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Thread: Platform Sutra

  1. #1

    Platform Sutra

    From Realising Genjokoan by Shohaku Okumura :
    The essence of the Buddha Dharma is never seeing the
    nature [kenshō]. Which of the twenty-eight ancestors of
    India and the seven buddhas [in the past] said that the
    Buddha Dharma is simply seeing the nature? Although
    the term seeing the nature [kenshō] appears in the Plat-
    form Sutra of the Sixth Ancestor, that text is a forgery. It
    is not the writing of a person who received the transmis-
    sion of the Dharma treasury. It is not Caoxi’s24 words. Any
    descendants of the buddhas and ancestors never trust and
    use the text at all.
    Why is Dogen describing Platform Sutra as forgery?
    And why is he disregarding Kensho?

    The impression I got from Master Hakuin and Torei about Kensho is that theese experiences are realisations of Reality as It Is.
    It's not a fixed state, not an end goal in itself (though an important step) , as the practice is never-ending dive in botommless ocean.

    Gassho
    Sat

  2. #2
    Hi Ania

    I am not sure that forgery is the right word but Zen historians now believe that The Platform Sutra was written by Shenhui, one of the dharma descendants of Hui Neng (the sixth patriarch/ancestor) rather than Hui Neng himself, in order to establish his lineage and southern school as the true one rather than the one going through Shenxiu and his northern school.

    John McRae goes into detail about this in his book Seeing Through Zen, which I found to be a very interesting read.

    The Linji (Rinzai) school focuses much more on kensho than Caodong (Sōtō) so it is natural that Tōrei and Hakuin would speak of it more than Dōgen. Sōtō more emphasises the never-ending dive but I think you express it well that kensho and that pathless path are both part of it. To me it is a question more of emphasis and focus and Rinzai Zen tends to look more for the kensho moments whereas Sōtō is wary of that becoming an end in itself so talks more about practice - enlightenment and goallessness in order to point at being right where we are now.

    Personally, I still find The Platform Sutra to be an interesting and insightful text so disagree with Shohaku that no one uses it but its relevance is as a pointer towards practice rather than a historically accurate document.

    Apologies for going over three sentences.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday-
    Last edited by Kokuu; 10-22-2020 at 03:45 PM.
    ------------------------------------
    Feel free to message me if you wish to talk about issues around practicing with physical limitations. This is something I have been sitting with for a fair while and am happy to help with suggestions or just offer a listening ear.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Kokuu View Post
    Hi Ania

    I am not sure that forgery is the right word but Zen historians now believe that The Platform Sutra was written by Shenhui, one of the dharma descendants of Hui Neng (the sixth patriarch/ancestor) rather than Hui Neng himself, in order to establish his lineage and southern school as the true one rather than the one going through Shenxiu and his northern school.

    John McRae goes into detail about this in his book Seeing Through Zen, which I found to be a very interesting read.

    The Linji (Rinzai) school focuses much more on kensho than Caodong (Sōtō) so it is natural that Tōrei and Hakuin would speak of it more than Dōgen. Sōtō more emphasises the never-ending dive but I think you express it well that kensho and that pathless path are both part of it. To me it is a question more of emphasis and focus and Rinzai Zen tends to look more for the kensho moments whereas Sōtō is wary of that becoming an end in itself so talks more about practice - enlightenment and goallessness in order to point at being right where we are now.

    Personally, I still find The Platform Sutra to be an interesting and insightful text so disagree with Shohaku that no one uses it but its relevance is as a pointer towards practice rather than a historically accurate document.

    Apologies for going over three sentences.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday-
    Thank you.
    The quote actually is Dogen's words itself from Shōbōgenzō Shizenbiku (The Bhikshu in the
    Fourth Dhyana). Shohaku quotes this. It just got me thinking if Dogen didn't agree with the teachings of Platform Sutra? Apparently Hui Neng was illiterate so naturally his teachings would be written by his disciples.

    Gassho
    Sat

  4. #4
    The quote actually is Dogen's words itself from Shōbōgenzō Shizenbiku (The Bhikshu in the
    Fourth Dhyana). Shohaku quotes this. It just got me thinking if Dogen didn't agree with the teachings of Platform Sutra? Apparently Hui Neng was illiterate so naturally his teachings would be written by his disciples.
    Ah, okay. It may be that Dōgen did not agree with how things are expressed in The Platform Sutra. I am sure Jundo can elucidate further.

    I am not sure that Hui Neng's illiteracy should be taken as factual but rather part of his concocted story. It is not that it was written by someone else that was so important but that the nature of events was totally biased in favour of Hui Neng, who may well have been a relatively unknown teacher, rather than an accurate portrayal of events.

    Apologies for lgenth.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday-
    Last edited by Kokuu; 10-22-2020 at 05:30 PM.
    ------------------------------------
    Feel free to message me if you wish to talk about issues around practicing with physical limitations. This is something I have been sitting with for a fair while and am happy to help with suggestions or just offer a listening ear.

  5. #5
    Hi,

    We cannot be sure which version of the Platform Sutra that Dogen encountered, but likely it was one of the later, much elaborated and expanded versions. The Platform Sutra is a document which seems to have begun relatively simply (in the earliest version we have from Dunhuang in the 8th century, which I very much care for, here translated by Yampolsky) ...

    https://terebess.hu/zen/PlatformYampolsky.pdf

    ... and then, through the centuries, had all manner of stories, expansions, important doctrinal changes and elaborate language added to it, as here in this version from about Dogen's time 4 hundred years later (translated by McRae: https://www.bdk.or.jp/document/dgtl-...Sutra_2000.pdf) I don't care for that later version either.

    The Dunhuang version is marvelous, in my view. However, as Kokuu says, the actual fellow named "Hui-neng," although a historical figure according to some evidence, is not the author of the text, and it is quite probable that it was written but by someone else (probably not Shenhui either according to scholars, but someone else. and more likely, multiple authors with some stylistic and perspective differences, who were seeking to build up an alternative Lineage claim as Kokuu describes). Now, all living Zen Priests derive from that Lineage.

    Another trivia fact: The title is a little misleading. Technically, a "Sutra" is only the words of a Buddha. It is very unusual for a Buddhist work to be called a "Sutra" if not purporting to be a teaching from the mouth of the Buddha. In this case, there are two possible explanations. One is that a Zen Patriarch (now we avoid the term, favoring Ancestor) was seen to embody the Buddha, so technically speaks with the Buddha's mouth. Still, it is maybe the only book described as a "Sutra" by a Zen Master. So, the more likely explanation is from the long title of the work originally, which is something like "The Lecture while Sitting on the Precepts Ceremony (Platform) about the Perfection of Wisdom (Sutra)," which was shortened (I do not have the exact translation handy).

    Many other places in the Shobogenzo such as Hokke-Ten-Hokke, by the way, Dogen happily quotes stories from the Platform Sutra, so did not completely reject it.

    More on Kensho later ...

    Sorry to have run long, expanded and elaborated, myself.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-22-2020 at 11:52 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  6. #6
    I found a scholar's paper on the title issue, and much more detail on the complicated history of the text and questions of authorship:

    https://www.academia.edu/3737378/Was...%ABnhu%C3%A1ng

    Indeed, it is unlikely that the Platform Sūtra would categorize itself as a prajāpāramitā sūtra which is a clearly defined category of scriptures in Indian and Chinese Buddhism. I think that this line – which is also the main part of the title – raises the possibility that it refers to the Diamond Sūtra () which constitutes the central doctrinal framework of the text ... . Thus, the first part of the title might have originally referred to the central scripture of the text. ... Along the lines of the interpretation of the first part of the title one could interpret it as referring back to the prajāpāramitā (Diamond) sūtra mentioned in the first line:

    Southern School Sudden Doctrine, Supreme Mahāyāna Great Perfection of Wisdom: [This is] the sūtra [used at the occasion] of the Platform [precept ceremonies] ... in one fascicle [used by] the Sixth Patriarch Great Master Hunng when bestowing the dharma at the Dfn Temple in Shozhōu
    On the question of Kensho:

    Already at the time of Dogen's visit to China, Koan Introspection Zen, and the teachings of Rinzai Lineage Master Dahui with their emphasis on attaining a "Kensho" experience, was quite strong. It appears that that was what Dogen was rejecting. At other places in his writings, Dogen makes it clear that seeing the nature (a "seeing" beyond "seer" and "seen"), awakening, realization is vital to him and our practice too. Our way would not be "Zen" otherwise!

    Francis Cook, another scholar and translator of Dogen, puts it this way ...

    Dogen suspected the Platform Sutra of being a forgery, and part of the reason for this is that its teaching of kensho (見性) seemed to be at variance with what Dogen saw as the true situation. The idea of kensho, "seeing one's nature," implies a very fundamental dualism, in that there is a "nature" which is Buddha, and something else that "sees." Consequently, there is a fundamental dualism of Buddha and not-Buddha. However, Dogen's point d'appui for everything he had to say about the Buddha Way was the understanding that there is only Buddha, and therefore the assertion of something or someone seeing Buddha contradicted his understanding. ... Part of Dogen's radicalization of the continental tradition consisted in the overcoming of any hint of dualism implied in the idea of kensho by taking most seriously the idea that "All are sentient beings and all are Buddhanature."

    If this is the case—that there is only Buddha—then what can "seeing" mean? On the one hand, it must mean that it is Buddha who sees, and furthermore, the situation must be one in which Buddha sees Buddha. But even this is too literal an understanding of the nature of the event or process called kensho, for there is no Buddha that can be seen or even conceptualized. "Seeing," in the final analysis, means "being," and to see one's true nature means to be one's true nature. Zazen, or jijuyu zammai, is the actualization and concrete application of one's true nature.

    The teaching of the oneness of practice and realization was for Dogen a logical and religious consequence of his radicalization of the doctrine of Buddha-nature, and it is an important part of the demystification and demythologization of enlightenment that characterizes Japanese Buddhism. This process has continued down to the twentieth century in the Soto tradition, and it has taken the form of a general reluctance to consider enlightenment as in any way divorced from the world of life and death.
    https://journals.ub.uni-heidelberg.d...load/8591/2498
    Another bit of trivia: The name of our lineage, "Soto" ("Caodong" in Chinese, 曹洞) is now thought to actually derive from a combination of one name for the 6th Ancestor Hui-neng as "Sokei" ("Caoxi" - 曹溪), the name of his temple in South China, and Master Tozan (Dongshan, 洞山), who is considered the root of our Soto line. So, we are actually the "Huineng-Dongshan" Lineage. (There was another theory that the "So" of "Soto" referred to a relatively minor student of Dongshan, but for various reasons that explanation makes little sense).

    I had the opportunity to sit a Sesshin in China at the Six Ancestor's temple at Caoxi a few years ago, where I encountered his mummy which is still there (although it has been greatly restored a few times over the centuries) ...


    Sorry to have run long about long ago ...

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-22-2020 at 11:56 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    I found a scholar's paper on the title issue, and much more detail on the complicated history of the text and questions of authorship:

    https://www.academia.edu/3737378/Was...%ABnhu%C3%A1ng



    On the question of Kensho:

    Already at the time of Dogen's visit to China, Koan Introspection Zen, and the teachings of Rinzai Lineage Master Dahui with their emphasis on attaining a "Kensho" experience, was quite strong. It appears that that was what Dogen was rejecting. At other places in his writings, Dogen makes it clear that seeing the nature (a "seeing" beyond "seer" and "seen"), awakening, realization is vital to him and our practice too. Our way would not be "Zen" otherwise!

    Francis Cook, another scholar and translator of Dogen, puts it this way ...



    Another bit of trivia: The name of our lineage, "Soto" ("Caodong" in Chinese, 曹洞) is now thought to actually derive from a combination of one name for the 6th Ancestor Hui-neng as "Sokei" ("Caoxi" - 曹溪), the name of his temple in South China, and Master Tozan (Dongshan, 洞山), who is considered the root of our Soto line. So, we are actually the "Huineng-Dongshan" Lineage. (There was another theory that the "So" of "Soto" referred to a relatively minor student of Dongshan, but for various reasons that explanation makes little sense).

    I had the opportunity to sit a Sesshin in China at the Six Ancestor's temple at Caoxi a few years ago, where I encountered his mummy which is still there (although it has been greatly restored a few times over the centuries) ...


    Sorry to have run long about long ago ...

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Thank you Jundo! Francis Cook's interpretation makes much more sense to me now. There are lots of Koans where monks realise and actualize non-dualism (the case with 6th Ancestor for example), would I be right thinking that this "experience" is reffered to as Satori, whereas with Kensho there is a profound insight into the Reality but with dualism remaining?

    Gassho
    Sat

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Ania View Post
    Thank you Jundo! Francis Cook's interpretation makes much more sense to me now. There are lots of Koans where monks realise and actualize non-dualism (the case with 6th Ancestor for example), would I be right thinking that this "experience" is reffered to as Satori, whereas with Kensho there is a profound insight into the Reality but with dualism remaining?

    Gassho
    Sat
    This is trying to explain the wetness of water rather than jumping in the ocean, better, being and becoming the flow and life of the sea.

    Dogen never put it down to a single experience, one big splash. The sea is the fish swimming, the swimming fish bring the sea to life. It is how we swim in each moment, stroke by stroke, which is the sea realized, made real, brought to life.

    It is certainly not a matter of dragging all the fish out of the sea, pulling out the rocks and coral, dredging out the sand until only crystal clear and filtered H20 remains, then saying "this is the true Pacific." Rather, fish and rocks, coral and sand, swimming and water, flowing and whirling, calm and storm ... are the crystal clear water, are the Peace of the Pacific, are the sea. Satori, Kensho, is realizing (understanding profoundly) and realizing (making real by swimming) this Truth.

    Master Dogen spoke of "Practice-Enlightenment," with the sea realized in every wave and every inch we swim, whether with grace/wisdom or ignorance being up to us.

    Something like that. Please swim well.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-23-2020 at 06:57 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    This is trying to explain the wetness of water rather than jumping in the ocean, better, being and becoming the flow and life of the sea.

    Dogen never put it down to a single experience, one big splash. The sea is the fish swimming, the swimming fish bring the sea to life. It is how we swim in each moment, stroke by stroke, which is the sea realized, made real, brought to life.

    It is certainly not a matter of dragging all the fish out of the sea, pulling out the rocks and coral, dredging out the sand until only crystal clear and filtered H20 remains, then saying "this is the true Pacific." Rather, fish and rocks, coral and sand, swimming and water, flowing and whirling, calm and storm ... are the crystal clear water, are the Peace of the Pacific, are the sea. Satori, Kensho, is realizing (understanding profoundly) and realizing (making real by swimming) this Truth.

    Master Dogen spoke of "Practice-Enlightenment," with the sea realized in every wave and every inch we swim, whether with grace/wisdom or ignorance being up to us.

    Something like that. Please swim well.

    Gassho, J

    STLah

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    This is trying to explain the wetness of water rather than jumping in the ocean, better, being and becoming the flow and life of the sea.

    Dogen never put it down to a single experience, one big splash. The sea is the fish swimming, the swimming fish bring the sea to life. It is how we swim in each moment, stroke by stroke, which is the sea realized, made real, brought to life.

    It is certainly not a matter of dragging all the fish out of the sea, pulling out the rocks and coral, dredging out the sand until only crystal clear and filtered H20 remains, then saying "this is the true Pacific." Rather, fish and rocks, coral and sand, swimming and water, flowing and whirling, calm and storm ... are the crystal clear water, are the Peace of the Pacific, are the sea. Satori, Kensho, is realizing (understanding profoundly) and realizing (making real by swimming) this Truth.

    Master Dogen spoke of "Practice-Enlightenment," with the sea realized in every wave and every inch we swim, whether with grace/wisdom or ignorance being up to us.

    Something like that. Please swim well.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Wonderful metaphor for satori and kensho.

    Gassho
    Van
    Satlah

    Sent from my IN2023 using Tapatalk

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