Forty-seventh Patriarch
Dhyana Master
Hwai Shen

Commentary - Another Verse in Praise

Another verse says: The Chan School puts an end to intellectual discernment and mental discrimination. In the Chan School, "The path of languages is cut off; the place of the mind's workings is destroyed," thus eliminating extraneous thinking. You do away with discrimination and cognitive activity. "Sweep away all dharmas, and separate from all marks." Empty out everything. The reply does not answer the question; his speech seems upside-down. He has swept clean the thought of wanting to know things. Because he has emptied everything out and no longer knows anything, the Master's reply does not fit the question. A monk asked him, "What is the Buddha?" and the Master replied, "Assign someone a job according to his capacity." In what way are these two connected? His speech seems to be upside-down. The specifics contradict the principle; his words are jumbled up. Events and principle seem to go against one another, and his words seem all mixed up, disconnected.

The true substance: "It's very cold today. "A monk asked him, "What is the true and actual substance?" The Master answered, "It's very cold today." Again, the reply was incongruent with what was asked. The ultimate purport: "a pool amidst snow-capped mountains." The question was about heaven, and the answer was about the earth. The question was related to the sun and the answer was about the moon.

His ambiguous answers transcend the common rule. It seems as if he was dodging the issue and not meeting the question head on. He was removed from the language and thinking patterns of most ordinary people. Words perish, deliberations are destroyed, and even thoughts are lost. Words are dismissed, conscious effort is obliterated, and even thoughts are gone. In the Chan School, you "sweep away all dharmas and separate from all marks." Words are not established, and the transmission is outside the teaching. It is an inconceivable Dharma-door that defies description by words.