時，大師至寶林，韶州韋刺史與官僚，入山請師出於城中大梵寺講堂，為眾開緣說法。Once, when the Patriarch had arrived at Bao Lin Monastery, Prefect Wei of Shao Zhou and other officials went there to ask him to deliver public lectures on Buddhism in the hall of Ta Fan Temple in Guangzhou.
In due course, there were assembled (in the lecture hall) Prefect Wei, government officials and Confucian scholars, about thirty each, and bhikkhus, bhikkhunis, Taoists and laymen, to the number of about one thousand. After the Patriarch had taken his seat, the congregation in a body paid him homage, and asked him to preach on the fundamental laws of Buddhism.
Whereupon, His Holiness delivered the following lecture: Learned Audience, our Essence of Mind (literally, self-nature，true self) , which is the seed or kernel of enlightenment (Bodhi), is pure by nature. and by making use of this mind alone, we can reach Buddhahood directly.
善知識！且聽惠能行由得法事意。Learned Audience, now let me tell you something about my own life and how I came into possession of the esoteric teaching of the Dhyana (or the Zen) School.
My father, a native of Fan Yang, was dismissed from his official post and banished to be a commoner in Xin Zhou in Guangdong. I was unlucky in that my father died when I was very young, leaving my mother poor and miserable. We moved to Guangzhou (Canton) and were then in very bad circumstances.
於市賣柴。時，有一客買柴，使令送至客店；客收去，惠能得錢，卻出門外，見一客誦經。惠能一聞經語，心即開悟，遂問： 『客誦何經？』 客曰： 『金剛經。』
I was selling firewood in the market one day, when one of my customers ordered some to be brought to his shop. Upon delivery being made and payment received, I left the shop, outside of which I found a man reciting a sutra. As soon as I heard the text of this sutra my mind at once became enlightened. Thereupon I asked the man the name of the book he was reciting and was told that it was the Diamond Sutra (Vajracchedika or Diamond Cutter).
復問： 『從何所來，持此經典？』 客云： 『我從蘄州黃梅縣東禪寺來。其寺是五祖忍大師在彼主化，門人一千有餘；我到彼中禮拜，聽受此經。大師常勸僧俗，但持金剛經，即自見性，直了成佛。』
I further enquired whence he came and why he recited this particular sutra. He replied that he came from Dong Shan Monastery in the Huang Mei District of Qi Zhou; that the Abbot in charge of this temple was Hong Ren, the Fifth Patriarch; that there were about one thousand disciples under him; and that when he went there to pay homage to the Patriarch, he attended lectures on this sutra. He further told me that His Holiness used to encourage the laity as well as the monks to recite this scripture, as by doing so they might realize their own Essence of Mind, and thereby reach Buddhahood directly.
惠能聞說，宿昔有緣，乃蒙一客，取銀十兩與惠能，令充老母衣糧，教便往黃梅參禮五祖。 惠能安置母畢，即便辭違，不經三十餘日，便至黃梅，禮拜五祖。祖問曰：汝何方人。欲求何物？惠能對曰： 弟子是嶺南新州百姓，遠來禮師，惟求作佛，不求餘物。
It must be due to my good karma in past lives that I heard about this (宿昔有緣) , and that I was given ten taels for the maintenance of my mother by a man who advised me to go to Huang Mei to interview the Fifth Patriarch. After arrangements had been made for her, I left for Huang Mei, which took me less than thirty days to reach. I then went to pay homage to the Patriarch, and was asked where I came from and what I expected to get from him. I replied, “I am a commoner from Xin Zhou of Guangdong. I have travelled far to pay you respect and I ask for nothing but Buddhahood.”
“You are a native of Guangdong, a barbarian? How can you expect to be a Buddha?” asked the Patriarch. I replied, “Although there are northern men and southern men, north and south make no difference to their Buddha-nature. A barbarian is different from Your Holiness physically, but there is no difference in our Buddha-nature.”
He was going to speak further to me, but the presence of other disciples made him stop short. He then ordered me to join the crowd to work.
惠能曰： 惠能啟和尚，弟子自心，常生智慧，不離自性，即是福田。未審和尚教作何務？ “May I tell Your Holiness,” said I, “that Prajna (transcendental Wisdom) often rises in my mind. When one does not go astray from one’s own Essence of Mind, one may be called the ‘field of merits’. I do not know what work Your Holiness would ask me to do.”
祖云： 『這獦獠根性大利! 汝更勿言，看槽廠去。』 惠能退至後院，有一行者，差惠能破柴踏碓。”This barbarian is too bright,” he remarked. “Go to the stable and speak no more.” I then withdrew myself to the back yard and was told by a lay brother to split firewood and to pound rice.
經八月餘，祖一日忽見惠能曰： 『吾思汝之見可用，恐有惡人害汝，遂不與汝言，汝知之否？』 惠能曰 ：『弟子亦知師意，不敢行至堂前，令人不覺。』
More than eight months after, the Patriarch saw me one day and said, “I know your knowledge of Buddhism is very sound; but I have to refrain from speaking to you lest evil doers should do you harm. Do you understand?” “Yes, Sir, I do,” I replied. “To avoid people taking notice of me, I dare not go near your hall.”
The Patriarch one day assembled all his disciples and said to them, “The question of incessant rebirth is a momentous one. Day after day, instead of trying to free yourselves from this bitter sea of life and death, you seem to go after tainted merits only (i.e. merits which will cause rebirth). Yet merits will be of no help, if your Essence of Mind is obscured. Go and seek for Prajna (wisdom) in your own mind and then write me a stanza (gatha) about it. He who understands what the Essence of Mind is will be given the robe (the insignia of the Patriarchate) and the Dharma (i.e. the esoteric teaching of the Dhyana school 禪宗), and I shall make him the Sixth Patriarch. Go away quickly. Delay not in writing the stanza, as deliberation is quite unnecessary and of no use.
The man who has realized the Essence of Mind can speak of it at once, as soon as he is spoken to about it; and he cannot lose sight of it, even when engaged in battle.”
Having received this instruction, the disciples withdrew and said to one another, “It is of no use for us to concentrate our mind to write the stanza and submit it to His Holiness, since the Patriarchate is bound to be won by Shen Xiu, our instructor. And if we write perfunctorily, it will only be a waste of energy.”
Upon hearing this all of them made up their minds not to write and said, “Why should we take the trouble? Hereafter, we will simply follow our instructor, Shen Xiu, wherever he goes, and look to him for guidance.”
Meanwhile, Shen Xiu reasoned thus with himself. “Considering that I am their teacher, none of them will take part in the competition. I wonder whether I should write a stanza and submit it to His Holiness. If I do not, how can the Patriarch know how deep or superficial my knowledge is? If my object is to get the Dharma, my motive is a pure one. If I were after the Patriarchate, then it would be bad. In that case, my mind would be that of a worldling and my action would amount to robbing the Patriarch’s holy seat. But if I do not submit the stanza, I shall never have a chance of getting the Dharma. A very difficult point to decide, indeed! “
In front of the Patriarch’s hall there were three corridors, the walls of which were to be painted by a court artist, named Lu Zhen, with pictures from the Lankavatara (Sutra) depicting the transfiguration of the assembly, and with scenes showing the genealogy of the five Patriarchs for the information and veneration of the public.
When Shen Xiu had composed his stanza he made several attempts to submit it to the Patriarch; but as soon as he went near the hall his mind was so perturbed that he sweated all over. He could not screw up courage to submit it, although in the course of four days he made altogether thirteen attempts to do so.
Then he suggested to himself, “It would be better for me to write it on the wall of the corridor and let the Patriarch see it for himself. If he approves it, I shall come out to pay homage, and tell him that it is done by me; but if he disapproves it, then I shall have wasted several years in this mountain in receiving homage from others which I by no means deserve! In that case, what progress have I made in learning Buddhism?”
At 12 o’clock that night he went secretly with a lamp to write the stanza on the wall of the south corridor, so that the Patriarch might know what spiritual insight he had attained. The stanza read:
Our body is the Bodhi-tree, And our mind a mirror bright.
Carefully we wipe them hour by hour, And let no dust alight.
As soon as he had written it he left at once for his room; so nobody knew what he had done. In his room he again pondered: “When the Patriarch sees my stanza tomorrow and is pleased with it, I shall be ready for the Dharma; but if he says that it is badly done, it will mean that I am unfit for the Dharma, owing to the misdeeds in previous lives which thickly becloud my mind. It is difficult to know what the Patriarch will say about it!”
房中思想，坐臥不安，直至五更。 In this vein he kept on thinking until dawn, as he could neither sleep nor sit at ease.
祖已知神秀入門未得，不見自性。天明，祖喚盧供奉來，向南廊壁間，繪畫圖相，忽見其偈，報言： 供奉卻不用畫，勞爾遠來。經云：『凡所有相，皆是虛妄。』 But the Patriarch knew already that Shen Xiu had not entered the door of enlightenment, and that he had not known the Essence of Mind. In the morning, he sent for Mr. Lu, the court artist, and went with him to the south corridor to have the walls there painted with pictures. By chance, he saw the stanza. “I am sorry to have troubled you to come so far,” he said to the artist. “The walls need not be painted now, as the Sutra says, ‘All forms or phenomena are transient and illusive.’
It will be better to leave the stanza here, so that people may study it and recite it. If they put its teaching into actual practice, they will be saved from the misery of being born in these evil realms of existence (gatis). The merit gained by one who practices it will be great indeed!”
He then ordered incense to be burnt, and all his disciples to pay homage to it and to recite it, so that they might realize the Essence of Mind. After they had recited it, all of them exclaimed, “Well done!”
祖，三更喚秀入堂，問曰： 『偈是汝作否？』 秀言： 『實是秀作，不敢妄求祖位，望和尚慈悲，看弟子有少智慧否？』
At midnight, the Patriarch sent for Shen Xiu to come to the hall, and asked him whether the stanza was written by him or not. “It was, Sir,” replied Shen Xiu. “I dare not be so vain as to expect to get the Patriarchate, but I wish Your Holiness would kindly tell me whether my stanza shows the least grain of wisdom.”
“Your stanza,” replied the Patriarch, “shows that you have not yet realized the Essence of Mind. So far you have reached the ‘door of enlightenment’, but you have not yet entered it. To seek for supreme enlightenment with such an understanding as yours can hardly be successful.
無上菩提，須得言下識自本心，凡自本性，不生不滅。於一切時中，念念自見，萬法無滯，一真一切真，萬境自如如。如如之心，即是其實，若如是見，即是無上菩提之自性也。 To attain supreme enlightenment, one must be able to know spontaneously one’s own nature or Essence of Mind, which is neither created nor can it be annihilated. From ksana to ksana (thought-moment to thought-moment), one should be able to realize the Essence of Mind all the time. All things will then be free from restraint (i.e., emancipated). Once the Tathata (Suchness, another name for the Essence of Mind) is known, one will be free from delusion forever; and in all circumstances one’s mind will be in a state of ‘Thusness’. Such a state of mind is absolute Truth. If you can see things in such a frame of mind you will have known the Essence of Mind, which is supreme enlightenment.
汝且去，一兩日思惟，更作一偈，將來吾看； 汝偈若入得 門，付汝衣法。
You had better go back to think it over again for couple of days, and then submit me another stanza. If your stanza shows that you have entered the ‘door of enlightenment’, I will transmit you the robe and the Dharma.
Shen Xiu made obeisance to the Patriarch and left. For several days, he tried in vain to write another stanza. This upset his mind so much that he was as ill at ease as if he were in a nightmare, and he could find comfort neither in sitting nor in walking.
復兩日，有一童子於碓坊過，唱誦其偈； 惠能一聞，便知此偈未見本性，雖未蒙教授，早識大意。 Two days after, it happened that a young boy who was passing by the room where I was pounding rice recited loudly the stanza written by Shen Xiu. As soon as I heard it, I knew at once that the composer of it has not yet realized the Essence of Mind. For, although, I had not been taught about it at that time, I already had a general idea of it.
遂問童子曰： 『誦者何偈？』 童子曰： 『爾這獦獦不知，大師 言，世人生死事大，欲得傳付衣法，令門人作偈來看。若悟大意，即付衣法為第六祖。神秀上座，於南廊壁上，書無相偈，大師令人皆誦，依此偈修，免墮惡道；依此偈修，有大利益。』
“What stanza is this?” I asked the boy. “You barbarian,” he replied, “don’t you know about it? The Patriarch told his disciples that the question of incessant rebirth was a momentous one, that those who wished to inherit his robe and Dharma should write him a stanza, and that the one who had an understanding of the Essence of Mind would get them and be made the sixth Patriarch. Elder Shen Xiu wrote this ‘Formless’ Stanza on the wall of the south corridor and the Patriarch told us to recite it. He also said that those who put its teaching into actual practice would attain great merit, and be saved from the misery of being born in the evil realms of existence.”
I told the boy that I wished to recite the stanza too, so that I might have an affinity with its teaching in future life. I also told him that although I had been pounding rice there for eight months I had never been to the hall, and that he would have to show me where the stanza was to enable me to make obeisance to it.
童子引至偈前禮拜，惠能曰： 『惠能不識字，請上人為讀。』 時，有江州別駕，姓張，名日用，便高聲讀。惠能聞己，遂言： 『亦有一偈，望別駕為書。』 別駕言：『汝亦作偈，其事希有！』
The boy took me there and I asked him to read it to me, as I am illiterate. A petty officer of the Jiang Zhou District named Zhang Ri Yong, who happened to be there, read it out to me. When he had finished reading I told him that I also had composed a stanza and asked him to write it for me. “Extraordinary indeed,” he exclaimed, “that you also can compose a stanza!”
惠能向別駕言： 欲學無上菩提，不得輕於初學。下下人有上上智，上上人有沒意智。』 別駕言： 『汝但誦偈，吾為汝書。汝若得法，先須度吾，勿忘此言。』
“Don’t despise a beginner,” said I, “if you are a seeker of supreme enlightenment. You should know that the lowest class may have the sharpest wit, while the highest may be in want of intelligence. If you slight others, you commit a very great sin.” “Dictate your stanza,” said he. “I will take it down for you. But do not forget to deliver me, should you succeed in getting the Dharma!”
惠能偈曰：My stanza read:
There is no Bodhi-tree, Nor stand of a mirror bright.
Since all is void, Where can the dust alight?
When he had written this, all disciples and others who were present were greatly surprised. Filled with admiration, they said to one another, “How wonderful! No doubt we should not judge people by appearance. How can it be that for so long we have made a Bodhisattva incarnate work for us?”
祖見眾人驚怪，恐人損害，遂將鞋擦了偈，曰： 『亦未見性。』 眾以為然。
Seeing that the crowd was overwhelmed with amazement, the Patriarch rubbed off the stanza with his shoe, lest jealous ones should do me injury. He expressed the opinion, which they took for granted, that the author of this stanza had also not yet realized the Essence of Mind.
次日，祖潛至碓坊，見能腰石舂米，語曰： 『求道之人，當如是乎？』 乃問曰： 『米熟也未？』 惠能曰： 『米熟久矣，猶欠篩在。』
Next day the Patriarch came secretly to the room where the rice was pounded. Seeing that I was working there with a stone pestle, he said to me, “A seeker of the Path risks his life for the Dharma. Should he not do so?” Then he asked, “Is the rice ready?” “Ready long ago,” I replied, “only waiting for the sieve.” He knocked the mortar thrice with his stick and left.
Knowing what his message meant, in the third watch of the night I went to his room. Using the robe as a screen so that none could see us, he expounded the Diamond Sutra to me. When he came to the sentence, “One should use one’s mind in such a way that it will be free from any attachment” , I at once became thoroughly enlightened, and realized that all things in the universe are the Essence of Mind itself.
遂啟祖言：『何期自性，本自清淨； 何期自性，本不生滅； 何期自性，本自具足； 何期自性，本無動搖； 何期自性，能生萬法。』
“Who would have thought,” I said to the Patriarch, “that the Essence of Mind is intrinsically pure! Who would have thought that the Essence of Mind is intrinsically free from becoming or annihilation! Who would have thought that the Essence of Mind is intrinsically self-sufficient! Who would have thought that the Essence of Mind is intrinsically free from change! Who would have thought that all things are the manifestation of the Essence of Mind!”
Knowing that I had realized the Essence of Mind, the Patriarch said, “For him who does not know his own mind there is no use learning Buddhism. On the other hand, if he knows his own mind and sees intuitively his own nature, he is a Hero, a ‘Teacher of gods and men’, ‘Buddha’.”
Thus, to the knowledge of no one, the Dharma was transmitted to me at midnight, and consequently I became the inheritor of the teaching of the ‘Sudden’ School as well as of the robe and the begging bowl.
You are now the Sixth Patriarch,” said he. “Take good care of yourself, and deliver as many sentient beings as possible. Spread and preserve the teaching, and don’t let it come to an end.
聽吾偈曰：Take note of my stanza:
Sentient beings who sow the seeds of enlightenment
In the field of Causation will reap the fruit of Buddhahood.
Inanimate objects void of Buddha-nature
Sow not and reap not.
He further said, “When the Patriarch Bodhidharma first came to China, most Chinese had no confidence in him, and so this robe was handed down as a testimony from one Patriarch to another. As to the Dharma, this is transmitted from heart to heart, and the recipient must realize it by his own efforts (法則以心傳心，皆令自悟自解). From time immemorial it has been the practice for one Buddha to pass to his successor the quintessence of the Dharma, and for one Patriarch to transmit to another the esoteric teaching from heart to heart. As the robe may give cause for dispute, you are the last one to inherit it. Should you hand it down to your successor, your life would be in imminent danger. Now leave this place as quickly as you can, lest someone should do you harm.”
惠能啟曰：『向甚處去？』 祖云： 『逢懷則止，遇會則藏。』
“Whither should I go?” I asked. “At Huai you stop and at Hui you seclude yourself,” he replied.
惠能三更，領得衣缽，云: 能本是南中人，素不知此山路，如何出江口? 五祖言: 汝不須憂，吾自送汝。 五祖送至九江驛，祖令上船，惠能隨即把艣。
Upon receiving the robe and the begging bowl in the middle of the night, I told the Patriarch that, being a Southerner, I did not know the mountain tracks, and that it was impossible for me to get to the mouth of the river (to catch a boat). “You need not worry,” said he. “I will go with you.” He then accompanied me to Jiu Jiang, and there ordered me into a boat. As he did the rowing himself, I asked him to sit down and let me handle the oar.
祖云： 『合是吾渡汝。』 惠能云： 『迷時師度，悟了自度；度名雖一，用處不同。惠能生在邊方，語音不正，蒙師傳法，今已得悟，只合自性自度。』”
It is only right for me to carry you across,” he said (an allusion to the sea of birth and death which one has to go across before the shore of Nirvana can be reached). To this I replied, “While I am under illusion, it is for you to get me across; but after enlightenment, I should cross it by myself. (Although the term ‘to go across’ is the same, it is used differently in each case). As I happen to be born on the frontier, even my speaking is incorrect in pronunciation, (but in spite of this) I have had the honor to inherit the Dharma from you. Since I am now enlightened, it is only right for me to cross the sea of birth and death myself by realizing my own Essence of Mind.”
“Quite so, quite so,” he agreed. “Beginning from you, Buddhism (meaning the Dhyana School) will become very popular. Three years after your departure from me I shall leave this world. You may start on your journey now. Go as fast as you can towards the South. Do not preach too soon, as Buddhism (of the Dhyana School) is not so easily spread.”
惠能辭違祖已，發足南行，兩月中間，至大庾嶺。(五祖歸，數日不上堂，眾疑，詣問曰: 和尚少病少惱否? 曰: 病即無，衣法已南矣。問: 誰人傳授。曰: 能者得之。眾乃知焉 。) 逐後數百人來，欲奪衣缽。
After saying good-bye, I left him and walked towards the South. In about two months’ time, I reached the Ta Yu Mountain. There I noticed that several hundred men were in pursuit of me with the intention of robbing me of my robe and begging bowl.
Among them there was a monk named Hui Ming, whose lay surname was Chen. He was a general of the fourth rank in lay life. His manner was rough and his temper hot. Of all the pursuers, he was the most vigilant in search of me. When he was about to overtake me, I threw the robe and begging bowl on a rock, saying, “This robe is nothing but a symbol. What is the use of taking it away by force?” (I then hid myself). When he got to the rock, he tried to pick them up, but found he could not. Then he shouted out, “Lay Brother, Lay Brother, (for the Patriarch had not yet formally joined the Order) I come for the Dharma, not for the robe.”
惠能遂出，坐盤石上。惠明作禮云： 『望行者為我說法。』 惠能曰： 『汝既為法而來，可屏息諸緣，勿生一念，吾為汝說。』 明良久，惠能曰： 『不思善，不思惡，正與麼時，那個是明上座本來面目？』
Whereupon I came out from my hiding place and squatted on the rock. He made obeisance and said, “Lay Brother, preach to me, please.” “Since the object of your coming is the Dharma,” said I, “refrain from thinking of anything and keep your mind blank. I will then teach you.” When he had done this for a considerable time, I said, “When you are thinking of neither good nor evil, what is at that particular moment, Venerable Sir, your real nature (literally, original face)?”
惠明言下大悟。復問云： 『上來密語密意外，還更有密意否？』 惠能云： 『與汝說者，即非密也。汝若返照，密在汝邊。』
As soon as he heard this he at once became enlightened. But he further asked, “Apart from those esoteric sayings and esoteric ideas handed down by the Patriarch from generation to generation, are there any other esoteric teachings?” “What I can tell you is not esoteric,” I replied. “If you turn your light inwardly, you will find what is esoteric within you.”
明曰：『惠明雖在黃梅，實未省自己面目，今蒙指示，如人飲水，冷暖自知。今行者，即惠明師也。』 惠能曰： 『汝若如是，吾與汝同師黃梅，善自護持。』
“In spite of my staying in Huang Mei,” said he, “I did not realize my self-nature. Now thanks to your guidance, I know it as a water-drinker knows how hot or how cold the water is. Lay Brother, you are now my teacher.” I replied, “If that is so, then you and I are fellow disciples of the Fifth Patriarch. Take good care of yourself.”
明又問： 『惠明今後向甚處去？』 惠能曰 ：『逢袁則止，遇蒙則居。』 明禮辭。
In answering his question whither he should go thereafter, I told him to stop at Yuan and to take up his abode in Meng. He paid homage and departed.
Sometime later, I reached Cao Xi. There the evil-doers again persecuted me and I had to take refuge in Si Hui, where I stayed with a party of hunters for a period as long as fifteen years. Occasionally I preached to them in a way that befitted their understanding. They used to put me to watch their nets, but whenever I found living creatures therein I set them free. At meal times I put vegetables in the pan in which they cooked their meat. Some of them questioned me, and I explained to them that I would eat the vegetables only, after they had been cooked with the meat.
One day I bethought myself that I ought not to pass a secluded life all the time, and that it was high time for me to propagate the Law. Accordingly I left there and went to the Fa Xing Temple in Canton.
At that time Bhikkhu Yin Zung (印宗法師), Master of the Dharma, was lecturing on the Maha Parinirvana Sutra (涅槃經) in the Temple. It happened that one day, when a pennant was blown about by the wind, two Bhikkhus entered into a dispute as to what it was that was in motion, the wind or the pennant. As they could not settle their difference I submitted to them that it was neither, and that what actually moved was their own mind.
The whole assembly was startled by what I said, and Bhikkhu Yin Zung invited me to take a seat of honor and questioned me about various knotty points in the Sutras. Seeing that my answers were precise and accurate, and that they showed something more than book-knowledge, he said to me, “Lay Brother, you must be an extraordinary man, I was told long ago that the inheritor of the Fifth Patriarch’s robe and Dharma had come to the South. Very likely you are the man.”
惠能曰： 『不敢！』 宗於是作禮，告請傳來衣缽，出示大眾。
To this I politely assented. He immediately made obeisance and asked me to show the assembly the robe and the begging bowl which I had inherited.
宗復問曰： 黃梅付囑？如何指授？ 惠能曰： 『指授即無，惟論見性，不論禪定解脫。』
He further asked what instructions I had when the Fifth Patriarch transmitted me the Dharma. “Apart from a discussion on the realization of the Essence of Mind,” I replied, “he gave me no other instruction, nor did he refer to Dhyana and Emancipation.”
宗曰： 『何不論禪定解脫？』 謂曰： 『為是二法，不是佛法，佛法是不二之法。』
“Why not?”, he asked. “Because that would mean two ways,” I replied. “And there cannot be two ways in Buddhism. There is one way only.”
宗又問：『如何是佛法不二之法？』 惠能曰： 『法師講涅槃經，明佛性是佛法不二之法。如高貴德王菩薩白佛言： 『犯四重禁，作五逆罪，及一闡提等，當斷善根佛性否？』 佛言： 「善根有二：一者常，二者無常；佛性非常非無常，是故不斷，名為不二。」一者善，二者不善； 佛性非善非不善，是名不二。蘊之與界，凡夫見二，智者了達其性無二；無二之性， 即是佛性。』
He asked, what was the non-duality way? I replied, “The Maha Parinirvana Sutra which you expound explains that Buddha-nature is the only way. For example, in the Sutra Gao Gui De Wang, a Bodhisattva, asked Buddha whether or not those who commit the four paragika (acts of gross misconduct), or the five deadly sins, and those who are icchantika (heretics) etc., would eradicate their ‘element of goodness’ and their Buddha-nature. Buddha replied, ‘There are two kinds of ‘element of goodness’, the eternal and the non-eternal. Since Buddha-nature is neither eternal nor non-eternal, therefore their ‘element of goodness’ is not eradicated. Now Buddhism is known as having no two ways. There are good ways and evil ways, but since Buddha-nature is neither, therefore Buddhism is known as having no two ways. From the point of view of ordinary folks, the component parts of a personality (skandhas) and factors of consciousness (Dhatus) are two separate things; but enlightened men understand that they are not dual in nature. Buddha-nature is non-duality.”
印宗聞說，歡喜合掌，言： 『某甲講經，猶如瓦礫；仁者論義，猶如其金。』 於是為惠能剃髮，願事為師。
Bhikkhu Yin Zung was highly pleased with my answer. Putting his two palms together as a sign of respect, he said, “My interpretation of the Sutra is as worthless as a heap of debris, while your discourse is as valuable as genuine gold.” Subsequently he conducted the ceremony of hair-cutting for me (i.e., the ceremony of Initiation into the Order) and asked me to accept him as my pupil.
Thenceforth, under the Bodhi-tree I preached the teaching of the Dong Shan School (the School of the Fourth and the Fifth Patriarchs, who lived in Tung Shan). Since the time when the Dharma was transmitted to me in Dong Shan, I have gone through many hardships and my life often seemed to be hanging by a thread. Today, I have had the honor of meeting you in this assembly, and I must ascribe this to our good connection in previous kalpas (cyclic periods), as well as to our common accumulated merits in making offerings to various Buddhas in our past incarnations; otherwise, we should have had no chance of hearing the above teaching of the ‘Sudden’ School, and thereby laying the foundation of our future success in understanding the Dharma.
This teaching was handed down from the past Patriarchs, and it is not a system of my own invention. Those who wish to hear the teaching should first purify their own mind, and after hearing it they should each clear up their own doubts in the same way as the Sages did in the past.” At the end of the address, the assembly felt rejoiced, made obeisance and departed.
般若品第二 On Prajna
次日，韋使君請益。師陞坐，告大眾曰：「總淨心念摩訶般若波羅蜜多。」 復云： Next day Prefect Wei asked the Patriarch to give another address. Thereupon, having taken his seat and asked the assembly to purify their mind collectively, and to recite the ‘Maha Prajnaparamita’ Sutra, he then gave the following address:
「善知識，菩提般若之智，世人本自有之，只緣心迷，不能自悟，須假大善知識， 示導見性。當知愚人智人，佛性本無差別，只緣迷悟不同，所以有愚有智。吾今為說 「摩訶般若波羅蜜法」，使汝等各得智慧。志心諦聽，吾為汝說。
Learned Audience, the Wisdom of Enlightenment is inherent in every one of us. It is because of the delusion under which our mind works that we fail to realize it ourselves, and that we have to seek the advice and the guidance of enlightened ones before we can know our own Essence of Mind. You should know that so far as Buddha-nature is concerned, there is no difference between an enlightened man and an ignorant one. What makes the difference is that one realizes it, while the other is ignorant of it. Now, let me talk to you about Maha Prajnaparamita, so that each of you can attain wisdom.
Learned Audience, those who recite the word ‘Prajna’ the whole day long do not seem to know that Prajna is inherent in their own nature. But mere talking on food will not appease hunger, and this is exactly the case with these people. We might talk on Sunyata (the Void) for myriads of kalpas, but talking alone will not enable us to realize the Essence of Mind, and it serves no purpose in the end.
Learned Audience, the word ‘Mahaprajnaparamita’ is Sanskrit, and means ‘great wisdom to reach the opposite shore’ (of the sea of existence). What we have to do is to put it into practice with our mind; whether we recite it or not does not matter. Mere reciting it without mental practice may be likened to a phantasm, a magical delusion, a flash of lightning or a dewdrop. On the other hand, if we do both, then our mind will be in accord with what we repeat orally. Our very nature is Buddha, and apart from this nature there is no other Buddha.
What is Maha? It means ‘Great’. The capacity of the mind is as great as that of space. It is infinite, neither round nor square, neither great nor small, neither green nor yellow, neither red nor white, neither above nor below, neither long nor short, neither angry nor happy, neither right nor wrong, neither good nor evil, neither first nor last. All Buddha Ksetras (lands) are as void as space. Intrinsically our transcendental nature is void and not a single Dharma can be attained. It is the same with the Essence of Mind, which is a state of ‘Absolute Void’ (i.e., the voidness of non-void).
Learned Audience, when you hear me talk about the Void, do not at once fall into the idea of vacuity, (because this involves the heresy of the doctrine of annihilation). It is of the utmost importance that we should not fall into this idea, because when a man sits quietly and keeps his mind blank he will abide in a state of ‘Voidness of Indifference’.
Learned Audience, the illimitable Void of the universe is capable of holding myriads of things of various shape and form, such as the sun, the moon, stars, mountains, rivers, men, Dharmas pertaining to goodness or badness, deva planes, hells, great oceans, and all the mountains of the Mahameru. Space takes in all of these, and so does the voidness of our nature. We say that the Essence of Mind is great because it embraces all things, since all things are within our nature. When we see the goodness or the badness of other people we are not attracted by it, nor repelled by it, nor attached to it; so that our attitude of mind is as void as space. In this way, we say our mind is great. Therefore we call it ‘Maha’.
Learned audience, what the ignorant merely talk about, wise men put into actual practice with their mind. There is also a class of foolish people who sit quietly and try to keep their mind blank. They refrain from thinking of anything and call themselves ‘great’. On account of their heretical view we can hardly talk to them.
Learned Audience, you should know that the mind is very great in capacity, since it pervades the whole Dharmadhatu (the sphere of the Law, i.e.,the Universe). When we use it, we can know something of everything, and when we use it to its full capacity we shall know all. All in one and one in all. When our mind works without hindrance, and is at liberty to ‘come’ or to ‘go’, then it is in a state of ‘Prajna’.
Learned Audience, all Prajna comes from the Essence of Mind and not from an exterior source. Have no mistaken notion about that. This is called ‘Self-use of the True Nature’. Once the Tathata (Suchness, the Essence of Mind) is known, one will be free from delusion forever.
Since the scope of the mind is for great objects, we should not practice such trivial acts (as sitting quietly with a blank mind). Do not talk about the ‘Void’ all day without practicing it in the mind. One who does this may be likened to a self-styled king who is really a commoner. Prajna can never be attained in this way, and those who behave like this are not my disciples.
善知識，何名「般若」？「般若者，唐言智慧也。」 一切處所，一切時中，念念不愚，常行智慧，即是般若行。一念愚，即般若絕；一念智，即般若生。世人愚迷， 不見般若； 口說般若，心中常愚。常自言我修般若，念念說空，不識真空。般若無形相，智慧心即是。若作如是解，即名般若智。
Learned Audience, what is Prajna? It means ‘Wisdom’. If at all times and at all places we steadily keep our thought free from foolish desire, and act wisely on all occasions, then we are practicing Prajna. One foolish notion is enough to shut off Prajna, while one wise thought will bring it forth again. People in ignorance or under delusion do not see it; they talk about it with their tongues, but in their mind they remain ignorant. They are always saying that they practice Prajna, and they talk incessantly on ‘Vacuity’; but they do not know the ‘Absolute Void’. ‘The Heart of Wisdom’ is Prajna, which has neither form nor characteristic. If we interpret it in this way, then indeed it is the wisdom of Prajna.
What is Paramita? It is a Sanskrit word, meaning ‘to the opposite shore’. Figuratively, it means ‘above existence and non-existence’. By clinging to sense objects, existence or non-existence arises like the up and down of the billowy sea, and such a state is called metaphorically ‘this shore’; while by non-attachment a state above existence and non-existence, like smoothly running water is attained, and this is called ‘the opposite shore’. This is why it is called ‘Paramita’.
善知識，迷人口念，當念之時，有妄有非。念念若行，是名真性。悟此法者，是般若法； 修此行者，是般若行； 不修即凡。一念修行，自身等佛。
Learned Audience, people under illusion recite the ‘Mahaprajnaparamita’ with their tongues, and while they are reciting it, erroneous and evil thoughts arise. But if they put it into practice unremittingly, they realize its ‘true nature’. To know this Dharma is to know the Dharma of Prajna, and to practice this is to practice Prajna. He who does not practice it is an
ordinary man. He who directs his mind to practice it even for one moment is the equal of Buddha.
Learned Audience, ordinary man is Buddha, and Klesa (defilement) is Bodhi (enlightenment). A foolish passing thought makes one an ordinary man, while an enlightened second thought makes one a Buddha. A passing thought that clings to sense-objects is Klesa, while a second thought that frees one from attachment is Bodhi.
善知識，「摩訶般若波羅蜜」，最尊最上最第一，無住無往亦無來，三世諸佛從中出。當用大智慧，打破五蘊煩惱塵勞。如此修行，定成佛道，變三毒為戒定慧。Learned Audience, the Mahaprajnaparamita is the most exalted, the supreme, and the foremost. It neither stays, nor goes, nor comes. By means of it Buddhas of the present, the past, and the future generations attain Buddhahood. We should use this great wisdom to break up the five Skandhas  for to follow such practice ensures the attainment of Buddhahood. The three poisonous elements (greed, hatred and illusion) will then be turned into Sila (good conduct), Samadhi and Prajna.
Learned Audience, in this system of mine one Prajna produces eight-four thousand ways of wisdom, since there are that number of ‘defilements’ for us to cope with; but when one is free from defilements, wisdom reveals itself, and will not be separated from the Essence of Mind. Those who understand this Dharma will be free from idle thoughts. To be free from being infatuated by one particular thought, from clinging to desire, and from falsehood; to put one’s own essence of Tathata into operation; to use Prajna for contemplation, and to take an attitude of neither indifference nor attachment towards all things – this is what is meant by realizing one’s own Essence of Mind for the attainment of Buddhahood.
善知識，若欲入甚深法界，及般若三昧者，須修般若行。持誦 《金剛般若經》，即得見性，當知此經功德，無量無邊，經中分明讚歎，莫能具說。此法門是最上乘，為大 智人說，為上根人說； 小智小根人聞，心生不信。
Learned Audience, if you wish to penetrate the deepest mystery of the Dharmadhatu and the Samadhi of Prajna, you should practice Prajna by reciting and studying the Vajracchedika (The Diamond) Sutra, which will enable you to realize the Essence of Mind. You should know that the merit for studying this Sutra, as distinctly set forth in the text, is immeasurable and illimitable, and cannot be enumerated in details. This Sutra belongs to the highest School of Buddhism, and the Lord Buddha delivered it specially for the very wise and quick-witted. If the less wise and the slow-witted should hear about it they would doubt its credibility.
何以故？譬如天龍下雨於閻浮提，城邑聚落，悉皆漂流，如漂草葉； 若雨大海，不增不減。Why? For example, if it rained in Jambudvipa (the Southern Continent), through the miracle of the celestial Naga, cities, towns, and villages would drift about in the flood as if they were only leaves of the date tree. But should it rain in the great ocean the level of the sea as a whole would not be affected by it.
若大乘人，若最上乘 人，聞說 《金剛經》，心開悟解。故知本性自有般若之智，自用智慧，常觀照故，不假文字。
When Mahayanists hear about the Vajracchedika their minds become enlightened; they know that Prajna is immanent in their Essence of Mind and that they need not rely on scriptural authority, since they can make use of their own wisdom by constant practice of contemplation.
The Prajna immanent in the Essence of Mind of every one may be likened to the rain, the moisture of which refreshes every living thing, trees and plants as well as sentient beings. When rivers and streams reach the sea, the water carried by them merges into one body; this is another analogy.
善知識，小根之人，聞此頓教，猶如草木，根性小者，若被大雨，悉皆自倒，不能增長。小根之人，亦復如是。元有般若之智，與大智人更無差別。因何聞法不自開 悟？緣邪見障重，煩惱根生。猶如大雲覆蓋於日，不得風吹，日光不現。 Learned Audience, when rain comes in a deluge, plants which are not deep-rooted are washed away, and eventually they succumb. This is the case with the slow-witted, when they hear about the teaching of the ‘Sudden’ School. The Prajna immanent in them is exactly the same as that in the very wise man, but they fail to enlighten themselves when the Dharma is made known to them. Why? Because they are thickly veiled by erroneous views and deep-rooted defilements, in the same way as the sun may be thickly veiled by a cloud and unable to show his light until the wind blows the cloud away.
般若之智亦無大小，為一切眾生自心迷悟不同。迷心外見，修行覓佛，未悟自性，即是小 根；若開悟頓教，不執外修，但於自心常起正見，煩惱塵勞，常不能染，即是見性。Prajna does not vary with different persons; what makes the difference is whether one’s mind is enlightened or deluded. He who does not know his own Essence of Mind, and is under the delusion that Buddhahood can be attained by outward religious rites is called the slow-witted. He who knows the teaching of the ‘Sudden’ School and attaches no importance to rituals, and whose mind functions always under right views, so that he is absolutely free from defilements or contaminations, is said to have known his Essence of Mind.
善知識，內外不住，去來自由，能除執心，通達無礙，能修此行，與《般若經》 本無差別。Learned Audience, the mind should be framed in such a way that it will be independent of external or internal objects, at liberty to come or go, free from attachment and thoroughly enlightened without the least beclouding. He who is able to do this is of the same standard required by the Sutras of the Prajna School.
Learned Audience, all Sutras and Scriptures of the Mahayana and Hinayana Schools, as well as the twelve sections of the canonical writings, were provided to suit the different needs and temperaments of various people. It is upon the principle that Prajna is latent in every man that the doctrines expounded in these books are established. If there were no human beings, there would be no Dharmas; hence we know that all Dharmas are made for men, and that all Sutras owe their existence to the preachers.
緣其人中，有愚有智； 愚為小人，智為大人； 愚者問於智人，智者為愚人說法；愚人忽然悟解心開，即與智人無別。
Since some men are wise, the so-called superior men, and some are ignorant, the so-called inferior men, the wise preach to the ignorant when the latter ask them to do so. Through this the ignorant may attain sudden enlightenment, and their mind thereby becomes illuminated. Then they are no longer different from the wise men.
善知識，不悟，即佛是眾生；一念悟時，眾生是佛。故知萬法盡在自心，何不從心中，頓見真如本性？ 《菩薩戒經》云： 「我本元自性清淨，若識自心見性，皆成佛道」 《淨名經》云： 「即時豁然，還得本心」。
Learned Audience, without enlightenment there would be no difference between a Buddha and other living beings; while a gleam of enlightenment is enough to make any living being the equal of a Buddha. Since all Dharmas are immanent in our mind there is no reason why we should not realize intuitively the real nature of Tathata (Suchness). The Bodhisattva Sila Sutra says, “Our Essence of Mind is intrinsically pure, and if we knew our mind and realized what our nature is, all of us would attain Buddhahood.” As the Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra says, “At once they become enlightened and regain their own mind.”
Learned Audience, when the Fifth Patriarch preached to me I became enlightened immediately after he had spoken, and spontaneously realized the real nature of Tathata. For this reason it is my particular object to propagate the teaching of this ‘Sudden’ School, so that learners may find Bodhi at once and realize their true nature by introspection of mind.
Should they fail to enlighten themselves, they should ask the pious and learned Buddhists who understand the teaching of the Highest School to show them the right way. It is an exalted position, the office of a pious and learned Buddhist who guides others to realize the Essence of Mind. Through his assistance one may be initiated into all meritorious Dharmas. The wisdom of the past, the present and the future Buddhas as well as the teachings of the twelve sections of the Canon are immanent in our mind; but in case we fail to enlighten ourselves, we have to seek the guidance of the pious and learned ones.
On the other hand, those who enlighten themselves need no extraneous help. It is wrong to insist upon the idea that without the advice of the pious and learned we cannot obtain liberation. Why? Because it is by our innate wisdom that we enlighten ourselves, and even the extraneous help and instructions of a pious and learned friend would be of no use if we were deluded by false doctrines and erroneous views. Should we introspect our mind with real Prajna, all erroneous views would be vanquished in a moment, and as soon as we know the Essence of Mind we arrive immediately at the Buddha stage.
Learned Audience, when we use Prajna for introspection we are illumined within and without, and in a position to know our own mind. To know our mind is to obtain liberation. To obtain liberation is to attain Samadhi of Prajna, which is ‘thoughtlessness’.
何名無念？若見一切法，心不染著，是為無念。用即遍一切處，亦不著一切處；但淨本心，使六識出六門，於六塵中，無染無雜，來去自由，通用無滯，即是般若三昧。自在解脫，名無念行。若百物不思，當令念絕，即是法縛，即名邊見。What is ‘thoughtlessness’? ‘Thoughtlessness’ is to see and to know all Dharmas (things) with a mind free from attachment. When in use it pervades everywhere, and yet it sticks nowhere. What we have to do is to purify our mind so that the six Vijnanas (aspects of consciousness), in passing through the six gates (sense organs) will neither be defiled by nor attached to the six sense-objects. When our mind works freely without any hindrance, and is at liberty to ‘come’ or to ‘go’, we attain Samadhi of Prajna, or liberation. Such a state is called the function of ‘thoughtlessness’. But to refrain from thinking of anything, so that all thoughts are suppressed, is to be Dharma-ridden, and this is an erroneous view.
善知識，悟無念法者，萬法盡通； 悟無念法者，見諸佛境界； 悟無念法者，至佛地位。善知識，後代得吾法者，將此頓教法們，於同見同行，發願受持，如事佛故， 終身而不退者，定入聖位。
Learned Audience, those who understand the way of ‘thoughtlessness’ will know everything, will have the experience all Buddhas have had, and attain Buddhahood. In the future, if an initiate of my School should make a vow in company with his fellow-disciples to devote his whole life without retrogression to the practice of the teachings of this ‘Sudden’ School, in the same spirit as that for serving Buddha, he would reach without failure the Path of Holiness.
(To the right men) he should transmit from heart to heart the instructions handed down from one Patriarch to another; and no attempt should be made to conceal the orthodox teaching. To those who belong to other schools, and whose views and objects are different from ours, the Dharma should not be transmitted, since it will be anything but good for them. This step is taken lest ignorant persons who cannot understand our system should make slanderous remarks about it and thereby annihilate their seed of Buddha-nature for hundreds of Kalpas and thousands of incarnations. Learned Audience, I have a ‘formless’ stanza for you all to recite. Both laity and monks should put its teaching into practice, without which it would be useless to remember my words alone.
聽吾頌曰：Listen to this stanza
說通及心通 如日處虛空 唯傳見法性 出世破邪宗
A master of the Buddhist Canon as well as of the teaching of the Dhyana School
May be likened unto the blazing sun sitting high in his meridian tower
Such a man would teach nothing but the Dharma for realizing the Essence of Mind,
And his object in coming to this world would be to vanquish the heretical sects.
法即無頓漸 迷悟有遲疾 只此見性門 愚人不可悉
We can hardly classify the Dharmas into ‘Sudden’ and ‘Gradual’,
But some men will attain enlightenment much quicker than others.
For example, this system for realizing the Essence of Mind
Is above the comprehension of the ignorant
說即雖萬般 合理還歸一 煩惱暗宅中 常須生慧日
We may explain it in ten thousand ways,
But all those explanations may be traced back to one principle.
To illumine our gloomy tabernacle, which is stained by defilement,
We should constantly set up the Light of Wisdom.
邪來煩惱至 正來煩惱除 邪正俱不用 清淨至無餘
Erroneous views keep us in defilement
While right views remove us from it,
But when we are in a position to discard both of them
We are then absolutely pure.
菩提本自性 起心即是妄 淨心在妄中 但正無三障
Bodhi is immanent in our Essence of Mind,
An attempt to look for it elsewhere is erroneous.
Within our impure mind the pure one is to be found,
And once our mind is set right, we are free from the three kinds of beclouding
(defilement, evil karma, and expiation in evil realms of existence).
世人若修道 一切盡不妨 常自見己過 與道即相當
If we are treading the Path of Enlightenment
We need not be worried by stumbling-blocks.
Provided we keep a constant eye on our own faults
We cannot go astray from the right path.
色類自有道 各不相妨惱 離道別覓道 終生不見道
Since every species of life has its own way of salvation
They will not interfere with or be antagonistic to one another.
But if we leave our own path and seek some other way of salvation
We shall not find it,
波波度一生 到頭還自懊 欲得見真道 行正即是道
And though we plod on till death overtakes us
We shall find only penitence in the end.
If you wish to find the true way
Right action will lead you to it directly;
自若無道心 闇行不見道 若真修道人 不見世間過
But if you do not strive for Buddhahood
You will grope in the dark and never find it.
He who treads the Path in earnest
Sees not the mistakes of the world;
若見他人非 自非卻是左 他非我不非 我非自有過
If we find fault with others
We ourselves are also in the wrong.
When other people are in the wrong, we should ignore it,
For it is wrong for us to find fault.
但自卻非心 打除煩惱破 憎愛不關心 長伸兩腳臥
By getting rid of the habit of fault-finding
We cut off a source of defilement.
When neither hatred nor love disturb our mind
Serenely we sleep.
欲擬化他人 自須有方便 勿令彼有疑 即是自性現
Those who intend to be the teachers of others
Should themselves be skilled in the various expedients which lead others to enlightenment.
When the disciple is free from all doubts
It indicates that his Essence of Mind has been found.
佛法在世間 不離世間覺 離世覓菩提 恰如求兔角
The Kingdom of Buddha is in this world,
Within which enlightenment is to be sought.
To seek enlightenment by separating from this world
Is as absurd as to search for a rabbit’s horn
正見名出世 邪見名世間 邪正盡打卻 菩提性宛然
Right views are called ‘transcendental’;
Erroneous views are called ‘worldly’.
When all views, right or erroneous, are discarded
Then the essence of Bodhi appears.
此頌是頓教 亦名大法船 迷聞經累劫 悟則剎那間
This stanza is for the ‘Sudden’ School.
It is also called the ‘Big Ship of Dharma’ (for sailing across the ocean of existence).
Kalpa after Kalpa a man may be under delusion,
But once enlightened it takes him only a moment to attain Buddhahood.
Before conclusion, the Patriarch added, “Now, in this Ta Fan Temple, I have addressed you on the teaching of the ‘Sudden’ School. May all sentient beings of the Dharmadhatu instantly understand the Law and attain Buddhahood.”
After hearing what the Patriarch said, the Prefect Wei, government officials, Taoists and laymen were all enlightened. They made obeisance in a body and exclaimed unanimously, “Well done! Well done! Who would have expected that a Buddha was born in Guangdong?”