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石屋淸珙 Shiwu Qinggong (1272-1352)
Zen Master Shih-wu Ch'ing-hung's Recorded Sayings
Master Shiwu Qinggong (1272-1352) was a monastic of the Caodong Chan School. He lived most of his life as a mountain hermit, and the scenery of the mountains dominates much of his work.
Translated by John Balcom
Going everywhere with scissors and measuring stick,
The thread goes, the needle comes; busy every day.
Having measured everyone's long and short,
When will I measure my own long and short?
The Mountain Poems of Stonehouse
Translated by Red Pine [Bill Porter]
Empty Bowl, 1985. 135 pp.
184 poems in parallel English and Chinese. Chinese style sewn wraps with white threads exposed, original paper label with black lettering and red chop mark. Includes poetry, notes, maps.
The Zen Works of Stonehouse: Poems and Talks of a 14th-Century Chinese Hermit
Translated by Red Pine [Bill Porter]
San Francisco: Mercury House, 1997. 248 pp.
Berkeley: Counterpoint, 2009. 248 pp.
Now all of the hermit monk's poetry, including the major poetic works, "Mountain Poems" and "Gathas," as well as his most illuminating instructional talks, can be read in Pine's translations.
The Mountain Poems of Stonehouse
(English and Chinese Edition)
Translated by Red Pine [Bill Porter]
Copper Canyon Press. 2014. 228 pp.
Newly revised, with the Chinese originals and Red Pine's abundant commentary and notes.
"In my earlier edition of these poems I neglected to mention their textual basis. When I first translated the Mountain Poems, I was living at Bamboo Lake, a farming village near the summit of Chihsingshan an hour by bus north of Taipei. But my wife was still living with her parents in the city, and their apartment was only a five-minute walk from Taiwan's National Central Library. One day when I was in town and had nothing better to do, I decided to see what I could find in the library's archives. I should have visited earlier. Within a matter of minutes, I found three Ming dynasty copies of Stonehouse's poems. Surprisingly, two of these early copies were published only a few decades after Stonehouse's death. One copy included a preface written at Hangchou's Lingyin Temple by the poet-monk Yu-chang Lai-fu and dated the fifteenth year of the Hungwu reign period, or 1382. A second copy was less precise and listed only the Hungwu period (1368–1398) as its date of publication. The third copy was published near the end of the Ming dynasty in 1615 by P'an Shih-jen. Naturally, a number of later editions of the Mountain Poems have appeared over the years. But I have based my translations on these three early copies, and where variants occur, I have invariably sided with the Ming dynasty versions and have mentioned this in my notes.
Since I first translated and published Stonehouse's Mountain Poems, I have moved on to other poets. But Stonehouse is still my favorite, and whenever I give a public reading, I invariably include a few of his poems. But I have discovered that I can't read just any poem. Many of my earlier translations, I have found, don't read that well. This, I presume, is a problem every translator of poetry encounters. What I translate one day doesn't read that well the next. And this goes on, until the publisher says it's time to send in the manuscript. Hence, reading my translations years later, I cannot help but cringe. Some translations still work. Others don't. Of course, translators know that translating poetry is not the same as translating prose, that when you translate a poem you have to make a poem. But a translator doesn't work the same way as a poet. A translator has to go through a different process to bring a poem from one language into another. I don't know how others do it, but when I've tried to think of a metaphor for what I go through, I keep coming up with the image of a dance. I see the poet dancing, but dancing to music I can't hear. Still, I'm sufficiently enthralled by the beauty of the dance that I want to join the poet. And so I try. And as I do, I try not to step on my partner's feet (the so-called literal or accurate translation), but I also try not to dance across the room (the impressionistic translation or version—usually by someone who doesn't know the poet's language). I try to get close enough to feel the poet's rhythm, not only the rhythm of the words but also the rhythm of the poet's heart. And I love Stonehouse's heart. So I've hit the dance floor one more time. I like to think I've become better at this over the years. But just as there is no perfect dance, there is no perfect translation. It can always be better. But not today. Today it feels perfect. Just don't ask me tomorrow.
I've also decided to separate Stonehouse's Mountain Poems from his Gathas and Zen Talks and to publish them separately, as I first did in 1986. The reason is that poems need room on the dance floor. I wasn't able to do that when I combined all three of Stonehouse's surviving texts in The Zen Works of Stonehouse, where as many as seven poems appeared on a page. But I'm fortunate to have found a publisher willing to indulge me. So here they are again, Stonehouse's Mountain Poems, all dressed up and ready to go. If they have fallen into your hands, surely the muses have smiled upon you. Say hello to your new best friend."
April 10, 2013
Port Townsend, Washington
Stonehouse was born in 1272 in the town of Changshu, not far from where the Yangtze empties into the East China Sea. Nothing is known about his family or his early life, other than that his father's surname was Wen and his mother's surname was Liu and that he received the traditional Confucian education for someone from a family of means. No one knows either when he started using the name Stonehouse (Shihwu) or why. He probably picked up the name while he was still studying to become an official. It was the name of a cave on Yushan, just outside his hometown. Yushan was known for its pine trees, its rock formations, and its springs, in particular a spring that flowed out of a cave as big as a house. Locals still call it Stonehouse Cave. Ironically, the scenes of Yushan were among the favorite subjects of Huang Kung-wang (1269–1354), one of the great artists of the time. Huang was also born in Changshu, and his grave is still there on Yushan, not far from the cave from which Stonehouse took his name. It was not uncommon for an educated person to assume such a name. Many people took several names in the course of their careers, especially artists and poets.
Despite Stonehouse's Confucian upbringing, when he was twenty, he changed tracks. He quit his studies and became a novice under the guidance of Master Yung-wei at Hsingchiao Chungfu Temple just outside Changshu. After three years, he was formally ordained and given the monastic name Ch'ing-kung. Being a young monk, he did what many young monks did back then and still do today: he sought further instruction. One day soon after his ordination, he saw a monk walk past his door wearing a broad-brimmed straw hat—the kind travelers wore to keep the sun out of their eyes and the rain off their shoulders. The monk also had a hiking staff in his hand. When Stonehouse asked where he was going, the monk said he was going to Tienmushan to see Kao-feng Yuan-miao, a great Zen master of the time. He invited Stonehouse to join him, and the two monks journeyed there together. It wasn't far — maybe a four- or five-day journey on foot, assuming they didn't shorten it by availing themselves of the Grand Canal as far as Hangchou. Kao-feng was living on the West Peak of Tienmushan, just south of Hangchou.
Following their arrival, Kao-feng asked Stonehouse why he had come. Stonehouse said, “I've come for the Dharma.” Kao-feng said, “The Dharma isn't so easy to find. You'll need to burn your fingers for incense.” To this, Stonehouse replied, “But I see the master before me with my own eyes. How could the Dharma be hidden?” Kao-feng nodded his approval and suggested Stonehouse study the koan “All things come back to one”.
Stonehouse stayed with Kao-feng for three years, serving with diligence but without satisfying his quest for the Dharma. Stonehouse finally decided to leave and went to announce his departure. Kao-feng said, “You're still a blind donkey. But over in the Huai watershed, there's a master named Chi-an. Why don't you go see him?” Stonehouse followed this suggestion. He traveled west to the old capital of Nanching, crossed the Yangtze, and found Chi-an outside Chienyang on Langyashan at West Peak Temple.
Chi-an asked Stonehouse where he came from, and Stonehouse told him, “From Tienmu.” Chi-an asked, “And what instruction did you receive?” Stonehouse said, “All things come back to one.” When Chi-an asked what that meant, Stonehouse didn't answer. Chi-an said, “Those words are dead. Where did you pick up such rot?” Stonehouse bowed and asked to be instructed. Chi-an said, “Tell me what this means: ‘Don't stop where there are buddhas. Hurry past where there aren't any buddhas.'” Stonehouse answered, “I don't understand.” Chi-an replied, “More dead words.” Stonehouse still didn't understand, but he decided to stay with Chi-an.
Finally, one day Chi-an asked him what the koan about buddhas meant, and Stonehouse answered, “When you mount a horse, you see the road.” Chi-an said, “You've been here now for six years. Is that all you've learned?” Exasperated, Stonehouse left. But on his way down the mountain, he looked up and saw a pavilion. Suddenly he understood. 3 He hurried back and told Chi-an, “‘Don't stop where there are buddhas.' Those are dead words. ‘Hurry past where there aren't any buddhas.' Those are dead words, too. Now I understand living words.” Chi-an asked, “And what do you understand?” Stonehouse answered, “When the rain finally stops in late spring, the oriole sings from a tree.” Chi-an nodded his approval. Later, when Stonehouse decided to leave, Chi-an told him, “In the future, we will share the same niche.”
Not long afterward, Chi-an was asked to take over as abbot of Taochang Temple outside Huchou, and Stonehouse later joined him there. When Chi-an introduced his disciple to the assembly, he said, “Here is a rare fish that slipped through the net and entered the Dharma Sea.” After several years at Taochang Temple, Stonehouse was invited to become the meditation master of Hangchou's famous Lingyin Temple, a hundred kilometers to the south. It was a prestigious post in the monastic world, but after a short stay Stonehouse decided he preferred the mountains. He traveled back toward Huchou, and twenty-five kilometers south of the city he took up residence at the southern summit of Hsiamushan, where he built a hut and began life as a hermit. The year was 1312, and he was forty years old. A contemporary wrote that Stonehouse lived a hard life, refusing to beg for food in nearby villages, unlike other hermit monks. When he ran out of food, he survived on water and wild plants. According to this early account, he was hard on himself but kind and generous to others.
Stonehouse enjoyed the seclusion of the mountain for twenty years, until the spring of 1331. The previous year Emperor Wen had ordered Fuyuan Temple rebuilt in what is now Hsintai County, eighty kilometers east of Hsiamushan. The temple was originally built in 1312 by the emperor's father, and once the rebuilding was finished, he asked Stonehouse to take over as the temple's abbot. Stonehouse at first declined but was admonished, “If monks are supposed to work for the benefit of the Dharma, how can they succeed while living in idleness and isolation.” And so, Stonehouse left Hsiamushan and took up his post as abbot of Fuyuan Temple.
While he was there, he gave instruction in Zen, but his heart remained in the mountains. Finally, after seven years, he pleaded old age, and in 1338 he returned to the mountain. This time, he settled on the mountain's northern summit, known as Hsiawushan It was toward the end of this second stay, around the year 1350, that he compiled his Mountain Poems , which included poems that spanned both periods of residence on the mountain.
Soon afterward, in the spring of 1352, in recognition of his reputation as one of the age's great Dharma masters, the empress presented Stonehouse with a golden robe. His disciples were in awe, but Stonehouse remained unmoved. In autumn of that same year, on the twenty-first day of the seventh moon, he told his disciples he was feeling ill. The following night, he announced he was leaving them. One of them asked whether he had any parting words. Stonehouse picked up his writing brush one last time and wrote:
Corpses don't stink in the mountains
there's no need to bury them deep
I might not have the fire of samadhi
but enough wood to end this family line
He dropped the brush and died. He was eighty-one.
Extracts in DOC
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Shiwu (石屋, Wade–Giles: Shih-Wu) or Stonehouse (1272–1352) was a Chinese Chan poet and hermit who lived during the Yuan Dynasty. Shiwu was born in the town of Changshu. Taking his name from the Shihwutung (Stonehouse cave) in Yushan. In 1292 Shiwu became a novice at Yushan's Hsingfu temple, a major monastic center at the time. He studied under master Yung-Wei and three years later was ordained and received the dharma name Ch'ing-hung.
He is said to have followed a monk to the Tienmu Mountains to meet with Chan master Kao-Feng. On his arrival Kao-feng asked why he came to his hermitage to which Shiwu answered "I've come for the Dharma ".
Kao-feng said "The Dharma isn't so easy to find. You've got to burn your fingers for incense".
Shiwu replied "But I see the Master before me with my own eyes. How could the Dharma be hidden?".
Kao-feng took him as his pupil and gave him the koan "All things return to one" for study.
After three years with little progress, Shiwu decided to leave and Kao-feng recommended he study under the Chan master Chi-an. Shiwu crossed the Yangtze and met Chi-an at West Peak Temple near Chienyang.
Chi-an asked Shiwu what teaching he had received.
Shiwu said, "All things return to one".
Chi-an asked what it meant and Shiwu remained silent.
Chi-an said "Those words are dead. Where did you pick up such rot?".
Shiwu bowed and asked for instruction.
Chi-an then gave him another koan: "Where buddhas dwell, don't stop. Where buddhas don't dwell, hurry past".
Shiwu said he didn't understand but decided to stay with Chi-an.
One day, Chi-an asked once more about the koan and Shiwu answered, "When you mount the horse, you see the road".
Chi-an admonished him once again.
Shiwu left but on his way down the mountain he saw a pavilion and had a sudden insight. He turned back and told Chi-an, "Where buddhas dwell, don't stop. Those are dead words. Where buddhas don't dwell, hurry past. Those are dead words too. Now I understand living words".
Chi-an asked him what he understood and Shiwu answered, "When the rain finally stops in late spring, the oriole appears on a branch"
Chi-an later served as abbot of the Taochang temple and Shiwu joined him. Shiwu also served as a meditation teacher in Lingyin temple.
In 1312 at the age of forty he moved to Xiamu Mountain near Huzhou to live as a hermit and it is here that he composed his "Mountain Poems" (Shan-shih), one-hundred and eighty-four verses mostly dealing with life in the mountains. In the preface to the Mountain poems, Shiwu writes:
Here in the woods I have lots of free time. When I don't spend it sleeping, I enjoy composing gathas. But with paper and ink so scarce, I haven't thought of writing them down. Now some Zen monks have asked me to record what I find of interest on this mountain. I've sat here quietly and let my brush fly. Suddenly, this volume is full. I close it and sent it back down with the admonition not to try singing these poems. Only if you sit on them will they do you any good.
Shan-shih: the Hermit House of Stonehouse
The "Mountain Poems" (Shan-shih) of Ch'ing-hung (1271-1352), or, Stonehouse, share many similarities with the poems of other Chinese and Japanese Zen-monk hermits. But the voice of Stonehouse is exceptional in revealing many details of a hermit's daily life and his hut.
Stonehouse was not a wanderer, artist, or formal poet, nor a reclused official or fugitive. He was a monk, educated and well-studied in Buddhism under several masters. For a while he served as a meditation master and for many years as a monastery abbot, acquiring an excellent reputation. But nothing suited him like the freedom of the mountains -- in this case the Hsiamushan (or Zhongnan) in eastern China -- and it was here, towards the end of his life, that he composed one-hundred and eighty-four verses he called "Mountain Poems."
Ch'ing-hung wrote the "Mountain Poems" in a burst of inspiration, fired with memory and insight, a sudden productive feat. In the preface, he notes:
Some monks have asked me to recall what I find of interest on this mountain. I have sat here quietly and let my brush fly. Suddenly this volume is full.
The poems are a mix of mundane and lofty, though Stonehouse never intends his pithy advice as lofty. Yet the mundane becomes lofty beneath his experienced gaze. The more outstanding reading, however, may be of the details of his life and hut. Daily life and survival from building to planting to food, clothing, nature and the seasons, are all well represented.
Stonehouse moved to his hermit hut in spring of 1312, on "Red Curtain Mountain and Sky Lake Spring," the latter a clear spring of water beside which he built his hut. Stonehouse's "ungabled," thatch hut lay "deep in the clouds," "perched above a thousand peaks," in a place where, he says, "nothing but mountains meet my eyes."
Weather at this elevation is unpredictable. When it rains the hut gets soaked, but it dries well with sunshine. A heavy gust of wind rips out his paper windows -- oiled, translucent paper that served as shutters keeping out wind, rain, and snow.
Stonehouse describes the dimensions of his hut variously as "less than three mats wide," and "three rafters wide," and "not quite ten feet on a side." From the outside the hut looks cramped, he admits, but he does not mind because he owns so little.
Stonehouse mentions an occasional new fragrant grass mattress. His pillow is a slab of wood. He has a gilt statue of the Buddha (and three clay ones fashioned by his own hand).
Stonehouse keeps an oil lamp, and several ritual objects: incense, a gong, and a bell.
The hermit has a tea-stove "black with soot," and a cooking pot, "a broken-legged pot on a pile of dry leaves." His other utensils are equally simple.
Daily work is hard,, as these evocative passage shows:
Stonehouse sometimes hauls wood to the village market for grain, his only contact with people except for occasional visits of monk acquaintances or friendly farmers and wood-gatherers. One year he ran out of rice before spring, but another year he had so much he did not know what to do with it all. But Stonehouse learned to grow his own "fragrant mountain rice" and built a water wheel to hull it.
But as Stonehouse grew in mountain skills, he discovered that "three or four naps a day still don't exhaust my free time."
Stonehouse enjoyed a variety of food, harvested and grown. "In twenty years on the mountain," he writes, "I've never been cheated by a hoe." He successfully grew rice, millet, and wheat -- and "pea pods on terraced banks," perhaps soy. He planted "eight or nine" pine trees for future beams of his hut, but even they provide food, as will be seen. He describes "green and yellow fields of vegetables and grain," but his garden provided most of the former: melons, eggplants, yams, and cucumbers.
Stonehouse says he has no time for flowers but he added an "immense hibiscus hedge," plus gardenias and pawlonias. "Chrysanthemums along a fence perfume the dusk." To his orchard he has added peach, plum, pear, and chestnut trees. In a garden pond he cultivates lotus and water chestnuts.
Stonehouse derives many foods from harvesting on the mountain. He gathers edible thistles and herbs such as pigweed, fiddlewood, wormwood, and Solomon-seal. He also gathers vine buds, pine nuts and pollen, and especially tea leaves.
Stonehouse figures that he has eaten "a hundred crocks of pickles," presumably cucumbers.
In harder times, there is pigweed soup, gruel, cakes of mashed pine nuts and pine pollen, and "wormwood tea for guests," none of which is unpalatable. In better times, a visiting monk brings seaweed as a gift.
For clothing, Stonehouse wore a simple robe made of whatever was available, depending on the season. In summer he wore short-lived mulberry paper or lotus-leaves, but otherwise a sturdy hemp, which grew in wild abundance along with mulberry. He describes "a patched robe over my body, braided bamboo around my waist." The patchwork he would accomplish with willow thread using a pine needle. "My once-padded robe is not padded anymore," he laments in one passage, and further, my underclothes have no drawstring, my pants have no legs, and half my robe is missing.
Once, after getting soaked in rain, he could point out "a monk's ragged robe dries on rocks." Working, he often wore a cloth coat of coir (coconut fiber) and a leaf hat.
Stonehouse wore grass shoes and carried a bamboo staff. With the approach of cold, he gathered a store of pine and mulberry logs but by winter's end he was burning leaves and pine needles. This meager source was his warmth by the stove, plus a paper quilt now replaced by an unspecified equivalent of cotton.
In his mountain hut, Stonehouse is in the midst of wild nature. He mentions the howl of gibbons, the laughter of tigers (which kept him indoor much of a day once), and the usual deer, squirrels, rabbits, and birds from cranes to crows. Stonehouse reads or rereads the Lankavatara sutra, Tao Chien, and Han-shan (or at least remembers the latter two), but he regrets that his books have become home for silverfish.
So many pithy sayings in the "Mountain Poems" place the eremitical experience and the hut itself in the center of Stonehouse's spirituality. Yet the sayings are infused with his characteristic modesty. "I built my hut on a lonely peak," he writes, "and pass my days in karma's wake." He admits that he does not know if he is "a fool or a sage."
Stonehouse feels no obligation to chart or participate in this perpetual "rise and fall" because in hermit life is freedom.
"Getting free" is work, as his daily life shows, but it is also not freedom for the sake of chasing after one worldly pursuit or another. Rather, the hut that represents his freedom is a humble place free from care, quiet untroubled days, who can do as well, nothing to do or change.
The acceptance and perspective suggested by the last line confers the hermit's freedom. Life becomes what is should be. A hundred years slip by when you are free, ten thousand cares dissolve when you are still.
And the hermit's hut is the symbol of this consciousness: Standing outside my pointed-roof hut, how much space do you think is inside, all the worlds of the universe are there ...
The "Mountain Poems" are translated into English in The Zen Works of Stonehouse: Poems and Talks of a Fourteenth-Century Chinese Hermit; translated by Red Pine [i.e., Bill Porter]. San Francisco: Mercury House, 1999.
In: Dharma Lineage of the Buddhas and Patriarchs
Compiled and meaning translated by JeonBeop Zen Master Daewon Moon Jaehyeon
English translation by Lee SoJeong, Eryn Michael Reager
Moonzen Press, Seoul, 2011
Portrait artist: Ilseon Na SeongEun
Dharma Transmission Gatha
This mind‚ extremely vast‚
Cannot be compared‚ even to the void.
As this Tao is only just like this‚
In resting the seeking mind‚ it is embraced.
Given by 55th Patriarch JeonBeop Zen Master Jian Zongxin /
Received by 56th Patriarch JeonBeop Zen Master Shiwu Qinggong
Dharma Transmission Gatha
This vast mind‚
And this holy Dharma;
Is undivided like the lamp and its light.
This is the self-mastery of the mind.
Given by 56th Patriarch JeonBeop Zen Master Shiwu Qinggong /
Received by 57th Patriarch JeonBeop Zen Master TaeGo BoU
by Shih-wu (1272-1352)
Here in the woods I have lots of free time. When I don't spend it sleeping, I enjoy composing chants. But with paper and ink so scarce, I haven't thought about writing them down. Now some Zen monks have asked me to record what I find of interest on this mountain. I've sat here quietly and let my brush fly. Suddenly this volume is full. I close it and send it back down with the admonition not to try singing these poems. Only if you sit on them will they do you any good.
Seven Koans by Master Shi Wu Qing Gong of Yuan Dynasty
The Master was lecturing to all practitioners and he said, “The Buddha is pure and clear. He has four kinds of purity and clarity. They are as followings: To stabilize the mind is to hold the precept; holding the precept is able to obtain Samadhi; when obtaining Samadhi, the inner wisdom will evolve. What is to stabilize the mind? What is the precept?
If the mind of sentient beings in the six realms is pure without lust, they can end the cycle of birth and death. First, if those practitioners who do not eliminate the attachment to lust want to practice Zen meditation, it is just like one cooks sands and stones and wishes those cooked sands and stones can become a rice meal. Even if you have cooked for hundreds and thousands of eons, at the end, they are just a pot of hot rice. Why is that? It is because the sand and stone are not the nature of rice. If you use the lusting body and want to obtain the fruit of Buddhahood and even if you attain the wonderful state of enlightenment, all you get is the root of lust. Originally, it is lust. You will never get out of the reincarnation cycle of the lower three realms.
In addition, if practitioners do not eradicate the attachment of killing, they are just like those who put stoppers in their ears and cry out loud wish no one to hear them. This means that the more you want to cover up, the more you reveal. So as bhikkhus with pure mind, when they walk on the uneven road with stones and rocks, they do not want to step on the live grass, don’t mention to pull it out with hands. How can they say that they have great compassion and they are the disciples of Shakymuni Buddha if they eat fleshes of sentient beings to satisfy their desires for food?
Moreover, those practitioners who do not eradicate the attachment of stealing are like ones try to add water into a bucket with holes and wish they could fill up the bucket. It is never going to fill up the bucket even with many eons. So, it is just like what all bhikkhus do. Take clothes and materials enough for your need; do not store a bit of the remaining. When begging for food and having some left over, leave the rest of food offering to all sentient beings that are in hunger.
Furthermore, if sentient beings in the six realms do not violate the precepts of killing, stealing and sexual misconduct, they complete these three conducts. But if they commit lying, the state of Samadhi is not going to be clear and pure. It is like that one tries to carve human feces into the shape of sandal wood. Even he/she wants to have the fragrance of sandalwood, it never happens.
When the attachments of killing, stealing, sexual misconduct and lying have been eliminated, the practice of Precept, Samadhi and Prajna is naturally clear and pure. It is like clouds in the universe are dispersed; it is also like waves in the sea become clear. When our practice reaches this status, we are ready to engage in Zen and practice the Way.
You may ask, “How to engage in Zen? How to practice the Way?” There are many examples from the past! The master generously shares several stories as below.
When the second Patriarch, Hui-Ke, went to the Shao-Ling Temple to respectfully visit Master Bodhidharma, he had his arm cut off, stood in the snow, and cried with sincerity in order to obtain the Dharma. Master Bodhidharma asked him, “All Buddha, at the beginning when asking for the Dharma, sacrifice their physical body to obtain the Dharma. Now, you have your arm cut off, which also shows your determination to obtain the Dharma.” The second Patriarch asked, “Would you please tell me what the Dharma seal of all Buddha is?” The Bodhidharma replied, “The Dharma seal of all Buddhas cannot be obtained from people.” The second Patriarch then asked again, “My mind is not secure. I am begging you, the Master, to secure my mind.” Bodhidharma replied, “Bring your mind to me and then I will secure your mind.” The second patriarch answered, “I am searching for my mind but I cannot find it after all.” Bodhidharma said to him, “Now, I have already secured your mind.” At that moment, the second patriarch achieved enlightenment.
So, this is the first example of engaging in Zen and practicing the Way by sacrificing one’s physical body for the Dharma.
The Zen Master Da Mei Chang asked Master Ma Zu, “What is Buddha?” Master Ma Zu replied, “Mind is Buddha.” So, Master Chang got the idea and directly went to the Mountain Da Mei to build and stay in a hovel there.
Later, Master Ma Zu heard about this. Then, he sent a monk to ask Master Chang a question. The monk asked, “Which principle do you realize to allow you staying in this mountain?” Master Chang replied, “Master Ma Zu said to me: Mind is the Buddha. So, I stay here.” The monk said, “The teaching from the Master Ma Zu is now different!” Master Chang asked, “What is the difference?” The monk replied, “ Master Ma Zu now says: Neither Mind nor Buddha.” Then the Master Chang said, “This old monk never stops trying to confuse people! I don’t care what he says about neither Mind nor Buddha. I just practice ‘Mind is Buddha.’” The monk went back to see Master Ma Zu and told the master about the responses of Master Chang. Then Master Ma Zu said, “The plum is ripened!”
This is the second example of engaging in Zen and practicing the Way by having a strong faith and a mind without any doubts.
At first, Master Lin Ji studied and practiced under Master Huang Bo’s guidance and teaching. He practiced absorbedly. Once, the chief in the Zen hall asked him, “How long have you been here?” Master Lin Ji replied, “Three years.” The chief asked again, “Have you ever asked people questions about your practice?” Master Lin Ji replied, “ Not yet, I do not know what to ask.” The chief said, “Why don’t you go to see the Abbot and ask him what the meaning of the Buddha’s teaching is?” So, Master Lin Ji went to see the Abbot, but Master Huang Bo hit him before he finished his question. Like this way, Master Lin Ji asked three times and was hit three times! Master Lin Ji then told the chief, saying, “I am grateful for your kindness. You suggest me to ask the Abbot a question. I asked for three times and was hit for three times. I am very regretful that I cannot realize the true meaning of the Dharma because of the incurred karma and hindrance. I am leaving today.” The chief then said, “Before leaving, you should go to see the Abbot to take leave.”
The chief went to see the Abbot first, saying, “The young man Lin Ji who came to ask you questions practice in accordance with the Dharma. If he comes to you for taking leave, please guide him through. In the future, he will become a big tree, which is able to provide a shade for practitioners in the entire world.” Master Lin Ji came to see Master Huang Bo for leaving. Master Huang Bo said, “You should not go to other places. You only go to visit Master Da Yu at the shore of Gao An.”
Then Master Lin Ji went to visit Master Da Yu. When Master Da Yu saw Master Lin Ji’s arrival and he asked, “Where do you come from?” Master Lin Ji answered, “I came from Master Huang Bo’s monastery.” Master Da Yu then asked again, “What is Master Huang Bo’s teaching about?” Master Lin Ji replied, “I asked him the meaning of Buddha’s teaching three times and was hit for three times. I don’t know what my fault was.” Master Da Yu then said, “Master Huang Bo is so eager to help you to reach enlightened that he was unceasingly trying to teach you. Yet, you asked me if you have any fault or not!” At that moment, Master Lin Ji suddenly achieved enlightenment and said, “The fact is that Huang Bo’s teaching has is nothing more than this!” Master Da Yu grabbed Master Lin Ji and said, “You such a little bed-wetting devil! You come here to ask if there is any fault or not. And now, you are talking about Huang Bo’s teaching has nothing more than this! What do you realize? Answer right away! Answer right away!” Master Lin Ji then gave Master Da Yu three strokes under his rib. Master Da Yu pushed him away and said, “Your master is Huang Bo, nothing to do with me.” Then, Master Lin Ji left Master Da Yu and returned to see Master Huang Bo.
Master Huang Bo saw Master Lin Ji and asked, “Young man, you are coming back and forth. When is this going to end?” Master Lin Ji replied, “I came back because Master was teaching me with eagerness.” Master Huang Bo asked, “Where do you come from?” Master Lin Ji answered, “Days ago, you kindly suggested me to visit Master Da Yu. So, I visited him and then came back.” Master Huang Bo asked, “What did Da Yu say?” Master Lin Ji explained the conversation between Master Da Yu and him. Master Huang Bo said, “What causes your coming back? Later on, I will beat you seriously!” Master Lin Ji replied, “Why later on? Right now is the right time.” Instantly, Master Lin Ji slapped Master Hung Bo. Master Huang Bo said, “This crazy man came here to stroke tiger’s mustaches.” Then, Master Lin Ji yelled loudly! Master Huang Bo said, “Attendant, take this crazy man to the Zen hall!”
This is the third example of engaging in Zen and practicing the Way by having a deep and right cause from previous lifetime and having a sharp capacity.
When Zen Master Chang Qing Ling had not yet achieved enlighten, he contemplated and engaged the sentence in a Koan— “The donkey business has not gone yet; the horse business just comes.” By engaging this sentence, he went back and forth between Xue Feng and Xuan Sha for thirty years. During these years, He sat on the meditation mat to practice meditation and wore out seven mats.
One day, while rolling up the curtain, he reached enlightened. Then, he said a verse, stating, “It is a great difference, a great difference. Roll up the curtain, and then see the world. Someone asks me what I realize. I instantly pick up a fly whisk to hit on him/her.”
This is the fourth example of engaging in Zen and practicing the Way by directly taking on without pretending or copying and having a strong determination to see the field of great silence and tranquility.
Master Yang Shan practiced Zen under the guidance of Master Bai Zhang. He is very articulated and can always give ten answers when he was asked with one question. Master Bai Zhang then said to Yang Shan, “Later, you will go somewhere else to meet the master who can teach you.”
Later on, Master Yang Shan went to visit Master Gui Shan. Master Gui Shan asked him, “I heard that you can give ten answers to one question. Is that so?” Master Yang Shan modestly confirmed this inquiry. Master Gui Shan then asked again, “What do you say the sentence above the Buddha’s teaching?” Master Gui Shan loudly scolded Master Yang Shan right at the time when he just opened his mouth and tried to reply. Just like this scenario, Master Yang Shan was asked for three times, he tried to answered for three times and he got scolded for three times! Master Yang Shan was head down with tears and said, “Master Bai Zhang said: When I meet one who gives me a lesson, it is the time for me to begin to learn. Now, I meet the one.” So, he vowed to tend grazing cattle for three years.
One day, Master Gui Shan saw Master Yang Shan practiced sitting meditation under a tree. So, he used his monk’s staff to touch the back of Master Yang Shan. Then, Master Yang Shan turned his head. Gui Shan asked, “Yang Shan, do you know how to say yet?” Master Yang Shan replied, “Although I cannot say yet, I do not copy words coming from other people’s mouths.” Thus, Master Gui Shan said, “This man has realized the principle!”
This is the fifth example of truly engaging in Zen and practicing the Way by putting down his/her existing understandings or knowledge.
When Zen Master Bou Ning Yong was about to learn the teaching of Taintai, he changed clothes to sincerely and respectfully met with Zen Master Xue Dou Xian. Master Xue Dou Xian thought Master Bou Ning Yong would be a master who can take on propagating the great Dharma. So, he scrutinized Master Bou Ning Yong thoroughly; then he loudly scolded him, stating, “What a pompous master!”
So Master Bou Ning Yong made a decision to leave Master Xue Dou Xian. He looked at and made a full prostration to Mountain Xue Dou, saying, “I will travel all my life to engage in Zen. If my achievement and merit cannot be better than Master Xue Dou, I swear that I will never return to my home town.” Then he went to Le Tan. Several years have passed, but Master Bou Ning Yong did not resolve doubts yet. Later, he visited Master Yang Qi, and he finally realized the mind and reached enlightenment. After Yang Qi passed away, Master Bou Ning Yong studied the supreme principle with his colleague, Master Bai Yun Duan.
This is the sixth example of engaging in Zen and practicing the Way by a strong determination and never retreating.
Zen Master Yun Feng Yue studied and practiced under Zen Master Da Yu Zhi’s guidance. One day, Master Da Yu Zhi told practitioners, “Everybody gathers here to eat pickles. If you call this Pickled vegetable, you will go to the hell immediately like a shooting arrow.” After hearing this, Master Yun Feng Yue was astonished. Then he went to see the Abbot (Master Da Yu Zhi) and asked him for a Dharma lecture. Master Da Yu Zhi said, “The Dharma wheel has not turned yet. The wheel of eating turns first. Young men are healthy and strong. Why don’t you beg food for the Sangha in the monastery? I don’t have any time to resist my hunger. How could I have time to teach you Zen?” Master Xue Feng did not dare to disobey the Abbot.
Not long, Master Da Yu Zhi moved to Cui Yan. After Master Yun Feng Yue completed the task of begging food for the Sangha in the monastery, he went to Cui Yan again to ask for the teaching and guidance from Master Da Yu Zhi. Master Da Yu Zhi said to him, “Buddhism will not disappear. It is now snowing. You can beg charcoal for the Sangha in the monastery.” Master Yun Feng Yue followed the order and did it.
After he completed the task and got the charcoal, he went to see the Abbot and asked for the guidance. Master Da Yu Zhi said, “Now, we need a person to fill in the position of Wei-Nuo in the Zen hall. You will fill in the position.” Master Yun Feng Yue was not happy to take the order. He could not but be mad at Master Da Yu Zhi.
One day later, a bucket holder in the bathroom loosened so the bucket fell off from the shelf. At that moment, Master Yun Feng Yue achieved enlightenment and he suddenly realized what Master Da Yu Zhi tried to help him. Then, He quickly went to see the Abbot. Master Da Yu Zhi saw him coming, smiled and said, “Congratulations on your achievement.” Master Yun Feng Yue did not say a word. He made a full prostration and left.
This is the seventh example of engaging in Zen and practicing the Way by supporting the Sangha community with full efforts without wasting time.
Cuiyan Wenyue 翠嵓文悅 (998–1062), otherwise known as Yunfeng 雲峰, is said to have received formal transmission from Dayu Shouzhi 大愚守芝 (d.u.). After Dayu's death Cuiyan served as chief seat (shouzuo 首座) at Tongan Cloister 同安院 (in present day Jiangxi province) during Huanglong Huinan's 黄龍慧南 (1002–1069) tenure as abbot. He later went on to become the abbot of Cuiyan Monastery 翠嵓寺 (Jiangxi province), Falun Monastery 法輪寺 on Mt. Nanyue 南岳 (in present day Hunan province), and Yunfeng Monastery 雲峰寺 also on Mt. Nanyue. Following an old custom, Wenyue was also known by the name of the temple and/or mountain on which he served as abbot, that is, Cuiyan, Falun, and Yunfeng. For his recorded sayings, see the Guzunsu yulu (XZJ 118.671b3).
Furthermore, there is the eighth example. It is the way by which immeasurable Buddhas reach the gate of Nirvana straightforward. All Buddhas from the past have already reached the gate, and all Bodhisattvas nowadays have attained perfect brightness. The future practitioners should follow this principle to practice.
Master Da Yu Zhi hit the ground with his staff once and got off from his seat.
By Kou Dan, Zhu Min
In early July of 1347, the 46-year-old Korean Buddhist monk Puyu Taigu left the Daguan Temple in Dadu (today's Beijing), capital of the Yuan Dynasty(1271-1368).
He trekked all the way to Xiawu Mountain in the northern Huzhou, Zhejiang province, for a visit to the 18th-generation Buddhist master of the Linji Sect. The master was Shiwu Qinggong (1272-1352). Taigu did an intensive study of Buddhism for 15 days under the direction of the master.
The Korean monk then went back home with a new insight into Buddhism. He also carried home a cassock and Buddhist cane from Shiwu Qinggong, important articles that served to prove his legitimate status as a disciple of Shiwu Qinggong.
The Korean monk's visit turned a new page in the cultural dialogue between China and the Korean Peninsula. Puyu Taigu returned to his home country in 1348 and became the first master of the Linji Sect in Korea. Later about 60 disciples from the Korean sect pilgrimaged in three batches to Xiawu Mountain for a visit to their religious roots.
Today, the 406-meter-high Xiawu Mountain is called Xiamu Mountain, about 25 kilometers northwest of downtown Huzhou. The local county annals compiled in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) registered why the mount changed to the new name: "A zigzagging path leads to the mount top. From there one can enjoy a panoramic view of the great Taihu Lake and adjacent peaks. Curtain-like clouds often appear there."
Master Shiwu began studying Buddhism in his childhood. He became a monk in a Buddhist temple in Fujian Province. At about age 40, he came to Xiawu Mountain, where he built a cottage by a pond called Sky Lake on the mount top and it was named the Sky Lake Temple. He began to cultivate himself according to Buddhist doctrines. Nineteen years later his reputation as a Buddhist master spread far. He served as abbot in a nearby temple for 7 years. Later he went to stay in the Lingying Temple in Hangzhou for a while before he returned to the Sky Lake Temple. He was blessed with a gold-color cassock and often mixed himself with monks from Putuo, Wutai, Tiantai, and Wulin temples.
When the Korean monk Puyu came to visit him, Shiwu was already 75. He chopped wood and grew vegetables in a garden to support himself as a monk. His disciples recorded his remarks and compiled a quotation book of 11,000 words. He also wrote poems of about 14,000 words which described his life in the mount.
Puyu was regarded as Buddhist master in Korea. He died in 1383 at 82. Three pagodas were built in his memory. On them were inscriptions that the monk had inherited Buddhist teachings from Master Shiwu Qinggong, the 18th-generation master of the Linji Sect and that therefore Shiwu was the 19th-generation master.
Today, the highest peak of the mountain is thickly covered by trees. In the place where the Sky Lake Temple used to stand, there are only a few broken steles. The stone house and the pagoda are nowhere to be seen today.
Shiwu wrote to Puyu at the end of 1347. In 1348, The Jingci Temple in Hangzhou sent a special messenger to deliver a letter to Shiwu from Puyu. Shiwu wrote back. The correspondences not only show the mutual respect they had for each other and the cultural exchanges between China and Korea but also served as a testimony to the open postal service system between China and Korea during that time. (Translated by David)