The Sixth Patriarch’s Dharma Jewel Platform Sutra

(Continued from issue #262)

I now speak the Dharma, like timely rain moistening the great earth. Your Buddha-nature is like the seeds which, receiving moisture, will sprout and grow. Those who abide by my teaching will surely obtain Bodhi and those who accord with my practice will certainly certify to wonderful fruition. Listen to my verse:

The mind-ground contains many seeds;
With timely rain, they sprout.
Flower and feeling~Sudden Enlightenment:
Fruition of Bodhi, naturally achieved.

After speaking the verse the Master said, "The Dharma is non-dual, so is the mind. The Way is pure and without marks. All of you take heed not to contemplate stillness or empty the mind. The mind is basically pure and does not grasp or reject anything. Each of you should work hard, accord with conditions and proceed well. " At that time, his followers made obeisance and withdrew.

I now speak the Dharma, like timely rain moistening the great earth. Timely rain falls just when the crops need water. When rain falls at a time when the crops do not need it, the crops are drowned. When rain does not fall when the crops need water, the crops wither and die. The Sixth Patriarch's Dharma is like the timely rain which moistens all of the great earth.

All of you have your inherent Buddha-nature. Like the seeds nourished by the timely rain, your inherent Buddha-nature will potentially mature into fruition of Bodhi. Those who understand my doctrine are certain to obtain Bodhi. Those who cultivate according to the method I taught will surely obtain the wonderful Bodhi-fruit. Now that I have spoken so much Dharma for you, you are probably all flustered. I will now paraphrase clearly what I have said in the form of a verse. Clear your mind and listen attentively.

Your mind-ground is your inherent nature. It stores all kinds of seeds. With the timely rain that nourished the seeds, they grow into Bodhi sprouts. Sentient beings suddenly enlighten, abruptly understood. Bearing the fruit, the flower opens; the flower opens, bearing the fruit. After the flower opens, the wonderful fruition of Bodhi is naturally accomplished.

Look! Patriarch Bodhidharma said, "The fruit comes to bear itself." And the Sixth Patriarch said, "The Bodhi fruit accomplishes itself." They were speaking of all of you who have the Dharma name "Gwo" (fruit). You should pervade throughout the world and attain Bodhi-fruition in every corner of the world. The Sixth Patriarch was afraid that you might not have understood and so he spoke clearly, "The Bodhi fruit accomplishes itself." You should all accomplish your own Bodhi-fruition. I cannot help you. If you don't accomplish your Bodhi-fruition, you are being self-defeating. See what a coincidence that your Dharma names all bear the word "fruit". In addition, our tradition also dwells on 'fruition', wonderfully stating: Contemplating and cultivating the ever-blissful fruition, personally transmitting the unconditioned teaching. In the future, all of you should personally transmit this unconditioned teaching.

The Master went on, "The Dharma Door of Sudden Teaching that I have spoken is non-dual. There is only one and there is no second one. What is the one? It is just the Sudden Teaching. The mind should also return to one. The Way that we cultivate is fundamentally pure and without marks. Although without marks, don't misunderstand and solely contemplate on stillness. If you only contemplate on stillness, it is just another attachment. Do not linger in insensate emptiness either. Why? The mind of living beings is inherently pure and undefiled, with nothing to grasp and nothing to reject. All of you should move forward with diligence. Do not be lazy. According with your causal conditions, go where circumstances take you and establish Bodhimandas. Cultivate well with vigor." At that time, thousands of disciples present made obeisance to the Sixth Patriarch and withdrew.

On the eighth day of the seventh month, the Master suddenly said to his disciples, "I wish to return to Xin Zhou. Quickly prepare a boat and oars."
The great assembly entreated him to stay, but the Master said, "All Buddhas appear in the world and then manifest Nirvana. With coming, there is going. It is the normal phenomenon. This body of mine must return to where it should."
The assembly said, "Master, you are leaving, but sooner or later you will return."
The Master said, "Falling leaves return to the root (soil). There was no day on which I came."
They further asked, "Who has received the transmission of the Proper Dharma-eye Treasury?"
The Master said, "The one who has the Way obtains it; the one without a mind penetrates it."

On the eighth day of the seventh month, the Master suddenly told his disciples to quickly prepare a boat and oars for his return to Xin Zhou. Hearing this, some of his disciples started crying. They have cried before when they learned of the Master's imminent departure. Now that the Master is leaving, they cried again, not wanting him to leave.

The Master said, "All Buddhas in the Ten Directions and the Three Periods of Time appear in the world and then manifest Nirvana. When there is a coming, there is a going. That is the norm. This body of mine will return to a wholesome place."

"Patriarch," said the assembly, "although you are leaving now, we don't think you are entering Nirvana. Sooner or later you will come back."

The Master said, "Just as leaves fall to the ground and return to the roots, I must go. When I come, there is no day." The Chinese text reads, "When I come, there is no mouth," I think this is a typo error íV misprinting the word 'mouth' instead of 'day'.
Nevertheless, there can be another explanation for "When I come, there is no mouth." By 'no mouth', the Patriarch meant no words. Meaning to say, he did not speak Dharma when he came and he did not speak Dharma when he left. Fundamentally, the mark of Dharma neither increase nor decrease. Although he had spoken Dharma for so many years, yet he never spoke Dharma at all. Hence, "When I come, there is no mouth." Dharma is not fixed. You can explain it any way as long as you are in accord with principle. However, explaining it incorrectly may lead your audience right into the hells, and that is not acceptable.

Not willing to let go of the Sixth Patriarch, his disciples tried to delay him with questions. I believe the Master got exasperated and decided, "I better leave quickly." Proper Dharma-eye Treasury refers to the robe and bowl. Amongst his many disciples, no one knew who had received the Dharma transmission. If they had not been greedy for it themselves, they would not have asked this question. Why else would they be "standing by the river and gazing out into the sea?" If you were not longing for the sea, why would you be standing there? Everyone regard the robe and bowl as extremely important. Alas, the Sixth Patriarch was not a businessperson. Or else, even at 65 taels of silver per transmission, there will be many buyers.

The Master said, "To whom did I transmit the Dharma? Whoever has the Way receives the Dharma; and whoever is without a mind understands my dharma. Whoever has no self-seeking mind understands my Dharma. Whoever certifies to the Samadhi of One Mark and the Samadhi of One Conduct receives my dharma."The Sixth Patriarch's Dharma lies within the verses. If you follow these principles in your practice, then you have received his Dharma.

(To be continued ..)