The Platform Sutra of Hui-neng
Summary by Lizzy Mann

In The Platform Sutra, Hui-neng, the Sixth Patriarch of Chan Buddhism outlines his teachings to attain enlightenment. According to Hui-neng enlightenment is something already inside every sentient being, but "it is just because the mind is deluded that men cannot attain awakening to themselves." (p. 135) Hui-neng argues that Enlightenment is a sudden experience rather than a gradual one.
The very way Hui-neng himself became enlightened shows how it is a sudden experience. He came from a poor family and he was illiterate. Upon hearing a man recite the Diamond Sutra in the market, he was instantly awakened. He sought out the fifth Patriarch Hung-jen, who didn't think Hui-neng could become a Buddha based on where he was from. Hui-neng replied "Although people from the south and people from the north differ, there is no north and south in Buddha nature." (p. 127)
Hui-neng understood that once enlightened, all are the same. Hung-jen makes a similar statement with his last words to Hui-neng, "If you are able to awaken another's mind, he will be no different from me." (p. 133) After some time, Hui-neng became the Sixth Patriarch and began his teachings.
Hui-neng emphasized the importance of having pure thoughts, as thought leads to practice. For example, if you think of evil things, you will do evil deeds, but if you think of good things, you will practice good deeds. "If you think of harm you will change and become a beast; if you think of compassion you will change and become a Bodhisattva." (p. 142) Because enlightenment lies within everyone, "with correct views you can be saved." (p. 143) It is necessary for sentient beings to rid the mind of ignorance and delusion so that the enlightenment within them will be uncovered.