The most famous classic of Chan Buddhism (Chinese Zen) is the Platform Sutra 六祖壇經. The sutra presents the teachings of Huineng 慧能 (638-713) [However, the text went through many revisions and the ten chapter edition that is currently taken as authoritative actually dates from 1291]. The most read section is the first chapter which records the competition for succession to Hongren 弘忍, the fifth patriarch. There were two contenders, Huineng and Shenxiu 神秀. The competition was conducted by the writing of a verse. The verse should show the author's understanding of the fundamental meaning of Chan.

The verse of Shenxiu is as follows

The body is the bodhi tree,
The mind like a mirror bright.

Ceaselessly, diligently, wipe the mirror
Let no dust alight!

Huineng then wrote a rejoinder to this verse

Fundamentally bodhi has no tree,
The mirror has no stand.
Originally there is not a single thing
Upon which dust could land.

These two verses are of enormous importance in understanding the deep meaning of Buddhism. On the one hand, there is the work of cleaning the mind. On the other hand, there is the realisation that mind itself cannot be contaminated. All delusion is adventitious and ephemeral. To not work at the practice is to sink further into delusion, yet to work too hard at the practice is to take delusion too seriously. What is one to do?

All Buddhist practices seek to cut through this seeming contradiction in one way or another. We could say that if Shenxiu's verse is the thesis, Huineng's is the antithesis; and the task is to find the synthesis.

Whether we see a Bodhi Tree
Or a mirror bright
When we welcome everything
Dust will shine with light.

Views: 220

Replies to This Discussion

It sounds like a koan. It leaves me with a sensation of being naked and foolish in front of the mistery of reality...Like a very little child in front of a tree: "What is this?"

The "sensation" of being naked and foolish is probably not the same thing as actually being naked and foolish. Or, to put the same thing differently, the tree is naked and foolish and doing fine. :-)

:-)

Very nice. Namo Amida Bu :)

eyes are open 
see the light
eyes are closed
the light remains

When Buddha winked, was the light transmitted when the eye was open or when it was closed?

When the wink landed in the eye of the disciple

David Brazier said:

When Buddha winked, was the light transmitted when the eye was open or when it was closed?

From the eye to the heart can be a very short distance.

Palms raised in gassho - deep bow

David Brazier said:

From the eye to the heart can be a very short distance.

Namo Amida Bu _/\_

Namo Amida Bu

It's not up to mind to invite the light. Our true Buddha nature, wordless, patiently awaits Amida's penetration. 

RSS

Events

ITZI Conference 2019

Subscribe to ITZI Conference Newsletter

* indicates required

Blog Posts

Sagesse féline...

Posted by Tamuly Annette on September 29, 2019 at 12:00 1 Comment

En l'absence de Darmavidya, j'ai - en ma qualité de voisine et d'amie - le privilège de m'occuper (un peu) de Tara, la petite chatte. C'est un bonheur  de la voir me faire la fête chaque fois que je me rends à Eleusis: elle s'étire, se roule sur le dos au soleil ou saute sur mes genoux. J'ignore si elle a profité de l'enseignement du maître des lieux, mais j'ai comme l'impression qu'elle me donne une belle leçon de sagesse: elle…

Continue

WEEP FOR OUR WORLD

Posted by David Brazier on August 20, 2019 at 21:38 2 Comments



At the moment I am feeling very sad for the state of the planet. As I write the great forests are being consumed by fire, both the tropical forest in Brazil and the tundra forest in Russia. The great forests are the lungs of the earth. I myself have lung problems. When there are parts of the lungs that don’t work anymore one can run out of energy. It can strike suddenly. We will probably not do anything serious about climate change or wildlife extinction…

Continue

MY MEDICAL CONDITION

Posted by David Brazier on June 26, 2019 at 18:04 10 Comments

My medical condition continues to be a mystery. It is clear that I do not have any of the big nasty things - brain tumour, cracked skull, stroke, etc - as these have been ruled out by MRI investigation. Nonetheless I continue to have persistent, continuous head pain that varies in intensity and I become exhausted by the least effort so that I am functioning like an invalid incapable of doing very much. There is always a possibility that the whole syndrome is a…

Continue

Grace.

Posted by Dayamay Dunsby on June 2, 2019 at 1:02 4 Comments

“Do we know what it means to be struck by grace? It does not mean that we suddenly believe that God exists, or that Jesus is the saviour, or that the Bible contains the truth. Grace strikes us when we are in great pain and restlessness. It strikes us when we walk through the dark Valley of a meaningless and empty life. It strikes us when we feel that our separation is deeper than usual, because we have violated another life, a life which we loved, or from which we were estranged. It strikes us… Continue

© 2019   Created by David Brazier.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service