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Thread: 2/19 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Huineng

  1. #1

    2/19 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Huineng

    ++ I think we will let an extra week go by, and take a few extra days, to let some folks catch up ...

    We come to the Legendary (in more ways than one) "6th Patriarch", and his story best known from the Platform Sutra of the 6th Patriarch ... one of the rare Buddhist writings to have the name "Sutra" although not about a Buddha (thus placing the 6th Patriarch as such).

    Notice that the 6th Patriarch was still a layperson, not yet a monk, when he became the "6th Patriarch". Notice how he is described as an illiterate unable to read or write ... yet in the Platform Sutra is shown to be wonderfully expert in Buddhist stories and doctrine. Notice also all the politics and jealousy and rivalry in the story, something unfortunately the Buddhist world is not free of ... then or now.

    Hungjen, the shining star of the monastery, offered this verse ...

    At all times we must strive to polish it,
    And must not let the dust collect.


    Does he mean that we must remove dirt from the mind, dust from the eyes in order to see and be Buddha-like?

    Huineng responds ...

    Buddha-nature is always clean and pure;
    Where is there room for dust to alight?


    Yet, he spends his days in the rice hut, polishing the rice, washing away the dust! Perhaps both Huineng and Hungjen have a point! Might we see this as the reality of our Practice? nothing to clean, nothing to improve or attain or polish ... yet scrub scrub scrub, polish polish polish ... .

    Cook at 167
    Hixon at 154

  2. #2

    Re: 2/19 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Huineng

    nothing to clean, nothing to improve or attain or polish ... yet scrub scrub scrub, polish polish polish ... .
    ...when i first read this story years ago, I felt that though Huineng has his point, and is right. However, Shenxiu is not wrong either ;-)
    _()_
    Peter

  3. #3

    Re: 2/19 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Huineng

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Lin

    ...when i first read this story years ago, I felt that though Huineng has his point, and is right. However, Shenxiu is not wrong either ;-)
    _()_
    Peter
    Yes I have the same feeling. Maybe the problem is not the poem. Both poems are "right". Maybe Shenxiu failed because he was not actualizing the poem, living by it. According to the story, he wrote in on the wall so in case the verse was not right, he could pretend that it wasn't his and go to the mountains. I'm sure that Huineng composed it in a flash and was convinced from the very beginning of the truth in it. Shenxiu wrote the poem after reflection, it was an intellectual issue. Huineng was speaking directly from his heart and guts.

    Gassho

    Rimon

  4. #4

    Re: 2/19 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Huineng

    A still highly respected translation of the Platform Sutra (with a wonderful introduction explaining what is known by scholars ... and not known ... and pretty well known to be a legend ... about Huineng) is ...

    The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch by Hui-neng and Philip Yampolsky

    That is the earlier, simpler 'Dunhuang' Version, recommended by Jundo, and is available in print and also available online (but I think without the introduction): http://www.thezensite.com/ZenTeachings/ ... polsky.pdf .

    As well, a later, more elaborate version from the 13th century, in which many more writers had a hand, is available online: here

    http://www.thezensite.com/ZenTeachings/ ... lation.pdf )

    Here is a scholar's essay (recommended really just for our Buddhist historians out there 8) ) on the relationship of these various versions, and the changing images of Lineage and Enlightenment which they represent:

    http://www.thezensite.com/ZenEssays/His ... enment.pdf

    This very interesting essay may be of more general interest, and also has much to say on the background of the so-called divide between "Northern Chan" and "Southern Chan" that played a role in all this, and may have been the reason the "Platform Sutra" was written in the first place ... I recommend it.

    http://www.thezensite.com/ZenEssays/His ... n_Chan.pdf

    Gassho, J

  5. #5

    Re: 2/19 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Huineng

    Quote Originally Posted by Rimon
    ...Shenxiu wrote the poem after reflection, it was an intellectual issue. Huineng was speaking directly from his heart and guts.
    Thank you Rimon,
    that makes all the difference, I read the story quite some times, and always missed this (not literally, but the importance of the difference), nice :-)
    _()_
    Peter

  6. #6

    Re: 2/19 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Huineng

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Lin

    Thank you Rimon,
    that makes all the difference, I read the story quite some times, and always missed this (not literally, but the importance of the difference), nice :-)
    _()_
    Peter
    I always read the story as if the first poem was "bad" and the second was "good" untill I read your comment, so thanks to you, Peter!

    Gassho

    Rimon

  7. #7
    Senior Member Hogo's Avatar
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    Re: 2/19 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Huineng

    Shelved my books for a long while as things got a bit much, but am going to pick back up with you all here, and do my best to catch up.
    Gassho.

  8. #8

    Re: 2/19 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Huineng

    I have to offer a gassho to both.

    Without the first poem, where are we? Caught in emptiness, feeling no need to do a thing! A dirty mirror may be complete as it is, but it doesn't reflect any light!

    Without the second poem we polish until our hands bleed and the mirror breaks. Yet we keep scrubbing at space saying, "NOT YET CLEAN! NOT YET CLEAN!"

    Sometimes letting go requires a firm hand.

    Gassho,
    Taylor (Myoken)

  9. #9

    Re: 2/19 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Huineng

    Quote Originally Posted by Taylor
    I have to offer a gassho to both.
    Bingo! As in the Sandokai:

    The Way has no Northern or Southern Ancestors.
    Shenxiu poem's (Northern) and Hui-neng’s poem (Southern) both express the Way, but simply emphasize different characteristics.

    Gassho,
    Jisen/BrianW

  10. #10
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    Re: 2/19 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Huineng

    Perhaps we follow north and south without being caught by either..the middle way?
    I think maybe that Hui-neng was literally cleaning (out s**t) as this came to him, whereas Shenxiu was maybe in zazen.
    Ultimately there is no difference, except one's understanding of zazen permeating everyday activity.

    Thanks to those previously posting.

  11. #11

    Re: 2/19 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Huineng

    Huineng 'the diamond cutter' cuts thru to the reality of impermanence. Taking each moment as new and fresh he is free to think and perceive freely and without a permanent ego self there is nowhere for dust to collect. Cleaning rice needs to be done.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Hogo's Avatar
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    Re: 2/19 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Huineng

    I have been clear that I am not skilled at intellectual interperation (at least putting it into words) I must simply say that I very much enjoyed this story, and many of your (everyones) thoughts on it. It seemed so simple and straight a point that I almost became suspicious that maybe I did not understand, but I quickly got over it.
    Non-doing is the hardest thing I have not done. :roll:
    Thank you all,
    Gassho. ~Dave.

  13. #13

    Re: 2/19 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Huineng

    The light of Radiant Moon available to all without restrictions.
    Northern scchool, southern school, or schools of the ten directions are of no consequence. What is most paramount is the essence of their teachings. Gassho, Zak

  14. #14

    Re: 2/19 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Huineng

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    [i]Yet, he spends his days in the rice hut, polishing the rice, washing away the dust! Perhaps both Huineng and Hungjen have a point! Might we see this as the reality of our Practice? nothing to clean, nothing to improve or attain or polish ... yet scrub scrub scrub, polish polish polish ... .
    Lots of story there to express this but such great point.

    also in Cook, Master Keizan's compassionate admonishment of the monk assembly, asking them not to stick to one or the other... to fully understand - this message reaching me today, Thank you!

    Gassho
    Shohei

  15. #15
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: 2/19 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Huineng

    My first thought is who better to know there is nothing to clean than the person doing all the cleaning? (of rice, in this case). It seems to me that the more utilitarian a person is the more chance they have to realize the Way. The hardship of chopping wood and fetching water can be (though such acts are not necessarily so) closer to the Way than having the privilege of not needing to chop wood or fetch water. Being immersed in life's experiences seems closer to the Way than retreating from life's experiences. Zen is Awakeness to this life, so the more of it the better, and samu is quite the life experiential gate!

    I really liked how Hixon explained the whole rice metaphor. It reminded me a lot of How to Cook Your Life.
    Remove the husks of ignorance and knowledge! Sift the rice of Mahayana. Cook it effortlessly in the vast boiling pot of the modern world! Without wasting a single grain, serve life-giving nonduality to all conscious beings!
    I also really appreciated how Hixon said that Huineng was "husking and polishing during waking and dreaming" while in the rice shed. I often feel this way about my practice, that it is not bordered by deeds or conscious states, that I am in a constant state of being husked and polished. My life is one big rice shed, and that is not a bad thing at all.

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