The District Governor said to the Fifth Patriarch, Hongren: “You have a thousand disciples. In what way does Layman Huineng distinguish himself from the others that you should bestow upon him the bowl and robe of Bodhidharma?”
“Nine hundred and ninety-nine of my disciples have a good understanding of Buddhism,” the master replied. “The exception is Huineng. He isn’t to be compared with the others, and for that reason I’ve transmitted the bowl and robe to him.”
In another story, a monk asked Huineng, “Who now has the secret teachings of Master Hongren?”
“Someone who understands Buddhism,” Huineng said.
“Do you, then, have them, Sir?”
“I don’t understand Buddhism,” declared Huineng.