Dajian Huineng (Ta-chien Hui-neng, Daikan Eno), 638-713. The Thirty-Fourth Ancestor in the Zen Transmission, the Sixth Chinese Ancestor. He appears in Records of Silence 13 and in Gateless Gate 29. See Dogen's Chiji Shingi. See Denkoroku Chapter 34.

His famous verse:

"Enlightenment is not a tree
and the clear mirror stands nowhere.
From the beginning not one thing,
where can dust alight."

The verse written by Hui-neng mentioned by sensei above is part of a famous story that is often told to capture the meaning of Zen.

The story goes that Hung-jan, the Fifth patriarch of Zen/Chan Buddhism in China, realised that he was dying, and ordered that whoever could write a poem that best encapsulated the nature of Chan Buddhism would be the next Patriarch. With the office went the famous begging bowl of Guatama.

The foremost of his disciples was Shen-xiu, who composed the poem:

  The body is a bodhi tree
  The mind is like a mirror bright
  Polish it with diligence
  And let no dust adhere

Hung-jan was extremely happy, and said that whoever practiced this would surely reach enlightenment. The next night however, Hui-neng, at that time a lowly peasant rice-pounder, posted his poem next to it:

  There is no bodhi tree
  And no mirror bright standing
  And since no thing exists
  Where can the dust cling?

Hung-jan immediately realised the profundity of this poem and installed Hui-neng as the sixth patriarch of Chan Buddhism.

After Hui-neng died, his body was preserved and lacquered (yes, lacquered) at Hua-nan monastery, in Guangdong, China. It was smashed by the People's Liberation Army during the Cultural Revolution, but the remains were preserved.

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