Daman Hongren

Daman Hongren

Religious Biography
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Daman Hongren

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Daman Hongren (Chinese: 弘忍) (Wade-Giles:Shih Hung-jen; Japanese: Daiman Konin) (601–674) was the 5th Chan Chán (Buddhist) Patriarch in the traditional lineage of Chinese Chan. He is said to have received Dharma transmission from Daoxin and passed on the symbolic bowl and robe of transmission to Huineng, the Sixth and last Chan Patriarch. As with all the early Chan patriarchs, many of the details of Hongren’s life are uncertain and much of his biography is layered with legend added well after his death. The following biography is based on Chan traditional sources.

Biography

Hongren was born in Huangmei with the family name Chou and one sourcethe Leng-ch’ieh shih-tzu chih (Records of the Teachers and Disciples of the Lankavatara) (see McRae, 1986:35) says that his father abandoned the family but Hongren displayed exemplary filial duty in supporting his mother. However, at the age of either seven or twelve, Hongren left home to become a monk and began his studies under Daoxin.

The following legendary meeting between Daoxin and Hongren is recorded in the Transmission of Light (Japanese: Denkoroku).

Daoxin met Hongren on a road in Huangmei. Daoxin asked his name. Hongren replied, “I have essence but it is not a common name.” The Chan master asked, “What name is it?” Hongren said, “It is the essence of Buddhahood.” Daoxin replied, “Have you no name?” Hongren said, “None, because essence is empty.” With this, Daoxin passed on......
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