This is a follow up to my past post Karma and meditation.
Platform Sutra (坛经) is the only Sutra that was not the direct teaching on the Buddha. Therefore we should expect the Sutra, which talked about the life story as well as the teachings of Sixth Patriarch Hui Neng (六祖慧能)to contain some very profound teaching. And I believe it does!
Sixth Patriarch said, “I only teach how to find the true self, and not liberation from Zen meditation” 惟论见性，不论禅定解脱。 Following what I discussed in my last post, I continue...
For a true enlightenment, one has to see one's true self, i.e. not being constrained by his previous conditioning, or, having changed his karma in such as way that the conditioning is now "being in the true self", "being a Buddha", "being at one with Emptiness 空", being..etc. etc. If you are as confused as me, you have a possibility of "getting it". We are in the realm where all languages, all signification systems "failed", or they should better "fail", because they are just signification systems!
Getting THERE in a meaningful and consistent way need the tool of deep meditation (say, in the Buddhist or Taoist way) PLUS a intelligent appreciation of the whole process. In Buddhist lingo, the former is called Focused (Ding 定), and the latter is called Wisdom (Hui 慧). And part of the wisdom will be "being there" in one's conscious day-to-day moments (i.e. "decisive" moments when such enlightenment is required - a counter example, when we're doing pure mathematical calculations, we probably don't need to be THERE!) rather than be THERE JUST during one's trance-like state as in deep meditation.
In other words, deep meditation is only a tool, and only a minor one, when compared with wisdom!
The Sixth Patriarch is right, otherwise all chi-kung masters will be spiritualists! (actually, I do see some chi-kung masters or martial artists, both in East and West, proclaiming themselves to be spiritualists this way, and some tried to justify their claims by referring to the concept of "evidence based spirituality" as advocated by some academicians on religious studies).
Every positive thing is likely to have its negative side-effect. The side-effect in the case of the development of Zen-Buddhism after the Sixth Patriarch is that the discipline of deep meditation has been put into the position of second fiddler (rightly so!) and Zen masters in later generations failed to systematize this practice tradition. So much so, nowadays for a more systematic practice of deep meditation, a Zen-student oftentimes has to learn it through Tibetan Buddhism or Taoist Neidan.
That side-effect, needless to say, cannot dampen the deep and profound teaching of the Sixth Patriarch, master Hui Neng.