Resources

Help


Treasury of the Eye of the True Dharma
Book 73
Penetration of Other Minds
(Tashin tsû)

 

The National Teacher [Dazheng] Huizhong [d. 775 C.E], of the Guangzhai monastery in the Western Capital [Changan], was a native of Zhuji in the province of Yue [modern Zhejiang]; his family name was Ran. After receiving the mind seal [of enlightenment from the Sixth Ancestor], he stayed at Dangzi Valley, Mount Baiyai, in Nanyang [modern Henan], where for more than forty years he never descended from his monastery. Word of his practice of the way reached the imperial seat, and in the second year of the Shangyuan era [761], the Tang Emperor Suzong [r. 756-762] dispatched an imperial commissioner, Sun Zhaojin, to summon him to the capital. There he was received [by the emperor] with the etiquette due a teacher and installed in the Xichan Cloister of the Qianfu Monastery. Upon the ascension of the Emperor Daizong [r. 762-779], he was reinstalled in the Guangzhai monastic complex, where for sixteen years he taught the dharma in accord with the faculties of his audiences.

During this time, a certain Tripitaka Master from the Western Heavens [i.e., India] named Daer ["Big Ears"] arrived in the capital. He was said to have achieved the wisdom eye [that knows] the minds of others. The Emperor ordered the National Teacher [Huizhong] to test him. As soon as the Tripitaka Master saw the Teacher, he bowed and stood [respectfully] off to his right side.

The Teacher asked him, "So, you've got the penetration of other minds?"
"Not really," he answered.
"Tell me," said the Teacher, "where's this old monk right now?"
The Tripitaka Master said, "Reverend Preceptor, you're the teacher to a nation; how could you go off to Xichuan to watch the boat races?"
The Teacher asked again, "Tell me, where's this old monk right now?"
The Tripitaka Master said, "Reverend Preceptor, you're the teacher to a nation; how could you be on the T'ianjin bridge watching the playing monkeys?"
The Teacher asked a third time, "Tell me, where's this old monk right now?"
The Tripitaka Master said nothing for a while, not knowing where the Teacher had gone.
The Teacher said, "This fox spirit! Where's his penetration of other minds?"
The Tripitaka Master had no response.

* * * * *

A monk asked Zhaozhou [778-897], "I don't understand why the Tripitaka Master Daer couldn't see where the National Teacher was the third time. Where was the National Master?"
Zhaozhou said, "He was on the Tripitaka Master's nose."

* * * * *

A monk asked Xuansha [835-908], "If he was on his nose, why didn't he see him?"
Xuansha said, "Because he was too close."

* * * * *

A monk asked Yangshan [803-887], "Why didn't the Tripitaka Master Daer see the National Teacher the third time?"
Yangshan said, "The first two times were 'the mind that plays across objects.' After that, he entered 'the samâdhi of personal enjoyment'; that's why he didn't see him."1

* * * * *

Duan of Haihui [1025-1072] said, "If the National Teacher was on the Tripitaka Master's nose, why would it be hard to see him? He is completely unaware that the National Teacher was in the Tripitaka Master's eye."2

* * * * *

Xuansha summoned the Tripitaka Master, saying, "Tell me, did you in fact see the first two times?"
[Of this,] the Chan Master Mingjue Zhongxian of Xuedou [980-1052] said, "Defeated! Defeated!"3

* * * * *

From long ago there have been many "stinking fists" who offered comments and sayings on the case of the National Teacher Dazheng testing the Tripitaka Master Daer, but in particular we have these five "old fists." Nevertheless, while it is not the case that each of these five venerable worthies is not "on the mark, right on the mark," there is much in the conduct of the National Teacher that they do not see. The reason is that until now everyone has thought that the Tripitaka Master correctly knew the whereabouts of the National Teacher the first two times. This is a major error by our predecessors -- one that their successors should not fail to recognize. My doubts about these five venerable worthies are of two sorts: first, that they do not know the National Teacher's basic intention in testing the Tripitaka Master; second, that they do not know the National Teacher's body and mind.

When I say that they do not know the National Teacher's basic intention in testing the Tripitaka Master, I mean this: that his basic intention in initially saying, "Tell me, where's this old monk right now?" is to test whether the Tripitaka Master is an eye to see the buddha dharma -- to test whether the Tripitaka Master has the penetration of other minds in the buddha dharma. If at that point the Tripitaka Master had the buddha dharma, when he is asked to express "Where's this old monk right now?" he would have some "way out of the body," would bring about some "personal advantage." The National Teacher's saying, "Where's this old monk right now?" is like his asking, "What is this old monk?" [To say,] "Where's this old monk right now?" is to ask, "What time is right now?" [To ask,] "Where?" is to say, "Where is here?" There is a reason [to ask] what to call this old monk: a national teacher is not always an "old monk"; an "old monk" is always a "fist." That the Tripitaka Master Daer, though he came all the way from the Western Heavens, does not understand this is because he has not studied the way of the buddha, because he has only learned in vain the ways of the pagans and the Two Vehicles.

The National Teacher asks again, "Tell me, where's this old monk right now?" Here again, the Tripitaka Master offers worthless words.

Again, the National Teacher asks, "Tell me, where's this old monk right now?" This time, the Tripitaka Master is silent for a while but is at a loss and has no reply. Then, the National Teacher rebukes him, saying, "This fox spirit! Where's his penetration of other minds?" Yet, though he is thus rebuked, the Tripitaka Master still has nothing to say, no reply, no "penetrating passageway."

Yet our predecessors all think that the National Teacher's rebuke of the Tripitaka Master is only because, although he knows the National Teacher's whereabouts the first two times, he does not know and cannot see [where the Teacher is] the third time. This is a big mistake. The National Teacher rebukes the Tripitaka Master because from the beginning the Tripitaka Master has never seen the buddha dharma even in his dreams, not because, although he knows the first two times, he does not know the third time. In short, he rebukes him because, while claiming to have attained the penetration of other minds, he does not know the penetration of other minds.

First, the National Teacher tests him by asking whether there is the penetration of other minds in the buddha dharma. He answers, "Not really," suggesting that there is. Thereafter, the National Teacher thought, "If we say there is the penetration of other minds in the buddha dharma, if we attribute this penetration to the buddha dharma, it would be like this. A statement with nothing brought up is not the buddha dharma."4 Even if the Tripitaka Master had something to say the third time, if it were like the first two times, it would not be a statement; he would be rebuked for all [three answers]. The National Teacher questions him three times in order to ask again and again whether the Tripitaka Master has really heard the National Teacher's question.

* * * * *

My second point is that none of our predecessors have known the body and mind of the National Teacher. The body and mind of the National Teacher is not something that a Tripitaka dharma master can easily discern, can easily recognize; not something reached by the "ten holy and three wise"; not something understood by the "virtually enlightened and heir apparent." How could a scholar of the Tripitaka who is a "commoner" know the full body of the National Teacher?5

We should get this principle fixed [in our minds]. To say that a scholar of the Tripitaka could know or could see the body and mind of the National Teacher is to slander the buddha dharma; to consider that [the National Teacher] stands shoulder to shoulder with the masters of the sutras and commentaries is the extreme of madness. Do not think that those types who seek to get the penetration of other minds can know the whereabouts of the National Teacher.

The penetration of other minds is a local custom of the country of the Western Heavens, and there are occasionally types there who cultivate it. We have never yet heard of edifying examples of the types who attain the penetration of other minds having verified the buddha dharma on the strength of their penetration of other minds, without depending on the production of the thought of bodhi and the right view of the Greater Vehicle.6 Even after cultivating the penetration of other minds, they must, like "commoners." go on to produce the thought [of bodhi] and cultivate the practice, and thereby themselves verify the way of the buddha. If one could recognize the way of the buddha simply on the strength of the penetration of other minds, all the holy men of the past would have first cultivated this penetration and used it to know the fruit of buddhahood; yet this has never happened in all the appearances in the world of a thousand buddhas and ten thousand ancestors. If it cannot know the way of the buddhas and ancestors, what good is it? It is useless to the way of the buddha.

Those who have attained the penetration of other minds and "commoners" who have not attained the penetration of other minds are equal; maintaining the buddha nature is the same for [those with] the penetration of other minds and "commoners." Those who study the buddha [dharma] should not think that those with the five penetrations or the six penetrations of the way of the pagans and Two Vehicles are superior to the commoner. Those who simply have the mind of the way and who would study the buddha dharma are superior to those with the five or six penetrations. They are like the kalavinka, whose voice even inside the shell is superior to that of other birds.

Moreover, what is called in the Western Heavens the penetration of other minds ought to be called the penetration of others' thoughts. While it may manage to be cognizant of the arising of thoughts, it is quite at a loss when thoughts have not arisen. This is laughable. The mind is not necessarily thoughts; thoughts are not necessarily the mind. When the mind is thoughts, the penetration of other minds cannot know this; when thoughts are the mind, the penetration of other minds cannot know this.

This being the case, the five penetrations or six penetrations of the Western Heavens are all quite useless, not the equal of "cutting the grasses and cultivating the paddies" in our country. Therefore, from Cînasthâna [i.e., China] to the east, the worthies of the past have not cared to cultivate the five penetrations or six penetrations, since they have no function. Even a "one-foot jewel" is functional, but the five or six penetrations have no function. A one-foot jewel is not a treasure, but an "inch of shadow" is pivotal. For those who take seriously that inch of shadow, who would cultivate the five or six penetrations?7 Thus we should be very firmly determined about the principle that the power of the penetration of other minds cannot reach the boundaries of the buddha wisdom.

To think nevertheless, as do our five venerable worthies, that the Tripitaka Master knew the whereabouts of the National Teacher the first two times he was asked is greatly mistaken. The National Teacher is a buddha and ancestor; the Tripitaka Master is a commoner. How could there be any question of his seeing [Dazheng]?

* * * * *

First, the National Teacher asks, "Tell me, where,s this old monk right now?" There is nothing hidden in this question; it is a clear statement. That the Tripitaka Master might not understand it is not so bad; that the five venerable worthies do not hear it or see it is a serious mistake. [The text says] the National Teacher asked, "Where's this old monk right now?" He does not say, "Tell me, where's this old monk's mind right now?" or "Where are this old monk's thoughts right now?" This is a statement that we should definitely hear and understand, see and take to heart.

Nevertheless, [the five venerable worthies] do not know or see it; they do not hear or see the National Teacher' statement. Therefore, they do not know the body and mind of the National Teacher; for it is having a statement that makes [him] a national teacher; for without a statement he would not be a national teacher. How much less, then, can [they] understand that the body and mind of the National Teacher are not big or small, self or other. It is as if [they] have forgotten that [he] has a head or a nose.8

Though the [spiritual] conduct of the National Teacher be unceasing, how could he "figure to make a buddha"? Therefore, he should not be compared with a buddha. Since the National Teacher has the body and mind of the buddha dharma, we should not measure him by the practice and verification of the spiritual penetrations, we should not hem and haw over [the notion that he is in a trance state of] "severing considerations and forgetting objects." [He] is not something that can be determined either by deliberating or not deliberating. The National Teacher is not one who has the buddha nature or one who lacks the buddha nature; his is not the [buddha's ultimate] "body of empty space." This kind of body and mind of the National Teacher is something entirely unknown [to any of the five venerable worthies]. In the community of [the Sixth Ancestor at] Caoxi, apart from Chingyuan [Xingsi] and Nanyue [Huairang], only this National Teacher Dazheng was a buddha and ancestor.

Now we need to examine all our five venerable worthies.

* * * * *

Zhaozhou says that [the Tripitaka Master] did not see the National Teacher because the latter was "on his nose." This statement has nothing to say. How could the National Teacher be on the Tripitaka Master's nose? The Tripitaka Master does not yet have a nose. If we admit that the Tripitaka Master does have a nose, then, on the contrary, the National Teacher should see him. Even if we admit that the National Teacher does see him, this would only mean that they are "nose to nose"; it would not mean that the Tripitaka Master sees the National Teacher.

* * * * *

Xuansha says, "Because he was too close." To be sure, he may be "too close"; but as for hitting it, he still has not hit it. What is this "too close"? I suspect that Xuansha still does not understand "too close," has not studied "too close." I say this because he understands only that there is no seeing in "too close"; he does not understand that seeing is "too close." We have to say that, in terms of the Buddha dharma, he is the "farthest of the far." If we say it was too close only the third time, then it must have been "too far" the first two times. Now, I want to ask Xuansha, "What is it that you call 'too close'? Is it a fist ? Is it an eye? From now on, don't say there's nothing seen 'too close.'"

* * * * *

Yangshan says, "The first two times were 'the mind that plays across objects.' After that, he entered 'the samâdhi of personal enjoyment' [of enlightenment]; that's why he didn't see him." Yangshan, while being from the Eastern Earth [China], you have a reputation in the Western Heavens as a little Sâkyamuni, but your statement here has a big error. The mind that plays across objects and the samâdhi of personal enjoyment are not different; hence, we cannot say that [the Tripitaka Master] does not see him by reason of some difference between the mind that plays across objects and personal enjoyment. Therefore, though you set up the mind that plays across objects and personal enjoyment as the reasons, your statement is still no statement. If you say that when I enter the samâdhi of personal enjoyment, others cannot see me, then personal enjoyment would not be able to verify itself, and there could be no cultivation and verification of it.

Yangshan, if you think that the Tripitaka Master really saw the National Teacher's whereabouts the first two times, if you study [this case] as if he really knew [the whereabouts], you are not yet a man who studies the buddha [dharma]. The Tripitaka Master Daer does not know or see the whereabouts of the National Teacher not only the third time but the first two times as well. From a saying like this, we have to say that it is not just the Tripitaka Master who does not know the National Teacher's whereabouts; Yangshan does not yet know either. Let us ask Yangshan, "Where is the National Teacher right now?" If he thinks to open his mouth, we should give him a shout.

* * * * *

Xuansha summoned [the Tripitaka Master], saying, "Did you in fact see the first two times?" These words, "Did you in fact see the first two times?" sound as if they are saying what needs to be said. Xuansha should learn from his own words. Granted that this phrase has its value, it seems to be saying only that [the Tripitaka Master's] seeing is like not seeing. Hence, it is not right. Hearing this, Zhongxian, the Chan Master Mingjue of Mount Xuedou, said, "Defeated! Defeated!". We may say this when we have taken what Xuansha says as a saying but not when we take Xuansha's saying as not a saying.9

* * * * *

Duan of Haihui says, "If the National Teacher was on the Tripitaka Master's nose, why would it be hard to see him? He is completely unaware that the National Teacher was in the Tripitaka Master's eye." This also only discusses the third time. It does not scoff, as it should scoff, at the fact that he never sees the first two times. How can [Duan] know whether the National Teacher is on his nose or in his eye? If this is what he says, we have to say that he has not heard the words of the National Teacher. The Tripitaka Master does not yet have a nose or eye. Even if we were to say that he does maintain eye and nose, if the National Teacher were to enter them, the Tripitaka Master's nose and eye would burst on the spot. Since they would burst, they are no burrow for the National Teacher.

* * * * *

None of the five venerable worthies knows the National Teacher. The National Teacher is the old buddha of his age, the tathâgata of his world. He clarified and correctly transmitted the "treasury of the eye of the true dharma" of the buddha; he surely maintained the "eye of the soapberry" [the seeds of which are used for the Buddhist rosary]. He correctly transmitted [this eye] to "his own buddhahood" and to the "buddhahood of others." Though we may say that he has studied together with the Buddha Sâkyamuni, he studied at the same time as the seven buddhas [of which Sâkyamuni is the last] and, in addition, has studied together with the buddhas of the three ages [of past, present, and future]. He realized the way before the King of Emptiness [who rules in the eon when all is reduced to emptiness]; he realized the way after the King of Emptiness; he practiced together and realized the way precisely with the Buddha King of Emptiness. Though we may say that of course the National Teacher made this Sahâ world [of the Buddha Sâkyamuni] his domain, Sahâ is not necessarily within the dharma realm; it is not within the entire world of the ten directions. The rulership of the Buddha Sâkyamuni over the Sahâ domain does not usurp or obstruct the National Teacher's domain. Similarly, for example, however many times the way is realized by each of the earlier and later buddhas and ancestors, they do not usurp or obstruct each other. This is the case because all the realizations of the way by the earlier and later buddhas and ancestors are "obstructed" by the realization of the way.10

* * * * *

From the evidence that the Tripitaka Master Daer does not know [the whereabouts of] the National Teacher, we should get clearly and firmly fixed [in our minds] the principle that the srâvakas and pratyeka-buddhas, the Lesser Vehicle types, do not know the boundaries of the buddhas and ancestors. We should clarify and study the essential point of the National Teacher's rebuke of the Tripitaka Master. It does not make sense that, although being the National Teacher, he would rebuke [the Tripitaka Master] for knowing his whereabouts the first two times and merely failing to know the third time: [for purposes of the test of his powers] knowing two parts out of three is knowing it all, in which case [the National Teacher] should not rebuke him. Even if he does rebuke him, it would not be for failing to know at all; hence, from the Tripitaka Master's perspective, it would be the National Teacher who is humiliated [by the test]. Who would trust the National Teacher if he rebuked [the Tripitaka Master] for failing to know only the third time? The Tripitaka Master could have rebuked the National Teacher, on the grounds that he did have the power to know the first two times.

The point of the National Teacher's rebuke of the Tripitaka Master is this: he rebukes him because from the beginning, throughout all three times, he does not know the National Teacher's whereabouts, his thoughts, his body and mind; he rebukes him because he has never seen, heard, learned or studied the buddha dharma. It is because of this essential point that, from the first time to the third time, [the National Teacher] questions him with exactly the same words. To the first [question] the Tripitaka Master says, "Reverend Preceptor, you are the teacher to a nation; how could you go off to Xichuan to watch the boat races?" The National Teacher does not acknowledge [the answer] by saying, "Indeed you did know where this old monk was." He simply repeats himself, asking the same question three times. Without understanding or clarifying the reason behind this, for several hundred years since the time of the National Teacher, the elders in all directions have been arbitrarily giving their comments and explaining the reasons [behind the story]. Nothing that any has said so far has been the original intention of the National Teacher or in accord with the essential point of the buddha dharma. What a pity that each of these "venerable old awls" one after the next has missed [the mark].

In the buddha dharma, if we are going to say that there is the penetration of other minds, there should be the penetration of other bodies, the penetration of other fists, the penetration of other eyes. If this is so, there should also be the penetration of one's own mind, the penetration of one's own body. And once this is the case, one's own mind taking up itself is at once the penetration of one's own mind. To express such a statement is the penetration of other minds as one's own mind itself. Let me just ask, "Should we take up the penetration of other minds, or should we take up the penetration of one's own mind? Speak up! Speak up!" Leaving that aside for the moment, "you got my marrow" -- this is the penetration of other minds.11

 

Treasury of the Eye of the True Dharma
Presented to the assembly fourth day of the seventh month of kinotomi, the third year of Kangen [1245]
at the Daibutsu monastery in the province of Etsu.