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Buddhadharma : Winter 2006
winter 2006| 60 |buddhadharma One of the oldest records about the Second Ancestor, Huike, is a stone memorial inscribed about the year 634 by a Buddhist priest named Falin. It praises him with the following verse: Great teacher! Though form was your vessel, Mind was your virtue! Always loyal to Buddha, Because you reached this [teaching], you reached everywhere, For dharma you gave your arm, Not retreating, you remained steadfast with the truth That all mind is Buddha mind, all affairs are Buddha’s affairs, In the belabored world this always shines, Resplendent through the ages. To start our search for Huike, Red Pine and I meet at Cypress Grove Monastery, the ancient dharma seat of Zen master Zhaozhou (“Joshu” in Japanese) near the city of Shijiazhuang, not far from where Huike lived in Hebei province. We both frequent this famous monastery where many famous events occurred, including the meeting that gave rise to Zhaozhou’s Mu (Chinese: Wu) koan. It is run by our good friend Abbot Ming- hai (“Bright Sea”). Shortly after our arrival, for- tune smiles when a resident monk tells us about a nearby lay practitioner-scholar who has thor- oughly researched the life of the Second Ancestor. This is welcome news. The few Western accounts of the Second Ancestor that I’ve read doubt Huike’s existence or claim that his fate was unknown. I immediately invite the scholar, Mr. Gao Shita, to come to our hotel that evening. Mr. Gao is most responsive and helpful and pro- vides us with a map showing the way to Huike’s ancient dharma seat, as well as his burial place. It surprises me to learn that, despite the obscurity of Huike’s life, both his dharma seat and his burial pagoda are located at temples in the county of Cheng An, not far from Handan City, near a fair- sized town called Second Ancestor’s Village. The next day, after catching a train to Handan City, we hire a taxi for the trip into the country- side. The growing season is just beginning. Peas- ant farmers on both sides of the road work their ancient fields beneath a bright, cold sun. Before long, a sign above the highway directs us to an unpaved road leading to the outskirts of Second Ancestor’s Village. The narrow streets of the town wind their way around decaying adobe homes and shops. Except for some toddlers dressed in brightly colored jack- ets, the inhabitants match the bland and dispirited display of their surroundings. The taxi driver asks directions from a man on a shaky-looking bicycle, but following his instructions leads us deep into a crowded maze of lanes that ends in a dusty street market. After a few more attempts to get through the village, we double back to take a northern route around the town. Finally, we arrive at the temple. Yuanfu Temple was once grand; a local legend says that two large iron cuckoos perched in the Driving through Second Ancestor’s Village.