Extracted from the Transmission of the Lamp
|Richard Hunn Association for Ch'an Study (UK)||
Master Xu Yun (1840-1959) inherited all Five Ch’an School in China. Although Japanese and US scholarship often claim that Chinese Buddhism ‘died-out’ - and was re-imported from Japan – this is untrue and a product of bias and incomplete knowledge. Certainly, Master Xu Yun would not have agreed with this assumption. All the lineages of Chinese Buddhism have continued to survive through thick and thin as the forces of Chinese history have ebbed and flowed. When conditions are appropriate, the various lineages have become ‘public’, popular and well-known, but when conditions have changed, then these lineages have withdrawn into the background and become ‘private’ transmissions away from the public gaze. Regardless of whether a lineage was ‘private’ or ‘public’ - Master Xu Yun was sought-out to carry the Dharma forward – such was the purity of his being. He lived for two full cycles of the Chinese Zodiac (60-years X 2) because of his shining virtue. He inherited and passed-on many lineages of Buddhism – far more than within the Ch’an School – but his personal lineage was that of the Cao Dong School. This is the lineage he personally inherited from Master Miao Lian (1824-1907) and the lineage he was instructed to personally transmit to a special ‘inner’ lineage of lay and monastic practitioners. The Cao Dong lineage was the path that he personally preferred amongst all the others that he was an expert in understanding and teaching. The robe of the Cao Dong School is ‘black’ and on special occasions Master Xu Yun would swap his patch-work robe for the his carefully looked-after Cao Dong robe (pictured above). Master Caoshan (840-901) - the disciple of Master Dongshan (807–869) [the Founder of the ‘Cao Dong’ School] - visited the Temple of the Sixth Patriarch Hui Neng situated in the Caoxi area of Guangdong province (in Southern China). He then re-named the mountain he settled on (in the Fuzhou area of Fujian province) as ‘Caoshan’ in honour of the memory of Master Hui Neng. This is because the Cao Dong lineage flows all the way back to Hui Neng and is directly linked to his body which still sits upright in meditation in China today. ALL advanced Cao Dong must master the ability of passing from this life in the manner of Hui Neng.
A monk asked Master Dongshan: “The Venerable Sir is unwell but is there anyone who is never ill?” The master replied: “Yes, there is.” The monk asked: “Does the one who is never ill still look at you?” The master replied: “(On the contrary,) the lot falls on this old monk to look at him.” The monk asked: “How does the Venerable Master look at him?” The master replied: “When the old monk looks at him, he does not see any illness.” The master then asked the monk: “When you leave this leaking shell, where will you go to meet me?” The monk could not reply... After saying this, he ordered his head to be shaved and (his body) bathed, after which he put on a robe and struck the bell to bid farewell to the community. As he sat down and passed away, the monks wept sadly without interruption. Suddenly, he opened his eyes and said: “Leavers of homes should be mindless of externals; this is true practice. What is the use of being anxious for life and death?” The master then ordered a stupidity-purifying mal and seeing that his disciples were strongly attached to him, he postponed (his death) for seven days. (On the last day,) he entered the dining hall behind his disciples and after taking food, said: “I am all right; when I am about to leave, you should all keep quiet.” Then he returned to the abbot’s room where sat cross-legged and passed away.
A monk asked the Master Caoshan: “Every part of my body is sick; will you please cure me?” The master replied: “I will not.” The monk asked: “Why not?” The master replied: “It is impossible to teach you how to live and die.” The monk asked: “Does the master not have great compassion (for other people)?” The master replied: “Yes, he has.” The monk asked: “What should one do when all the six robbers come suddenly? The master replied: “One should also have great compassion.” The monk asked: “How to have a great compassion?” The master replied: “All should be cut down at one stroke by the sword.” The monk asked: “What next after (the sword has) cut them all down?” The master replied: “The realisation of sameness will then be realised.” After saying this, he burned incense sticks, sat (cross-legged) and passed away in his sixty-second year and at his dharma-age of thirty-seven.
Extracted from the Transmission of the Lamp
'A monk asked, "What is upright listening? Xita replied, "It doesn't enter through your ear." Xita said, "How can that be?" Xita said, "Do you hear it?" Transmission of the Lamp
‘Now, as revealed in the original study, Buddha's fundamental teachings are clear, simple, and show the closest harmony to modern thought. There is no room for debate that Buddhism is the most transparent feat of intelligence known in the history of the world.’ (H. G. Wells)
‘’When Sansheng was at Xuefeng’s, he heard Xuefeng give a teaching that “all persons without exception have an ancient mirror. This monkey has an ancient mirror.” Sansheng stepped forth and said, “For endless kalpas it has been nameless. Why does the Master propose it to be an ancient mirror?” Xuefeng said, “It’s because of defective existence.” Sansheng said, “As for me, I don’t see where you came up with this.” Xuefeng said, ‘My mistake! I have many duties as Abbot.’ Transmission of the Lamp