April 2017


(Blogger’s note: Please see “Blogger’s note” on my post dated 4 January.)

Chapter II.  On Prajna

(Translated from Chinese original of 六祖壇經 by Justin Lam)

On the next day, Prefect Wei requested the Master to give a Dharma lecture so as to benefit the crowd.  In response, the Master mounted the pulpit and told crowd, “Let’s all purify our minds and concentrate on mahāprajnāpāramitā (the Great Perfection of Wisdom).

Then the Master said again, “Learned Audience, everyone in the world already has this wisdom of bodhi prajnā.  It is just because their minds are deluded that they cannot attain enlightenment on their own, and have to rely on great spiritual teachers to show and guide them in order to see the nature.  You should know that the Buddha nature of the foolish and that of the wise are originally of no difference.  It’s just that people’s extent of being deluded varies, and so some become foolish and some become wise.  “Now I’ll explain to you the teaching of mahāprajnāpāramitā, so that you will all attain wisdom.  Listen well to what I’ll be saying to you.

“Learned Audience, people of this world keep reciting prajnā, and yet they don’t understand the prajnā of self-nature.  This is like talking about eating without satisfying hunger.  (more…)

(Blogger’s note: Among Buddhist scriptures originally written in the Chinese language, the Platform Sutra no doubt enjoys especially high regard among the Chinese for various reasons.  The blogger likes reading it for its succinctness in expounding some of the very profound Buddhist concepts, and for its practicality for laymen as well as members of the Buddhist sangha with respect to putting such concepts into practice.  Nowadays, readers of its Chinese original have easy access to quite a number of versions of it in form of either hard copies or texts on the Internet.  There are also a few versions of its English translations, but they do not appear to be really good translations both languagewise and contentwise speaking.  Therefore, the blogger has chosen to translate into English a few chapters that he particularly enjoys reading based on his understanding of the Chinese original, so that those who are interested in knowing what the Platform Sutra is about yet cannot read Chinese and who happen to be visitors of this blog find one more channel to encounter the thoughts of Hui Neng via reading the blogger’s translation of the Platform Sutra.  This and probably the next few posts will be the English translation of selected chapters of the Platform Sutra.  This post does not pretend to be a commentary on the chapter being translated.  Readers are welcome to interpret what Hui Neng said on the basis of their own understanding of the text they are going to read.  For Chinese readers’ reference, the Chinese original based on which the translation was done is provided at the end of the English translation.  The punctuation marks in the Chinese text are provided by the blogger, based on his understanding of the text, which, taken from an Internet site, was originally punctuated with only full-stops at phrase boundaries as understood by the provider of the text, whose identity the blogger has had no time to find out.)

Chapter III.  Questions and Answers (Translated from Chinese original of 六祖壇經 by Justin Lam)

One day, Prefect Wei (Translator’s note: “Wei” is a Chinese surname.  “Prefect” is the title of a local official.) organised a vegetarian meal gathering for the Master.  When the meal was over, Prefect Wei requested the Master to mount the pulpit, and he, together with the officials, scholars, and commoners, bowed reverently to the Master again.

“I have heard the profound Dharma preaching of your Holiness.  Now there are a few doubts in me that I hope your Holiness would exercise your great compassion to clear them up for me.”  Prefect Wei asked the Master.

“Feel free to voice any doubts.  I’ll explain them to you,” the Master said.

“Isn’t what your Holiness preached also principles taught by Master Bodhidharma?”  Mr Wei said.

“Yes,” replied the Master.

“I’ve heard that when Bodhidharma first met the Wu Emperor of Liang, the Emperor asked him, ‘For all my life I’ve built temples, allowed new monks to be ordained, given alms, and organized meals for monks.  So what merits and virtues have I accumulated?’ and Bodhidharma replied, ‘No merit or virtue at all.’ I cannot understand the reason behind such an answer.  Hope that your Holiness could explain it for me.” said Prefect Wei.

“Indeed there was no merit or virtue,” (more…)