HUI K'O: THE SECOND PATRIARCH OF ZEN


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Hui-k'o, the Second Patriarch of Zen passed on the bowl and robe to his successor, the Third Patriarch, Seng-ts'an, signifying the Transmission of the Dharma. Hui-k'o, who had received the seal of approval from Bodhidharma himself, then went everywhere drinking and carousing around like a wildman and partaking in the offerings of the brothel districts. When people asked how he could do such a thing, being a Patriarch of the Zen school and all, he would respond with: "What business is it of yours?"



The Second Patriarch, Hui K'o of the Northern Ch'i whose family name was Chi, was formerly Shen Kuang. When he was born, his parents saw Wei T'ou Bodhisattva, the golden armored spiritual being, come to offer protection; thereupon they named their son "Shen Kuang" which means "spiritual light." Not only was the Patriarch intelligent, but he had an excellent memory as well, and his skills and powers of discrimination were so remarkable that he could read ten lines in the time it took an ordinary person to read one. In a gathering of one hundred people, all talking at once, he could clearly distinguish each conversation.

The Great Master, however, had great anger; he disagreed with everyone and was ready to fight. Later, in quest of the Dharma, it was his great anger which enabled him to sit outside from Bodhidharma, cut off his arm and feel no pain. It was also BECAUSE of his anger that he later felt pain. Unafflicted by anger, he would have felt no pain. Pain is just an affliction and affliction is the cause of pain.

The Second Patriarch was forty years old when he left Bodhidharma. Having obtained the Dharma, he went into hiding because Bodhiruci and Vinaya Master Kuang T'ung, who had made six attempts on the life of Bodhidharma, also wished to kill his disciples. So although Hui K'o had great anger, he nevertheless obeyed his teacher and went into hiding for forty years. When he was eighty, he began to propagate the Buddhadharma, teaching and transforming living beings.

Hui-k'o, who had received the seal of approval from Bodhidharma himself sometime after the above arm severing episode, eventually passed on the bowl and robe to his successor, the Third Patriarch, Seng-ts'an, signifying the Transmission of the Dharma. He then, as presented in the opening quote at the top of the page, went everywhere drinking and carousing around like a wildman and partaking in the offerings of the brothel districts. When people asked how he could do such a thing, being a Patriarch of the Zen school and all, he would respond with: "What business is it of yours?" (source)

Later, even though Hui K'o was into his eighties and had long passed on the Patriarchship, the disciples of Bodhiruci and Vinaya Master T'ung Kuang searched him down and tried to kill him, who feigned insanity to lessen the jealousy of his rivals. But he never ceased to save living beings who were ready to receive his teaching. Because so many people continued to trust the Second Patriarch, Bodhiruci's disciples were still jealous. They reported Hui K'o to the government, accusing him of being a weird inhuman creature. "He confuses the people who follow him," they charged; "he is not even human." The emperor ordered the district magistrate to arrest him, and Hui K'o was locked up and questioned:

"Are you human or are you a freak?" asked the Magistrate.

"I'm a freak," replied master Hui K'o.

The magistrate knew that the Patriarch was saying this to avoid jealousy, so he ordered him to tell the truth. "Speak clearly," he demanded, "what are you?"

The Great Master replied, "I'm a freak."

Governments can't allow strange freaks to roam the earth, and so Hui K'o was sentenced to die. Now, isn't that the way of the world?

The Patriarch wept when he told his disciples, "I must undergo retribution." He was a courageous man, certainly not one who would cry out of Fear of Death. he was sad that the Dharma had not been widely understood during his lifetime. "The Buddhadharma will not flourish until the time of the Fourth Patriarch," he announced, and then he faced the executioner.

"Come and kill me he said!" he said. The executioner raised his axe and swung it towards the master's neck. What do you think happened?

You are probably thinking, "He was a patriarch with great spiritual power. certainly the blade shattered and his neck was not even scratched." No. The axe cut off his head, and it didn't grow back. However, instead of blood, a milky white fluid flowed onto the chopping block.

You think, "Now really,this is just too far out." If you believe it that is fine. If you don't believe it that is fine too; just forget it. However, I will give you a simple explanation of why blood did not flow from the Patriarch's neck: When a sage enters the white

yang realm his body becomes white because his body has completely transformed into yang, leaving no trace of yin. "I don't believe it," you say. Of course you don't. If you did, you would be just like the Second Patriarch.



When the executioner saw that the master did not bleed, he exclaimed, "Hey! He really is a freak! I chopped off his head, but what came out was not blood, but this milky white fluid. And his face looks exactly as it did when he was alive!" The emperor knew that he had executed a saint, because he remembered that the Twenty-fourth Indian Patriarch, Aryasimha [1], had also been beheaded and had not bled, but a white milky fluid had poured forth, because he had been without outflows. When one has no ignorance, one may attain to a state without outflows and enter the white yang realm.

You think, "But you just said the Patriarch Hui K'o had great anger. How could he have been without great ignorance?" You are certainly more clever than I, for I did not think of this question. But now that you have brought it up, I will answer it. His was not petty anger like yours and mine which explodes like firecrackers, "Pop! Pop! Pop." His anger was wisdom and because of it his body became yang. Great patience, great knowledge, great courage, great wisdom: That's what his temper was made of.

Realizing that Hui K'o was a Bodhisattva in the flesh, the Emperor felt great shame. "A Bodhisattva came to our country," he said, "and instead of offering him protection, we kill him." Then the Emperor had all the officials take refuge with this strange Bhikshu. Thus, even though the Second Patriarch had already been executed, he still excepted these disciples.


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Fundamentally, our experience as experienced is not different from the Zen master's. Where
we differ is that we place a fog, a particular kind of conceptual overlay onto that experience
and then make an emotional investment in that overlay, taking it to be "real" in and of itself.


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The Sino-American Buddhist Association
The Buddhist Text Translation Society
San Francisco
1977

Translated from Chinese by
The Buddhist Text Translation Society
Primary Translation: Bhikshuni Heng Yin
Reviewed By: Bhikshuni Hen Ch'ih
Edited By: Upasaka Kuo Chuo Rounds
Certified By: The Venerable Master Hua
Copyright c 1977 by the Sino-American Buddhist
Assn, Buddhist Text Translation Society























FOOTNOTE [1]


Aryasimha, the Twenty-Fourth Patriarch, was a native of central India. In his practice of the Buddhadharma, he traveled to Kashmir. The King of Kashmir did not believe in the Buddha, but instead followed two non-Buddhist leaders who planned to destroy Buddhism. As Bhikshus were not allowed within the country, the King demanded of Aryasimha, "Have you ended birth and death ?"

Aryasimha wanted to convert the King. "I have ended it," he answered.

"The Buddha's teaching says that in practising the Bodhisattva way, you must give up your head, your eyes, your brains, and your blood. You must give up whatever someone happens to need. Now, I need your head. Give it to me! Since you have ended birth and death, you must give me your head. Can you do it?"

"I don't even have birth or death," said Aryasimha. "What does it matter if I lose my head? It's yours. Take it."

The King sliced off Aryasimha's head but instead of blood, a milky white fluid ran out of his neck. The King's arm fell to the ground. No one cut it off. It just fell off by itself because he had murdered an Arhat. The King then put the two leaders of the non-Buddhist religion to death. There was nothing special about their executions. They bled just like everyone else. The King prohibited their non-Buddhist religion and spread the Buddhadharma widely.