Thursday, January 01, 2009

Pit of the Hidden Buddha (藏佛坑)

From Guo'en Si, the motor taxi driver took me to the Pit of the Hidden Buddha, which was less than 10 mins ride away. This is the holy place where Huineng's body was discovered after he disappeared from the temple soon after Parinirvana.
A scenic pond near the entrance. In the year 713 CE, close to midnight on the 3rd day of the 8th lunar month, Huineng suddenly exclaimed "I'm leaving!" to his attending disciples. Immediately there was a white column of light engulfing the 6th Patriarch's body and rising towards the sky. The column of light flew southwards, and when the light dissipated, Huineng's body was also nowhere to be seen.
The Main Hall of the small temple at the Pit. What happened to his body? Actually it had not flew away, but it was one of his disciples Fahai who carried the body away while the others were either dozing off or mesmerized by the light. He was worried that followers would fight over Huineng's body, so he brought it to this pit with the intention of hiding the body in a cave under a waterfall here. However the cave's entrance had since been blocked by sand and rocks, so Fahai had no choice but to place his body on a rock at the top of the waterfall.
The golden statue of Huineng in the Hall of the 6th Patriarch. The next day, he was soon discovered by the monks of Guo'en Si searching for their Master's body. The news of Huineng's passing spread quickly and soon parties from Guangxiao Si, Nanhua Si, Dongshan Si all came to "invite" Huineng's body back to their respective temples for veneration. In the ensuing argument, someone suggested lighting a joss stick to decide. Whichever direction the incense smoke went would be the place Huineng wanted to reside.
The Guanyin Hall. So at the entrance of the Pit village, inside a small house a joss stick was lit and placed in the centre. A representative from each temple was chosen to sit at the corners of the house, with Guo'en Si at the Southwest, Guangxiao Si at the Southeast, Nanhua Si at the Northeast and Dongshan Si at the Northwest. Soon everyone saw that the incense smoke floated towards the Northeast. And so it was, the party from Nanhua Si went into the Pit and brought Huineng's body back to their temple, where it had been venerated till this day.
The stone tablet documenting the history of the Pond of Manifestation (化身潭). This is the spot where Huineng's body was found. The Pit of the Hidden Buddha was in fact the place where Huineng used to visit as a young boy chopping firewood in this area. Legend has is that under the waterfall there is a small cave which could only be reached if one dived under the fall. It was discovered by Huineng and the other village kids when they swam and bathed in the pond here. Fahai wanted to hide Huineng's body in this cave, but of course he could find no way to enter it.
The Rain Praying Rock. This is the holy rock where Huineng used to pray for rain whenever there is a drought in Xinxing. His prayers were answered every time. After Huineng's Parinirvana, the villagers continued to place a golden statue of Huineng on this rock and request monks from Guo'en Si to chant sutras for rain in case of drought. Miraculously, it worked as if Huineng was still around.
A water wheel by the stream. After Huineng's body was taken away by Nanhua Si, the people of Xinxing were devastated and nobody could understand why the 6th Patriarch chose to go back to Shaoguan. But one night, Huineng appeared to a village official in a dream and said, "Although my body is at Caoxi (where Nanhua Si is located), my heart will always remain here (in Xinxing). No matter how chaotic the world becomes, this place will never have to worry. No matter how dry the world becomes, this place will still have half harvest." This meant that no matter how bad the wars and droughts in China get, Huineng will bless the people of Xinxing with protection and at least half of their crops would be harvested. Thus they would never have to worry about starving.
Abandoned Guanyin and Guan Gong images left at the side of the path. True enough, throughout the 1,296 years that passed since Huineng's Parinirvana, none of the wars and natural disasters that occurred in China's history ever affected Xinxing very much. Even during WW2 when the Japanese Army invaded Guangdong, they did not attack Xinxing. Once the Japs heard that this was the birthplace of the 6th Patriarch, they just fired a few empty artillery shells and left without stationing a single soldier here.
The Dragon fountain for people to wash their hands.
This is the Pond of Manifestation. It is quite shallow and one could wade safely in the pond if it was not raining heavily.
A small pavilion with Huineng's image marks the spot where Fahai placed Huineng's body. It is supported by a column in the middle of the stream.
The back of the Pit, where the path ends. After a short prayer to Huineng, I left the Pit and headed to the next destination.

1 comment:

hoangkybactien said...

The Sixth Patriach's Final Instruction (from the Platform sutra):

The Essence of Mind or Tathata (Suchness) is the real Buddha,
While heretical views and the three poisonous elements are Mara.

Enlightened by Right Views, we call forth the Buddha within us.

When our nature is dominated by the three poisonous elements,

We are said to be possessed by Mara;

But when Right Views eliminate from our mind these poisonous elements,

Mara will be transformed into a real Buddha.

The Dharmakaya, the Sambhogakaya and the Nirmanakaya --

These three Bodies emanate from one (i.e., the Essence of Mind).

He who is able to realize this fact intuitively

Has sown the seed, and will reap the fruit of Enlightenment.

It is from the Nirmanakaya that our 'Pure Nature' emanates;

Within the former the latter is to be found.

Guided by 'Pure Nature,' the Nirmanakaya treads the Right Path,

And will some day attain to the Sambhogakaya, perfect and infinite.

'Pure Nature' is an outgrowth of our sensual instincts;

By getting rid of sensuality, we attain the Pure Dharmakaya.

When our temperament is such that we are no longer the slaves of the five sense-objects,

And when we have realized the Essence of Mind even for one moment only, then Truth is known to us.

Should we be so fortunate as to be the followers of the Sudden School in this life,

In a sudden we shall see the Bhagavat of our Essence of Mind.

He who seeks the Buddha (from without) by practicing certain doctrines

Knows not where the real Buddha is to be found.

He who is able to realize the Truth within his own mind

Has sown the seed of Buddhahood.

He who has not realized the Essence of Mind and seeks the Buddha from without

Is a fool motivated by wrong desires.

I have hereby left to posterity the teaching of the Sudden School

For the salvation of all sentient beings who care to practice it.

Hear me, ye future disciples!

Your time will have been badly wasted if you neglect to put this teaching into practice.

May this teaching of the Sixth Patriarch continues to flourish through eternity.