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The Sutra of Hui-Neng: Grand Master of Zen (Shambhala Dragon Editions) Paperback – September 14, 1998


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The latest work from a distinguished and prolific translator is a new rendering of a celebrated Zen text, The Sutra of Hui-neng. This comes with what is stated to be the first English translation of Hui-neng's verse-by-verse commentary on the Diamond Sutra."— The Middle Way

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Chinese
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Product Details

  • Series: Shambhala Dragon Editions
  • Paperback: 161 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala; 1st edition (September 14, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1570623481
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570623486
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #284,300 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 28, 1999
Format: Paperback
Thomas Cleary's translation of the Sutra of Hui-Neng is not only a worthy but long over-due successor to the original translation into English by Wong Mou-Lam, completed in the 1920s. The original has stood the test of time well, but there is little doubt that Cleary's is the more compelling and accessible of the two, to this late 20th century reader, at least.
Hui-Neng lived in the 7th and/or 8th Century A.D. and there is debate as to how much of what has been handed down to us as coming directly from his students and dharma heirs is truly his. In both translations, it is difficult to distinguish the man himself. This is to be expected, of course, given the surviving Chinese text's provenance (it was cobbled together from many different texts, since lost, by a Zen monk in the late Sung Dynasty, some 400 or 500 years after Hui-Neng's death). Even so, it is interesting to contrast the two Hui-Neng translations with that of the Blofied translation of the "Teachings of Huang Po," who lived just a century after Hui-Neng. While Huang Po strides from the page with as much force and presence as as does the late Shunryu Suzuki in his "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind," written in 1970, Hui-Neng seems to swim in a thin fog of myth and fact in the Sutra that bears his name.
But this is seminal Zen work, and my intent is not to challenge its authenticity but to forewarn the reader who expects to find the familiar hard edge of Zen in a master's book that is more personal and mythic than we modern Zen adherents are used to studying.
For those of us who are still looking for a teacher, it is worth noting that Hui-Neng does not insist that a "teacher-less" student is bound to failure. Coming from the last of the Patriarchs, isolated Zen students may find that reassuring.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Swing King on March 4, 2004
Format: Paperback
Actually toward the end of his teaching career, Hui Neng had learned to read and write fairly well (which is when he wrote this Sutra). Now on to the translation at hand. Thomas Cleary has a plethora of books on all sorts of Oriental wisdom ranging from samurai literature to important Zen texts; his contributions to all of us here in the West are incalculable and, by in large, he always does a relatively good job at making translations which we can all come up with the money for. So he's doing us all an incredible service, along with Shambhala publications, whom also deserves credit for taking upon the task of providing us with literature that is both accurate and affordable.
Being that I own the Price & Wong translation which was referred to in another review (an updated version) also, likewise published by Shambhala along with The Diamond Sutra in one book, I must say that actually that work had more appeal to me. You know I am no sutra scholar, and perhaps I have a bit of partiality here due to Wong's work being my first introduction to this monumental text. So my two cents: both translations are superb, and you probably can't go wrong with either one of them. Sure this sutra is at times somewhat ambiguous (as is the Diamond sutra), but that's just Zen at it's best. This is not a practice of pill popping, or "swallowing like fish." We must chew our food, there is no spoon feeding in our way. Refer to this book (or Wong's) often, pour over it as much as you can. Sure the book spends a few days here and there on the shelf collecting dust. At least it does at my house. It might even make you get a little disgusted with all of the confusing speech used. But give it a chance and remain open, then truth cannot help but be present in each word...
Enjoy!
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Upsaka Jc on September 20, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In the world of Buddhism only the words of the Buddha and the life of Hui-neng are sutras. If thats not a good enough reason to get this then get it because Hui-Neng was a beautiful man and a great teacher. an illiterate woodcutter he became enlightened by just hearing a phrase from the Diamond sutra. he later worked in a monestary hidden away because the master knew if others knew of his great achievement they'd probally kill him but aventuallly he not only became the 6th patriarch but a great teacher and one of Zen's most beloved ancesters.
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Grand Master Hui-Neng stresses that Essential Nature has nothing to do with intellectual prowess, social status, or previous experience. Being an illiterate "Aborigine" (his words), his grasping (or non -grasping) of the Essential Mind had nothing to do with the written word, but instead, had all to do with the meaning. He expounds the Original One Mind in everyday, straight forward language. He is not speaking, or rather, dumbing down, what the essential experience of Zen is. In my opinion, this is an essential manual for the initial understanding in Zen, but as Grand Master Hui-Neng stresses, you must not become attached to the manual, but rely solely on your own intuitive mind.
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10 of 15 people found the following review helpful By "phizmcdougal" on April 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
Hui-Neng has been known as one of the fathers of Zen and his sutra shows why. Absolutely splendid, if you put down this sutra I question your health. Meant for the person with a background in Zen, but not a bad starter if you approach it with an open mind and neither approve nor dissaprove of a word in it.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By G. Stark on October 3, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book gets right to the core of wisdom, of truthfulness.
It is not jargon-free but easy enough to track. Hui Neng's teaching are really about un-grasping from, especially from good\bad true\false distinctions, to bring a sobering equanimity to life. Paraphrased from the book:
"Surely falsehood needs to be abandoned- but also, like a raft, the truth also needs to be abandoned once you reach the shore".
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