On the fifteenth day of the first month, during the first year of the Shen Lung reign (A.D.705) Empress Tse T'ien and Emperor Chung Tsung issued the following Proclamation:
"We have invited Masters Hui An and Shen Hsiu to the palace to receive of offerings so that we may investigate the One Vehicle in the leisure time remaining after our myriad duties. The two Masters have declined, saying that in the South there is Dhyana Master Hui Neng, who was secretly transmitted the robe and Dharma of the Great Master Hung Jen who now transmits the Buddhas' mind-seal.
"We now send Chamberlain Hsieh Chien with this invitation, hoping that the Master will remember us with compassion and come to the capital."
The Master sent back a petition pleading illness saying that he wished to spend his remaining years at the foot of the mountain.
Hsieh Chien said, "The Virtuous Dhyana Masters at the capital all say that to master the Way one must sit in Dhyana meditation and practice concentration, for without Dhyana concentration, liberation is impossible. I do not know how the Master explains this dharma."
The Master said, "The Way is awakened to from the mind. How could it be found in sitting? The Diamond Sutra states that to say that Tathagata either sits or lies down is to walk a deviant path. Why? The clear pure Dhyana of the Tathagata comes from nowhere and goes nowhere and is neither produced nor extinguished. The Tathagata's clear pure 'sitting' is the state of all dharmas being empty and still. Ultimately there is no certification; even less is there any 'sitting.'"
Hsieh Chien said, "When your disciple returns to the capital, their majesties will surely question him. Will the High Master please be compassionate and instruct me on the essentials the mind so that I can transmit them to the two palaces and to student of the Way at the capital? It will be like one lamp setting a hundred thousand lamps burning, making all the darkness endlessly light."
The Master said, "The Way is without light or darkness. Light and darkness belong to the principle of alternation. 'Endless light' has an end, too, because such terms are relative. Therefore the Vimalakirti Sutra says, 'The Dharma is incomparable because it is not relative.'"
Hsieh Chien said, "Light represents wisdom and darkness represents affliction. If cultivators of the Way do not use wisdom to expose and destroy affliction, how can they escape from the birth and death that have no beginning?"
The Master said, "Affliction is Bodhi; they are not two and not different. One who uses wisdom to expose and destroy affliction has the views and understanding of the two vehicles and the potential of the sheep and deer carts. Those of superior wisdom and great roots are completely different."
Hsieh Chien said, "What are the views and understanding of the Great Vehicle?"
The Master said, "The common person sees light and darkness as two, but the wise person comprehends that their nature is non-dual. The non-dual nature is the real nature. The real nature does not decrease in common people nor increase in worthy sages. In afflictions it is not confused and in Dhyana concentration it is not still. It is neither cut off nor permanent. It does not come or go. It is not inside, outside, or in the middle. It is not produced or destroyed. The nature and mark is 'thus, thus.' It permanently dwells and does not change. It is called the 'Way.'"
Hsieh Chien said, "How does your explanation of the self-nature as neither produced nor destroyed differ from that of other religions?"
The Master answered, "As non-production and non-extinction are explained by other religions, extinction ends production and production reveals extinction. Their extinction is not extinction and what they call production is not production. My explanation of non-production and non-extinction is this: originally there was production and now there is no extinction. For this reason my explanation differs from that of other religions.
"If you wish to know the essentials of the mind, simply do not think of good or evil. You will then enter naturally the clear, pure substance of the mind, which is deep and permanently still, and whose wonderful abilities are as numerous as the sand grains in the Ganges River."
Hsieh Chien received this instruction and was suddenly greatly enlightened. He bowed, took leave, and returned to the palace to report the Master's speech. That year on the third of the ninth month a proclamation was issued in praise of the Master. It read:
"The Master has declined our invitation because of old age and illness. He cultivates the Way for us and is a field of blessings for the country. The Master is like Vimalakirti who pleaded illness in Vaishali. He spreads the great fruit widely, transmitting the Buddha-mind and discoursing on the non-dual Dharma.
"Hsieh Chien has conveyed the Master's instruction, the knowledge
and vision of the Tathagata. It must be due to accumulated good acts,
abundant blessings, and good roots planted in former lives that we now
have met with the Master when he appears in the world and have suddenly
been enlightened to the Supreme Vehicle. We are extremely grateful for
his kindness which we receive with bowed heads, and now offer in return
a Mo Na robe and crystal bowl as gifts. We order the Magistrate of Shao
Chou to rebuild the temple buildings and convert the Master's former dwelling
place into a temple to be called 'Kuo En,' (Country's Kindness)."