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無著文喜 Wuzhuo Wenxi (821–900)

(Rōmaji:) Mujaku Bunki

Painting by 高尔泰 / 高爾泰 Gao Ertai & 蒲小雨 Pu Xiaoyu

The biographical compilation Wudeng huiyuan 五燈會元 (Compendium of the five lamps, 1253), however, links much of this legendary material on Wuzhuo to a certain monk named Wenxi 文喜 (821–900), who, according to the account recorded in the WH, returned from Mount Wutai after three years and became the disciple and heir of the Chan master Yangshan Huiji (x 80: 193a–b). The identification of Wuzhuo and Wenxi is an error that appears to have arisen from the fact that the title Chan Master Wuzhuo 無著禪師 was imperially bestowed upon Wenxi in 897. Th is error entered later compilations that were based upon the wh, including all of the older Japanese commentaries. Th e wh account overlooks the fact that the title Chan Master Wuzhuo was bestowed upon Wenxi long aft er Linji's death.
(The Record of Linji translated Ruth Fuller Sasaki; footnotes)


Ch'an Master Wu Chu (alias) Wen Hsi of Hang Chou
In: Ch'an and Zen Teaching, Series One
by Lu K'uan Yü (Charles Luk)
Rider & Co., London, 1960, pp. 139-142.
Translated from The Imperial Selection of Ch'an Sayings (Yu Hsuan Yu Lu)

MASTER WEN HSI was on his way to Hua Yen (Avatamsaka) monastery
on Wu T'ai (Five-Peaked) mountain and visited the Diamond Cave to
pay his reverence there. He met an old man who was walking, leading
an ox. The latter invited the master to the temple and, on arrival at the
door, called: 'Chun Ti!' A boy answered and came out. The old man
released the ox and led the master to the hall. The entire building was of
a brilliant golden colour. The old man sat down and pointing to an
embroidered cushion, told the master to sit.

The old man asked the master: 'Where do you come from?' The
master replied: 'From the South.' The old man asked: 'How is the Buddha
Dharma upheld in the South?' The master replied: 'In this period of
degeneration and extinction (of the Buddha law), few bhiksus observe the
rules.' The old man asked: 'How many monks in each community?' The
master replied: 'Some three hundred, some five hundred.'

The master asked: 'How is the Buddha Dharma upheld here?' The
old man replied: 'Dragons and snakes are mixed up; saints and sinners
live together.' The master asked: 'How many monks are there in your
community?' The old man replied: 'Front three three, rear three three.'

The old man called the boy to serve tea and also koumiss. After taking
tea and koumiss, the master's mind and thoughts were opened up and
became brisk. The old man held up his glass (cup) and asked : 'Do you
have this in the South?' The master replied: 'No.' The monk asked:
'What do you normally use to take tea?' The master did not reply.

When the master left, the old man ordered the boy to escort the
visitor to the door. (When outside), the master asked the boy: 'How many
(persons) does the sentence "Front three three, rear three three" mean?'
The boy called the master: 'Most Virtuous One!' and the master replied:
'Yes.' The boy asked him: 'How many?'

The master asked again: 'What is this place?' The boy replied: 'This
is the temple of the Diamond Cave.' (Thereupon), the master realized that
the old man was Wen Shu (Chinese name of Manjusri); he became sad
for he knew that he could not meet Manjusri again. He bowed to the
boy and implored him to say a few words before he left the place.
Thereupon the boy chanted the following gatha:

Without anger on the face, the offering is complete,
Without anger in the mouth, it's fragrance is superb.
Without anger in the mind, it is a precious jewel,
Whate'er is nor impure nor soiled is true eternity.

After the gatha had been chanted, both Chun Ti and the temple
disappeared. (Above in the sky), Manjusri was seen riding on a lion with
golden hair to and fro in the five-coloured clouds. Suddenly the view
was hidden by white clouds coming from the east.

Because of this, the master stayed on Wu T'ai mountain. Later, he
called on Yang Shan for instruction and obtained the instantaneous
awakening. He was ordered to be verger of the monastery. As Manjusri
appeared frequently above the cauldron of rice congee, the master struck
him with the bamoo stick used for churning the porridge, saying 'Wen
Shu is Wen Shu whereas Wen Hsi is Wen Hsi.' Manjusri chanted the
following gatha:

The roots of bitter cucumber are bitter,
The stalk of a sweet melon too is sweet.
I spent three long aeons in self-cultivation,
Yet am I still disliked by the old monk.

One day a strange monk came and begged for food. The master gave
his own share to the beggar. Yang Shan who knew of this beforehand,
asked the master: 'A man who has reached the stage of attainment has
just come here; did you give him any food?' The master replied: 'I gave
him my share.' Yang Shan said: 'You have got a great benefit (blessing).'

Ox symbolizes the stubborn mind and Manjusri is the symbol of
wisdom inherent in every man, which alone can tame the mad mind.

When asked by the old man, the master talked about illusory bhiksus
who did not observe the rules and of non-existent communities of three
hundred and five hundred monks. These bhiksus and communities were
created by his own mind and had nothing to do with his self-cultivation
for attainment of Buddhahood.

The old man's reply means that although dragons or the saintly and
snakes or the profane, that is all good and evil conceptions respectively,
are mixed up in one's mind, all this is caused by one's delusion produced
by one's entanglement with 'three three' in front of self and 'three three'
behind self. Three plus three makes six, or six sense-organs in front of the
mind. Another three plus three makes six, or six consciousnesses at the
back, which use the six sense-organs in front and indulge in feelings and
discriminations. Another interpretation of 'three three' is: three by three
equals nine and another three by three also equals nine, and nine plus
nine makes eighteen, that is the eighteen realms of senses (dhatus].

The old man wanted to teach the master when he held up his glass
and asked two questions to reveal that which held up the glass and that
which asked the questions. The second question: 'Usually what do you
normally use to take tea?' insisted that the master should recognize that
which used any object to take tea and that which took tea in the South.
The old man directly pointed at the mind but the master was still deluded
and did not understand his instruction.

When the boy called: 'Most Virtuous One!' and when the master
replied: 'Yes', there was also direct pointing at that which asked and that
which replied. That which asked and that which replied were, in fact, the
minds. Thus the boy's reply to the master's question: 'How many persons
does the sentence "Front three three, rear three three" mean?' is the One
Mind which without impurities and taints, is the eternal reality. The boy's
gatha was his instruction to the master concerning the purification of mind
for attainment of Buddhahood.

Chinese devotees going to the Five Peaked mountain to worship
Manjusri sometimes met on their way either an old man, or a beggar, or
an old lady selling tea and cakes along the mountain tracks. Even nowa-
days, tales of Manjusri's apparition and transformation with meaningful
talks are still circulated and believed all over the country. Readers interested
in these tales are urged to read the book Sous Des Nuées d'Orage, by
Madame Alexandra David-Neel, who relates some very interesting
experiences during her visit to the mountain during the last war.

In a monastery, the verger indicates the order of sitting and is also in
charge of cooking rice porridge for the morning meal as well as other
petty jobs.

Manjusri's gatha means: When the cucumber is bitter, even its roots
are also bitter, that is when the master was deluded, his delusion was
complete. When the melon is sweet, even its stalk is sweet, that is when
the master was enlightened, his enlightenment was complete. The third
and fourth lines mean that after the master's awakening, he remained
immutable and unperturbed by the visions of Manjusri. This is in contrast
with the time when he was sad because of his hopelessness of meeting
Manjusri again. Thus the master set a good example to all Buddhists
who should pay no attention to visions appearing in their meditations,
for all visions are but flowers in the sky, as the Buddha himself put it.

The strange monk came to test the master and Yang Shan who was the
latter's teacher and was already enlightened, knew of the visit beforehand.

There are two stages: the cause-stage, i.e. that of a Buddhist, for he has
accepted a cause, or enlightenment, that produces a changed outlook, and
the fruit-stage or stage of attainment, or reward. A man of the stage of
attainment is one who has attained the fruit, i.e. escaped the chain of
transmigrations, a Buddha or Bodhisattva.

A great aeon, or Mahakalpa in Sanskrit, is a great kalpa from the
beginning of a universe till it is destroyed when another begins in its
place. It has four periods known as (1) the creation period, (2) period of
abiding, or existence, (3) period of destruction, when fire, water and wind
destroy everything except the fourth dhyana and (4) period of annihilation.



PDF: The Blue Cliff Record
Translated by Thomas F. Cleary, Jonathan Christopher Cleary, foreword by Taizan Maezumi Roshi.
Shambhala, Boston, 1977, reprinted 2005, pp. 216-220.


Manjusri asked Wu Cho, "Where have you just come from?"
Wu Cho said, "The South."
Manjusri said, "How is the Buddhist Teaching being carried on in the South?"
Wu Cho said, "Monks o f the Last Age have little regard f or the rules of discipline."
Manjusri said, "How numerous are the congregations?"
Wu Cho said, "Some three hundred, some five hundred."
Wu Cho asked Manjusri, "How is it being carried on hereabouts?"
Manjusri said, "Ordinary people and sages dwell together; dragons and snakes intermingle."
Wu Cho said, "How numerous are the congregations?"
Manjusri said, "In front, three by three; in back, three by three."


When Wu Cho was visiting Mt. Wu T'ai, when he came to a place on the way where it was wild and rough, Manjusri produced a temple to take him in for the night. So he asked, "Where have you just come from?" Cho said, "The South." Manjusri asked, "How is the Buddhist Teaching being carried on in the South?" Cho said, "Monks of this Last Age have little regard for the rules of discipline." Manjusri asked, "How numerous are the congregations?" Cho said, "Some three hundred, some five hundred." Wu Cho then asked Manjusri, "How is it being carried on hereabouts?" Manjusri said, "Ordinary people and sages dwell together; dragons and snakes intermingle." Cho asked, "How numerous are the congregations?" Manjusri said, "In front, three by three; in back, three by three."

Then they drank tea; Manjusri held up a crystal bowl and asked, "Do they also have this in the South?" Cho said, "No." Manjusri said, "What do they usually use to drink tea?" Cho was speechless. After all he took his leave and departed. Manjusri ordered Ch'un T'i the servant boy to see him to the gate. When they got to the portals of the gate, Wu Cho asked the boy, "Before, he said, 'In front three by three; in back, three by three'; how many is this?" The boy said, "O Worthy!" Cho responded "Yes?" The boy said, "How many is this?" Cho also asked, "What temple is this?" The boy pointed beyond the Vajrasattva; when Cho turned his head, the illusory temple and the boy had vanished completely out of sight: it was just an empty valley. Later that place was called the Vajra (Adamantine) Cave.

Later on a monk asked Feng Hsueh, "What is the Master of Ch'ing Liang* Mountain?" Hsueh said, "One phrase did not settle Wu Cho's question; to this very day he is still a monk who sleeps in the fields."

*Ch'ing Liang ("Pure and Cool") was another name for Mt. Wu T'ai. One of the five holy mountains of China, it was traditionally thought to be the abode of Manjusri, who symbolizes wisdom and knowledge. The Vajra, or Diamond, is also a symbol of wisdom, because it can cut through everything, while itself being firm and indestructible.

If you want to penetrate the peaceful equanimity of actual truth, so that your feet tread upon the real earth, go to Wu Cho's words to get attainment; then naturally though you stay in a cauldron of hot water or the embers of a stove, still you would not feel hot, and though you stay on cold ice, neither would you feel cold.

If you want to go through to use the solitary peril, the steep and sharp, like the Jewel Sword of the Diamond King, go to Manjusri's words to get attainment; then naturally water poured will not wet, and wind blowing cannot enter.

Have you not seen how Ti Tsang of Cheng Chou asked a monk, "Where have you just come from?" The monk said, "The South." Tsang said, "How is Buddhism there?" The monk said, "There is much deliberation." Tsang said, "How can that compare with us here sowing fields and having a lot of rice to eat?" Now tell me, is this the same as Manjusri's answer, or is it different? Some say that Wu Cho's answers were wrong, while in Manjusri's answers there is both snake and dragon, there is both the ordinary and the sage. What bearing does this have on it? Can you clearly discern three by three in front, three by three in back? The first arrow will still light; the second arrow went deep. Now tell me, how many is this? If you can pass through here, then a thousand phrases, ten thousand phrases, are only one phrase. If at this one phrase you can cut off and hold still, in the next moment you will reach this realm.


The thousand peaks twist and turn, the color of indigo.
Who says Manjusri was conversing with him?
It is laughable, "How many the people?" on Ch'ing Liang:
In front three by three, and in back three by three.


"The thousand peaks twist and turn, blue as indigo; who says Manjusri was conversing with him?" Some say that Hsueh Tou is just reciting it a second time, without ever eulogizing it. It is just like a monk asked Fa Yen, "What is a drop of water from the source of the Ts'ao stream?" Yen said, "A drop of water from the source of the Ts'ao stream." Also a monk asked Master Hui Chueh of Lung Ya, "How does fundamental purity and clarity suddenly give rise to mountains, rivers, and earth?" Chueh said, "How does fundamental purity and clarity suddenly give rise to mountains, rivers, and earth?" You cannot say either that these were just repetitions.

The One-Eyed Dragon of Min Ch'ao also versified the meaning of this, with the ability to cover heaven and earth; he said,

Extending throughout the world is the beautiful monastery:
The Manjusri that fills the eyes is the one conversing.
Not knowing to open the Buddha-eye at his words,
(Wu Cho) turned his head and saw only the blue mountain crags.

"Extending throughout the world is the beautiful monastery." This refers to the illusory temple nestled in the weeds. This is what is called having the ability to carry out both the provisional and the real together. The Manjusri which fills the eyes is talking; if you don't know how to open the Buddha-eye at his words, when you turn your head you'll only see the blue mountain crags. At such a time, could you call it the realm of Manjusri, Samantabhadra, or Avalokitesvara? In essence it is not this principle. Hsueh Tau just changes Ming Ch'ao's usage; instead he has a needle and thread-- "Ten thousand peaks twist and turn, blue as indigo." He does not run afoul of the point and hurt his hand. Within the phrase there is the provisional, there is the real; there is principle, there are phenomena. Who says Manjusri was conversing with him? They talked all night, but he didn't know it was Manjusri.

Later Wu Cho stayed on Mt. Wu T'ai and worked as a cook. Every time Manjusri appeared on the rice pot, Wu Cho lifted the rice stirrer and hit him. Still, this is drawing the bow after the thief has left.

This time, as soon as he said, "How is the Buddhist Teaching being carried on in the South?" he should have hit him right on the spine; then he would have gotten somewhere.

"It's laughable, 'How many are the people?' on Ch'ing Liang." There is a sword in Hsueh Tou's laughter. If you can understand what he's laughing about, you will see the other's saying, "In front three by three; in back three by three."




The Manifestation of Manjusri
In: 禅画禅 语 Chan Heart, Chan Art
by 星雲 Xing Yun (Venerable Master Hsing Yun)
Translated and edited by Pey-Rong Lee and Dana Dunlap

Chan Master Wenxi* was on a pilgrimage to Mt. Wutai. Before he arrived, he stayed overnight in a thatched hut where an old man lived. Wenxi asked the old man, “How is it in this place of practice?”

The old man replied, “Dragons and snakes intermix; the ordinary and the sacred intermingle.”

Wenxi asked, “How many live here?”

The old man answered, “Three three in front, three three in back.” **

When Wenxi woke up the next day, the thatched hut had disappeared, and he saw Manjusri riding a lion hovering in midair. He regretted that though he had eyes, he had not recognized the bodhisattva and let a chance slip by.

When Wenxi later went to study with Chan Master Yangshan, he attained awakening. Therefore, he settled down to work as a cook. One day, amidst the steam from the rice cooker he again saw the manifestation of Manjusri. Wenxi then raised a wooden rice spoon, struck, and said, “Manjusri is Manjusri; Wenxi is Wenxi. You won't fool me today!”

Manjusri recited a gatha:

Bitter melons are bitter even at the root,
Sweet melons are sweet to the stem;
Cultivating over three great kalpas,
Yet, snubbed***   by this monk.

*Wenxi  (Wuzhu Wenxi; 821-900). Dharma successor of Yangshan Huiji in the Guiyang lineage of Chinese Chan Buddhism. He was known to speak with Manjusri Bodhisattva.
**The reference to "three three in front, three three in back" appears in the Blue Cliff Record, case 35.
***The Chinese word xian, translated here as “snubbed,” can also mean “give the cold shoulder.”

Because we do not understand our intrinsic nature, we seek the Dharma outside of our mind from morning to night. Therefore, we worry about gains and losses. If we could awaken to our intrinsic nature, then “Manjusri is Manjusri; Wenxi is Wenxi.” Although the two are different, they are   actually not different. Why should we be regretful or troubled then?

In Manjusri's gatha, he was not afraid of others snubbing him, but rather, was explaining that after three great kalpas of cultivation, only today did he truly come across a close friend, someone who really knew him.

All along, Manjusri and Wenxi were one and the same!