Huineng (638-713), was
an eminent monk of the Tang Dynasty, the Sixth Patriarch of Zen in China,
and the founder of the southern Zen. He was born in Xinxing Guangdong Province
to the Lu family from Fanyang (present southwest to the Beijing City) by origin,
lived and preached Buddhist in Guangdong.
Huineng's family was poverty-stricken. His father died when he was three, and started to support his mother by selling wood when he grew a little older. Once he heard someone chanting the Diamond Sutra, and was enlightened. Then he decided to become a monk and follow Buddhism. In AD 662, Huineng went to Huangmei in Hubei Province to show his respect to Master Hongren, and secretly studies Buddhism from Master Hongren. Later Master Hongren made Huineng the Sixth Patriarch. To avoid being inflicted by other monks, Huineng hided among the hunters in Sihui in Guangdong Province for 15 years until the first year of Yifeng during the reign of Emperor Gaozong of the Tang Dynasty. After that, Master Yinzong tonsured Huineng, and gathered eminent monks and masters to hold an ordination ceremony for Huineng. In AD 677, Huineng went north to the Nanhua Temple and preached Buddhist there for 37 years. During that period, Wei Qu, governor of Shao Prefecture, invited Huineng to teach Buddhist scriptures at the Kaiyuan Temple (renamed as Dafan Temple later) in Shao Prefecture. The words and acts of Huineng were compiled by his disciples into the Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch, the confluence of channels of Zen.
In the second year of Xiantian during the reign of Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty (AD 713), Huineng passed away at the Guoen Temple in his hometown Xinxing County at the age of 76. The next year, his body was moved to Caoxi and worshipped in the Lingzhao Pagoda. Many great writers, such as Wang Wei, Liu Zongyuan and Liu Yuxi, wrote full-length inscriptions for Huineng to record his achievements.