After the Buddha's illumination, he decided to pass along his insight to the next generations. Each generation has the task of translating this insight into an appropriate way so that the Dharma (Buddha's doctrine) remains alive.
It was said that Maha Kassapa understood the insight of the Buddha when he, on the Gṛdhrakūṭa Mountain, held a lotus in his hand and said nothing. Everyone waited for his reading, only Maha Kassapa smiled. Maha Kassapa understood the insight without insight, the Dharma without Dharma. He became the Buddha's successor and, according to the Zen tradition, the first Zen Patriarch.
Ananda, the personal assistant of the Buddha, became the 2nd Zen Patriarch. The 14th Zen Patriach was Nagarjuna. Nagarjuna was also very special in translating the insight of the Buddha. Nargarjuna was the founder of Buddhist Philosophy. The 21st Zen Patriarch was Vasubandhu, the founder of Buddhist Psychology. The 80th Zen Patriarch was Thich Nhat Hanh, the Founder of Mindfulness, as we now know in the West.
Cuong Lu, as successor of Thich Nhat Hanh, belongs to the Dharma line, which is transmitted continuously from the Buddha. Also Cuong Lu has the task of passing along the Buddha's insight in a live manner. Cuong Lu is rooted in Buddha, Nagarjuna, Vasubandhu and Thich Nhat Hanh, as can be seen in the lineage below.