The sixth patriarch Hui-neng said to the person who chase after him to take back the cassock and almsbowl that, “You should calm down. Please remember that not thinking of goodness nor of evil is your nature.” This saying is in the Platform Sutra of the patriarch Hui-neng. We need to be reminded about this story.
When the sixth patriarch Hui-neng was succeeded by the fifth patriarch Hongren, the sixth patriarch was only in his twenties; but His awakening was great, and only the fifth patriarch Hongren knew that He would become the successor.
However, at that time there was the venerable Shenxiu in fifties, who was talent, moral and powerful ruling the Sangha, while the sixth patriarch was too young and working in the kitchen as a free-worker. Cassock and almsbowl which are the fame and position of Patriarchs couldn’t be given to a person working in kitchen. It was unacceptable. The cassock and almsbowl should have been only given to the venerable Shenxiu. The fifth patriarch Hongren was the most awakened; so, He was just not prejudiced but broke the routine down. He realized that the free-worker was the one who was greatly awakened. At midnight, He secretly handed over the cassock and almsbowl to the patriarch Hui-neng and brought him to cross the river for fleeing. The fifth Patriarch knew very well that the Sangha that was just normal behavior could never accept it and strongly react. In the next morning, when the Sangha knew that they immediately sent some men to chase after the sixth Patriarch.
Among them, there was a monk named Hui-ming who was a military general before becoming a monk. His kung-fu was just skillful. He was a monk in his thirties when he first met the six Patriarch who was only in his twenties, working in the kitchen in that temple. When Hui-ming reached out the sixth Patriarch, he couldn’t pick up the cassock and almsbowl, because the sixth Patriarch used the supernatural power to keep the cassock and amlsbowl still. Hui-ming started feeling scared of something magical. Then the sixth Patriarch asked him to sit down and said, “You should calm down. Please remember that not thinking of goodness nor of evil is your nature.”
After listening to the Patriarch, he was a little awakened and felt regretful, walking away. Patriarch Hui-neng held the cassock and amlsbowl going to the South, lived a life of a recluse for a long while.