Huang-poThe Dharma of Mind Transmission

Compiled by P'ei Hsiu

Translated by Dharma Master Lok To


Gatha and Postscript

Abandon all trouble in the world –
This is the most extraordinary act.

As in an opera, grasp the rope
Only to swing on, progressing further.

If you don't feel penetrating cold
To the bone at least once,

How can you ever come to smell
The warm fragrance of plum flowers?

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A Gatha by P'ei Hsiu

I heretofore acquired the Dharma of the Transmission of Mind, as expressed in The Chung-Ling Record and in The Wan-Ling Record, from Ch'an Master Huang-po (Hsi-Yun).  So thus I have come to write a gatha on The Transmission of Mind:

The Mind cannot be transmitted;
To tacitly understand is transmission.

The Mind can perceive nothing at all,
But nothingness is true perception.

The tally is not the tally;
Also, nothing is not nothing.

Do not remain in Illusion City,
Or you'll mistake the pearl on your forehead;
Be aware, the word "pearl" is only an expedient,
For how can Illusion City have any form?

Only the Mind is Buddha,
The Buddha without birth.

So know directly that "it is!"
Without seeking or acting.
For a Buddha to seek Buddha
Is just a waste of energy.
If you let a Dharma-view arise,
You'll only fall into Mara's realm.
Don't separate the worldly and the holy;
Then seeing and hearing will disappear.

Just like a clear mirror, be without mind,
And there is no competition with things.
Just like the bright void, be without thinking,
And you contain the ten thousand things.

The Three Vehicles are outside of the Dharma,
But to know this is rare in a kalpa's course.
When one attains such realization, then
He is the Hero Who Leaves the World.

Once I heard this gatha from a Mahasattva, who resided on the east side of the river and who was with the Master at Kao-An during that time when he was preaching the Dharma of the Transmission of Mind to Prime Minister P'ei-Hsiu. It was about that time that P'ei-Hsiu wrote this gatha and recorded the teaching of the Master as clearly and brilliantly as if he were painting a picture, hoping that the deaf and the blind would suddenly be awakened. Since it would a great pity if P'ei-Hsiu's account of the Master's words was lost or destroyed, I have thus compiled and edited it in these Records.

Complimentary Verses by the Southern Sect of Ch'an
The Year of Ching-Li Wu-Tzu
Master Tien Jen

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The Dharma of Mind Transmission took place with a smile at Grdhrakuta. [1] This also occurred during Bodhidharma's meditation in Shao-Shih, at the temple where he resided, when he pointed to the Mind directly. Shen-Kuang's method was to calm the mind, while Ma-Tso felt that just to know that the Mind is Buddha was enough. Huang-po, Pai-Chang and all the other great masters transmitted the Mind esoterically.

[1. Vulture Peak.]

From the pervasive protection of the Great Opportunity to the flourishing of the Great Function – all depends on the Mind, just as those great turbulent waves in the ocean depend on and never separate from the ocean. Just as a piece of pure gold is used to make different containers, and none of the containers ever changes the gold, similarly all the phenomena of the universe merely illustrate and prove the Dharma of One Mind.

The Prime Minister, P'ei-Hsiu, was garrisoned at Hsin-An during the T'ang Dynasty.  One day he went to offer incense at the Tai-An Temple and caught sight of a painting hanging on the wall. He asked a monk: "Who is that person in the painting?"  The monk answered: "That is a real portrait of an eminent monk." P'ei-Hsiu observed: "This real portrait is worth seeing, but where is the eminent monk?"

The monk could not answer him, but just at that moment Ch'an Master Huang-po (Hsi-Yun) arrived. The Prime Minister said: "I accidentally have a question to ask you since this virtuous monk here is reluctant to answer me. Can you please answer for him?" The master responded: "What is your question, please?" The Prime Minister again asked his question, as before. The master shouted loudly: "P'ei-Hsiu!" The Prime Minister answered: "Yes!" Then the master asked: "Where are you?" The Prime Minister was suddenly enlightened, discovering the pearl on his own forehead. Then he invited the master to come to his residence, and very respectfully and piously took the Three Refuges with him, becoming the master's disciple. Thereafter, he wrote a gatha in praise of the master:

Since the transmission of Mind by the Mahasattva,
The seven-foot giant with a bright pearl on his forehead
Stayed in Shu-Shui (Szechwan) for ten years,
Only just today crossing the Chang-Pin River by cup.
A thousand disciples and great saints follow him,
Strewing ten thousand miles with flowers to celebrate him.

I wish to become a disciple and servant to this Master,
Even though I do not know to whom he'll transmit Dharma.

Since that time both students and teachers have had mutual qualifications and interactions regarding the study of Tao. P'ei-Hsiu wished to hear the profound meaning, to record Huang-po's words in a work entitled The Dharma of Mind Transmission, and to write the preface himself. However, a meddler was to publish this book later in the T'ang Dynasty. Afterwards, it was taken to Japan and circulated widely. Once the Provincial Governor of Yueh-Chow, an almsgiver with a firm determination to study Buddhist scriptures, read this book during his spare time from official business. Thereafter, he asked me about the Essence-of-Mind Dharma very often. I sincerely advised him to devote himself to the practice of concentrating his mind. He was successful, so he contributed some money to the re-printing of the T'ang Dynasty edition and sincerely wished that all people in the country who had not come to believe in Ch'an might come to understand their Original Mind. Originally everyone has the same source of great light that penetrates and radiates brilliantly and universally in modern times even as it did in ancient times, just like that lamp of inexhaustible light spoken of long ago by Vimalakirti at the city of Vaisali.

An almsgiver has asked me to write this postscript, even though one might mock it as being superfluous.

Sramana Da-Hsiu Cheng-Nien
Vihara of Six Stores
Sung Dynasty
The Year of Hung-An Kuei-Wei

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