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Beliefs

The idea of "dharma transmission," or direct passing of enlightenment from teacher to student, is an enduring legacy of the story. A teacher may have a number of "dharma heirs," only one of whom is normally the official successor for purposes of administering a monastic complex.

Other elements of the story that have been central to Chan and Zen include instantaneous enlightenment; that no special status or abilities are required to become enlightened; and that all monks should work, and work can be a means to enlightenment. Finally, the debate has persisted between those who argue that there is a special essence to be revealed through "polishing" the mind versus those who argue that there is no such essence distinct from the rest of existence.


Study Questions:
1.     What does the Platform Sutra reveal about Zen's succession?
2.     How did Huineng become the sixth patriarch?
3.     Why did Huineng want to discontinue the tradition of the robe and bowl?

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