Chan Buddhism
The Meditation School


 
 
The World-Honored One spoke: “I possess the True Dharma Eye, the Marvelous Mind of Nirvana, the True Form of the Formless, the Subtle Dharma Gate that does not rest on words or letters but is a special transmission outside of the scriptures. This I entrust to Mahakasyapa.” [Zen Buddhism: A History, 9; cf. The Gateless Gate, Case 6]
 
 
Bodhidharma (c. 470-543)
The 28th (Indian)/1st (Chinese) Patriarch
 
A special transmission outside the scriptures,
Not founded on words and letters.
Directly pointing to a person’s mind,
One sees one’s nature and becomes a Buddha.
[Translated by Brian Hoffert;
cf. Buddhism: Introducing the Buddhist Experience, 244
]
 
 
 
 
Bodhidharma sat in zazen facing the wall. The Second Patriarch, who had been standing in the snow, cut off his arm and said, “Your disciples mind is not yet at peace. I beg you, my teacher, please give it peace.” Bodhidharma said, “Bring the mind to me, and I will set it at rest.” The Second Patriarch said, “I have searched for the mind, and it is finally unattainable.” Bodhidharma said, “I have thoroughly set it at rest for you.” [Zen Buddhism: A History, 92]
 
 
Huineng (638-713)
The Platform Sutra of the 6th Patriarch
Unexpectedly one day the Fifth Patriach called his disciples to come, and when they had assembled, he said, ‘Let me preach to you. For people in this world birth and death are vital matters. You disciples make offering all day long and seek only the field of blessings, but you do not seek to escape from the bitter sea of birth and death. Your own self-nature obscures the gateway to blessings; how can you be saved? All of you return to your rooms and look into yourselves. Men of wisdom will of themselves grasp the original nature of their prajna intuition. Each of you write a verse and bring it to me. I will read your verses and if there is one who has awakened to the cardinal meaning, I will give him the robe and the Dharma and make him the sixth Patriarch. Hurry, hurry!’ [Original Buddhist Sources, 289]
 
Shenxiu’s Poem
Our body is the bodhi tree,
Our mind a mirror bright.
Always strive to polish it,
And let no dust alight.
[translated by Brian Hoffert, CBETA; cf. BIBE, 246-7]
 



Huineng’s Poem
Originally no bodhi tree,
Nor stand of a mirror bright.
Buddha Nature is always pristine,
So where can the dust alight.
[translated by Brian Hoffert, CBETA; cf. BIBE, 247]
 
 
Huineng’s Admonition
Tao must be something that circulates freely; why should he [the deluded person] impede it? If the mind does not abide in things, the Tao circulates freely; if the mind abides in things, it becomes entangled. [OBS, 294]