Chapter X. His Final Instructions // Hui Neng


 

SUTRA SPOKEN BY THE SIXTH PATRIARCH ON THE HIGH SEAT OF “THE TREASURE OF THE LAW”  HUI NENG 

Chapter X. His Final Instructions

 

On the 1st day of the 7th Moon, the Patriarch assembled his disciples and addressed them as follows:–

 

“I am going to leave this world by the 8th Moon. Should you have any doubts (on the doctrine) please ask me in time, so that I can clear them up for you. You may find no one to teach you after my departure.”

 

The sad news moved Fa Hai and other disciples to tears. Shen Hui, on the other hand, remained unperturbed. Commending him, the Patriarch said, “Young Master Shen Hui is the only one here who has attained that state of mind which sees no difference in good or evil, knows neither sorrow nor happiness, and is unmoved by praise or blame. After so many years’ training in this mountain, what progress have you made? What are you crying for now? Are you worrying for me because I do not know whither I shall go? But I do know; otherwise I could not tell you beforehand what will happen. What makes you cry is that you don’t know whither I am going. If you did, there would be no occasion for you to cry. In Suchness (Tathata) there is neither coming nor going, neither becoming nor cessation. Sit down, all of you, and let me read you a stanza on reality and illusion, and on Motion and Quietude. Read it, and your opinion will accord with mine. Practice it, and you will grasp the aim and object of our School.”

 

The assembly made obeisance and asked the Patriarch to let them hear the stanza, which read as follows:–

 

In all things there is nothing real,And so we should free ourselves from the concept of the reality of objects.

He who believes in the reality of objects

Is bound by this very concept, which is entirely illusive.

He who realizes the ‘Reality’ (i.e.,Essence of Mind) within himself

Knows that the ‘True Mind’ is to be sought apart from false phenomena.

If one’s mind is bound by illusive phenomena

Where is Reality to be found, when all phenomena are unreal?

Sentient beings are mobile;

Inanimate objects are stationary.

He who trains himself by exercise to be motionless

(Gets no benefit) other than making himself as still as an inanimate object.

Should you the find true type Immobility

There is Immobility within Activity.

Immobility alone (like that of inanimate objects) is immobility (and not Dhyana),

And in inanimate objects the seed of Buddhahood is not to be found.

He who is adept in the discrimination of various Dharmalaksana

Abides immovably in the ‘First Principle’ (Nirvana).

Thus are all things to be perceived,

And this is the functioning of Tathata (Suchness).

Treaders of the Path,

Exert yourself and take heed

That as followers of the Mahayana School

You do not embrace that sort of knowledge

Which binds you to the wheel of birth and death.

With those who are sympathetic

Let us have discussion on Buddhism.

As for those whose point of view differs from ours

Let us treat them politely and thus make them happy.

(But) disputes are alien to our School,

For they are incompatible with its doctrine.

To be bigoted and to argue with others in disregard of this rule
Is to subjects one’s Essence of Mind to the bitterness of mundane existence.

Having heard this stanza, the assembly made obeisance in a body. In accordance with the wishes of the Patriarch, they concentrated their minds to put the stanza into actual practice, and refrained from religious controversy.

Seeing that the Patriarch would pass away in the near future, the head Monk, Fa Hai, after prostrating himself twice asked, “Sir, upon your entering Nirvana, who will be the inheritor of the robe and the Dharma?”

 

“All my sermons,” replied the Patriarch, “from the time I preached in Da Fan monastery, may be copied out for circulation in a volume to be entitled ‘Sutra Spoken on the High Seat of the Treasure of the Law’. (Dharmaratha) Take good care of it and hand it down from one generation to another for the salvation of all sentient beings. He who preaches in accordance with its teachings preaches the Orthodox Dharma.

 

“So much for the Dharma. As to transmission of the robe, this practice is to be discontinued. Why? Because you all have implicit faith in my teaching, and being free from all doubts you are able to carry out the lofty object of our School. Furthermore, according to the implied meaning of the stanza by Bodhidharma, the first Patriarch, on Dharma transmission, the robe need not be handed down to posterity. The stanza reads:–

 

The object of my coming to this land (i.e., China)Is to transmit the Dharma for the deliverance of those under delusion.

In five petals the flowers will be complete.

Thereafter, the fruit will come to bearing naturally.

The Patriarch added, “Learned Audience, purify your minds and listen to me. He who wishes to attain the All-knowing Knowledge of a Buddha should know the ‘Samadhi of Specific Object’ and the ‘Samadhi of Specific Mode’. In all circumstances we should free ourselves from attachment to objects, and our attitude towards them should be neutral and indifferent. Let neither success nor failure, neither profit nor loss, worry us. Let us be calm and serene, modest and accommodating, simple and dispassionate. Such is the ‘Samadhi of Specific Object’. On all occasions, whether we are standing, walking, sitting or reclining, let us be absolutely straightforward. Then, remaining in our sanctuary, and without the least movement, we shall virtually be in the Kingdom of Pure Land. Such is the ‘Samadhi of Specific Mode’.

“He who is complete with these two forms of Samadhi may be likened to the ground with seeds sown therein. Covered up in the mud, the seeds receive nourishment therefrom and grow until the fruit comes into bearing.

 

“My preaching to you now may be likened to the seasonable rain which brings moisture to a vast area of land. The Buddha-nature within you may be likened to the seed which, being moistened by the rain, will grow rapidly. He who carries out my instructions will certainly attain Bodhi. He who follows my teaching will certainly attain the superb fruit (of Buddhahood). Listen to my stanza:–

 

Buddha-seeds latent in our mindWill sprout upon the coming of the all-pervading rain.

The ‘flower’ of the doctrine having been intuitively grasped,

One is bound to reap the fruit of Enlightenment.

Then he added, “The Dharma is non-dual and so is the mind. The Path is pure and above all forms. I warn you not to use those exercises for meditation on quietude or for keeping the mind a blank. The mind is by nature pure, so there is nothing for us to crave for or give up. Do your best, each of you, and go wherever circumstances lead.”

Thereupon the disciples made obeisance and withdrew.


 

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