The Six Patriarchs of Chan Buddhism

By | Feb 8, 2017 | Views: 1,860

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(By Tsem Rinpoche and Pastor David)

The word ‘Zen’ is derived from the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese word ‘Chan’. This in turn is derived from the Indian Sanskrit word ‘Dhyana’, which means ‘mental absorption’ or ‘meditation’.

The modern Zen tradition of today is based on a school of Mahayana Buddhism that originated in China during the Tang dynasty, and was known as Chan Buddhism. Some scholars say that Chan Buddhism was first influenced by Taoism, which developed into a distinct school of Chinese Buddhism, and then spread northeast into Korea, and later further east into Japan.

Chan

The Chan teachings emphasise strict self-discipline, sitting-meditation, completeness, insight into the Buddha-nature of all beings, and incorporating this insight into daily life in order to be of benefit to all beings, and thus attaining the Bodhisattva-ideal. Hence, it places less emphasis on the scholasticism of the sutras in favour of direct realisation attained through sitting-meditation and dialogue with an accomplished master.

Chan teachings comprise of several important philosophical texts on Mahayana thinking and doctrines, including those of the Yogachara School, and the Tathagatagarbha sutras, but especially those of the Huayan School. In addition, the core philosophies of the Prajnaparamita texts and Nagarjuna’s Madhyamaka have also been shaped into the central belief-system of Chan Buddhism.

 

The Six Patriarchs

The Chan lineage was first introduced during the Tang Dynasty, incorporating the teachings of great masters from Indian Buddhism and the Chinese Mahayana tradition. It was then published, and gained wider acceptance towards the end of the Tang period.

This lineage of Chan patriarchs was first mentioned in the inscription on Faru’s tomb (638–689), a master and former disciple of the 5th patriarch, Daman Hongren (601–674). In The Long Scroll of the Treatise on the Two Entrances and Four Practices, as well as The Continued Biographies of Eminent Monks, Daoyu and Dazu Huike are the only disciples of Bodhidharma that were explicitly mentioned. The inscription traces the lineage to Bodhidharma as the first patriarch.

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In the 6th century CE, biographies of great monks were collected and compiled. These biographies of great monks were meant to be non-sectarian in nature. Naturally, the Chan biographical material intended to establish Chan as an authentic school of Buddhism rooted in Indian origins. These biographies are mainly hagiographies, which meant less emphasis was placed on historical accuracy and heavier emphasis on legends and traditional tales. The complete lineage was probably first published by the 9th Century CE.

According to D. T. Suzuki, the popularity of Chan during the 7th and 8th centuries attracted criticism that claimed there were no records showing Chan teachings having been derived from the Buddha. Hence, the earlier Chan masters re-established Bodhidharma as the 28th patriarch after the Buddha, thereby legitimising the Chan lineage. This early line of ancestry, from Bodhidharma down to Huineng, was called The Six Patriarchs.

  • Bodhidharma (440 – 528 CE)
  • Huike (487–593 CE)
  • Sengcan (?–606 CE)
  • Daoxin (580–651 CE)
  • Hongren (601–674 CE)
  • Huineng (638–713 CE)

 

Bodhidharma

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Bodhidharma was an Indian monk who lived between 5th and 6th Century CE, and was credited to have been the founding father of Chan Buddhism in China. That is why he is the first of the Six Patriarchs of Chan Buddhism.

According to Chinese sources, Bodhidharma originated from the Western Regions, which roughly corresponds to what is now Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent. Hence, some sources claim that he was a ‘Persian Central Asian’ or ‘the third son of a great South Indian king’.

Throughout Buddhist art, Bodhidharma is depicted as an unruly, bearded, wide-eyed and dark-skinned Indian. He is referred to as ‘The Blue-Eyed Barbarian’ in an earlier description, and some claims have him hailing from within the region of Peshawar in Pakistan but so far, no claim has been able to conclusively prove their case.

There are two accounts that give different dates of his arrival to China. One earlier account claims that he arrived during the Liu Song dynasty (420-479 CE), while the later states that he arrived during the Liang dynasty (502-557 CE). However, he travelled extensively throughout the territories of the Northern Wei (386 – 534 CE), and so many modern scholars officially place the date of Bodhidharma’s travels in China as being early 5th Century CE. While in China, Bodhidharma’s teachings centered on meditation and specifically on the Lankavatara Sutra.

Lankavatara Sutra, Chapter Six

Lankavatara Sutra, Chapter Six

It is said that Bodhidharma achieved enlightenment, and was instructed by Prajnatara, his guru, that he had to travel to China in order to further the Mahayana doctrine there. He set out on an epic three-year voyage by sea before arriving at the coastal city of Canton. He found his way to the imperial court of the ruling Liang Dynasty in Nanjing and gained an audience with Emperor Wu, who proclaimed himself to be one of China’s greatest patrons of Buddhism.

In a famous anecdote, the emperor asked the Indian master the amount of merit that he had earned for ordaining monks, building monasteries, and accomplishing other good deeds. Bodhidharma replied bluntly that he had accumulated no merit. This puzzled the Emperor, who slowly turned to rage. The Indian master beat a hasty retreat and left northwards towards the Shaolin Temple in the state of Wei that he had heard about. His travels brought him to the mighty Yangtze River that he had to cross. According to legend, he crossed the river while balanced atop a tiny reed, which has since been frequently depicted in Chinese art. While at the Shaolin Temple, he sat down to meditate for nine years while facing a wall in a cave, earning the name ‘Wall-Gazing Brahman’.

Bodhidharma’s austere meditation won over a few students, but one of them, Huike, was most famous. According to legend, Huike was said to have stood outside the cave in the snow and waited on the master for a whole week. Then, in sheer frustration, Huike chopped off his left arm and presented it to the master in order to express his determination to attain enlightenment, a scene that is also popularly represented in Chinese paintings. Huike would eventually become Bodhidharma’s successor, and the next patriarch. There were two attempts to poison Bodhidharma, but on the third attempt, the sage decided to take the poison and passed away at the age of 150.

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Three years after his passing, a Chinese emissary by the name of Song Yun was on his way back to China from India when he chanced upon Bodhidharma on the road. The master was on his way back to India and the official observed that he was walking barefoot and carrying one shoe in his hand. It was only upon his return to his homeland that he realised that the master had passed away. The master’s grave was exhumed only to discover that his body was missing, and all that remained was one shoe. The Chinese considered this a sign that Bodhidharma had become an immortal, and had merely feigned his own death. He was thus included in the Taoist pantheon of immortals.

According to tradition, Bodhidharma is attributed to be the founder of martial arts at the Shaolin Temple. As the legend goes, Bodhidharma faced the wall for nine years at the Shaolin Temple, and when he departed, he left behind a great chest. When the monks searched the contents of the chest, they discovered two books on martial arts: Marrow Washing Classic (Xi Sui Jing) and Muscle Change Classic (Yi Jin Jing).

His disciple Huike took the first book and it was eventually lost to time, while the second book was treasured by the monastery and was developed into what is characteristically known as the Shaolin martial arts. However, recent historians assert the claim that the text was actually written by Taoist priest Zining of Mt. Tiantai and thereby allaying centuries-old claims that Bodhidharma founded the Shaolin martial arts.

 

Huike

Dazu Huike (487–593 CE) was the Second Patriarch of Chan Buddhism, and became Bodhidharma’s successor. He is considered the 29th in the lineage that stemmed from Buddha Shakyamuni. According to the Hsu kao-seng chuan, Huike was born in Henan and was given the name Shen-Guang.

Huike was a scholar in both Buddhist and classical Chinese texts, including those of Taoism. He met his teacher Bodhidharma at the Shaolin Monastery in 528 CE when he was about forty years old, and he studied under Bodhidharma for six years (the duration varies according to sources).

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There is little surviving information on the lives of Bodhidharma and Huike, and the few accounts of them are semi-mythical in nature. The most famous account was the meeting of Bodhidharma and Huike that occurred during winter, when Huike stood in the snow waiting outside a cave for the master. As an offering to the master, Huike cut off his arm and made his request, “Master, your disciple’s mind has no peace. Please put it to rest.” Bodhidharma responded, “Bring me your mind, and I will put it to rest.” Huike then replied, “I have searched for my mind but I cannot find it.” Bodhidharma finally replied, “Then I have completely put it to rest for you.”

Bodhidharma built the Zhuoxi Spring or Four Springs, situated in front of the Second Ancestor’s Temple at the Shaolin Temple so it would be easier for Huike to fetch water with his remaining arm. Then, Huike travelled to Yedu (modern day Henan) around 534 CE and lived there. When political turmoil engulfed China and Buddhist persecution was rampant in 574 CE, he hid in the area of Yedu and Wei (modern Hebei).

It was during this turbulent period that Huike sought refuge in the mountains near the Yangtze River and this was where he met Sengcan, who would become his successor and the Third Chinese Patriarch of Chan. In 579, Huike returned to Yedu and gave teachings which drew huge crowds. This attracted the envy and hostility of other Buddhist teachers, one of whom, Tao-heng, hired an assassin to have Huike killed, but in a dramatic turn of events, the master converted the would-be assailant.

Dazu Huike (487–593 CE), the Second Patriarch of Chan Buddhism

Dazu Huike (487–593 CE), the Second Patriarch of Chan Buddhism

The Compendium of Five Lamps (Wudeng Huiyan) compiled by Dachuan Lingyin Puji (1179–1253) wrote that Huike lived up to the age of one hundred seven. He was entombed about forty kilometres northeast of Anyang City in the Hebei Province. After his passing, the Tang Dynasty emperor De Zong bestowed on Huike the honorific title Dazu or ‘Great Ancestor’. Some accounts claim that influential Buddhist priests had Huike executed due to complaints about his teachings being heretical. These accounts say that blood did not flow from his decapitated body, but rather, a white milky substance flowed from his neck, astonishing everybody.

One of the most important aspects of the early Chan teachings by Bodhidharma and Huike was that of attaining sudden enlightenment rather than the gradual approach to enlightenment characteristic of the Indian tradition. Huike and Bodhidharma attributed their teachings to the Lankavatara Sutra, which stresses self-realisation and transcending words and thoughts. In his teachings, Huike stressed on meditation as a tool towards understanding the true intent of the Buddha, and that meditation should also be free of dualism or attachment.

 

Sengcan

Jianzhi Sengcan (6th Century CE) was the Third Chinese Patriarch of Chan following Huike and Bodhidharma, and is considered the thirtieth Patriarch after Buddha Shakyamuni. He is the sole successor of the second Chinese Patriarch, Dazu Huike.

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It is said that Sengcan was over forty years old when he first chanced upon Huike in 536 CE, and he remained with his teacher for six years while receiving teachings. It was Huike who gave him the name Sengcan or ‘Gem Monk’. The Transmission of the Lamp gives this exchange between Huike and Sengcan, where Sengcan says, “I am riddled with sickness. Please absolve me of my sins.” Huike responded by saying, “Bring your sins here and I will absolve them for you.” After a long pause, Sengcan finally answered, “When I am looking for my sins, I cannot find them.” Huike then replied, “I have absolved them for you. You should live by the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha.” Huike appointed him as his successor by passing down to him the robes of Bodhidharma and Bodhidharma’s Dharma (which is widely believed to be a copy of the Lankavatara Sutra) and thus, Sengcan became The Third Patriarch of Chan.

According to historians, Sengcan fled with Huike up to the mountains due to Buddhist persecution. However, the Lamp Records claim that after giving a Dharma transmission, Huike told Sengcan to live up in the mountains and wait for the time when he could transmit the Dharma to someone else. This instruction was based on an earlier prophecy by Prajnatara that was passed down to Bodhidharma, and this in turn was passed down to Sengcan. Due to the prophecy, Sengcan lived in hiding on Wangong Mountain in Yixian, and then on Sikong Mountain in southwestern Anhui. Thereafter, he wandered with no fixed abode for another ten years.

Verses from Faith-Mind (Xinxin Ming)

Verses from Faith-Mind (Xinxin Ming)

Sengcan met Daoxin (580-651 CE), a novice monk of just fourteen years old. Daoxin served Sengcan for nine years and received the Dharma transmission when he was just in his early twenties. Subsequently, Sengcan spent two years at Mount Luofu (northeast of Guangtung) before returning to Wangong Mountain. Sengcan is attributed to be the author of the popular Chan poem, Verses on Faith-Mind (Xinxin Ming). This poem has been popular with Chan practitioners for over a thousand years. The poem is said to reveal Taoist influences on Chan Buddhism, as it deals with non-duality and the metaphysical concept of emptiness or Shunyata, which is a central to the doctrine that Nagarjuna (150-250 C.E.) taught.

Sengcan passed away sitting under a tree while giving a Dharma discourse in 606 CE, and he was bestowed with the honorary title Jianzhi or ‘Mirrorlike Wisdom’ by Xuan Zong, the Emperor of the Tang dynasty.

 

Daoxin

Dayi Daoxin (580–651 CE) came to be regarded as the fourth Patriarch of Chan Buddhism following Jianzhi Sengcan (died 606 CE), and his successor was Daman Hongren (601–674 CE).

Daoxin was first mentioned in the Further Biographies of Eminent Monks (Hsu Kao Seng Chuan) published in 645 CE. Later, he was also mentioned in the Annals of the Transmission of the Dharma-Treasure (Chuan Fa Pao Chi) published around 712 CE, which provided a detailed account of Daoxin’s life. The accounts of these early Chan masters were not particularly accurate and at times, details in one account would contradict another.

However, the following biography is the traditional tale of Daoxin that was brought together from various sources, including the Compendium of Five Lamps (Wudeng Huiyuan) compiled in the early 13th century by the monk Dachuan Lingyin Puji (1179–1253).

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Daoxin was born to a family with the surname ‘Si-ma’ in the Yongning County of Qizhou, today known as Wuxue City of the Hubei Province. Daoxin began studying Buddhism at the tender age of seven, and although his first teacher had impure moral conduct, Daoxin was not adversely influenced, secretly maintaining his vows for the next five to six years.

According to the Compendium of Five Lamps , Daoxin encountered Sengcan when he was only fourteen years old. Daoxin made his request at the feet of his master, “I ask for the Master’s compassion. Please instruct me on how to achieve release.” Sengcan asked, “Is there someone who binds you?” Daoxin thought awhile, and answered, “There is no such person.” Sengcan then asked, “Why then seek release when no one restrains you?” It was said that upon hearing these words, Daoxin was said to have become enlightened.

The young Daoxin followed and served Sengcan for the next nine years. When Sengcan decided to travel to Mount Loufu, he forbade Daoxin to follow him. In an account taken from the Chuan Fa Pao Chi, the master said, “The Dharma has been transmitted from Patriarch Bodhidharma to me. I am going to the South and will leave you here to spread and protect the Dharma.”

For the next ten years, Daoxin studied at the feet of the master Zhikai at the Great Woods Temple on Mount Lu. Zhikai was an adept of the Taintai and Sanlun schools, and also chanted the Buddha’s name as part of his practice. These other schools heavily influenced Daoxin’s practice, and he finally received full ordination as a monk in 607 CE.

In 617 CE, Daoxin along with his disciples travelled to the Ji Province and entered a town that was under attack by bandits. In an unprecedented move, Daoxin expounded on the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra so well that the bandits laid down their weapons and abandoned their plans to attack the town. Daoxin continued on his travels and eventually settled at East Mountain Temple on Shuangfeng (Twin Peaks). He continued to teach Chan Buddhism for the next thirty years and attracted a large number of practitioners. According to records, he had five hundred students comprising of lay and ordained monks.

Emperor Tai Zong

Emperor Tai Zong

In 643 CE, the Emperor Tai Zong officially invited Daoxin to the capital but Daoxin turned the invitation down. The Emperor sent emissaries on three occasions and each time, Daoxin refused the imperial decree. On the third time, the Emperor, out of frustration, instructed for either Daoxin or his head to be brought to the capital. When the emissary arrived at the monastery, he related this instruction to Daoxin. In response, Daoxin stretched out his neck to allow the emissary to decapitate him. The emissary-official was so shocked that he left and he reported what transpired to the Emperor, who went on to honour Daoxin as an exemplary Buddhist master.

In 651 CE, Daoxin gave instructions for his students to build his funerary stupa in preparation for his death. According to the Further Biographies of Eminent Monks , his disciples requested for the aging master to name a successor. Daoxin replied, “I have made many deputations during my life.” He then passed away and the Emperor Tai Zong honored the late Daoxin with the posthumous title of ‘Dayi’, meaning ‘The Great Healer’.

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The Five Gates of Daoxin is a compilation of his teachings, but as this text did not appear until the second decade of the eighth century, after Hongren’s record, its historical accuracy is in doubt. The Chronicle of the Lankavatara Masters , which appeared in the early eighth century, has Daoxin quoting from the Prajnaparamita (Perfection of Wisdom) and Pure Land Sutras but some scholars do not consider the study of these sutras to be part of Daoxin’s teachings. However, Daoxin was said to have taught extensively on meditation.

The teachings of Daoxin along with his successor, Hongren are known as the East Mountain Teachings, which became the basis of the vein of Chan Buddhism that flourished all over China in the mid of 8th Century CE. A major contributing factor was the fact that Daoxin was the first Chan master to settle at one spot for an extended period of time, and thus developed a stable monastic community that influenced the flourishing of other monastic communities throughout China.

 

Hongren

Daman Hongren (601 – 674 CE) became the fifth Patriarch of Chan Buddhism. He was said to have received transmission from Daoxin, and he in turn bestowed the bowl and robe to mark the transmission upon Huineng, the sixth and last of the Chan patriarchs.

As with all the early Chan patriarchs, much of Hongren’s life, which was compiled long after his passing, was largely shrouded by time and myth. Hongren was born in Huangmei into the Chou household. According to The Records of the Teachers and Disciples of the Lankavatara (Leng-ch’ieh shih-tzu chih), his father abandoned his family, but Hongren supported his mother thereafter, displaying admirable filial duty in. However, at the age of twelve, Hongren left home to be ordained as a monk and came to study at the feet of Daoxin, the fourth patriarch of Chan.

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The meeting between Daoxin and Hongren is recorded in the Japanese text, Transmission of Light (Denkoroku) by Keizan Jokin Zenji (1268-1325 CE), which is a collection of 53 enlightened tales based on the traditional accounts of the Chan or Zen transmissions between successive masters and disciples in the Soto Zen Buddhist lineage. Daoxin initially met Hongren on a road in Huangmei. When Daoxin asked his name, Hongren replied, “I have essence but it is not a common name.” The master then asked, “What is its name?” To which Hongren replied, “It is the essence of Buddhahood.” Daoxin added, “Have you no name?” Hongren then said, “None, because essence is empty.” It is said that Daoxin would pass on the teachings and the robe down to Hongren, thus appointing Hongren as the next Patriarch of Chan Buddhism.

It was said that Hongren remained with Daoxin until his master’s death in 651 CE. It was also said that he was with Daoxin when the master was at Ta-lin Su on Mount Loufu and accompanied him to Mount Shuangfeng, one of the twin peaks of Huangmei. According to a later account, after Daoxin’s death, Hongren decided to move the community of monks towards Dong Shan or the eastern summit of the Twin Peaks. The lineage teachings of Daoxin and especially Hongren became known after this location as East Mountain Teachings (Dong Shan Fa Men).

HongRen

Daman Hongren

According to the Annals of the Transmission of the Dharma-Treasure (Chuan Fa Pao Chi of 712 CE), Hongren was described as quiet, withdrawn, diligent with his menial tasks, and sat in meditation throughout the night. He was said to have never looked at the Buddhist scriptures, but understood everything that he learned. After ten years of teaching, the record claims that eight or nine of every ten ordained and lay Buddhist practitioners in the country had studied under him.

A Chan scholar asserts that Hongren was probably from a wealthy and prominent family despite an earlier mention that his father abandoned the family. This conclusion was based on some stories that his residence was eventually converted into a monastery, which meant that it was of considerable size. In addition to that, the mention of Hongren performing menial labor in his biography would only be significant if Hongren was from an upper-class family.

In his teachings, Hongren emphasised meditation and extensively taught that the Pure Mind was obscured by discriminating thought pattern, wrong views, and projections. He taught that Nirvana naturally arose when false thoughts were eliminated, and a constant awareness of one’s natural enlightenment can be maintained through that. The Treatise on the Essentials of Cultivating the Mind is a compilation of his teachings, and is the earliest collection of teachings from a Chan master. After Hongren, Chan Buddhism split into two schools, each led by one of his students. Yuquan Shenxiu (606-706) founded the Northern School and Dajian Huineng (638–713 CE) founded the Southern School. Each of these schools regards their elder as the legitimate sixth patriarch of Chan Buddhism.

 

Huineng

Dajian Huineng is the legendary sixth and final Patriarch of Chan Buddhism and successor of Daman Hongren, the fifth Chan patriarch. Huineng’s life seems to reflect the changing fortunes of Chan Buddhism, from a Chinese provincial form of Buddhism to a major cultural and religious force throughout China and East Asia.

According to various sources, Huineng was uneducated and a ‘barbaric’ youth, but because of his deep insight, he surpassed his fellow senior monks who were great scholars to become Hongren’s successor by receiving special transmission of Chan Buddhism.

Huineng’s story began as an illiterate peasant boy from Xinzhou of the Guangdong province, born to the Lu family. His father was a minor official who had been banished and passed away when he was very young. His mother brought him to southern China and they lived in poverty. When he was old enough, he began chopping and selling firewood to make a living to support his family.

“Depending upon nothing, you must find your own mind.” - a verse from Diamond Sutra

“Depending upon nothing, you must find your own mind.” – a verse from Diamond Sutra

One day, while delivering firewood to a shop, he overheard a man reciting a verse from the Diamond Sutra, “Depending upon nothing, you must find your own mind.” Upon hearing this verse, Huineng was said to have gained realisation. The man who recited this line recommended Huineng to meet the Fifth Chan Patriarch, Hongren, at the Tung Chian Monastery in the Huang Mei District of Xinzhou. He spoke to his mother, and gained her permission to leave home in order to enter a religious life.

From then on, Huineng spent the next few years wandering before ending up with a Buddhist nun who was devoted towards the study, recitation and contemplation of the Nirvana Sutra. She would recite passages from the Sutra every day, and one day, she asked him to recite a passage aloud only to discover that he was illiterate. This surprised the nun and she asked how was he going to learn the Buddha’s teachings if he was unable to read the scriptures. The youth replied that the Buddha nature within all beings does not depend on words, so there was actually no need to read texts. This amazed the nun and she suggested that he take up ordination. Huineng declined and went to a meditation master instead.

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Huineng spent three years meditating in a mountain cave before travelling to East Mountain (Dongshan) monastery in Hubei, where he met Master Hongren, the Fifth Chan Patriarch. The master glared at the supplicant and asked where he was from and why did he come. Huineng answered that he was from the south and had come to learn the dharma from him. Hongren was quick to retort that Huineng was a mere barbarian as he was from the south. The master then added, “How could you become a Buddha?” Unfazed by the insult, Huineng responded, “Although my barbarian body and yours differ, what difference is there in our Buddha nature?”

Hongren realised that this was a promising student, although he was a diamond in the rough, and decided to test him further. He finally took Huineng in, but assigned him to the chore of threshing grains. Huineng labored for nine months treading the mill in order to separate rice grains from their husks.

However, the most famous story of Huineng’s life came with a contest. One day, the master Hongren decided to put his monks to the test by getting them to compose a verse that distilled their realisation of their original nature. The master said that he would read each verse and would award Bodhidharma’s robes, begging bowl and the title ‘Sixth Patriarch’ to the student who demonstrated true realisation.

Everybody turned towards the head monk, Shenxiu, who was expected to be the Master’s likeliest successor. However, it was said that he was full of doubt and spent a laborious night composing his verse. Finally, he crept out and wrote his verse anonymously on the wall of the new dharma hall as was required by Hongren’s challenge.

Shenxiu’s verse was as follows: –

The body is a Bodhi tree,
The mind a standing mirror bright.
At all times polish it diligently,
And let no dust alight.

This verse was a direct assertion of the necessity for diligent practice and Shenxiu had hoped that this verse would demonstrate to the Master that he had some realisation. Early the next morning, Hongren walked towards the wall and read out the verse and praised it before the jubilant monks. He offered incense before the verse and ordered the monks to recite it before calling Shenxiu for an audience. In private, he praised Shenxiu for his insight but he said that the verse revealed that he had arrived at the gates of wisdom, but he had yet to place his foot in. He then suggested Shenxiu take a few more days to ponder on another verse that would be worthy to be awarded with his robes.

Huineng‘s famous verse in response to Shenxiu’s verse

Huineng‘s famous verse in response to Shenxiu’s verse

Meanwhile, Huineng was diligently threshing rice grains when he overheard a novice reciting Shenxiu’s verse. Immediately, Huineng realised that the author of the verse lacked deeper insight. Later, he snuck out to the dharma hall and requested a monk to write his verse on the wall next to Shenxiu’s verse.

Bodhi is originally without any tree;
The bright mirror is also not a stand.
Originally there is not a single thing-
Where could any dust be attracted?

Word spread like wildfire throughout the monastery of the new verse and the news eventually reached Hongren’s ears. The Master himself came out to read the verse and immediately he recognised it to be Huineng’s words and recognised his deep insight. The master pondered and knew that passing his robe to a peasant monk would upset the monastic hierarchy. Thereafter, he was quick to dismiss the verse for lacking understanding and left. That night and under the cover of darkness, Hongren secretly summoned Huineng for an audience in which he bestowed upon him further teachings and transmissions. Passing on his robe, the Master told him to flee for his life and predicted that he would eventually transmit the teachings.

Huineng made hasty preparations and fled south. After several months of pursuit, a band of assassins tracked Huineng to a mountain and with the intent of killing him in order to retrieve the robe. Most of the pursuers turned back after climbing halfway except Huiming, who managed to reach the summit. Somehow, instead of killing the master, he was subdued by the master’s incredible wit and wisdom. After receiving his teachings, the assassin became realised. In fulfilment of his master’s prophecy, Huineng dispatched his new disciple to the north in order to spread the Dharma there.

‘No-Form Stanza’ of the Platform Sutra

‘No-Form Stanza’ of the Platform Sutra

The famous Chan treatise, Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch or Liuzu Tanjing is attributed to Huineng. Scholars analysing the text say that it was constructed over a long period of time, as it contains many layers of writing. It constitutes some of the earliest Chan teachings, and a great collection of essential teachings that form the backbone of the entire tradition stemming up to the second half of the 8th century CE. The central theme of the treatise is the recognition and realisation of one’s Buddha-nature that is similar to texts attributed to Bodhidharma and Hongren, including the idea that our primordial Buddha-nature is made invisible due to our illusions and delusions.

The Platform Sutra cites and expounds on a wide range of Buddhist scriptures like Lankavatara Sutra, Mahaparinirvana Sutra, Mahaprajnaparamita Sutra, Brahmajala Sutra, Vimalakirti Sutra, Lotus Sutra, Surangama Sutra and Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana. The Platform Sutra became wildly popular in China that some attribute to its paradoxical Taoist’ influence and numerous copies circulated.

Towards the end of 8th century, the ‘Northern’ and ‘Southern’ schools of Chan Buddhism dominated China. Shenhui (684-758) claimed to having studied under Huineng, and he criticised the legitimacy of ‘Northern’ Chan, which had received imperial patronage during the Tang dynasty (618-907) under the leadership of Shenxiu (ca. 606-706) and his heir, Puji (651-739). Shenhui claimed that his teacher Huineng was the true recipient of transmission from Hongren, and he ridiculed Shenxiu’s ‘gradualist’ approach to awakening. Shenhui insisted that Huineng was the true Sixth Patriarch, and thus claimed the title of Seventh Patriarch for himself.

In the ninth century, the ‘Southern’ school with its ‘sudden awakening’ doctrine was finally accepted as the official line. Ironically, both the ‘Northern’ and ‘Southern’ schools died out due to political turmoil of the time. It was only later, after Chan Buddhism had survived the imperial persecutions of 841-845 CE, that other Chan schools reasserted their connection to Huineng and propagated his teachings.

This is the mummified remains of Huineng that is enshrined in Nanhua Temple in Shaoguan of Northern Guangdong Province of China.

This is the mummified remains of Huineng that is enshrined in Nanhua Temple in Shaoguan of Northern Guangdong Province of China.

Huineng’s legacy continues to impact Chan Buddhism till this day. His teachings span the major themes within Chan Buddhism, and stories of his life continue to provide the archetype of an ideal Chan master.

Huineng was said to have passed away while in meditation and his body became mummified. The mummified remains of Huineng were enshrined in Nanhua Temple in Shaoguan (northern Guangdong) to this day. Jesuit priest Matteo Ricci visited Nanhua Temple in 1589, and he wrote about the life story of Huineng and described him along the lines of a Christian ascetic, calling him Liuzu or Sixth Patriarch in his writings.
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Pastor David Lai
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About Pastor David Lai

David is a lay Buddhist pastor of Kechara and a longtime student of H.E. Tsem Rinpoche. Initially a reluctant writer, he now finds himself writing for a living and has published four books including his autobiography, There's No Way But Up and Conversations in Love.

David is a lover of Buddhist art and whenever he can, he shares his knowledge of the Dharma with everyone, giving frequent teachings and writing on his blog www.davidlai.me.
Pastor David Lai
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9 Responses to The Six Patriarchs of Chan Buddhism

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  1. Fong on Apr 19, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    It’s interesting that Bodhidharma took poison that was meant to kill him and thus seemingly “died” to end the attempts on his life. And, it seems that he could not be killed as he was seen walking away with 1 shoe in his hand! and his grave turn out empty except for a shoe!

    And, his lineage held many exceptional students who went on to spread the dharma in China. But it is very sad that somehow politics came into play and there was split into the norther and southern lineage – One criticised the legitimacy of ‘Northern’ Chan,and another ridiculed Shenxiu’s ‘gradualist’ approach to awakening. It would seem that karma came into play when both nothern and southern schools died out during the 9th century due to political turmoil of the time. It was only that Chan Buddhism was brought back.

    So, dharma should never be mixed with politics, which would bring with a lot of negative karma.

  2. JP on Mar 19, 2017 at 3:33 pm

    This article showed me that when a new movement or method of teaching Buddhism in a community is introduced, there will always be opposition from the masses. In this case, they were accused of being heretic and that their teachings were not from Lord Buddha. Only centuries later were Chan Buddhism widely accepted and spread all the way to Japan and Korea. Hence, it is important that the students persevere, practice sincerely and diligently and gain attainments in order to preserve the lineage.

    Thank you Pastor David for his overview of Chan Buddhism.

  3. shelly tai on Mar 18, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    Thank you Pastor David for this write up. Is great to know about all these great master who practice so diligently in the teaching all the time I thought all these master is only a legend is not real . Is great to know that all these great being has preserve the Buddha Dharma until this day.

  4. Jennifer Yuen on Mar 17, 2017 at 11:05 pm

    Thank you so much for the article Pastor David. Heard about the ‘Zen’ Buddhism from young but never knew about it much. The article has given me some knowledge of how the tradition was introduced, survived and spread eventually. Without the determination and discipline of these great masters, Dharma would not have existed til now.

  5. TekLee on Mar 7, 2017 at 1:43 am

    Thank you Pastor David Lai for sharing this article. It let me understand more about Chan Buddhism. From young, I always heard about Bodhidharma, I heard about how he set up Shao Lin, how he could subdue spirits, but didn’t really know the real story of Bodhidharma. I always thought he was a kungfu master. Now after I become a Buddhist, amd after reading this article, I know who Bodhidharma really is. His facing the wall meditation for nine years was the most popular story. Nevertheless, all 6 patriarchs are very dedicated and committed to Dharma and bring Dharma to everyone in the world. _/\_

  6. wan wai meng on Feb 25, 2017 at 4:10 am

    Reading all the stories is really inspiring, and all the 6 patriachs they all had determination to bring the dharma to many others. A common theme within each story to me is that all had the 6 Patriachs had deep insight and tremendous courage to bring the teachings to others.

  7. Edwin Tan on Feb 11, 2017 at 6:08 pm

    Dear Pastor David,

    Thank you for the detailed write up of Zen Buddhism.

    Zen has always been synonymous with simple, clean approach and the article clearly demonstrates the idea.

    Although most historical facts were not authenticated as suggested by you or origins unknown.. It is clear that we need not be literate, read the scriptures, perform monk duties to gain enlightenment. It has all to do with the mind awakening.

    I can use some sudden awakening.. (Hehe)

    I love how your articles link from 1 patriarch to the next, and I gained more understanding about Zen Buddhism now.

    Thank you very much.

  8. Stella Cheang on Feb 9, 2017 at 5:12 pm

    Thank you, Pastor David for this sharing. Buddhism encompasses a variety of traditions and spiritual practices, and the Chan teachings is one of them. The Chan teaching emphasises on Dhyana rather than Prajna of the Buddhism practice, which means the focus is on sitting meditation to gain direct realisation and dialogue with an accomplished master. Much of the practice involved self-discipline, completeness, insight into the Buddha-nature of all beings, and incorporating this insight into daily life in order to be of benefit to all beings, and thus attaining the Bodhisattva-ideal. The lineage is based on Patriarch system, passing down from master to the most qualified disciple. The first Patriarch being the famous Bodhidharma who appeared in legends as an highly attained Kung Fu master. This strikes me that stillness of the mind and body fitness can go hand in hand.

  9. Choong on Feb 8, 2017 at 11:34 pm

    It is intriguing to read that a split of Chan Buddhism into the Northern and Southern schools or “gradual” and “sudden” awakening schools, could have precipitated its total downfall in the 9th century due to politics.

    Politics and religion are never a good mix. Whether we view it as sudden or gradual, both are still concepts generated by a tainted mind, both are constructs which fit a particular way of modeling the path toward enlightenment. Both have logically resulted in enlightenment for many. Hence we cannot side with one and dismiss the other.

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  • S.Prathap
    Thursday, Jul 18. 2019 06:00 PM
    It is a great news to know that vegan diet helping human to have better health .Being a vegetarian has many benefits .Hopefully this article will help more people to go on vegetarian .Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful and informative article.

    Read more : https://bit.ly/2XWwxsI
  • Samfoonheei
    Thursday, Jul 18. 2019 04:17 PM
    Over the past 40 years, China have gone from traditional dynastic structure by passing a number of countries to become world powerful nation . China, under the powerful leadership , China may overtake the United States soon or later in trade , economy , technology and so forth. China is seen as harbouring the ambition to play a bigger and more important role on the world stage . China’s economic expansion and diplomatic have influence countries to befriend China and looking forward to China for help in the economic growth. Time has changed and finally the Tibetans leadership has made the right choice to befriend China. Tibet and China’s friendship in long term will surely benefits both sides. Having a dialogue ,mutual understanding and respect will be good for them for the growth of their country and benefit of their people. The Department of Information and International Relations (DIIR) holds the first workshop to enhance Chinese Outreach Campaign is a good beginning for both countries. HH Dalai Lama and many more Tibetans are looking forward to return to Tibet one day. It only can be materialised with the Tibetan leadership having more dialogues and meetings with the Chinese government to solve all the political problems and Dorje Shugden controversy.
    May the Dorje Shugden issue soon be dissolved for the sake of peace and harmony.
    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing this great news.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/dorje-shugden/the-importance-of-tibet-befriending-china.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Thursday, Jul 18. 2019 04:14 PM
    Comics storytelling is the only art form in which words and pictures are blended together in an integral way to tell a story. Rejoice Kechara has taken the platform of comic storytelling to the next level with its launching of Kechara Comics. From traditional folk tales to biographies of past Buddhist masters and real-life stories of people , all in comics. That’s wonderful bringing more and more people closer to understand better of Dorje Shugden and dharma.
    Congrats to the writers team for coming out with the first publication of Kechara Comics title “Karuna Find A Way”. I did enjoyed reading this comic . Its fantastic I could only say.
    Thank you Rinpoche and writers for this wonderful sharing .

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/karuna-finds-a-way.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Thursday, Jul 18. 2019 04:13 PM
    The true guru helps us open the channel to our own wisdom and discover our guru within. Guru is the one who teaches us and shows us the path to liberation. It’s very important for us to hold on the commitment to our root teacher, who taught us the practices nor matter what happens. Rinpoche has since holding on to it showing a deep guru devotion to his root teacher……HH Kyabje Zong Rinpoche who gave Rinpoche the practice of Dorje Shugden.
    Many highly attained Lamas such as HH Kyabje Pabongka Dorje Chang, HH Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang, HH Kyabje Zong Dorje Chang teaches has since practiced, received the practice and taught thousands of Lamas the lineage and the meditation of Dorje Shugden . They cannot be wrong . Dorje Shugden is not an evil spirit but a Protector.
    Due to the ban, families , monasteries and many more has suffered, denied services to hospital, schools , attending events talks and so forth. It’s sad many families and monasteries are torn apart by this. There is more than enough evidence that there is no religious freedom or true democracy within Tibetan society which the Tibetan Learership has denied it.
    Interesting read of all the examples of what the Tibetan leadership had said , Dorje Shugden harms the Dalai Lama, and the people, all these is definitely not true. HH Dalai Lama the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people is in fact Avalokiteshvara (Chenrezig). It is impossible that HH Dalai Lama and anyone could be harmed by Dorje Shugden. Every one should be respected one and other even though they are from different religions and faith. Everyone should be given religious freedom to choose what they believe and pray . Showing compassion, love, tolerance and understanding among all people is a good choice , to live in a peaceful and harmony environment. The Tibetan Leardership (CTA) should not discriminate anyone and not be bias against someone due to their religion.
    The truth is the truth and must be reveal to all. May the ban on Dorje Shugden soon be lifted. A clear explanation tells all by Rinpoche.
    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing this details write up.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/one-minute-story/are-the-high-lamas-of-tibet-impotent-in-the-face-of-dorje-shugden

  • Ummamageswari
    Thursday, Jul 18. 2019 03:21 PM
    Thank you so much for this article. This article is mainly about the life path number 5 compatibility which is related to numerology-based relationship compatibility where it is believed by some of us.

    This article show the compatibility for this life path number 5 with number 1 to 33 and at the same time this article reveals the number 5’s strength and weakness and also for the opposite number. Thank you.

    Read more: https://bit.ly/2Y9qwgq
  • Ummamageswari
    Thursday, Jul 18. 2019 03:17 PM
    Thank you so much for this article. This article is mainly about the life path number 4 compatibility which is related to numerology-based relationship compatibility where it is believed by some of us.

    This article show the compatibility for this life path number 4 with number 1 to 33 and at the same time this article reveals the number 4’s strength and weakness and also for the another number which is for the opposite gender. Thank you.

    Read more: https://bit.ly/2JF7kiF
  • Ummamageswari
    Thursday, Jul 18. 2019 03:13 PM
    Thank you so much for this article. This article is mainly about the life path number 3 compatibility which is related to numerology-based relationship compatibility where it is believed by some.

    This article show the compatibility for this life path number 3 with number 1 to 33 and at the same time this article reveals the number 3’s strength and weakness and also for the another number which is their partner. Thank you.

    Read more: https://bit.ly/2JMLF77
  • nicholas
    Thursday, Jul 18. 2019 01:11 PM
    Supriyono lived in a village in Indonesia’s East Java Province. In early October 2011, he dreamt of a bluish-red dragon surrounding his village before it finally dived into an old well. Supriyono took the dream as a sign and located the old well in the Brahu Temple complex in the Trowulan sub-district of East Java Province.

    On 11th October 2011, Supriyono climbed down the well and found a beautiful White Tara statue, coins, and golden stones from the Majapahit Empire (1293-1500 CE). He contacted the collector Johan Yan through his friend to see if he was interested in any of the items found. On 26th March 2012, Johan Yan became the owner of the White Tara statue.

    Read more about this story at https://bit.ly/2puWEZe
  • nicholas
    Thursday, Jul 18. 2019 01:08 PM
    In order for KFR to truly become a place of healing, His Eminence the 25th Tsem Rinpoche has conceived a number of ideas including the newly-opened Medicine Buddha Healing Fountain. Embedded within the fountain are semi-precious stones that were especially consecrated by Dorje Shugden while in trance of the Panglung Oracle; His Holiness Trijang Chocktrul Rinpoche, widely accepted to be a living emanation of Vajrayogini; our own Tsem Rinpoche and His Eminence Gangchen Rinpoche, an emanation of Medicine Buddha himself. When the water runs over these stones, it becomes charged with the healing properties of the stones and imbued with its blessings.

    Check out more about this Healing Fountain at Kechara Forest Retreat at https://bit.ly/2CtVQNk
  • nicholas
    Thursday, Jul 18. 2019 01:02 PM
    The Cittamani Tara cycle of teachings in the Gelug tradition is a unique lineage of Tara’s practice that is based on the pure vision of the great Tara-siddha Takpu Gargyi Chokyi Wangchuk. This great master had pure visions of Tara and received the initiation and commentary of the practice directly from her.

    Learn more about Cittamani Tara here: https://bit.ly/2Mq3kpa
  • Sofi
    Thursday, Jul 18. 2019 11:07 AM
    The 4th Zhabdrung Rinpoche of Bhutan and Dorje Shugden

    Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the 17th Century master who rose to become the supreme authority throughout Bhutan, both in the secular and spiritual domains, and unified the country as a single nation-state.

    Read more of interesting Bhutan history: http://bit.ly/32zy6Az
  • sarassitham
    Wednesday, Jul 17. 2019 05:41 PM
    It is true that comics are not heavy thick books but they are a wonderful educational medium to bring people deep into teaching of Dharma . Thank you for sharing the first publication of Kechara Comics title “Karuna Find A Way”. Wonderful and a great idea to deliver a beautiful message which is easy to understand and enjoy reading by many level of people.
  • Samfoonheei
    Wednesday, Jul 17. 2019 05:07 PM
    The Dorje Shugden controversy has been going for over two decades. Our Guru H.E. Tsem Rinpoche is one of the many who specks out openly about this issue publicly. Having the courage, brave and honest to explain the truth to those who did not understand the whole situation.
    The Dorje Shugden’s practice have been given to Rinpoche by his root teacher Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, for spiritual purposes. Dorje Shugden is an enlightened Dharma Protector who manifested about 400 years ago from a lineage of erudite masters. Over these years many erudite masters, monks, lamas have been practicing over decades before the ban. Rinpoche has been patiently over the years to provide accurate knowledge about Dorje Shugden across the globe. These truths must be reveal to all. The truth is the truth. It has proven that the practise Dorje Shugden, we do not go to the lower realms. Many highly attained lamas practised Dorje Shugden till the end of his life and has since reincarnated back . They have even composed prayers to Dorje Shugden, give Dorje Shugden initiation, give teachings and promote Dorje Shugden as well. They believe that they will not go to the three lower realms, and will definitely reincarnate into another human form to be recognized, enthroned and continue turning the wheel of Dharma. Interesting read.
    Thank you Rinpoche for this interesting and details write up for us to understand better.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/one-minute-story/the-reasons-why-people-who-practice-dorje-shugden-do-not-go-to-the-three-lower-realms
  • Samfoonheei
    Wednesday, Jul 17. 2019 05:05 PM
    Reincarnation is religious concept that the non-physical essence of a living being starts a new life in a different physical body after biological death. Reincarnation do definitely exist and I do believe . There are scientific proof that shows reincarnation is real and there a number of proven case. Reincarnation facts has proven by science and historically and is regarded by many religions. It is believed that the biological death does not destroy the soul, the soul comes back to earth in a different form, in a different body. In Tibetan Buddhism it is considered common, where there is many highly attained lamas has reincarnated back over and over again. One such example was His Holiness Zong Rinpoche. Interesting watch and I do pick new knowledge from there.
    Thank you Rinpoche for this wonderful sharing.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/one-minute-story/interesting-reincarnation-video
  • S.Prathap
    Wednesday, Jul 17. 2019 04:37 PM
    Situation may change but Karma is constantly recording and waiting for the right chance to strike back.We should think about others when we make our decisions
    The decision we take should not inconvenient the people around us especially our family and friends.Thank you very much for this meaningful article and teaching.

    Read more : https://bit.ly/2Ggamrk

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The Unknown

The Known and unknown are both feared,
Known is being comfortable and stagnant,
The unknown may be growth and opportunities,
One shall never know if one fears the unknown more than the known.
Who says the unknown would be worse than the known?
But then again, the unknown is sometimes worse than the known. In the end nothing is known unless we endeavour,
So go pursue all the way with the unknown,
because all unknown with familiarity becomes the known.
~Tsem Rinpoche

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3 days ago
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This is pretty amazing!

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My Dharma boy (left) and Oser girl loves to laze around on the veranda in the mornings. They enjoy all the trees, grass and relaxing under the hot sun. Sunbathing is a favorite daily activity. I care about these two doggies of mine very much and I enjoy seeing them happy. They are with me always. Tsem Rinpoche

Always be kind to animals and eat vegetarian- https://bit.ly/2Psp8h2
2 months ago
My Dharma boy (left) and Oser girl loves to laze around on the veranda in the mornings. They enjoy all the trees, grass and relaxing under the hot sun. Sunbathing is a favorite daily activity. I care about these two doggies of mine very much and I enjoy seeing them happy. They are with me always. Tsem Rinpoche Always be kind to animals and eat vegetarian- https://bit.ly/2Psp8h2
After you left me Mumu, I was alone. I have no family or kin. You were my family. I can\'t stop thinking of you and I can\'t forget you. My bond and connection with you is so strong. I wish you were by my side. Tsem Rinpoche
2 months ago
After you left me Mumu, I was alone. I have no family or kin. You were my family. I can't stop thinking of you and I can't forget you. My bond and connection with you is so strong. I wish you were by my side. Tsem Rinpoche
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Part 2-Beautiful billboard in Malaysia of a powerful Tibetan hero whose life serves as a great inspiration- https://bit.ly/2UltNE4
2 months ago
Part 2-Beautiful billboard in Malaysia of a powerful Tibetan hero whose life serves as a great inspiration- https://bit.ly/2UltNE4
Part 1-Beautiful billboard in Malaysia of a powerful Tibetan hero whose life serves as a great inspiration- https://bit.ly/2UltNE4
2 months ago
Part 1-Beautiful billboard in Malaysia of a powerful Tibetan hero whose life serves as a great inspiration- https://bit.ly/2UltNE4
The great Protector Manjushri Dorje Shugden depicted in the beautiful Mongolian style. To download a high resolution file: https://bit.ly/2Nt3FHz
2 months ago
The great Protector Manjushri Dorje Shugden depicted in the beautiful Mongolian style. To download a high resolution file: https://bit.ly/2Nt3FHz
The Mystical land of Shambhala is finally ready for everyone to feast their eyes and be blessed. A beautiful post with information, art work, history, spirituality and a beautiful book composed by His Holiness the 6th Panchen Rinpoche. ~ https://bit.ly/309MHBi
2 months ago
The Mystical land of Shambhala is finally ready for everyone to feast their eyes and be blessed. A beautiful post with information, art work, history, spirituality and a beautiful book composed by His Holiness the 6th Panchen Rinpoche. ~ https://bit.ly/309MHBi
Beautiful pictures of the huge Buddha in Longkou Nanshan- https://bit.ly/2LsBxVb
2 months ago
Beautiful pictures of the huge Buddha in Longkou Nanshan- https://bit.ly/2LsBxVb
The reason-Very interesting thought- https://bit.ly/2V7VT5r
2 months ago
The reason-Very interesting thought- https://bit.ly/2V7VT5r
NEW Bigfoot cafe in Malaysia! Food is delicious!- https://bit.ly/2VxdGau
2 months ago
NEW Bigfoot cafe in Malaysia! Food is delicious!- https://bit.ly/2VxdGau
DON\'T MISS THIS!~How brave Bonnie survived by living with a herd of deer~ https://bit.ly/2Lre2eY
2 months ago
DON'T MISS THIS!~How brave Bonnie survived by living with a herd of deer~ https://bit.ly/2Lre2eY
Global Superpower China Will Cut Meat Consumption by 50%! Very interesting, find out more- https://bit.ly/2V1sJFh
2 months ago
Global Superpower China Will Cut Meat Consumption by 50%! Very interesting, find out more- https://bit.ly/2V1sJFh
You can download this beautiful Egyptian style Dorje Shugden Free- https://bit.ly/2Nt3FHz
2 months ago
You can download this beautiful Egyptian style Dorje Shugden Free- https://bit.ly/2Nt3FHz
Beautiful high file for print of Lord Manjushri. May you be blessed- https://bit.ly/2V8mwZe
2 months ago
Beautiful high file for print of Lord Manjushri. May you be blessed- https://bit.ly/2V8mwZe
Mongolian (Oymiakon) Shaman in Siberia, Russia. That is his real outfit he wears. Very unique. TR
2 months ago
Mongolian (Oymiakon) Shaman in Siberia, Russia. That is his real outfit he wears. Very unique. TR
Find one of the most beautiful temples in the world in Nara, Japan. It is the 1,267 year old Todai-ji temple that houses a 15 meter Buddha Vairocana statue who is a cosmic and timeless Buddha. Emperor Shomu who sponsored this beautiful temple eventually abdicated and ordained as a Buddhist monk. Very interesting history and story. One of the places everyone should visit- https://bit.ly/2VgsHhK
2 months ago
Find one of the most beautiful temples in the world in Nara, Japan. It is the 1,267 year old Todai-ji temple that houses a 15 meter Buddha Vairocana statue who is a cosmic and timeless Buddha. Emperor Shomu who sponsored this beautiful temple eventually abdicated and ordained as a Buddhist monk. Very interesting history and story. One of the places everyone should visit- https://bit.ly/2VgsHhK
Manjusri Kumara (bodhisattva of wisdom), India, Pala dynesty, 9th century, stone, Honolulu Academy of Arts
2 months ago
Manjusri Kumara (bodhisattva of wisdom), India, Pala dynesty, 9th century, stone, Honolulu Academy of Arts
Silver Manjusri figure from Ngemplak Semongan (Indonesia). Apparently during the Shailendra Dynasty, Mahayana Buddhism was very strong in Indonesia. This Dynasty promoted Mahayana Buddhism and Manjushri was a principal Buddha of worship.
2 months ago
Silver Manjusri figure from Ngemplak Semongan (Indonesia). Apparently during the Shailendra Dynasty, Mahayana Buddhism was very strong in Indonesia. This Dynasty promoted Mahayana Buddhism and Manjushri was a principal Buddha of worship.
In Buddhism: The Importance of Having a Clean Room- https://bit.ly/2ZgrbKS
2 months ago
In Buddhism: The Importance of Having a Clean Room- https://bit.ly/2ZgrbKS
There is an area near Lumbini, Nepal, they have sightings of Yeti for hundreds of years. So they have signages in the area with Yeti artwork to highlight this. Interesting. TR
3 months ago
There is an area near Lumbini, Nepal, they have sightings of Yeti for hundreds of years. So they have signages in the area with Yeti artwork to highlight this. Interesting. TR
Photos of footprints (Yeti) are from a high altitude pass (Darwa Pass) connecting Gangotri valley to Yamunotri valley through old pilgrim route.
3 months ago
Photos of footprints (Yeti) are from a high altitude pass (Darwa Pass) connecting Gangotri valley to Yamunotri valley through old pilgrim route.
Beautiful picture. Rare. Three holy beings.
3 months ago
Beautiful picture. Rare. Three holy beings.
May 1, 2019-I really enjoy this picture of these visitors visiting Dorje Shugden\'s grotto in Kechara Forest Retreat today. They look happy, light and blessed after doing their prayers to Dorje Shugden. I wanted to share this picture.- https://bit.ly/2UltNE4
3 months ago
May 1, 2019-I really enjoy this picture of these visitors visiting Dorje Shugden's grotto in Kechara Forest Retreat today. They look happy, light and blessed after doing their prayers to Dorje Shugden. I wanted to share this picture.- https://bit.ly/2UltNE4
A postcard of my great grand aunt Princess Nirgidma of Torghut-Tsem Rinpoche
3 months ago
A postcard of my great grand aunt Princess Nirgidma of Torghut-Tsem Rinpoche
Rei Kawakubo – Grand Dame of ‘Hiroshima Chic’- https://bit.ly/2Vz4N06
3 months ago
Rei Kawakubo – Grand Dame of ‘Hiroshima Chic’- https://bit.ly/2Vz4N06
Just now, this beautiful grape and orange infused water drink with a blue glass was brought in for me. I was amazed at the colors. Tsem Rinpoche
3 months ago
Just now, this beautiful grape and orange infused water drink with a blue glass was brought in for me. I was amazed at the colors. Tsem Rinpoche
We have to look in and change from within to find the way out of all that makes us unhappy.~Tsem Rinpoche 

www.tsemrinpoche.com
3 months ago
We have to look in and change from within to find the way out of all that makes us unhappy.~Tsem Rinpoche http://www.tsemrinpoche.com
文冬野人咖啡厅开张了!- https://bit.ly/2IRGdBM
3 months ago
文冬野人咖啡厅开张了!- https://bit.ly/2IRGdBM
Click on this picture and read about this very sad girl. Please offer your prayers for her to take a good rebirth. Tsem Rinpoche
3 months ago
Click on this picture and read about this very sad girl. Please offer your prayers for her to take a good rebirth. Tsem Rinpoche
Bigfoot cafe in Bentong, Malaysia-Delicious vegetarian food in a beautiful setting- https://bit.ly/2VxdGau
3 months ago
Bigfoot cafe in Bentong, Malaysia-Delicious vegetarian food in a beautiful setting- https://bit.ly/2VxdGau
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Videos On The Go

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    Your Next Meal!
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    She’s going to spend her whole life here without being able to move correctly. Like a machine. They are the slaves of the people and are viewed as a product. It’s immoral. Billions of terrestrial animals die annually. Billions. You can’t even imagine it. And all that because people don’t want to give up meat, even though there are so many alternatives. ~ Gabriel Azimov
  • Our Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir speaks so well, logically and regarding our country’s collaboration with China for growth. It is refreshing to listen to Dr. Mahathir’s thoughts. He said our country can look to China for many more things such as technology and so on. Tsem Rinpoche
    3 months ago
    Our Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir speaks so well, logically and regarding our country’s collaboration with China for growth. It is refreshing to listen to Dr. Mahathir’s thoughts. He said our country can look to China for many more things such as technology and so on. Tsem Rinpoche
  • This is the first time His Holiness Dalai Lama mentions he had some very serious illness. Very worrying. This video is captured April 2019.
    3 months ago
    This is the first time His Holiness Dalai Lama mentions he had some very serious illness. Very worrying. This video is captured April 2019.
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    3 months ago
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  • This dog thanks his hero in such a touching way. Tsem Rinpoche
    3 months ago
    This dog thanks his hero in such a touching way. Tsem Rinpoche
  • Join Tsem Rinpoche in prayer for H.H. Dalai Lama’s long life~ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYy7JcveikU&feature=youtu.be
    3 months ago
    Join Tsem Rinpoche in prayer for H.H. Dalai Lama’s long life~ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYy7JcveikU&feature=youtu.be
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    3 months ago
    These people going on pilgrimage to a holy mountain and prostrating out of devotion and for pilgrimage in Tibet. Such determination for spiritual practice. Tsem Rinpoche
  • Beautiful new casing in Kechara for Vajra Yogini. Tsem Rinpoche
    3 months ago
    Beautiful new casing in Kechara for Vajra Yogini. Tsem Rinpoche
  • Get ready to laugh real hard. This is Kechara’s version of “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane!” We have some real talents in this video clip.
    3 months ago
    Get ready to laugh real hard. This is Kechara’s version of “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane!” We have some real talents in this video clip.
  • Recitation of Dorje Dermo‘s mantra or the Dharani of Glorious Vajra Claws. This powerful mantra is meant to destroy all obstacles that come in our way. Beneficial to play this mantra in our environments.
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    4 months ago
    Beautiful
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    4 months ago
    My little monster cute babies Dharma and Oser. Take a look and get a cute attack for the day! Tsem Rinpoche
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    Plse watch this short video and see how all sentient beings are capable of tenderness and love. We should never hurt animals nor should we eat them. Tsem Rinpoche
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    Cruelty of some people have no limits and it’s heartbreaking. Being kind cost nothing. Tsem Rinpoche
  • SUPER ADORABLE and must see
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    Cute!
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    7 months ago
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    7 months ago
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ASK A PASTOR


Ask the Pastors

A section for you to clarify your Dharma questions with Kechara’s esteemed pastors.

Just post your name and your question below and one of our pastors will provide you with an answer.

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View All Questions

CHAT PICTURES

These are some of the food distribution photos taken from our kitchen last Saturday. We thanked all volunteers who have come to help for the preparation since 3pm. ~ Vivian @ Kechara Soup Kitchen
3 days ago
These are some of the food distribution photos taken from our kitchen last Saturday. We thanked all volunteers who have come to help for the preparation since 3pm. ~ Vivian @ Kechara Soup Kitchen
Teacher Julie taught children Nagomi Art and they love it. Lin Mun KSDS
5 days ago
Teacher Julie taught children Nagomi Art and they love it. Lin Mun KSDS
Throwback - Children volunteered in Kechara Soup Kitchen. Lin Mun KSDS
5 days ago
Throwback - Children volunteered in Kechara Soup Kitchen. Lin Mun KSDS
Throwback- Fun activity in camp. Lin Mun KSDS
5 days ago
Throwback- Fun activity in camp. Lin Mun KSDS
Throwback - DIY soap making activity. Lin Mun KSDS
5 days ago
Throwback - DIY soap making activity. Lin Mun KSDS
Throwback- KSDS camp in Kechara Forest Retreat. Lin Mun KSDS
5 days ago
Throwback- KSDS camp in Kechara Forest Retreat. Lin Mun KSDS
A simple but meaningful way to spend the weekend liberating birds. Animals deserve lots of love, care and freedom too. Through them, we learn to be more compassionate! ~Kechara Penang Study Group Jacinta
5 days ago
A simple but meaningful way to spend the weekend liberating birds. Animals deserve lots of love, care and freedom too. Through them, we learn to be more compassionate! ~Kechara Penang Study Group Jacinta
Some members from Kechara Penang Study Group get together to do a Dorje Shugden puja this afternoon. Join us if you're in Penang next time. ~KPSG Jacinta
5 days ago
Some members from Kechara Penang Study Group get together to do a Dorje Shugden puja this afternoon. Join us if you're in Penang next time. ~KPSG Jacinta
Today we received a lot recycling items from the public. Thanks for supporting us always. KEP-Serena
5 days ago
Today we received a lot recycling items from the public. Thanks for supporting us always. KEP-Serena
Today we are doing recycling at Kechara Soup Kitchen. KEP-Serena
5 days ago
Today we are doing recycling at Kechara Soup Kitchen. KEP-Serena
Winners for Blog Chat Quiz in June 2019: 1st Prize Winner is Stella Cheang. Congratulations! Stella wins a Dorje Shugden Puja worth RM400 + Dorje Shugden pendant on black onyx. (Joy - Blog chat moderator)
1 week ago
Winners for Blog Chat Quiz in June 2019: 1st Prize Winner is Stella Cheang. Congratulations! Stella wins a Dorje Shugden Puja worth RM400 + Dorje Shugden pendant on black onyx. (Joy - Blog chat moderator)
Winners for Blog Chat Quiz in June 2019: 2nd Prize Winner is Wylfred Ng. Congratulations! Wylfred wins a Gyenze pendant + Original Red Crystal incense. (Joy - Blog chat moderator)
1 week ago
Winners for Blog Chat Quiz in June 2019: 2nd Prize Winner is Wylfred Ng. Congratulations! Wylfred wins a Gyenze pendant + Original Red Crystal incense. (Joy - Blog chat moderator)
How to Clear Spirit Disturbances by Pastor Chia Today at 9:30 PM – 11 PM in Kechara House, PJ
1 week ago
How to Clear Spirit Disturbances by Pastor Chia Today at 9:30 PM – 11 PM in Kechara House, PJ
Join us for the annual Ullambana Festival on Saturday August 10th at Kechara Forest Retreat and make the most of the auspicious Ullambana month. PROGRAMME: 9:00am – Opening speech & Dharma sharing 9:30am – Grand Ullambana Gyenze Puja for good fortune, long life & merits 12:15pm – Free vegetarian lunch 2:00pm – Grand Ullambana Trakze Puja for protection & blessings 5:00pm – End The highlight of the Ullambana Festival is two powerful & extensive pujas that will be performed according to the tradition of Gaden Monastery. We've also prepared a wide selection of traditional offerings to send bountiful merits to the people who matter in your life. Don't miss this opportunity to bring tremendous benefits to your dearly departed as well as those who are still with you. For more information on the Ullambana Festival and Ullambana offerings, please get in touch with us at +609 221 5600, +603 7803 3908, +6012 987 3908 (WhatsApp only), care@kechara.com or visit our online partner
1 week ago
Join us for the annual Ullambana Festival on Saturday August 10th at Kechara Forest Retreat and make the most of the auspicious Ullambana month. PROGRAMME: 9:00am – Opening speech & Dharma sharing 9:30am – Grand Ullambana Gyenze Puja for good fortune, long life & merits 12:15pm – Free vegetarian lunch 2:00pm – Grand Ullambana Trakze Puja for protection & blessings 5:00pm – End The highlight of the Ullambana Festival is two powerful & extensive pujas that will be performed according to the tradition of Gaden Monastery. We've also prepared a wide selection of traditional offerings to send bountiful merits to the people who matter in your life. Don't miss this opportunity to bring tremendous benefits to your dearly departed as well as those who are still with you. For more information on the Ullambana Festival and Ullambana offerings, please get in touch with us at +609 221 5600, +603 7803 3908, +6012 987 3908 (WhatsApp only), care@kechara.com or visit our online partner
Join us this weekend for SPIRITUAL SATURDAY in Kechara Forest Retreat! SATURDAY, 13 JULY 9.00 am: Cook for the community - salted eggs & pineapple jam 11.00 am: Book Club - Compassion Conquers All (Eng) / Time To Wake Up (Chi) 12.30 pm: Lunch INTERESTED? To RSVP your place (and your meal!), contact us: +6017 965 9484 (WhatsApp) retreat@kechara.com See all July activities: bit.ly/2FCrJm6
1 week ago
Join us this weekend for SPIRITUAL SATURDAY in Kechara Forest Retreat! SATURDAY, 13 JULY 9.00 am: Cook for the community - salted eggs & pineapple jam 11.00 am: Book Club - Compassion Conquers All (Eng) / Time To Wake Up (Chi) 12.30 pm: Lunch INTERESTED? To RSVP your place (and your meal!), contact us: +6017 965 9484 (WhatsApp) retreat@kechara.com See all July activities: bit.ly/2FCrJm6
In our Johor Bahru office, our single mother trainees get busy to do up the products taught to them by our #volunteers while their children were given additional tuition classes in another room. ~ Vivian @ Kechara Soup Kitchen
1 week ago
In our Johor Bahru office, our single mother trainees get busy to do up the products taught to them by our #volunteers while their children were given additional tuition classes in another room. ~ Vivian @ Kechara Soup Kitchen
How To Clear Disturbances by Pastor Niral - Monday 8. July 2019 at 9:30pm in Kechara House, Jalan PJU 1/3G, SunwayMas Commercial Centre 47301 Petaling Jaya
2 weeks ago
How To Clear Disturbances by Pastor Niral - Monday 8. July 2019 at 9:30pm in Kechara House, Jalan PJU 1/3G, SunwayMas Commercial Centre 47301 Petaling Jaya
Kechara Pastor Tat Ming is conducting a blessing prayer for a traveling tour bus at our holy place, Kechara Forest Retreat. By Pastor Yek Yee, shared by Pastor Antoinette
2 weeks ago
Kechara Pastor Tat Ming is conducting a blessing prayer for a traveling tour bus at our holy place, Kechara Forest Retreat. By Pastor Yek Yee, shared by Pastor Antoinette
Kechara Pastor Tat Ming is conducting a blessing prayer for a traveling tour bus at our holy place, Kechara Forest Retreat. By Pastor Yek Yee, shared by Pastor Antoinette
2 weeks ago
Kechara Pastor Tat Ming is conducting a blessing prayer for a traveling tour bus at our holy place, Kechara Forest Retreat. By Pastor Yek Yee, shared by Pastor Antoinette
Kechara Pastor Tat Ming is conducting a blessing prayer for a traveling tour bus at our holy place, Kechara Forest Retreat. By Pastor Yek Yee, shared by Pastor Antoinette
2 weeks ago
Kechara Pastor Tat Ming is conducting a blessing prayer for a traveling tour bus at our holy place, Kechara Forest Retreat. By Pastor Yek Yee, shared by Pastor Antoinette
Kechara Pastor Tat Ming is conducting a blessing prayer for a traveling tour bus at our holy place, Kechara Forest Retreat. By Pastor Yek Yee, shared by Pastor Antoinette
2 weeks ago
Kechara Pastor Tat Ming is conducting a blessing prayer for a traveling tour bus at our holy place, Kechara Forest Retreat. By Pastor Yek Yee, shared by Pastor Antoinette
Kechara Pastor Tat Ming is conducting a blessing prayer for a traveling tour bus at our holy place, Kechara Forest Retreat. By Pastor Yek Yee, shared by Pastor Antoinette
2 weeks ago
Kechara Pastor Tat Ming is conducting a blessing prayer for a traveling tour bus at our holy place, Kechara Forest Retreat. By Pastor Yek Yee, shared by Pastor Antoinette
Kechara Pastor Tat Ming is conducting a blessing prayer for a traveling tour bus at our holy place, Kechara Forest Retreat. By Pastor Yek Yee, shared by Pastor Antoinette
2 weeks ago
Kechara Pastor Tat Ming is conducting a blessing prayer for a traveling tour bus at our holy place, Kechara Forest Retreat. By Pastor Yek Yee, shared by Pastor Antoinette
Teachers went to recce the Farm in the City before the outing with students. Lin Mun KSDS
2 weeks ago
Teachers went to recce the Farm in the City before the outing with students. Lin Mun KSDS
Teachers and students do mantra recitation together before the start of dharma class. Lin Mun KSDS
2 weeks ago
Teachers and students do mantra recitation together before the start of dharma class. Lin Mun KSDS
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Spain 122,478
Turkey 111,410
Netherlands 109,201
Russia 87,591
Romania 85,468
Hong Kong 82,577
Sri Lanka 80,246
United Arab Emirates 73,794
South Africa 73,249
Mexico 71,934
Myanmar (Burma) 68,006
New Zealand 67,675
Switzerland 63,959
Japan 60,129
Cambodia 58,042
South Korea 56,904
Bangladesh 51,711
Pakistan 50,923
Egypt 45,171
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Dorje Shugden
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