UPON THE PATRIARCH'S RETURN to the village of Tso-hau in Shiu-chow from Wong-mui, where the Dharma had been transmitted to him, he was an unknown man. At that time, it was a Confucian scholar, named Liu Chi-luk, who first gave him a warm welcome and appreciation. It came about in this manner. Chi-luk had an aunt, named Wu Chun-chong who was a Buddhist nun, who was in the habit of reciting the Maha Parinirvana Sutra. One day the Patriarch heard her reciting it, and after listening for only a short time, grasped the profound meaning of the Sutra, and began to explain it to her, whereupon she brought the book and asked him the meaning of certain passages.
"I am not very well educated," he replied, "but if you wish to understand the purport of the book, I will do the best I can." "How can you understand the meaning of the text," she rejoined, "if you do not know the words?" To this he replied: "The profound teaching of the various Buddhas, has nothing to do with the written language."
This answer surprised her very much, and recognising that he was no ordinary man, she spoke of him freely to the pious elders of the village, saying: "He is a sage. We should get his permission to supply him with food and lodgings, and urge him to remain with us.
Whereupon a descendant of Marquis Wu of the Ai Dynasty, named, Tso Shuk-leung, came one afternoon with other villagers to offer homage to the Patriarch. At that time the historic Po-lam Monastery, which had been devastated by war at the end of the Chu Dynasty, was reduced to a heap of ruins. The villagers rebuilt it on the old site, and asked the Patriarch to make it his home. Afterwards it became a very famous temple.
THE MONK, FAT-HOI, a native of Hook-kong in Shui-chow, in his first interview with the Patriarch, asked the meaning of the well-known saying, "That which Mind is, Buddha is." The Patriarch replied, "Let not a vagrant thought rise up again, is 'Mind.' Let not a coming thought be repulsed, is 'Buddha.' To manifest all kind of phenomena, is 'Mind.' To be free from all form, is Buddha. If I were to give you a full explanation, it would take the full time of a kalpa. But listen to this stanza:
"Prajna is 'That which mind is';
Samadhi is 'what Buddha is.'
In practising Prajna and Samadhi, let each keep pace with the other,
Then our thoughts will be pure.
This teaching can be understood
Only through the 'habit of practice.'
Samadhi functions, but inherently it is not.
The orthodox teaching is, to practice Prajna as well as Samadhi."
After considering what the Patriarch had said, Fat-hoi was enlightened and he praised the Patriarch in the following stanza:
"That which mind is, Buddha is; how true it is, indeed!
I put myself to shame by not understanding it.
Now I understand the principle of Prajna and Samadhi,
Both of which I shall practice to set myself free from all confining forms."
THE MONK FAT-TAT, a native of Hung-chow, who joined the order at the early age of seven, used to recite the Lotus of the Good Law Sutra. When he came to offer homage to the Patriarch, he failed in offering due respect to him, for which the Patriarch reproved him, saying, If you object to offer due respect, would it not be better to omit the salutation entirely? There must be something in your mind that makes you feel that way. Please tell me what you do in your daily religious exercise?
"I recite the Lotus of the Good Law (Saddharma Pundarika) Sutra," replied Fat-tat; I have read the whole text three thousand times."
"If you had fully understood the meaning of the Sutra," remarked the Patriarch, "You would not have assumed such a lofty bearing, even if you had read it ten thousand times. When you understand it, you will be following the same Path with me. But now, all that you have accomplished is to make yourself conceited. Moreover, you do not seem to realise that you are in the wrong. Listen to this stanza:
"Since the object of ceremony is to curb arrogance,
Why did you fail to offer due respect?
To take pride in oneself, is a source of sin,
But to learn to treat any attainment as 'void,' is to attain incomparable merit."
The Patriarch then asked him for his name, and upon being told that his name was Fat-tat (which means "law-understanding"), he remarked, "Your name is Fat-tat, but you have not yet understood the Law." Then the Patriarch intending to conclude the interview, recited the following stanza:
"Your name is Fat-tat.
Diligently and faithfully you recite the Sutra.
Lip-repetition of the text ends with its pronunciation,
But he whose mind is enlightened, by grasping its meaning, becomes a Bodhisattva.
On account of conditions of affinity which may be traced to our past lives,
Let me explain this to you.
If you can only understand that Buddha speaks no words,
Then the Lotus will blossom from your mouth.
(Truth is inscrutable and ineffable; words fail,
But the Lotus blossoms and radiates its perfume.)
Having heard this stanza, Fat-tat became ashamed and apologised to the Patriarch. He added, "Hereafter I will be humble and polite on all occasions. It is true: I do not quite understand the meaning of the Sutra as
I recite it, so I am often doubtful as to its proper interpretation. From your profound knowledge and high Wisdom, will you kindly give me a short explanation?"
The Patriarch replied: 'Tat-tat, the Good Law is quite clear; it is your mind that is not clear. The Sutra is free from doubtful passages; it is only your mind that makes them seem doubtful. Do you know the principal object of the Sutra?"
"How can I know, Sir," replied Fat-tat, "since I am so dull and stupid? All I know is to recite it word by word."
The Patriarch then said, "Will you please recite the Sutra? I am unable to read it myself. Then I will explain its meaning to you."
Fat-tat recited the Sutra loudly. When he came to the section entitled, "parables," the Patriarch stopped him, saying, "The theme of this Sutra is to set forth the aim and object of a Buddha's incarnation into this world. Though parables and illustrations are numerous in it, none of them go beyond this pivotal point. Now, what is that aim? and what is that object? The Sutra says, 'It is for a sole object, it is for a sole aim, but truly a lofty object and a lofty aim, that a Buddha appears in this world.' Now that sole object, that sole aim, that is so exalted, is the realisation of Buddha-knowledge.
"Common people attach themselves to external objects, thinking them to be real, and within, they fall into the wrong idea that external things come to an end. When they are able to free themselves from attachment to objects when in contact with objects, and to free themselves from the fallacious view that
[paragraph continues] 'Emptiness' means annihilation, then they are free from illusions without and delusions within. He who understands this and whose mind is thus suddenly enlightened, is said to have opened his eyes to the sight of Buddha-Knowledge.
"The word, 'Buddha' is equivalent to 'Enlightenment' and is dealt with under four heads:--Opening the eyes for the sight of Enlightenment-knowledge; seeing the sight of Enlightenment-knowledge; understanding Enlightenment-knowledge; becoming firmly established in Enlightenment-knowledge. If we are able, upon being taught, to grasp and thoroughly understand the teaching of Enlightenment-knowledge, then our inherent quality of 'true-nature' will have an opportunity to manifest itself. You should not misinterpret the text and come to the conclusion that Buddha-knowledge is something special to Buddha and not common to us, just because you happen to find in the Sutra these passages: 'To open the eyes for the sight of Buddha-knowledge,' 'To see the sight of Buddha-knowledge, etc.' Such a misinterpretation would be slandering Buddha and blaspheming the Sutra. Since one is (potentially) a Buddha, he is already in possession of this Enlightenment-knowledge, and there is no occasion for him to open his eyes for it. You should therefore accept the interpretation that Buddha-knowledge is the Buddha-knowledge of your own mind and not that of any other Buddha.
"Being infatuated with sense-objects and thereby shutting themselves from their own light, all sentient beings, tormented by outer circumstances and inner vexations, act voluntarily as slaves to their own desires.
[paragraph continues] Seeing this, our Lord Buddha took the trouble of' rising from his Samadhi in order to exhort them by earnest preaching of various kinds to suppress their desires and to refrain from seeking happiness from without, so that they may enter into their rights of Buddhahood. For this reason the Sutra says, 'To open the eyes for Buddha-knowledge etc.' I advise people to thus constantly open their eyes for the Buddha-knowledge within their own minds. But in their perversity they commit sins under delusion and ignorance; they are kind in words but wicked in mind; they are greedy, malignant, jealous, crooked, flattering, egoistic, offensive to men and destructive to inanimate objects. Thus they open their eyes to 'common-people-knowledge' instead. Should they rectify their heart so that wisdom rises spontaneously, the mind is under introspection and the practice of doing good takes the place of evil. Thus they would initiate themselves into Buddha-knowledge.
"You should, therefore, from one momentary sensation to another, open your eyes, not for 'common-people-knowledge,' which is worldly, but for the Buddha-knowledge that is supra-mundane. On the other hand, if you stick to the arbitrary concept that mere recitation as a daily exercise is good enough, then you are infatuated, like the yak by its own tail."
Fat-tat then said: "If that is so, then we only have to know the meaning of the Sutra and there will be no further necessity for reciting it. Is that right, Sir?" The Patriarch replied, "There is nothing wrong with the Sutra that you need to refrain from reciting it. Whether sutra-reciting will enlighten you or not, or
benefit you or not, all depends upon yourself. He who recites the Sutra with his tongue and puts its teachings into actual practice with his mind, masters the Sutra. Listen to this stanza:
"When our mind is under delusion, the Saddhama Pundarika Sutra is our master.
When our mind is enlightened, we are the master of the Sutra.
To recite the Sutra for a long time without knowing its principal object
Indicates that one is a stranger to its meaning.
To recite the Sutra without holding any arbitrary belief, is the correct way;
To do otherwise is wrong.
He whose mind is above 'affirmation' and 'negation'
Rides permanently in the 'Buddha-vehicle.'"
Having heard this stanza, Fat-tat was enlightened and was unconsciously moved to tears. "it is quite true," he exclaimed, "heretofore I have been unable to master the Sutra, rather it has been my master."
Fat-tat then raised another difficulty. "The Sutra says, 'From various disciples up to Bodhisattva, though they were to speculate with their combined effort, they would be unable to comprehend Buddha-knowledge.' But you, Sir, give me to understand that if an ordinary man realises his own mind, he is said to have attained Buddha-knowledge. I am afraid, Sir, that with the exception of those gifted with superior mental dispositions, others may doubt your remark. Further, the Sutra mentions three kinds of carts: goat carts (the vehicle of disciples); deer carts (for Arahats); and bullock
carts (for Bodhisattvas). How are these to be distinguished from the White Bullock carts of the Buddhas? Will you please tell me)"
The Patriarch replied: "The Sutra is quite plain on this point; it is you who fail to understand it. The reason why disciples, Arahats and Bodhisattvas fail to comprehend Buddha-knowledge is because they speculate about it (with their thinking mind which is limited and polluted); they may combine their efforts, but the more they speculate the farther they are from Truth. (Buddha-knowledge is to be realised within, not thought about as though it was something external.) It was not to Buddhas but to ordinary men that Buddha Gautama preached this Sutra. You do not seem to appreciate that since we are already riding in the White Bullock cart of the Buddhas, that there is no necessity for us to look for other vehicles. Moreover, the Sutra plainly teaches that there is only the one Buddha vehicle; that there are no others, no second, no third. It is because there is only one vehicle that Buddha had to preach to us with innumerable skillful means such as various reasons and argument, various parables and illustrations, etc. Do you not understand that the other three vehicles are makeshifts, useful for the past only; while the sole vehicle, the Buddha vehicle, is for the present because it is ultimate?
"The Sutra teaches to dispense with the makeshifts and depend on the ultimate. Having resorted to the ultimate, you will find that even the very name 'ultimate' disappears. You should appreciate that you are the sole owner of these treasures and that they are entirely subject to your disposal. (This is in allusion to
another Parable, the Buddhist Prodigal Son, in the Sutra.) But moreover, it is not until you are able to free yourself from the arbitrary conceptions that there are any treasures belonging to the Father or to the son, or subject to so and so's disposal, that you really know the right way to recite the Sutra. When you so understand it, the Sutra will be in your hand from eternity to eternity, and from morning to midnight you will be reciting the Sutra all the time."
Being thus awakened, Fat-tat praised the Patriarch in a transport of joy with the following stanza:--
"The delusion that I had attained great merit by reciting the Sutra three thousand times
Is all dispelled by a single utterance of the Master of Tso-kai.
He who has not yet under-stood the object of the Buddha's incarnation
Is unable to suppress the wild passions accumulated in many lives.
The three vehicles are makeshifts only;
And the three stages in which the scholars expound the Dharma are ingeniously spoken, indeed;
But how few appreciate that it is within the burning house itself
That the Truth of Dharma is to be found."
The Patriarch then told him that before he had rebuked him for being a "sutra-reciting monk," but that hereafter he would praise him for the same reason. After that interview, Fat-tat was able to grasp the profound meaning of Buddhism, and yet he continued to recite the Sutra as before.
THE MONK, SHI-TONG, a native of Shau-chow of An-fung, had read over the Lankavatara Sutra nearly a thousand times, but could not understand the meaning of the Trikaya nor the four Prajnas. One day he called upon the Patriarch for an explanation of them.
"As to the 'Three Bodies,'" explained the Patriarch, "The Pure Dharmakaya is your nature, The Perfect Sambhogakaya is your wisdom; and the Myriad Nirmanakayas are your actions. If you deal with these three bodies apart from your Mind-essence, they would be bodies without wisdom. If you realise that these three: self-nature, self-wisdom and self-action, have no substance of their own (being only manifestations of Mind-essence) then you have attained the enlightenment of the four Prajnas. Listen to this stanza:--
"The Three-bodies are inherent in our Essence of Mind,
By the radiation of which the four Prajnas are manifested.
Thus, without closing your eyes and your ears to shut out the external world,
You may reach Buddhahood directly.
Now that I have made this plain to you,
If you believe it implicitly, you will be forever free from delusion.
Follow not those who seek for 'enlightenment' from without:
Such people talk about Bodhi all the time, but do it vainly."
For the second time, Chi-tong asked, "May I know something about the four Prajnas?" "If you understand the Three-Bodies," replied the Patriarch, "you should know the four Prajnas as well; your question is quite unnecessary. If you deal with the four Prajnas apart from the Three-Bodies, there would be Prajnas without bodies; in such a case, they would not be Prajnas. (Prajna is the Ultimate Principle of the Three-Bodies, which is Ultimate Reality.) The Patriarch then uttered this stanza:--
"Mirror-like Wisdom is pure by nature;
Wisdom that comprehends all things equally, frees the mind from all impediments;
All-discerning Wisdom sees things intuitively;
All-performing Wisdom, like Mirror-Wisdom, is free from prejudice.
Perception-consciousness of the five-sense-vijnanas,
And the Universal Consciousness of the Alaya-vijnana,
Are not 'transmuted' to Prajna, until the Buddha-stage;
While the intellective-consciousness of the Manas,
And the discriminative-consciousness of the Manovijnana,
Are 'transmitted' in the Bodhisattva-stage.
When you are able to free yourself entirely from attachments to sense-objects as these 'transmutations' take place,
Then you will forever abide in the never-ceasing Naga Samadhi."†1
Suddenly Chi-tong realised the Prajna of his Mind-essence and submitted the following stanza to the Patriarch:--
"Intrinsically, the Three-Bodies are within our Essence of Mind.
When our mind is enlightened, the four Prajnas will appear.
When 'Bodies' and Prajna appear as one identity,
Then are we able to respond to the appeal of all beings. no matter what form they take.
To make an effort to find the Trikaya and the four Prajnas is to take an entirely wrong course;
To try to 'discriminate' and 'grasp' them is to misunderstand their intrinsic nature.
Through you, Sir, I am now able to realise the profundity of their meaning;
Henceforth, I may discard for ever their false and arbitrary names."
THE MONK, CHI-SHEUNG, a native of Kwai-kai of Shun-chow, joined the order in his childhood and was very zealous in his efforts to realise Mind-essence. One day he came to pay homage to the Patriarch and was asked by the latter whence and for what he came. Chi-sheung replied:--
"I have recently been at the White Cliff Monastery in Hung-chow, to study with the Master Ta-tung who was good enough to teach me how to realise Mind-essence and thereby to gain Buddhahood, but as I still have some doubts, I have travelled far to come here to pay my respects to you. Will you kindly clear away my doubts, Sir?"
The Patriarch asked, "What instruction did he give you? Will you please repeat it."
Chi-sheung replied: "After staying there three months without receiving any instruction, and being zealous for the Dharma, I went alone one night to his chamber and asked him, what my essence of mind was. He asked me, 'Do you see the illimitable void?' 'Yes, I do,' I replied. Then he asked me whether the void had any particular form, and on replying that the void must be formless and therefore can not have any particular form, he said: 'Your Essence of Mind is exactly like the void. To realise that there is nothing to be seen, is Right View. To realise that nothing is knowable, is True Knowledge. To realise that it is neither green nor yellow, neither long nor short; that it is pure by nature; that its quintessence is perfect and clear; is to realise Essence of Mind and thereby to attain Buddhahood. This is also called, Buddha-knowledge.' As I do not quite understand this teaching, will you please enlighten me, Sir?"
"His teaching indicates," said the Patriarch, "that he still retains the arbitrary concepts of 'Views' and 'Knowledge'; that explains why he failed to make it clear to you. Listen to this stanza:--
"To realise that nothing can be seen, but to retain the concept of 'invisibility'
Is somewhat like passing clouds obscuring the face of the sun.
To realise that nothing is knowable, but to retain the concept of 'unknowability'
May be likened to the clear sky disfigured by a flash of lightning.
To let these arbitrary concepts rise spontaneously in the mind
Indicates that you have not yet realised Essence of Mind,
And that you have not yet found the skillful means to realise it.
If you realise for one moment that these arbitrary concepts are wrong,
Then your own spiritual light will shine forth unhindered."
Having heard this, Chi-sheung at once felt that his mind was enlightened. Thereupon, he submitted to the Patriarch, the following stanza:--
"To allow the concepts of 'invisibility' and 'unknowability' to rise spontaneously in the mind
Is to seek Bodhi without freeing oneself from the arbitrary concepts of phenomena
He who is puffed-up by the slightest impression, 'I am now enlightened'
Is no farther advanced than one under delusion.
Had I not put myself at the feet of Your Eminence,
I would have remained bewildered, ignorant of the right way to go."
One day Chi-sheung asked the Patriarch, "Buddha preached the doctrine of 'Three Vehicles' and also that of the 'Supreme Vehicle.' I do not understand them; will you please explain them to me?"
The Patriarch replied, "(In trying to understand these) you should introspect your own mind and ignore outward things and phenomena. The distinction of these four vehicles does not exist in the Dharma itself, but in the differentiations of people's minds. To see and to hear and to recite the Sutras, is the Small Vehicle. To know the Dharma and to understand its meaning is the Middle Vehicle. To put the Dharma into actual practice, is the Great Vehicle. To understand all Dharmas (intuitively), to become part of them, to be free from all attachments, to be independent of things and phenomena; to be in possession of nothing, that is the Supreme Vehicle.
"Essence of Mind is always a state of tranquillity. Since the word 'vehicle,' means, 'motion,' discussion is out of place. All depends on intuitive self-practice. Do not ask any more questions."
Chi-sheung made obeisance and thanked the Patriarch and, thereafter served as one of the Patriarch's personal attendants until his death.
THE MONK, CHI-WANG, a follower of the Dhyana school, had a consultation with the Fifth Patriarch and afterward considered himself to have attained Samadhi. For twenty years he confined himself to a small temple and all the time kept the Dhyana posture. Un-chak, a disciple of the Sixth Patriarch, on a pilgrimage to the northern bank of the Hoang-ho, heard about him and called at his temple.
"What are you doing here?" enquired Un-chak.
"I am abiding in Samadhi," replied Chi-wang.
"Abiding in Samadhi, did you say?" Observed Un-chak. "I wish to enquire whether you are doing it consciously or unconsciously? If you are doing it unconsciously, it would mean that it is possible for all inanimate objects, such as earthern ware, stones, trees and weeds, to attain Samadhi. On the other hand, if you do it consciously, then any animate object or sentient being might abide in Samadhi, also."
Chi-wang then said, "When I am in Samadhi, I know neither consciousness nor unconsciousness."
"In that case," observed Un-chak, "it is a perpetual quietude, in which there is neither abiding nor leaving. A state of samadhi in which you can abide or come out of at will, can not be a perfect Samadhi."
Chi-wang was nonplused. After a long time, he asked, "May I know who is your teacher?"
"My teacher is the Sixth Patriarch, of Tso-kai," replied Un-chak.
"How does he define Dhyana and Samadhi?" enquired Chi-wang.
"According to his teaching," replied Un-chak, "the Dharmakaya is perfect and serene and unchanging; its
quintessence and its function are in a state of 'Suchness.' The five aggregates are intrinsically void and the six sense-objects are non-existent. There is neither abiding nor leaving in Samadhi; there is neither quietude nor perturbation. The nature of Dhyana is non-abiding, so we should seek to transcend the state of 'abiding in the calmness of Dhyana.' The nature of Dhyana is uncreative, so we should transcend the notion of 'creating a state of Dhyana.' Essence of Mind is like space without the limitations of space."
After this interview, Chi-wang went to Tso-kai to interview the Sixth Patriarch. Upon being asked whence he came, Chi-wang told the Patriarch the details of his conversation with Un-chak.
The Patriarch said, "What Un-chak said is quite right. Let your mind be in a state like the illimitable void, but do not think of it as 'vacuity.' Let the mind function freely, but whether it is in activity or at rest, let it abide nowhere. Forget all discriminations: see no distinction between a sage and an ordinary man; ignore the distinction between subject and object; let Essence of Mind and all phenomena and objects be alike in a state of 'Suchness.' Then you will truly be in Samadhi all the time."
Chi-wang was thereby fully enlightened. What he had considered for the past twenty years as an attainment, now all vanished. He remained with the Patriarch for a time and then returned to Ho-Pei where he taught many people, monks as well as laymen.
THE MONK, CHI-TAO, a native of Nam-hoi of Kwongtung, came to the Patriarch for instruction, saying, "Since I joined the order, I have read the Maha Parinirvana Sutra for more than ten years, but I have not yet grasped its teaching. Will you please teach me."
"What part of it do you not understand?" enquired the Patriarch.
"It is this part, Sir: 'All things are impermanent and so they belong to the Dharma of Becoming and Cessation. When both Becoming and Cessation cease to operate, Cessation of Change with its bliss of Perfect Rest (Nirvana) arises.'"
"What obscurity is there in that? "enquired the Patriarch.
Chi-tao replied, "All beings have two bodies: the physical body and an essence body. The former is impermanent--it exists and it deceases. The latter is permanent, but it knows not and feels not. Now the Sutra says, 'When both Becoming and Cessation cease to operate, the bliss of Perfect Rest and Cessation of Change arises.' I can not understand which body ceases to exist, and which body enjoys the bliss. It cannot be the physical body that enjoys, because when it dies, the material elements disintegrate and disintegration is suffering, the very opposite of bliss. If it is the essence body that ceases to exist, it would be in the same 'unfeeling' state as inanimate objects, such as the grass, trees and stones. Who, then, will be the enjoyer?
"Moreover, essence-nature is the quintessence of 'Becoming and Cessation' whose manifestation is the union of the five 'aggregates' (body, sensation, perception, consciousness and intellection). That is to say,
from one essence, five functions arise. This process of Becoming and Cessation is everlasting. When function and operation 'arise' from the quintessence, it becomes; when operation and function are 'absorbed' back into the quintessence, it ceases to exist. If reincarnation is admitted, there will be no Cessation of Changes, as in the case of sentient beings. If reincarnation is out of the question, then things will remain forever in a state of lifeless quintessence, like the case of inanimate objects. When this is the case, under the limitations and restrictions of Nirvana, even existence would be impossible to all things, much less enjoyment."
"You are a Bhikkhu," said the Patriarch, "how can you adopt the fallacious views of Eternalism and Annihilationism that are held by heretics, and venture to criticise the teaching of the Supreme Vehicle? Your argument implies that apart from the physical body, there is an essence body; and that Perfect Rest and Cessation of Change may be sought apart from 'Becoming and Cessation.' Further, from the statement, 'Nirvana is everlasting rest,' you infer that there must be somebody to play the part of enjoyer.
"It is exactly these fallacious views that makes people crave for sentiate existence and worldly pleasure. These people are the victims of ignorance; they identify the union of the five aggregates as the 'self' and regard all other things as 'not-self'; they crave for individual existence and have an aversion to death; they are drifting about from one momentary sensation to another in the whirlpool of life and death without realising the emptiness of mundane existence which is only a dream and an illusion; they commit themselves
to unnecessary suffering by binding themselves to rebirth; they mistake the state of everlasting joy of Nirvana to be a mode of suffering; they are always seeking after sensual pleasures. It was for these people, victims of ignorance, that the compassionate Buddha preached the real bliss of Nirvana.
"Never for a moment was Nirvana either the phenomena of Becoming and Cessation, or the ceasing of Becoming and Cessation. It is the perfect manifestation of Rest and Cessation of Change, and at the 'time' of manifestation, there is no such thing as manifestation. It is called 'everlasting' joy because it has neither enjoyer nor non-enjoyer.
"There is no such thing as 'one quintessence and five manifestations.' You are slandering Buddha and blaspheming the Dharma, when you go so far as to state that under the limitation and restriction of Nirvana, living is impossible to all beings. Listen to this stanza:--
"The Supreme Maha Parinirvana
Is perfect, permanent, calm. radiantly illuminative.
Common and ignorant people miscall it death.
While heretics arbitrarily declare it to be annihilation.
Those who belong to the Small Vehicle and to the Middle Vehicle
Regard Nirvana as 'non-action.'
All these are merely intellectual speculations,
And they form the basis of the sixty-two fallacious views.
Since they are merely names, invented for the occasion,
They have nothing to do with Absolute Truth.
Only those of super-eminent mind
Can understand thoroughly what Nirvana is,
And take an attitude toward it of neither attachment nor indifference.
They know that the five aggregates,
And the so-called 'self' arising from the aggregates,
Together with all external forms and objects,
And the various phenomena of words and voice,
Are all equally unreal, like a dream or an illusion.
They make no discrimination between a sage and an ordinary man,
Nor do they have any arbitrary Concept of Nirvana.
They are above 'affirmation' and 'negation';
They break the barriers between the past, the present .and the future.
Thy use their sense organs when occasion requires,
But the concept of 'using' does not arise.
They may particularise on all sorts of things.
But the concept of 'particularisation' arises not.
Even during the cataclysmic fire at the end of a kalpa. When ocean beds are burnt dry;
Or during the blowing of catastropic winds, when mountains topple;
The everlasting bliss of Perfect Rest and Cessation of Change that is Nirvana
Remains the same and changes not."
The Patriarch then said to Chi-tao, "I am trying to describe to you something that intrinsically is ineffable, in order to help you to get rid of fallacious views. If you do not interpret my words too literally you may perhaps know a wee bit of Nirvana."
Chi-tao became highly enlightened and, in a rapturous mood he made obeisance and departed.
286:1 NOTE By EDITOR. It will be difficult to understand this stanza without knowing a little about Mahayana psychology and the Ten Stages of Bodhisattvahood. In Mahayana the mind is conceived as a rising series of faculties for cognition, vis, (1) The six vijnanas: p. 287 seeing-mind, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, and the mental processes involved. (2) The Mano-vijnana, or discriminative mind. (3) The Manas, or intuitional-emotional-volitional mind. (4) Alaya-vijnana, or Universal Mind. It is sometimes called the system of the Vijnanas, and is developed in the great sutras, notably the Lankavatara, which has particularly to do with self-realisation. The Ten Stages of Bodhisattva-hood that culminates in Buddhahood, is the gradual getting rid of, or transcending, or transmuting, the defilements or hindrances of these successive "minds." The Alaya is immaculate but it acts as a "storage" for the accumulated karma of habit-energy from beginningless time, and its face is thereby defiled which acts as a particularising screen for the pure rays of Prajna, that in passing through become discolored and perfumed. This is true of each of the successive minds. Self-realisation of Mind-essence consists in getting rid of these successive layers of defilement. Success comes suddenly as one learns to "about face" and look inward intuitively, rather than outwardly by the discriminative faculties.