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牛頭法融 Niutou Farong (594-657)
心銘 Xin ming

(Rōmaji:) Gozu Hōyū: Shinmei
(English:) Mind Inscription / Song of the Mind
(Magyar:) Niu-tou Fa-zsung: Hszin ming / A szív dala



A Tudat
Xin Ming

kínaiból angolra fordította Henrik H. Sørensen,
angolból magyarra fordította Komár Lajos

Niutou Farong: Jegyzetek a szemlélet elvágásáról
Fordította: Hadházi Zsolt

Mind Inscription
Translated by Jess Row

Mind Inscription (心銘 with Chinese)
Translated by Henrik H. Sorensen

Song of the Mind
Translated by Master Sheng Yen

No-mind Is Not Different from Mind
Translated by Chang Chung-yuan

Encounter Dialogues of Niutou Farong
& The Oxhead School

compiled by Satyavayu of Touching Earth Sangha

Does Niu-t'ou Need the Flowers?
Translated by Steven Heine

The Importance of Hiddenness
Chapter XIV/17. In: The Golden Age of Zen
by John C. H. Wu

Niutou Farong
In: Zen's Chinese heritage: the masters and their teachings
by Andy Ferguson

Niu-t'ou Fa-jung (594-657) was of the Wei (韋) family and a native of Yen-ling (延陵) in Jun-Chou (潤州), present day Chen-chiang in the southern part of Kiangsu Province. Fa-jung is the founder of the The Ox-Head School (牛頭宗) of Ch'an Buddhism. The name "Ox-Head" (Niu-t'ou) come from the Mount Niu-t'ou (Niu-t'ou shan) where Fa-jung lived. He is also known as Niu-t'ou Mountain (Temple/School) First Patriarch Ch'an master Fa-jung (牛頭山初祖法融禪). The Ox-Head School is considered not belonging to the orthodox line of Ch'an. This line of Ch'an sect is also known as Niu-t'ou Zen (牛頭禪).

Niu-t'ou Fa-jung and the Fourth Patriarch Tao-hsin

Under Tao-hsin (580-651), the fourth patriarch, Zen was divided into two branches. The one known as Niu-t'ou Shan, did not live long after the passing of its founder, Fa-jung, who lived at Mount Niu-t'ou, and is considered not belonging to the orthodox line of Zen. [. . .] Tao-hsin's interview with Fa-jung, the founder of the Niu-t'ou school of Zen, was significant, showing where their views differed and how the one came to be converted into the orthodox understanding of Zen. It was during the Chên-kuan era of the T'ang dynasty that Tao-hsin, learning of the presence of an extraordinary saintly man in Niu-t'ou mountains, decided to see who he could be. When Tao-hsin came to a Buddhist temple in the mountains he inquired after the man and was informed of a lonely anchorite who would never rise from his seat nor salute people even when they were approaching him. When Tao-hsin proceeded further into the mountains he saw him as he was told, sitting quietly and paying no attention to the presence of a stranger. He then asked the hermit what he was doing here. 'I am contemplating on Mind,' was the reply. Tao-hsin then demanded: 'What is he that is contemplating? What is Mind that is contemplated?' Fa-jung was not prepared to answer such questions. Thinking that the visitor was a man of deep understanding, he rose from the seat and saluting him asked who he was. When he found that the visitor was no other personage than Tao-hsin himself, whose reputation he was not ignorant of, he thanked him for the visit. They were now about to enter a little hut nearby where they might talk about religion, when Tao-hsin saw some wild animals such as tigers and wolves wandering about the place, and he threw up his hands as if he were greatly frightened. Fa-jung remarked, 'I see this is still with you.' The fourth patriarch responded at once, 'What do you see yet?' No answer came from the hermit. After a while the patriarch traced the character 'Buddha' (fo) on the stone which Fa-jung was in the habit of sitting in meditation. Seeing it, the latter looked as if shocked. Said the patriarch, 'I see this is still with you.' But Fa-jung failed to see the meaning of this remark and earnestly implored to be instructed in the ultimate teaching of Buddhism. This was done, and Fa-jung became the founder of the Niu-t'ou school of Zen Buddhism.

(D. T. Suzuki: Essays in Zen Buddhism – First Series, pp. 201-203)


Mind Inscription
Attributed to Farong, founding patriarch of Ox-Head Mountain
Translated by Jess Row

The nature of mind is non-arising:
Why try to look for it?

Originally there is no dharma—
Why talk about smoke and fire?

Going and coming without end,
Clinging to what you’ve known— don’t bother.

All these things are useless.
In a place of quiet illumination, see for yourself.

What is past is empty.
Stuck in knowing, you confuse the teaching.

If you think you see clearly the objects of cognition,
Your clarity is still lost in darkness.

If one mind is obstructed,
No dharma passes through.

If things come and go naturally,
what deception can pass?

Existence and nonexistence share the same characteristics
And are illuminated in turn.

If you want to attain purity of mind,
You must only use the effort of no-mind.

When high and low are not illuminated,
This is the most subtle point.

Know dharma without knowing;
Not knowing is all the knowing you need.

If you hope to keep a still mind,
You haven’t yet avoided sickness.

Living and dying while forgetting desire—
This is original nature.

The ultimate principle needs no discussion—
Not loose, not tight.

If you want your spirit to pass freely through the things of this world,
Always be with what is right in front of your eyes.

And if you find nothing in front of your eyes,
Be completely with that nothing.

Don’t bother with discriminating thinking—
This itself is the mysterious void.

Thoughts come, thoughts go—
Make no distinction between “before” and “after.”

The second thought won’t come
If the first thought doesn’t produce it.

In the three worlds there is nothing—
No mind, no Buddha.

All beings have this without-thinking mind,
And this is where your without-thinking mind will emerge.

Distinguishing between ordinary people and sages—
This is the source of so many afflictions.

Constantly calculating and scheming is
To seek the truth while turning away from the teachings.

If you put to rest this need to control things good and bad,
You will be full to the brim with pure illumination.

There’s no need for cleverness
When you’re protecting an infantile way of thinking.

If you use your keenest intelligence,
You’ll see how erroneous views pervade the world around us.

Without looking for anything, stay quiet,
In a dark place, not moving.

Your keenest intelligence doesn’t lie:
In the place of quiet you will find the brightest illumination.

The ten thousand appearances are all true,
All arranged in a network, of one aspect.

Whatever happens, stay sitting in the same place,
Without grasping anything.

Believe me: there’s nowhere to go,
And no one going there.

No holding, no scattering,
No delays, no sickness.

This quiet illumination of things as they are—
There are no words to explain it.

Keep this mind and don’t look for another.
Don’t try to cut off your cravings and lust.

Your discriminating nature is ultimately empty,
So let it appear and disappear naturally.

Not clean, not dirty,
Not shallow, not deep.

Originally there is no “then”;
See that there is also no “now.”

See that there is also no abiding,
And thus you will see your original mind.

Originally nothing exists.
This realization is what is “now.”

The original existence of bodhi
Does not require you to hold on to anything.

Your afflictions originally do not exist.
You don’t have to do anything to get rid of them.

Prajna illuminates itself.
The ten thousand dharmas return to this point.

Without returning, without getting anything,
Cut off perceptions and forget about grasping.

The four virtues are non-arising;
The Buddha’s three bodies have always existed.

The six sense faculties respond to cognitive objects,
but this discrimination is not the only kind of consciousness.

There is one mind that does not deceive,
That tames and corrects the ten thousand conditions of karma.

This mind-nature is originally even,
It stays in one place and cannot be led astray.

Non-arising, it follows the way of things,
Accords with any situation, and doesn’t draw attention to itself.

Enlightenment is originally not enlightenment.
It becomes “enlightenment” when it’s no longer enlightenment.

The two extremes of having and not having—
Who can call them “good” and “bad”?

All things that seem to exist
Are originally nonexistent and unmade.

The knowing mind is not mind
There is no sickness and no medicine.

In times of confusion, let go of the things of this world.
Enlightenment-ceasing is not different from this.

Originally there is no grasping,
So why should we throw anything away?

To say “it exists” is demon speech.
To say “emptiness” only resembles what’s appropriate.

Don’t try to extinguish your unenlightened thoughts.
Only instruct yourself to rest your thinking.

Thinking will be cut off by no-mind,
Mind will be extinguished by non-effort.

Don’t bother trying to “investigate” emptiness—
By itself it illuminates everything.

To cut off life and death
Enter the principle with a mind of deep mystery.

Open your eyes and see the characteristics,
Allow your mind to see all that arises.

Then let your mind let go of all that arises,
And in those arising objects the mind itself will disappear.

As the mind erases objects,
Mind and objects collapse into each other.

Mind quieted, objects quieted,
They are now one and the same.

When objects are extinguished by the mind
The mind is also extinguished by objects.

Until neither mind nor objects arise
Leaving only quietness, calmness and bright emptiness.

All the manifestations of bodhi become visible
And the mind becomes like the purest water

To attain your true nature, you must become truly stupid:
Don’t make “near” or “far.”

Know that approval and disapproval are an unceasing cycle,
So don’t keep any $xed address.

Then all this karma will suddenly disappear,
And you’ll never think about it again.

Endless day is like night.
Endless night is like day.

Outside, you might seem like a stubborn, protesting fool;
Inside, your mind will be empty of all truths.

Don’t make any move in response to outside conditions—
This is the strength of a great person.

But don’t hold on to “person”; don’t hold on to “seeing”:
Without seeing, everything appears.


Thinking only leads you into darkness,
And will bring chaos to your spirit.

When your mind stops moving,
Moving, stopping, moving—it all drains away.

The ten thousand objectless dharmas
Have only one entrance.

Not entering, not leaving,
Not gentle, not warm.

Sravakas and pratyekabuddhas
Cannot fathom this teaching.

In reality there is not even one thing.
Only surpassing wisdom remains.

Original reality is utterly empty
Apart from mind there is nothing.

Correct enlightenment is not enlightenment
True emptiness is not emptiness.

All Buddhas of the three worlds
And all vehicles embrace this teaching.

Which is as far-reaching
As the sands of the Ganges.

In it there is nothing to refer to,
Only a quieted mind with no place to rest.

And this not-resting mind
Opens itself to bright emptiness.

This feeling of quiet and peace does not arise out of anything,
It is always there, a broad, vast liberation.

Anything can happen there,
And it will all remain in harmony.

The sun of wisdom is quietness,
A light whose brightness never goes away.

A grove of unmarked illumination,
A citadel of bright nirvana.

All of the conditions which go on endlessly—
You can try to explain them in spiritual terms, to understand them in material terms.

But don’t put up a platform for teaching the dharma.
Close your eyes and rest in the house of emptiness.

The happiest path, the quietest nature,
Is found in the nature of things as they are.

Not doing anything, not attaining anything,
all comes from not manifesting the self.

The four virtues, the six paramitas,
all come together in the One Vehicle.

If the mind does not arise,
then it will be no di"erent from the dharma.

Know that arising and non-arising
Always exist at the same time.

At this point, the sages know
There is nothing that can possibly be explained.



Mind Inscription
By Founder of the Ox-Head School Niu-t'ou Fa-jung
Translated by Henrik H. Sorensen

心性不生何須知見 The nature of the mind is un-born. Why should it be necessary to know this?

本無一法誰論薫錬 Fundamentally there is not one single phenomenon; who then can speak about defilement and purification?

住返無端追尋不見 There is no end to coming and going, and no matter how much one seeks, one will never realize it!

一切莫作明寂自現 When everything is inactive, then the bright stillness will manifest by itself.

前際如空知處迷宗 Before one it will be like emptiness, and thereby one will know how to dispose with confused doctrines.

分明照境隨照冥蒙 Distinguishing clearly the circumstances one will illumine the dark and hidden.

一心有滯諸法不通 If the One Mind1 is obstructed, then all the dharmas2 will not have a penetrating effect.

去來自爾胡假推窮 Spontaneously coming and going, what use is it exhausting oneself?

生無生相生照一同 As life has the mark of the un-born, it will illumine the oneness.3

欲得心淨無心用功 If one wishes to obtain purity of mind, then one must diligently cultivate no-mind.

縱横無照最爲微妙 To have no mental reflections high and low, this more than anything else is the marvelous!

知法無知無知知要 One will know the dharma (the Buddha's teaching) through non-knowing, as this non-knowing will know the essentials.

將心守靜猶未離病 By grasping the mind and maintaining stillness4, one will still not be able to leave behind the sickness (of clinging)5.

生死忘懷即是本性 In life and death one must forget that which one is attached to, then there and then the fundamental nature (will manifest, shine forth etc.).

至理無詮非解非纏 The highest principle has no explanation, (one will be able to attain to it without) getting rid of anything and without restraining oneself.

靈通應物常在自前 Spiritual penetration and responding to affairs will constantly take place there and then,

目前無物無物宛然 Before one there will not be a thing, and "not a thing" will be a matter of course.6

不勞智鑒體自虚玄 If you do not strive for the Mirror of Wisdom, then its essence will be wonderously empty of itself.

念起念滅前後無別 Thinking arises and thinking goes away, before and after there is no discrimination.

後念不生前念自絶 The latter thought is not produced as the former is cut off by itself.

三世無物無心無佛 In the Three Worlds7 there is not a thing: neither mind nor Buddha.

衆生無心依無心出 All living beings are (products) of no-mind, and depend upon no-mind to come into existence.8

分別凡聖煩惱轉盛 Discriminating between worldly and holy will cause vexations in abundance.

計校乖常求眞背正 Constantly calculating and making plans amounts to searching for the truth while turning one's back to reality.

雙泯對治湛然明淨 If one puts an end to the two extremes (of being and non-being), then one will be both bright and clear.

不須功巧守嬰兒行 It is not necessary to observe infantile practices diligently.

惺惺了知見網轉彌 Through awareness one will gain knowledge, and when seeing the net (of samsara) one will turn around and stop.

寂寂無見暗室不移 In Samâdhi there is nothing to be seen, for in a dark room there is no movement.

惺惺無妄寂寂明亮 In awareness there is no falsity, in samaadhi there is clear brightness.

萬象常眞森羅一相 The myriad shapes are all true, all having the majestetic one characteristica9

去來坐立一切莫執 Going and coming, sitting and standing be grasped.

決定無方誰爲出入 With no fixed place, who (can be said) to come and go?

無合無散不遲不疾 No coming together and no breaking up, neither slowly nor hasty.

明寂自然不可言及 The bright stillness is selfso and words speak about it!

心無異心不斷貪淫 If in the mind there is nothing different from the mind, one does not have to stop desire.

性空自離任運浮沈 As its nature is empty, it will disappear if it is allowed to drift on.

非清非濁非淺非深 Neither pure nor defiled, neither shallow nor deep.

本來非古見在非今 Originally the past is not, and just now, the present is not!

見在無住見在本心 Just now there is non-abiding and that is the original Mind.10

本來不存本來即今 When one does not hold on to the origin, then the origin will be present.

菩提本有不須用守 Bodhi originally is, (that is why) it is not necessary to maintain it.

煩惱本無不須用除 Vexations are fundamentally non-existing, therefore it is not necessary to do away with them!

靈知自照萬法歸如 The spiritual wisdom shines forth by itself, and the myriad phenomena return (to the source).

無歸無受絶觀忘守 Nothing to revert to and nothing to receive. Cut off opinions and forget about the precepts!

四徳不生三身本有 The Four Virtues11 are un-born, and the Three Bodies are fundamentally existing.12

六根對境分別非識 The Six Roots13 (just) face the circumstances and (clear or direct) perception has nothing to do with consciousness.

一心無妄萬縁調直 Then the mind will have nothing wrong and the ten thousand causes will directly harmonize.

心性本齊同居不攜 The mind and the feelings are basically of the same source, they coexist without interfering with each other.

無生順物隨處幽棲 The un-born is in accordance with phenomena, together they dwell and rest in the dark.

覺由不覺即覺無覺 Enlightenment comes from that which is not enlightened, therefore enlightenment is non-enlightenment!

得失兩邊誰論好惡 Gain and loss are like the two sides of a coin. Who can then speak about good and bad?

一切有爲本無造作 All that is caused, is originally the product of the un-born.

知心不心無病無藥 The knowing mind is not the Mind, (the true Mind is something which) neither disease nor medicine can effect.

迷時捨事悟罷非異 In times of confusion just let things go their way, because when awakening is accomplished, they will not be different (from your self).

本無可取今何用棄 Fundamentally nothing can be grasped; now what will you throw away?

謂有魔興言空象備 Speaking of existence is to give in to demons, for with words empty images arise!

莫滅凡情唯教息意 Do not wipe out worldly feelings. The only teaching that you should be concerned about, is how to do away with ideas!

意無心滅心無行絶 Ideas will be annihilated by no-mind, and mental states will be cut off by non-activity.

不用證空自然明徹 There is no use trying to verify emptiness, spontaneously it will shine forth!

滅盡生死冥心入理 Extinguishing both life and death, the profound Mind enters the (ultimate) principle.

開目見相心隨境起 Just open your eyes and behold the forms, letting your mind go along with the arising circumstances.

心處無境境處無心 If the mind abides in no-circumstances, then the circumstances abide in no-mind.

將心滅境彼此由侵 Then when the mind is about to annihilate the circumstances, they will go along with the annihilation.

心寂境如不遣不拘 The mind will be quiet and the circumstances just the same. One will neither have to let go nor to hold on.

境隨心滅心隨境無 When circumstances go along with the mind they will be extinguished, and the mind which follows circumstances is nothingness.

兩處不生寂靜虚明 Both abide in the un-born, still purity and empty brightness!

菩提影現心水常清 Awakening appears like a shadow in the mind's water, which is constantly clear.

徳性如愚不立親疎 The nature (or disposition) of the virtuous is like stupidity, for it does not set up any separation between this and that.

寵辱不變不擇所居 They are not moved by either grace or dishonour, and do not choose a (fixed) place to dwell.14

諸縁頓息一切不憶 If all causes are put to rest, then one will cease to worry about them!

永日如夜永夜如永 If one does not discriminate, then an eternal day can be like a night, and an eternal night can be like a day.15

外似頑 内心虚眞 When seen from the outside it seems as if one is wayward and stupid, however within, the mind is vacant and in communion with reality.

對境不動有力大人 Adverse conditions will not move one, and one will have the power of an accomplished being.

無人無見無見常現 There will be neither seer nor the seen, then that non-seeing will be perpetually manifested.

通達一切未嘗不  Penetrating everything, constantly being everywhere.

思惟轉昏汨亂精魂 Thinking will cause confusion, and confusion will give rise to all kinds of emotions.

將心止動轉止轉奔 If by grasping the mind one tries to stop agitation, then with this movement the mind will be even more active.16

萬法無所唯有一門 The myriad phenomena have no base, there is only the One Door.17

不入不出非靜非喧 This is the door of neither entering nor leaving, of neither stillness nor disturbance.

聲聞縁覺智不能論 The wisdom of 'Srâvakas and Pratyeka-buddhas can not fathom this.

實無一物妙智獨存 In reality not one thing exists, the wonderful wisdom alone remains. Circumstances are fundamentally empty.

本際虚沖非心所窮 It is not something which the mind can exhaust.

正覺無覺眞空不空 True enlightenment is non-enlightenment, and real emptiness is not empty!

三世諸佛皆乘此宗 All the Buddhas of the Three Times18 teach this doctrine.

此宗毫未沙界含容 This teaching is like a particle of dust, worlds as numerous as sandgrains in the Ganges are contained therein!

一切莫顧安心無處 If one does not occupy oneself with everything, then the peaceful mind will have nowhere to abide.

無處安心虚明自露 The peaceful mind will be non-abiding, and the empty brightness will manifest by itself!

寂靜不生放曠縱横 The quiet stillness is un-born, and one will be free to roam in all directions.

所作無滯去住皆平 Whatever one does there will be nothing to obstruct one. In motion and in rest, all will be equal.

慧日寂寂定光明明 The sun of prajnâ is still, the light of samâdhi is bright;

照無相苑朗涅槃城 (They are) the bright park of no mark (laksana) and the clear city of nirvâna.

諸縁忘畢詮神定質 In all causes one should be un-mindful of the fruit; it can be likened to the quality of the spiritual samâdhi.

不起法座安眠虚室 Do not set up platforms for teaching; but take a peaceful nap in an empty house.19

樂道恬然優遊眞實 One will find happiness in the Way, with plenty of space to roam about in True Reality.

無爲無得依無自出 Nothing to do, nothing to obtain, and depending upon nothing, the self will manifest.

四等六度同一乘路 The Four Virtues20 and the Six Parâmitâs21 all belong to the path of the One Vehicle.

心若不生法無差互 When the mind in this way is not produced, then all the phenomena also will not be wrong.

知生無生現前常住 Knowing that life is un-born, before one it will constantly remain thus.

智者方知非言詮悟 Those with wisdom will know this, but no amount of words can explain this kind of awakening!

(In Sorensen's article (v.s.), these correspond to the notes 54-74.)

1 The Buddha Mind or Buddha Nature (fo-hsing 佛性).

2 The various Buddhist methods and teachings.

3 Meaning that life as such is manifesting the un-born or absolute. This has been presented in the Prajnâpâramitâhrdaya Sûtraa (Nsin ching, T.250) in the following words: "Form is emptiness, emptiness is form."b [a 般若波羅蜜多心經 b 色即是空、空即是色]

4 A type of meditation practice common in the Northern Ch'an School of Shen-hsiuc (605-706 A.D.). This method is called shou-hsind (observing the mind). [c 神秀 d 守心]

5 If one practices in this way, according to Fa-junge one will still be subject of dualistic thinking. [e 法融]

6 The realization of suchness (tathatâf). [f 如]

7 1) The world of desireg, 2) the world of formh and 3) the world of no-formi (the formless world). [g 欲界 h 色界 i 無色界]

8 This is the so-called dharmadhâtu-originationj, a cardinal doctrine in the "Hua-yen ching"k. [j 法界性起 k 華嚴經]

9 The one characteristicl or the one mark is suchness. [l 一相]

10 The essential nature, the Buddha Mind.

11 1) Permanencem, 2) joyn, 3) personalityo and 4) purityp. These Four Virtuesq were expounded by the Buddha in the Mahâparinirvâna Sûtrar. (T. 374). They are attributes of the Buddha Nature. [m 常 n 樂 o 我 p 淨 q 四徳 r 大般涅槃經]

12 1) Dharmakâyas, 2) Sambhogakâyat, 3) Nirmânakâyau. [s 法身 t 報身 u 應身]

13 1) Eyev, 2) earw, 3) nosex, 4) tonguey, 5) bodyz and 6) mind (consciousnessaa). [v 眼 w 耳 x 鼻 y 舌 z 身 aa 意]

14 This is a very orthodox "Indian" description of the correct behavior of a Buddhist ascetic. It is said that some of the Niu-t'ou masters roamed about living in the woods never settling down in a temple. The master Niao-k'e Tao-linab (741-824) is one such example. [ab 鳥彙道林]

15 The meaning here is not quite clear to the translator.

16 Again a critique of the Northern Ch'an practice of shou-hsinac. [ac 守心]

17 The direct perception of the un-bornad. [ad 不生]

18 Past, present and future.

19 This is tandem with the statement in note 14.

20 See note 11.

21 The Six Pâramitâsae: 1) Dânaaf (the perfection of giving), 2) 'sîlaag (the perfection of the discipline), 3) ksântiah (the perfection of patience), 4) vîryaai (the perfection of zeal or perseverance), 5) dhyânaaj (the perfection of meditative absorbtion) and 6) prajnâak (the perfection of trancendental wisdom). [ae 六度、六波羅蜜 af 檀那 ag 戒、尸羅 ah 忍辱 ai 精進 aj 禪、禪定 ak 慧、智慧、般若]


An Analysis of the Hsin Ming
The following is an analysis of the Hsin Ming by Henrik H. Sorensen.
This article can be also found in the following site:

The "Hsin-ming" Attributed to Niu-t'ou Fa-jung
By Henrik H. Sorensen

Journal of Chinese Philosophy Vol.13 1986, pp. 101-120
Dialogue Publishing Company, Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.A.

In the thirtieth chapter of the celebrated Ch'an Buddhist collection "Ching-te ch'uan-teng lu"a (1) one finds a number of short texts of the gâtha (chia-t'ab) type (2) composed by various Ch'an masters. Among these often highly abstruse "songs" (kec) is included one called "Hsin-ming"d (Mind Inscription), (3) which is attributed to Fa-junge (594-657), (4) the First Patriarch of the early Ch'an Buddhist denomination commonly known as the Niu-t'ou Schoolf after the name of the mountain where the master dwelt. (5) Before going on to a discussion of the text and its contents let us first take a brief look at the author and iris brand of Ch'an Buddhism. [a 景德傳燈錄、景徳伝灯録 b 伽他 c 歌 d 心銘 e 法融 f 牛頭宗]

Traditionally Fa-jung is regarded as a direct disciple of Tao-hsing (580-651), (6) the fourth Patriarch of Chinese Ch'an tracing its line of transmission back to Bodhidharmah (d. ca. 538 a.d.), (7) but recent research has shown several problems concerning the verification of this claim. (8) In Fa-jung's oldest biography to be found in Tao-hsüan's (596-667) (9) Hsü kao-seng ch'uani (10) nothing whatsoever is mentioned about Tao-hsin, and in Tao-hsin's biography contained in the same collection, we find no mentioning of Fa-jung either. (11) The earliest claim connecting Fa-jung with the Fourth Patriarch first comes across in the memorial inscription Jun-chou He-lin Ssu ku Ching-shan Ta-shih pei-mingj (12) dedicated to the Niu-t'ou master Hsüan-suk (668-752), (13) composed by the famous literature Li Hual (?-ca. 766). (14) In the memorial inscription on the stele of Hsüan-su's disciple, Tao-ch'inm (714-792) (15) the claim is repeated. (16) As late as 829 the scholar Liu Yu-hsin (772-842) (17) wrote the inscription "Niu-t'ou Shan ti i-tsu Jung Ta-shih hsin-t'a chi"o (18) for the new memorial stûpa for Fa-jung that had been set up on Niu-t'ou Shan following the school's rise to prominence during the second half of the 8th century. (19) All these inscriptions and the later biographies contained in the standard Ch'an collections of the late T'ang-early Sung (9-10th century) such as the "Tsu-t'ang chi"p (20) and the "Ching-te ch'uan-teng lu" (21) all perpetuate the claim making Fa-jung a dharma heir of Tao-hsin. (22) [g 道信 h 達磨 i 續高僧傳 j 潤州鶴林寺故徑山大師碑銘 k 玄素 l 季華 m 道欽 n 劉禹錫 o 牛頭山第一祖大師新塔記 p 祖堂集]

According to Fa-jung's biography in the Hsü kao-seng ch'uan he was of the Wei family and a native of Yen-lingq in Jun-Chour, present day Chen-chiang in the southern part of Kiangsu Province. As a young man he studied Confucianism and Taoism but later he became dis-illusioned with these belief systems and turned towards Buddhism. He first studied under a monk called Kuei Fa-shihs (n.d.) (23) on Mao Shant to the southeast of Nankingu also in Kiangsu. He penetrated the prajnâpâramitâ doctrines of the San-lun Schoolv (24) and later practised the Chih-kuanw ('samatha-vipa'syana) system of the T'ien-t'ai Schoolx. (25) After Fa-jung had become a master in his own right, he went to Jun-chou (Nanking) in 643 and settled in the Yu-hsi Templey on the southern slope of Niu-t'ou Shan. (26) Here he lived in seclusion in a cave behind the temple proper; and it was during this time that he is said to have been visited by Tao-hsin and became his disciple. (27) Following his seclusion in the cave he attracted a large number of followers teaching at several locations in the region. In 657 he passed away at the age of 63. (28) After the master's death the school supposedly was continued by a monk called Chih-yenz (600-677), (29) however it is rather questionable that Chih-yen was a disciple of Fa-jung. In the "Hsü kao-seng ch'uan" there is nothing to substantiate this claim. (30) [q 延陵 r 潤州 s 炅法師 t 茅山 u 南京 v 三論宗 w 止觀 x 天台宗 y 幽栖寺 z 智巖]

The learned Ch'an and Hua-yenaa master Kuei-feng Tsung-miab (780-841) (31) critically treated the doctrines of the Niu-t'ou School in several of his works. Through this characterization one is given an insight into the cardinal teachings of a highly radical madhyâmika (chung-taoac) oriented denomination of Ch'an Buddhism. (32) The hall-mark of this school was an emphasis on "universal emptiness" (hsü-k'ungad) or 'sûnyatâ in a direct and practical way of application. The basic doctrines of the Niu-t'ou School was summed up by Tsung-mi as follows: [aa 華嚴 ab 圭峰宗密 ac 中道 ad 虚空]

Secondly there is the school of utter annihilation and nondwelling, that is to say all phenomena (worldly and holy inclusive) are all like illusions, completely non-existent. Fundamentally empty stillness does not take its beginning in nothingness; even the wisdom with which one reaches emptiness cannot be obtained. In the sameness of Dharmadhâtu there are neither Buddhas nor sentient beings. Dharmadhâtu is merely a designated name. As the mind does not have any existence of its own, who can speak about Dharmadhâtu? In non-cultivation there is no cultivator and as the Buddha is non-existent there is no Buddha(hood). Let us suppose that there is a Dharma which is higher than Nirvâna, then I say that this would be like an illusion. There is no Dharma that can be grasped, and no Buddha(hood) that can be attained. If there is anything that can be accomplished (at all), then it is all delusion and falsehood. If one is able to penetrate into this, then fundamentally there is not a thing to which the mind can attach. (33)

All phenomena including the Buddhist Dharma are essentially without own being, i.e. they do not possess any inherent mark (faae) of existence and are therefore empty and non-existent. This very lack of inherent existence is at the same time the "nirvanic" imprint on all phenomena, meaning that everything fundamentally is in the absolute state of suchness (chen-juaf). So far there is nothing strange or deviant about the Niu-t'ou teachings, they are quite straight-forward San-lun doctrine. However the practical conclusions reached by Fa-jung and his followers are extreme when seen from the viewpoint of Tsung-mi and other "orthodox" monks. The extreme conclusions concerning the sûnyâta doctrine as propagated by the Niu-t'ou School can be clearly discerned in the Hsin-ming. Because all phenomena are baseless and illusory it is neither necessary to cultivate any virtues nor to purify oneself. All one needs to do is to maintain a non-clinging mind free of mentation. When this is achieved the illusory phenomena will cease to exert any influence on the adept and he will enjoy direct communion with absolute reality, entering into the highest principle (chih-liag). One of the key-concepts in this enlightenment process is to be unmindful of the feelings (wang-hsingah), which then will result in their natural cessation. As any notion of the employment of upâya (fang-pienai) is absent from the Niu-t'ou doctrines, it is clear that they tended to overlook perhaps the most vital aspect of the madhyâmika doctrine. This aspect is the two truths (erh-tiaj), i.e. the absolute truth (chen-tiak) and the relative truth (shih-su tial); the Niu-t'ou doctrine paid attention to the absolute level at the expense of the relative level. This one-sided emphasis on emptiness and cessation naturally exposed the school to attacks from other Buddhist monks, causing Tsung-mi to characterize the Niu-t'ou School as one following a doctrine of "utter annihilation and non-dwelling" (min-chueh wu-chiam). (34) Following Tsung-mi the Ch'an master Huang-po Hsi-yunan (d. ca. 850) (35) later criticized Fa-jung for having been unable to grasp the ultimate truth, obviously referring to his supposed onesided understanding of emptiness. (36) [ae 法 af 眞如 ag 至理 ah 忘性 ai 方便 aj 二諦 ak 眞諦 al 世俗諦 am 泯絶無奇 an 黄蘗希運]

So far the Hsin-ming is the only existing text which is directly attributed to Fa-jung. (37) Another text, the Chüeh-kuan lunao, (38) which the Japanese scholar Yanagida Seizanap holds to be by Fa-jung or at least by one of his close disciples, does admittedly bear close resemblance to the "Hsin-ming" and might very well be a work from Fa-jung's hand. (39) However even though the two texts do not always use identical stockphrases there seems to be little doubt that they are both the product, if not by the same author, then at least by followers of the same type of Ch'an doctrine. Besides the distinct "absolutistic" madhyâmika or San-lun view one of the most pronounced identical features of the texts is the clear "Taoistic" flavour which permeates them throughout. When comparing the doctrinal stances of the two texts one's associations are invariably led in the direction of the "Tao-te ching"aq and the "Chuang-tzu"ar. The concepts of non-action (wu-weias) and no-mind (wu-hsinat) appear several times in both works and the unBuddhist stress on spontaneity (tzu-janau) at the expense of the vinaya (ssu-fenav) is conspicuous. Indeed, whole passages of the "Chüeh-kuan lun" appear to have been taken right out of the "Tao-te ching". (40) From Fa-jung's biography in the "Ching-te ch'uan-teng lu", most of which is taken up by a dialogue between the master and a certain Prince Po-lingaw (n.d.); we find the same clear San-lun/madhyâmika teaching as the "Hsin-ming" and the "Chüeh-kuan lun". (41) However it is not possible to assert whether the "Ching-te ch'uan-teng lu" presentation of Fa-jung's teaching really is by him or whether it is a later composition. (42) [ao 絶觀論 ap 柳田聖山 aq 道徳經 ar 莊子 as 無爲 at 無心 au 自然 av 四分 aw 博陵王]

When seen in the light of the "Hsin-ming," the "Chüeh-kuan lun" and the dialogue with the Prince in "Ching-te ch'uan-teng lu" we might say that Tsung-mi's description and criticism of the Niu-t'ou School's rather extreme 'sûnyata view is partly justified. However it is quite clear too that Tsung-mi in his criticism tended to over-look the fact that Fa-jung and his followers included a wide range of standard Mahâyâna doctrines in their Teachings too. In the "Hsin-ming," for example, one finds an obvious use of the doctrine of dharmadhâtu-origination (fa-chieh hsing-ch'iax), (43) and in the Chüeh-kuan lun one likewise finds influence from the Hua-yen ching (ay) (44) and the Wei-mo chingay. (45) [ax 法界性起 ay 維摩經]

As to the problem whether the "Hsin-ming" is actually by Fa-jung we do not have any definitive proof. All in all we must conclude that there are a number of important points such as style and contents which clearly allow us to associate the text with Fa-jung and the Niu-t'ou School. The close doctrinal resemblance with the "Chüeh-kuan lun" and Fa-jung's biographical entry in the "Ching-te ch'uan-teng lu" be over-looked. Furthermore the teachings as contained in the "Hsin-ming" correspond closely with Tsung-mi's characterization of the Niu-t'ou School. The main points of doubt concerning the genuiness of the text lies with the facts that it is included in a relatively late Ch'an collection, i.e: the "Ching-te ch'uan-teng lu" from 1004; therefore it might be another example of pious contribution. Secondly, we do not find any reference to the text in earlier Ch'an materials. (46) In this connection it must be noted that the line of thought as presented by the author of the "Hsin-ming" is not very close to that of Fa-jung's supposed master Tao-hsin. Actually it is doctrinally a far cry from the teachings of Tao-hsin as presented in his "Ju-tao an-hsin yao fang-pien fa-men"az, (47) which is a point adding to the argument that Fa-jung probably never had any direct contact with Tao-hsin and his line of transmission. Interestingly the "Hsin-hsin ming"ba (48) attributed to the Third Patriarch Seng-ts'anbb (d. 606) (49) in the Bodhidharma line, has many points in common with the "Hsin-ming", both as regards contents and style. (50) Likewise when reading the "Hsin-ming" one overlook the close affinity which the doctrines of the text has with those of Wu-chubc (714-774) (51) of the Pao-t'ang Schoolbd and with some parts of the teachings of Shen-huibe (670-672) (52) of the Ho-tse Schoolbf. [az 入道安心要方便法門 ba 信心銘 bb 僧璨 bc 無住 bd 保唐寺宗 be 神會 bf 荷澤宗]

The "Hsin-ming" as we have it today exist in two versions. The one used here is that of the "Ching-te ch'uan-teng lu" and the other can be found in the t'ung-shubg collection "Ch'uan T'ang-wen"bh. (53) The two versions do not deviate greatly and some of the different characters in the latter version appear to be misprints. It seems as if the "Ch'uan T'ang-wen" version has been taken from the "Ching-te ch'uan-teng lu" version, however a seperate transmission of the text cannot be ruled out, and in that case the former version might very well be the oldest of the two. [bg 通書 bh 全唐文]

University of Copenhagen


I wish to express my thanks to the following people, who in various ways helped me with this article: First my thanks go to Mr. Morten Schlutter of East Asiatic Institute, University of Copenhagen for reading through the manuscript and contributing many helpful suggestions. Next my thanks go to Mr. Poul Andersen, our local specialist in Taoist studies, also of East Asiatic Institute, for his critique and suggestions concerning the translation. Last but not least thanks to Miss Charlotte Rohde of the Royal Danish Library for her painstaking efforts in locating useful material for my study.


CDC - "Chodang chip". Yanagida version.
CKL - "Chueh-kuan lun". Tokiwa version.
CSTP - "Chin-shih ts'ui-pien". Shanghai, 1893.
CTL - "Taisho version, 2076".
CTS - "Chiu T'ang-shu". Peking, 1978.
CTW - "Ch'uan T'ang-wen". Taipei, 1960.
HKSC - "Hsu kao-seng ch'uan", T. version, 2060".
HM - "Hsin-ming". CTL version.
HTC - "Hsu tsang-ching". Lung-men reprint.
HTS - "Hsin T'ang-shu". Peking, 1978.
IB - "Indogaku Bukkyogaku".
JCP - "Journal of Chinese Philosophy".
JIABS - "Journal of International Association of Buddhist Studies".
P - "Pelliot Collection".
PEW - "Philosophy East West".
T - "Taisho Daizokyo".
TP - "T'oung Pao".
TWT - "T'ang-wen ts'ui". Taipei, 1973.


  1. Taisho 2076. Compiled by the monk Tao-yuan (n.d.) from the Fa-yen School in 1004 a.d.. The work was published in 1011 a.d.
  2. Ibid.ch. 30, pp. 456c-467a.
  3. Ibid. pp.457b-458a.
  4. Biography in HKSC (T. 2060) ch. 26, pp. 603c-605b, in CDC ch. 3, pp. 51a53a, and in CTL ch. 4, pp. 227c-228b. For a translation of Fa-jung's biography from CTL see Chang Chung-yuan: Original Teachings of Ch'an Buddhism. N.Y., 1969, pp. 3-11, 17-26. For a modern treatment in Japanese of Fa-jung and his teaching see Hiromine Kinami: Gozu-shu ni Okeru Ichikosatsu. In: IB XXVIII, 1, 1979, pp. 186-87 (1) and IB XXIX, 1, 1980, pp. 146-47 (II). The most comprehensive study so far in a Western language is John R. McRae's The Ox-Head School of Chinese Ch'an Buddhism: From Early Ch'an to the Golden Age. In Studies in Ch'an and Hua-yen, ed. by Robert M. Gimello & Peter N. Gregory, Honolulu, 1983, pp. 169-252. McRae's article contains a very useful review of Japanese studies of the Niu-t'ou School and its doctrines up to ca. 1979.
  5. A description of the mountain and its temples including photoes can be found in Buddhist Monuments in China (Shina Bukkyo Shiseki Kinenshu) by Daijo Tokiwa and Tadashi Sekino, Vol. 4, Tokyo, 1937, pp. 17-19. The mountain was visited around the same time as the Japanese, i.e. in the 1920's, by the Danish architect Johannes Pripp-Moller, who described it in his monumental work Chinese Buddhist Monasteries. Copenhagen & London, 1937, pp. 183, 186, 194. A present day note on the mountain is included in Barry Till's In Search of Old Nanking. Hong Kong, 1982, pp. 75-76.
  6. Biography in HKSC (T. 2060), ch. 26, pp. 606bc, in CDC ch. 2, pp. 41b-42a, and in CTL (T. 2076), ch. 3, pp. 222b-223a. For a very thorough treatment of this key-figure in early Chinese Ch'an see David W. Chappell's The Teachings of the Fourth Ch'an Patriarch Tao-hsin (580-651). In Early Ch'an in China and Tibet ed. by Lewis Lancaster and Whalen Lai. Berkeley, 1983, pp. 89-129.
  7. Biography in HKSC ch. 16, pp. 551bc, CDC ch. 2, pp. 32a-39a, and CTL ch. 3, pp. 217a-220b. For a modern study on Bodhidharma in Japanese see Bunyû Matsuda's Bodaidaruma Ron. In IB Vol. XXVII, 2, 1978, pp. 595-600, a critically annotated edition in Japanese of the discourses attributed to Bodhidharma can be found in Seizan Yanagida (ed. & transl.): Daruma no Goroku. Zen no Goroku Series Vol. 1. Tokyo, 1969.
  8. See Chappell pp. 103-104, note 11.
  9. Biography in SKSC (T. 2061), ch. 14, pp. 790b-791b. He finished compiling the HKSC in 664 a.d.
  10. HKSC (T. 2060), ch. 26, pp. 603c-605b. In this work Fa-jung's biography is included in the hsi-ch'an section. A much shorter biography obviously based on the HKSC version can be found in the work Hung-tsan fa-hua ch'uan (T. 2067), ch. 3, pp. 16c-17a, by Hui-hsiang (n.d.). This collection is dated to 667 a.d., and here Fa-jung is represented as a master of the Lotus Sutra, an indication of his close affinity with the T'ien-t'ai School.
  11. See note 6 above.
  12. TWT ch. 64.
  13. Biography in CDC ch. 3, p. 53b and CTL ch. 4, pp. 229bc.
  14. Biography in CTS ch. 190 and in HTS ch. 203. For a treatment of Li Hue's Buddhist involvement see the author's MA. Thesis: The Relationship Between Confucian Men of Letters and Buddhist Monks During the Latter Half of the T'ang Dynasty: A Study in Assimilation and Harmonization Between Two Major Spiritual Traditions in China. University of Copenhagen, 1983, pp. 22-26.
  15. The title of this inscription is Hang-chou Chin-shan Ssu To-chueh shih pei-ming composed by Li Chi-fu (758-814), CTW Tao-ch'in's biography is in CDC ch. 3, p. 53b and in CTL oh. 4, pp. 230ab.
  16. CTW ch. 512.
  17. Biography in CTS ch. 160. See also biographical note in CTW ch. 610.
  18. In TWT ch.64.
  19. This stûpa was built in 774 a.d. during the reign of T'ai-tsung (762-779).
  20. A Korean Ch'an (Son) collection of biographies compiled in 952 a.d. by the two Korean monks Chong and Un. For a discussion of this important text see Paul Demieville: Le Recueil de la Salle des Patriarches: Tsou-T'ang Tsi TP LVI, 1-3, 1970, pp. 262-286.
  21. See note l.
  22. See CDC ch. 3, p. 51a, and CTL ch. 4, p. 227a.
  23. For a discussion of the monks under whom Fa-jung studied see Hakuju Ui: Zenshû shi Kenkyû. Vol. 2, Tokyo, 1939-43 (reprint 1966), pp. 511-519.
  24. One of the earliest structured Buddhist traditions in China based on the madhyâmika philosophy of Nagârjuna (ca. 3rd cent.). Its status as a school of Chinese Buddhism did not arise until far into the T'ang dynasty. For a discussion of the lineage in the San-lun School see Ryûko Furusaka: Sanron Gakuha ni Okeru Sosho Mondai. IB XVIII, 2, 1970, pp. 609-10. For treatments of the San-lun thought and history in English see Hsueh-li Cheng: Chi-tsang's Treatment of Metaphysical Issues. JCP 8 (1981), pp. 371-989, and Aaron K. Koseki: The Concept of Practice in San-fun Thought: Chi-tsang and the "Concurrent Insight" of the Two Truths. PEW 31, 4, 1981, pp. 449-466, and: Later Maadhyamika in China: Some Current Perspectives on the History of Chinese Prajnaapaaramitaa Thought. JIABS. Vol. 5,2, 1982. The latter article is a review article of Hirai Shun'ei's monumental work: Chuugoku Hannya Kenkyû. Tokyo, 1976.
  25. One of the important Buddhist denominations in Southern China during Sui-first half of the T'ang period. The impotance of T'ien-t'ai meditation practices in relation to the formulation of early Ch'an Buddhism has still not been thoroughly investigated, however some aspects have been touched upon in recent Japanese scholarship. See Kenju Komatsu: Makashikan no Hoben. IB XXVI, 2, 1978, pp. 826-828. Toshio Kazama: Makashikan to Nanshûzen no Kankei ni Tsuite. IB XXVIII,1, 1979, pp. 51-55, Keisho Sengoku: Nangaku Eshi no Zenkan. IB XXXI, 1, 1982, pp. 256-58. 256-58, two articles by Hideto Ono: Tendai Kanjin Jikiho no Kenkyû. IB XXIX, 1, 1980,pp. 326-332, and Shiki Tendai no Ten Shiso. IR XXIV 1, 1975, pp. 114-118, Rosan Ikeda; Tendai Chigi no Reiho Taikei. IB XXIX, 1, 1980, pp. 37-41, and Kobaku Sakamoto: Tendai ni Okeru Shizen. IB XXXI 1. 1982, pp. 259-262. Important studies in Western languages are Leon Hurvitz: Chih-i, an Introduction to the the and ideas of a Chinese Buddhist Monk. MCB Vol. 12, Bruxelles, 1962; Helwig Schmidt-Glintzer: Die Identitat Der Buddhistischen Schulent und Die Kompilation Buddhistischer Universalgeschichren in China. Wiesbaden, 1982; and Paul Magnin: La Vie et l'Euvre de Huisi (515-577). Publications de l'Ecole Franraise D'extreme-Orient Vol. CXVI. Paris, 1979.
  26. See Tokiwa and Sekino pp. 17-19 (also note 5).
  27. The first mention of the supposed meeting between Fa-jung and Tao-hsin can be found in Kuei-feng Tsung-mi's Yuan-chueh ching ta-hsu ch'ao (HTC Vol. 14, p. 279b) from 823 a.d. The earlier inscriptions only mention the lineage. See also CDC ch. 3, pp. 51ab. The biographical entry on Fa-jung in CTL mentions that Tao-hsin went to Niu-t'ou Shan in "the middle of the Chen-kuan period" (627-649 a.d.); CTL ch. p. 227a.
  28. CDC ch. 3, p. 53a.
  29. Biography in HKSC ch. 25, pp. 602ac. See also the above mentioned later stele-inscriptions and the line of transmission as given in CDC ch. 3, p. 53a.
  30. This has also been noted by John R. McRae in his The Ox-head School of Chinese Ch'an Buddhism, p. 178.
  31. Biography in the stele-inscription "T'ang Ku Kuei-feng hui sh'an-shih ch'uan-fa pei," by P'ei Hsiu (797-870), CSTP ch. 114. For a reprint of the original inscription see "P'ei Hsiu tzu-t'ieh," publ. by Hsi-ch'uan Jen-min Ch'u-pan she, Ch'eng-tu, 1981. See also the biographical entries in CDC ch. 5, pp. 114a-116a and CTL ch. 13, pp. 305c-308b. For a study of the life and Ch'an thought of this important master see Jan Yun-hua: Tsung-mi: His Analysis of Ch'an Buddhism. TP LVIII, 1972; pp. 1-54 for a discussion and complete translation of Tsung-mi's Ch'an-yuan chu-ch'uan chi tou-hsu (T. 2015) see Jeffery Broughton: Kuei-feng Tsung-mi. The Convergence of Ch'an and the Teachings. Ph.D. Dissertation, Columbia University, 1975.
  32. T. 2015. p. 402c, HTC Vol. 14, p. 279b, HTC Vol. 110, pp. 436d-437a.
  33. Ch'an-yuan chu-ch'uan chi tu-hsu (T. 2015), p. 402c.
  34. Ibid. This characterization will appear quite fair when compared with the contents of the Hsin-ming.
  35. Biography in CDC ch. 16, pp. 309a-312a and CTL ch. 9, pp. 266abc. For a translation of his yu-lu compiled by P'ei Hsiu, i.e. the Ch'uan-hsin fa-yao (T. 2012) see John Blofeld: The Zen Teaching of Huang Po. London, 1958.
  36. Hsi-yun's critique of Fa-jung is found in CTL ch. 9. p. 266c.
  37. In the scripture catalogues compiled by Eun (n.d.) (T. 2168AB) and Enchin (814-889) (T. 2169, 2170, 2171, 2172, 2173) we find the titles of the following texts bearing the name of Fa-jung: Chu chin-kang pan-jo ching in one chapter pp. 1088, Chu chin-kang pan-jo in two chapters pp. 1091, Wei-mo ching chi in one chapter pp. 1091, Hua-yen ching szu-chi in one chapter pp. 1151. In addition to these texts several more bear the name Niu-t'ou probably also meaning Fa-jung. If these commentaries actually were written by Fa-jung, it is readily understandable why we find citations from the Vimalakîrti Sûtra and the Avatamsaka Sûtra in the CKL. In Lionel Giles's Descriptive Catalogue of the Chinese Manuscripts from Tun-huang in the British Museum. London, 1957, p. 129 (S. 2944) we find a text called Jung Ch'an-shih ting-hou yin (The Ch'an master Jung's Song Following Samâdhi), which through further investigation might turn out to be a work by Fa-jung too.
  38. Pelliot (hereafter P.) 2732, P. 2885 and P. 2045. A modern version, annotated and translated into modern Japanese and English can be found in Chüeh-kuan lun. Ed. by Gishin Tokiwa. Kyoto, 1973. This book is based on the research of a study-group under the supervision of Seizan Yanagida at the Institute for Zen Studies in Kyoto. In the English translation Tokiwa translates the "kuan"bi in the title as "contemplation", however this author disagrees with the rendering of "kuan" in this particular case, finding that "views" or "opinions" as a translation of kuan are much more in accordance with the real meaning of the title. See also McRae pp. 208-9 for a discussion of the meaning of kuan. [bi 觀]
  39. Yanagida's argument for the attribution of the Chüeh-kuan lun (hereafter CKL) to Fa-jung appears to be well documented and there can be little doubt that the text is from his hand. See Tokiwa pp. 2-3 and p. 23 note 7.
  40. See Hsin-ming (hereafter HM) pp. 457b line 2, p. 457c line 2, p. 457c line 3, p. 457 line 12 and p. 458a line 6, and CKL (Tokiwa version) section III, p. 89, section VI, p. 91, section IX, p. 93 and section X, pp. 93-94. Compare fx. the opening passage of CKL with that of Tao-te ching. The "Taoistic" touch apparent in the Niu-t'ou doctrines should not be interpreted to mean that this school of Ch'an was a mixture of Lao-Chuang Taoism (wrongly called Neo-Taoism) and dhyâna Buddhism, but should rather be seen as a genuine Chinese Buddhist interpretation of mâdhyamika philosophy emphasising the practical realization of universal emptiness partly expressed through Lao-Chuang terminology. When seen from this angle, then the Niu-t'ou doctrines constitute a logical and direct continuation of the type of Chinese mâdhyamika evident in such a work as Chao-lun (T. 1858) et al.
  41. CTL ch. 4, pp.227b-228a.
  42. The CTL as such is admittedly quite late, however the contents of the Fa-jung biography included therein agrees perfectly as far as doctrine goes with that of the HM and CKL, and might very well be at least partly genuine.
  43. CTL ch. 30, p. 457c, line 6.
  44. CKL section VI, p. 91.
  45. Ibid, section IV, pp. 89-90.
  46. See note 36.
  47. T. 2837, pp. 1286c-1289b. See also the modern Japanese version by Seizan Yanagida in Shoki no Zenshi, 1. Zen no Goroku 2. Tokyo, 1971, pp. 49-326. It has been translated into English by David W. Chappell in Early Ch'an in China and Tibet, pp. 107-129.
  48. CTL ch.30, pp. 457ab.
  49. Biography in Pao-lin ch'uan (Zengaku Gyosho Vol. 5), comp. by Seizan Yanagida, reprint 1983) ch. 8, pp. 148-154, CDC ch. 2, pp. 41ab and CTL ch. 3, pp. 211c- 212b.
  50. The teaching on the unobtainability of phenomena is identical in the two works and so is that of non-duality. It must be noted however, that the Hsin Hsin-ming has a stronger leaning towards the doctrine of tathâgatagarbha (fo-hsing) than the HM.
  51. Biography in the Li-tai fa-pao chi (T. 2075), pp. 185c-196b and CTL ch. 4, pp, 234b-235a.
  52. Biography in CDC ch. 3, pp. 56b-57a and CTL ch. 5, pp. 245ab. A biographical treatment in French can be found in Jacques Gernet: "Biographie du Maitre Chen-houei de Ho-tso." Journal Asiatique, CCXLIX, 1951, pp. 29-60.
  53. CTW ch.908.




Song of the Mind (Xin Ming) by Niutou Farong (594-657)
Translated by Master Sheng Yen

The nature of the mind is non-arising,
What need is there of knowledge and views?
Originally there is not a single dharma;
Why discuss inspiration and training?

Coming and going without beginning;
Sought for, it is not seen.
No need to do anything;
It is bright, still, self-apparent.

The past is like empty space;
Know anything and the basic principle is lost.
Casting a clear light on the world,
Illuminating, yet obscured.

If one-mindedness is impeded,
All dharmas are misunderstood.
Coming and going thus,
Is there need for thorough investigation?

Arising without the mark of arising,
Arising and illumination are the same.
Desiring to purify the mind,
There is no mind for effort.

Throughout time and space nothing is illuminated;
This is most profound.
Knowing dharmas is non-knowing;
Non-knowing is knowing the essential.

Using the mind to maintain quietude,
You still fail to leave the sickness.
Birth and death forgotten—
This is original nature.

The highest principle cannot be explained;
It is neither free nor bound.
Lively and attuned to everything,
It is always right before you.

There is nothing in front of you;
Nothing, yet everything is as usual.
Do not belabor wisdom to examine it;
Substance itself is empty and obscure.

Thoughts arise and pass away,
The preceding no different from the succeeding.
If the succeeding thought does not arise,
The preceding thought cuts itself off.

In past, present and future, there is nothing;
No mind, no buddha.
Sentient beings are without mind;
Out of no-mind they manifest.

Distinguishing between profane and sacred,
Their vexations flourish.
Splitting hairs deviates from the eternal.
Seeking the real, you give up the true.

Discarding both is the cure,
Transparent, bright, pure.
No need for hard work or skill;
Keep to the actions of an infant.

Clearly knowing,
The net of views increases
Stillness without seeing,
Not moving in a dark room.

Wakeful without wandering,
The mind is tranquil yet bright.
All phenomena are real and eternal,
Profuse, yet of a single form.

Going, coming, sitting, standing,
Don’t attach to anything.
Affirming no direction,
Can there be leaving and entering?

There is neither unifying nor dispersing,
Neither slow nor quick.
Brightness and tranquillity are just as they are.
They cannot be explained in words.

Mind is without alienation;
No need to terminate lust.
Nature being empty, lust will depart by itself.
Allow the mind to float and sink.

Neither clear nor clouded,
Neither shallow nor deep.
Originally it was not ancient;
At present it is not modern.

Now it is non-abiding;
Now it is original mind.
Originally it did not exist;
“Origin” is the present moment.

Bodhi has always existed;
No need to preserve it.
Vexation has never existed;
No need to eliminate it.

Natural wisdom is self-illuminating;
All dharmas return to thusness.
There is no returning, no receiving;
Stop contemplating, forget keeping.

The four virtues are unborn;
The three bodies have always existed.
The six sense organs contact their realms;
Discrimination is not consciousness.

In one-mindedness there are no wandering
The myriad conditions harmonize.
Mind and nature are intrinsically equal;
Together, yet one does not necessarily lead to
the other.

Without arising, complying with phenomena,
Abiding, hidden everywhere.
Enlightenment arises from non-enlightenment.
Enlightenment is non-enlightenment.

As to gain and loss,
Why call either good or bad?
Everything that is active
Originally was not created.

Know that mind is not mind;
There is no sickness, no medicine.
When in confusion, you must discard affairs;
Enlightened, it makes no difference.

Originally there is nothing to obtain;
Now what use is there in discarding?
When someone claims to see demons,
We may talk of emptiness, yet the
phenomena are there.
Don’t destroy the emotions of people;
Only teach the cessation of thoughts.

When thoughts are gone, mind is abolished;
When mind is gone, action is terminated.
No need to confirm emptiness;
Naturally, there is clear comprehension.

Completely extinguishing birth and death,
The profound mind enters into principle.
Opening your eyes and seeing forms,
Mind arises in accord with the environment.

Within mind there is no environment;
Within the environment there is no mind.
Use mind to extinguish the environment
And both will be disturbed.

With mind still and environment thus,
Not discarding, not grasping,
Environment is extinguished together with mind.
Mind disappears together with environment.

When neither arises,
There is tranquillity and limitless brightness.
The reflection of bodhi appears
In the eternally clear water of mind.

The nature of merit is like a simpleton:
It does not establish closeness and distance.
Favor and disgrace do not change it;
It doesn’t choose its abode.

All connections suddenly cease;
Everything is forgotten.
Eternal day is like night,
Eternal night, like day.

Outwardly like a complete fool,
Inwardly mind is empty and real.
Those not moved by the environment
Are strong and great.

There are neither people nor seeing.
Without seeing there is constant appearance.
Completely penetrating everything,
It has always pervaded everywhere.

Thinking brings unclarity,
Sinking and confusing the spirit.
Use mind to stop activity
And it becomes even more erratic.

The ten thousand dharmas are everywhere,
Yet there is only one door.
Neither entering nor leaving,
Neither quiet nor noisy.

The wisdom of sravakas and pratyekabuddhas
Cannot explain it.
Actually there is not a single thing;
Only wonderful wisdom exists.

The original face is limitless;
It cannot be probed by mind.
True enlightenment is no enlightenment,
Real emptiness is not empty.

All buddhas of the past, present and future
All ride on this basic principle.
The tip of a hair of this basic principle
Contains worlds numerous as the Ganges sands.

Do not concern yourself with anything;
Fix the mind nowhere.
Fixing the mind nowhere,
Limitless brightness shows itself.

Tranquil and non-arising,
Set free in boundless time and space.
Whatever it does, there is no obstruction.
Going and staying are equal.

The sun of wisdom is tranquil,
The light of samadhi is bright.
Illuminating the garden of no forms,
Shining on the city of nirvana.

After all relationships are forgotten,
Spirit is understood and settled in substance.
Not rising from the dharma seat,
Sleeping peacefully in a vacant room.

Taking pleasure in Dao is calming,
Wandering free and easy in reality.
No action and nothing to attain,
Relying on nothing, manifesting naturally.

The four unlimited minds and the six paramitas
Are all on the path of one vehicle.
If mind is not born,
Dharmas will not differ from one another.

Knowing arising is non-arising,
Eternity appears now.
Only the wise understand,
No words can explain enlightenment.




NIU-T'OU FA-YUNG (594-657)
No-mind Is Not Different from Mind

(From The Transmission of the Lamp, Chüan 4)
Original Teachings of Ch'an Buddhism. Translated by Chang Chung-yuan. New York: Random House, 1969. pp. 17-26.

CH'AN Master Fa-yung, the founder of the School of the
Niu-t'ou Mountain, was a native of Yen-ling in Jun-chou.19
His original surname was Wei. When he was nineteen years
old, he was thoroughly acquainted with both the Confucian classics
and the literature of Chinese history. Subsequently he read the
Mahaprajnaparamita Sutra,20 and gained a deep understanding of
the real void. One day, sighing with regret, he said that Confucianism
was the teaching for worldly affairs and did not leap to Ultimate
Reality, but that the prajna doctrine of Buddhism was the ferryboat
that takes us to the other shore, away from mundane affairs. Hence
he decided to become a devotee of Buddhism. He shaved his head
and went into Mount Mao.21 Later he stayed in a rock cave in a
cliff north of the Yu-hsi Monastery in the Niu-t'ou Mountain, and
this was the setting of the legendary flower offerings brought to
Fa-yung by a hundred birds.
In the middle of the Chen-kuan period [627-649] of the T'ang
Dynasty, the Fourth Patriarch, Tao-hsin,22 observed the Niu-t'ou
Mountain from a distance and conjectured that some outstanding
Buddhist must be living there. Therefore he went to the mountain
to make a search. Upon his arrival he asked a monk of the temple
whether a man of Tao was staying there. The monk answered that
those who became monks were all men of Tao. The Patriarch went
on, "But which one is the man of Tao?" The monk made no reply.
Thereupon another monk directed him: "Ten li23 from here, deep
in the mountain, there lives a man called Lazy Yung. He never
stands up or joins his hands to greet approaching people. Is this not
a man of Tao?" Having learned this, the Patriarch immediately
went there, as directed.
On his arrival he saw Fa-yung sitting, quiet and self-possessed,
paying no attention to his visitor. The Patriarch asked him:
"What are you doing here?''
"I am contemplating Mind."
"Who is he that contemplates and what is the Mind that is
contemplated?" Fa-yung did not answer, but immediately stood up
and made a deep bow. Then he asked his visitor:
"Where have you stayed before?"
"I never remain in any one place, but wander either east or west."
"Do you know the Ch'an master Tao-hsin?"
"Why do you mention him?"
"I have always greatly admired him, and I intend to visit him
that I may pay my respects to him."
"Tao-hsin is my humble name."
"Why have you come here?''
"To look for you. Do you have a place where I can stay?"
Fa-yung took his visitor to another hut behind the cave. On
their way the Patriarch saw wild animals, a tiger and a wolf, and he
held up his hands as if frightened. Fa-yung remarked:
"There is still this in you."
"What did you see?" replied the visitor. Fa-yung made no answer.
A moment later the Patriarch traced the character fu, or
Buddha, on the rock where Fa-yung sat. When the latter saw this,
he was taken aback. The Patriarch said to him:
"There is still this in you."
Fa-yung failed to grasp the meaning of the remark and earnestly
implored the Patriarch to instruct him in the ultimate essence of
Buddhism. The Fourth Patriarch expounded thus:
"All systems of Buddhist teaching24 center in Mind, where immeasurable
treasures originate. All its supernatural faculties25 and
their transformations revealed in discipline, meditation, and wisdom
are sufficiently contained in one's mind and they never depart
therefrom. All the hindrances to the attainment of bodhi26 which
arise from passions that generate karma27 are originally non-existent.
Every cause and effect is but a dream. There is no Triple World28
which one leaves, and no bodhi to search for. The inner reality and
outer appearance of man and a thousand things are identical. The
Great Tao is formless and boundless. It is free from thought and
anxiety. You have now understood this Buddhist teaching. There
is nothing lacking in you, and you yourself are no different from
Buddha. There is no way of achieving Buddhahood other than letting
your mind be free to be itself. You should not contemplate nor
should you purify your mind. Let there be no craving and hatred,
and have no anxiety or fear. Be boundless and absolutely free from
all conditions. Be free to go in any direction you like. Do not act
to do good, nor to pursue evil. Whether you walk or stay, sit or lie
down, and whatever you see happen to you, all are the wonderful
activity of the Great Enlightened One. It is all joy, free from
anxiety - it is called Buddha."
Fa-yung asked, "Since Mind is sufficient and complete in itself,
then what is Buddha, and what is Mind?"
The Fourth Patriarch answered, "To deny this mind, one need
not look for Buddha; to look for Buddha, one should not deny this
Fa-yung continued, "As you do not permit contemplation, what
do you do when mental attitude29 emerges?"
The Patriarch replied, "The origin of mental attitude is neither
good nor bad; its emergence is due to your mind. If your mind were
free from formulation or conception, how could illusions occur?
When illusions do not occur, the real mind will be free to be aware
of everything. You just follow the mind as it is. Do not look for
ways to deal with it. This is called the ever abiding essence of things
Metaphysical and Logical Approaches in Early Ch'an Teachings
[dharmakaya]. Do not deviate from it! I have had the teachings of
sudden enlightenment from the Third Patriarch, Seng-ts'an, and
now I am giving them to you. Keep in mind what I have said. Stay
in this mountain, and later on there will be five wise men to succeed
you as teachers of Ch'an." After this transmission of Ch'an to
Fa-yung, the Fourth Patriarch returned to Mount Shuang-feng and
remained there for the rest of his life.
Having had the teachings from the Fourth Patriarch, Master
Fa-yung began to preach, and his teachings flourished widely. In
the middle of the Yung-hui period [650-655] of T'ang there was
a shortage of food for his disciples and the residents of the temple.
Every day the Master went to Tan-yang,30 eighty li from his mountain,
to beg alms.31 He left the temple every morning and came
back in the evening carrying one picul and eight pecks of rice on
his back. This provided two meals a day for three hundred monks
in the temple. In the third year of the Yung-hui period the magistrate
Hsiao Yuan-shan invited him to lecture on the Mahaprajnaparamita
Sutra at the Monastery of Chien-ch'u. A great crowd came
to listen. When he came to the section, "Extinction and Quiescence,"
an earthquake occurred. After finishing his lectures, he
returned to Mount Niu-t'ou.
Prince Po-ling asked the Master, "When a mental attitude arises
owing to the external world,32 you say that this emergence is not
due to it. Then how do you know the cause of the emergence and
when to stop it?"
The Master answered, "When a mental attitude and the external
world emerge, the natures of both are non-existent. Originally
there is no knower of the cause of the emergence. The capacity
of mind33 and the known are identical. When their origin is illumined,
all that is in emergence no longer emerges. Emergence itself
ceases. When there is no illumination, the knowledge of causation
is produced. The illuminated mind does not go after causation; it
is just as it was before the emergence. When a mental attitude and
the external world are not created, it is the Void, which is primarily
free from thoughts. Through ideas and sensations,34 words and
thoughts are produced. The teaching of the truth is not the Truth.
What is the use of the instruction of Buddhism?"
The Prince then asked, "The external world cannot be seen
when the eyes are closed. However, thoughts in mind then grow
more and more. Since the external world has nothing to do with
mind, how does this mental attitude arise?"
The Master replied, "The external world cannot be seen when
the eyes are closed. But as the mind is in action, thoughts increase.
Thus the illusory consciousness is created which is the false action
of the mind. What are produced are simply namable concepts.
When one understands that the external world has nothing to do
with one's real self, and if one acts accordingly, then one will return
to one's original nature. Just as when birds fly away the real sky is
The Prince said, "You say the internal condition is produced
from nowhere, and that through one's consciousness clear knowledge
emerges; yet when the first internal condition fades away,
one's consciousness transforms itself into the second condition. If
we assume that one state of mind leads to another, it means that
what was the first consciousness later becomes the object of the
second consciousness. If one accepts this sequence of transformation,
one cannot be non-attached to birth and death."
The Master replied, "The external world and the mind of consciousness,
one following the other, cannot really produce the
internal condition. Through 'One Thought'35 all of them naturally
disappear in contemplation. Who can tell whether the mind is in
action or non-action? In this state of knowing, primarily nothing is
known. Knowledge in which something is known falls short of this.
One should look into one's original nature and not search outside.
Then there is no need for the first condition to fade away, nor for
continuing thought to be present. How can one seek the moon by
observing its shadow? How can one catch a bird by tracing its
tracks? So it is with the search for the original nature of the mind.
What one can discover is like that which can be seen in a dream. It
is like the ice that cannot last anywhere during the summer. If you
run away from the Void, you can never be free from it; if you search
for the Void, you can never reach it. Let me ask you this: 'When
there is an image occupying a mirror-mind, where can you find
The Prince asked, "When the mind is in action, would it be
better for it to be brought to quiescence?"
The Master replied, "The moment when the mind is in action
is the moment at which no-mind acts. To talk about names and
manifestations is useless, but a direct approach easily reaches it.
No-mind is that which is in action; it is that constant action which
does not act. The no-mind of which I speak is not separate from
the mind."
The Prince said, "The wise man uses subtle words to identify
the mind. However, words and mind are different. To say that the
mind and words are one is completely wrong."
The Master replied, "Subtle words are used as a means to Truth
in order to correct misunderstandings, thus fulfilling the teachings
of Mahayana Buddhism. When one's words have nothing to do
with original nature, it would be better for one to be transformed
through sunyata. No-thought is the absolute reality in which the
mind ceases to act. When one is free from thoughts, one's nature is
not altered. Production and extinction are then not unnatural.
They occur like echoes from the valley, or reflections from the
The Prince said, "A Buddhist ascetic is aware of the existence
of internal conditions, but because of the awakening, internal conditions
become non-existent. Thus previous knowledge, the later
awakening, and the internal conditions constitute a threefold
The Master replied, "The internal conditions and mental activity
cannot be identified with awakening. After the awakening
there is no-thought. Because of the awakening, internal conditions
disappear. During the awakening, internal conditions do not arise.
Thus a previous knowledge, a later awakening, and internal conditions
are merely names, lately made, for that which no longer
The Prince said, "When one remains in concentration without
regressing one is conceived o£ as having achieved samadhi, 36
which cannot be defiled by any karma. However, one can fail to
realize that 'basic ignorance'37 may enter stealthily so that samadhi
is lost."
The Master answered, "I have also heard that there are those
who falsely take concentration for enlightenment38 and fail to follow
the 'Threefold Contemplation.'39 Even without regression,
progress made by concentration is still a delusion. Because the mind
is bound by concentration, concentration itself becomes the hindrance
of good karmas. If there is even a tiny spot of impurity in the
mind, this imperfection is conceived of as ignorance. Hence it
continues on and on, and the senses of hearing and of seeing
are gradually manifested. Their emergence resembles the movement
of ripples when the breeze blows, and then the return to
serenity when the breeze ceases. Any further description will
frighten and astonish lesser minds. When the mind is free from
thoughts, the 'lion roar'40 is achieved; when one's nature is the
Void, frost and hail are dispersed; when the stars are scattered, the
foul weeds are cleared; when the sky is limitless, the voyaging birds
drop away. Then the five gati41 cease to revolve, and the four devils42
fear to be active. The power of no-thought is like the burning flame
or the swift stroke of a sharp sword."
The Prince said, "Through the awakening of mind the existence
of all things is known. All things, however, are what they originally
are. If the existence of things is only the reflection of mind, then
there is only the reflecting mind, but not the things that the mind
The Master answered, "Through the awakening of mind the
existence of things is known. The existence of all things is itself. not
reliable. If the existence of things is only the reflection of mind,
then nothing exists outside the mind."
The Prince said, "If one acts casually without discrimination,
the illumination of mind will not be revealed. Furthermore, one is
afraid that one's mind may become ignorant, and one strives to
cultivate it. However, one can hardly get rid of intellectual
The Master replied, "To have what one cannot have and to
search for what cannot be sought. Non-discrimination is real discrimination.
From the depth of darkness illumination is revealed.
Those who calculate are ignorant; they depend upon their own effort
of cultivation. Their difficulties are not limited to intellectual
hindrance. Their approach to Buddha is in trouble."
The Prince said, "In the fluctuating process of following the
Middle Way44 one can hardly maintain one's tranquillity. Unless
one strives for cultivation, one will not realize this difficulty."
The Master replied, "In the process of the Middle Way, one
looks for the real essence. It is neither easy nor difficult to obtain
it. One should first contemplate Mind within the mind; secondly,
one should search for that Wisdom hidden in the wisdom; third,
one should illuminate the searcher himself; fourth, one should
penetrate into that which is neither good nor bad; fifth, one should
be free from the enslavement of names; sixth, one should realize the
identity of the real and the unreal; seventh, one should be aware
of the origin of things; eighth, one should achieve great compassion
without effort; ninth, one should permeate both the Void and the
Five Aggregates;40 and lastly, one should let wisdom turn like the
clouds into a fertile rain, which falls everywhere.46
"When the utmost void is reached, enlightenment is still not
obtained. But in ignorance Original Wisdom emerges. The manifestation
of the three karmas, deed, word, and thought, is only a
mirror image; and they are illusionists who claim to transform
them. Do not abide in the extremity of the Void, but illumine the
non-being in the being. It is neither out of the Void nor out of
being. Void and being are not conceived of as two. This is called
the Middle Way. The Middle Way cannot be expressed in words.
It is that tranquillity which lacks a place in which to be tranquil.
How can we determine it by cultivating the mind?"
The Prince said, "There is another type of man who knows the
nature of the Void. He advocates that concentration and confusion
are one, and maintains that non-being is within being. He tries to
prove that activity is tranquil and tranquillity active. His mind is in
action to find the Truth, and yet he says that action is non-action.
He claims that knowledge is full of means leading to Truth, and
that his words and Truth are one. Things are what they are and
their reality is identified, and this cannot be understood by the conscious
mind. Although he knows that enlightenment cannot be
achieved by the conscious mind, he maintains that thought after
thought is extinguished. One can hardly understand this approach
to the teaching of Buddhism. Perhaps it can never be understood.
Those whose minds function in this way will never be transformed
by the teaching of Buddha."
The Master replied, "There is another type of man who contemplates
the Void as I mentioned previously. He intentionally
searches for the Void through abiding in stillness. His understanding
is just the opposite of the Truth. He thinks that Truth is
achieved by the calculating mind. Eventually what he understands
is not Ultimate Truth. He also says that the cessation of the
activity of the mind is brought about by intellectual knowledge.
This is because he does not understand his original nature; his
search for the Void only wears him out. The result is that he will
abide forever in darkness of mind without realizing that what he
grasps are only manifestations. Even Buddha, whose teaching
brought such illumination that the earth shook,47 couldn't do anything
for this man."
The Prince said, "The type of man I was discussing before may
feel as if his mind were covered with a gauzelike garment."
The Master replied, "When one contemplates mind with gauze-covered
faculties, it is only a mind of delusion, which is not worthy
of being contemplated. Furthermore, the one who contemplates
does not exist. How can we obtain the truth48 through words?"
The Prince said, "I have been disciplining my mind for a long
time, in pursuit of that which is most fundamental. Since my approach
is wrong, I have taken my subsequent experience of primal
delusion as the Ultimate Reality. Unless I have a great wise teacher
to help me, this truth will not be made clear to my mind. May I
beg you, the great master, to open for me the essential gate: of
Truth? Please guide me, your devotee, so that I shall not again
deviate from the correct path."
The Master replied, "The ultimate essence of things is what is
most fundamental. But in the realm of illusion it becomes different
from what it is. The nature of Reality is invisible, and cannot be
understood by our rational mind. Today I met someone confused
by Tao, but sympathetic toward all people. Because of the doubt in
his mind he raises all kinds of questions. Grasp the Ultimate Truth
and you will be absolutely illumined within. When you thoroughly
understand the subtle path of life and death, you will not fear slander
nor seek praise. I, as an old monk, have replied to many different
questions that you raised. Let my teachings on the Ultimate Truth
and its manifestations be my gift to you for your visit here. To discover
the remedies with which to save people, you must act in accordance
with the nature of things."
In the first year of the Hsien-ching period [656-660 ], the magistrate
Hsiao Yüan-shan invited Fa-yung to move to the Chien-ch'u
Monastery to stay, and the Master could not refuse. Therefore he
bestowed the dharma-seal upon his head monk, Chih-yen, and
ordered that it be handed down to the generations to follow. When
he was leaving the mountains, he told his disciples that he would
not be corning back. Birds and animals cried for months. In front
of the temple four great paulownia trees suddenly withered away
in the middle of the summer.
Master Fa-yung died at the Chien-ch'u Monastery on the
twenty-third day of the first month of the second year of the Hsien-ching
period [657]. He was then sixty-four years old. This was forty one
years after he had been ordained. Four days later he was buried
in Mount Chi-lung. More than ten thousand people took part in
his funeral service. His old residence in the Niu-t'ou Mountain, the
springs of Chin-yüan, Hu-p'ao, and Hsi-chang, the Chin-kuei and
other pools, and the rock cave in which he meditated are all still
well kept even to this day.


1. The Lankavatara Sutra is attributed to Sakyamuni, who is said to have
delivered it on the Lanka Mountain in Ceylon. It is one of the most
important texts of Mahayana Buddhism, containing the doctrines of Mind-Only,
tathagatagarbha, and alayavijnana (all-conserving consciousness).
Four Chinese translations were made between A.D. 420 and 704, three of
which survive. An English translation by Daisetz T. Suzuki was published
in 1932 by George Routledge and Sons, London.
2. Prajna is the highest of the six paramitas, or ways "to reach the other
shore," which include charity, moral conduct, patience, devotion, contempla-
tion, and wisdom (prajna). Prajnaparamita, therefore, is the highest wisdom
for reaching the other shore. It revolutionized Buddhism in all its philosophical
and religious aspects by the basic concept of sunyata, or Emptiness.
Astasahasrika is believed to be the oldest and most basic Prajnaparamita
text; it was translated into Chinese as early as A.D. 172 by Lokaraksha.
Kumarajiva's translation was finished early in the fifth century. In the latter
half of the seventh century, Hsüan-tsang completed his grand translation of
the Mahaprajnaiparamita Sutra in six hundred fascicles. The Prajnaparamita-hridaya
Sutra is a very short text on the Prajnaparamita, consisting of only
262 Chinese characters in the Hsiian-tsang translation. This short text is
commonly used for chanting in Buddhist temples.
3· Madhyamika is the doctrine of the Middle Way, known as San-lun
in China and Sanron in Japan. In the fifth century Nagarjuna's Madhyamika
Sastra was translated and expounded by Kumarajiva (d. A.D. 409). San-lun
means "Three Treatises"; these are: ( 1) the Middle Way, or Madhyamika
Sastra; ( 2) the Twelve Gates, or Dvadasanikaya Sastra; ( 3) the One Hundred
Verses, or Sata Sastra. The first two sastras were written by Nagarjuna.
The third is by Aryadeva, a disciple of Nagarjuna. However, in the early
Ch'an Buddhist literature the text of the Prajnaparamita Sastra, by
Nagarjuna, was added to the San-lun, forming the Shih-lun, or "Four
4· T. R. V. Murti, The Central Philosophy of Buddhism, p. 226-27.
5· According to Buddhist philosophy, each individual existence is composed
of the Five Skandhas (Chinese: yin), or Aggregates: rupa, or material
element; vedana, or sensation; samjna, or perception; samskara, or
formative principle; vijnana, or consciousness.
6. Yung-chia, Odes on Enlightenment, in Taisho shinshu daizokyo, No.
2014, Vol. 48, p. 396.
7· Collected Works of Ch'an Master Yung-chia Hsilan-chio, in Taisho
shinshu daizokyo, No. 2013, Vol. 48, p. 391.
8. Chi-tsang, Essay on the Double Truth, in Taisho shinshu daizokyo,
No. 1854, Vol. 45, pp. 77-115.
The Double Truth on Three Levels may be schematized as follows:

common truth
1) being
2) both being and non-being
3) both being and non-being
and neither being nor non-being

higher truth
1 ) non-being
2) neither being nor non-being
3) both not being and not non-being
and neither not being nor not non-being

9· Collected Works of Ch'an Master Yung-chia, p. 393.
10. Ibid.
11. According to General Records of Buddhas and Patriarchs, Chüan 7,
p. 188, T'ien-kung Hui-wei was the Seventh Patriarch of the T'ien-t'ai
School, and Tso-ch'i Fa-lang the Eighth.
12. Collected Works of Ch'an Master Yung-chia, p. 391.
13. Ibid., p. 392. -
14. Supplement to the Transmission of the Lamp, in Taisho shinshu
daizokyo, No. 2077, Vol. 51, p. 508.
15. Collected Works of Ch'an Master Yung-chia, p. 391.
16. Daisetz T. Suzuki, Essays in Zen Buddhism; Series I, p. 203.
17. The Dialogues of Ch'an Master Chao-chou, p. 64b.
18. Recorded Dialogues of Ch'an Master Lin-chi, in Taisho shinshu
daizokyo, No. 1985, Vol. 48, p. 495·
19. Now, Chen-chiang (Chinkiang), in Kiangsu Province on the south
bank of the Yangtze River.
20. The Mahaprajnaparamita Sutra, one of the oldest Buddhist canonical
books, contains six hundred fascicles. Its fundamental purpose was the
achievement of sunyata through detachment from all existence with its multiplicities.
An Indian creation, it was translated into Chinese by Kumarajiva,
Hsüan-tsang, and many others.
21. Mount Mao is southeast of Chu-yung in Kiangsu Province. Fa-yung
studied here under the San-lun master Kuei. Next he was a student of the
T'ien-t'ai doctrine at Feng-lu; then he went to Yu-hsi Monastery in the
Niu-t'ou Mountain, south of Nanking in Kiangsu Province.
22. 580-651. See The Lamp, Chüan 3
23. The li is about one-third of the Western mile.
24. Dharmaparyaya (Chinese fa-men) means the doctrine or system of
teaching given by Buddha.
25. Bala-abhijna (Chinese shen-t'ung) means the supernatural faculties
generally believed to be the endowment of the Bodhisattva.
26. Bodhi means the enlightened and illuminated mind.
27. Karma generally means a deed or action which causes its proper result.
A thought or emotion is conceived of as a karma. There are two kinds
of hindrance to the attainment of bodhi: the hindrance of knowledge and
that of passion.
28. Trailokya or Triloka, called the Three Realms in Chinese: kamadhatu
is the realm of sensuous desire; rupadhatu, the realm of form; and arupadhatu,
the formless realm of pure spirit.
29. The Chinese ching covers a threefold meaning: gocara, or mental
attitude toward the external world; artha, or sense field; and visaya, or external
30. A town south of Chen-chiang in Kiangsu Province.
31. Begging alms is one of the twelve dhutas prescribing the outward
conduct of the monk.
p. Rupa (Chinese shih) means form, outward appearance, or material
33. Lankavatara Sutra: "The capacity of mind of no-mind I call hsin-liang,
or the capacity of mind."
34· Samjna (Chinese hsiang) means perception or ideation; vedana
(Chinese shou) means sensation. Both are elements of the Five Aggregates,
or Skandhas.
35. "One Thought" is often regarded as the thoughtless thought which
indicates the absolute state of mind.
36. Samadhi expresses the idea of sudden enlightenment maintained by
the Avatamsaka Sutra.
37· "Basic ignorance" is conceived of as remaining invisible passions
which rise up and disappear in the realm of quiescence.
38. Capacity of mind of no-mind; see note 33 above.
39. The "Threefold Contemplation" was originated by the T'ien-t'ai
School. It is the contemplation of real; of unreal; and of the Middle,
which is both real and unreal, and is neither real nor unreal.
40. Simhanada, or "lion roar," symbolizes the power of the highest
achievement of meditation. The roar of the lion makes all animals tremble
and even arrests birds in their flight imd fish in the water.
41. The five gati: hell, hungry ghosts, animals, human beings, devas.
42. Skandha mara is the evil spirit that works through physical and
mental forms; klesa mara, the evil spirit of passions that trouble mind and
body; mrtyu mara, the evil spirit of death, devaputra mara, the lord of
the sixth heaven of desire.
43. Jneyavarana, or intellectual hindrance, is one of the two hindrances
to the attainment of bodhi. The other is klesavarana, conative hindrance, or
the hindrance of passion.
44. According to the teaching of the Middle Way, the extremes of being
and non-being are removed. There is neither a real existence nor a real void.
Real and unreal are the outcome of causal relation. Thus, existence is at
the same time non-existence; non-existence is in tum existence. Therefore,
"When discrimination is done away with, the Middle Way, or sunyata, is
45. See note 5 above.
46. This symbolizes Buddha's teaching, which permeates all sentient
beings and awakens them, which wonder is derived from the Lotus Sutra.
47· According to tradition, when Buddha expounded the philosophy of
ultimate reality of all things in the Mahayana Sutra, illumination took place
and the earth trembled.
48. In the Doctrine of the Mean, one of the Confucian classics, ts'ung-yung-
chung-tao means to obtain the truth naturally and easily. Ts'ung-yung
is an abbreviation of this expression.



Encounter Dialogues of Niutou Farong (594-657) & The Oxhead School
compiled by Satyavayu of Touching Earth Sangha
DOC: Treasury of the Forest of Ancestors

Master Niutou Farong came from Yanling in Runzhou (Jiangxi). While still a teenager he became well versed in Confucian classics, as well as Doaist ritual and philosophy, and traditional medicine. Upon reading the Prajna Paramita scriptures he had a deep realization and turned his attention to Buddhist teaching. He went to study with a master of the “Three Treatises” (Sanlun) school on Thatch Mountain and soon received ordination from him (The Sanlun school focused on the Madhyamaka, or “Middle Way”, philosophy from India). Later, Farong went to live in a cave on Ox Head (Niutou) Mountain south of Hangzhou. His reputation for devoted practice began to spread, and, according to legend, he was once visited by Master Daoxin, who came to check out his understanding.

Master Daoxin found Farong sitting outside his cave hermitage near Secluded Perch Temple. Farong remained sitting perfectly still, taking no notice of the master even as he came up beside him. Daoxin asked, “What are you doing?”
Farong said, “Concentrating on mind.”
Daoxin asked, “Who is it who concentrates? And what is mind?”
Farong was stuck and couldn't answer. He got up and paid respects to the master with a deep bow. As the two made their acquaintances and began to talk, a tiger and a wolf, wild friends of Farong, emerged from the woods. Daoxin raised his arms and gasped. Farong said, “Are you still like that?”
Daoxin said, “Like what?”
Farong was silent.
Daoxin went over to the rock on which Farong had first been sitting and scratched the character “Buddha” with a stone. Farong raised his arms and gasped.
Daoxin said, “Are you still like that?”
Farong said nothing. Then, after a pause, he asked the master to explain the meaning. Master Daoxin gave a teaching and Farong experienced a clarity that resolved his remaining doubts, and brought his understanding to maturation.

It was said that before Niutou Farong met Master Daoxin, birds would visit his hermitage and drop flowers on him. After his meeting with the master, this never happened again.

Once a monk asked the later Master Nanquan, “Before Niutou Farong met Master Daoxin, why did hundreds of birds bring flowers in their beaks and
offer them to him?”
Nanquan said, “Step by step Niutou climbed the buddha-ladder.”
The monk then asked, “Why didn't the birds offer flowers after Niutou met Master Daoxin?”
Nanquan said, “Even if he hadn't climbed the buddha-ladder, he's still on Teacher Wang's (Nanquan’s) single road.”

Once a monk asked Master Deshan Yuanmi (a disciple of Yunmen),
“How was it before Niutou met Master Daoxin?”
Yuanmi said, “In the autumn, yellow leaves fall.”
The monk asked, “How was it after he met him?”
Yuanmi said, “In spring, green grass grows of itself.”

Farong remained on Oxhead Mountain and, as students sought him out, he began to teach. Several generations later the practice community on this mountain, which traced it’s inspiration back to Farong, became known as the “Oxhead School”of Zen, and had a strong influence on the wider Zen movement.

Jingshan Daoqin 徑山道欽 (715–792) [Kinzan Dōkin]
In the eighth century an Oxhead School teacher named Daoqin (or Faqin) established a practice center on Mt. Jing in the same Hangzhou region as Oxhead Mountain. Many students gathered there to study with him, including the monks Daowu and Tianran, to whom he was an important early influence. Both these students later went on to study with the great masters Shitou and Mazu, and eventually became influential teachers themselves. Master Mazu was known to have corresponded with Master Daoqin, and most likely recommended visiting Daoqin's place to some of his students.

Another important Oxhead teacher was a Dharma brother of Daoqin's named Wuxing Fahai. He is thought by some scholars to have been the real author of the famous “Scripture from the Teaching-Platform of the Sixth Ancestor” that was traditionally attributed to Dajian Huineng, and contains both Huineng’s supposed teaching and his legendary autobiography.

鳥巢道林 Niaoge Daolin (741-824)
A famous disciple of Master Daoqin's was the hermit-monk Daolin. He was said to practice sitting meditation high in the branches of an evergreen tree, and thus earned the nickname “Master Bird's Nest.” For a while the well-known poet and government official Bo Juyi was his student, and once he came to visit the master at his tree-sit. Bo asked, “Master, isn't it dangerous up there”
The master replied, “Isn't your position more dangerous?”
Later Bo asked, “What is the essence of the teaching?”
The master replied, “Never do any evil, always do good, and purify the mind.”
Bo said, “Yes, but any child of three knows enough to say that.”
The master said, “A three-year-old can say it, but a man of eighty still doesn't practice it.”



IN: Zen's Chinese heritage: the masters and their teachings
by Andy Ferguson
Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2000. pp. 38-42.

ACCORDING TO TRADITION, Niutou Farong (594–657) was a student of the fourth Chinese ancestor, Dayi Daoxin. He founded the Oxhead Zen school on Mt. Niutou (near modern Nanjing City). Later Chinese historians would not acknowledge Niutou’s lineage as one of the principal traditional schools of Chinese Zen, perhaps because he is not known with certainty to have received Dharma transmission from Daoxin, or due to confusion about the origin of his school. Nevertheless, the Oxhead school flourished during the seventh and eighth centuries and continued up until the early years of the Song dynasty (around the end of the tenth century).

The Oxhead school’s narrower interpretation of Bodhidharma’s Zen is distinct from the East Mountain school of the Fifth Ancestor, Daman Hongren. The Oxhead school is not known to have employed the chanting of sutras or to have emphasized the precepts. The modern scholar Yin Hsun attributes a classical Zen text known as the Discourse on Cutting Off Perception to the Oxhead school, pointing out that it is akin linguistically to the period when Niutou lived, and that its theme closely follows Bodhidharma’s teachings.

The Oxhead school denied the possibility of objective knowledge more clearly than other Buddhist schools of the era. The fifth-generation Oxhead monk Xuanxu said, “Understanding is not understanding. Doubt is no-doubt.” The school also adhered to the Buddhist notion that the world is a creation of the mind. It expressed this theory in the “Wei Ming Lun” (“Only-Mind Doctrine”).

Originally located in the area of ancient Jinling (modern Nanjing), the main temples of the school moved south during the eighth century to escape political upheavals. The fifth-generation Oxhead monk Faqin established a temple on Mt. Jing near Hangzhou in 742 that played an important role in Zen’s historical development in both China and Japan.

The traditional story of the enlightenment of the Oxhead school’s founder, Niutou Farong, is recounted in the Wudeng Huiyuan:


Zen master Farong of Mt. Niutou came from Yanling in Run Province. His surname was Wei. By the age of nineteen he was versed in the classic Confucian histories, but later he read the Nirvana Sutra and thereupon penetrated the truth.

One day he exclaimed, “Confucianism is a doctrine of worldly affairs, but it isn’t a teaching of the highest truth. When I read the Nirvana Sutra, I finally found a vessel for leaving the world behind.”

Thereupon Niutou concealed himself on Mao Mountain, where he studied under a teacher and was ordained as a monk. Later, as he sat in meditation in a rock grotto north of Secluded Perch Temple on Mt. Niutou, a hundred birds with flowers in their beaks came to pay homage to him.

During the Zhen Guan era [627–49], the Fourth Ancestor, Zen master Daoxin, saw a strange celestial sign in the distance and realized that an unusual person must be living on Niutou Mountain. He personally climbed the mountain to find the person and pay him a visit.

Seeing a temple monk, he asked, “Is there a monk here?”

The monk responded, “Who among those who’ve ‘left home’ is not a monk?”

Daoxin responded, “What one is a [real] monk?”

The temple monk couldn’t reply.

Then another monk from the temple said, “About ten miles from here in the mountains there’s a hermit. His name is Farong. When he sees people coming he doesn’t get up, nor does he pay attention to common courtesy. Is he the one you’re looking for?”

Daoxin then traveled into the mountains. There he found Niutou sitting upright in meditation, completely self-absorbed, paying no attention to Daoxin whatsoever.

Daoxin asked him, “What are you doing?”

Farong responded, “Perceiving mind.”

Daoxin said, “Who is it who is perceiving mind? And what is ‘mind’?”

Farong had no answer. Standing up, he bowed.

Later, he asked, “Where does Your Worthiness reside?”

Daoxin said, “This poor monk has no permanent home. Sometimes I live here, sometimes I live there.”

Farong said, “Perhaps you know the master Daoxin.”

Daoxin replied, “What would you ask him?”

Farong said, “I’ve respected his virtue for some time now. I would like to pay my respects to him.”

Daoxin said, “I am Zen master Daoxin.”

Farong said, “Why have you come here?”

Daoxin said, “I’ve come here especially to pay you a visit. Do you have someplace we can take a rest?”

Farong pointed and said, “Over there I have a small cottage.”

He then led Daoxin to a cottage that was surrounded by wild beasts such as tigers and wolves. Daoxin put both of his hands up in the air as if he were scared.

Farong said, “Are you still like this?”

Daoxin said, “What is ‘this’?”

Farong couldn’t answer.

Later, Daoxin wrote the word “Buddha” on Farong’s meditation seat.

When Farong saw this he was horrified.

Daoxin said, “Are you still like this?”

Farong didn’t understand, so he bowed and asked Daoxin to explain his meaning.

Daoxin said, “The hundred thousand gates of the Buddhadharma, they all return to this mind. The source of the countless exquisite sublime practices is this mind. All of the precepts and monastic rules, Zen meditation, Dharma gates of knowledge, and wisdom and every sort of miraculous manifestation are your natural possession, not separate from your mind. Every type of nuisance and karmic impediment is fundamentally empty and without real existence. All causes and effects are but illusions. There are no three worlds that are to be cast off.26 There is no bodhi that can be attained.27 The original nature and appearance of what is human and what is nonhuman does not differ. The great way is empty and vast, without a single thought. If you have attained this Dharma, where nothing whatsoever is lacking, what difference is there between yourself and Buddha? When there is not a single teaching left, then you are just left to abide in your own nature; with no need to worry about your behavior; no need to practice cleansing austerities; but just living a life without desires; with a mind without anger, without cares; completely at ease and without impediment; acting according to your own will; without needing to take on any good or evil affairs; just walking, abiding, sitting, and lying down; with whatever meets your eye being nothing other than the essential source; and all of it is but the sublime function of Buddha; blissful and without care. This is called ‘Buddha.’”


According to tradition, after Farong received this teaching from Daoxin and fully attained the way of Zen, birds no longer left flowers for him. Farong’s enlightenment left no special sign by which it could be recognized.

Beyond this traditional story, a few dialogues involving Zen teacher Niutou are preserved in the classical records.


A monk asked Niutou, “The people known as ‘saints’—what dharmas should they cut off and what dharmas should they attain so that they can thus earn this title?”

Niutou said, “Those who don’t cut off or attain even a single dharma—they are called ‘saints.’”

The monk then asked, “If they don’t cut off or attain a single dharma, what difference is there between such people and common people?”

Niutou said, “There is a difference. Do you know why? Because common people try to rid themselves of afflictions and they delusionally scheme for gain. There is nothing that is fundamentally lost or gained by the true mind of a saint. That is why there is a difference.”

The monk then asked, “In considering what is attained by common people and what is not attained by saints, where does the difference lie between this attainment and nonattainment?

Niutou said, “The difference lies in that what is attained by common people is delusional, whereas the nonattainment of saints is not delusional. For the deluded, there is a difference in these two viewpoints, whereas saints do not recognize a difference.”

The monk then asked, “Please describe the viewpoint of those saints who do not recognize the difference in these two views.”

Niutou said, “The terms ‘commoner’ and ‘saint’ are but false names. Within these two false names there are actually not two things, and thus there is no difference.”28


A monk asked, “Just at the moment when someone uses his mind, how can that mind remain composed?”

Niutou said, “Just at the moment when the mind is being used—that is precisely when mind is not being used. Convoluted thinking and speech just cause everyone trouble. But speaking directly and frankly doesn’t cause complications. No-mind is exactly the employment of mind, while constantly using the mind is to never employ it. What I’ve just said about not using mind is no different from using the mind for deliberation.”

The monk asked, “When the wise use expedient words they are exactly in accord with mind. But when mind and words diverge, isn’t it heresy?”29

Niutou said, “Expedient and beneficial speech is the Mahayana way, and it eradicates the mind’s disease.30 Speech that is unconnected to original nature is a hollow fabrication. When one always adheres to no-thought, then one is on the road that cuts off mind. One’s nature apart from thoughts is unmoving, and it is without misconceptions concerning birth and death. When there is the sound of an echo in the valley, the reflection in the mirror can turn to hear it.”


In the year 656 the magistrate Su Yuanshan invited Niutou to become the abbot of Jianchu Temple. The master tried to decline but was unable to do so. He then gave his genuine Dharma transmission to his great disciple Zhiyan, instructing him to continue the transmission to future generations. When he left Mt. Niutou he said to the congregation, “I’ll never return to this mountain!” At that time even the birds and beasts of the mountain wailed in mourning. Four large pauwlonia trees that were in front of Niutou’s cottage inexplicably withered and died during [June]. The next year, on the twenty-third day of the first lunar month, although not appearing ill, the master died. He was buried on Jilong Mountain.



The Importance of Hiddenness
Chapter XIV/18. In: The Golden Age of Zen
by John C. H. Wu
Taipei : The National War College in co-operation with The Committee on the Compilation of the Chinese Library, 1967, pp. 262-268.

Nan-ch'üan once went to visit a village and found to his surprise that the village head had already made preparations to welcome him. The master said, “It has been my custom never to let anyone know beforehand my goings about. How could you know that I was coming to your village today?” The village head replied, “Last night, in a dream the god of the soil shrine reported to me that Your Reverence would come to visit today.” The master said, “This shows how weak and shallow my spiritual life is, so that it can still be espied by the spiritual beings!”

The Zen masters set little or no value on the siddhis or magical powers. This point is well illustrated in the life of Niu-t'ou Fa-yung (594-657). Niu-t'ou came from a scholarly family in the city of Yen-ling in modern Kiangsu. By the time he was nineteen, he was already well steeped in the Confucian classics and the dynastic histories. Soon after he delved into Buddhist literature, especially the Prajna scriptures, and came to an understanding of the nature of Shunyata. One day he said to himself, “Confucianism sets up the norms for mundane life, but after all they do not represent the ultimate Law. The contemplative wisdom of the Prajna is truly the raft to ford us over to the supramundane.” Thereupon he retired into a hill, studied under a Buddhist master, and had his head shaved. Later he went to the Niu-t'ou Mountain and lived all alone in a cave in the neighborhood of the Yu-hsi Temple. A legend has it that while he was living there, all kinds of birds used to flock to his hermitage, each holding a flower in its beak, as if to pay their homage to the holy man.

Some time during the reign of Chen-kuan (627-650), Taohsin, the Fourth Patriarch of the Chinese School of Zen, looking at the Niu-t'ou Mountain from afar, was struck by its ethereal aura, indicating that there must be some extraordinary man living there. So he took it upon himself to come to look for the man. When he arrived at the temple, he asked a monk. “Is there a man of Tao around here?” The monk replied, “Who among the home-leavers are not men of Tao?” Tao-hsin said, “But which of you is the man of Tao, after all?” Another monk said, “About three miles from here, there is a man whom people call the ‘Lazy Yung,' because he never stands up when he sees anybody, nor gives any greeting. Can he be the man of Tao you are looking for?” Tao-hsin then went deeper into the mountain, and found Niu-t'ou sitting quietly and paying no attention to him. Tao-hsin approached him, asking, “What are you doing here?” “Contemplating the mind,” said Niu-t'ou. “But who is contemplating, and what is the mind contemplated?” Tao-hsin asked. Stunned by the question, Niu-t'ou rose from his seat and greeted him courteously, saying, “Where does Your Reverence live?” “My humble self has no definite place to rest in, roving east and west.” “Do you happen to know the Zen master Tao-hsin?” “Why do you ask about him?” “I have looked up to him for long, hoping to pay my homage to him some day.” “This humble monk is none other than Tao-hsin.” “What has moved you to condescend to come to this place?” “For no other purpose than to visit you!” Niu-t'ou then led the Patriarch to his little hermitage. On seeing that it was all surrounded by tigers and wolves, Tao-hsin raised his hands as if he were frightened. Niu-t'ou said, “Have no fear! There is still this one here!” “What is this one?” Tao-hsin asked. Niu-t'ou remained silent. Some moments later, Tao-hsin scribed the word “Buddha” on the rock on which Niut'ou used to sit. Gazing at the word, Niu-t'ou showed a reverential awe. “Have no fear,” said Tao-hsin, “there is still this one here.” Niut'ou was baffled. Bowing to the Patriarch, he begged him to expound to him the essential Truth. Tao-hsin said, “There are hundreds and thousands of Dharmas and yogas; but all of them have their home in the heart. The supernatural powers and virtues are as innumerable as the sand on the beaches; but all without exception spring from the mind as their common fountainhead. All the paths and doors of shila, dhyana and Prajna, all the infinitely resourceful siddhis, are in their integral entirety complete in your mind and inseparable from it. All kleshas and karmic hindrances are fundamentally void and still. All operations of cause and effect are like dreams and illusion. Actually there are no three realms to escape from. Nor is there any Bodhi or enlightenment to seek after. All beings, human and nonhuman, belong to one universal, undifferentiated Nature. Great Tao is perfectly empty and free of all barriers; it defies all thought and meditation. This Dharma of Suchness you have now attained. You are no longer lacking in anything. This is Buddhahood. There is no other Dharma besides it. All that you need is to let the mind function and rest in its perfect spontaneity. Do not set it upon contemplation or action, nor try to purify it. Without craving, without anger, without sorrow or care, let the mind move in untrammeled freedom, going where it pleases. No deliberate doing of the good, nor deliberate avoiding of the evil. Whether you are traveling or staying at home, sitting up or lying down, in all circumstances you will see the proper occasion for exercising the wonderful functions of a Buddha. Then you will always be joyful, with nothing to worry about. This is to be a Buddha indeed!”

Niu-t'ou was enlightened. Thereafter he emerged from his life as a hermit, and gave himself to the active works of charity and to the expounding of the Mahaprajnaparamita Sutra.

Although the “Zen of Niu-t'ou” has been regarded by later Chinese masters as outside of the main currents of the School of Zen, his contributions to the elucidation of the philosophy of Nagarjuna are not to be minimized. His main teaching that illumination is to be achieved through contemplation of the Void spread to Japan through Dengyo Daishi (767-822). In China, the “Zen of Niu-t'ou” claimed adherents as late as in the eighth generation after him. Even at present, Niu-t'ou's gathas are cherished by Buddhists of all schools as an integral part of the Mahayana philosophy in China.

Even in the School of Zen, one of the most popular koans has to do with Niu-t'ou. The question is: “How was it that before Niu-t'ou had met the Fourth Patriarch, the birds used to flock to him with flowers in their beaks, while after his enlightenment the prodigy ceased?” Of course, all the masters of Zen have of one accord regarded the latter state as incomparably higher than the former state. But everyone has his own way of describing the two states. Shan-ching described the earlier state as “a magical pine-tree growing in a wonderland, admired by all who see it,” while he likened the latter state to a tree with “its leaves fallen and its twigs withered, so that the wind passes through it without leaving any music.” But the most graphic comment was from the master I of Kuang-te. Of the first state he remarked:

When a jar of salted fish is newly opened,
The flies swarm to it buzzing all around.

Of the second, he stated:

When the jar is emptied to the bottom and washed clean,
It is left all alone in its cold desolation.

Huai-yüeh of Chang-chou spoke of the first state as “myriad miles of clear sky with a single speck of cloud”; and of the second as “complete emptiness.” To Ch'ung-ao of Lo-feng, in the first state “solid virtue draws homage from the ghosts and spirits”; while in the second state, “the whole being is spiritualized, and there is no way of gauging it.”

From the above samplings, one can see clearly the authenticity of the spirituality of Zen. With the sureness of their experiential insight, the Zen masters seem to have hit upon an unerring scale of values in spiritual life. Sensible consolations are not to be despised, but all the same they must be outgrown if one is to advance higher. Desolation is like the unleavened bread which may not taste so sweet but is of vital essence to one's life. There is still another point which is noteworthy. One's internal life must, of course, be hidden from the human eye. This was true of Niu-t'ou even before he had met Tao-hsin, as he was already a hermit. But, as Nan-ch'üan so clearly saw, your internal life must be so hidden that even the demons and angels have no way of espying it.

But in the eye of Tao, what appears to be desolation is in reality a garden of flowers. This point has been beautifully articulated by two masters of the House of Yün-men. One was Yüanming of Te-shan, whose comment on the first state was:

When autumn comes, yellow leaves fall.

And his comment on the second state was:

When Spring comes, the grasses spontaneously grow green.

The other was Fa-chin of Yün-men, who spoke of the first state as “fragrant breeze blowing the flowers to fading,” and of the second as “showering anew upon fresher and more beautiful flowers.”

This indeed is a glorious vision. These masters actually see the desolate land flourishing like the lily!

Any student of comparative mysticism will see in the tradition and spirit of Zen the hallmark of authenticity. It is little wonder that Father Thomas Berry, a profound student of Oriental philosophy and religion, should have called Zen “the summit of Asian spirituality.” He certainly knows what he is talking about.



Does Niu-t'ou Need the Flowers?
In: Opening a Mountain: Koans of the Zen Masters
by Steven Heine
Oxford University Press, 2004

Main Case

How was it that before Niu-t'ou encountered the fourth patriarch Tao-hsin, the birds used to flock to him with flowers in their beaks, whereas after their meeting the auspicious phenomenon ceased?


This koan is based on a passage in CCL vol. 4 (Taisho 51:226c-227b) that deals with Niu-t'ou Fa-jung, the founder of the Ox Head or Niu-t'ou school. Along with the Northern school, the Ox Head school was a successful early Zen movement in the seventh century, before the Southern school became dominant through the efforts of Hui-neng and his evangelical disciple Shen-hui. The Ox Head school was known for advocating a standpoint based on "formless precepts" that was influenced by the Madhyamika philosophy of emptiness, and also became a factor influencing Tendai Buddhism brought to Japan by Saicho. The influence of Zen on the Japanese Tendai sect was short-lived, however, and it was not until the thirteenth century that Zen began to flourish in Japan based on the Soto teachings of Dogen and the Rinzai teachings of Eisai.

    As with the Northern school, the Ox Head literature was close in style to the hagiographical materials in the monk biography texts. This case emerged from a fascinating narrative about the encounter between Niu-t'ou, who was then a hermit, and fourth patriarch Tao-hsin, who came to visit his mountain hut near the northern cliff of the temple. Every day, hundreds of birds flocked to Niu-t'ou with flowers in their beaks, as a sign of nature paying homage to the meditation master. Also, a huge snake once came into his hut and stayed for a hundred days without harming the monk.

    Although he was residing some distance away, Tao-hsin became aware of these auspicious phenomena and traveled to check out the master who was receiving so much adulation. When Tao-hsin arrived in the area, he asked a monk if there was a "man of Tao" in the vicinity, and was told that on the mountain one would be hard-pressed to find someone who was not a man of Tao. But when asked to identify such a person in a more specific or concrete way, the monk was at first speechless. He then suggested that Tao-hsin venture another ten miles to find "Lazy Jung," so called because he did not bother to rise from his sitting position to greet visitors.



A Tudat
Niutou Farong* : Xin Ming
(牛頭法融 : 心銘)

kínaiból angolra fordította Henrik H. Sørensen**, angolból magyarra fordította Komár Lajos
A Tan Kapuja Buddhista Egyház, Tájékoztató 55, 2013 Tavasz, 8-10. oldal

* Niutou Farong 牛頭法融 (594–657) (Wade-Giles: Niu-t'ou Fa-jung, japánul Gozu Hōyū) volt az Ökörfej (niutou) zen iskola alapítója. Az Ökörfej-hegyről kapta a nevét, arról a helyről, ahol Farong élt és tanított. A mű angol címe: Niu-t'ou Fa-jung: Mind Inscription

** Henrik H. Sørensen a dániai Koreai Tanulmányok Intézetének igazgatója.

A tudat természete nem-keletkezett. Miért kell ezt tudni?
Alapjában véve egyetlen jelenség sincs; hogyan is lenne szennyezettség vagy megtisztulás?
Az elmúlás nem jön vagy megy; nem számít, mennyire keresed, soha nem ismered meg!
Amikor minden tétlen, a ragyogó csend önmagától megnyilvánul.
Mint üresség jelenik meg; így megérted: jobb feladni a zavaros tanokat.
A körülmények világos megkülönböztetése: a sötét és rejtett megvilágítása.
Ha a Buddha-tudat zavart, akkor egyetlen tantétel sem képes azt rendbe tenni.
Véletlenszerűen jön és megy: mi értelme kifárasztani önmagát?
Az élet tulajdonsága: nem-keletkezett; ezáltal megvilágítja az egységet.
Ha célod elérni a tudat tisztaságát, akkor szorgalmasan gyakorold a tudatnélküliséget.
Ha nincs semmilyen tudatfolyamat, akkor az mindennél csodálatosabb!
A „nem-tudom” által megismered a Tant; a „nem-tudom” megismeri a lényeget.
Felfogod a tudatot, fenntartod a csendet: attól még nem hagyod el az érintettség betegségét.
Felejtsd el élet és halál kapcsolatát: akkor és ott az alapvető természet megnyilvánul.
Magyarázat nélküli nagy rendezőelv: eléred, ha nincs elutasítás, ha nem korlátozod önmagad.
Megismerés és viszonyulás folyamata végbemegy akkor és ott:
előtte egyik sincs; a folyamat az „egyik sincs”.
Ne törekedj megvalósítani a Bölcsesség Tükrét: annak lényege önmaga csodás üressége.
A gondolkodás keletkezik és elmúlik; sem előtte, sem utána nincs megkülönböztetés.
Ha az előző gondolat felszámolja önmagát, akkor a következő gondolat már nem jön létre.
A három világban egyik sem számít: sem a tudat, sem a Buddha.
Minden élő lény a nem-tudat terméke: általa kelnek életre, tőle függ a sorsuk.
A köznapi és szent megkülönböztetése okozza a jólét bosszúságait.
Mindig számolgatsz és tervezgetsz, hogy megleld az igazságot: hátat fordítasz a valóságnak.
Ha véget vetsz a (lét és nemlét) két szélsőségének, áttetsző, ragyogó léted lesz.
Nem szükséges gyerekes gyakorlatok szorgalmas gyakorlása.
Észlelés által tudásra teszel szert; ha látod a létforgatag hálóját, már kint is vagy.
Nincs mit látni, egy sötét szobában nincs mozgás: ez a Felébredés.
Az észlelésben nincs tévedés, a felébredésben nincs áttetsző ragyogás.
A rengeteg forma mind valóságos: megvan bennük a legfőbb jellegzetesség.
Jövés, menés, ülés, állás: jól ismered.
Biztos pont hiányában honnan jön és hová tart?
Nem áll össze és nem esik szét; nem lassú, sem gyors.
Maga a ragyogó nyugalom: és mégis szavakba önthető!
Ha a tudatban nincs semmi attól különböző, akkor nem kell a vágyakozást felszámolni.
Mivel természete üres, eltűnik, ha szabadon mozoghat.
Nem tiszta, sem szennyezett; nem sekély, sem mély.
Eredetileg nem a múlt, sem a jelen: éppen most!
Éppen most nincs „nem-tűrés”, ez az eredeti Buddha-tudat.
Ha belekapaszkodsz az eredetbe, akkor az megjelenik.
A megvilágosodás eredetileg van, ezért nem szükséges fenntartani.
A bosszúságok alapjában véve nem léteznek, így nem szükséges megszabadulni tőlük!
A bölcsesség önmagától felragyog, és a rengeteg (tünékeny) jelenség visszatér (a forráshoz).
Nincs visszatérés, sem elfogadás. Szüntesd meg a véleményt és felejtsd el a fogadalmakat!
A négy Erény nem-keletkezett, a három Test alapjában véve létezik.
A hat Gyökér körülményektől függ; a tiszta észlelésnek semmi köze a tudatossághoz.
Akkor a tudatban nem lesz semmi elégtelen: a rengeteg ok közvetlenül összhangba kerül.
A tudat és az érzés alapjában véve egy tőről fakadnak: egymást nem zavarva, együtt léteznek.
A nem-keletkezett összhangban van a jelenséggel: együtt léteznek és elpihennek a sötétben.
Megvilágosodás a nem-megvilágosodottból jön, így a megvilágosodás: nem-megvilágosodás.
Haszon és veszteség: az érme két oldala. Akkor mit mondanál jóról és rosszról?
Minden, aminek oka van, eredetileg a nem-keletkezett terméke.
A Tudat nem megismerés: sem betegség, sem orvosság nem befolyásolja.
Ha zavar, hagyd a dolgokat folyni a maguk útján: Felébredésben nem különböznek (énedtől).
Alapvetően semmi sem megismerhető; akkor vajon mit utasítasz el?
Létezésről beszélsz: behódolsz az ártó szellemeknek. A szavak üres képet hoznak létre!
Ne szüntess meg érzést. Az egyetlen, amivel foglalkozz: hogyan szabadulj meg nézeteidtől!
A nézetek a nem-tudat által megszűnnek; a tudatállapotok a nem-cselekvés által megszűnnek.
Nincs értelme bizonyítani az ürességet: az önmagától felragyog!
Élet és halál kioltása: a beható Tudat belép a végső törvényszerűségbe.
Csak nyisd ki a szemed: ezek a formák! Mozdulj együtt a felmerülő körülményekkel!
A tudat elnyugszik a nem-körülményekben: a körülmények elnyugodnak a nem-tudatban.
A tudat megszünteti a körülményeket, a körülmények együtt mozdulnak a megszüntetéssel.
A tudat elnyugszik: a körülmények elnyugodnak. Ne engedd el azokat! Ne tartsd fenn azokat!
Ha a körülmények együtt mozdulnak a tudattal, akkor megszűnnek. Ekkor a tudat, mely követi
a körülményeket, semmivé lesz.
Mindkettő elnyugszik a nem-keletkezésben: nyugodt tisztaság, üres ragyogás!
A felébredés megjelenik, mint az árnyék a tudat folyamatosan tiszta víztükrén.
Az erényes természete olyan, mint az együgyűség: „ez” és „az” nem különül el.
Sem áldás, sem gyalázat ki nem mozdítja, de meg sem állapodik.
Minden ok elnyugszik: nincs miért aggódni!
Nincs megkülönböztetés: az örök világosság sötét, a végtelen éjszaka világos.
Kívülről csökönyösnek és butának tűnik, ám a tudat szabad és a valósággal azonos!
Elégtelen feltételek ki nem mozdítják; megvan a hatalma a megvalósításhoz.
Nem a látó, sem a látott: így a nem-látás minduntalan megnyilvánul.
Mindent felfog, mindig mindenütt jelen van. A gondolkodás zavart szül, a zavar érzelmeket.
Ha felfogod a tudatot, és így próbálsz az izgatottságon úrrá lenni, ezzel a mozdulattal a tudat
csak még inkább cselekvő lesz. A rengeteg jelenségnek nincs alapja: csak az egyetlen Kapu van.
A kapun sem bejönni, sem kimenni nem lehet; sem nyugalomhoz, sem zavarhoz nem vezet.
A Hallgatók és Ön-Buddhák bölcsessége által ez nem megismerhető.
Valójában semmi nem létezik: a felülmúlhatatlan bölcsesség van. Körülmény: igazából üres.
A tudat nem képes kimeríteni azt.
Az igazi megvilágosodás nem megvilágosodás; az igazi üresség nem üres!
A három világ összes Buddhája ezt a tant hirdeti.
Ez a tanítás porszem méretű: annyi világ van, ahány homokszem a Gangesz medrében.
Nincs semmi dolgod: a békés tudat ügyek nélkül marad.
A békés tudat nem elfoglalt, s az üres ragyogás önmagában megnyilvánul!
A csendes nyugalom nem-keletkezett: szabadon kószálsz mindenfelé.
Bármit is teszel, semmi nem akadályoz. Mozgásban és nyugalomban is minden egyforma.
A bölcsesség napja nyugodt, a felébredés fénye ragyogó; ezek:
a nem-megjelölt ragyogó parkja, és az ellobbanás tiszta városa.
Minden ok esetében: ne törődj a következménnyel! Ez a felébredés minőségéhez hasonlatos.
Tanításhoz ne ácsolj emelvényt, inkább szunyókálj egy (félreeső) üres házban.
Boldogságra lelsz az Úton: van elég hely vándorolni az igazi Valóságban.
Nincs mit tenni, nincs mit megszerezni, nem függsz semmitől:
A négy Erény és a hat Túlpartra Juttató mind-mind az egyetlen járműhöz tartoznak.
Ilymódon a tudat nem jön létre; akkor minden jelenség hibátlan.