Huang-poThe Dharma of Mind Transmission

Compiled by P'ei Hsiu

Translated by Dharma Master Lok To


Contents, Introduction, Preface

Introduction by Lok To

[President of the Buddhist Association of the U.S., 1964-1974. ]

Lok To, 2010
Lok To

The Mind is neither large nor small; it is located neither within nor without. It should not be thought about by the mind nor be discussed by the mouth. Ordinarily, it is said that we use the Mind to transmit the Mind, or that we use the Mind to seal the Mind. Actually, however, in transmitting the Mind, there is really no Mind to receive or obtain; and in sealing the Mind, there is really no Mind to seal.

If this is the case, then does the Mind exist or does it not exist? Actually, it cannot be said with certainty that the Mind either exists or does not exist, for it is Absolute Reality. This is expressed in the Ch'an Sect by the maxim: "If you open your mouth, you are wrong. If you give rise to a single thought, you are in error." So, if you can quiet your thinking totally, all that remains is voidness and stillness.

The Mind is Buddha; Buddha is the Mind. All sentient beings and all Buddhas have the same Mind, which is without boundaries and void, without name and form and is immeasurable.

What is your Original Face and what is Hua-Tou? [1] Your Original Face is without discrimination. Hua-Tou is the Reality before the arising of a single thought. When this Mind is enlightened, it is the Buddha; but when it is confused, it remains only the mind of sentient beings.

[1. "Point beyond which speech exhausts itself." [Hua_Tou] ]

The Ch'an Master Huang-po Tuan-Chi was a major Dharma descendent [2] of the Sixth Patriarch [Hui Neng] and was the Dharma-son of the Ch'an Master Pai-Chang. He was enlightened by the Supreme Vehicle to realize the Truth. Transmission of Mind is this alone – nothing else!

[2. For a list of the masters see ch 1 of Garma Chang's Practice of Zen. /zen/garma-chang/practice-of-zen/ch-1a-nature-of-zen.htm ]

The Dharma of Mind Transmission, the Teaching of Ch'an Master Huang-po Tuan-Chi, is a cover-title that includes both The Chung-Ling Record and The Wan-Ling Record. These Records are sermons and dialogues of the Master that were collected and recorded by his eminent follower P'ei Hsiu. [see below] Both a government official and great scholar, P'ei Hsiu set down what he could recollect of the Master's teaching in 857 CE, during the T'ang Dynasty, eight years after the Master's death (ca. 850 CE), fifteen years after his first period of instruction by the Master at a temple near Chung Ling (842 CE), and nine years after his second period of instruction at a temple near Wan Ling (848 CE). The Records were presumably edited and published somewhat later in the T'ang Dynasty by an unknown person, and they contain a "Preface" by the recorder, P'ei Hsiu.

I would like to say to all present and future students of the Dharma, both in the East and in the West, and to all my good friends: If you want to practice, you should practice just as this Ch'an Master Huang-po Tuan-Chi did. Then you, too, can realize Sudden Enlightenment.

- Dharma Master Lok To Young Men's Buddhist Association of America, Bronx, New York

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The Preface of P'ei Hsiu

[Pei Xiu (787 or 797-860) See section of article on Huang-po at Wikipedia ]

The great Ch'an Master [Huangbo Xiyun], whose Dharma-name was Hsi Yun, resided below Vulture Peak on Huang-po Mountain, which is in Kao-An County in Hung-Chou. He was a major disciple of Ts'ao-Ch'i, the Sixth Patriarch, and the Dharma-son of Pai-Chang. He admired the Supreme Mahayana Vehicle and sealed it without words, teaching the transmission of Mind only and no other Dharma whatsoever. He held that both Mind and substance are void and that the interrelationships of phenomena are motionless. Thus, everything is, in reality, void and still like the radiant light of the great sun in the sky, shining brightly and purely throughout the world.

If one has attained this understanding, he holds no concept of duality – such as new versus old or shallow versus deep – in his mind. If one has attained this understanding, he does not attempt to explain its meaning, nor does he hold biased views, one way or another, regarding particular sects. The Master just pointed out that "It is!" alone is the correct understanding. So, even allowing a single thought to arise is wrong. He made clear that the profound meaning beyond words is the Tao, which is subtle, and the action of which is solitary and uniform.

Thus, many disciples came to him from the four directions, most of them becoming enlightened merely upon first seeing the Master; and usually a company of more than one thousand disciples accompanied him at any one time.

In the second year of Hui-Ch'ang (842 CE), I stayed in Chung-Ling, inviting the Master to come to the city from the mountain. While residing together at Lung-Hsing Temple, I asked the Master, every day, to transmit the Dharma to me. Also, later, in the second year of Ta-Chung (848 CE), I stayed in Wan-Ling, again inviting the Master to the city. At that time, while residing together at K'ai Yuan Temple, I received Dharma from the Master every day. A few years later, I made a record of the Dharma that the Master had transmitted to me, but I could recall only a small portion of it. Nevertheless, I regard what is set down here to be the genuine Mind-Seal Dharma. Initially I had some reservations about making this Doctrine public, but, afterwards, fearing that this wonderful and profound Teaching might not be available to or known by future truth-seekers, I decided to publish it.

With this in mind, I have sent the manuscript to the Master's disciple, Tai-Chou Fa-Chien, asking him to return to Kuang-T'ang Temple, on the ancient mountain, and discuss my record with certain elder monks and other Sangha members to determine how much it agrees with or how much it differs from what they themselves had heard and learned from the Master.

- The Eighth Day of the Tenth Moon of the Eleventh Year of Ta-Chung (October 8, 857 CE) [at the end of the T'ang Dynasty]

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