Baizhang Huaihai
Caoshan Benji
Dahui Zonggao
Daman Hongren
Danxia Tianran
Dayi Daoxin
Dazhao Puji
Dazhu Huihai
Dazu Huike
Deshan Xuanjian
Dongshan Liangjie
Guifeng Zongmi
Guishan Lingyou
Guizong Zhichang
Heze Shenhui
Hongzhi Zhengjue
Huangbo Xiyun
Huanglong Huinan
Jinshan tanying
Linji Yixuan
Longtan Chongxin
Luohan Guichen
Mazu Daoyi
Nanquan Puyuan
Nanta Guangyong
Nanyang Huizhong
Nanyue Huairang
Niutou Farong
Qingliang Wenyi
Qingyuan Xingsi
Shishuang Chuyuan
Shitou Xiqian
Tianhuang Daowu
Xiangyan Zhixian
Xitang Zhizang
Xuansha Shibei
Xuedou Chongxian
Xuefeng Yicun
Yangqi Fanghui
Yangshan Huiji
Yantou Quanhuo
Yaoshan Weiyan
Yongjia Xuanjue
Yongming Yanshou
Yunmen Wenyan
Yunyan Tansheng
Yuquan Shenxiu
Zhaozhou Congshen
Niutou Farong
died place
Jiangning County, Jiangsu
founding patriarch of Ox-Head Mountain
《绝观论》,Mind Inscription,《信心铭》,《净名经私记》,《华严经私记》,《法华经名相》
Other Story
ACCORDING TO TRADITION, Niutou Farong (594–657) was a student of the fourth Chinese ancestor, Dayi Daoxin. He founded the Oxhead Zen school on Mt. Niutou (near modern Nanjing City). Later Chinese historians would not acknowledge Niutou’s lineage as one of the principal traditional schools of Chinese Zen, perhaps because he is not known with certainty to have received Dharma transmission from Daoxin, or due to confusion about the origin of his school. Nevertheless, the Oxhead school flourished during the seventh and eighth centuries and continued up until the early years of the Song dynasty (around the end of the tenth century).
The Oxhead school’s narrower interpretation of Bodhidharma’s Zen is distinct from the East Mountain school of the Fifth Ancestor, Daman Hongren. The Oxhead school is not known to have employed the chanting of sutras or to have emphasized the precepts. The modern scholar Yin Hsun attributes a classical Zen text known as the Discourse on Cutting Off Perception to the Oxhead school, pointing out that it is akin linguistically to the period when Niutou lived, and that its theme closely follows Bodhidharma’s teachings.
The Oxhead school denied the possibility of objective knowledge more clearly than other Buddhist schools of the era. The fifth-generation Oxhead monk Xuanxu said, “Understanding is not understanding. Doubt is no-doubt.” The school also adhered to the Buddhist notion that the world is a creation of the mind. It expressed this theory in the “Wei Ming Lun” (“Only-Mind Doctrine”).
Originally located in the area of ancient Jinling (modern Nanjing), the main temples of the school moved south during the eighth century to escape political upheavals. The fifth-generation Oxhead monk Faqin established a temple on Mt. Jing near Hangzhou in 742 that played an important role in Zen’s historical development in both China and Japan.
The traditional story of the enlightenment of the Oxhead school’s founder, Niutou Farong, is recounted in the Wudeng Huiyuan:
Zen master Farong of Mt. Niutou came from Yanling in Run Province. His surname was Wei. By the age of nineteen he was versed in the classic Confucian histories, but later he read the Nirvana Sutra and thereupon penetrated the truth.
One day he exclaimed, “Confucianism is a doctrine of worldly affairs, but it isn’t a teaching of the highest truth. When I read the Nirvana Sutra, I finally found a vessel for leaving the world behind.”
Thereupon Niutou concealed himself on Mao Mountain, where he studied under a teacher and was ordained as a monk. Later, as he sat in meditation in a rock grotto north of Secluded Perch Temple on Mt. Niutou, a hundred birds with flowers in their beaks came to pay homage to him.
During the Zhen Guan era [627–49], the Fourth Ancestor, Zen master Daoxin, saw a strange celestial sign in the distance and realized that an unusual person must be living on Niutou Mountain. He personally climbed the mountain to find the person and pay him a visit.
Seeing a temple monk, he asked, “Is there a monk here?”
The monk responded, “Who among those who’ve ‘left home’ is not a monk?”
Daoxin responded, “What one is a [real] monk?”
The temple monk couldn’t reply.
Then another monk from the temple said, “About ten miles from here in the mountains there’s a hermit. His name is Farong. When he sees people coming he doesn’t get up, nor does he pay attention to common courtesy. Is he the one you’re looking for?”
Daoxin then traveled into the mountains. There he found Niutou sitting upright in meditation, completely self-absorbed, paying no attention to Daoxin whatsoever.
Daoxin asked him, “What are you doing?”
Farong responded, “Perceiving mind.”
Daoxin said, “Who is it who is perceiving mind? And what is ‘mind’?”
Farong had no answer. Standing up, he bowed.
Later, he asked, “Where does Your Worthiness reside?”
Daoxin said, “This poor monk has no permanent home. Sometimes I live here, sometimes I live there.”
Farong said, “Perhaps you know the master Daoxin.”
Daoxin replied, “What would you ask him?”
Farong said, “I’ve respected his virtue for some time now. I would like to pay my respects to him.”
Daoxin said, “I am Zen master Daoxin.”
Farong said, “Why have you come here?”
Daoxin said, “I’ve come here especially to pay you a visit. Do you have someplace we can take a rest?”
Farong pointed and said, “Over there I have a small cottage.”
He then led Daoxin to a cottage that was surrounded by wild beasts such as tigers and wolves. Daoxin put both of his hands up in the air as if he were scared.
Farong said, “Are you still like this?”
Daoxin said, “What is ‘this’?”
Farong couldn’t answer.
Later, Daoxin wrote the word “Buddha” on Farong’s meditation seat.
When Farong saw this he was horrified.
Daoxin said, “Are you still like this?”
Farong didn’t understand, so he bowed and asked Daoxin to explain his meaning.
Daoxin said, “The hundred thousand gates of the Buddhadharma, they all return to this mind. The source of the countless exquisite sublime practices is this mind. All of the precepts and monastic rules, Zen meditation, Dharma gates of knowledge, and wisdom and every sort of miraculous manifestation are your natural possession, not separate from your mind. Every type of nuisance and karmic impediment is fundamentally empty and without real existence. All causes and effects are but illusions. There are no three worlds that are to be cast off.26 There is no bodhi that can be attained.27 The original nature and appearance of what is human and what is nonhuman does not differ. The great way is empty and vast, without a single thought. If you have attained this Dharma, where nothing whatsoever is lacking, what difference is there between yourself and Buddha? When there is not a single teaching left, then you are just left to abide in your own nature; with no need to worry about your behavior; no need to practice cleansing austerities; but just living a life without desires; with a mind without anger, without cares; completely at ease and without impediment; acting according to your own will; without needing to take on any good or evil affairs; just walking, abiding, sitting, and lying down; with whatever meets your eye being nothing other than the essential source; and all of it is but the sublime function of Buddha; blissful and without care. This is called ‘Buddha.’”
According to tradition, after Farong received this teaching from Daoxin and fully attained the way of Zen, birds no longer left flowers for him. Farong’s enlightenment left no special sign by which it could be recognized.
Other Story
Beyond this traditional story, a few dialogues involving Zen teacher Niutou are preserved in the classical records.
A monk asked Niutou, “The people known as ‘saints’—what dharmas should they cut off and what dharmas should they attain so that they can thus earn this title?”
Niutou said, “Those who don’t cut off or attain even a single dharma—they are called ‘saints.’”
The monk then asked, “If they don’t cut off or attain a single dharma, what difference is there between such people and common people?”
Niutou said, “There is a difference. Do you know why? Because common people try to rid themselves of afflictions and they delusionally scheme for gain. There is nothing that is fundamentally lost or gained by the true mind of a saint. That is why there is a difference.”
The monk then asked, “In considering what is attained by common people and what is not attained by saints, where does the difference lie between this attainment and nonattainment?
Niutou said, “The difference lies in that what is attained by common people is delusional, whereas the nonattainment of saints is not delusional. For the deluded, there is a difference in these two viewpoints, whereas saints do not recognize a difference.”
The monk then asked, “Please describe the viewpoint of those saints who do not recognize the difference in these two views.”
Niutou said, “The terms ‘commoner’ and ‘saint’ are but false names. Within these two false names there are actually not two things, and thus there is no difference.”28
A monk asked, “Just at the moment when someone uses his mind, how can that mind remain composed?”
Niutou said, “Just at the moment when the mind is being used—that is precisely when mind is not being used. Convoluted thinking and speech just cause everyone trouble. But speaking directly and frankly doesn’t cause complications. No-mind is exactly the employment of mind, while constantly using the mind is to never employ it. What I’ve just said about not using mind is no different from using the mind for deliberation.”
The monk asked, “When the wise use expedient words they are exactly in accord with mind. But when mind and words diverge, isn’t it heresy?”29
Niutou said, “Expedient and beneficial speech is the Mahayana way, and it eradicates the mind’s disease.30 Speech that is unconnected to original nature is a hollow fabrication. When one always adheres to no-thought, then one is on the road that cuts off mind. One’s nature apart from thoughts is unmoving, and it is without misconceptions concerning birth and death. When there is the sound of an echo in the valley, the reflection in the mirror can turn to hear it.”
In the year 656 the magistrate Su Yuanshan invited Niutou to become the abbot of Jianchu Temple. The master tried to decline but was unable to do so. He then gave his genuine Dharma transmission to his great disciple Zhiyan, instructing him to continue the transmission to future generations. When he left Mt. Niutou he said to the congregation, “I’ll never return to this mountain!” At that time even the birds and beasts of the mountain wailed in mourning. Four large pauwlonia trees that were in front of Niutou’s cottage inexplicably withered and died during [June]. The next year, on the twenty-third day of the first lunar month, although not appearing ill, the master died. He was buried on Jilong Mountain.
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