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Hui Neng

My choice for the ninth [book] is Hui Neng, the Chinese successor to Bodhidharma. The Teachings of Hui Neng are as yet unknown, and untranslated outside Japan (*). Hui Neng is one of the pinnacles, the very crescendo a man can rise to. Hui Neng does not say much; he only gives hints, just a few hints. But they are enough. Like footprints, if you can follow you will reach. What he says is essentially not different from Buddha or Jesus, but the way he says it is his own, authentically original. He says it in his own way, and that proves he is not a parrot, not a pope or a priest. Hui Neng can be summarized very easily, but can only be realized by those who can risk all. He can be summarized very easily because all that he says is: Do not think; be. But to realize it one will need many lives, unless one is utterly intelligent; then, this very moment, here-now, it can become a reality in you. It is already a reality in me, why can′t it become a reality in you? Except you, nobody is preventing it.

(Osho - Books I Have Loved)

The truth cannot be had at any price. It cannot be obtained from others in exchange for something. hui nengIt is the fruit of self-development. Emperor Bimbasara once went to Mahavira and said, "I want to attain truth. I am willing to give anything I possess but I must have the truth that rids man of all sorrow." Mahavira saw that the ruler wanted to conquer truth in the same way he had conquered the world; that he even wanted to buy the truth. So understanding that it was ego that spoke, Mahavira said to Bimbasara, "Excellency, first go to Punya Shravak, a citizen of your empire, and get from him the fruit of his meditation. That will make your journey to emancipation and truth easier." Bimbasara went to Punya Shravak and said, "I have come to ask something. I want to buy the fruit of your meditation. I will pay whatever price you require." On hearing the emperor′s request, Punya Shravak replied, "My Lord, meditation means serenity. It means keeping the mind free from temptation and hatred and remaining steady in one′s self. How can this be given by one person to another? You want to buy it, but this is impossible. You will have to acquire it yourself." There is no other way. The truth cannot be purchased. It can neither be obtained as a gift nor by begging. And it cannot be conquered by attack. Attacking truth is not the way to attain it. Violence is an expression of ego and where the ego is, truth cannot exist. To attain truth you have to reduce yourself to zero. Truth comes through the door of the void, of emptiness. It doesn′t come through the attack of the ego but through sensitivity and the receptivity of emptiness. Don′t attack truth - prepare an opening in yourself for it to come in.
Hui-neng said that there was a way to attain truth: cultivation through no-cultivation. No-cultivation is laid down as a condition in order to avoid the use of force in cultivation. This is inaction, this no-cultivation. It is not attaining but emptying - but it is the way to attain truth. The extent to which you empty yourself is the extent to which you attain. Where does rainwater go? It doesn′t stay on the hills, but runs into the empty ditches. The nature of truth is similar to the nature of water. If you want to attain truth empty yourself completely. As soon as you are empty, the truth will fill that empty place with itself. Truth is within you. It is within me. You don′t have to go anywhere else to look for it. You just have to dig it out of yourselves as you dig wells for water. You have to dig the well of the soul. And meditation is the spade for digging that well. With the spade of meditation we must dig out the earth of the outside world that covers our nature - and then the one we are seeking is near. He is hidden in the seeker himself.

(Osho - The Perfect Way)


The Teachings of Hui Neng have been preserved in what is called The Platform Sutra. This sutra has changed in the course of four centuries and exists in different versions, which have meanwhile been translated.