The 7th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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Dajian Huineng (大鑒惠能; Pinyin: Dàjiàn Huìnéng; Japanese: Daikan Enō; Korean: Hyeneung, 638–713) was a Chinese Chán (Zen) monastic who is one of the most important figures in the entire tradition, according to standard Zen hagiographies. Huineng has been traditionally viewed as the Sixth and Last Patriarch of Chán Buddhism.
At the heart of the sermon is the same understanding of the Buddha-nature that we have seen in texts attributed to Bodhidharma and Hongren, including the idea that the fundamental Buddha-nature is only made invisible to ordinary humans by their illusions".
Citation of Buddhist Scriptures
the Diamond Sūtra,
the Lotus Sūtra (Saddharma Puṇḍarīka Sūtra),
the Vimalakīrti Nirdeśa Sūtra,
the Śūraṅgama Sūtra,
the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra,
the Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana-sutra, and
the Mahaparinirvana Sutra.
Some later versions of the story have the customer giving him 10 or 100 taels of silver to provide for his aged mother.
Introduction to Hongren
The Patriarch asked me, "Who are you and what do you seek?"
I replied, "Your disciple is a commoner from Xinzhou of Lingnan. I have travelled far to pay homage to you and seek nothing other than Buddhahood."
"So you're from Lingnan, and a barbarian! How can you expect to become a Buddha?" asked the Patriarch.
I replied, "Although people exist as northerners and southerners, in the Buddha-nature there is neither north nor south. A barbarian differs from Your Holiness physically, but what difference is there in our Buddha-nature?
... write me a stanza (gatha) [...] He who understands what the Essence of Mind is will be given the robe (the insignia of the Patriarchate) and the Dharma (the ultimate teaching of the Chán school), and I shall make him the Sixth Patriarch.
Only Shenxiu wrote a poem, anonymously on the wall in the middle of the night. It stated:
How amazing that the self nature is originally pure! How amazing that the self nature is unborn and undying! How amazing that the self nature is inherently complete! How amazing that the self nature neither moves nor stays! How amazing that all dharmas come from this self nature!
According to the traditional interpretation, which is based on Guifeng Zongmi, the fifth-generation successor of Shenhui, the two verses represent respectively the gradual and the sudden approach. According to McRae, this is an incorrect understanding:
The verse attributed to Shenxiu does not in fact refer to gradual or progressive endeavor, but to a constant practice of cleaning the mirror [...] [H]is basic message was that of the constant and perfect teaching, the endless personal manifestation of the bodhisattva ideal.
Teachings Sudden Enlightenment
Eventually both schools died out, but the influence of Shenhui was so immense that all later Chan schools traced their origin to Huineng, and "sudden enlightenment" became a standard doctrine of Chan.
No-thought and meditation
It was through the propaganda of Shen-hui (684-758) that Hui-neng (d. 710) became the also today still towering figure of sixth patriarch of Ch’an/Zen Buddhism, and accepted as the ancestor or founder of all subsequent Ch’an lineages . . using the life of Confucius as a template for its structure, Shen-hui invented a hagiography for the then highly obscure Hui-neng.
In 753 he fell out of grace, and had to leave the capital to go into exile.
According to Zongmi, Shenhui's approach was officially sanctioned in 796, when "an imperial commission determined that the Southern line of Ch'an represented the orthodox transmission and established Shen-hui as the seventh patriarch, placing an inscription to that effect in the Shen-lung temple".
Huineng's body was seen by the Jesuit Matteo Ricci who visited Nanhua Temple in 1589. Ricci told the European readers the story of Huineng (in a somewhat edited form), describing him as akin to a Christian ascetic. Ricci names him Lusu (i.e. 六祖, "The Sixth Patriarch").