The Collected Lectures of Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua on The Sixth Patriarch’s Dharma Jewel Platform Sutra


Translated by the Buddhist Text Translation Society


      He also said, “Seventy years after my departure, two Bodhisattvas, one who has left home and one who is a layman, will simultaneously come from the east to propagate and convert. They will establish my School, build and restore monasteries, and glorify the Dharma for its heirs.”



      The Bodhisattva who had left home was Patriarch Ma Tsu Tao I who built many monasteries in China. It is said, "Ma Tsu built the temples and Pai Chang wrote the rules." Pai Chang was Ma Tsu's Dharma successor.

The Bodhisattva who had not left home was P'ang Yung, the enlightened layman. His entire family was enlightened, wife, daughter, and son, and they all went to Nirvana. Layman P'ang had been incredibly wealthy, but he built a big boat one day, put all of his money on it, sailed out to sea and dumped it overboard.

      Some say that the two Bodhisattvas were Dhyana Master Huang Po and Layman P'ei Hsiu. You may explain it any way you like, as long as you pick two people, a monk and a layman.

Layman P'ang gave all his money as a gift to be used to remodel the Dragon Palace at the bottom of the sea. He returned to his home and took up a lowly occupation and in the midst of their bitter poverty, the P'ang family cultivated the Way.

One day, Mr. P'ang sighed,

"It's hard, it's hard

It's really just as hard

As putting seeds

On all the leaves

Of trees in the yard."

"What do you know, old man?" said Mrs. P'ang. "It's not hard at all. In fact,

"It's easy, it's easy

It's easy as I find,

On the tip

Of every blade of grass,

The Patriarch's mind."

She thought it was easy and he thought it was hard. Then their little daughter came and disagreed with both of them"

"It's not easy,

It's not hard;

I eat when I'm hungry and

I sleep when I'm tired!"

"There's nothing to ill,” she said.

Although Mr. P'ang was married, he and his wife were like very good friends and did not carry on like ordinary men and women. As a consequence, they were enlightened. Lay people should all imitate their inconceivable state.



      The assembly made obeisance again and asked, "Will you please let us know for how many generations' the teaching has been transmitted since the first Buddhas and Patriarchs appeared in the world?"

      The Master said, “The Buddhas of antiquity who have responded to appear in the world are numberless and uncountable.”



      "Their number is incalculable," said the Master. "Besides, I never learned to read or write and I'm not very good at arithmetic. So let's not count them."


      "But now I will begin with the last seven Buddhas, in the past 'Adorned Kalpa' there were

(1) Vipasyin Buddha.

(2) Sikhin Buddha, and

(3) Visvabhu Buddha.

In the present ‘Worthy Kalpa' there have been

(4) Krakucchanda Buddha.

(5) Kanakamuni Buddha.

(6) Kasyapa Buddha, and

(7) Sakyamuni Buddha. "


      In the Adorned Kalpa (Alamkarakalpa) a thousand Buddhas appeared in the world. The 998th Buddha of that kalpa was Vipasyin Buddha. His name means "Victorious Contemplation.” "All Kinds of Contemplation," "Victorious View;’ or "All Kinds of View,” In general, this is the name of a Buddha, and if you just remember "Vipasyir) Buddha,' that will do.

      Sikhin Buddha: Sikhin is translated as "fire". Visvabhu Buddha was the last Buddha of the Adorned Kalpa.

We are now living in the Worthy Kalpa (Bhadrakalpa), so-called because many worthy sages will appear during this kalpa.

Of the thousand Buddhas of this kalpa, Krakucchanda Buddha was the first. His name means "Worthy of Offerings," because he should receive the offerings of men and gods. His name also means "Adornment."

The second Buddha was Kanakamuni, the third, Kasyapa, and the fourth, Sakyamuni. These are the most recent Buddhas.


      “From Sakyamuni Buddha, the transmission when to

(1) Arya Mahakasyapa..."


Sakyamuni Buddha, in the midst of hundreds of thousands of myriads of men and gods, who were circumambulating him, picked up a flower and Mahakasyapa had to smile. No one knew what was happening when Sakyamuni Buddha said, "I have the Right Dharma Eye Treasury, the wonderful Nirvanic mind, the real mark, which is unmarked. This is the mind-to-mind transmission, transmitted outside the teaching. I have already given it to Mahakasyapa in mind to mind transmission."


(2) Arya Ananda.

      (3) Arya Sanakavasa,..."


The Third Patriarch, Arya Sanakavasa, was born wearing clothes and as he grew, his clothes grew along with him. After he left home under Arya Ananda, his clothes changed into a great Samghati robe. Just before he died he said, "This robe will not decay until Sakyamuni Buddha's Dharma is completely extinguished."


      “(4) Arya Upagupta,

       (5) Arya Dhrtaka,

       (6) Arya Miccaka,

       (7) Arya Vasumitra,

       (8) Arya Buddhanandi,

       (9) Arya Buddhamitra,

      (10) Arya Parsva...”


The Tenth Patriarch, Arva Parsva, lived in his mother's womb for more than sixty years. He was born with white hair and a white beard, just like China's Lao Tzu.

      Lao Tzu lived in his mother's womb for eighty-one years and was born with white hair and a long white beard. They named him "Lao Tzu" which means "Old Child," but he was actually a reincarnation of Mahakasyapa. He was reborn in China because Sakaymuni Buddha had noticed that the Chinese had good karmic roots. Most of them did not believe in the Buddha, however, so Mahakasyapa was sent to China to found the religion of Taoism, which is just the Brahman religion of India, which cultivates purity of conduct.

      Arya Parsva was born liking cultivation. When he met the Ninth Patriarch Buddhamitra, he left home and was transmitted the Buddha's mind seal Dharma door.


      (11) Arya Punyasas..."


When Pupyasas met Parsva, he asked him, "How can I realize Buddhahood?"

      Parsva said, "You wish to realize Buddhahood? It is just your present non-realization."

Punyasas said, "You say that my present non-realization is the Buddha, but how can I know this?"

Parsva replied, "How can you know that your present non-realization is not the Buddha?

      With this question and this answer, Punyasas became enlightened and received the Dharma transmission. Later on he met the Great Master Asvaghosa.


      (12) Mahasattva Asvaghosa..."



      Mahasattva Asvaghosa was extremely intelligent. Punyasas knew that Asvaghosa's conditions were ripe, that he was ready to become the Twelfth Patriarch. When Punyasas went to teach him, Asvaghosa asked, "How can I know the Buddha?"

Punyasas said, "You wish to know the Buddha? He is just your not knowing."

Asvaghosa said, "Not knowing the Buddha, how can I know that my not knowing is the Buddha?"

Punyasas said, "If you do not know the Buddha, how can you know that your not knowing is not the Buddha?"

Asvaghosa said, "Ah! So this is the meaning of sawing! You say this and I say that, and we hack at the principle like sawing through a piece of wood."

Punyasas replied, "Ah! So that is the meaning of wood! But what is the meaning of sawing?"

Asvaghosa said, "It's just what you are! And what is the meaning of wood?"

Punyasas said, "You have just been sawed open by me; you have just been liberated by me."

Asvaghosa was instantaneously enlightened. He left home, received the transmission, and became the Twelfth Patriarch. He was called Asvaghosa ("Horse Cry") because when he spoke the Dharma the horses all cried out. He was a Bodhisattva.


"(13) Arya Kapimala,

       (14) Mahasattva Nagarjuna..."



Nagarjuna Bodhisattva is the one who went to the Dragon Palace and brought back the Avatamsaka Sutra. He was very, very wise.


"(15) Arya Kanadeva,

       (16) Arya Rahulata.

 (17) Arya Sanghanandi,

 (18) Arya Gayasata..."


The seventeenth Patriarch asked Gayasata, "How old are you?"

The child replied, "I'm one hundred years old."

"But you're so young," said the Patriarch, "how can you be a hundred years old?"

      "If I were a hundred years old and did not understand the Buddhadharma, I would not be as good as a one day old baby who did."

Hearing such an intelligent answer, the Seventeenth Patriarch took the child as his disciple and later transmitted the Dharma to him.


"(19) Arya Kumarata,

 (20) Arya Jayata.

       (21) Arya Vasubandhu.

 (22) Arya Manhorita.

 (23) Arya Haklena.

       (24) Arya Aryasimha..."


      Aryasimha was a native of Central India. In his practice of the Buddhadharma, he traveled to Kashmir. The King of Kashmir did not believe in the Buddha, but followed two non-Buddhist leaders who were intent on destroying Buddhism. As Bhiksus were not allowed within the country, the King demanded of Aryasimha, "Have you ended birth and death?"

Aryasimha wanted to convert the King. "I have ended it," he answered.

"The Buddha's teaching says that practicing the Bodhisattva Way, you must give up your head, your eyes, your brains and your blood. You must give up whatever someone happens to need. Now, I need your head. Give it to me! Since you have ended birth and death, you must give me your head. Can you do it?"

"I don't even have birth and death said Aryasimha, "what does it matter if I lose my head? It's yours. Take it."

When the King sliced off Aryasimha's head, instead of blood a milky white fluid ran from his neck. The King's arm fell to the ground. No one cut it off; it fell off by itself because he had murdered an Arhat. The King then put the two leaders of the non-Buddhist religion to death, but there was nothing special about their executions. They bled just like everyone else. The King then prohibited their non-Buddhist religion and spread the Buddhadharma widely.


"(25) Arya Basiasita,

 (26) Arya Punyamitra,

 (27) Arya Prajnatara,

 (28) Arya Bodhidharma,

 (29) Great Master Hui K'o,

 (30) Great Master Seng Ts'an,

 (31) Great Master Tao Hsin,

 (32) Great Master Hung Jen, and

 (33) I, Hui Neng, am the thirty-third Patriarch.

      Thus transmission had been handed down from patriarch to patriarch. In the future transmit it accordingly from generation to generation. Do not allow it to become extinct.” The assembly heard and faithfully accepted this, bowed and withdrew.

          The Sixth Patriarch’s Dharma Jewel Platform Sutra, which began with the first issue of Vajra Bodhi Sea in April 1970, will be concluded with lecture forty-two in this issue. As the first complete translation to appear with a commentary, it is an invaluable guide for clarifying and transmitting the methods of cultivation for beginners as well as for adepts who have long followed the Way. The members of the Buddhist Text Translation Society who are responsible for this work return the merit from the work to the Dharmarealm, in thanks for the kindness and strength they have received from those above them, and to aid those who suffer in paths below. They hope that all those who read this work will resolve to attain Bodhi.

Lecture 42


On the third day of the eighth month of the year Kuei Ch'ou, the second year of the Hsien T'ien reign (A.D. 713), after a meal in Kuo En Temple, the Master said, "Each of you take his seat for I am going to say goodbye."

Fa Hai said, "What teaching dharma will the High Master leave behind so that confused men can be led to see the Buddha nature?"

      The Master said, “All of you please listen carefully. If men of future generations recognize living beings, just that is the Buddha nature. Not recognizing living beings, they may seek the Buddha throughout many kalpas, but he will be difficult to meet.”



The Great Master instructed his disciples to take their seats. In Buddhism, everything has a fixed order. Those who have taken precepts first stand or sit in front of those who have taken precepts later. If you have held precepts for even one day longer, you sit in front.

Once again Fa Hai, number one, heard that the Sixth Patriarch was going and so he acted as a spokesman. He was the oldest, so naturally he was higher than everyone else. "What Dharma will you leave with us. High Master, so that we can teach the deluded ones of future generations to understand the mind and see the nature?"

The Master said, "If you want to find the Buddha you must look among living beings. If you recognize living beings you recognize the Buddha nature. Why did "Ever-Not-Slighting" Bodhisattva bow before everyone he met? Because he knew that they were all Buddhas. He saw everyone as a Buddha and so he will accomplish Buddhahood himself. If he saw everyone as a demon, he would be a demon."


      “I will now teach you how to recognize the living beings within your mind and how to see the Buddha nature therein. If you wish to see the Buddha, simply recognize living beings for it is living beings who are confused about the Buddha and not the Buddha who is confused about living beings."


      See the Buddha within your own mind; don't seek him outside. If you wish to see the Buddha you must first respect living beings. If you respect living beings and recognize them all as the Buddha, then you have understood the mind and seen the nature. Confused living beings do not recognize the Buddha, but the Buddha recognizes living beings.


      "Enlightened to the self-nature, the living being, is a Buddha. Confused about the self-nature, the Buddha is a living being. When the self-nature is impartial, the living being is the Buddha. When the self-nature is biased, the Buddha is a living being."


      If you are biased and continually pick at other people's faults, even if you are a Buddha, you turn into a living being. Living beings and the Buddha differ only in a thought.


      "If your thoughts are devious and threatening, the Buddha dwells within the living being, but in one impartial thought, the living being becomes a Buddha. Our minds have their own Buddha and this Buddha is the true Buddha. If the mind does not have its own Buddha, where can the true Buddha be sought? Your own minds are the Buddha—-have no further doubts. Outside there is nothing which can be established, for the original mind produces the ten thousand dharmas. Therefore the Sutras say, 'The mind produced, all dharmas are produced; the mind extinguished, all dharmas are extinguished."


      Buddha is mind; mind is Buddha. Right thoughts are the Buddha; deviant thoughts are the demon. Pure thoughts are the Buddha; defiled thoughts are the demon. Take a look at your thoughts. If you can keep your mind clean, that is the real Buddha. Without a clear, pure, genuine Buddha mind, where can you go to find the genuine Buddha mind, where can you go to find the Buddha? You'll never find him. The Buddha is made in your mind; do not seek him outside.

      All is not separate from the self-nature. All is not separate from your own mind. The ten thousand dharmas all are produced from your mind, not from outside.

The Buddha spoke all dharmas

For the minds of living beings.

If there were no minds

What use would dharmas be?


      "Now to say goodbye, I will leave you gatha called the 'Self-Nature's True Buddha Gatha'. Those of the future who understand its meaning will see their original mind and realize the Buddha Way." The gatha:

"The true suchness self-nature is the true Buddha.

Deviant views, three poisons are the Mara deva."


      The most important part of this Platform Sutra is this last gatha. It explains everything extremely well. The Sixth Patriarch left it, not just for the people of his day, but also for us, now, to cultivate according to its principles. He saw that you and I would be here, listening. We all have a share, and we should cultivate according to this gatha because we are all the men of future generations, not the animals of future generations. The animals of future generations will have to be reborn as men before they can have a share. The Sixth Patriarch spoke this gatha for men, not animals. Animals who wish to become Buddhas must first be reborn as human beings.

We should not lose this opportunity.

      The true suchness self-nature is the true Buddha. The self-nature is your mind. Your true suchness self-nature is also called the real mark, the Tathagata Store, the Buddha nature, and your own nature. True suchness is just your own nature; your own nature is truly so. The true suchness self-nature is the true Buddha.

      Deviant views, three poisons are the demon king. If you know true "Buddha, you should also know the demon king. The demon king is just your deviant views, greed, hate, and delusion. Greed for riches, greed for sex, greed for anything at all is just poison.

If, after you leave home, you are greedy and self-seeking, that too is poison. If you contrive to get more disciples, that is poison. So you see, we have been here so long and not many have taken refuge. Those who take refuge, do it on their own; no one advises them. If I told you to take refuge with me, you might wonder if I had the right to be your teacher and Good Knowing Advisor. I don't know myself whether I am a Good Knowing Advisor or not, and so I do not go about it in this way.

          "At times of deviant confusion the demon king's in the house
            But when you have proper views the Buddha's in the hall."


      Deviant confusion is ignorance. Ignorance creates love and desire, and just that is the demon king dwelling in your house.

      If you have proper views and not the wrong views of greed, hate, or delusion, then your own mind is pure and the Buddha is in the hall.


     “Wrong views, three poisons produced within the nature

      Are just the demon king come to dwell in the house.”


      The Buddha and the demon are manifest from your own nature. When you hold deviant views, the three poisons arise, and the demon comes to dwell in your house. What is your house? Your body.


     “Proper views cast out three poisons in the mind,

       Transform the demon into Buddha—true, not false.”


Proper views naturally expel the three poisons and the demon immediately changes into a Buddha. This principle is absolutely true; it cannot possibly be false. You need only hold proper views and that is the Buddha; improper views are just the demon.

           "Dharma body, Reward body, and Transformation body,
             Three bodies basically are one body.
             If, within your nature, you can see this for yourself,
             This is just the Bodhi-cause of realizing Buddhahood." 



      The clear, pure Dharma body, the perfect, full Reward body, and the hundred thousand myriad Transformation bodies, although spoken of as three, are basically one. The three bodies are simply transformations from your one body. This is called, "Three in one, one in three."

If you can see for yourself the true Buddha within your self-nature, this is a cause for your future realization of Buddhahood, a seed of Buddhahood. Having planted the Bodhi seed, you will certainly reap the Bodhi fruit and become a Buddha.

      “Originally from the Transformation body the pure nature is 

       The pure nature ever-present within the Transformation body.”


The clear, pure self—nature arises originally from the Transformation body.  Your pure self-nature, your pure Dharma body, is also within your Transformation body.

           "One's nature leads the Transformation body down the right              And in the future the full perfection's truly without end."


      In the future, your Bodhi self-nature will be perfected and the perfect full Reward body will be truly inexhaustible.


      “The root cause of purity is the lust nature,

        For rid of lust, is just the pure nature body.

        Each of you, within your natures, leave the five desires.

        In a ksana, see your nature—it is true.”



Everyone has sexual desire, but you do not need to be afraid of it. In the Surangama Sutra we read about Usschusma, the "Fire—Head Vajra" whose sexual desire was unbearably heavy when he first began to cultivate. But he was able to discipline and temper the fire of lust, transforming it into the fire of wisdom and transforming himself into the "Fire-Head Vajra,"

The root cause of purity is the lust nature...Proper thoughts are the pure nature cause, and deviant thoughts are impure. Therefore do not think that you have to cut off sexual desire. Don't cut it off, transform it instead. Transform lust into purity. This purity is just proper knowledge and proper views. The lust nature is just deviant knowledge and deviant views.

Rid of lust, this is just the pure nature body...To get rid of lust means to transform it. You don't have to throw it away, all you have to do is change your thoughts, direct them to the pure nature. That's right. Just this is the clear, pure, self-nature Dharma body.

Each of you within your natures, leave the five desires. They are

(1) wealth,

(2) sex,

(3) fame,

(4) food, and

(5) sleep.

They may also be explained as forms, sounds, smells, tastes, touchables, and mind objects. In general, stay far away from them and do not have deviant thoughts within your self-nature. Produce proper knowledge and proper views and leave the five desires.

Once you leave the five desires, in a ksana, you can see the nature. In an instant you obtain your own true suchness wonderful nature.



      This life, if you come upon the Sudden Teaching door

       Suddenly become enlightened to the self-nature, and see the Honored of the World.



      Having encountered the Sudden Teaching of the Dhyana School, you may instantly become enlightened, understand your original mind, and see your original nature. Just then personally meet the Buddhas of the ten directions; you can see them all.


      “If you wish to cultivate and aspire to Buddhahood,

        You’ll not know where the truth is to be sought,

        Unless you can see this truth within your own mind,

        This truth which is the cause of realizing Buddhahood.”


      Unless you apply effort in the self-nature you'll never find the genuine Buddha. You'll never find the Buddha if you look for him outside. Understand your mind, see your own nature, look for the genuine Buddha nature within your own mind. This is the truth, which is a cause of realizing Buddhahood. To understand the mind, see your nature, and know your true suchness wonderful function is the seed of Buddhahood.


      “Not seeing your self-nature but seeking the Buddha outside,

        Such thoughts mean you are the stupidest of men.”


If you do not turn the light around and seek within yourself but run outside to look for the Buddha instead, you are being stupid, stupid, extremely stupid, the stupidest of men.

            "I now leave behind the Sudden Teaching Dharma door
              To liberate worldly men who must cultivate themselves.
              I announce to you and to future students of the Way;
              If you do not hold these views you will only waste your time."



You must cultivate the Sudden Enlightenment Dharma on your own. Do not not cultivate! If you do not hold to the opinions expressed in this gatha, you are wasting your time. You pass the time in vain; in vain you pass the time. You'll never obtain the smallest advantage. This is too wasteful.



      Having spoken this gatha the Master said, "All of you take care. After my extinction, do not act with worldly emotion. If you weep in sorrow, receive condolences, or wear mourning clothes, you are not my disciples as this is contrary to the proper Dharma. Merely recognize your own original mind and see your own original nature (which is) not moving, not still, not produced, not extinguished, not coming, not going, not right, not wrong, not dwelling, and not departing."


I will say a bit more about the five desires. Desire for sex not only refers to women, but includes men also. Men like women; women like men. This is a dharma of opposites. So don't take the desire for sex to mean only women.

The Master said, "Unlike common, vulgar worldly men, do not make an emotional demonstration of your feelings. Don't behave like that. Don't weep tears like rain to irrigate the fields. My disciples have to obey me! If you do such things not only are you not my disciple, but you are also contradicting the Buddhadharma.

“Do not strike up false thinking. Do not put it down. Do not not break through it. You must see through it, smash it, and put it all down. Then you can be free."

"Then what should we do?" his disciples wondered.

"Recognize your original mind! What is it like? It doesn't move and it isn't still. It doesn't come or go. It's not right or wrong, good or bad, black or white, long or short. It doesn't stay and it doesn't leave. It's neither here nor there.

"Apply effort to your self-nature, understand your mind. Then you will not have wasted your time." 



"Because I am afraid that your confused minds will misunderstand my intention, I will instruct you again so that you may see your nature. After my extinction, continue to cultivate as if I were still present. Should you disregard my teaching, then even if I were to remain in the world, you would obtain no benefit."

He further spoke this gatha;

"Firm, firm;

Do not cultivate the good.

High, high:

Do not do evil.

Still, still:

Cut off sight and sound.

Vast, vast:

The mind unattached."


Firm, firm, means not moving. This state is "thus, thus, unmoving," clear, clear and constantly bright. Do not cultivate the good does not mean that you should not cultivate the good. It just means that you should not be attached when you cultivate the good. Don't be like that greedy-minded ghost Emperor Wu, who thought, "Look at all my merit!"

High, high, means gay and cheerful, independent and content from morning to night. Do not do evil does not mean that you can think, "I am not attached to doing evil, so it's no problem." Attached or not attached, you should not do evil. What is evil? Killing, stealing, and sexual misconduct.

Of the ten-thousand evils

Lust is the worst.

Do not walk down

This road of death.

Do not walk this road. Do not do evil.

Still, still, cut off sight and sound. This state is peaceful, comfortable, and happy. Still, still, quiet, quiet, you cut off sight and sound by not producing deviant thoughts at the gates of the six sense organs. It is all right to have proper thoughts, but cut off the deviant ones. Cut off deviant sights and sounds. For example, if people are speaking improperly, don't listen.

Vast, vast, the mind unattached. This mind's capacity extends throughout the universe and fills up heaven and earth. It is high, great, broad, vast, limitless, and unbounded, and not attached anywhere.



      After speaking this gatha, the Master sat upright until the third watch, when suddenly he said to his disciples, "I am going!" In an instant he changed, and a rare fragrance filled the room. A white rainbow linked with the earth and the trees in the wood turned white. The birds and the beasts cried out in sorrow.



The Master sat meditating with his disciples until the middle of the night, at twelve o'clock, when he said, "The time has come to go. See you all again!" His energy was cut off and he no longer moved. He had entered Nirvana. He changed means that he moved his house. Who moved his house? The flesh body Bodhisattva.

The forest turned white because the white rainbow light shone on it. You could also say that the trees knew the Master was dead and so they expressed their grief by wearing the white clothes of mourning.

All the animals on the mountain cried uncontrollably. Grass and trees are without feelings, but they put on mourning clothes; birds and beasts ordinarily don't understand very much, but they manifested a spiritual nature and wept.


A dispute then arose among the officials, disciples, Sangha and laity of the three counties of Kuang Chou, Shao Chou, and Hsin Chou, as to who should receive the true body.


      Those from Canton wanted to take the body to Fa Using Temple. "The Sixth Patriarch had his head shaved hers. He should return to Canton now to receive offerings."

The Hsin Chou people all said, "The Great Master is a native of Hsin Chou. He should return there!" Those of Shao Chou insisted that since the Patriarch had expounded his teaching there he should now return.

While the Patriarch was alive, they had never quarreled over him, for he had been most independent. But now the Master had completed the stillness and everyone felt as if they personally had the right to remove his body and make offerings to it.

"Wasn't the Sixth Patriarch originally from Hsin Chou? And didn't the Master himself say, 'Falling leaves return to the root?"

"But the Sixth Patriarch himself built Nan Hua Temple," said those of Shao Chou. "He really should return there."

"The Patriarch left home in Canton. He let his hair fall there and his Dharma should all fall back to us!"

They argued and argued until one intelligent person said, "Stop! While he was alive, we obeyed the Master's instructions. Now that he has died, we should still listen to him. Let's ask the Master to decide!"

"But he's already dead," they said, "how can he tell us where he wants to go?"

"The Master has great spiritual powers," he said, "and he knows all of our thoughts. It must displease him to see us here fighting over the right to make offerings to his body. Let's light some incense, and in whatever direction the smoke drifts, that is where the Master wants to go. Then no one can argue about it."

The smoke went straight to Nan Hua Temple and there was nothing that the people from Canton and Hsin Chou could say.

The next passage of text says, as they could not agree and this indicates that the situation was extremely grave; it was a crisis. Everyone was trying to force the body away.



      As they could not agree, they lit incense and prayed, saying, "The Master will be returned to the place indicated by the incense smoke."

The smoke went directly to Ts'ao Hsi and so, on the thirteenth day of the eleventh month, the reliquary and the transmitted robe and bowl were returned there. In the following year, on the twenty-fifth day of the seventh month, the body was removed from the reliquary and Disciple Fang Pien anointed it with incense paste. Remembering the prophecy that his head would be taken, the disciples wrapped sheets of iron and lacquered cloth around his neck for protection and then placed him in the stupa. Just then a white light appeared within the stupa, shot up into the sky, and did not fade for three days. The Magistrate of Shao Chou reported this to the Emperor and received an imperial order to erect a stone tablet commemorating the Master's conduct in the Way.

      The Master's springs and autumns were seventy-six. The robe was transmitted to him at age twenty-four and at age thirty-nine his hair was cut. For thirty-seven years he spoke Dharma to benefit living beings. Forty-three men inherited his Dharma, and an uncountable number awoke to the Way and overstepped the common lot. The robe of belief transmitted from Bodhidharma, the Mo Na robe and precious bowl conferred by Emperor Chung Tsung, as well as the lifelike image sculpted by Fang Pien and other Way articles, were permanently retained at the Pao Lin Bodhimandala.

      The Platform Sutra has been transmitted to set forth the principles of our school, to glorify the Triple Jewel, and to benefit all living beings.


The lecture series is now over and the Sutra has been explained. You have undergone much suffering, but I don't know whether you realized it was suffering or not. If you felt it was suffering, you are just a common person, but if you did not feel that it was suffering, then you are just a rock or a piece of wood. Well, was it suffering?

As to my explanation, I don't know whether I explained well or badly, and I also do not know if you listened well or badly. Good and bad get rid of them both! Explaining is just explaining and listening is just listening.

      We have met because of karmic affinity. We have heard the story of the Sixth Patriarch's life and of his cultivation of the Way. You should not look for good or bad points, but instead look to see whether or not you believe. Advance down the right road and retreat from the wrong.

You should cultivate according to Dharma. Memorize the last gatha of this Sutra and recite it often, for if you reflect on its meaning you will certainly realize Buddhahood. And don't discriminate as to whether I explained the sutra well or not; just look to see whether or not you cultivate. If you cultivate, bad is good, but if you do not cultivate, good is bad.

Now I am going to ask you a question. The Sixth Patriarch was an illiterate, and illiterates cannot have much knowledge. How could someone who couldn't even read speak a Sutra? What does this mean?

Student: I think the Sutra shows that you don't need a lot of scholarly learning in order to become enlightened. The Sudden Teaching is just the mind—realizing the mind—and we should do it.

Who else has a view? This is a democracy. Speak up!

Student: In the Sixth Patriarch’s Dharma explanation, where could a word arise?

Student: The principles contained in the Sutra are so clear and out in front that, every time I try to say something about them, I get tied up in dualism and feel helplessly overwhelmed.

Does anyone else have an opinion?

Student: Master, when the Sixth Patriarch completed the stillness, he said, “See you later.” Where is he now?

He comes right from where you are speaking!

Now, why was it that the Master never learned to read? During the time of the Sixth Patriarch, schools were not available to all, and to attend, you had to have money. The Sixth Patriarch's family was extremely poor because his father was an honest official who never took bribes. As a boy, even getting food to eat was a problem, so of course he couldn't go to school. It was a question of environment, then. He never learned to read because his family was poor and because schools were not available.

But there is yet another reason. Why would the Sixth Patriarch choose to appear in a poor family? He did this to show us that even illiterates can realize Buddhahood and become Patriarchs. Thus he raised the hopes of those who could not read.

Seeing the Sixth Patriarch, everyone thought, "Ha never went to school, but he cultivated and became a Buddha! We can do it too!" It is not the case that if you can't read, you can't cultivate. If you think, "Only educated people can cultivate," you are holding a prejudiced view. The Sixth Patriarch appeared to cause us all to lay down such prejudices. As I see it, these are three reasons why the Sixth Patriarch never learned to read.

Now you know the Sixth Patriarch. He was not lazy. He always practiced the Buddhadharma. He became enlightened, and after his enlightenment he spoke the Platform Sutra. Being able to read is just worldly wisdom. The Sixth Patriarch understood his mind, saw his nature, and opened up to his own inherent wisdom. Because this Sutra was spoken from the bright light of this wisdom, its value is incomparable. It is the same as Sutras spoken by the Buddha, so do not take him lightly just because he couldn’t read.

The Sutra is now complete, and, after teaching it, I make this statement to all of you.