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A Look Into The Platform Sutra

Huineng (638-713 CE) is a seminal patriarch in Zen Buddhism. His awakening is said to have been instantaneous upon hearing:

“Let your mind flow without dwelling on anything.”

All created things

are like a dream, an illusion, a bubble, a shadow

like dew or like lightning

view everything like this.”

Pine, Red. The Platform Sutra (p. 81). Catapult. Kindle Edition.

from the Diamond Sutra being recited on the street. He was in his thirties and felt clarity or awakening, a sense of boundlessness and a calling to become a Buddha.

Huineng’ story (Way-Finding) is told in

The Mahaprajnaparamita Sutra

of the Direct Teaching of the Southern School

of the Supreme Mahayana, The Platform Sutra

Pine, Red. The Platform Sutra (p. 9). Catapult. Kindle Edition.

Hui-neng’s teaching is not a teaching of concepts, just the opposite. It is, instead, a teaching of no concepts. Hui-neng addresses an audience numbering in the thousands, and every word he speaks is directed at freeing people of whatever concepts block their awareness of their own nature. This is the teaching of Hui-neng: See your nature and become a buddha. The rest is simply an attempt at deconstruction, the deconstruction of the walls that imprison us in our dungeons of delusion—including the delusions that arise in the course of studying and practicing the teachings of the Buddha (Underlied by Sangaku Dan Joslyn). Pine, Red. The Platform Sutra (p. 67). Catapult. Kindle Edition.

By now you will have found that I prefer the translations of Red Pine (Bill Porter) for the Sutras we have looked into. I have also been reading, Not One Single Thing: A Commentary on Platform Sutra, by Shodo Harada.

I offer three points for our conversation:

1. The Dharma Does Not Discriminate

The body is the bodhi tree.

The mind is like a bright mirror's stand.

At all times we must strive to polish it

and must not let dust collect.

Bodhi originally has no tree.

The bright mirror also has no stand.

Fundamentally there is not a single thing.

Where could dust arise

2. Wisdom is Enlightening

As the Platform Sutra is in the vein of the prajnaparamita sutras it unfolds the availability of everything already present. Our being is here and is found by letting go of what we hold and to which we adhere. Zazen is the practice and the path underfoot.

3. A Life and Lesson

In the last teachings of the Sutra the author presents the parinirvana of Huineng. Similar to the story of Ananda and Shakyamuni Buddha ‘s instructions before his death, Huineng reminds his followers that he and they have always been on the path and now they can see this without being attached to him (distracted). It is a final but life-long teaching.

Please join us as we...Look Into The Platform Sutra

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