Filed in Zen (Chan), Devotion

A Special Transmission

Teachings from the heart of the Chan Buddhist traditionGuo Jun

Article Preview

To access this entire article and all other member-supported
content, join Tricycle as a Supporting or Sustaining Member

My First Master

Everything has two sides, the good and the bad, the easy and hard, the pleasant and difficult. Chan has two sides as well. Chan masters will use a stick and hit you. They punch and shout. They can be really nasty. Why? They are testing you, testing your devotion and dedication.

I had my own form of this kind of training from my ordination master, Song Nian. His nuns could not hide their gloating when I became a monk. Now, as the youngest of his disciples, I would be his attendant. That terrible job no longer fell on them.

When I became a monk, I asked Song Nian, “When do I get my robes?”

He said, “That is your business, not mine. Go find them yourself.”

Song Nian was in a Chan lineage, but he didn’t teach. He was renowned for his calligraphy and bonsai. He had come to Singapore after fleeing Mainland China in 1949 when the Communists took over. He was from an aristocratic family, and he feared for his life.

Share with a Friend

Email to a Friend

Already a member? Log in to share this content.

You must be a Tricycle Community member to use this feature.

1. Join as a Basic Member

Signing up to Tricycle newsletters will enroll you as a free Tricycle Basic Member.You can opt out of our emails at any time from your account screen.

2. Enter Your Message Details

Enter multiple email addresses on separate lines or separate them with commas.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Become a Supporting Member

*With Autorenew

  • You Get
  • Tricycle | The Magazine - a one-year subscription to premier Buddhist quarterly
  • Tricycle Retreats - a new online video teaching every every week by a contemporary Buddhist teacher
  • Tricycle | The Digital Edition - web based edition of the magazine
  • The Wisdom Collection - nearly two decades of teachings by the world's most compelling teachers, from the pages of Tricycle
  • Tricycle Gallery - the best in Buddhist art to download and share with friends
  • Tricycle Book Club - online discussions with leading Buddhist authors
  • Tricycle Discussions - teacher-led explorations of dharma in daily life
  • The Tricycle Blog - our diary of the global Buddhist movement
  • Daily Dharma - heart advice delivered direct to your inbox
  • The Tricycle Newsletter - the latest news, teachings, events, and more, every Monday

Become a Supporting Member

Become a Sustaining Member

*With Autorenew

  • You Get
  • Tricycle | The Magazine - a one-year subscription to premier Buddhist quarterly
  • Tricycle Retreats - a new online video teaching every every week by a contemporary Buddhist teacher
  • Tricycle | The Digital Edition - web based edition of the magazine
  • The Wisdom Collection - nearly two decades of teachings by the world's most compelling teachers, from the pages of Tricycle
  • Tricycle Gallery - the best in Buddhist art to download and share with friends
  • Tricycle Book Club - online discussions with leading Buddhist authors
  • Tricycle Discussions - teacher-led explorations of dharma in daily life
  • The Tricycle Blog - our diary of the global Buddhist movement
  • Daily Dharma - heart advice delivered direct to your inbox
  • The Tricycle Newsletter - the latest news, teachings, events, and more, every Monday

Become a Sustaining Member