Huik'u (Shinkuan)


Shinkuan had been teaching classic scriptures for forty-nine years when he met Bodhidharma. Bodhidharma asked him what was he speaking of and Shinkuan replied that he was speaking of the scriptures and teaching the dharma.

Bodhidharma asked: ‘Where is the scripture and where is the dharma?’
Shinkuan said: ‘Scripture and dharma are both on paper.’
Bodhidharma said: ‘Words are in black and papers are in white. Where is the dharma? If you said you have the dharma, let me draw a cake on paper to satisfy your hunger.’
Shinkuan asked: ‘How can a paper cake fill the hunger?’
Bodhidharma said: Since the paper cake can’t eliminate hunger, how can your dharma on paper be able to transcend life and death?’
Shinkuan replied: ‘I have preached the scripture and dharma to help countless people, how can you say that this is useless. You have shown contempt of Buddhist teaching, it is a crime. My teaching is the Tao of all dharma which belongs to the oneness.’
Bodhidharma said: ‘You are the one really who is disrespectful of the Buddhist teaching. If all dharma belongs to the oneness, where does the oneness belong to?’  
Shinkuan was not able to answer and with his anger and embarrassment, he threw the iron prayer beads in his hand towards Bodhidharma and knocked loose two of his teeth.
Bodhidharma left and wanted to avoid him but he was concerned about the lineage of Tao. Then he pulled out ten prayer beads and transformed them into Ten Judges of the Dead who appeared before Shinkuan.
Shinkuan saw them and asked: ‘Who are you holy ones?’ They answered: ‘We are the Ten Judges of Hell come to arrest your soul because you have lived up your years on earth.’
Shinkuan answered frightfully: ‘I have been preaching for forty-nine years and have accumulated infinite merit and virtue. How is it possible that I still cannot avoid the judgement from Hell?’
The Judges said: ‘Without receiving the true Tao, how else can you avoid the jugdement.’
Shinkuan asked: ‘Who has the true dharma?’
The judges said: ‘The monk who came to you the day before yesterday was a true Buddha from the West who is able to initiate the true transmission of Tao.’
With deep regret for missing the opportunity to receive Tao, Shinkuan kneeled down and begged the Judges to let him live so that he would go after Bodhidharma for him to receive the great dharma, and he would not forget their great mercy.
Shinkuan went to the mountain and saw Bodhidharma quietly sitting there. He immediately kneeled down and asked for his forgiveness. After one day and night, the snow had risen to his waist. Bodhidharma said with pity:
‘In order to receive the true Tao, one must cut off all deviant paths.’
Shinkuan misunderstood him and pulled out a sword and cut off his left arm. The blood spilled all over his body and his robe turned all red.
Bodhidharma was moved by his sincerity, tore off a piece of his robe to heal his wound and sighed: ‘Mortals in the land of the East with this kind of determination may deserve to receive the true transmission.’ Thus he asked him to make a great vow and then he made a poem:
‘The reason I came to the land of the East is to pass the Great Dharma and to save the confused mortal souls. Once the flower has blossomed into five petals, the result will be fruitful naturally.’
Shinkuan was then given the name Huik’u. After the initiation, he was entrusted with the robe and bowl as evidence that he had received the Decree of Heaven to continue the lineage of Tao.


Transmission of Tao to Shinkuan from Bodhidharma.


Shinkuan had been teaching classic scriptures for 49 years


Shinkuan immediately kneeled down.


After one day and night, the snow had risen to his waist.



Shinkuan after receiving the Tao and was then given the name Huik'u.