The Third Day
Time passes quickly (indeed); we have only just opened this Ch’an week and it is already the third day. Those who have efficiently held the hua t’ou (in their minds) have (been able to) clear up their passions and wrong thoughts; they can now go straight home. For this reason, an ancient (master) said:
Self-cultivation has no other method;
It requires but knowledge of the way.
If the way only can be known,
Birth and death at once will end.
Our way consists in laying down our baggage and our home is very near. The Sixth Patriarch said: “If the preceding thought does not arise, it is mind. If the following thought does not end, it is Buddha.”
Fundamentally, our four elements are void and the five aggregates (skandhas) are non-existent. It is only because of (our) wrong thoughts which grasp (everything) that we like the illusion of the (impermanent) world and are thereby held in bondage. Consequently, we are unable to (perceive) the voidness of the four elements and (to realize) the nonexistence of birth and death. However, if in a single thought, we can have an experience of that which is not born, there will be no need for those Dharma doors expounded by Sakyamuni Buddha. (If so) can it still be said that birth and death cannot be brought to an end? On that account, the brightness of our Sect’s Dharma really illumines the boundless space in the ten directions.
Master Teh Shan was a native of Chien Chou town in Szu Ch’uan. His lay surname was Chou. He left home at the age of twenty. After being fully ordained, he studied the Vinaya-pitaka which he mastered. He was well-versed in the teaching of the noumenal and phenomenal as expounded in the sutras. He used to teach the Diamond Prajna and was called “Diamond Chou”.
Said he to his schoolmates:
When he heard that the Ch’an Sect was flourishing in the South, he could not keep his temper and said: “All who leave home take a thousand aeons to learn the Buddha’s respect-inspiring deportment and ten thousand aeons to study the Buddha’s fine deeds; (in spite of this) they are still unable to attain Buddhahood. How can those demons in the south dare to say that the direct indication of the mind leads to the perception of the (self-) nature and attainment of Buddhahood? I must (go to the south,) sweep away their den and destroy their race to repay the debt of gratitude I owe the Buddha.”
He left Szu Ch’uan province with Ch’ing Lung’s Commentary on his shoulders. When he reached Li Yang, he saw an old woman selling tien hsin (lit. mind-refreshment) on the roadside. He halted, laid down his load and intended to buy some pastries to refresh his mind. The old woman pointed at the load and asked him: “What is this literature?” Teh Shan replied: “Ch’ing Lung’s Commentary.” The old woman asked: “Commentary on what sutra?” Teh Shin replied: “On the Diamond Sutra.” The Old woman said: “I have a question to ask you; if you can answer it, I will offer you mind-refreshment. If you cannot reply, (please) go away. The Diamond Sutra says: ‘The past, present and future mind cannot be found.’ What do you want to refresh?”
Teh Shan remained speechless. He (1eft the place and) went to the Dragon Pond (Lung T’an) monastery. He entered the Dharma hall and said: “I have long desired to see the Dragon Pond, but as I arrive here, neither is the pond seen nor does the dragon appear.” Hearing this, (Master) Lung T’an came out and said: “You have really arrived at the Dragon Pond.” Teh Shan remained speechless; he then (made up his mind to) stay at the monastery.
One night, while he was standing (as an attendant) by Lung T’an, the latter said to him: “It is late now, why don’t you go back to your quarters?” After wishing his master good night, he withdrew but returned and said: “It is very dark outside.” Lung T’an lit a paper-torch and handed it to him. When Teh Shan was about to take the torch, Lung T’an blew out the light.
Thereupon Teh Shan was completely enlightened and made his obeisance to the master (to thank him). Lung T’an asked him: “What have you seen” Teh Shan replied: “In future, I will entertain no more doubt about the tips of the tongues of the old monks all over the country.”
The following day, Lung T’an ascended to his seat and said to the assembly: “There is a fellow whose teeth are like sword-leaf trees and whose mouth is like a blood bath. He receives a stroke of the staff but does not turn his head. Later, he will set up my doctrine on the top of a solitary peak.”
In front of the Dharma hall, Teh Shan laid on the ground all the sheets of the Ch’ing Lung Commentary in a heap and raising a torch said: “An exhaustive discussion of the abstruse is like a hair placed in the great void (and) the exertion to the full of all human capabilities is like a drop of water poured into the great ocean.” Then he burned the manuscript. He bade farewell to his master and left the monastery.
He went straight to Kuei Shin (monastery) and carrying his baggage under his arm, he entered the Dharma hall which he crossed from its east to its west side and then from its west to its east side. He looked at the abbot (Master Kuei Shan) and said: “Anything? Anything?” Kuei Shan was sitting in the hall but paid no attention to the visitor. Teh Shan said: “Nothing, nothing.” and left the hall.
When he reached the front door of the monastery, he said to himself: “Be that as it may, I should not be so careless.” Then, he turned back and again entered the hall in full ceremony. As he crossed its threshold, he took out and raised his cloth rug (nisidana), calling: “Venerable Upadhyaya !” As Kuei Shan was about to pick up a dust-whisk, Teh Shan shouted and left the hall.
That evening, Kuei Shan asked the leader of the assembly: “Is the newcomer still here?” The leader replied: “When he left the hall, he turned his back to it, put on his straw sandals and went away.” Kuei Shan said: “That man will later go to some lonely peak where he will erect a thatched hut; he will scold Buddhas and curse Patriarchs.”
Teh Shan stayed thirty years at Li Yang. During the persecution of Buddhists by the Emperor Wu Tsung (A.D. 841-846) of the T’ang dynasty, the master took refuge in a stone hut on the Tu Fou mountain (in A.D. 847). At the beginning of Ta Chung’s reign, prefect Hsieh T’ing Wang of Wu Ling restored the veneration of Teh Shan monastery and named it Ko Teh Hall. He was looking for a man of outstanding ability to take charge of the monastery when he heard of the master’s reputation. In spite of several invitations, Teh Shan refused to descend the (Tu Fou) mountain. Finally, the prefect devised a stratagem and sent his men falsely to accuse him of smuggling tea and salt in defiance of the law. When the master was brought to the prefecture, the prefect paid obeisance to him and insistently invited him to take charge of the Ch’an hall where Teh Shan spread widely the Sect’s teaching.
Later, people talked about Teh Shan’s shouting and Lin Chi’s caning. If we can discipline ourselves like these two masters, why should we be unable to put an end to birth and death? After Teh Shin, came Yen T’ou and Hsueh Feng. After Hsueh Feng, came Yun Men and Fa Yen, and also state master Teh Shao and ancestor Yen Shou of the Yung Ming (monastery). They were all “produced” by (Teh Shan’s) staff.
During the past successive dynasties, the Sect was kept going by great ancestors and masters. You are here to hold a Ch’an week and you understand very well this unsurpassed doctrine which will enable (us) without difficulty to attain direct (self) cognizance and liberation from birth and death. However, if you trifle with it and do not train seriously, or if from morning to evening, you like to behold the “demon in the bright shadow” or to make your plans inside “the den of words and expressions”, you will never escape from birth and death. Now, all of you, please exert yourselves diligently.