MASTER SHEN-LONG | The Second Patriarch (Hui-Ke) of Chinese Zen Buddhism
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The Second Patriarch (Hui-Ke) of Chinese Zen Buddhism

(Excerpt from the Prajna (Volume II) —Perfection of Wisdom (Prajna-Paramita), expounded by Master Shen-Long, Chapter 11)



Master Shen-Long, Zen Master, 1998, ink on rice paper, 3ft x 6ft, copyright Master Shen-Long.

The Second Patriarch was a soldier. He had killed many people during battle, his mind was not at peace with this; so he went around seeking ways to set his mind at rest. While Bodhidharma sat in the cave and faced the wall, on a heavy snow day the 2nd Patriarch went to meet with Bodhidharma; he knelt in snow outside the cave for many days, and Bodhidharma had shown no indication to meet with him. So, the 2nd Patriarch thought out a way, he cut off one of his arms to indicate: I am here for Dharma (teaching) and I would let go my life for it; I am not here to ask a couple casual questions and then go home, I am with full sincerity and willing to let go of my life. His action eventually got a response from Bodhidharma.

Bodhidharma finally turned his head and asked him: “What do you want?”

The 2nd Patriarch said: “My mind is not at peace; I need to put my mind at rest”.

Bodhidharma said: “In that case, take out your mind and show it to me”

Suddenly, the 2nd Patriarch with an unexpected spurt of reflection from his self-nature stated: “Searching all over for the mind and it is entirely unobtainable,  how can there be a mind.”

Bodhidharma replied: “I have already rested your mind for you”.

The 2nd Patriarch instantly achieved  supreme enlightenment, self-verification of the truth as:

Originally there is not a single thing, where can there be any dust (affliction).

That is it.

When studying the gong-an (study case) of many Patriarchs, you need to know how to study it; at the moment of studying, your mind is unmoved by any phenomena, purified of defiling illusion and without wave motions, then you will understand the gong-an as how they are stated in full comprehension. So, Bodhidharma transmitted the teaching to the 2nd Patriarch (Hui-Ke).

How did he transmit this?

Exactly how the 2nd Patriarch saw it, he witnessed it not through the lay-man’s vision; he saw it from the vision of the mind as the vision of Prajna (wisdom). In that split second he let go of all delusional thoughts, attachments and afflictions of infinite kalpas. After letting go of it all, his Six Supernatural Powers recovered. This is inconceivable; the six capabilities of the fundamental essence with pureness and brightness are recovered—as divine vision, divine hearing, miraculous and unimpeded bodily function, or the insight of previous lifetimes—all are recovered. The most important one is the ‘insight of ending all of the afflictions that arise from things seen and thought in the stream of transmigration’; after putting an end to all afflictions, then this person recovers to normality.