The Sixth Patriarch’s Dharma Jewel Platform Sutra

(Continued from issue #263)

They further asked, "In the future, will there be any difficulties?"
The Master said, "Five or six years after my extinction, a man will come to take my head. Listen to my verse:

Respectfully making
offerings to the head,
The mouth is in need of food.
Encountering disaster from 'Man',
The governing officials are Yang and Liu.

During the Master's lifetime, he went through countless adversities, i.e. multiple assassination attempts, arson, stealing of Dharmas, being spied on. There had been six attempts to steal the Sixth Patriarch's robe-and-bowl, with the intention of killing the Master. However, there were no record of these incidents in the sutra since they had failed. Now that his disciples had completed the pagoda per the Master's instructions a year ago, the Master decided to return to Xin Zhou.

His disciples wondered what would happen after he was gone. With some hopefulness, they asked, "In the future, there won't be difficulties anymore. Right?" What they were trying to say is that: After the Master's nirvana, we hope there is no one wanting to kill us since we are your disciples. They had failed to kill you, but we hope they do not come after us instead.

The Master said, "Five or six years after my extinction, a man will come to take my head."Look! When he was alive, they tried to take his life. After his death, they tried to steal his head. In those days, it was not easy to be a Patriarch. Nowadays, it is not that terrible, so do not fear and think, "Being a Patriarch is so daunting. I do not want to be one." Do not retreat from your resolve for Bodhi!

The Master continued, "Now, I am going to tell you a prophecy." He delivered the prophecy in a verse. However, no one understood it at that time, but eventually the prophecy came true. Respectfully making offerings to the head. Five or six years after the Master's death, a Koryo monk named Jin Da Bei wanted to steal the Sixth Patriarch's head to bring back to his country to venerate. The mouth is in need of food.

The Koryo monk hired Zhang Jing Man of Hung Zhou to steal the Patriarch's head. Being poor and hungry, Zhang Jing Man accepted the deal to steal the Sixth Patriarch's head. Maybe the Koryo monk was rich and gave him much money. Encountering disaster from 'Man'. Man refers to Zhang Jing Man. When Man showed up, it meant disaster because he came to steal the Patriarch's head. During that time, the officials in charge of the area were Magistrate Liu Wu Tian and Governor Yang Kan.

Sure enough, this prophetic verse came true five to six years after the Master's nirvana. The flesh-body of the Patriarch was housed inside the pagoda. Having heard the Master's prediction, his disciples had bound his neck with sheets of iron for protection. When Zhang Jing Man came to sever the head with his knife, he was not able to do so. Wielding a lot of force to chop off the head, he created a clatter of noise, alerting the monk guarding the pagoda. Zhang Jing Man fled. The monks saw a man in white mourning clothes running away from the pagoda. Going inside the pagoda, the monks saw evidence of hacking on the steel sheets resulting from the powerful blows wielded by Zhang Jing Man. The monks reported the incident to the local officials. Within five days, the police officers caught Zhang Jing Man and brought him to Nan Hua Temple for interrogation.

Magistrate Liu questioned Man, "Why do you want to sever the Sixth Patriarch's head?" Zhang Jing Man confessed, "A Koryo monk wanted to have the Patriarch's head but he dare not do it himself. He paid me a lot of money to do it. Being poor and in need of money to buy food, I agreed to the deal."

The Magistrate consulted with the Master's disciple, Dhyana Master Ling Tao, "How should we settle this case?" Dhyana Master Ling Tao said, "If we were to follow the country's law, he would certainly be beheaded. However, the Buddha taught us to regard friends and foes equally the same. I would rather set him free. Besides, the Master had forestalled this incident." Hearing this, Magistrate Liu exclaimed, "It is only now that I realize how great and immense Buddhism is!"Afterward, Zhang Jing Man was set free.

The Master also said, "Seventy years after my departure, two Bodhisattvas íV one monastic and one laity íV will come from the east and simultaneously propagate and transform. They will establish my School, build and restore monasteries, and spur on the flourishing of the Dharma."

It is said that the monastic Bodhisattva was Patriarch Mazu Dhyana Master Dao Yi of Jiangxi. He built all the forest monasteries in Jiangxi. There is a saying: Mazu built forest monasteries; Baizhang set clear rules.

It is said that the lay Bodhisattva was Pang Yun. His entire family attained enlightenment. Furthermore, everyone in his family entered Nirvana at the same time. Layman Pang was extremely wealthy. One day, he gathered all his money, loaded them into a big boat and sailed out to the sea. Then, he dumped his entire wealth overboard into the bottom of the sea, as a gift to the Dragon King for adorning his Dragon Palace. After making this huge offering, Layman Pang returned home empty-handed. For livelihood, he weaved bamboo baskets. Living a life of poverty, he single-mindedly cultivated the Way. One day, Layman Pang sighed,

It's hard! It's hard! It's hard!
Like spreading ten loads of sesame seeds on the leaves of all the trees.

Hearing his lament, his wife said, "You are such a useless old man! There is nothing hard at all. In fact,

It's easy! It's easy! It's easy!
On the tip of every blade of grass lies the Patriarch's mind.

By then, his daughter Ling Zhao joined in and said:

It's not hard! It's not easy!
I eat when hungry and sleep when tired!

Although Layman Pang had a wife, their relationship was casual like good friends. They did not carry on a man-woman relationship as ordinary men and women do. Consequentially, his entire family became enlightened. Lay people should all model after Layman Pang's inconceivable state. Some say that the two Bodhisattvas are Dhyana Master Huang Bo and Prime Minister Pei Xiu. Whoever you talk about is fine. They established the principle of Sudden Teaching, built and restored monasteries, and spurred on the flourishing of the Dharma.

The assembly made obeisance and asked, "Please elaborate upon on how many generations the teaching has been transmitted since the first Buddhas and Patriarchs appeared in the world."
The Master said, "The ancient Buddhas who have responded to appear in the world are numberless and countless. Now I will begin with the last seven Buddhas. During 'Adorned Eon' in the past, there were Vipashyin Buddha, Shikhin Buddha, and Vishvabhu Buddha. In the present 'Worthy Eon', there have been Krakucchanda Buddha, Kanakamuni Buddha, Kashyapa Buddha, and Shakyamuni Buddha."

The assembly made obeisance and asked, "Will you please explain to us how many generations the teaching has been transmitted since the first Buddhas and Patriarchs appeared in the world?"

The Great Master, the Sixth Patriarch said, "It cannot be reckoned how many ancient Buddhas had responded to appear in the world. Since I cannot read, I will now briefly talk about the past seven Buddhas. In the past Adorned Eon, a thousand Buddhas appeared in the world. The 998th Buddha of that eon was Vipashyin Buddha. His name means 'Victorious Contemplation', 'Various Contemplation', Victorious View' or 'Various View'. Overall, this is the name of a Buddha. If you just remember 'Vipashyin Buddha', it will suffice. The second Buddha was Shikhin Buddha, the 999th Buddha. Shikhin means 'fire'. The third Buddha was Vishvabhu Buddha, the last Buddha of the Adorned Eon.

Next is called the Worthy Eon because many worthy sages appeared during this time. Of the thousand Buddhas of this eon, Krakucchanda Buddha is the first. His name means' Worthy of Offerings', because he should receive the offerings of humans and gods. His name also means 'Adornment'. The second Buddha is Kanakamuni Buddha. The third is Kashyapa Buddha. The fourth is Shakyamuni Buddha, the present Teaching Host of the Saha World. These are the most recent seven Buddhas.

(To be continued ..)