As noted in the Translator’s Introduction, this was a text very clearly molded by its specific origins within the early Chan movement. The characters that appear in this important book are literary creations or pious fabrications and not historical figures. But one can argue that that it is the very fictional quality of the text that renders it important, that makes it true. While almost all the details of the text’s charming story are invented, it can be seen as more representative of the deepest religious sensibilities of the Chinese people than a journalistically accurate account could have ever been. We know that the text was enthusiastically adopted by centuries of Chinese Buddhists.
The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch consists of a record of the teachings of Hui-neng, the Sixth Patriarch of the Chan School in China, recorded by his disciple Fahai, and is known by several abbreviated titles such as Platform Sūtra or Platform Sūtra of the Dharma Treasure. It proclaims the independence of the Southern School of Chan from the Northern School on such subjects as “sudden enlightenment” (Ch. dun-wu) and the external expression of one’s real nature (Ch. jian-xing).
Ch. Liuzu dashi fabao tan jing (六祖大師法寶壇經), Compiled in the Chinese by Zong-bao, as recorded by Fa-hai et al. 1 fascicle.