FGS Buddha Museum

Chan Art and Stories

HOME> Chan Art and Stories
Select Category:

The Manifestation of Manjusri

[Listen to audio]

Chan Master Wenxi was on a pilgrimage to Mt. Wutai.' Before he arrived, he stayed overnight in a thatched hut where an old man lived, Wenxi asked the old man, "How is it in this place of practice?"

The old man replied, "Dragons and snakes intermix; the ordinary and the sacred intermingle."

Wenxi asked, "How many live here?"

The old man answered, "Three three in front, three three in back."

When Wenxi woke up the next day, the thatched hut had disappeared, and he saw Manjusri riding a lion hovering in midair. He regretted that though he had cyes, he had not recognized the bodhisattva and let a chance slip by.

When Wenxi later went to study with Chan Master Yangshan, he attained awakening, Therefore, he settled down to work as a cook. One day, amidst the steam from the rice cooker he again saw the manifestation of Manjusri. Wenxi then raised a wooden rice spoon, struck, and said, "Manjusri is Manjusri; Wenxi is Wenxi. You won't fool me today!"

Manjusri recited a gatha:

Bitter melons are bitter even at the root,

Sweet melons are sweet to the stem;

Cultivating over three great kalpas,

Yet, snubbed by this monk.

Because we do not understand our intrinsic nature, we seek the Dharma outside of our mind from morning to night. Therefore, we worry about gains and losses. If we could awaken to our intrinsic nature, then "Manjusri is Manjusri; Wenxi is Wenxi." Although the two are different, they are actually not different. Why should we be regretful or troubled then?

In Manjusri's gatha, he was not afraid of others snubbing him, but rather, was explaining that after three great kalpas of cultvation, only today did he truly come across a close friend, someone who really knew him.

All along, Manjusri and Wenxi were one and the same!