Hui Neng - Anecdote

The Story of Sin Hae

The following story is a parable about thinking and not thinking, about the empty mind and further about how one should overcome the flow of the mind. This practice shows the way Hui Neng taught his disciples and the teaching itself pointing at the control of the mind.

One day a small boy named Sin Hae came to Hui Neng's temple and asked for instruction.

Hui Neng said, "You have come from far away. You are a very good boy. Now tell me, did you bring the origin of learning here? If you say you have the origin, then what is your Master? Quickly, give me an answer!"

Sin Hae said, "No attachment to all things is the origin, and perception is my Master."

Hui Neng said, "Your language is very good."

Sin Hae said, "I will ask you, when you sit, do you see or not see your Master?''

Just as soon as Sin Hae had said this Hui Neng hit him and asked, ''Do you feel pain or not?''

Sin Hae said, "Sometimes painful, sometimes not painful.''

"Just so, sometimes I see my Master; sometimes I do not.''

"Why sometimes see, sometimes not see?"

Hui Neng said, "When I see, I am mistaken. When I don't see, other people are mistaken. When you feel pain, this is thinking. Thinking is for common people. When you do not feel pain, you are the same as a rock. The appearing and disappearing of feeling pain is all thinking. What you said before, 'No attachment to all things is the origin,' is not true. What can your Master do about perception?''

Sin Hae stood up and bowed, saying, "Teach me."

Hui Neng said, "You should not think of good and of bad; cut all thinking and all speech. Right now, what is your Master?''

Sin Hae bowed, saying, "I don't know.''

Hui Neng said, "Keep this 'don't know' mind at all times, and you will understand your Master.''

After the passing of a few years, Sin Hae said, "The 'don't know' mind is origin of Buddha and of my Buddhanature."

Hui Neng said, "The 'don't know' mind is no name and no form. Why do you say 'the origin of Buddha and of my Buddha-nature'?"

Sin Hae just then understood, stood up, and bowed three full bows. He went to the South, and became a great Ch'an Master.

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