Monday, April 4, 2011

Seng-Ts'an: The Third Zen Patriarch

Seng-Ts'an: The Third Zen Patriarch
by Scott Bradley


Most all the major Zen masters had their moment of enlightenment through a simple, though seemingly obscure, encounter with another master. Here is Seng-Ts'an's:
He was afflicted by leporsy and believed this to be a consequence of sins committed in previous lives. Thus, when he approached Hui-k'o, who became the second patriarch, he said: "I am in great suffering from this disease; please take away my sins."

Hui-k'o replied: "Bring me your sins, and I will take them away."

Seng-ts'an replied: "I have looked, but I cannot find them."

Hui-k'o exclaimed: "Behold, you have just been cleansed!"
With this Seng-ts'an was enlightened -- how exactly, I will not venture to guess. Only I think it worthy of noting that his sins turned out to be illusory -- he burdened himself unnecessarily. The only change that ever seems to be required is a change in perception. Everything else follows naturally from there.

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1 comment:

  1. So how did he now perceive his leprosy? I assume he still suffered, but now had nothing to attribute his suffering to. Just an observation.

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