September 22, 2010

Huineng who, according to tradition, received Bodhidharma’s robe and bowl. Hui Neng had hundred of monks with him who translated together – it was more a school than one single person. Two main sources for Huineng’s life are the preface to the Platform Sutra and the Transmission of the Lamp. Born into the Lu family in 638 A.D. in the town of Xing in Guangdong province. Huineng was from a humble family, and did not have the chance to learn to read or write. He may have been a Hmong or a Miao. One day, while he was delivering firewood to an inn, he heard a guest reciting the Diamond Sutra and he had an awakening. He immediately decided to seek the Way of Buddhahood. The guest gave him ten taels of silver to provide for his mother, and Huineng embarked on his journey. After travelling for thirty days on foot, Huineng arrived at Huang Mei Mountain, where the Fifth Patriarch Hongren presided. “I then went to pay homage to the Patriarch, and was asked where I came from and what I expected to get from him. I replied, “I am a commoner from Hsin Chou of Kwangtung. I have travelled far to pay you respect and I ask for nothing but Buddhahood.” “You are a native of Kwangtung, a barbarian? How can you expect to be a Buddha?” asked the Patriarch. I replied, “Although there are northern men and southern men, north and south make no difference to their Buddha-nature. A barbarian is different from Your Holiness physically, but there is no difference in our Buddha-nature.” Hongren immediately asked him to do chores in the rice mill. Huineng stayed to chop wood and pound rice for eight months.

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