The Sixth Patriarch Sutra: Read Along


唐釋法海 撰


by Bhikshu Fa Hai of the T'ang Dynasty
The Great Master was named Hui Neng.  His father was

of the Lu family and had the
personal name Hsing T'ao. His mother was of the Li
family. The Master was born on
the eighth day of the second month of the year Wu
Hsu, in the twelfth year of the
Chen Kuan Reign of the T'ang Dynasty (A.D. 638).
At the time, a beam of light ascended into space and

a special fragrance filled the
room. At dawn, two strange Bhikshus came to visit.
They addressed the master's
father saying, "Last night a son was born to you and
we have come to name him. It
can be Hui above and below, Neng."
The father said, "Why shall he be called Hui Neng?"
The Monk said, "'Hui" means he will bestow the Dharma

upon living beings. 'Neng'
means he will be able to do the Buddha's work."
Having said this, they left. No one
knows where they went.

師不飲乳。夜遇神人灌以甘露。既長。年二十有四。聞經悟道。往黃梅求印可。五祖器之。付衣法。令嗣祖位。時龍朔元年辛酉歲也。南歸隱遯一十六年。至儀鳳元 年。丙子。正月八日。會印宗法師。詰論玄奧。印宗悟契師旨。是月十五日。普會四眾。為師薙髮。二月八日。集諸名德。授具足戒。西京智光律師為授戒師。蘇州 慧靜律師為羯磨。荊州通應律師為教授。中天耆多羅律師為說戒。西國蜜多三藏為證戒。

The Master did not drink milk.  At night, spirits

appeared and fed him sweet dew.
He grew up, and at the age of twenty-four he heard

the Sutra and had an awakening.
He went to Huang Mei to seek the seal of approval.

The Fifth Patriarch measured his capacity and

transmitted the robe and the teachings
so that he inherited the lineage of patriarchs.
The time was the first year of the
reign period Lung Shuo, cyclical year Hsin Yu (A.D. 661)
He returned south. He hid for sixteen years.

On the eighth day of the first month in the first

year of reign period I Feng
(A.D. 676), the cyclical year Ping Tsu, he met
Dharma Master Yin Tsung. Together
they discussed the profound and mysterious, and
Yin Tsung had an awakening to and
understood the master's doctrine.
On the fifteenth day of that month, at a meeting

of the four assemblies, the Master's
head was shaved. On the eighth day of the second
month, all those of well-known
virtue gathered together to administer the
complete precepts. Vinaya Master Chih
Kuang of Hsi Chi was the Precept transmitter.
Vinaya Master Hui Ching of Su Chou was the

Karmadana. Vinyana Master T'ung Ying of
Ching Chou was the Teaching Master. Vinyana
Master Ch'i To Lo of Central India
recited the precepts. Tripitaka Master Mi To of
India was the Precept Certifier.

其戒壇。乃宋朝求那跋陀羅三藏創建。立碑曰。後當有肉身菩薩於此受戒。又。梁天監元年。智藥三藏自西竺國航海而來。將彼土菩提樹一株。植此壇畔。亦預誌 曰。後一百七十年。有肉身菩薩於此樹下開演上乘。度無量眾。真傳佛心印之法主也。師至是祝髮受戒。及與四眾開示單傳之法旨。一如昔讖。

Construction of the precept platform had begun in

the former Sung Dynasty by
Tripitaka Master Gunabhadra. He erected a stone
table which said, "In the future, a
Bodhisattva in the flesh will receive the precepts
in this very place."
Further, in the first year of the T'ien Chien reign

of the Liang Dynasty (A.D. 502)
Tripitaka Master Jnanabhaishajya came by sea from
west India carrying a sprig of
Bodhi-tree, which he planted beside the platform.
He, too, made a prophecy, saying,
"After one hundred and seventy years, a Bodhisattva
in the flesh will proclaim the
Supreme Vehicle beneath this tree. Saving infinite
beings, he will be a true
transmitter of the Buddha's mind-seal, a Dharma Host."
In keeping with the former predictions, the Master

arrived to have his hair shaved
and receive his precepts. He instructed the four
assemblies on the essentials of
the exclusive Dharma transmission.