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The Sutra of Hui-Neng: Grand Master of Zen

4.17  ·  Rating Details  ·  235 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
Hui-neng (638–713) is perhaps the most beloved and respected figure in Zen Buddhism. An illiterate woodcutter who attained enlightenment in a flash, he became the Sixth Patriarch of Chinese Zen, and is regarded as the founder of the "Sudden Enlightenment" school. He is the supreme exemplar of the fact that neither education nor social background has any bearing on the atta ...more
Paperback, 161 pages
Published September 14th 1998 by Shambhala (first published 780)
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Apr 07, 2007 Daniel rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Buddhist interest and general 'enlightenment'
Shelves: oldfavorites
I recommend this book to anyone interested in what Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, or general 'liberation' or 'New Age' is about. Hui-Neng is a fantastic character, more so for his simplicity, his accomplishment, his directness, and the fact of his being a real person. His account of his life and enlightenment, and those who seek but do not attain has something for everyone, the vain, the proud, the stoic, the passionate... His view of Buddhism was welcome to me because, as he says, we find Budd ...more
Silvio Curtis
Sep 01, 2014 Silvio Curtis rated it it was amazing
This book is also called The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch, since Hui Neng was the sixth and last Patriarch of Zen/Chan Buddhism in China. (He chose not to name a successor). It is a collection of lectures he gave and conversations he had, compiled I don't know when. Hui Neng himself was illiterate. The message actually seems really similar to the modern Zen book I read, The Three Pillars of Zen (Hui Neng is from the Tang dynasty): remember that Buddha-nature is you, don't start thinking ...more
Mar 02, 2016 Howard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
The 120-page introduction by Dr. Yampolsky is a masterpiece in itself. Through a thorough examination of the historical context of Ch'an Buddhism in the 8th Century, it becomes clear that almost everything we know about Hui-neng (the Sixth Patriarch) is pure legend and has very little historical reliability.

The text itself, however, is a brilliant summary of Indian Mahayana thought (with minor Taoist influence), drawing heavily on the prajnaparamita conception of mind and Nagarjuna's philosophy
Dec 08, 2007 Alex rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Edit: traditionally ascribed to Huineng or his "disciple" Shenhui. Yampolsky's got some great introductory material on sources and manuscripts, etc. AND, in the back, it comes with a critical Dunhuang manuscript in the Chinese, so you can chant with your friends.
Daniel Cloutier
Sep 18, 2011 Daniel Cloutier rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: buddhism
Hui-neng for teh win.
Thelbert Dewain Belgard
The Platform Sutra is one of the basic texts of the Chinese Zen school of Buddhist practice. As such it's regarded as sacred by some adherents who may not appreciate the book being subjected to the methods of historico-critical analysis that we find in this book. It's a very scholarly work -- even containing in an appendix a copy of the complete Chinese text of the Tun-huang version of the book. It's not a book for the casual reader (or the non-casual reader who happens to be in a casual mood). ...more
Nov 16, 2013 Peter rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this in anticipation to traveling in the area where the manuscript had been discovered - in the Mogao Caves of Dunhuang, northwestern China along the ancient Silk Road. Yampolsky's introduction is seemingly exhaustive and provides a rich history of how Buddhism entered China and developed as Chan Buddhism (Zen) and how Hui-Neng's (6th Patriarch, early Tang Dynasty) interpretations and school represented a turning point in the development of Chan. I was slightly disappointed that in the cu ...more
I know this is a core book for Zen Buddhism, but it's only a slightly above average read for me (content is superb, but presentation is, well, lacking). It was a big deal to have a work entitled a "sutra" back in those days (roughly 9th C. CE, if memory serves me correctly). That is because until then, a sutra was any direct recording of the Buddha's words. So this was the first work to have that title centuries after the first ones were recorded. Keeping that in mind, I appreciate the message, ...more
Mar 13, 2008 Greg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: buddhism
This is a translation of a specific version of the Platform Sutra. The version translated is earlier than the one typically used for the other popular translations. It therefore it may seem unfamiliar to some readers. On the other hand, it is probably closer to the doctrine of 8th century Ch'an than the 16th century version usually used for preparing translations. It is copiously footnoted and includes the author's reconstructed Chinese. The introductory material is strictly academic about the t ...more
Jessica Zu
Aug 04, 2011 Jessica Zu rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a well-written, cutting-edge scholarly research on Chinese Chan and the Platform Sutra. It is very helpful for my research. I think it might also be good to the Chan practitioners. After all, although Dharma is formless, the way it expresses itself through history in this world is nothing but form, and through the making of the Chan legends we could clearly see how the human defects come into the play through all kinds of doors.
Daniel Donatelli
May 04, 2015 Daniel Donatelli rated it liked it
This book is not 3 stars; this review says this book is 3 stars.
Jan 06, 2010 Rochelle is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
So far, kind of dry, but I think it's mainly because the names are so challenging. It's like trying to chew raw, rolled oats and peanut butter, know I'm probably saying them wrong and it is very distracting. Written for an audience probably more versed than I in Chinese culture and language,his passion for this work still shines through his erudition.....I'll keep going.
Stephen Shelton
4/14/15. I am reading this with the Yellow Springs Zen Group. I joined the reading process late, and I am behind still. It is a hard read that - for me - requires an study effort.
5/15/15. On hold. Moving it back to "to-read."
Mar 26, 2007 max rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the patient
Shelves: library
Don't get any other translation! Thomas Cleary absolutely mystifies these dharma talks reputedly delivered by the great Zen popularizer Hui Neng.

Gemma Williams
May 28, 2008 Gemma Williams rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best known sutras of Zen Buddhism. Teachings on Buddha nature and non duality.
Oct 14, 2014 Bodhi47 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was a slog for me. I'll read it again in the spring.
Uncle, Esq.
Apr 26, 2013 Uncle, Esq. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Do-it-yourself enlightenment.
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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.

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