Jianzhi Sengcan

(Kanchi Sosan) d. 606  The Third Patriarch

Between the years 574 and 577, historical records indicate that the Chinese government of the time engaged in the persecution of Buddhism and Buddhist monks. Temples were closed and priests and monks forced to unrobe. Some sources say that Sengcan spent much of his Buddhist life out of sight in order to avoid this oppression and, as a result, little is known about him.  Others believe that he may have been a minor teacher who was placed into the lineage as a stop-gap. 

Tradition tells of an exchange between Sengcan and the fourth patriarch, Daoxin, in which the latter asks his teacher to show him the gate of emancipation.  In return Sengcan asks who has bound him.  Daoxin admits that no one has bound him to which Sengcan questions why then he is seeking emancipation.  

Sengcan is said to have written the teaching poem Hsin Hsin Ming (Verses on Faith Mind), which begins with the well known lines “The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences” and is still widely read read today.

Further Reading

Sengcan in the Denkōroku (Record of the Transmission of the Lamp)

%d bloggers like this: