Additional Reading

(Critical Survey of Ethics and Literature)

Blyth, R. H. “The Platform Sutra.” In Zen and Zen Classics: Volume 1. Tokyo: Hokuseido Press, 1960. Blyth, an early student and translator of Japanese Buddhist and literary texts, has some interesting things to say about Huineng and his followers. Blyth’s comments should, however, be read with care. He was extremely opinionated, and sometimes he draws the wrong conclusions. He is incorrect, for example, when he disagrees with Huineng and states, “If the body is different, the [Buddha-] nature is different. If the Buddha-nature is the same, the body is the same.”

Dumoulin, Heinrich. “The High Period of Chinese Zen.” In A History of Zen Buddhism. Boston: Beacon Press, 1969. This chapter contains a brief section on Huineng and contains discussions of the sixth patriarch’s significance in the history of Zen.

Keizan. “Huineng.” Translated by Thomas Cleary. In The Transmission of Light: Zen in the Art of Enlightenment by Zen Master Keizan. San Francisco: North Point Press, 1990. Cleary has done an excellent job of translating Keizan’s Denkōroku, which is one of the most important works in the Japanese Zen tradition. Keizan’s work tells the enlightenment stories of fifty-three Buddhist patriarchs but it is intended as an instructional work for Zen practitioners. The chapter on Huineng is brief but extremely powerful.

Nan Huai-Chin. “The Sixth Patriarch of Zen.” In The Story of Chinese Zen. Boston: Charles E. Tuttle, 1995. Many Buddhist scholars and translators have no true understanding of their subject, and much of their work is misleading or simply wrong. Nan Huai-Chin, however, is a contemporary Zen master, and his work is accurate and reliable. This chapter on Huineng corrects various errors that other scholars have made regarding the sixth patriarch. Highly recommended.

Suzuki, D. T. “From Zen to the Gandavyūha.” In Essays in Zen Buddhism: Third Series. London: Luzac, 1934. This chapter includes discussions of Huineng’s contributions to Zen Buddhism. Suzuki contends that true Zen began with Huineng. His discussions of the differences between the thought of Bodhidharma, the first Chan patriarch, and that of Huineng are particularly interesting.

Suzuki, D. T. The Zen Doctrine of No-Mind: The Significance of the Såutra of Hui-neng. Edited by Christmas Humphreys. York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, 1993. Devoted to the teaching of Huineng, this book includes the technique and purpose of Zen training.