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The Platform Sutra: A Guest from Outside Creation (Advanced Buddhist Studies Lecture Series), CC 4/24

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Myo Denis Lahey
The Advanced Buddhist Studies Lecture Series 2014
Article: The Advanced Buddhist Studies Lecture Series Turns to the Chinese Tradition
with Myo Denis Lahey
in the City Center dining room

Thursday, April 24, 2014
7:30 - 9 pm

The Platform Sutra, or T’an Ch’ing, of the Sixth Ancestor, also known simply as the Sutra of Hui Neng, is a pivotal work in the history and development of Ch’an or Zen Buddhism in China. It is probably the only work in the Chinese scriptural canon that is of Chinese origin, is not allegedly spoken by Buddha himself, and yet is accorded the status of a sutra, or a direct revelation of the Buddha Word. In it we find many of the characteristics of Ch’an which would come to be identified with that form of Buddha Dharma. It is also striking in the contrasts it exposes between the Ch’an style and more traditional sutra-based teachings.

The text we have today emerges from the murky background of history trailing the cobwebs of political, social, economic and aesthetic currents that are the results of all human interaction. While this of itself can make for interesting attempts to unearth the “real truth” of the text’s initial, spiritual inspiration, our purpose will be:
  • to look at the text in light of how the Platform Sutra came to acquire its high status as the ultimate expression of Ch’an/Zen’s very ethos, or the face it chooses to present to the world; and
  • to discover as modern practitioners how our own practice of the Buddha Way issues from an unbroken lineage extending all the way from Buddha’s time to our own.
Text: We’ll primarily be using the translation by Red Pine (The Platform Sutra, transl. Red Pine; Counterpoint Press, 2006), but participants may feel free to bring in other versions for comparison.

Other lectures in this series

Fees: $15; $13.50 current SFZC members; $12 limited income. (About Registration, Scholarships, and Cancellations.)

To Register: Use the ticket table below. Or call our toll free number (888.743.9362) or our local number (415.475.9362).


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Related Bio(s):

Myo Denis Lahey
Rev. Myo Denis Lahey is the Abbot at Issan-ji (Hartford Street Zen Center) as well as Practice Leader at Valley Streams Zen Sangha in Sacramento, California, and has previously served as head of practice (Tanto) at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center. A Dharma heir of Tenshin Reb Anderson, he serves as Treasurer for the Soto Zen Buddhist Association of North America (SZBA) and is a member of the Association for Soto Zen Buddhism of Japan (ASZB). Raised in an observant Roman Catholic home, Myo was drawn to religion and spirituality at an early age and found Zen Buddhism in his teens. He began sitting in 1969 and practiced with many San Francisco Zen Center practitioners and teachers, including Dainin Katigiri-roshi, Kobun Chino-sensei, Yoshimura-sensei, and Issan Dorsey. Myo studied Sanskrit at UC Berkeley for ten years.