Unknown Date, Serial 00216

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many commentaries on the Platform Sutra. Also, I'm not an expert in Buddhism, so it's very likely I've entirely misread the document. So I'm very happy that I have so many distinguished students of Buddhism here who can correct me in my many misreadings. The Platform Sutra has a complex literary structure and combines the genres of autobiography, biography, sermon, disciple-master dialogue, doctoral exposition, and so on. But what I'm going to focus is simply on the first part of this sutra, which presents the autobiography of the monk Uenang. Before he gives the doctoral part of his sermon, he speaks in the first person about his life.


So the structural high point of the biography is on page 113 of the English text. No, that's not right, is it? No, 131. No, 133. So at the top of the page here. So at midnight, the fifth page, you're on the hallway, and this paragraph. So four important things happen in this scene. Uenang, or excuse me, were you able to make copies of the book? Who needs a copy of the text? Could you please raise your hand? I think they already did. Oh, okay. Does somebody? Okay. So four important things happen in this section.


Uenang is awakened. He received the Dharma. He is given the robe, which makes him the sixth patriarch, and he is commissioned to awaken others through the Dharma. So altogether, in this paragraph, Uenang has three roles. For one, he's one who has been awakened. The second, he's one who teaches others to be awakened. And the third role, he assumes the patriarchship, the sixth patriarchship. However, in the text, this is not the first time Uenang has been awakened. If you look on page 127, at the beginning, at the top of the page there, the second line, And so this experience of being awakened does not show the three roles discussed in the


second experience. It's simply a personal experience of being awakened. But the replication of being awakened then raises a question for textual scholars. Would a single author of a narrative have two scenes of enlightenment, or does this suggest that the text itself went through a period of evolution that, for whatever reason, decided to include both experiences of enlightenment? So it's the first suggestion that we might have a text of multiple authorship rather than single authorship. Then the next question is, which description of enlightenment came first, if they represent two different descriptions? For me, the first passage has a simplicity of expression that suggests it's based on


the actual experience. It could be close to something that the historical Uenang might have said in describing his experience of being awakened. I suppose one of the things I'm doing, I'm looking for the historical Uenang in the text, just as biblical scholars have spent so much time in trying to find the historical Jesus. The second passage at the end of the autobiographical section has the account of being awakened, too. But it is also about the direct teaching of sudden enlightenment, and the primary purpose of this passage is to establish Uenang as the sixth patriarch. Moreover, the instruction to teach others is given in the imperative form. Furthermore, the late-night setting is given to the moment of enlightenment, and the event


is described as unknown to others. So clearly the author of this passage had much more in mind to present than just a simple description of enlightenment. For me, at least, the text has many characteristics of interpolation. So the autobiographical section itself can be removed from the sermon without harming the logic of the sermon. If you look at the opening few words said by Uenang, they connect very nicely to the doctrinal part of the sermon. So it's entirely possible the autobiographical section itself was inserted into the sermon. So why would this be done? And I think there are political, doctrinal, structural, and rhetorical concerns that could


be used to explain why the redactor would want to insert this section. In analyzing the text, the first thing I looked at was the time structure, the use of time in the autobiographical section. The sermon, you're probably familiar, there's narrative time and fictional time. Narrative time is the length of time it takes to tell a story. The sermon part, for instance, perhaps would take two hours. And what is presented here in the sermon part is what can be said in two hours. The autobiographical part has a fictional time that's probably 30 years. So it covers 30 years in the life of Uenang. But it doesn't say this.


This is based on speculation as to how old Uenang was for the first experience of enlightenment. One reading of the text would suggest that he might be a child, but my reading would have him more as an adolescent or young man when he had his first experience of enlightenment. But from the first enlightenment to the second, it's a period about a year. So in the autobiographical account, even though it covers 30 years, only one year is emphasized. And in this one year, there aren't too many time markers itself. Only the span of eight months is set. This is the time he spent working at the pestle in the monastery workshop. But whereas times of span or spans of time are not given very much, in the second part


of the narrative, there's great attention to the time of day. Would you like to indicate the exact best experience? Maybe you read so that we can know where it is. Okay. Very good. 126. You have a double underline on the left side. Can I read one? Yeah, read one. Okay. Before looking specifically at the text, just to mention the concept, in a narrative, there are realized scenes and unrealized scenes. A realized scene being one that presents in a certain amount of detail what happens in


a particular event. So, for this section, the autobiographical section, in the one year of time, or approximately one year, there are nine realized scenes. And they basically correspond with, you see, two, three, four, five, six in the text. These are mainly the realized scenes. And so, for the time structure of these scenes, scenes seven through nine all occur on the same day. And scene seven begins with one day. This is the start of narrative three, on page 131. It says, one day, an acolyte. 131, I have narrative three, it begins one day. So, from here, narrative three, the eight, until the end of the text, the one day is


presented. Now, this day is after the several days that Hsinchu has had to write a new verse, or to write a verse. This is scenes three through six, what I call narrative two, beginning on page 128. So, narrative two happened a few days before narrative three. And narrative two begins again one day, unexpectedly one day, and covers a midnight, 129, what happens at midnight, and a dawn on page 130. Then scene one, what I call narrative one, encompasses one day and the traveling time


to see Kuiyuan. And scene two is also one day. There's about eight months between what I call narrative one and narrative two. So, my identification of these three narratives within the autobiographical account is based on the time structure. But the time structure of the second two narratives is much more precise than that of the first narrative, which again suggests different authors were working on these different parts of the text. So, the author-redactor-editor of narratives two and three had a very precise concept of the time of day when things were happening. But the author of narrative one did not pay a great deal of attention to a time of day.


So, with the division of the text into these three narratives, this is part of narrative theory. A narrative can be divided, but often a narrative is a sequence of related plots. So, each of these narratives would have an individual plot that is then connected with the next narrative. So, in narrative one, the main happening is the enlightenment of Huineng. In narrative two, the content is the failure of Xianqiu to write an acceptable verse. Xianqiu is, in a sense, the monk who is in competition with Huineng to become the sixth patriarch. The narrative three is the success of Huineng's verse, his enlightenment, and his going south.


Looking first at the Huineng in narrative one, the Huineng in the first and second stages of narrative one is a filial energetic worker. His energy is first seen in his carrying firewood to wherever it is needed. He then receives financial recompense for this work. What's not explicitly stated in this narrative, but seems to be essential to the plot of the story, is that the money he received for his work was not sufficient to make him happy. He needed more in his life than just supporting his mother and making money. He needed something else. Then, it is at this point that the narrative resumes with Huineng seeing and hearing the


recital of the Diamond Sutra, an event that occurred through no cause of his own, but it is this event that leads to his enlightenment. Interestingly, it doesn't say in the text how much of the Diamond Sutra he heard. Was it just a passage or was it the entire sutra? In the second account of enlightenment, it's stated very clearly, listen to the entire sutra. But here, in what I would take to be the earlier or the primitive version of his enlightenment, it's entirely possible that just a passage from the Diamond Sutra was sufficient to cause his enlightenment. Where the redactor begins to take place, or begins to go to work, is on page 127, immediately


after the experience of enlightenment. So, the third line, I was awakened. And then, after the process of being awakened, it said, I asked him, where do you come from that you have brought this sutra with you? This sentence suggests that now the redactor has entered in and he wants to begin the process of establishing Huian as the sixth patriarch. But I've not had the experience of enlightenment. But my impression, at least, is one who goes through this experience, within minutes of it, would not begin asking factual questions to someone who is standing near. So, there is no polite prelude to this dialogue, in which Huian might have respectfully asked


the name of his interlocutor, and so on. Rather, he abruptly requests personal factual information, hardly what is to be expected from one who has just been enlightened. And so, here, I see the beginning of the work of the redactor to make Huian the sixth patriarch. Then, on the same page, after Huian hears what this man has to say, he says, hearing what he said, I realized that I was predestined to have heard him. This presentation of the thoughts of Huian, where he's given a realization that, or the suggestion here is, Huian knows he is going to become the sixth patriarch. I see the process very similar as to what happens in the Gospels, when the Gospel writers give to Jesus ideas that could only belong to Jesus as the Christ, where Jesus, in the Gospels,


is given foreknowledge of what's going to happen to him after the crucifixion. And, likewise, the redactor here is giving Huian foreknowledge or a premonition of the role he's to have as the sixth patriarch. But I don't see this as thoughts the historical Huian himself would have had at this time, but what the redactor who wanted to make him the sixth patriarch put in his mind. For the second narrative, this, for me, is very much by the redactor. The account is supposed to be first person. Huian is describing events in his life. But everything in narrative two is basically third person. Huian was not present at any of the events described in narrative two.


So he would have had no knowledge of what had happened there. So, for me, this is another sign of the redactor at work. And each event in narrative two is related to establishing Huian as the sixth patriarch. So, again, it's very much a redactor who wants to show Huian is the sixth patriarch at work, creating the situation. I don't have time to go into analysis of how each section of narrative two relates to this. But another function of narrative two in my reading is it presents examples of people who are not able to obtain enlightenment. So the monks who refuse to write a verse out of respect for Hsien-shiu are not candidates for enlightenment.


Hsien-shiu, for various reasons, and this is the Hsien-shiu of this account. The historical Hsien-shiu might very well be or is an enlightened person, I think, according to the traditions. But the Hsien-shiu of this narrative is someone who's not qualified to become enlightened. Then another thing happening in the second narrative. The fifth patriarch is presented in such a way that he's much less a person than the sixth patriarch will be. So there's also the redactor does not hold the fifth patriarch in the same respect that he holds the sixth patriarch. For narrative three, the main thing I want to point out,


again, we have a double account of the same thing. And it's here, Hui-neng twice hears the verse that Hsien-shiu wrote. And again, it's probably something that only happened once, but for various textual reasons, where probably the earlier version had one description. Then the redactor, again for purposes of making Hui-neng the sixth patriarch, had to add a second time when Hui-neng heard the verse of Hsien-shiu. The second description of this experience is on page 132. Here you go. This I marked.


And I would take this second example on 132 to be the earlier tradition, that this passage very possibly could go back to a sermon given by the historical Hui-neng in which he described what happened to him in his competition or in his becoming the sixth patriarch. So this simple yet stately description is premise first on the narrator being enlightened. So this description requires the enlightenment of Hui-neng at the beginning of the autobiography in narrative one. So it is his enlightenment that allows him to describe the situation as he does. There is also a saintly simplicity to his remarks in his acceptance of his lowly exterior situation of being illiterate,


even though he is already enlightened. Also, what he had to endure in the monastery, even though he was the one who was enlightened, he dealt with those unenlightened ones around him in an extremely generous way. So in terms of purity of heart, I would see this section as perhaps suggesting the way that we, from the Christian monastic tradition, can see Hui-neng as one with purity of heart. So it would be in this passage on 132 that I would place at the very beginning of the tradition of Hui-neng. So it's only this passage and the passage marked on page 126 that I would place close to the historical Hui-neng. If these passages are not from the historical Hui-neng, they then come from an early author who created a very fascinating picture of Hui-neng, or of a Hui-neng.


So to conclude, I would like to look at passages from The Cloud of Unknowing, which I think can be used to help us understand Hui-neng. The Cloud of Unknowing First, some general comments from The Cloud of Unknowing about the real contemplative.


And the word contemplative, I think, in The Cloud of Unknowing, is used as one who has seen God, one who has experienced God, or I suppose one who has had a mystical experience. Just to read some of these. For the perfect contemplative holds no man as such. This is the first one in chapter 24. In special regard, be he kinsman, stranger, friend, or foe. For all men alike are his brothers, and none strangers. He considers all men his friends, and none his foes. This is very much the stance of Hui-neng in his dealing with the people around him. He treats the fifth patriarch in no more special way than he treats the acolyte who is reciting the verse of Shenshou. So Hui-neng has this same approach to others.


Then on chapter 54, all who engage in this work of contemplation find that it has a good effect on the body as well as on the soul, etc. So it describes how one who has had the contemplative experience is the center of attraction for others. So Hui-neng in attracting disciples to himself, in becoming an important teacher in the Chan tradition of Buddhism, is showing this same qualification. Then chapter 71 describes just how a person who has had the contemplative experience reacts in daily life. And I think even though this is not said about Hui-neng in this text, we could probably apply this to what he would have been like if we would have had the experience of seeing him. Then Hui-neng is associated, of course, with the school of sudden awakening.


And it's interesting in the Cloud of Unknowing in chapter 4. This work of contemplation does not need a long time for its completion. Indeed, it is the shortest work that can be imagined. It is no longer no shorter than one atom, and so on. So this seems to be a description of the experience that Hui-neng himself went through. On page 2, the experience of awakening came from the Cloud of Unknowing. It says we cannot talk about inside, outside, up or down, but just having to use human words. Hui-neng's awakening, at least from the text, from hearing the Diamond Sutra, it seems the one source is outside of him. And chapters 34, chapters 1, chapters 2 talk about the experience of contemplation as coming from outside of the one.


And here it's outside because it comes from God. So it is indeed, chapter 34, it is good for you to realize that I cannot teach you. It is not to be wondered at. For this, the work of contemplation is the work of God alone, deliberately wrought in whatever soul he chooses, irrespective of the merits of that particular soul. So in many ways, Hui-neng, I'm not able to describe the process, but from the description in the text, he was chosen to have the experience that he did by a force outside of him. He is not, again, from the text itself, he's not personally responsible for the experience he had. In narrative 2, Hsuan-hsiu is presented as one who does not receive enlightenment. And chapter 52 describes those who are unable to reach the highest stages of contemplation.


And I would see this perhaps a description of what Hsuan-hsiu experienced. This autobiographical section is famous for the verse that Hui-neng composes. And as you see, there are two verses there. It's on page 132. The fact that there are two verses represents to me simply just part of the textual history. That one version had one verse, another version had another. A redactor seeing value in both of them insisted on having both in the text rather than selecting one. Much has been said trying to interpret these two verses, but I think they have to be seen in light as being in response to the unsuccessful verse of Hsuan-hsiu.


So Hsuan-hsiu did not have it quite right, but Hui-neng did, in setting forth the situation for the process of enlightenment. In turning to The Cloud of Unknowing, I selected passages. The unknown author of The Cloud continually is saying or pointing out what the problem is for those who do not become enlightened. So I simply raise a question on page 3. These quotations that I give on page 3, it's what the author of The Cloud criticizes most in those who are unsuccessful in reaching the highest peaks of contemplation. So I simply raise a question, is this similar to what Hui-neng is criticizing? Or just in the way, if this verse is a criticism,


is Hui-neng making the same type of criticism? So thank you very much.