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Finding Wisdom in East Asian Classics$
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Wm. Theodore de Bary

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780231153973

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231153973.001.0001

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The Platform Sūtra of the Sixth Patriarch

The Platform Sūtra of the Sixth Patriarch

(p.128) 10(A) The Platform Sūtra of the Sixth Patriarch
Finding Wisdom in East Asian Classics

Philip Yampolsky

Columbia University Press

This chapter discusses the Platform Sūtra, one of the most celebrated works in the vast literature of Chan (Zen) Buddhism, representing the “autobiography” and the recorded sayings of the Sixth Patriarch, Huineng, the Chinese master from whom all later Chan derives. The Platform Sūtra is distinctly a Chan work; it champions a Chan teacher and emphasizes a particular meditative tradition. Yet at the same time it is characteristically Buddhist, very much in the tradition of other works of the time. Elements common to all Buddhism, such as liturgy, refuges, repentances, vows, acceptance of the precepts, and various standardized formulae are evident in the Platform Sūtra. The text is composed of various layers: an autobiographical section, the basic sermons attributed to Huineng, and a number of miscellaneous independent pieces: verses, stories, the genealogy of the school, and admonitions and exhortations to students of Chan.

Keywords:   Chan Buddhism, Zen Buddhism, Buddhist texts, Asian classics, classic texts, autobiography, Huineng

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