The Seventh Day
Dear friends, allow me to congratulate you for the merits you have accumulated in the Ch’an week which comes to an end today. According to the standing rule, those of you who have experienced and realized (the truth) should come forward in this hall as did candidates who sat for a scholar’s examination held previously in the imperial palace. Today, being the day of posting the list of successful graduates, should be one for congratulations. However, (the venerable) abbot has been most compassionate and (has decided to) continue this Ch’an meeting for another week so that we can all make additional efforts for further progress (in self-cultivation).
All the masters who are present here and are old hands in this training, know that it is a wonderful opportunity for co-operation and will not throw away their precious time. But those who are beginners, should know that it is difficult to acquire a human body and that the question of birth and death is important. As we have human bodies, we should know that it is difficult to get the chance to hear the Buddha Dharma and meet learned teachers. Today you have come to the “precious mountain” and should take advantage of this excellent opportunity to make every possible effort (in your self- cultivation) in order not to return home empty-handed.
As I have said, our Sect’s Dharma which was transmitted by the World Honored One when he held up a flower to show it to the assembly, has been handed down from one generation to another. Although Ananda was a cousin of the Buddha and left home to follow him as an attendant, he did not succeed in attaining the truth in the presence of the World Honored One. After the Buddha had entered nirvana, his great disciples assembled in a cave (to compile sutras) but Ananda was not permitted by them to attend the meeting. Mahakasyapa said to him: “You have not acquired the World Honored One’s Mind Seal, so please pull down the banner-pole in front of the door.” Thereupon, Ananda was thoroughly enlightened. Then Mahakasyapa transmitted to him the Tathagata’s Mind Seal, making him the second Indian Patriarch. The transmission was handed down to following generations, and after the Patriarchs Asvaghosa and Nagarjuna, Ch’an master Hui Wen of T’ien T’ai mountain in the Pei Ch’i dynasty (A.D. 550-578) after reading (Nargajuna’s) Madhyamika Sastra, succeeded in realizing his own mind and founded the T’ien T’ai School. At the time, our Ch’an Sect was very flourishing. Later, when the T’ien T’ai School fell into decadence, State master Teh Shao (a Ch’an master) journeyed to Korea (where the only copy of Chih I’s works existed), copied it and returned to revive the Sect.
Bodhidharma who was the twenty-eighth Indian Patriarch, came to the East where he became the first (Chinese) Patriarch. From his transmission (of the Dharma) until the (time of the) Fifth Patriarch, the Mind-lamp shone brilliantly. The Sixth Patriarch had forty-three successors among whom were (the eminent) Ch’an masters Hsing Szu and Huai Jang. Then came (Ch’an master) Ma Tsu who had eighty-three successors. At the time, the Right Dharma reached its zenith and was held in reverence by emperors and high officials. Although the Tathagata expounded many Dharmas, the Sect’s was the unsurpassed one.
As to the Dbarma which consists in repeating only the name of Amitabha (Buddha), it was extolled by (Ch’an Patriarchs) Asvaghosa and Nagarjuna, and after master Hui Yuan, Ch’an master Yen Shou of the Yung Ming monastery became the Sixth Patriarch of the Pure Land Sect (Chin T’u Tsung), which was subsequently spread by many other Ch’an masters.
Lu Tung Pin, alias Shun Yang, a native of Ching Ch’uan, was one of the (famous) group of eight immortals. Towards the end of the T’ang dynasty, he stood thrice for the scholar’s examination but failed each time. Being disheartened, he did not return home, and one day, he met by chance in a wine-shop at Ch’ang An, an immortal named Chung Li Ch’uan who taught him the method of lengthening his span of life infinitely. Lu Tung Pin practiced the method with great success and could even become invisible and fly in the air at will all over the country. One day, he paid a flying visit to the Hai Hui monastery on Lu Shan mountain; in its bell tower, he wrote on the wall:
(After) a day of leisure when the body is at ease,
The six organs (now) in harmony, announce that all is well.
With a gem in the pubic region there’s no need to search for truth,
When mindless of surroundings, there’s no need for Ch’an.