the story of Huai-Jang, who had been a disciple of Hui-Neng, paying a visit to the young Ma-Tsu:
excerpt from “The Golden Age of Zen — John C. H. Wu”
“Before he [Ma-tsu] was twenty, he was already a professed monk. After his profession, he went to the Nan-yueh Mountain, where he practiced by himself sitting-in-meditation. At that time Huai-jang was the Abbot of the Prajna Temple on Nan-yueh Mountain. Seeing Ma-tsu, he recognized him by intuition as a vessel of the Dharma. So he visited him in his cell, asking, ‘In practicing sitting-in-meditation, what does Your Reverence aspire to attain?’ ‘To attain Buddhahood!’ was the answer. Huai-jang then took up a piece of brick and began to grind it against a rock in front of Ma-tsu’s cell. After some moments Ma-tsu became curious and asked, ‘What are you grinding it for?’ ‘I want to grind it into a mirror,’ Huai-jang replied. Greatly amused, Ma-tsu said, ‘How can you hope to grind a piece of brick into a mirror?’ Huai-jang fired back, ‘Since a piece of brick cannot be ground into a mirror, how then can you sit yourself into a Buddha?’
“‘What must I do then?’ Ma-tsu inquired. Huai-jang replied, ‘Take the case of an ox-cart. If the cart does not move, do you whip the cart, or do you whip the ox?’ Ma-tsu remained silent. ‘In learning sitting-in-meditation,’ Huai-jang resumed, ‘do you aspire to learn the sitting Ch’an or do you aspire to imitate the sitting Buddha? If the former, Ch’an does not consist in sitting or in lying down. If the latter, the Buddha has no fixed postures. The Dharma goes on forever, and never abides in anything. You must not therefore be attached to nor abandon any particular phase of it. To sit yourself into Buddha is to kill the Buddha. To be attached to the sitting posture is to fail to comprehend the essential principle.’
“When Ma-tsu heard these instructions, he felt as though he were drinking the most exquisite nectar. After doing obeisance to the master according to the rites, he further asked, ‘How must one apply one’s mind to be attuned to the formless Samadhi?’ The master said, ‘When you cultivate the way of interior wisdom, it is like sowing seed. When I expound to you the essentials of the Dharma, it is like the showers from Heaven. As you are happily conditioned to receive the teaching, you are destined to see the Tao.’
“Ma-tsu again asked, ‘Since the Tao is beyond color and form, how can it be seen?’ The master said, ‘The Dharma-eye of your interior spirit is capable of perceiving the Tao. So it is with the formless Samadhi.’ ‘Is there still making and unmaking?’ Ma-tsu asked. To this the master replied, ‘If one sees the Tao from the standpoint of making and unmaking or gathering and scattering, one does not really see the Tao. Listen to my gatha:
The Ground of the Mind contains many seeds.
Which will all sprout when heavenly showers come.
The flower of Samadhi is beyond color and form:
How can there be any more mutability?
“At this point Ma-tsu was truly enlightened, his mind being transcended from the world of phenomena. He attended upon his master for full ten years. During this period he delved deeper and deeper into the inner treasury of mystical truth. It is said that of six outstanding disciples of Huai-jang, Ma-tsu alone got the mind of the master.”
special thanks to this website http://www.selfdiscoveryportal.com/ChanMasters.htm for letting me discover and delve deeper into Zen