Liu Huayang

慧命经 柳华阳自序

  华阳洪都之乡人也,幼而好佛,因入梵宇有悟,常怀方外想,见僧辄喜。一旦闻长者言,昔五祖三更时私授六祖道,侧听欢然,憬如梦觉,始知修炼家必 赖师传,乃寻求不已。足迹遍荆楚间,迄无所遇,后乃投皖水之双莲寺落发,愈加咨访。凡三教之师,靡不参究,竟无悉慧命之旨者。因自叹曰,人身难得,遂此虚 度乎?忽发一念,于每夕二鼓,五体投地盟誓虔叩上苍,务求必得。阅及半载,幸遇合伍冲虚师,传余秘旨,豁然通悟,乃知慧命之道,即我所本有之灵物。嗣至匡 庐,又遇壶云老师,窃聆论绪,知为非常人。勤恳听受,继以哀吁,师乃大发鸿慈,开悟微密,中边奥窍,罔不周彻。及余临行师嘱曰,佛教双修,今已断灭,子当 续其命脉,以度有缘。余隐迹江左,与二三道侣,焚修切究,因碧蟾了然琼玉真元苦修,已成舍利,默契师传,故纂集是书,命曰慧命经,画图立相,开古佛之秘 密,泄师祖之元机,洵接引后学之梯筏也。余见世之求道者,多宗语录,而语录中有实语者,有妄语者,彼下学不知如来慧命之道,误入套语禅,终为下愚,转受语 录之害。余通阅诸经,与师传印证,有楞严华严坛经乃实语也。禅师语录,和尚语录,乃妄语也。夫修炼之道,非实语不足证真诠,非实语不足以辟虚妄。虚妄胜则 魔障生,虽有智贤,无所从入。千百年来,慧命之道,深秘单传,率难窥觉,今以浅率之言,将佛宝流传,和盘托出,俾世之学者,睹此慧命经,即若亲口相传,只 须励志精勤,不必他山求助,则佛果可以立证,此余若心求师悟道之本愿也。


(The above Chinese text is an autobiography of Master Liu Huayang appeared as a prefer in Hui Ming Jing)

Hui Ming Jing (慧命經) was written by Zen master Liu Huayang (柳華陽). For him, the kind of Taoist meditation he practiced was the same as the Dharma as taught by Zen's sixth Patriarch Hui Neng, and his text interpreted many Buddhist texts in such as way as to support his contention. Taoist Richard Wilhelm called Liu's meditation method a hybrid of Zen and Taoist practice.

Liu told us that he learned his Dharma from Taoist Immortal Wu Chongxu (伍沖虛真人). Their lineage has been called Wu-Liu style (伍柳派). I checked up other sources on these two masters and was surprised to notice that Wu actually died in 1644 whereas Liu was only born in 1736. How could Wu physically teach Liu?

Liu wrote in his preface that after years of unsuccessful practice, he had one idea, every night starting at 9pm, he would meditate and beg profusely to heaven for enlightenment and would do as long as it took. After half a year, he met Master Wu who taught him his inner teachings, and Liu was enlightened immediately. (忽发一念,于每夕二鼓,五体投地盟誓虔叩上苍,务求必得。阅及半载,幸遇合伍冲虚师,传余秘旨,豁然通悟). Liu explained clearly that he met his Master during his meditation or dream (perhaps he might have fallen asleep), the only situations whereupon Immortals meet with people (Please refer to my post on Taoist Immortals using this linkage).

One of the students of Liu was Zen master Liao Ran (了然). And Liao Ran was one of the masters of Zhao Bichen 趙避塵 author of the famous text Taoist Yoga (仙宗性命法訣) translated by Charles Luk. Luk was a Zen practitioner with one of his masters being a lineage Patriarch of Zen Buddhism, the famous Xu Yun (虛云) who was persecuted during the Cultural Revolution (and was reported that, after being beaten up severely, laid unconscious [presumably gone into deep meditation to avoid physical pain and let the body heal itself naturally] for a few days and woke up again in good general health conditions). Incidentally, it was Carl Jung who encouraged Charles Luk to translate classic texts on Zen Buddhism and Taoism for the benefits of western readers (as mentioned by Charles Luk in his translated work on eastern meditation).

Although some Zen masters, such as the famous master Yin Guang (印光法師) said these people, in particular Zen master Liu Huayang, were defaming Zen Buddhism, it does seem very likely that Taoist and Zen deep meditation methods did have many similarities in the past, if not influencing each other in the course of their separate developments.

For the modern man, it is suffice to know that Hui Ming Jing is an important book and classic on the subject of Taoist meditation, and worth our efforts to dig out what is relevant to us - as a Living Practice.
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