As we saw in the previous lesson, Huike (Hui-k'o) (487-593) first enters the history of Zen as an eager Chinese scholar devoted to meditation, wishing to become a disciple of Bodhidharma Whether or not he cut off his own arm and offered it to Bodhidharma or waited in deep snow drifts, Huike became Bodhidharma's first Chinese disciple.
Huike seems to have been a Chinese scholar in the finest sense, with a deep appreciation of all three major philosophies: Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism. It was toward the last, however, that he slowly gravitated, finally abandoning his scholarly secular life, and becoming a Buddhist monk. During his six years of studying meditation for with Bodhidharma, Huike gradually retreated from the life of the scholar as he turned away from intellectualism and toward pure experience. By simply bowing in silence when asked by Bodhidharma what he had attained, Huike proved that his understanding of the master's wordless teaching was superior, and it was he who received the Lankavatara Sutra.
As the story goes, Huike remained at the Shaolin for a while longer and then went underground, supporting himself through menial work and learning about Chinese peasant life firsthand. Reportedly, he wanted to tranquilize his mind, to acquire the humility necessary in a great teacher. Huike's major concern during this period must inevitably have been the study of the Lankavatara Sutra entrusted him by Bodhidharma.