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Other talks from Adhisthana

Day 2, Morning 2: Autobiography Chapter 2 of 3

by Paramartha (2021)

“Whenever I read the text I would be thrown into a kind of ecstasy.” - Urgyen Sangharakshita, The Rainbow Road

The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch, [Huineng], is a central text of Zen (in China known as Chan), a school of Buddhism based on the powerful claim that enlightenment can only be attained through a flash of direct, intuitive understanding. As well as being a (if not the) seminal scripture of the Chan/Zen tradition it also has a significant place in our own tradition. In the early years of the Second World War, Bhante discovered, in John Watkins bookshop, a copy of the first English translation of the Platform Sutra by Wong Mou-Lam. It was this text, along with the Diamond Sutra, that led to Sangharakshita not only realise that he was a Buddhist but that he had, in fact, always been one.

On this retreat, led by Paramartha and assisted by Satyalila, the Platform Sutra and story of Huineng’s life and awakening was studied. Reference was made to both Bhante’s 1975 seminar on the Sutra of Huineng as well as Paramartha’s personal notes from a study he did with Bhante in the late 1980s. The retreat also put an emphasis on meditative practice ‘on and off the cushion’, sutra reading and an appreciation of the poetry of the Chan/Zen tradition.

Talks recorded at Adhisthana, September 2021

This talk is part of the series Platform Sutra of Huineng.