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Hui-neng (638–713) is one of the most respected and revered figures in Buddhist history. He was an illiterate woodcutter who suddenly attained Enlightenment upon hearing the Diamond Sutra. He became the Sixth Patriarch in the Ch'an tradition. He is regarded as the creator of the Sudden Enlightenment philosophy. He embodies the fact that anyone can attain Enlightenment, regardless of education, class, or lineage. This collection of talks is called the Platform or Altar Sutra. It is the only Chinese Buddhist text that has been given the title Sutra. This new translation differs from most. I have placed Huineng's autobiography at the end and his wonderful teachings at the beginning. Usually the opposite is what is done. It's not that the Master's story isn't important to me. Of course it is. But, I think, far too often we caught up in hero worship and we pay attention to the story instead of the teachings. The story matters, but the teachings are what we need to remember. I have also gone through the text and taken out some things that were repetitive and I have used modern language whenever possible. The point of this was to make the text more accessible to modern readers. This text can be read and studied both by lifelong students of the Dharma and by beginners. This is not intended for academics, as in some cases I took poetic license with the original text. It is intended for students of the Dharma. Numerous versions of this text are available and I hope mine is in some measure unique and helps with spiritual progress. I have created version that is very short and easy to read.
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Daniel 'Shi Zhao Dao' Scharpenburg is a dreamer, an idealist and a mystic. He is a Zen Priest. He received Dharma Transmission in the Caodong Ch'an lineage of Master Xu Yun. He grew up in Kansas City, where he still resides. Having lost his parents during his youth, he began a long period of introspection that led to the Buddhist path. Along the way, he got a degree in English, which everyone told him would be useless. Facing crippling anxiety problems, he started exploring meditation and eastern spirituality. It was like he had found a part of himself that had always been missing. He's been practicing Buddhism ever since. In 2014 he became an ordained Zen Priest and received Dharma Transmission in the Caodong Lineage of Ch'an Master Xu Yun. He was given the Buddhist name Shi Zhao Dao, which means Venerable Shining Path. He believes in taking Buddhist teachings out into the world, teaching in places where other teachers might not go, such as campgrounds and hippie drum circles. He considers himself a Zen Iconoclast and Radical, in the vein of Ikkyu Sojun and Layman P'ang. He leads Meditation Workshops and Retreats in the Kansas City area and is available for private lessons. Daniel writes for a few websites including The Tattooed Buddha and Elephant Journal. He leads a weekly meditation group at the Transcendence Wellness Center and leads meditation workshops every year at the Heartland Pagan Festival.
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