One day, the Fifth Patriarch, Hung Jen assembled all his disciples and said,"Go and seek for Prajna in your own mind and write me a stanza (gatha) about it. The one who understands the reality of Buddhist nature will be the Sixth Patriarch."
The head disciple, Shin Shau composed his stanza and wrote it on the wall of the corridor, so that the Patriarch might know what spiritual insight he had attained. The stanza read:
Our body is the Bodhi tree,
And our mind is like a bright mirror with stand,
Diligently we wipe them all the time,
And let no dust alight.
Later, Hui Neng who worked in the kitchen heard a young man reciting the stanza. At once, he realized that the stanza did not reveal the reality of Buddhist nature.
As he was illiterate, he asked people to scribe his stanza, which reads:
There is no Bodhi Tree
Nor the stand of a bright mirror,
Since all is void,
Where can the dust alight?
Eventually, Hui Neng received the robe and Dharma from Hung Jen, and became the Sixth Patriarch of Zen Sect in China.