Saturday, March 10, 2018

Hui-neng and Chih-ch'eng

40. Master Shen-hsiu often heard people say that Hui-neng's teaching was fast and pointed straight to the path. So Shen-hsiu told his disciple Chih-ch'eng, "You're intelligent and perceptive. Go to Hui-neng's place on Tsaohsi Mountain for me and pay your respects, but just listen. Don't say I sent you. When you hear something important, make a note of it and come back and tell me.We'll see whose understanding is fast or slow, mine or Hui-neng's. And come back right away. Don't leave me hanging."

Chih-ch'eng gladly accepted the mission and left, and within half a month he reached Tsaohsi Mountain and met Master Hui-neng. After he paid his respects, he just listened and didn't say where he was from. But as soon as Chih-ch'eng heard the Master teach, he understood, and he grasped his original mind. He stood up and bowed and said, "Master, your disciple has come from Yuchuan Temple. At Shen-hsiu's place, I didn't experience any realization. But as soon as I heard the Master speak, I grasped my original mind. I hope the Master will be compassionate enough to instruct me."

Master Hui-neng said, "If that's where you're from, you must be a spy."

Chih-ch'eng said, "I'm not a spy."

The Sixth Patriarch said, "And why not?"

Chih-ch'eng said, "Before I spoke, I was. But now that I've spoken, I'm not."

The Sixth Patriarch said, "It's the same with 'affliction is enlightenment.'"

41. The Master told Chih-ch'eng, "I've heard that when your Chan master teaches people, he only gives instruction in morality, meditation, and wisdom. Tell me, what does your master teach people about morality, meditation, and wisdom?"

Chih-ch'eng said, "Concerning morality, meditation, and wisdom, Master Shen-hsiu says not committing evil is morality, doing good is wisdom, and purifying one's thoughts is meditation. This is what he means by 'morality, meditation, and wisdom.' This is his explanation. What is the Master's view?"

Hui-neng replied, "This explanation is wonderful, but my view is different."

Chih-ch'eng asked, "How is it different?"

Hui-neng replied, "Understanding can be fast or slow."

Chih-ch'eng then asked the Master to explain his view of morality, meditation, and wisdom.

The Master said, "Listen to my explanation, and you'll see how I view them. When the land of your mind is free of error, this is the morality of your nature. When the land of your mind is free of confusion, this is the meditation of your own nature. When the land of your mind is free of ignorance, this is the wisdom of your own nature."

The Master continued, "The morality, meditation, and wisdom of your master are intended for small-minded people. My morality, meditation, and wisdom are intended for people of bigger minds. Once people realize their own nature, they don't differentiate between morality, meditation and wisdom."

Chih-ch'eng said, "Could the Master please explain why they aren't differentiated?"

The Master said, "Our nature is free of error, free of confusion, and free of ignorance. Prajna shines in every thought and is forever free of attributes. What is there to differentiate? Our nature is something we cultivate directly. It doesn't have any intervening stages, so we don't differentiate any."

Chih-ch'eng bowed and did not leave Tsaohsi Mountain. He became a disciple and was never far from the Master's side.

~The Platform Sutra of Hui-neng

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