The Lighthouse in the Ocean of Chan


Chapter 09
Chan Attainment in Terms of the Measure of Realization

Table of Contents

Section 1. Measures of Realization Displayed According to Statements in Koans

Section 2. Measures of Realization Displayed According to Prophecies and Master-Disciple Relationships in Lineages

Section 3. Measures of Realization Displayed According to Signs of Liberation through Death

Since ancient time the style of Chan School has left out mentioning of positions of attainment, let alone mentioning the measure of realization. This is indeed an important precept in the attainment of directly speechless, non-introspecting, and spotless clarity. On the path of practice, if there is a thought about supernormal powers, then a clubbing is due. From the koans, Grandma Jing Shan invited three Chan practitioners into a room for tea. Three cups of tea were offered on a tray; before passing the cups she asked first, "Having supernormal powers, then drink." The three monks had no reply because they had already been confused by the words "supernormal powers." Grandma poured tea out from the cups and then exited. Then were Jian Min there at the seats, first drank it, having pissed right facing the gate, then went; definitely had consumed it already. Yet now Jian Min brings up the subject of "Chan attainment in terms of the measure of realization" for discussion, should not this also be reproached by great masters? Remember that Yin Feng once flew in the sky to mediate two sides at war, then considered displaying supernormal powers as having disgraced the traditional style of Chan School, right away entered into Nirvana. Rather use body to teach people to be plain and solid, than to employ supernormal powers to dazzle people's eyes. How solemn and worthy of respect! How would I here dare to ruin the style of my ancestors, and yet to shoot off my mouth? Again, he died standing upside down, with clothing still staying in the usual manner; nobody could push him down. Only his sister reproached him according to reason, blamed him for using supernormal powers to delude the multitude, and hence brought it down with one push. Not that his sister had extraordinary strength, but that she criticized him at the vulnerable spot, hit at his crucial point, and her view implicitly agrees with the style of the patriarchs; therefore, could pushed him down like this. Yet now I want to advocate extensively; isn't it against the intention of the patriarchs, deteriorating the style of the School? However, those koans were very correct at the time; nowadays during the last period of the Dharma, there is yet the need to transform. Last years degenerates of Chan school, having familiarized some oily tune and slippery tone, consider firewood moving and water carrying as nothing but supernormal powers, would use this as a tool to dodge the fact that they lack real quest and true comprehension. Now in order to advocate real quest and true comprehension, first of all should the meritorious tracks of the ancestors be commended, and to tear up the pretentious masks of arrogant Chan people, then there is the need to expound Chan attainment in terms of the measure of realization. Therefore, readers should know that in subjective Chan attainment, there should not establish aspiration or thoughts of going after supernormal powers or evaluating stages of realization; and yet in objective recognition, also should know that there are such matters. The ancients said, "Need to reach such field to pass." Ultimately the so called field, besides the right attainment which is realized by one's mind, yields additional supernormal powers as the measure of realization which might as well be talked about.

Section 1. Measures of Realization Displayed According to Statements in Koans

In the koans it is frequently seen that there are so called "white ox on open ground, shining bright, completely naked, undressedly clean, silver bowl containing snow," etc. This clearly is to indicate the phenomenon of bright emptiness at the stage of entrance. The so called "open-eyed napping" clearly is the phenomenon of absence of thoughts in meditation for a novice practitioner. "The east wall hits the west wall; the bridge flows but not the water" are states leading to the stage of use. I have experienced these states myself. I dare to guarantee to the readers that they are not verbal Chan theories, should not be taken as statements, nor as opportune sharp responses, nor as Hua Tou's. Once indeed attained, naturally present as the measure of immediate experience. Once while in Si Chuan I met a Chan practitioner, I asked him, "What is said to be 'the east wall hits the west wall'?" He said, "Wait till you experience 'the south wall hits the north wall,' then tell you." This answer of his, of course, was a routine tactic, passed down from ancestors, of the Chan School. Nevertheless, I did not believe that he was one who had experienced it, and left it with a smile. Suppose someone asks me, if I don't know whether he is vacuous or solid, I myself should first feel ashamed inside, then should tell him that it is irrelevant to talk about food or count treasures, life and death could only be finished by oneself. This is the teacher's measure of realization, but none of your business. Compared with other oily tunes and slippery tones, confusing for a while, isn't this better?

Section 2. Measures of Realization Displayed According to Prophecies and Master-Disciple Relationships in Lineages

The following prophecies are praised by everyone:

Walking on the path, cross water then encounter a beam.
Singly in sadness, stealthily cross the river.
After sunset, pitiful are the couples of elephants and horses.
Two tender laurels will remain prosperous for long.

One flower opens with five petals.

Providing parents above the head,
In the mouth need to eat;
Encounter the disaster of Man,
Willow becomes an official.

One horse at the foot of the South Mountain (Nan Yue),
Will trample to death all people under the sky.

Other prophecies are, e.g., Yan Tou's prediction that De Shan would still have three years to live, and Bo Nie's forecast of major events of the world, which is still in circulation up to now.

As to among master-disciple relationships, Lin Ji was beaten at three occasions by Huang Bo but could not comprehend. Due to a request from the Supreme Seat, Lin Ji was instructed to visit Da Yu, where Lin Ji greatly comprehended upon hearing words. Were Huang Bo unable to observe where Lin Ji's causal relations lay, even if Huang Bo beat Lin Ji ten or hundred times, Lin Ji would not have comprehended. Chu Nan called on Fu Rong. Fu Rong knew it right at first sight and said, "I am not your teacher; your teacher is Huang Bo." Hui Ri wished Ling Guan to be the teacher; Ling said, "I am not your teacher; your teacher is Da An." Da An, upon seeing Hui Ri, immediately ordered him to go to the Nirvana Hall. At the time there were five hundred monks in the hall, all infected with some epidemic. Using a cane, Hui Ri touched them one by one and cured them. Had he no supernormal powers and some measures of realization, how could it have been effectual? Dan Xia visited Ma Zu, supporting the turban at the forehead by hand. Ma Zu looked at him for a long while, then said, "Shi Tou of Nan Yue is your teacher." Dao Wu introduced Shan Hui to Chuan Zi, thereupon he greatly and thoroughly comprehended. Chuan Zi entered the water to pass away, so as to guarantee it. Could this be accomplished by ordinary people? Nowadays many are those who are eager to be others' teachers, but few can discern the propensity of disciples. How sad! How painful!

Section 3. Measures of Realization Displayed According to Signs of Liberation through Death

No need to mention the Indian patriarchs whose displays such as, before entering Nirvana, jumped into the sky and exhibited eighteen transformations, fire and light Samadhi, and innumerable sariras, were as common place as ordinary home-cooking, and so often witnessed that they were no longer rare. In China, Bodhidharma returned to India wearing only one shoe, as seen by Song Yun with his own eyes. Verified it through his coffin, there remained only one shoe and the evidences matched. Thereafter, the second patriarch, white blood spurting into the sky. The third patriarch passed away standing under a tree. The fourth patriarch passed away sitting; the next year his complexion looked as alive. The fresh body of the sixth patriarch still remains even now. Yin Feng passed away standing upside down, with clothing still staying in the usual manner; nobody could push him down. Shen Zan rang bell to assemble the congregation, and, through the Samadhi of non-born, entered Nirvana right in front of the gathering. Pu Hua flew upwards, and the sound of his hand bell could still be heard in the sky. Jing Tong bade farewell to all his patrons; atop a pile of firewood he held a candle himself to start the fire; wearing a conical bamboo hat, he drew a circular form; holding a cane in a demon-conquering posture, he passed away standing in the flame. Zhi Xian walked six or seven steps, let his hands go loose directly to the front and passed away. Dan Xia wore a conical bamboo hat, pressed on a cane, put on shoes, lowered one leg and passed away before it touched the ground. Liang Jia had passed away; the congregation wept, he resurrected and stayed alive for eight more days to provide a Feast for the Ignorant. Yan Tou made one loud roar and thereupon passed away. Yu An bathed, then entered a coffin. Three days later, the disciples opened the coffin. He got up again, reproached them, then entered again and passed away. Marvelous were the passing away of the patriarchs! Therefore, an appellation of a Buddha is Sugata - the Well Departed.

Since Yuan and Ming Dynasties very few could attain liberation through death in such manners. The main reason is the lacking of a profoundly firm grasp on the mind of renunciation. Down to the present day, arrogant practitioners are excessively many, real comprehension even much less; therefore, there is the necessity to advocate renunciation and exhibit the measure of realization. In the next chapter, "A Frank and Sincere Talk on Chan," this will be commented on again in an unsparingly critical manner and to the point.

As I was writing up to this point, suddenly the earth quaked. The whole house moved upwards several times; thought that this phenomenon indicated that the earth god was pleased to the extent of jumping up and down! Were Teacher Wang here, definitely would consume one more portion of rice toward the earth god. As to me, then what a pity that long since already no longer dreamed of Teacher Wang!

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