Composed by the Venerable Master Hua
Translated by Bhiksuni Heng-yin

      The Venerable One was from central India. He first studied the dharmas of the immortals (Skt. rsi Chin. –hsien) When the Fifth Patriarch [The Venerable Dhritaka, see VBS, #91] went to his country, he gazed with awe upon him and bowed, saying, "In the distant past, long ago, I was born together with you, Master, in a Brahma Heaven. I met with an immortal who transmitted to me the dharmas of immortals. You, Master, met a Buddhist disciples and thus cultivated Dhyana. Our retributions have sent us down different paths now for six aeons."

The [Fifth] Patriarch answered him saying, "We have been apart for many, many aeons; this is true and not false. But now you can cast aside the deviant and return to the orthodox, and enter the Buddha-vehicle."

The Venerable One replied, "It's lucky that we met today. Could it be because of anything other than causal affinities from former lives? I pray that the Master will be compassionate and lead me to liberation." The Patriarch immediately shaved his head and transmitted the complete precepts to him, and instructed him with the Great Dharma.

Having obtained the Dharma, the Venerable One went on his way, teaching living beings, until he arrived in Northern India, where he instructed the Dharma to Vasumitra. He then entered the Lion-Sprint Samadhi, and his body rose up to the height of seven Tala Trees. He then returned to his seat and immolated himself [in the fire of true samadhi].

A verse in his praise runs:

In one awakening to former lives' causes,

Worldly knowledge and views were completely cast off,

Returning to the right, leaving the deviant,

Once the two had been compared.

The Samadhi of the Lion-Sprint,

What kind of thing is it?

Roaming at ease for a thousand generations,

A clear breeze blowing throughout the realm.

Another verse in his praise runs:

Immortal studies, Buddhist studies, different roads they be,

It's only a matter of time before causes reach maturity.

Though they met by accident, the reasons were fixed of old.

Separated through many aeons, a story remained to be told.

One day they met, and perfected the fruits of the Way,

Through a myriad generations, Truly-So, they'd been fused always.

And why is it that no response we generate?

Can’t leave behind the worldly mind, as we drown in love’s treacherous lake.


      All of the Sutras are guides to use in cultivating the Way. They may be spoken by the Buddhas, the Bodhisattvas, the Patriarchs, and also by Arhats, transformation beings, and gods. Although they all serve the same purpose, the doctrines within them differ. The Sixth Patriarch Sutra, which was spoken by the great Chinese master, the Sixth Patriarch. Now it has been translated into English and the mind-seal Dharma-door of the Buddha has thereby been transmitted in perpetuity to the West. It is hoped that Westerners will now read, recite, and study it, and all become Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and/or Patriarchs. This is the main objective of this translation. May all who see and her it quickly accomplish Buddhahood.

-Master Hua

The second edition of the Sixth Patriarch Sutra is available in paperback and hard cover. The edition includes two indices: one general and one of people and place names. The sutra text is prefaced by Bhiksu Fa Hai's Introduction. Both this Introduction and the sutra text proper contain the Venerable Master Hua's interlinear commentary.

If you wish to understand the wonderful meaning of this sutra, you should study this commentary, for within it are set forth the limitless, inexhaustible, profound principles of the Buddhadharma.

            Essentially, the mind-seal cannot be spoken or expressed in writing, but in
            his commentary the Master has done just that, using numerous analogies and
            expedient devices to cause people to understand what they have never
            understood before.

                                         -Bhiksuni Heng Yin


Sakyamuni Buddha appeared in the world, we are told in the Dharma Flower Sutra, because of the causes and conditions of the one great question. And what is the one great question? It is the question of the birth and death of all living beings. In VOLUME I the Buddhist Text Translation Society presents in translation the Venerable Master Hua's introduction to the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra.

      The Buddha spoke the Dharma Flower Sutra near the end of his teaching career to reveal the Real Dharma, the miraculous Dharma; all previous teachings are considered to be provisional--used to lead his disciples to the level where they might understand the doctrines of universal salvation contained in the Lotus teaching. For this reason, this is a most important Sutra, and a clear understanding of it is necessary for all who wish to truly understand the Buddhadharma.

To return to the one great question: the Venerable Master has said, "Human life is a round-trip affari. When you leave you'll always return. If you understand how you were born you will understand the problem of death." But that understanding comes only through study and practice of the Buddhadharma.

We present this volume as a clear guide. It is up to each one of us, however, to follow it and quickly attain to Buddhahood. Thus solving the problem of birth and death, we can return to help all living beings do the same. In this way, we can, in some small measure repay the kindness of the Buddhas), Bodhisattvas) and our teacher) Master Hua.

                                                                  -By Bhiksuni Heng Yin
                                                                                co-chairperson of Primary Translation
                                        Buddhist Text Translation Society



In VOLUME II Chapter I is set forth. In it, the stage is set for the Buddha's speaking of the Sutra. On Vulture Peak, near the City of the House of Kings, Sakyamuni Buddha has gathered with a great assembly of Bhiksus, Arhats, Bodhisattvas, and the gods and dragons and the eight-fold division. He manifests six portents and the Bodhisattva Maitreya asks the Bodhisattva Manjusri to explain the reason for them. Manjusri explains in detail, comparing the present portents to those he saw in the distant past, in the Dharma assembly of Sun-Moon-Lamp Buddha. After manifesting the portents, that Buddha spoke the Wonderful Dharma Flower Sutra. Thus, the Bodhisattva Manjusri concludes that Sakyamuni Buddha is about to speak the Dharma Flower as well.

      The Venerable Master’s commentary provides a wealth of information on the lives of the Buddha’s disciples, as well as detailed explanations of terms and concepts basic to an understanding of the Buddhadharma. Included in this volume, also, is the outline of Ming Dynasty Master Ngou-i.

      The combination of Sakyamuni Buddha’s most perfect Lotus teaching, "purely perfect and solitarily wonderful," with the compassionate commentary of the Master makes this work a particularly priceless Dharma jewel. The Master teaches the Dharma of the heart, the Dharma which is aimed only at showing us how to break our attachments and gain liberation. The Buddha’s teaching now blooms, lotus-like, in the West. It is up to us to study and practice it, and quickly bear the Bodhi-fruit.

By Bhiksuni Heng Yin