by Kumarajiva

in A.D. 406; Avatamsaka-sutra by Buddhabhadra in A.D. 418;

Mahaparinirvana-sutra by Dharmaraksa in A.D. 423.

If we are not mistaken, Kumarajiva, who came to China A.D. 384, made

a valuable contribution towards the foundation of Zen in that

country, not merely through his translation of Zen sutras above

mentioned, but by the education of his disciples, such as Sang Chao

(So-jo, died A.D. 414), Sang Shang (So-sho, whose writings

undoubtedly influenced later Zen teachers. A more important

personage in the history of Zen previous to the Blue-eyed Brahmin is

Buddhabhadra, a well-known Zen master, who came over to China A.D.

406. His translation of Dharmatara-dhyana-sutra (which is said to

have been preached by Bodhidharma himself when he was in India) and

that of Avatamsaka-sutra may be said without exaggeration to have

laid the corner-stone for Zen. He gave a course of lectures on the

Zen sutra for the first time in China in A.D. 413, and it was through

his instruction that many native practisers of Zen were produced, of

whom Chi Yen (Chi-gon) and Huen Kao (Gen-ko) are well known. In

these days Zen should have been in the ascendant in India, because

almost all Indian scholars-at least those known to us-were called Zen

teachers-for instance, Buddhabhadra, Buddhasena, Dharmadhi, and some

others were all Zen scholars.

Chinese Buddhist scholars did no less than Indian teachers toward the

uprising of Zen. The foremost among them is Hwui Yuen (E-on, died

A.D. 414), who practised Zen by the instruction of Buddhabhadra. He

founded the Society of the White Lotus, which comprised eighteen

eminent scholars of the age among its members, for the purpose of

practising Meditation and of adoring Buddha Amitabha. We must not

forget that during the Western and the Eastern Tsin (Shin) dynasties

(A.D. 265-420) both Taoism and Buddhism grew prosperous to no small

extent. And China produced, on the one hand, Taoists of an eccentric

type, such as the Seven Wise Men of the Bamboo Forest, while she gave

birth to many recluse-like men of letters, such as Tao Yuen Ming

(To-yen-mei, died A.D. 427) and some others on the other. Besides

there were some scholars who studied Buddhism in connection with

Taoism and Confucianism, and led a secluded life. To the last class

of scholars belonged Chwen Hih (Hu dai shi), known as Chwen the

Great. He is said to have been accustomed to wear a Confucianist

hat, a Buddhist robe, and Taoist shoes. It was in A.D. 534 that he

presented a memorial to the Emperor Wu, in which he explained the

three grades of good. "The Highest Good consists," says he, "in the

emptiness of mind and non-attachment. Transcendence is its cause,

and Nirvana is its result. The Middle Good consists in morality and

good administration. It results in a peaceful and happy life in

Heaven and in Earth. The Lowest Good consists in love and protection

of sentient beings." Thus his idea of good, as the reader will see

without difficulty, is the result of a compromise of Taoism and

Buddhism. Sin Wang Ming (Sin-o-mei, On the Mind-King), one of his

masterpieces, together with other minor poems, are still used as a

textbook of Zen. This fact unmistakably proves that Taoist element

found its way into the constituents of Zen from its very outset in


All that he had to do was to wait for an earnest seeker after the

spirit of Shakya Muni. Therefore he waited, and waited not in vain,

for at last there came a learned Confucianist, Shang Kwang (Shin-ko)

by name, for the purpose of finding the final solution of a problem

which troubled him so much that he had become dissatisfied with

Confucianism, as it had no proper diet for his now spiritual hunger.

Thus Shang Kwang was far from being one of those half-hearted

visitors who knocked the door of Bodhidharma only for the sake of

curiosity. But the silent master was cautious enough to try the

sincerity of a new visitor before admitting him to the Meditation

Hall. According to a biography of his, Shang Kwang was not

allowed to enter the temple, and had to stand in the courtyard

covered deep with snow. His firm resolution and earnest desire,

however, kept him standing continually on one spot for seven days and

nights with beads of the frozen drops of tears on his breast. At

last he cut off his left arm with a sharp knife, and presented it

before the inflexible teacher to show his resolution to follow the

master even at the risk of his life. Thereupon Bodhidharma admitted

him into the order as a disciple fully qualified to be instructed in

the highest doctrine of Mahayanism.

King Teh Chwen Tang Luh (Kei-toku-den-to-roku), published by

Tao Yuen (Do-gen) A.D. 1004, gives a detailed narrative concerning

this incident as stated here, but earlier historians tell us a

different story about the mutilation of Shang Kwang's arm. Compare

Suh Kas San Chwen (Zoku-ko-so-den) and Hwui Yuen (E-gen).

Our master's method of instruction was entirely different from that

of ordinary instructors of learning. He would not explain any

problem to the learner, but simply help him to get enlightened by

putting him an abrupt but telling question. Shang Kwang, for

instance, said to Bodhidharma, perhaps with a sigh: "I have no peace

of mind. Might I ask you, sir, to pacify my mind?" "Bring out your

mind (that troubles you so much)," replied the master, "here before

me! I shall pacify it." "It is impossible for me," said the

disciple, after a little consideration, "to seek out my mind (that

troubles me so much)." "Then," exclaimed Bodhidharma, "I have

pacified your mind." Hereon Shang Kwang was instantly Enlightened.

This event is worthy of our notice, because such a mode of

instruction was adopted by all Zen teachers after the first

patriarch, and it became one of the characteristics of Zen.