by Sŏsan Taesa Hyujŏng (淸虛休靜) 1520-1604
The 63rd Acestor in my Korean Zen Lineage
Right here, right now, from the very beginning, there is only one thing. Constantly clear and unexplained, having never been born and having never died, it cannot be named or described.
What is the “one thing?” The ancestors said: “Before the Buddhas of the past were born, there has always been this one thing, simple and ethereal. So how could Mahākāśyapa have transmitted it?” Even Śākyamuni did not understand it.
Consequently, this “one thing” has never been born and has never died. It cannot be named or conceptualized. The Sixth Ancestor said to his assembly, “I have one thing. It has no name and no form. Do any of you recognize it?” Chán Master Shenhuì came forward and said, “It is the source of all Buddhas. It is my Buddha Nature.” This is the reason that Shenhuì was not considered as Huìnéng’s legitimate dharma heir. When Master Nányuè came from Mt. Sung, Ancestor Huìnéng asked him, “What is it that has come here?” Nányuè was confused. After eight years, he finally responded, “To call it ‘one thing is not correct.” This is how he became a Dharma-heir of Huìnéng.
the masters of the three teachings
all came forth from this phrase.
if you try to demonstrate it,
you must watch your step
otherwise, the hair of your eyebrows
will fall out.