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Life And Change
A peculiar phase of life is change which appears in the form ...

The Examination Of The Notion Of Self
The belief in immortality is based on the strong instinct of ...

Enlightened Consciousness
In addition to these considerations, which mainly depend on i...

The Characteristics Of Do-gen The Founder Of The Japanese So To Sect
In the meantime seekers after a new truth gradually began to ...

Retribution In The Past The Present And The Future Life
Then a question suggests itself: If there be no soul that su...

The Progress And Hope Of Life
How many myriads of years have passed since the germs of life...

Zen In The Dark Age
The latter half of the Ashikaga period was the age of arms an...

Buddha The Universal Life
Zen conceives Buddha as a Being, who moves, stirs, inspires, ...

Great Men And Nature
All great men, whether they be poets or scientists or religio...

Buddha Is Unnamable
Give a definite name to Deity, He would be no more than what ...

The Second And The Third Patriarchs
After the death of the First Patriarch, in A.D. 528, Hwui Ko ...

Zazen And The Forgetting Of Self
Zazen is a most effectual means of destroying selfishness, th...

The Parable Of A Drunkard
Now the question arises, If all human beings are endowed with...

The Parable Of The Robber Kih
Chwang Tsz (So-shi) remarks in a humorous way to the followi...

The Five Ranks Of Merit
Thus far we have stated how to train our body and mind accord...

The Honest Poverty Of The Zen Monk And The Samurai
Secondly, the so-called honest poverty is a characteristic of...

Three Important Elements Of Zen
To understand how Zen developed during some four hundred year...

Zen Is Not Nihilistic
Zen judged from ancient Zen masters' aphorisms may seem, at t...

Flight Of The Sixth Patriarch
On the following morning the news of what had happened during...

Introduction Of Zen Into China By Bodhidharma
An epoch-making event took place in the Buddhist history of C...




Missionary Activity Of The Sixth Patriarch








As we have seen above, the Sixth Patriarch was a great genius, and
may be justly called a born Zen teacher. He was a man of no
erudition, being a poor farmer, who had served under the Fifth
Patriarch as a rice-pounder only for eight months, but he could find
a new meaning in Buddhist terms, and show how to apply it to
practical life. On one occasion, for instance, Fah Tah (Ho-tatsu), a
monk who had read over the Saddharma-pundarika-sutra[FN#46] three
thousand times, visited him to be instructed in Zen. Even if you
read the sutra ten thousand times, said the Sixth Patriarch, who
could never read the text, it will do you no good, if you cannot
grasp the spirit of the sutra. I have simply recited the book,
confessed the monk, as it is written in characters. How could such
a dull fellow as I grasp its spirit? Then recite it once,
responded the master; I shall explain its spirit. Hereupon Fah Tah
began to recite the sutra, and when he read it until the end of the
second chapter the teacher stopped him, saying: You may stop there.
Now I know that this sutra was preached to show the so-called
greatest object of Shakya Muni's appearing on earth. That greatest
object was to have all sentient beings Enlightened just as He
Himself. In this way the Sixth Patriarch grasped the essentials of
the Mahayana sutras, and freely made use of them as the explanation
of the practical questions about Zen.


[FN#46] One of the most noted Mahayana sutras, translated by
Dharmaraksa (A.D. 286) and by Kumarajiva (A.D. 406). The reader has
to note that the author states the essential doctrine in the second
chapter. See Sacred Books of the East, vol. xxi., pp. 30-59.






Next: The Disciples Under The Sixth Patriarch

Previous: The Development Of The Southern And Of The Northern School Of Zen



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