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The Platform Sutra: The Zen Teaching of Hui-neng Hardcover – November 6, 2006


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"[A] meticulous line-by-line interpretation that will radically deepen readers' understanding of not only the sutra but also Buddhism's underlying structure, Abhidharma, or the Matrix of Reality... Red Pine then proceeds to explicate The Heart Sutra in its concentrated entirety, including its most cited pronouncement, 'from is emptiness, emptiness is form, ' a feat that will engage and enlighten every serious student of the Dharma."
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Counterpoint; First edition (November 6, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593760868
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593760861
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,680,077 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Bill Butler on December 4, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I eagerly anticipate any new book from Red Pine (Bill Porter), and this is another wonderful achievement from this great translator and seasoned Zen practitioner.

The text of the master Hui-neng's teaching is clear and straightforward, and Red Pine's notes bring great value as in his past books. He's a master of translation, but also of interpreting ancient Chinese culture, as he's shown in his brilliant translations of ancient Chinese poems.

Hui-neng's teaching on thoughts and thinking during meditation (section 17) are particularly helpful, in a time when Zen meditation is so often misunderstood as an escape from thoughts.

This will easily replace Yampolsky's translation both in clarity and, at least to this non-scholar, in accuracy, since it's based on a more ancient and reliable source text.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Red Pine is simply the best translator of and commentator on Chinese Buddhist texts that I have encountered. I heard him describe his translation process in the following terms (though my paraphrase from faulty memory will only do it faint justice): "I dance with the original text: I need to know it intimately, to move and breathe with it, but if I get too close, try to control it, I step on its toes and we fall over."

His translation is always exquisite, his commentary clear, and he always brings a fresh and challenging perspective top the text. Wonderful - keep it up!
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Format: Hardcover
Award-winning translator Red Pine has rendered the work of the controversial Sixth Patriarch of Zen into English in The Platform Sutra: The Zen Teaching of Hui-Neng. Red Pine's commentary illuminates this classic; unlike other sutras, which transcribe the teachings of Buddha himself, The Platform Sutra transcribes the spiritual and practical teachings of Hui-Neng, whose seventh-century school of Direct Awakening still thrives today and whose wisdom continues to influence the Rinzai and Soto schools of modern Zen. The full, original Chinese text with an accompanying list of Chinese names for texts, places and the like along with extensive notes enhances this essential Mahayana reference enthusiastically recommended for Zen Buddhism reference shelves. "Fellow students of the Way, be careful. Don't think that meditation comes first and then gives rise to wisdom or that wisdom comes first and then gives rise to meditation or that meditation and wisdom are separate. For those who hold such views, the Dharma is dualistic: If the mouth speaks of goodness, but the mind doesn't think of goodness, meditation and wisdom aren't the same. But if goodness pervades both the mouth and the mind, if what is external and internal are alike, then meditation and wisdom are the same."
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By R. Lau on December 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I like this translation a lot. The translation into English is clear. But Red Pine's commentary is what makes this a valuable resource as it gives those not so familiar with Buddhist technical terms a clear understanding of the text. Moreover, I really like the classical Chinese in the appendix, so I can compare my translation efforts to that of Red Pine, thereby improving my own skills in reading classical Chinese. A very valuable and necessary resource. When reading it one really feels that the 6th Patriarch, HuiNeng is right there next to you extolling you to experience your mind directly.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Most of the reviews make this a good reference book, not a translation you'd want to use more personally. I doubt it will replace Yampolsky's translation. For my money, I prefer Cleary's translation of the later verison of the Sutra. Cleary's translation is much cleaner and easier to read.
I think fan's of Red Pine will, like me, find it disappointing, mostly because the notes, in this case, make it rather confusing. Red Pine has made this approach work seamlessly, elsewhere, but not here. Still, I look forward to his Lanka, after all, this is the guy who gave us Han Shan and for that I'll be forever grateful! Let us not forget his Bodhidharma and Diamond, either!
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By MokuDo Taobul on August 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Red Pine's translation, and to me more importantly, his commentary, is in an unalloyed language of working people who just do their jobs without fancy talk or arrogance. I feel Hui-neng, not as a wizened Ch'an master trained in a monastery and educated in the Buddhist cannon, but as an individual who was just a worker, `awakened' by a phrase, who realized the Dharma straight out and taught with a worker's directness. This is a wonderful translation and commentary that doesn't miss.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ignatz97 on May 21, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this translation of the Platform Sutra, and while Red Pine occasionally over-indulges in cleverness, I found his commentary very valuable. Worthwhile for someone who may not be a Buddhist scholar but is a serious student of Zen.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Remo Williams on July 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Many people don't have a very clear idea of what Buddhism is about. Usually they think it's a nihilistic tradition, or a godless one, or one filled with niceties. Rarely do people take the trouble to find out what the Buddha taught; even so, there are books that just focus on his life and talk about the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. There are many levels of Buddhism, just like ranking in karate. If you watch a white belt or green belt perform karate, you might get a very poor notion of what it really is about. You need to see an advanced black belt demonstrate, and then you get a clearer understanding. This book is the equivalent of an advanced black belt's teaching in all its simplicity and depth. Hui-neng is the man I admire most because of his humble origins; and yet he rose to become the 6th Patriarch of Zen. Still illiterate, he was able to comprehend (and explicate) any sutra anybody would read to him. As Lord Jesus said, "And the first shall be last, and the last shall be first." How true. If you wish to comprehend Buddhism, this is the book to read.
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