Dazu Huike is believed to be considered as the Second Patriarch of Chinese Chan and is the Twenty-ninth since Gautam Buddha. As most of the early Chan patriarchs' early life is very little known, same goes for the Dazu Huike as well. Even though some scholars have tried to write down the biographies and these biographies are Biographies of Eminent Monks and its sequel, and Further Biographies of Eminent Monks which were written by Tao-Hsuan.
Life history of Dazu Huike
Hsu Kao-Seng Chuan mentions that Dazu Huike was born in Hu-Lao present day Xingyang, Henan and his secular name was Shenguang. He is considered as an enlightened personality but there were many scholars who criticized him for not having a teacher. But there is a text which confirms that he studied under Bodhidharma for six-nine years when he was around forty years.
In the mid-sixth century, Dazu Huike went to Yedu, modern-day Henan, and lived in this area and also at Wei, modern-day Hebei, for the rest of his life. He was not in this place in the period of political turmoil and Buddhist persecution in 574 C.E. it is also mentioned in his biography that during the time of upheaval, Huike sought the refuge in the mountains near the Yangtze River where he met Sengcan. Sengcan later became his successor and the Third Chinese Patriarch of Chan.
In 579 CE, Huike returned to Yedu and then explained the dharma. He became popular Buddhist teacher of that region which resulted in attracting the large numbers of people to listen to his teachings. It was recorded that due to the popularity gained by him in less time, other Buddhist teachers felt jealous towards him and one of them even paid money to kill Huike. But Huike converted the assassin and made his follower.
Dachuan Lingyin Puji complied Wudeng Huiyan or Compendium of Five Lamps which claims that Huike lived till the age of one hundred seven. He body was buried about forty kilometers east-northeast of Anyang City in Hebei Province. But the cause of death is unknown, some believe that he was executed after complaints about his teachings by influential Buddhist priests. There is also a myth that when he was executed blood didn't flow from his body instead a white milky substance flowed through his neck.
Dazu Huike in Legends of Bodhidharma
Dazu Huike has been mentioned in many of the legends of Bodhidharma. Some of them are as follows:
One of the legends mentions that Bodhidharma initially refused to teach Huike when he approached him but Huike stood in the snow outside of the Bodhidharma's cave all night. The snow covered over him and reached to his waist. In the morning Bodhidharma saw the sight of Huike, he asked him the reason behind staying outside of the cave whole night. Huike replied that he wanted a teacher who can open the gate of the elixir of universal compassion to liberate all beings.
Bodhidharma was not yet convinced to accept him as a student so, he again questioned him, how can he hope for true religion with little virtue, little wisdom, a shallow heart, and an arrogant mind? He again added that the whole effort would just be wasted. Huike, to prove his resolve, cut off his left arm and presented it to him as a token of his sincerity. After this, he accepted him as a student.
Another legend mentions that when Bodhidharma wished to return to India, he calls upon his disciples to learn about what they understood from his teachings. First his disciple, Dao FU stepped forward and said that the understanding is not bound by words and phrases, nor is it separated from words and phrases. This is the function of the Tao. Then after Bodhidharma replied him that he got his skin.
Then, his another disciple, nun Zong Chi stepped up and said that her understanding is like a glorious glimpse of the realm of Akshobhya Buddha. The Bodhidharma provided her his flesh. Dao Yu said that the four elements are all empty, the five skandhas are without actual existence and not a single dharma can be grasped.
Finally, Huike came forth and then bowed deeply in silence and stood up straight. Bodhidharma seeing his behavior provided him with the marrow. Later on, Bodhidharma passed the symbolic robe and bowl of dharma succession to Huike along with a copy of the Lankavatara Sutra. Bodhidharma then returned to India but some of the traditions believe that he died after transmission of this belongings.
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