Comments on Buddhist Sutras P1 P2 P3 P4

18th September 1999

The Diamond Sutra -- The Vajracchedika-Prajna-Paramita Sutra

The most important part of this sutra is the four lines stanza. It is:

' All phenomena are like; 
A dream, an illusion, a bubble and a shadow; 
Like dew and lighting; 
Thus should you meditate upon them.'

See the quotations:

1st 'Subhuti! what do you think? If someone filled the Universe with the seven treasures and gave them all as alms, would his merit be great?'

Subhuti replied: 'Very great, World Honoured One. Why? Because this merit is not the nature of merit, the Tathagata says it is great.'

'Subhuti, if on the other hand, someone received and kept even a four lines stanza of this sutra and expounded it to others, his merit would surpass that (of the giver of treasures).

2nd 'Subhuti, I now tell you truly. If a virtuous man or woman filled a number of universes, as great as the number of sand-grains in all these rivers, with the seven treasures, and gave them all away in alms, would his or her merit be great?'

Subhuti replied: 'Very great, World Honored One!'

The Buddha said to Subhuti:'If a virtuous man or woman receives and holds (in mind) even a four lines stanza of this sutra and expounds it to others, his or her merit will surpass that of the almsgiver. Further, Subhuti, where-so-ever this sutra or even one of its four lines stanzas is expounded, you should know that all devas, men and asuras should make their offerings there as if the place was a Buddha stupa or a Buddha temple.

3rd 'Subhuti, if on the one hand, a virtuous man or woman, in giving alms, sacrifices as many lives as there are sand-grains in the Ganges, and on the other hand, someone receives and holds (in mind) even a four lines stanza of this sutra, and expounds it to others, the merit resulting from the latter will be greater.'

4th 'Subhuti, if (on the one hand) a man, in his practice of charity gives away the seven treasures piled up in a heap as great as all the Mount Sumeru in the universe put together, and (on the other hand) another man receives, holds (in mind), reads and recites even a four lines stanza of this Prajna-paramita Sutra, and expounds it to others, the merit resulting from the former's dana will not be worth one-hundredth, one-thousandth, one-ten-thousandth and one-hundred-thousandth part of that obtained by the latter, as no conceivable comparison can be made between the two.

5th 'Subhuti, if on the one hand, someone gave away in alms the seven treasures in quantities sufficient to fill all the worlds in uncountable aeons, and if on the other hand, a virtuous man, or woman developed the Bodhi-mind, and received, held (in mind), read and recited even a four lines stanza of this sutra and expounded it to others, the latter's merit would surpass that of the former.

In what manner should it be taught to others? By teaching it without attachment to form with the immutability of the absolute. (The translation of the last sentence might not give a clear picture of the Chinese words. 'Pu tung' means no action or expounding the doctrine of inaction.)

This sutra also said about the man.

In the last 500 years, before the final passing of the Tathagata, there will be those who will observe the rules of morality and perform good actions which will result in blessing. These people will be able to develop a faith in these sentences (which they will consider as) embodying the Truth. You should know that they will not have planted good roots in just one, two, three, four, or five Buddha lands. They will have planted them in countless thousands and tens of thousands of Buddha lands. Upon hearing these sentences, there will arise in them a single thought of pure faith.

(2nd) How much more so if someone is able to receive, hold (in mind), read and recite the whole sutra! Subhuti, you should know that such a person will achieve the highest and rarest Dharma.

(3rd) World Honored One, if someone after listening to this sutra believes that his mind is clean and pure, he will realize reality. We should know that such a person will achieve the highest and rarest merit.

(4th) but in the last epoch, the last five hundred years period if there be a man who (happens to) listen to this sutra, believes, understands, receives and holds it, he will be most rare.

(5th) 'Just so! Subhuti, just so! If on the one hand, there be a man who listens to this sutra and is not filled with alarm, fear, or dread, you should know that such a person is most rare.

(6th) 'Subhuti, in future ages, if a virtuous man or woman is able to receive, hold (in mind), read and recite this sutra, the Tathagata, by means of His Buddha Wisdom, will know and see clearly that such a person will achieve immeasurable and un-limitable merits.

(7th) and if (on the other hand) a person after listening to this sutra believes in his own mind without (further) contradiction, the latter's merit will surpass that of the former. How much more so if this sutra is written, received, held, read, recited and expounded to others!

(8th) 'Furthermore, Subhuti, if a virtuous man or woman receives, holds (in mind), reads and recites this sutra and is despised by others, this person who is bound to suffer from evil destinies in retribution for his past sins, and whose karmic sins are now eradicated by the others' contempt, will attain Supreme Enlightenment (Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi). (I will not attain supreme enlightenment by meditation but by other people's contempt.)

(9th) Now if in the last period in the Buddha kalpa someone is able to receive, hold (in mind), read and recite this sutra, his merits will far exceed mine which resulted from my offerings made to Buddhas, for mine cannot be reckoned as one hundredth, one thousandth, one ten thousandth or one hundred thousandth part thereof; in fact no computation or comparison is possible. Subhuti, in the last period of the Buddha kalpa, if a virtuous man or woman is able to receive, hold (in mind), read and recite this sutra, my full statement of this person's merits will create derangement, doubt and disbelief in the minds of all listeners. (If this is talking about me, my spiritual power will be greater than Gautama Buddha.)

(10th) and (on the other hand) another man comprehended that all dharmas were ego-less and thereby achieved perfection of patience (ksanti), the latter's merit would surpass that of the former.

The last 500 years or last epoch is the present time before the end.

It is quite difficult to explain the sutra paragraph by paragraph. By summarizing it I quote a sentence from the sutra: Their minds should abide nowhere. (When meditating, we have to think of nothing good or bad.)

Most meditation methods teach their own particular style. Some ask you to count your breathing, some ask you to chant a mantra, some ask you to concentrate on the vital points, some ask you to see an image, close your eyes and picture the image in your minds. All these rely on sound, images, smell, touch etc. When we make use of our mind to do all these things, we will not get 100% spirituality. When our mind is in inaction, a total emptiness, 0 digit, then 100% spirituality can develop.

We have to be in inaction also, when not meditating. For example, when people argue about the flag moving, either the wind or the flag moves, your answer to them is that their minds move, not the wind or the flag. We will become emotionless regardless of happiness or sadness around us.

Let me briefly explain the sutra.

Thus have I heard and 1250 bhiksus are common in many sutras. 1250 means 1 mark and 2 plus 5 holes on our head. 0 has no meaning. Some sutras have 2 and 3 in tens, hundreds, thousand, ten thousands etc.

Sravasti town is referring to our face. This is a parable. An Indian will wash his hands after food, not his feet; he uses his fingers to put food into his mouth.

Buddha said about regarding to lead all living beings to the final nirvana for the extinction of reincarnation. This is referring to our thoughts. We have to get rid of our thoughts till there is none in our mind.

One statement like 'Furthermore, Subhuti, a Boddhisattva's mind should not abide anywhere when giving alms;' regarding alms giving, it is about cultivation of self; it could be meditation in action or inaction. You have to know monk don't give alms. (only when they have surplus, they contribute to charity)

'Furthermore, Subhuti, a Bodhisattva's mind should not abide anywhere when giving alms, that is to say, he should give without a mind abiding in form, or he should give without a mind abiding in sound, or in smell, or in taste, or in touch or in things.

When meditate in action or inaction, we must have a mind, empty of thoughts.

The mentions of space is to say it could be as so small we are not able to see, or so big that is beyond measurement.

The Tathagata is another name for Buddha, but it is more referred to the mark on the forehead. So this Tathagata could not be seen by means of Its bodily form.

'Ye Bhiksus, should know that the Dharma I expound is likened to a raft.' Even the Dharma should be cast aside; how much more so the Not-dharma?

When you think neither good nor bad, there is no Dharma or non Dharma. This is spiritual perfection.

The different classes of Srota-apanna, Sakrdagamin, Anagamin, Arhat etc are in name only, because you can not distinguish a man from a Buddha. When your mind is pure you are Buddha; when your mind is corrupted you are a man.

Subhuti, if a virtuous man or woman sacrifices in the practice of charity, as many lives as the sand-grains of the Ganges in the morning, at midday and again in the evening, and continues so doing throughout numberless aeons; and if a person after listening to this sutra believes in his own mind without further contradiction, the latter's merit will surpass that of the former.

I would like to show you, doing charity is not worth than cultivating a pure mind. You can contribute $1,000,000 a day for a year and the merit is still not worth more than sitting down and meditate for 3 hours.

The Buddha said: 'Subhuti, if the Tathagata can be recognized by His thirty-two physical characteristics, a world ruler would be the Tathagata.

It is clear here Buddha was referring Tathagata to the mark.

'He who sees me by outward appearance
(and) seeks me in sound,
Treads the heterodox path
(and) cannot perceive the Tathagata.

You see Buddha statues and pour out your wishes. This shows your ignorance. You can only experience the working of the Tathagata by meditating in an empty thought's mind. Therefore, I dare say, you need not have to go to temple to pray to wooden, gold, jade, ceramic, granite Buddha statues. You need to pray to the Tathagata at the Mark on your forehead.

The Heart Sutra -- The Prajna-Paramita-Hrdaya-Sutra

When Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara (Goddess of Mercy) practiced the profound Prajna-paramita (meditation), he investigated and perceived that the five aggregates (skandhas) were non-existent thus securing his deliverance from all distress and sufferings. (When meditating, every thing is void so non-existent)

Sariputra! (referring to the mark on the forehead) Form (rupa) does not differ from the void (sunya), nor the void from form. Form is identical with void (and) void is identical with form. So also are reception (vedana), conception (sanjna), mental function (samskara) and consciousness (vijnana) in relation to the void. (there is no difference of any function when you have no thought)

Sariputra, the void (sunya) of all things is not created, not annihilated, not impure, not pure, not increasing and not decreasing. (Tao has no name, shape, smell etc. It is the mark on the forehead. To communnate with the One is by inaction or meditation)

Therefore, with the void, there is no form and no reception, conception, mental function and no consciousness; there is no eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind; there is no form, sound, smell, taste, touch and idea; there are (no such things as the eighteen realms of sense [dhatus] from) the realm of sight up to that of the faculty of mind; there are (no such things as the twelve links in the chain of existence [nidanas] from) ignorance (avidya) with also the end of ignorance up to old age and death; there are no (such things as) the four noble truths and there is no wisdom and also no gain. (no thought, so everything void, therefore no gain)

Because of gain-less-ness, Bodhisattvas who rely on Prajna-paramita, have no hindrance in their hearts, and since they have no hindrance, they have no fear, are free from contrary and delusive ideas and attain the Final Nirvana.

All Buddha of the past, present and future obtained complete vision and perfect enlightenment (anuttara-samyak-sambodhi) by relying on Prajna-paramita. So we know that Prajna-paramita is the great supernatural Mantra, the great bright, unsurpassed and unequalled Mantra which can truly and without fail wipe out all sufferings. (personally only)

Therefore, He uttered the Prajna-paramita mantra which reads: Ga-te, ga-te, paragate, parasamgate Bodhi Svaha!

In this sutra, the Chinese name of Goddess of Mercy is 'Kuan ze-chye'. This name is already telling you to look inside you. The other translation is 'Kuan ser-ing', that means investigate the world phenomena. Ponder on these two is much better than reading all the Buddhist sutras.

The Sutra of Visualizing The Buddha of Immeasurable Length of Life

Before I comment on the sutra, I would like to say about the creation of sutra. In an audience, the Sakyamuni Buddha spoke to them about dharma. His words were recorded down and that was the sutra. So when he talked about Buddha flying here and there, this is in parable and not the actual happening. Some in the audience might not believe what he said as they did not see Sakyamuni Buddha flying here and there. You have to fully understand this before you can understand the sutra.

Thus have I heard: Once the Buddha was staying at Rajagriha City, on the Gridhrakuta Mountain, with a group of great Bhikshus, twelve hundred and fifty in number, and thirty-two thousand Boddhisatvas, among whom Manjuri, the Prince of the Dharma, was the President. (1250 & 32 are religious numbers. City is the mark while mountain the nose tip.)

At that time, there was a prince, Ajatasatru by name, in the great Rajagriha City, who imprisoned his father, King Bimbisara, in a seven-walled cell, by the wicked advice of his evil-minded friend Devadatta, and no one of the King's ministers was allowed to see him in the jail.

Vaidehi, the Queen, who was greatly devoted to the King, washed herself, and carried honey and flour close to her body, put grape juice in her jewels, and sent them to the King secretly.

The King after having taken the honeyed flour and drunk the grape juice, asked for some water to wash his mouth. Having done this, he joined his hands palm to palm, saluting the Buddha in the direction of the Gridhrakuta Mountain, and said, 'Mahamaudgalyayana is my intimate friend. I wish that he would be kind enough to come and give me the Eight Precepts.' At that time, the Venerable Mahamaudgalyayana, being invited by the King, flew as a falcon (if you believe this you are an idiot) to his place daily and gave him the Eight Precepts. The Buddha also sent the Venerable Purna to preach the Dharma for the King.

The King lived for three times seven days on honey and flour, and thus he was enabled to hear the Dharma. His countenance was, however, very calm and peaceful (in spite of his miserable condition).

At that time, Prince Ajatasatru inquired of the jailor, 'Is my father, the King, still alive?' The jailor replied, 'Oh, Great Prince, the old Queen carries honey and flour close to her body and puts fruit juice in her jewels, and send them secretly to the King as his food. Srmana Mahamaudgalyayana and Srmana Purna come here flying, to preach the Law to the King; and I am not able to keep them away.' On hearing these words, Ajatasatru was very angry with his mother and said in a temper, 'My mother is a thief. She keeps company with thieves. Srmanas are evil men, they have performed magic to make this evil king live for so long a time.' Thus he took a sharp sword and was about to injure his mother.

But there were two sagacious ministers of the Court, one of whom was called Moon-Light and Jiva was the other one's name. They saluted the Prince and said, 'Oh Prince, we have read the Veda, in which it is recorded, "There were many evil kings who killed their fathers and enthroned themselves, at the beginning of history, eighteen thousand in number." But we have never heard of a single one who killed his mother. Now you are going to kill your mother: such an unheard of treacherous deed would stigmatize the whole Ksatriya race. We do not wish to hear that you are going to be a Candara, and we do not desire to stay in this country.'

When they had uttered these words, they put their hands on the handles of their swords and were about to retreat. Then Ajatasatru was alarmed and said to Jiva. 'Are you gentlemen no longer in favor of me?' To this Jiva replied, 'Great Prince, you must behave well and not kill your mother.'

On hearing this exhortation, the Prince repented and asked their pardon. He cast away his weapon and did not injure his mother. But he gave order that his mother should be incarcerated in the inner part of the palace, and should not be allowed to come out again.

Then, Vaidehi, the Queen, became very sorry and haggard in the prison. She saluted the Buddha in the direction of the Gridhrakuta Mountain and said, 'The Blessed One, in former times, used to send the Venerable Ananda to come and see me frequently. Now I am in great lamentation and cannot go to see the Buddha. I hope the Blessed One will kindly send the Venerable Mahamaudgalyayana and the Venerable Ananda to come and see me.' She murmured these words with tears in her eyes: and she saluted the Buddha again.

Before she had raised her head up from prostration, the Buddha on the Gridhrakuta Mountain had read her mind. So He sent the Venerable Mahamaudgalyayana and the Venerable Ananda to see her. They went to the palace by their supernatural power. (If you believe this sentence you are an idiot.)

The Buddha disappeared from the Gridhrakuta Mountain and reappeared in the palace (only idiots believe this) where the Queen was imprisoned. When Vaidehi had just raised her head, she saw the Blessed One, Sakyamuni Buddha, whose body was of a golden-purple color, sitting on a lotus flower that was constituted of a hundred kinds of valuable jewels. (Sakyamuni Buddha was preaching the Dharma, so how can he be in this position. Use your brain. This is a parable.) The Venerable Mahamaudgalyayana was standing on His left, and the Venerable Ananda on His right. (left and right eyes) The gods of the Brahmin heaven and many tutelary devas were present in the air. There were many heavenly flowers pouring down from the sky as offerings to the Buddha.

Then Vaidehi, on seeing the Buddha, took from her neck a string of jewels, which she offered to Him. She prostrated herself before Him and said with sobs, 'Blessed One, what is the wrong that I must have done in my previous lives to have such an unfilial son? And what is the cause of Devadatta's being a relative of the Blessed One? I hope the Blessed One will tell me of some place, where there are no sorrow and no trouble, where I would like to be reborn. For I am disgusted with this Jambudvipa, the dirty and evil things. I wish in my future life that I should never hear evil sounds and never see evil persons. Now I prostrate myself before the Blessed One and I repent of my evil acts, done in the past. May the Buddha, the Sun, teach me how to visualize the Place of Pure Karma.'

Then the Blessed One emitted from the middle of His eyebrows a ray, golden in color, illuminating the numerous worlds in the ten quarters. It returned to the Buddha's head, becoming a golden platform, on which all the Buddha's Pure Lands appeared. Some of (the Buddha countries in the ray) were composed of the seven jewels; some of them were full of lotus flowers; some of them were as happy as heavens; and some of them were as clean as crystal. Such numerous Buddha countries of the ten quarters appeared in the ray of the Blessed One. They were all visible, so Vaidehi was able to see them. (illustrations to distract readers)

Then Vaidehi said to the Buddha, 'Blessed One, although these countries are pure and brilliant, I wish to be reborn in the Most Happy World of Amita Buddha. May the Blessed One have compassion on me and teach me how to meditate upon that World rightly.'

Then the Blessed One smiled, and from his mouth he radiated a five-colored ray which he cast upon Bimbisara, the King, who was in the seven-walled cell. Although, he was imprisoned, his mind was free and undisturbed. He saluted the Blessed One (on seeing the ray; and at that moment) he gained the Saintly State of Anagamin.

Then the Blessed One told Vaidehi, 'Do you know, Vaidehi, that Amita Buddha is not apart from you, when you have concentrated your mind and have accomplished the visualizations that I am going to teach you and also those who, in the future, will desire to be reborn in the Pure Land? One who wishes to be reborn in the Pure Land should cultivate the Three Virtues. They are, firstly, supporting one's parents, (monks don't do that) respecting one's teachers, refraining from killing living beings, (best is to be a vegetarian) and doing the Ten Good Deeds; secondly, taking the Three Refuges, and observing the Precepts perfectly; and thirdly, cherishing the Bodhi-mind, believing the Law of Cause and Effect and encouraging others to do good. These three are called the Pure Deeds.'

The Buddha asked Vaidehi, 'Do you know that these Pure Deeds are the pure deeds and Right Causes of all the Buddha of the three periods--the past, the present and the future?' He then spoke to the Venerable Ananda and Vaidehi, saying, 'Listen! Listen! And ponder on it well. I am going to preach the Law of Pure Karma to all the beings who will be vexed by the Thief , Ignorance, in the future. It is well, Vaidehi, you have entreated me just in time. Ananda, you must spread what the Buddha says to the many. Now I am teaching Vaidehi and all the beings in the future how to visualize the Most Happy World in the West. You will see the Pure Land and its happy things by the power of the Buddha, just as you see your own figure in a clear mirror. (tell you to look at your own self) When you have seen them, you will realize the State of Quietude.'

The Buddha said to Vaidehi, 'You are still a worldly person, so you cannot concentrate your mind properly, and hence you have not the power of clairvoyance to see those Buddha who are far away. But the Buddha has a marvelous way of making you see.'

Then Vaidehi inquired of the Buddha, 'Blessed One, now I shall be able to see the Pure Land by the help of the Buddha's power. But how will those who will be struck by the Five-Sufferings be able to see Amita Buddha's Most Happy World, at the end-period, (at present before the doom) when the Blessed One has passed away?'

The Buddha told Vaidehi, 'You--and all beings--should concentrate your minds on one point and think about the Western Quarter. How is one to think of that? Anyone who is going to think of that should not be a person born blind; and anyone who has eyes must have seen the sun sinking in the West. Sit facing the Western Quarter and think about the place where the sun sinks down. Concentrate your mind upon it without being distracted and look at the sun sinking, resembling a hanging drum. After having seen the sinking sun, you will see it whenever your eyes are open or shut. This is the thinking of the Sun, and it is the First Visualization.'

By looking at the sun, we need to wait for sunset, so by looking at our nose tip, assuming it as the sun, we can meditate day and night in any direction.

'Next you think about water. Notice that water is very pure and that it is indissoluble. When you have seen water thus, then think it is going to freeze. Then see that the ice is the same as crystal, which is transparent. Beneath it there are columns, made of gold, inlaid with the seven jewels, supporting the crystal. These columns have eight facets, each of them has one hundred diamonds. Each of the diamonds has a thousand beams of light. Each of these rays has eighty-four thousand colors. These crystals are as glittering as hundreds and thousands of suns shining together. They are so dazzling that one cannot see them totally. On these crystals there are golden ropes interlaid as ornaments. They are separated by the seven jewels. Each of these jewels has five hundred colors, whose brightness is as that of flowers, or stars and of the moon, suspended in the air, forming a Terrace of Brightness.

'On that Terrace, there are hundreds and thousands of storeyed pavilions, built of a hundred kinds of jewels. At the two sides of the terrace, there are hundreds and thousands of embroidered tapestries and musical instruments as decorations. There are eight kinds of mild breeze coming out from the brightness; and it plays upon those instruments, which produce the sound of the Dharma of Sorrow, of Transitory-ness and of Unreality. This, the Thinking of the Water, and it is the Second Visualization. When this Visualization is completed, see them one by one clearly, and do not let them disappear whether your eyes are open or shut, except at eating times. (This visualization of the water is the tears and eyes. The fantastic elaboration will confuse any reader. The very important point to be stressed is eyes must be open. Some monks look at the floor when they meditate. This visualization is not for you to think when you meditate. This is wrong. It is mainly to describe our face and pinpoint the mark on the forehead. Compare Koran's 'Garden of Eden underneath which rivers flow.')

'Once having attained this Samadhi, one can clearly see the Pure Land, which is indescribable by words. This is the Thinking of the Land, (the mark on our forehead) and it is the Third Visualization.'

The Buddha then addressed to the Venerable Ananda, 'You must hold to the Buddha's words and tell those who wish to escape from suffering in the future to think of the Land. Any person who thinks of the Pure Land will be exempted from rebirth for eight million kalpas of time, and will undoubtedly be reborn into the Pure Land at his next birth. To visualize the Most Happy World as stated above is right, it is wrong to do so otherwise.'

The Buddha told the Venerable Ananda, 'Next to the Thinking of the Land is to visualize the Jewel-trees. That is to visualize the trees that are in seven rows. They are eight thousand yojanas in height and each of them has flowers and leaves made completely of the seven jewels. Every flower and every leaf of those trees has a brilliant hue. A golden ray comes out from the agate color; a crimson ray comes out from the crystal color; a beryl ray comes out from the lapis lazuli color; a green-pearl ray comes out from the beryl color; and there are rays of coral and amber color shining beautifully. There are nets made of strings of pearls covering those trees. Seven of these nets cover each of those trees. Between the nets, there are fifty million luxurious palaces, the same as those in the Brahmin heaven.

'There are heavenly youths in these palaces; each of them wears fifty million Muni-gems as ornaments. The rays of these gems shine for a distance of one thousand yojanas, like a hundred thousand suns shining together (as though their rays were interwoven). All the rays are of the finest color. The jewel-trees are set in rows opposite rows. (like our eye-lashes) There are wonderful flowers and fruits made of the seven jewels between the leaves. Each of the branches of the trees is twenty-five yojanas in length. The leaves have a thousand various colors, like heavenly pictures. There are many flourishing blossoms, golden in color, like turning fire-wheels rolling between the leaves and producing heavenly fruits.

'There is also a great light, which becomes many draperies and canopies. All the affairs of the Buddha, and all the Buddha countries in the ten quarters, appear in these canopies. When you have visualized these trees, look at them one by one: the stems, the branches, the leaves, the flowers and the fruits, should all be very clearly visualized. This is the Meditation on Trees, (eye-lashes) and it is the Fourth Visualization.

'The next is to think of water. That is, to think of the Water of the Eight Virtues in the Most Happy World. This water is composed of the seven jewels, which are limpid and soft. The water flows out from the Muni-gems and distributes itself into fourteen tributaries. Each of the tributaries has varied colors corresponding to the seven jewels, and has yellow gold as its channel. There are diamonds of different colors at the bottoms of these channels. In each of the water pools, there are sixty million lotus flowers, round in shape and twelve yojanas in diameter. That muni-water flows upwards and downwards along the tree to sprinkle the flowers.

'The babbling sound of the water is wonderful. It preaches the Laws of Sorrow, of Transitory-ness and of Unreality, and praises the virtue of the Buddha. The Muni-gem emits a golden ray, which transform itself into many birds of a hundred colors, chattering delicately, praising the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. This is the Meditation of the Water (tears) of the Eight Virtues, and it is the Fifth Visualization.

'There are fifty million Gem-pavilions on each section of the Land of Jewels. In these pavilions, there are numerous heavenly inhabitants playing music; and there are musical instruments hanging in the air like tapestries, sounding without being beaten or performed upon. All the sounds are praising the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. Once having attained this Visualization, one sees the Most Happy World in outline: the Jewel-trees, (eye-lashes) the Jewel-lands (the mark) and the Jewel-lakes. (eyes) This is the Main Visualization, and it is the Sixth One.

'If a person has seen this Visualization, his enormous crimes of countless kalpas are annulled; (your sins are forgiven just by gazing the nose tip) and he will certainly be reborn in the Pure Land after his passing away. One who visualize in this way does right, otherwise one does wrong.'

The Buddha told the Venerable Ananda and Vaidehi. 'Listen! Listen! And ponder it over. I shall tell you of the ways to get rid of suffering one by one. You should remember and practice them well and spread them for the many.'

While saying this, the Buddha of Immeasurable Length of Life appeared in the air. (If you believe this you are idiots.) Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara was standing on his right and Bodhisattva Mahasthamaprapta on his left. Their bodily rays were so brilliant that one could not see them wholly. (The 3 represent the mark and 2 eyes.)

Then, after having seen the Buddha of Immeasurable Length of Life, Vaidehi did obeisance at the feet of the Buddha (Sakyamuni) and said to him. 'Blessed One, now I am able to see the Buddha of Immeasurable Length of Life and these two Bodhisattvas by the Buddha's help. But how will all the beings in the future be able to visualize this Buddha and these two Bodhisattvas?'

The Buddha told Vaidehi, 'Anyone who wishes to visualize this Buddha, should think that in the Land of the Seven Jewels, there are lotus flowers. Think that each of the lotus flowers has a hundred kinds of gem-color and eighty-four thousand veins in the petals, resembling heavenly pictures. These veins have eighty-four thousand rays, all of which are clearly visible. The smaller petals are two hundred and fifty yojanas in length and the same in width. Each of these lotus flowers has eighty-four thousand petals. Between each of them, there are millions and millions of Muni-gems as ornaments. Each of the Muni-gems emits a thousand rays, which are like the canopies, being composed of the seven jewels, covering the whole Land. The Land has the Sakrabhilagna-gem as its pedestal. This pedestal is decorated with eighty-four thousand diamonds, Kimsuka-gems, Muni-gems and the nets of pearls.

'On that pedestal, there are four columns, each of which is as high as hundreds and thousands of Sumerus. The curtains that hang on those columns are like those in the Yemo Heaven. Again, there are fifty million fine gems embedded on those columns as ornaments. Each of these gems has eighty-four thousand rays. Each of the rays effuses eighty-four thousand different golden colors. Each of the golden colors extends throughout the whole Jewel-land, and takes different shapes in different places: some are like diamond-terraces, others like pearl-nets and multi-colored clouds. They change their forms variously in the ten quarters and perform the affairs of the Buddha. This is the Visualization of the Lotus Petals, and it is the Seventh One.' (Lotus represents eye.)

The Buddha told the Venerable Ananda, 'This kind of wonderful lotus flower is formed by the power of Bhikshu Dgarmakara's will. One who wishes to be reborn in the Pure Land, should think of those lotus petals. When one is thinking of them, one should have no other thoughts in the mind, and should visualize one article after the others. Each leaf, each pearl, each ray, each terrace, and each column, are all as clear as when one sees one's own figure in a mirror. (You are looking at your own face) When one has completed this Visualization, one is released from rebirth for fifty thousand million kalpas, and will undoubtedly be reborn into the Most Happy World. To visualize them in this way is right; it is wrong otherwise.'

The Buddha told the Venerable Ananda and Veidehi, 'When you have seen what I have just stated, you should next think of that Buddha (the Buddha of Immeasurable Length of Life). Why? Because the body of the Buddha is the Body of the Universe, and it is within the mind of all beings. Therefore, when you think of that Buddha, your mind is the One who has the thirty-two Magnificent Figures and the eighty Virtues. It is the mind that is to become a Buddha; and it is the mind that is a Buddha. (Can you understand now? Our mind is the Buddha.) The Ocean of the Omniscient Wisdom of all Buddha grows up from the mind. Hence you should visualize (meditate) absorbedly that Buddha, the Exalted One, the Fully Enlightened One. (The Mark on our forehead)

'One who visualize that Buddha, should think of His figure first. Whether one's eyes are open or shut, one sees a magnificent figure of a yellowish golden color, sitting on a Lotus-seat. Having seen the figure of that Buddha thus seated, one's mental vision is opened and one can see the Most Happy World clearly: the Jewel-lands, Jewel-lakes, Jewel-trees in rows, over which there are heavenly curtains, and Jewel-nets in the air. All of these are decorated with the seven kinds of gems. These things can be seen as clearly as one sees one's own palm.

'After you have seen the things mentioned above, then visualize a large lotus flower, similar to the previous one, golden in color, on the left of the Buddha. And think of another one on the right of Him. Then think of Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara sitting on the left one (eye) and Bodhisattva Mahasthamaprapta on the right one. (right eye) When this Visualization is accomplished, the Buddha and the two Bodhisattvas will be seen emitting golden rays falling on the Jewel-trees. Under each of them there are also three lotus flowers on which a Buddha and two Bodhisattvas are sitting respectively. Such are seen at everywhere of the Pure Land.

'When one has achieved this Visualization, one can hear the murmuring sound of the streams and see the rays, jewel-trees and sheldrakes and mandarin ducks, whose voices praise the Wonderful Law. Whether one's mind is concentrated or not, one can constantly hear that Wonderful Law. Whatever one hears should be compatible with the Sutras, otherwise it is composed of vain thoughts. If it is compatible with the Sutras, it is indeed seeing the Most Happy World. This is the Visualization of the Figure (of that Buddha), and it is the Eight One. One who practices this Visualization, is exempted from rebirth for immeasurable kalpas of time and will attain to the Samadhi of Visualization in his present life.'

The Buddha told the Venerable Ananda and Vaidehi, 'When you have completed the thinking described above, then think of the body of the Buddha of Immeasurable Length of Life, which is very bright. Ananda, you should know that that Buddha's body is as bright as hundreds and thousands of golden rays in the Yemo Heaven. It is sixty million Ganges Rivers Sands yojanas high. His eyebrows twine rightwards, (to the length of) five Sumerus. His eyes are as brilliant as the water of the four seas, and the pupils and white of his eyes are distinguishable. There are rays coming out from the pores of his body. The halo of that Buddha is as large as millions of the Great (Groups of) Thousands of Worlds. And in the halo, there are hundreds and thousands of Reflections of the Buddha. Each of the Reflections has countless Bodhisattvas as his attendants.

'The Buddha of Immeasurable Length of Life has eighty-four thousand Appearances. Each of the Appearances has eighty-four thousand (materialized) Virtues. Each of the (materialized) Virtues has eighty-four thousand beams of light, each of them shines upon all the beings of the ten quarters who visualize that Buddha completely. The beams of light, the Appearances of that Buddha and the Reflection-Buddha are all so excellent that they are beyond description. But one can see them by mental vision in the Visualizations.. One who sees these things, see all the Buddha of the ten quarters. The sight of the Buddha is called the Samadhi of Visualization.

'Seeing this Visualization is seeing the bodies of all the Buddha, and thus one sees the Mind of the Buddha. The Mind of a Buddha is the Great Compassion, (mercy seat or where sins are forgiven in New Testament) out of which Buddha help all beings. One who practices this Visualization, will be reborn in the presence of all the Buddha, and gain the State of Quietude, when he quits his present body. Therefore the wise person should try to visualize the Buddha of Immeasurable Length of Life. One who visualize the Buddha of Immeasurable Length of Life should commence with the First Appearance. That is to visualize that Buddha's White Eyebrows clearly. When one has seen this Appearance of White Eyebrows, the eighty-four thousand Virtues will manifest themselves subsequently. One who sees the Buddha of Immeasurable Length of Life, sees all the Buddha of the Ten Quarters, by whom is promised (that one will become a Buddha in the future). This is the Visualization of Seeing all the Buddha, and it is the Ninth One. To visualize it in this way is right, it is wrong otherwise.'

The Buddha told the Venerable Ananda and Vaidehi, 'After you have seen the Buddha of Immeasurable Length of Life distinctly, you should then visualize Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, whose body is eighty million yojanas in height and golden-purple in color. There is a natural Small Hump in the middle of Her head, and near Her neck is a halo, which is a hundred thousand yojanas in diameter. There are five hundred Reflection-Buddha, all like Sakyamuni Buddha, in that halo. Each of them has five hundred Bodhisattvas and many gods as attendants. The five kinds of beings are reflected in the rays emitted from Her body. She is crowned with a corona made of Bhilagne-Muni gems. On the corona, there stands a Reflection-Buddha, who is twenty-five yojanas high. Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara's countenance is of a yellowish golden color. Her eyebrows are of the color of the seven jewels, and they emit eighty-four thousand kinds of rays. There are countless Reflection-Bodhisattvas as Her attendants. They appear in the worlds of the ten quarters.

'The color of Her arms is of that of a red lotus flower, and they are ornamented with eight million refulgent rays, in which all magnificent things appear. Her palms are color of variegated lotus flowers. She has ten slender fingers. At the top of each finger, there are eighty-four thousand pictures. Each of these pictures has eighty-four thousand colors; each of these colors has eighty-four thousand beams of light, which are very soft, and light up the whole world. It is with these hands that the Bodhisattva receives all beings. When She lifts one of Her feet, one sees the Figure of One Thousand Wheels on the sole, which spontaneously becomes fifty million Light-Terraces. There are Diamond-Muni flowers scattered on the place where She puts Her foot down.

'The other Appearances of Hers are as good and perfect as those of a Buddha. Except that the Small Hump in the middle of Her head and the Figure of the Invisible Cranium are slightly different from those of a Buddha. This is the Visualization of Seeing the Real Body of Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, and it is the Tenth One.'

The Buddha told the Venerable Ananda, 'One who wishes to visualize Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, should do so as stated above. Any person who visualizes Her in this way will not encounter any calamities; he can avoid all the results of evil karma and is exempted from rebirth for numberless kalpas. Anyone who has heard the name of such a Bodhisattva gains much felicity; it is far better, if one visualizes Her.

'One who wishes to visualize Bodhisattvas Avalokitesvara should first visualize the Small Hump (should be nose) on Her head clearly, next the Corona and so forth gradually. One should see them all as clearly as one sees one's own palm. to visualize them in this way is right, otherwise it is wrong. The next step is to visualize Bodhisattva Mahasthamprapta, whose body is the same in size as that of Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara. Her halo is twenty-five yojanas in diameter and it shines to the the distance of two hundred and fifty yojanas. The light of Her whole body, which is golden-purple in color, lights up all the countries of the ten quarters. One can see this, if one has such an opportunity. Whoever sees the light coming out of one pore of this Bodhisattva, sees all the Buddha of the ten quarters, all of whom are pure and brilliant. Hence this Bodhisattva is also called the Bodhisattva of Limitless Light.

'She shines with the Light of Wisdom upon all, enabling them to get rid of the Three Evil Ways, and attain the Supreme Power of Bodhi. Therefore She is called Mahasthamprapta (the Powerful One). There are five hundred jewel-flowers on the Corona of this Bodhisattva; each of these jewel-flowers has five hundred jewel-terraces, on which all grand things of the ten quarters appear. The Small Hump of Her head is like a Padma-flower, on which there is a jewel-bottle, full of light that shows all the affairs of the Buddha. The other Appearances of this Bodhisattva are the same as those of Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara.

When this Bodhisattva is walking, the earth of the ten quarters trembles. Where the earth shakes, there are fifty million gem-flowers. Each of these flowers is as rare and excellent as those in the Most Happy World. The earth formed of the seven jewels trembles too, when She sits down. The Reflection-Bodies of the Buddha of Immeasurable Length of Life and the Reflection-Bodies of Avalokitesvara and Mahsthamprapta Bodhisattvas, which pass down to the country of the Buddha of Golden Rays and up to the land of the Buddha named the King of Light, are gathered together in the Most happy World, sitting on lotus seats in the air, preaching the Wonderful Law to all suffering beings.

'This is the Visualization of Seeing Mahasthamprapta Bodhisattva, whose corporal form is as stated above, and it is the Eleventh One. One who performs this visualization is exempted from rebirth for numerous kalpas, and will never be reborn from the womb, but in those Buddha Pure Lands. When this Visualization is completed, it is the Completion of Seeing Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva and Mahasthamprapta Bodhisattva. When one has seen all the things stated above, one should think that one is being born in the Most Happy World, sitting cross-legged in a lotus flower; and imagine that the lotus is closing and opening its petals.

'One should then think that, when the lotus opens, there are rays of five hundred colors shining upon oneself, and when one's eyes are open one sees that there are Buddha and Bodhisattvas in the air. The sounds of flowing water, of birds and of trees, and the voices of the Buddha, all preach the Wonderful Law, in accordance with the twelve divisions of the Dharma. Even when one is not visualizing these things, one can remember them all without forgetting them. Seeing these things is seeing the Most Happy World of the Buddha of Immeasurable Length of Life. This is the General Visualization, and it is the Twelfth One.

'The Buddha of Immeasurable Length of Life has numerous Reflection Figures. They come frequently with Avalokitesvara and Mahasthamprapta Bodhisattvas to the person who visualize Him.'

The Buddha told the Venerable Ananda and Vaidehi, 'One who sincerely wishes to be reborn to the Western Land, should first visualize the sixteen-foot-high figure of the Buddha of Immeasurable Length of Life, standing above the water of a pool, as described before. The body of that Buddha is inconceivable; the mental power of a worldly person could not imagine it. But He performed an act of will in the past that, should any person visualize Him, he (the person) would succeed. One who visualizes only His Visage gets boundless felicity; it is still more so, if one visualizes His Complete Figure.

'Amita Buddha's supernatural power is limitless; He can appear, in the countries of the ten quarters, as big as the Universe itself, or as small as only eight or sixteen feet high. All these appearances are golden in color and have halos, Reflection-Buddha and Lotus-seats, as stated already.

'The figure of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva and that of Mahasthamprapta Bodhisattva are at everywhere like that of ordinary people. One knows which is Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva and which is Mahasthamprapta Bodhisattva by looking at the special figures (2 eyes) on their heads. These two Bodhisattvas assist Amita Buddha in edifying all beings. This is the Mixed Visualization, and it is the thirteenth One.'

The elaborate description of the two bodhisattvas is actually the two eyes on our heads. So Amita Buddha is at the middle between these two eyes. This Buddha is also the Buddha of Immeasurable Length of Life equivalent to our soul or spirit which can never die or is eternal.

The other three visualizations are not important. They only confuse the readers further.

While hearing these words from the Buddha, Queen Vaidehi and her five hundred maids (where did they come from if the Queen was in prison as stated before) of honor saw the Most Happy World completely: the Buddha (Amita) and the two Bodhisattvas. They were highly delighted on seeing these and acknowledged that they had never seen such things before. They realized the Truth and attained to the State of Quietude at once. At the same time, the five hundred maids of honor cherished the Mind of Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi and had the wish to be reborn in the Pure Land. The Buddha promised them that it would be so and that after having born in the Country, they would obtain the Samadhi of the Buddha.

There were many heavenly beings who at the moment cultivated the Mind of the Supreme Dharma.

At that time, the Venerable Ananda rose up from his seat and inquired of the Buddha, saying, 'Blessed One, what will be the name of the present Sutra, and how should one realize this Dharma?' To this the Buddha answered, 'This Sutra shall be called "The Sutra of Visualizing the Buddha of Immeasurable Length of Life, Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva and Mahasthamprapta Bodhisattva of the Most Happy World". And it may also be entitled as "The Sutra of Purifying Evil Deeds and Being born in the Presence of the Buddha." You should realize it constantly and not let it be forgotten.

'One who realizes this Samadhi will see the Buddha of Immeasurable Length of Life and the two Bodhisattvas in one's present life. Any good man or good woman who has heard the name of that Buddha and those of the two Bodhisattvas, will be exempted from the result of evil karmas of rebirth of countless kalpas. It is needless to say what the advantages of visualizing and thinking of them will be, if one does so. One who repeats that Buddha's name, is a Pundarika flower among mankind, and has Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva and Mahasthamprapta Bodhisattva as his benefactor. He will sit under a Bo-tree and will achieve Enlightenment.'

The Buddha told the Venerable Ananda, 'You should remember well what I have expounded. Remembering those words has the same merit as repeating the name of that Buddha.'

When the Buddha had delivered this sermon, the Venerable Mahamaudgalyayana, the Venerable Ananda, Queen Vaidehi and all who were present were very much pleased on hearing His words.

Then the Blessed One, walking in the air, returned to the Gridhrakuta mountain. The Venerable Ananda (when he had returned to the Mountain with the Buddha), reiterated the foregoing Dharma for all the Bhikshus, and many gods, dragons and Raksassas. They were all very happy on hearing what the Buddha had said (through the Venerable Ananda), and retired with pleasure after having paid homage to the Buddha.

I repeat, a sutra is a sermon by Gautama Buddha (who is human) and the fantastic elaboration in the sutra is in parable only. The Gridhrakuta mountain represents our nose. The important point is that the mark on the forehead is the mid-point between the two eyes, and nasal gaze is to look at the nose tip. This might be a bit confusing. It can be explained as: we look to Jesus Christ outside the city (ie the nose), since Jesus was crucified outside the city, Jerusalem, which is the mark on the forehead. (This is recorded in the New Testament.)

The first visualization is about nasal gaze. The second to the thirteenth visualizations are to indicate the mark on our forehead.

The Sutra Of HUI NENG

Before I start I want to say something first. Hui Neng received the bowl and robe when he was still a lay man. Buddhist discipline is strict, but why the exception for him. This is to say law is man made so can be broken. God has no law.

Chapter 1--Autobiography

Once, when the Patriach had arrived at Pao Lam Monastery, Prefect Wai of Shiu Chow and other officials went there to ask him to deliver public lectures on Buddhism in the hall of Tai Fan Temple in the City (of Canton).

In due course, there were assembled (in the lecture hall) Prefect Wai, government officials and Confucian scholars, about thirty each, and Bhikkhus, Bhikkhunis, Taoist and laymen, to the number of about one thousand. After the Patriarch had taken his seat, the congregation in a body paid him homage and asked him to preach on the fundamental laws of Buddhism. Whereupon, His Holiness delivered the following address:--

Learned Audience, our Essence of Mind (literally, self-nature) which is the seed or kernel of enlightenment (Bodhi) is pure by nature, and by making use of this mind alone we can reach Buddha-hood directly. [(Compare this with Visualizing Sutra's - Because the body of the Buddha is the Body of the Universe, and it is within the mind of all beings. Therefore, when you think of that Buddha, your mind is the One who has the thirty-two Magnificent Figures and the eighty Virtues. It is the mind that is to become a Buddha; and it is the mind that is a Buddha. Buddhist term for the One is our mind. It is a bit confusing when explaining this Buddhist reasoning. Even in Bhagavad Gita there are more terms to confuse readers. If we stick to one let say our soul or spirit, then we can understand all scriptures. The statement said Mind is a Buddha, so why must the Buddhists pray to Buddha made of paper, cloth, wood, metals, stones etc? Is not this stupid of you?)]

Now let me tell you something about my own life and how I came into possession of the esoteric teaching of the Dhyana (or the Zen) School.

My father, a native of Fan Yang, was dismissed from his official post and banished to be a commoner in Sun Chow in Kwangtung. I was unlucky in that my father died when I was very young, leaving my mother poor and miserable. We moved to Kwang Chow (Canton) and were then in very bad circumstances.

I was selling firewood in the market one day, when one of my customers ordered some to be brought to his shop. Upon delivery being made and payment received, I left the shop, outside of which I found a man reciting a Sutra. As soon as I heard the text of this Sutra my mind at once became enlightened. Thereupon I asked the man the name of the book he was reciting and was told that it was the Diamond Sutra (Vajracchedika or Diamond Cutter). I further enquired whence he came and why he recited this particular Sutra. He replied that he came from Tung Tsan Monastery in the Wong Mui District of Kee Chow; that the Abbot in charge of this temple was Hwang Yan, the Fifth Patriarch; he attended lectures on this Sutra. He further told me that His Holiness used to encourage the laity as well as the monks to recite this scripture, as by doing so they might realize their own Essence of Mind, and thereby reach Buddha-hood directly.

It must be due to my good karma in past lives that I heard about this, and that I was given ten taels for the maintenance of my mother by a man who advised me to go to Wong Mui to interview the fifth Patriarch. After arrangements had been made for her, I left for Wong Mui, which took me less than thirty days to reach.

I then went to pay homage to the Patriarch, and was asked where I came from and what I expected to get from him. I replied, "I am a commoner from sun Chow of Kwangtung. I have traveled far to pay you respect and I ask for nothing but Buddhahood." "You are a native of Kwangtung, a barbarian? (I call some people idiot is not wrong) How can you expect to be a Buddha?" asked the Patriarch. I replied, "Although there are northern men and southern men, north and south make no different to their Buddha-nature. A barbarian is different from Your Holiness physically, but there is no difference in our Buddha-nature." (Tao is in everything.) He was going to speak further to me, but the presence of other disciples made him stop short. He then ordered me to join the crowd to work.

"May I tell Your Holiness," said I, "that Prajna (transcendental Wisdom) often rises in my mind. When one does not go astray from one's own Essence of Mind, one may be called the 'field of merits.' I do not know what work Your Holiness would ask me to do?"

"This barbarian is too bright," he remarked. "Go to the stable and speak no more." I then withdrew myself to the backyard and was told by a lay brother to split firewood and to pound rice.

More than eight months after, the Patriarch saw me one day and said, 'I know your knowledge of Buddhism is very sound; but I have to refrain from speaking to you, lest evil doers should do you harm. Do you understand?" "Yes Sir, I do," I replied. "To avoid people taking notice of me, I dare not go near your hall."

The Patriarch one day assembled all his disciples and said to them, "The question of incessant rebirth is a momentous one. Day after day, instead of trying to free yourselves from this bitter sea o life and death, you seem to go after tainted merits only (ie merits which will cause rebirth). Yet merits will be of no help, if your Essence of Mind is obscured. Go and seek for Prajna (wisdom) in your own mind and then write me a stanza about it. He who understands what the Essence of Mind is will be given the robe (the insignia of the Patriarchate) and the Dharma (ie the esoteric teaching of the Dhyana School), (sealing on the mark on the forehead) and I shall make him the sixth Patriarch. Go away quickly. Delay not in writing the stanza, as deliberation is quite unnecessary and of no use. The man who has realized the Essence of Mind can speak of it at once, as soon as he is spoken to about it; and he cannot lose sight of it, even when engaged in battle."

Having received this instruction, the disciples withdrew and said to one another, "It is of no use for us to concentrate our mind to write the stanza and submit it to His Holiness, since the Patriarchate is bound to be won by Shin Shau, our instructor. And if we write perfunctorily, it will only be a waste of energy." Upon hearing this, all of them made up their minds not to write and said, "Why should we take the trouble? Here after, we will simply follow our instructor, Shin Shau, wherever he goes, and look to him for guidance."

Meanwhile, Shin Shau reasoned thus with himself. "Considering that I am their teacher, none of them will take part in the competition. I wonder whether I should write stanza and submit it to His Holiness. If I do not, how can the Patriarch know how deep or superficial my knowledge is? If my object is to get the Dharma, my motive is a pure. If I were after the Patriarchate, then it would be bad. In that case, my mind would be that of a world-ling and my action would amount to robbing the Patriarch's holy seat. But if I do not submit the stanza, I shall never have a chance of getting the Dharma. A very difficult point to decide, indeed!"

In front of the Patriarch's hall there were three corridors, the walls of which were to be painted by a court artist, named Lo Chun, with pictures from the Lankavatara (Sutra) depicting the transfiguration of the assembly, and with scenes showing the genealogy of the five Patriarchs for the information and veneration of the public.

When Shin Shau had composed his stanza he made several attempts to submit it to the Patriarch; but as soon as he went near the hall his mind was so perturbed that he sweated all over. He could not screw up courage to submit it, although in the course of four days he made altogether thirteen attempts to do so.

Then he suggested to himself, "It would be better for me to write it on the wall of the corridor and let the Patriarch see it for himself. If he approves it, I shall come out to pay homage, and tell him that it is done by me; but if he disapproves it, then I shall have wasted several years in this mountain in receiving homage from others which I by no means deserve! In that case, what progress have I made in learning Buddhism?"

At 12 O'clock that night he went secretly with a lamp to write the stanza on the wall of the south corridor, so that the Patriarch might know what spiritual insight he had attained. The stanza read:-- 'Our body is the Bodhi-tree, And our mind a mirror bright. Carefully we wipe them hour by hour, And let no dust alight.'

As soon as he had written it he left at once for his room; so nobody knew what he had done. In his room he again pondered: "When the Patriarch sees my stanza tomorrow and is pleased with it, I shall be ready for the Dharma; but if he says that it is badly done, it will mean that I am unfit for the Dharma, owing to the misdeeds in previous lives which thickly becloud my mind. It is difficult to know what the Patriarch will say about it!" In this vein he kept on thinking until dawn, as he could neither sleep nor sit at ease.

But the Patriarch knew already that Shin Shau had not entered the door of enlightenment, and that he had not known the Essence of Mind.

In the morning, he sent for Mr. Lo, the court artist, and went with him to the south corridor to have the walls there painted with pictures. By chance, he saw the stanza. "I am sorry to have troubled you to come so far," he said to the artist. "The walls need not be painted now, as the Sutra says, 'All forms or phenomena are transient and illusive.' It will be better to leave the stanza here, so that people may study it and recite it. If they put its teaching into actual practice, they will be saved from the misery of being born in these evil realms of existence. The merit gained by one who practices it will be great indeed!"

He then ordered incense to be burnt, and all his disciples to pay homage to it and to recite it, so that they might realize the Essence of Mind. After they had recited it, all of them exclaimed, "Well done!"

At midnight, the Patriarch sent for Shin Shau to come to the hall, and asked him whether the stanza was written by him or not. "It was, Sir," replied Shin Shau. "I dare not be so vain as to expect to get the Patriarchate, but I wish Your Holiness would kindly tell me whether my stanza shows the least grain of wisdom."

"Your stanza," replied the Patriarch, "shows that you have not yet realized the Essence of Mind. So far you have reached the 'door of enlightenment,' but you have not yet entered it. To seek for supreme enlightenment with such an understanding as yours can hardly by successful. To attain supreme enlightenment, one must be able to know spontaneously one's own nature or Essence of Mind, which is neither created nor can it be annihilated. From Ksana to Ksana (momentary sensations), one should be able to realize the Essence of Mind all the time. All things will then be free from restraint (emancipated). Once the Tathata (Such-ness, another name for the Essence of Mind) is known, one will be free from delusion for ever; and in all circumstances, one's mind will be in a state of 'Thus-ness.' Such a state of mind is absolute truth. If you can see things in such a frame of mind, you will have known the Essence of Mind, which is supreme enlightenment.

"You had better go back to think it over again for a couple of days, and then submit me another stanza. If your stanza shows that you have entered the 'door of enlightenment,' I will transmit you the robe and the Dharma."

Shin Shau made obeisance to the Patriarch and left. For several days, he tried in vain to write another stanza. This upset his mind so much that he was ill at ease as if he were in a nightmare, and he could find comfort neither in sitting nor in walking.

Two days after, it happened that a young boy who was passing by the room where I was pounding rice recited loudly the stanza written by Shin Shau. As soon as I heard it, I knew at once that the composer of it had not yet realized the Essence of Mind. For although I had not been taught about it at that time, I already had a general idea of it.

"What stanza is this?" I asked the boy. "You barbarian," he replied, "don't you know about it? The Patriarch told his disciples that the question of incessant rebirth was a momentous one, that those who wished to inherit his robe and Dharma should write him a stanza, and that the one who had an understanding of the Essence of mind would get them and be made the Sixth Patriarch. Elder Shin Shau wrote this 'Formless ' Stanza on the wall of the south corridor and the Patriarch told us to recite it. He also said that those who put its teaching into actual practice would attain great merit, and be saved from the misery of being born in the evil realms of existence."

I told the boy that I wished to recite the stanza too, so that I might have an affinity with its teaching in future life. I also told him that although I had been pounding rice there for eight months, I had never been to the hall, and that he would have to show me where the stanza was to unable me to make obeisance to it.

The boy took me there and I asked him to read it to me, as I am illiterate. A petty officer of the Kong Chau District named Chang Tat Yung, who happened to be there, read it out to me. When he had finished reading I told him that I also had composed a stanza, and asked him to write it for me. "Extraordinary indeed," he exclaimed "that you also can compose a stanza!"

"Don't despise a beginner," said I, "if you are a seeker of supreme enlightenment. You should know that the lowest class may have the sharpest wit, while the highest may be in want of intelligence. If you slight others, you commit a very great sin."

"Dictate your stanza," said he. "I'll take it down for you. But do not forget to deliver me, should you succeed in getting the Dharma!"

My stanza read:-- 'There is no Bodhi-tree, nor stand of a mirror bright. Since all is void, where can the dust alight?' (The mark on the forehead is a void, so everything is void. What there to think about?.)

When he had written this, all disciples and others who were present were greatly surprised. Filled with admiration, they said to one another, "How wonderful! No doubt we should not judge people by appearance. How can it be that for so long we have made a Bodhisattva incarnate work for us?"

Seeing that the crowd was overwhelmed with amazement, the Patriarch rubbed off the stanza with his shoe, lest jealous ones should do me harm. He expressed the opinion, which they took for granted, that the author of this stanza had also not yet realized the Essence of Mind.

Next day the Patriarch came secretly to the room where the rice was pounded. Seeing that I was working there with a stone pestle, he said to me, "A seeker of the Path risks his life for the Dharma. Should he not do so?" Then he asked, "Is the rice ready?" "Ready long ago," I replied, "only waiting for the sieve." He knocked the mortar thrice with his stick and left.

Knowing what his message meant, in the third watch of the night I went to his room. Using the robe as a screen so that none could see us, he expounded the Diamond Sutra to me. When he came to the sentence, "One should use one's mind in such a way that it will be free from any attachment," I at once became thoroughly enlightened, and realized that all things in the universe are the Essence of Mind itself. (Tao is in everything.)

"Who would have thought," I said to the Patriarch, "that the Essence of Mind is intrinsic pure! Who would have thought that the Essence of Mind is intrinsically free from becoming or annihilation! (eternal) Who would have thought that the Essence of Mind is intrinsic self-sufficient! Who would have thought that the Essence of Mind is intrinsic free from change! Who would have thought that all things are the manifestation of the Essence of Mind!" (Bodhi is translated here into Essence of Mind. It is actually our soul or spirit and named Tao in Taoism.)

Knowing that I had realized the Essence of Mind, the Patriarch said, "For him who does not know his own mind, there is no use learning Buddhism. On the other hand, if he knows his own mind and see intuitively his own nature, he is a Hero, a 'Teacher of gods and men,' 'Buddha'." (Hui Neng was a lay man and had no Buddhist teaching from any one and he cannot read or write. A person who is fated to be an enlightened person will achieve his goal no matter how. Gautama Buddha was predicted to be a holy man when he was just born as a baby and some wrote that he pointed one index to the sky and the other index to the earth. Also Jesus when still a baby wealthy merchants visited him. This is a PLAN by the mysterious One. We are only actors and actresses. Once you are handed a role of a beggar, you have to act a beggar, a king, act as a king and an enlightened man as a Buddha, Saint, prophet etc. act as one of them.)

Thus, to the knowledge of no one, the Dharma was transmitted to me at midnight (sealing the mark on the forehead), and consequently I became the inheritor of the teaching of the 'Sudden' School as well as of the robe and the begging bowl.

"You are now the Sixth Patriarch," said he. "Take good care of yourself, and deliver as many sentient beings as possible. Spread and preserve the teaching, and don't let it come to an end. Take note of my stanza:-- 'Sentient beings who sow the seeds of enlightenment, in the field of Causation will reap the fruit of Buddha-hood. Inanimate objects void of Buddha-nature, sow not and reap not.'

He further said, "When the Patriarch Bodhidharma first came to China, most Chinese had no confidence in him, and so this robe was handed down as a testimony from one Patriarch to another. As to the Dharma, this is transmitted from heart to heart, and the recipient must realize it by his own efforts. From time immemorial it has been the practice for one Buddha to pass to his successor the quintessence of the Dharma, and for one Patriarch to transmit to another the esoteric teaching from heart to heart. As the robe may give cause for dispute, you are the last one to inherit it. Should you hand it down to your successor, your life would be in imminent danger. (a change of order to transmit Dharma to many) Now leave this place as quickly as you can, lest some one should do you harm."

Back  P2  P3  P4

Edited on 10th June 2008