Treasury of the Eye of
the True Dharma
Penetration of Other Minds
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 , 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
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
* * * * *
[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
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
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
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
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
* * * * *
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
* * * * *
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 
at the Daibutsu monastery in the province of Etsu.