Meditation in Gandh

Meditation in Gandhāra

Andrew Glass


Meditation must certainly have been a central practice of Buddhism in Gandhāra, however, direct evidence for the practices and techniques has been lacking. A recently discovered manuscript containing four sūtras concerning meditation has shed new light on this important aspect of Gandhāran Buddhism, but the picture is still incomplete. This paper provides a brief survey of the evidence from art and archaeology, as well as introducing the evidence from the new manuscript.


In ancient India, Gandhāra originally referred to a tribe, but later came to denote a place connected with that tribe, that is to say, the Peshawar Valley, located between the Suleiman Mountains along the modern border with Afghanistan in the west and the Indus River in the east. This area is now part of the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan. At the time of Alexander the Great’s invasion the main city of the region was Puṣkalāvatī(modern Charsaḍḍa), near the modern city of Peshāwār(Fussman 1994: 18). The important districts of Swāt and Buner as well as the cities of Bamiyan and Taxila are sometimes included with this area under the umbrella-term ‘Greater Gandhāra’ (Salomon 1999: 3). The Gāndhārī language, written in the Kharoṣṭhī script, served as a lingua-franca for this area, and is recorded in documents from the Northwest of the subcontinent from the time of the Emperor Aśoka until the 4th century of the Common Era. It is this period that I will focus on in this paper.

The study of Gandhāran Buddhism has seen enormous progress in the last 12 years, primarily due to the discovery of several important collections of Gāndhārī manuscripts. These collections are now preserved in the UK, the USA, Norway, Japan and Pakistan, and provide us with direct textual evidence of Buddhism as it was practiced in Gandhāra almost 2,000 years ago. These manuscripts constitute the oldest Buddhist manuscripts known in the world today and are likely to be among the oldest Buddhist manuscripts ever written. When we read these manuscripts, we generally find that the picture they provide of Buddhism at this early time closely matches our expectations based on our knowledge of the Pali, Chinese and Tibetan traditions. However, we also find new information that is not documented in other Buddhist traditions. One particular Gāndhārī manuscript exemplifies this situation, as it contains both familiar descriptions of meditation practices known to us in Pali, Chinese, and Tibetan versions as well as descriptions which are unique. But first, let us consider meditation.


Meditation has been a central practice of Buddhism from the very beginning. It was, after all, through meditation that the Buddha achieved enlightenment. The role of meditation has changed over time and the details of its practice have diversified over the centuries and from one Buddhist school to another. To try to understand the role and practice of meditation in Gandhāra during the Kharoṣṭhī period, we should consider the evidence available to us: evidence from art, archaeology, and the surviving written texts. However, the picture of Gandhāran meditation that emerges from this study is, inevitably, incomplete.

In order to fill in the gaps I would like to start with a framework based on the Pali commentaries and Buddhaghosa’ s Vissudhimagga. In this way, we can look at the Gandhāran evidence and see where the pieces might fit into this framework. The Pali sources are a natural place to look for such assistance as many of the texts available in Gāndhārī have close parallels in Pali. Of course, we must be aware that these sources also are removed both in time and space from Gandhāra, so the results will be at best, only an approximation of the role and practice of meditation in ancient Gandhāra. Other possible frameworks, such as Kamalaśīla’s Bhāvanākrama(8th century) are further removed in time and doctrine than Buddhaghosa.

Buddhist meditation includes practices of both sensory withdrawal(dhyāna, śamatha), and sensory observation(smti, vipaśyana). There is also some overlap between these categories. The meditation practices described in the Pali suttas may be arranged in the following schema. Double-underlined items have direct examples in Gāndhārī, single underlined items are mentioned in Gāndhārī documents.

1. Sensory Withdrawal

1.1. Ancillary techniques to counter lust, hatred, and delusion, in preparation for trance(dhyāna):

1.1.1. Meditation on the foulness of a corpse(EĀ-G ll. 61–3) and mindfulness of the body(RS 5 ll. 1–5) are used to counter lust.

1.1.2. Four immeasurable contemplations(love, compas sion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity) are used to counter hatred.

1.1.3. Mindfulness of breath is used to counter delusio n, and is part of a larger, and distinct, series of pr actices called the foundation of mindfulness (sm ṛtyupasthāna RS 5 l. 33).

1.1.4. Six remembrances (Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, virt ue, generosity, and deities) are used to increase faith.

1.1.5. Mindfulness of death(RS 5 ll. 5–7) and the reme mbrance of nirvāṇa are used to motivate and reinf orce trance.

1.1.6. Perception of the repulsiveness of food(RS 5 ll. 7–9) and the four elements are used to remove di stractions.

1.2. Trance

1.2.1. Meditation on a device (kasiṇa), this progresses t hrough the stages: the beginning sign, the eidetic sign, the five hindrances, the representational sig n, and culminates in the meditation of attainment. The devices are: earth, water, fire, air, blue, yello w, red, white, light, limited space.

1.2.2. Four trances(BL 26, 29; RS 5 l. 39): in the first t rance, five factors of concentration are present (discursive thought, reasoning, enthusiasm, pleas ure, and one-pointedness). In the second trance, factors 1 and 2 are eliminated. In the third, factor 3 is eliminated; in the fourth trance only one-poi nt edness remains.

1.2.3. The four formless attainments(infinite space, inf inite perception, nothing-at-all, and neither ide a nor non-idea); in each case the meditator prog resses by eliminating the object of each successi ve formless trance.

2. Sensory Observation

The latter five of the seven purifications in Buddhaghosa’s scheme of seven steps on the path of purification(visuddhimagga) concern insight meditation.

2.1. Purification of view is concerned with removing all at tachment to self by examining the constituents of the body(RS 5 ll. 1–5), his senses, their objects and the five aggregates (RS 5 ll. 15–31).

2.2. Purification of overcoming doubt is concerned with re alizing the twelvefold chain of dependent origination (CKI 153) by examining the causes through which th e body comes into being. The result of this is insight into the three characteristics(impermanence (RS 5 ll. 30–31), suffering, and non-self).

2.3. Purification of what is and what is not the path exam ines all things in terms of the three characteristics. T his leads to eighteen great insights and the permanen t rejection of striving for permanence, happiness, and self.

2.4. Purification by knowledge and vision of the way is co ncerned with the pursuit of nine knowledges: knowle dge through contemplation on the appearance and dis appearance of conditioned things; knowledge through contemplation on the destruction of conditioned thing s; knowledge gained through fear of conditioned thing s; knowledge gained through contemplation of the da nger of conditioned things; knowledge gained through revulsion for conditioned things; knowledge gained th rough desire for liberation; knowledge gained through analysis of conditioned things; knowledge gained thro ugh equanimity for conditioned things; and knowledge gained by following the path the nirvāṇa.

2.5. Purification by knowledge and vision concerns knowl edge of the four noble paths (stream-winner, once-re turner, non-returner, and arhant), as well as two furt her attainments (attainment of fruition and cessation of thought and feeling).

In addition to these practices we might also take into account activities such as chanting, recitation, and circumambulation which, according to Luis Gómez, “hold an ambiguous status between ritual and meditation, mechanical reading and deep reflection” (Gomez 2005: 522). These activities are likely to have been a part of Gandhāran Buddhism.

As a further addition, I would like to briefly mention the visionary and ecstatic techniques which became so developed in the Mahāyāna. Techniques consisting of visualizing Buddhas and Purelands are not mentioned in the Gāndhārī texts we have found to date, but one is tempted to speculate that Gandhāran art may have played a complementary role in developing these practices by providing highly evolved portrayals of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas which could have been used as subjects for training these visualizations.


The products of the Gandhāran school of art are among the most famous of all creations of Buddhist art. Gandhāran art can tell us about meditation in Gandhāra in two ways. First, through illustrations of meditation being practised, and second, through depecitions that could be used as subjects for meditation.

Fig. 1. A wall-painting from Qizil.

Illustrations of meditation, which attest to the contemporary practice of meditation in Gandhāra are found, but for the most part consist of Buddha images. Typical of these are depictions of the Buddha in the classic meditation posture(dyāna mudra). Images of monks in meditation are rarer. One very clear example of a monk practicing a specific meditation comes from a wall painting in Qizil, Xinjiang. Admittedly Qizil is some distance from Gandhāra, but was certainly influenced by Gandhāra, as demonstrated by the fact that Kharoṣṭhī documents have been discovered there. Consequently, it is sometimes included in the area covered by the term Greater Gandhāra. This painting is datable to the 4th and 5th centuries of the Common Era. The painting shows a monk looking at, or perhaps thinking about a human skull. Clearly this suggests that the monk is reflecting on death (1.1.5), or possibly the constituents, or decomposition of, the human body(1.1.1). These possibilities are included in the outline of meditation practices given previously.

Since the evidence is rather limited, I would like to simply note here, that art objects, such as the Buddha sculptures, and especially more elaborate scenes like the Mohamed-Nari stele may have played a role in, or at least developed alongside the kind of visualization exercises that were a feature of Mahāyāna meditation(see Rhi 2003: 176–7).


One of the best preserved Buddhist sites from the Gandhāra region is the monastery of Takht-i-bāhī. As such, these ruins are a good place to look for evidence of meditation in Gandhāra.

The ruins at Takht-i-bāhī are situated 50 km northwest of Peshawar, on a hilltop 500 m above sea level. The origins of this monastery are uncertain, but it probably dates back at least to the first part of the 1st century(see Konow 1929: 57). The monastery flourished during the Kharoṣṭhī period, and was perhaps destroyed in connection with the arrival of the Hephthalites early in the 5th century.


Fig. 2. The monastery at Takht-i-bāhī

The plan of the monastery is typical of many Gandhāran sites. It consists of a main stūpa; a courtyard which once contained many small stūpas and pillars; as well as the monastery proper, consisting of a further courtyard surrounded by the monks’ cells. At Takht-i-bāhī the main stūpa court and the court of many stūpas are surrounded by high walls, in which niches are set that would have contained sculptures.

The main stūpa is now gone, but its platform remains. This platform has a flight of steps which would have provided access to the base of the stūpa. Certainly, the practice of circumambulation, walking around the stūpa, would have been performed here. As mentioned previously, this can be considered a special form of meditation practice.

Other architectural features which might be associated with mediation are the monks’ private cells, the conference hall, and some underground chambers. Fifteen private cells are arranged on three sides of the monastery courtyard. A stairway at the northeast corner probably led to another fifteen, or so, cells on a second level but these are now lost. It is estimated, therefore, that up to about thirty monks might have been in residence in this part of the monastery at any one time. These cells would likely have been used by the monks for their private meditation practice in addition to sleeping and other activities.

The conference hall at the northwest of the site would have been large enough to easily accommodate all of the monks in residence for meetings, communal recitations and ceremonies. Lantern brackets in the walls suggest that this room was also used at night.

Ten underground chambers are situated in two rows below the courtyard south of the conference hall. The five chambers on the east side are extremely dark. It has been suggested that these were used by monks as meditation chambers (Shakur 1946: 25). Of course, it is impossible to rule out other functions for these rooms, for example, it has also been suggested they were used as granaries (Shakur 1946: 26). Similar, subterranean chambers are found at other Buddhist sites in Gandhāra, such as the nearby site of Jamālgaṛhī. If these dark spaces were used for meditation, it may be that they were suitable for the ancillary techniques (1.1), or sensory observation techniques (2) in the above scheme. The trance techniques (1.2) would have required a little light in the initial stage of the practice in order to perceive the device(kasiṇa).

To summarize the evidence thus far, art and archaeology can give us only a very limited picture of Gandhāran meditation. Evidence from art suggests the posture meditation practitioners might have used, and to a very limited extent, what practices they engaged in. Archaeology on the other hand, cannot tell us anything about the content of the meditation, but only suggests places that might have been used. To know any more about meditation in ancient Gandhāra, we must refer to the available texts.


Gāndhārī words for the meditation practices described previously, and cognate with Sanskrit terms such as dhyāna, śamatha, smṛti, vipaśyana, occur in various Gāndhārī manuscripts and a very few inscriptions. Examples of these have been presented by Jason Neelis in his contribution to this volume.

At present, the best source for information about meditation in Gandhāra is a manuscript from the Senior Collection. This collection consists of twenty-four scroll fragments on birch bark; and is similar in many respects to the British Library Kharoṣṭhī Fragments which have been described in detail by Richard Salomon in his book Ancient Buddhist Scrolls from Gandhāra(1999). Like them, the provenance of the Senior Kharoṣṭhī fragments is unknown, but it might be Haḍḍa in modern Eastern Afghanistan. These fragments can be dated to about 140 c.e. Unlike the British Library manuscripts, the Senior Collection seems to have been prepared on request for a donor as a ritual deposit (Allon 2007: 4).

The twenty-four scrolls that make up the Senior Collection contain 41 texts of varying lengths and degrees of completeness. Many of these texts are parallel to āgama sūtras in Pali and Chinese, by far the best represented of which are sūtras belonging to the Saṃyuktāgama/Pali Saṃyutta-nikāya. A catalogue and overview of this collection is currently being prepared by Mark Allon (forthcoming). The Saṃyuktāgama is a rich source of sūtras describing meditation. Senior Kharoṣṭhī Fragment 5 contains four such sūtras. The instructions in this manuscript probably reflect contemporary views and practice of meditation in Gandhāra around the middle of the first century.

Senior Kharoṣṭhī Fragment 5(see appendix)

Scroll 5 from the Senior Collection is a short manuscript comprising 42 lines of text, 21 on each side, and four sūtras, with two on each side. Despite damage to the center of the manuscript, it is, in fact, one of the best preserved of all Kharoṣṭhī manuscripts.

The first sūtra on this manuscript contains a description of four perceptions(saññā), these are: perception of foulness (asubhasaññā), perception of death(maraṇasaññā), perception of the repulsiveness of food(āhārepaṭikkūlasaññā), and perception of non-delight in the entire world(sabbaloke anabhiratasaññā). The first three directly relate to the ancillary techniques described earlier, items 1.1.1, 1.1.5, and 1.1.6 respectively. We should note also that either of the first two items may be indicated in the wall painting from Qizil discussed earlier.

The description of the first perception has parallels in Pali and Tibetan. The descriptions of the remaining three do not have direct parells, however, the sentiments of the perception of death and the perception of the repulsiveness of food are echoed elsewhere. As far as I have been able to discover, the description of the fourth perception, non-delight in the entire world, appears to be unique to the Gāndhārī tradition. One might imagine the monks of Takht-i-Bāhī going to the subterranean chambers and feeling isolated and alone, and then recreating this feeling when they walked down to the town at the base of the hill.

The second sūtra on this manuscript is a Gāndhārī text directly parallel to the Pali Natumhāka-sutta. This short sūtra preserves a teaching on the five aggregates(skandhas), recommending that one not think of them as one’s own, hence the sūtra’s title ‘Not Yours’(natumhāka). The sūtra contains a simile comparing the aggregates to the grass, sticks, branches, leaves, and foliage in the Jeta-grove, which one can readily acknowledge as not belonging to the self. Therefore, we may connect the teaching of this sūtra with the Purification of view(2.1).

The third sūtra also has parallels in Pali and Chinese. It instructs the adherent to view the five aggregates with disgust. Through this practice one is said to gain understanding of the aggregates, and in turn, be released from the cycle of birth, aging, sickness and death. Again, this instruction is might be classified under the Purification of view(2.1). The context of disgust suggests a connection with the first part of the first sūtra on this manuscript.

The fourth and last sūtra on this manuscript has direct parallels in Pali and Chinese. This sūtra teaches that liberation depends both on the recognition of the five aggregates as impermanent, and on the maturation of factors which contribute to enlightenment(bodhipākṣyadharma). The Gāndhārī version ends in the middle of the first of three similes found in the parallel versions, in which the practitioner is compared to a hen whose eggs won’t hatch unless they are properly incubated. This sūtra, like the previous two, concerns the five aggregates, but in this case they are to be viewed as impermanent(anitya, 2.2), that is, as subject to arising(samudaya) and passing away(astaṃgama). Not only that, but also the factors which contribute to enlightenment must be cultivated(bhāvita) too. In the Gāndhārī list of these factors forty-one items have been included as opposed to the usual thirty-seven.


RS 5.33–5


SN III 153.8–13

Chinese (SĀ)

T no. 99 67a29–b1

Chinese (DĀ)

T no. 1 16c10–1

4 spaḏoṭ́haṇa

4 satipaṭṭhāna


4 niànchù念處

4 samepas̱aṇa

4 sammappadhāna

zhèngqín 正勤

4 yìduàn 意斷

4 hirdhaüpaḏa

4 iddhipāda

rúyìzú 如意足

4 shénzú 神足

4 jaṇa

4 chán

5 hidria

5 indriya


5 gēn

5 bala

5 bala


7 bejaga

7 bojjhaṅga


7 juéyì 覺意

aria aṭhagia mag̱a

ariya aṭṭhaṅgika magga


xiánshèng bā dào賢聖八道

= 41

= 37


= 41

This list itself seems to be a very early attempt to catalogue the practices conducive to the path. Some of these are directly concerned with meditation, such as the four foundations of mindfulness(smṛtyupasthāna), and of course the four dhyānas(G jaṇa). The inclusion of the four dhyānas seems to be associated with the Dharmaguptakas, or perhaps more generally with the Gandhāra region (see Glass 2007: 35).


The evidence regarding meditation in Gandhāra is admittedly quite scant. Fortunately, we are able to draw on a variety of sources, art, architecture, epigraphy, and manuscripts. Taken individually, the data from each may not amount to much, but together, I think we can draw some tentative conclusions about meditation in Gandhāra.

First, the descriptions of meditations given in Senior manuscript 5 occur in the context of sūtras, that is, teachings set at the time of the Buddha. The fact that these sūtras were chosen specifically for inclusion in a ritual deposit suggests that they were both revered and relevant at the time of their creation. Therefore, I suggest, that the descriptions of meditation practices they contain would have been current in Gandhāra in the second century of the Common Era. The fact that one of the practices described is apparently depicted in a wall painting two or three centuries later strongly supports this claim.

In terms of the scheme of meditation practices provided by Buddhaghosa, we find that the ancillary techniques of sensory withdrawal are the best represented in our sources. The sensory observation practices are also represented, particularly where they overlap with the ancillary techniques. This leaves the trance practices as the least well represented in out texts so far. I would not infer from this that the trances were less significant to Gandhāran Buddhism, rather, this is likely to be an accident of preservation. In this regard, it is interesting that the four trances have been included in the practices conducive to the path in Gandhāra.

It is also apparent that descriptions of Mahāyāna-type visualizations are, so far, absent from the Gāndhārī materials. It is perhaps likely that in this case too, our sample of Gāndhārī texts is too small. We can hope that, as Gāndhārī manuscripts continue to come to light, this situation may change, and we will come to know more about meditation in Gandhāra.

Translation of Senior Kharoṣṭhī Fragment 5

The Sutra on the Perceptions(S̱aña-sutra)

“What is the concentration connected with perception of foulness? Concerning this, a monk who is at the foot of a tree or in an empty house or in an open space examines this very body, as it is placed, as it is disposed, upward from the sole of the foot, surrounded by skin, downward from the tip of the hair, (*full) of impurity of (*various) kinds. (*There are in this) body: head hair, body hair, nails, teeth, dust, networks, outer skin, thin skin, bones, bone marrow, (*flesh, sinews, kidney, liver), heart, pleura, spleen, lungs, small intestine, large intestine, anus, bladder, fecal matter, tears, sweat, saliva, mucus, pus, blood, (*bile, phlegm, fat, grease), joint fluids, head, and brain. It is the undistracted one-pointedness of mind of a person so positioned which is called ‘the concentration connected with the perception of foulness.’

“(*What) is the concentration connected with the perception of death? Concerning this, a monk who is at the foot of a tree or in an empty house or in an open space, this one … [thinks,] ‘I will die, I will not live long, I will perish, I will die, I will disappear.’ (*It) is the undistracted one-pointedness of mind of a person so positioned which is called ‘the concentration connected with the perception of death.’

“What is the concentration connected with the perception of the repulsiveness of food? By ‘food’ is meant porridge, sour gruel; this, the monk … realizes, is ‘fecal matter’; he realizes [it is] ‘saliva’; he realizes [it is] ‘vomit’; he realizes [it is] ‘a lump of putrid bodily secretions’—‘black filth.’ It is the undistracted (*one-pointedness of mind) of a person so positioned which is called ‘the concentration connected with the perception of the repulsiveness of food.’

“ere, in every respect … he is dissatisfied. he reflects. he (*does not enjoy. he does not delight). It is the undistracted one-pointedness of mind of a person so positioned which is called ‘the concentration connected with the perception of nondelight in the entire world.’”

The Not yours Sutra(Ṇatuspahu-sutra)

The setting is in Śrāvastī. “What, Monks, is not yours, you should abandon that. When abandoned, that will be for [your] benefit and ease. (*Moreover, what is not yours?) Form is not yours; you should abandon that. When abandoned, that will be for [your] benefit and ease. Feeling, perception, conditioned forces, perceptual consciousness are not yours; you should abandon them. (*When abandoned), that will be for [your] benefit and ease.

“[It is] just as if a person were to cut or carry off or (*burn or) do as they please with the grass, sticks, branches, leaves, and foliage in this Jetavana. Then what do you think? Would this occur to you: ‘Now then, this person cuts us or carries us off or burns us or may do as he pleases with us’?” “Indeed, this is not the case, (*sir). Why is (*that)? [Because] this [Jetavana], sir, neither is the self nor belongs to the self.”

“In the same way, you should abandon what is not yours. When abandoned, it will be for [your] benefit and ease. (*In the same way,) form is not yours; you should abandon that. When abandoned, it will be for [your] benefit and ease. Feeling, conception, conditioned forces, perceptual consciousness are ⟨*not⟩ yours; you should abandon that. When abandoned, it will be for [your] (*benefit and ease).” This is what the Lord said.

The Faith Sutra(Ṣadha-sutra)

The setting is in Śrāvastī. “For one having faith, Monks, for a noble son who has gone forth from the home to homelessness out of faith, this accords with the dharma: That he should live full of disgust with respect to form; he should live (*full of) disgust with respect to feeling, perception, conditioned forces, and perceptual consciousness.

“Living full of disgust with respect to form, he fully understands form. (*Living full of) disgust with respect to feeling, perception, conditioned forces, and perceptual consciousness, [he] fully understands perceptual consciousness.

“Fully understanding form, fully understanding feeling, perception, conditioned

forces, and perceptual consciousness, he is released from form; [he] is released from feeling, perception, conditioned forces; [he] is released from perceptual consciousness; [he] is released from birth, aging, sickness and death, grief, lamentations, (*suffering, despair,) and frustration. [he] is released from suffering, so I say.” This is what the Lord said.

The Adze handle Sutra(*Vasijaḍa-sutra)

The Lord was staying in Śrāvastī. “Monks, I say the destruction of the taints is for one who knows [and] sees, not for one who does not (*know [and] does not) see. I say the destruction of the taints is for one who knows how and sees how? To wit: [for one who knows] ‘This is form, this is the arising of form, this is the (*passing away) of form; (*this) is feeling; this is perception; these are the conditioned forces; this is perceptual consciousness, this is the arising of perceptual consciousness, this is the passing away of perceptual consciousness.’ So I say the destruction of the taints is for one (*who knows thus), who sees thus.”

Then a certain monk said this to the Lord: “you say that the destruction of the taints is for one who knows thus, who sees thus. Then, why, in this case, is the mind of some monks not liberated from the taints without clinging?” “It must be said, ‘due to (*its) noncultivation.’ Due to the noncultivation of what? Due to the noncultivation of the wholesome states. Of which wholesome states? Due to the noncultivation of the four foundations of mindfulness, of the four right strivings, of the (*four) bases of supernatural power, of the four meditations, of the five mental faculties, of the five powers, of the seven factors of awakening, and of the Noble Eightfold Path—due to the noncultivation of these wholesome states.

“A monk who lives without engaging in the practice of meditation may well form the desire ‘Oh, let (*my) mind be liberated from the taints without clinging!’ But in fact his mind is not liberated from the taints without clinging. For what reason? It must be said, ‘due to (*its) noncultivation.’ Due to the noncultivation of what? Due to the noncultivation of the wholesome states. Of which wholesome states? Due to the noncultivation of the (*four) foundations of mindfulness, of the four right strivings, of the four bases of supernatural power, of the four meditations, of the five mental faculties, of the five powers, of the (*seven) factors of awakening, and of the Noble Eightfold Path—due to the noncultivation of these wholesome states.

“[It is] just as if a hen might have eight, ten, or twelve (*eggs). [And suppose] these eggs were not properly sat upon by this hen day in and day out, were not properly incubated day in and day out, were not properly nurtured day in and day out …”



BLBritish Library Kharoṣṭhī Fragment

CKICatalog of Kharoṣṭhī Inscriptions (


EĀ-GGāndhārī Ekottarikāgama (ed. Allon 2001)

RSRobert Senior Kharoṣṭhī Fragment



TTaishō Shinshū Daizōkyō

Allon, Mark. 2001. Three Gāndhārī Ekottarikāgama-Type Sūtras: British Library Kharoṣṭhī Fragments 12 and 14. Gandhāran Buddhist Texts 2. Seattle: University of Washington Press.

______. 2007. “Introduction.” in Glass 2007: 3–25.

______. forthcoming. Ancient Buddhist Scrolls from Gandhāra II: The Robert Senior Kharoṣṭhī Fragments. Gandhāran Buddhist Texts. Seattle: University of Washington Press.

Beyer, Stephan V. 1975. “The Doctrine of Meditation in the Hīnayāna” and “The Doctrine of Meditation in the Mahāyāna.” In Charles S. Prebish, ed. Buddhism: A Modern Perspective. University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press.

Glass, Andrew. 2007. Four Gāndhārī Saṃyuktāgama Sūtras: Senior Kharoṣṭhī Fragment 5. Gandhāran Buddhist Texts 4. Seattle: University of Washington Press.

Gómez, Luis O. 2005. “Meditation.” In Robert E. Buswell Jr., ed., Encyclopedia of Buddhism. New York: Macmillan Reference.

Konow, Sten. 1929. Kharoshṭhī Inscriptions with the Exception of Those of Aśoka. Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum 2.1. Calcutta: Government of India, Central Publication Branch.

Rhi Juhyung. 2003. “Early Mahāyāna and Gandhāran Buddhism: an Assessment of the Visual Evidence.” Eastern Buddhist 35: 152–2002.

Salomon, Richard. 1999. Ancient Buddhist scrolls from Gandhāra: the British Library Kharoṣṭhī Fragments. Seattle: University of Washington Press.

Shakur, M. A. 1946. A Short Guide to Takht-i-Bahi. Peshawar: M. A. Shakur.

Vetter, Tilmann. 1988. The Ideas and Meditative Practices of Early Buddhism. Leiden: E. J. Brill.

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우리가 출가수도하는 것은 처음부터 끝까지 부처님 말씀에 의지하는 거거든요. 이걸 위법망구(爲法忘軀)라 하는데… 이 세상 좋은 줄 알았는데 말씀 듣고 보니 고해였다 세상이 공허해서 꿈처럼 실체 없는 헛모양 뿐이다 그래서 무얼 바란다는 것 자체가 헛 될 뿐 아니라 삼계 만물이나 나조차도 공(空)하고 무상(無相)이고 무원(無願)이고 무아(無我)다. 이런 이치가 누구나 다 아는 것처럼 보여도 이거 부처님께서 최초로 하신 겁니다. 또한 부처님 지혜의 정수예요. 무아(無我)다 중도(中道)다 말은 쉽지만 불교 이치는 중생으로서는 알아먹기가 참 어려운 거요. 유식(唯識)을 예로 들면 요새 말만 유식(唯識)한다 떠벌리는 거지 종당엔 다 유식(唯識) 이치를 못 믿고 저 편한 대로 반만 믿는 반식(半識)으로 돌아서거든요.
지금 한국이나 외국이나 유식 공부한다 하는 똑똑하신 학자님들 다 이 모양이라오. 사실 부처님 말씀을 한번 귀로 들었으면 이치도 마음에 비춰져서 바로 담겨져야 하는데. 실상은 안 그렇습니다.
듣기는 들었는데 자기가 안 게 아니라 부처님께 얻어듣고 겨우 알 듯도 한 건 대 마음속 깊이 체득하지는 못하지요. 만약에 한 번 듣고 심득(心得)했다 하면 그건 타고난 도인이요. 또 자기가 스스로 알았다 하면 그건 연각ᆞ벽지불이라 하는 겁니다.
겨우 귀동냥해서 말만 그럴 듯 해진 것이라, 그래서 성문(聲聞) 즉 귀가 보배인 중생이다 그러는 건데 어쨌든 이걸 어찌 말하냐 하면, 얻어 들은 부처님 지혜법문은 달빛인데 중생 마음이 탐ᆞ진ᆞ치에 마냥 흔들려서 저 달빛 같은 부처님 지혜 법문이 호수 같은 내 마음에 비춰지지 못하여서 지행합일(知行合一)이 안 되기 때문이다 그러는 겁니다.
그래서 정말이지 귀동냥해서 겨우 얻은 지혜를 믿음 속에서 진짜 내 것으로 만들려고 흔들리는 마음을 부처님 말씀 속에서 조용히 가라앉히는 거예요. 이걸 지(止) ᆞ 정(定) 또는 ‘사마타’라 하는데 흔히 선정에 든다 이렇게 말하지요. 그러면 귀동냥한 부처님 지혜 법문은 이치만 그런 줄 알지 실제로 번뇌를 끊는 힘이 없다 해서 말라죽은 건혜(乾慧)라 하는데. 이 건혜를 살려서 한 번 번뇌를 끊어보자 해서 선정을 닦아 자꾸 관찰 사유(思惟)하는 것을 지(止)에 상대해서는 관(觀)이라 하고 정(定)에 상대해서는 혜(慧)라 하고 사마타에 상대해서는 위빠사나라 부르는 거요.
그런데 처음 선정을 닦는 때는 마음이 자꾸 흩어져서 부처님 말씀에 염주(念住)하기는커녕 자기 마음도 갈피를 못 잡거든요. 이때는 수식관(數息觀) 등등 방편을 써서 마음을 다잡게 하고 부처님 지혜 법문을 관찰해야 하는 법인데 막상 마음이 침착 조용해지면 그만 부처님 지혜 법문도 묻혀져서 멍해지거든요. 그래서 무기(無記)에 빠져 멍해지는 외도선(外道禪) 즉 명상(冥想)에 빠지지 않도록, 아침마다 부처님 말씀을 외우는 것을 송경(誦經)이라 하는 겁니다.
여러분들 수타비 사원에서 새벽마다 들었을 텐데 송경과 선정은 이렇게 같이 가는 겁니다. 화두 참선은 송경과 참선이 통합된 거라 볼 수도 있는데… 어쨌든 송경을 잘해야 선정 즉 사마타 수행도 바로 서는 겁니다.
사마타는 위빠사나의 인(因)이고 위빠사나는 사마타의 과(果)인데, 사마타가 부처님 말씀을 독송하는 송경을 통해서 정화 감득(感得)되면 이를 이계인(離繫因) 즉 해탈하는 원인이라 그럽니다. 다시 말하면 선정 즉 사마타는 과일나무에 물을 주고 거름을 주어서 잘 키우는 거고 송경은 부처님 지혜에 의지해서 열매가 잘 맺도록 가지를 유인하고 전지 전정 해주는 것이다 이렇게 말할 수도 있답니다.
이렇게 선정을 닦아 가면 점차로 부처님 말씀 즉 관혜(觀慧) 속에서 선정이 점점 깊어지는데… 문제는 잡념 때문에 또 바깥 사물경계에 마음이 흘러가서 집중이 잘 안 된다는 거죠.
밥을 먹으면서도 문득 맛이 있다 없다는 한 생각, 공양하는 사람 보고는 잘 사네 못 사네 잘 생겼네 못 생겼네… 이런 잡념 한 번에 몇 일동안 밤새서 공부한 것이 그냥 날아갑니다.
이런 경우 화두를 실참(實參)하는 간화선에서는 조도(助道)로 삼는 것이 예참 아니면 주력인데, 남방에서의 고(苦)ᆞ집(集)ᆞ멸(滅)ᆞ도(道) 사제(四諦)의 행상(行相)을 순차적으로 수습하는 선법(禪法)에서는 사념처(四念處)라는 방편을 쓰지만 실제로 조절하기 매우 어려운 게 문제. 그래서 결국 계율로 외행(外行)부터 콘트롤 하는 겁니다.
마음의 이탈을 겉으로 드러나지 않게 108중학법(衆學法)으로 신업(身業)과 구업(口業)을 절제하고 의업(意業)으로는 생각이 밖으로 흐르면 일체가 공(空)하고 무상(無常)하고 무원(無願)인데 너는 무엇에 집착하는고 되새겨서 마음을 추스립니다. 결국은 내 심원의마(心猿意馬)를 부처님의 지혜 말씀으로 조복시킨다 해서 관혜(觀慧)의 관(觀) 즉 진짜 위빠사나인 제현관(諦現觀)이라 부르는 거지 요새 엉덩이 뿔난 것들이 저 남방에 가서 고잉카 아무개 등등 사이비한테 배웠다 자랑하는 소위 <마음 챙긴다는 가짜 위빠사나> 하곤 아주 다른 거요.

<내 소견(所見)으로 내 마음을 관(觀)하는 것을 관(觀) 즉 위빠사나라 하지 못하는 이치>는 중생의 시커먼 무명심(無明心)에 일체가 다 깜깜 절벽인데 본디 없는 마음을 스스로 본다거나 원래 없는 망상을 자기가 알아차린다 하는 것은 다 소경이 개꿈 꾸는 헛소리기 때문예요. 이런 이치를 바로 알아야 합니다.
이 위빠사나는 사실 비구율의의 구족계에 포함되는 것인지라 미얀마나 태국에 가서 단기 출가라도 해야 작동하는 선법(禪法)인데도 이를 율법(律法)이라 안하고 염처(念處)라 하는 것은 그 심행(心行)을 단속하는 바탕이 혜심(慧心)에 주(住)하기 때문에 이름을 염처(念處)라 그러는 거랍니다
그렇게 계속 위빠사나를 감득하는 사마타를 열심히 가행 정진하다 보면 마음도 부처님의 혜심과 하나 되어 잡념 없이 성성(惺惺)해지다가 마침내 삼계가 고해임을 증득하는 부처님 말씀의 지혜 법문 즉 사제(四諦)의 도(道)에 들어가면 비로소 불도(佛道)를 수행하는 도인(道人)이라 하고 또 이때부터 현관(現觀)이라 하여 공부길이 열리는 거지 소나 개나 겉모양 흉내 낸다고 공부라 하는 게 아니예요.
요새 저 위빠사나니 뭐니 깨춤 추는 것들 알고 보면 집에서 새는 바가지 나가서 깨진 꼴예요.
우리 앞산에도 절이 하나 거창한 게 생겼는데 선방이랍시고 하나 지어놓고 참선하실 분 위빠사나 하는 분 이렇게 섞어놨대요. 그래서 총무하고 한번 가봤더니 법당은 쥐새끼 한 마리도 없는데 옆의 산신각에서는 목탁소리 염불소리가 진진하니 낭자한데 신발이 주변에 가득 발 디딜 틈도 없이 벗어놨더라는… 이렇도록 본분사의 본 자도 모르는 그 절 주인을 가지고 다들 큰스님으로 대접하는가 본데….. 이런 꼴들 안 보고 안 듣고 사는 것도 사실 오복 중 하나예요.
나는 법전대사 열반하시고는 아무데도 안 가는데. 하여튼 님들 아잔간하 존자(尊者)님을 부지런히 참방(參訪)해서 성불하는 선근(善根)을 깊이 심어가셔요.

송경(誦經)은 자꾸 신구의(身口意) 삼업(三業)으로 부처님 말씀을 깊이 억념(憶念)해서 전오식(前五識)의 무의식(無意識) 속에 훈습(熏習)이 되도록 하는 거예요. 그러면서 선정의 길이 되게 만드는 거지요. 요새 먹물 도깨비들 교리공부 한답시고 알음알이로 문자 희롱하는 희론(戱論) 즉 간경(看經)하곤 근본적으로 달라요.
그래서 예전의 강원의 송경(誦經)하는 이력(履歷)이 참선하는데 아주 중요했던 거예요. 근데 다 망가졌죠. 강원의 이력(履歷)이 망하니까 선방(禪房)도 망가진 거지요.
우리가 배움터라 생각하는 대학이란 데는 자칫하면 사실 수행과 아무 상관없는 희론처(戱論處)로 빠진다는 걸 모르니. 송경(誦經)을 중심하던 강원이 희론(戱論)의 알음알이 간경 위주로 바뀌는 것도 다 시절인연이고 말세라서 그런 거요. 그나마 해인사가 겨우 겨우 강맥(講脈)을 잇다가 종당엔 간경의 알음알이에 목 매달던 주지 하나 잘못 만나서 박살나지 않았나요.
그래도 여러분들은 복 받은 사람들예요. 멀리 아잔간하 존자(尊者)까지 찿아뵈었으니… 열심히들 심방(尋訪)해서 공부 많이들 하셔.

이렇게 송경과 선정을 수습하면서 마음이 흩어질 때마다 마음 챙긴다 하여 스스로 공(空)ᆞ무상(無常)ᆞ무원(無願)을 되새기면서 선정을 수습하다보면 드디어 부처님 말씀이 눈앞에 현전(現前)되거든요.
이걸 발심했다 하는데… 이처럼 지행(知行)이 일치(一致)되기 시작하면 이제 부처님 지혜 법문에 들어 계속 선정을 닦아 지혜를 발명해서 심지(心地) 즉 마음의 팔만사천 번뇌를 하나하나 단계적으로 끊어 가는데… (이걸 감업[減業]이라 그럼) 처음 공부할 때 학교 보내자면 똥오줌부터 가려야 한다 해서는… 간신히 부처님 말씀 한 두 마디 익혀 마음을 단속하는 단계를 가지고 마구니들이 공부인척 증상만(增上慢)을 내는데. 다 쓸데없는 짓입니다. 그러니까 머리 몸통 다 버리고 달랑 꼬랑지 하나 줏어다 자랑하는 모양인데.. 이에 대해 아잔간하 존자(尊者)께서는 면도칼이 아무리 날카롭다 해도 도끼마냥 선정(禪定)의 무게가 보태지지 않으면 나무 못 자른다 말씀하셨거든요
사실 남방에도 한국 못지 않게 사기꾼 득실거리니까 조심해야 되요. 한국에서 돌아다니는 위빠사나 패거리들도 알고 보면 다 일지반해(一知半解)하는 이상한 작자들이니까 조심 또 조심.!
저것들 모이는 데가 무슨무슨 마을이래요. 그래서 휴게소에서 파는 호두과자 모두 저들이 만들어 파는 줄 알았어요. 하여튼 엉덩이에 뿔 난 것들 이름도 개판으로 지어서 사람 헛갈리게 만드는 데는 재주가 비상한 것 같아요
부처님 지혜 법문이 내 마음에 감득(感得)되면 일체 경계의 묘법(妙法)이 즉시에 환해져서 눈을 떠도 보이고 감아도 환해지는데 이걸 현관(現觀) 즉 abhisamaya라 합니다. 현관(現觀)이 깊어져서 승진하다가 고집멸도(苦集滅道)의 도제(道諦) 단계에 들어가면 드디어 몽중일여(夢中一如)나 오매일여(寤昧一如)가 차례로 열리는데 남방에서는 그냥 수다원 사다함 아나함 그래요. 이것만을 공부라 하는 거지 개코도 모르면서 맘 챙긴다고 돌아다니는 건 그냥 병이요. 병.
제대로 묵묵히 깊이 하심해서 공부 수행할 생각은 안 하고 그저 인기나 얻고 돈이나 벌고 남들 안 하는거 좀 신기해 보이는 거 이런 못난 짓들만 찿아다니며 잘난 척하는 것은 말예요… 내가 보기엔 모두 업장이 두터워서 그러는 걸로 보이거든요. 이거 스스로 업장부터 녹이게끔 잘 가르쳐 줘야 해요. 시급해요.

지금 사마타와 위빠사나 관계가 어떠하냐? 이렇게 질문이 하나 들어왔는데… 사마타[지(止)]는 마음을 적정 고요케 하되 심일경성(心一境性)이라 해서 하나의 경계에 안정(安定)시키는 거요.
왜 그래야 하냐 하면 부처님의 지혜 말씀이 달빛처럼 비춰져도 내 마음이 요동치면 비춰지질 않으니까 마음을 명경(明鏡)처럼 맑게 삼매에 들게 해서 부처님의 지혜 법문과 하나 되는 대원경지(大圓鏡智)를 위빠사나[관(觀)]해서 대각(大覺)을 성취하자는 건데… 여기에 <경계의 내용>이란 문제가 하나 있거든요.
달은 중천에 떠 있는데 대야에 담긴 물과 같은 내 마음을 방구석에다 숨겨놓거나 방향을 반대로 놓았다 하면 제 아무리 삼매에 들어 마음이 잔잔해진들 달빛이 비춰지지 않을 겁니다. 그래서 대야를 들어다 달빛이 잘 비추는 곳에 놓고 잔잔해지도록 돌보는 건데 <이처럼 달빛 비추는 곳에 옮겨 놓는 것>을 뭐라 그래요? 삼귀의(三歸依)라 그러지 않나요? 이게 바로 외도의 선정과 불교의 선정이 여기서 갈라지는 거거든요. 하나의 경계라 해서 외도가 제 아무리 선정을 닦는다 한들 달빛이 비춰지질 못해요. 그래서 이걸 지혜가 없어 번뇌를 끊지 못하는 명상(冥想)이다 그렇게 달리 부르는 겁니다. 만약에 비춰졌다 하면 그건 이미 삼귀의가 전제 되어 그리 된 거니까 이미 불자(佛子)가 된 겁니다.
결국 삼귀의(三歸依)가 안 되면 실상 깨달음도 없는 거나 마찬가지요. 어떤 얼간이 목사 하나가 자기도 깨달았다 떠벌리는 모양인데 그건 악귀(惡鬼)에 홀려서 미쳐 발광하는 거나 진배 없소이다.
왜냐? <삼귀의가 없으면 깨달음도 없다는 이치>를 꿈에도 모르니까 그렇게 멋대로 사기 치는 거거든요. 이처럼 하나의 경계에 안정(安定)되는 것이 사마타인데 여기에다 귀의(歸依)를 통해서 달빛이 비춰지면 급기야 보일 관(觀) 자를 써서 <위빠사나> 그러는 겁니다. 처음에 방향 위치 제대로 잡는다고… 흔들리지 않게 잘 놓는다고… 바람이 불면 막아준다고… 알뜰살뜰 돌보는 데만 37가지 조도(助道)의 품목(品目)이 있고 여기다 추가로 사마타를 보조하는 것이 저 사이비 위빠사나 패거리들이 한다는 소위 <마음 챙기기> plus +1 인데… 마음 챙기는 게 무조건 나쁘다는 것이 아니라 무슨 마음으로 챙기냐가 관건예요.
시커먼 중생심(衆生心)으로 심사(尋伺) 각찰(覺察)하는 것을 공부라 할 건지 아니면 부처님께 지극히 귀의하여 불심(佛心)의 불지(佛智) 즉 삼법인(三法印)으로 내 마음을 다스릴 건지에 정사(正邪)가 갈려지는 겁니다.
저 사이비 위빠사나 패거리가 위빠사나 놀음 한지 이미 한 이십년 되었지 않나요?
그러면 이제 도인(道人)이 하나는 고사하고 반쪽이라도 충분히 나올 때가 된 것 같은데… 소식은커녕 여전히 쥐 죽은 듯 조용하잖아요.

불교는 함부로 나대는 거 아니거든요.
만약에 위빠사나를 한다 치면, 위빠사나로 크게 한소식해서 참선하는 제방(諸方)의 선지식(善知識)들을 두루 찿아가 점검하고 끝내… 심심상인(心心相印)해서 인가(印可)마저 받고나면 그때서야 건당(建幢)하여 개산(開山)하는 거지, 미친 넘들 원숭이 흉내 내는 걸 가지고 공부한다 하는 거 아니거든요. 제발 정신 좀 차리셔… 비싼 밥 처먹고 왜들 그러시는지 참 이해가 안 갑니다.
인과적으로는 사마타가 없으면 위빠사나도 없는 까닭에 초학자들에게 송경(誦經)을 가르쳐서 위빠사나 하는 성문(聲聞)의 혜심(慧心)을 길러 사마타의 길로 인도하고자 하는 게 소위 염처(念處)의 심사(尋伺)하는 마음 챙기기인데… 이것만 중뿔나게 연습한다? 잘 해보슈…

ex) 요새 참 재미있는 말이… 저 불법승(佛法僧) 삼보(三寶) 가운데 법은 진리니까 진리는 객관적이고 보편적이니까 나는 부처도 안 믿고 중들도 안 믿고 오로지 진리만 믿겠다 하는 말인데… 부처 다음에 법이 있지 법 다음에 부처 있는 게 아녜요.
부처님이야말로 진리의 당체고 진리의 화신인 것이지 진리가 따로 있어서 부처 버리고 중 들도 내치고서 달리 구할 수 있는 게 절대 아니거든요. 만약 그렇다 하면 이건 이른바 축물(逐物)이라 해서 한나라 강아지 마냥 죽자하고 뼈다귀 물어다 주인 갖다 주고… 주고… 주고 하다 끝장나는 거요. 이런 건 공부가 아니요. 바깥 경계에 끝없이 매인거지. 이런 이치를 어찌 말하냐 하면 진리가 사람을 따라오도록 공부해야지 사람이 진리를 따라다녀서는 평생 중생 노릇 못 면한다 그렇게 말하는 거요.
정말로 쇠뿔은 단김에 뽑는 건지 잘 모르겠으나 공부에는 영과(盈科)라 해서 다 순서가 있답니다.
먼저 복을 많이 쌓고 다시 삼세제불(三世諸佛)에 귀의 참회해서 업장을 녹이고 다시 부처님 말씀을 잘 새겨서 오매불망 잊지 앉게 된 연후에나 선방에 가서 참선 한다거나 남방에 가서 공부한다거나 하는 거지, 지 성질 못 이기고 세상 상대로 땡깡 부리는 걸 공부라 하지 못한다는 거… 좀 새겨 들으슈… 철 좀 드셔… 파리 마냥 여기저기 들러붙는 누구 누구들 말이요. 나이도 먹을만치 먹었으면 이제는 좀 나이값을 하셔야지…

The Role and Significance of Korean Son in the Study of East Asian Buddhism

Lewis Lancaster
University of California
The Role and Significance of Korean Son in the Study of East Asian Buddhism


The role of Korean Son Buddhism in the study of East Asian Buddhism has yet to be fully defined or identified. This is, in part, because we are still struggling with the problem of what strategies to use in the study of this religion that spread across vast reaches of the Eurasian land mass. In the process of expansion, Buddhism moved from the land of its origins and transcended linguistic, political, cultural, religious, and physical boundaries. The ability to spread far and wide made Buddhism into a world religion and created a complex history of development which scholars are still attempting to untangle. There are many questions about the nature of our study, the evaluation of the sources to be used for it, and the issues of cultural perceptions which belong to those who do this work.

From the earliest times, the Buddhist traditions have produced their own narratives about the founding, history, and basic teachings of the religion. These accounts have been standardized and put into written form and preserved in all the languages of the Buddhist communities of Asia. Academic study of Buddhism emerged from the institutions of higher education in Asia and Europe. In many ways the field of Buddhist studies has been the results of the interaction between scholars in Europe, Japan, China, South and Southeast Asia, and North America. Unfortunately, the inclusion of Korean Buddhist studies, within this developing scholastic movement of the 19th and early 20th centuries, was delayed. As a result, the study of Korean Buddhism has had an entirely different history than that of Chinese or Japanese Buddhism. The lack of comparable study of Korean Son with that of Chinese Ch’an and Japanese Zen has obscured the importance of the history of Buddhism in Korea in relationship to the rest of East Asia. Therefore, as we look at the role of Korean Son in the study of East Asian Buddhism, we must first take note of the academic developments. After seeing the development of the field, we can turn our attention to some of the issues which have been overlooked because of the past neglect of the study of Buddhism in Korea.

The study of Ch’an and Zen Buddhism in China and Japan has come about from a complex geopolitical development over the past centuries. European involvement in Buddhist studies was initiated by three groups (1) the colonial administrations in Asia, (2) the mercantile community that went back and forth to Asia, and (3) the Christian missionaries. From these diverse groups of people, European scholars received manuscripts and descriptions of the religious practices of the people in the eastern part of the Eurasian land mass. When we look at the bibliography of published materials in European languages, listed by date of publication, we have one view of the way in which Buddhism was studied. However, bibliographical research often tells us more about the people doing the research than about the reality of the tradition being studied. The earliest academic reports and research on Buddhism came from Russia and Catholic missionaries. Russia was a natural place for research on Buddhism because the eastern borders were inhabited by Buddhists. The pioneering Catholic missionaries first sent back reports from China, then under the control of the Mongols. It an interesting twist of history that both of these groups first came into contact with the Mongolian forms of Buddhism, at the court of the Khans in Beijing and among the eastern tribes of Russia. Only when the missionaries moved beyond the Mongol court and started to reach out to the Han peoples was there any information about the form of Buddhism that was being practiced by most of the population. The Mongols may have ruled the nation but they were a small minority in terms of numbers. We now know that the practice of the Han Buddhist monastics at the time when accounts were being made to European audiences, was Ch’an. The history of the practice was preserved in lore that described the early introduction of the meditation technique by the Patriarch Bodhidharma.


II. Early Reports on Ch’an

The first reports to reach Europe concerning Ch’an were made by Catholic missionaries who were competing with Buddhism. Opponents never make the best histories of one another, and these two great world religions were natural opponents. They had many practices in common, monastic life with celibate monks and nuns, rules of conduct for those who entered the monastery, vows of poverty for ascetics, shaven heads, special dress, reverence for relics of esteemed dead, pilgrimage to sacred sites associated with the esteemed, and use of images. It would seem that the two had enough common ground to stimulate an interest in the practice of the other. Unfortunately, the competition kept the Catholic missionaries from making note of similarities. A study of Christian monasticism by Chinese Buddhists was out of the question since they had no missionaries in Europe at that time and only saw individual monks and priests living in China, an alien environment for the Christians.

The initial description of Ch’an was through the person of the Catholic missionary Ricci, who was housed at one time in a Buddhist monastery. Ricci made great contributions to the study of China and involved himself in the cultural and religious debates of that time. However, he was a missionary and his goal was the conversion of the Han to Christianity. It was impossible for him to see Buddhism as anything other than a barrier to his mission. When he explored some of the teachings of Ch’an, he focused on the doctrine of sunyata, which he took to be nihilistic. The later community of French Jesuits also complained that the Ch’an monks of China held to the doctrine ” a vacuum or Nothing is the Principle of all Things, that from this our first Parents had their Origin.”It is not difficult to spot the source for this particular attack against Buddhism. As early as the 11th century, Chang Tsai of the Sung dynasty had put forward the proposition that Buddhism was a nihilistic teaching. His treatise was well known and the attacks against the doctrine of sunyata continued through out the 11th and 12th centuries, with Chu Hsi joining in the fray. This negative view of the teachings of the Ch’an tradition was Confucian in origin and it was this Chinese position that was transmitted to the Catholics and from them on to Europe. The prejudice against Ch’an was not limited to the early missionaries. Contemporary scholars such as Kenneth Chen have echoed these ancient attacks. In his important and influential study of Chinese Buddhism, Chen states that Buddhism declined in China because of the popularity of the Ch’an and Pure Land Schools during the Sung. This type of statement, still finding its way into print a few decades ago, is a demonstration of the persistence of certain ideas, however inaccurate or misleading they may be. That we still find reflections of the ancient battles between competing Chinese groups in the literature of the current century, alerts us to the fact that a clear and objective history of Ch’an is difficult to achieve. We are still trying to write this history and it is precisely for this reason that Korean Son, as a integral part of this story, must be studied and included in the mainstream of scholarly research on Ch’an.


III. Search for the Origins of Ch’an

When the Europeans started to discuss the intellectual history of China, they soon heard that there was a distinct difference between the Confucian philosophies and the Ch’an teachings. Since Buddhism has originated in India, it was natural to assume that the differences between these two systems of thought reflected the fact that the teachings had been transmitted from South Asia to China. Since this was the case, then it was important for scholars to focus attention on India in order to fully understand the doctrines of Ch’an. One of the early scholars, Barthelemy Saint-Hilaire took this approach and saw Ch’an as a form of Vedanta. However, when he was introduced to the idea of the Koan, he could see that it had no counterpart in Indian philosophy and practice. The missionary scholar Edkins also tried to find the Indian source for the Ch’an Buddhism that he encountered in China and he concluded that it was from Jainism. The Chinese Confucian community was not adverse to such study of Buddhism, since they considered Indian culture to be inferior to that of China. Chu Hsi saw Ch’an as the teachings of the Indian Bodhidharma, who he described as a charismatic figure. The notion that Ch’an had its roots from India was an old one among the Confucians, it was not a discovery of the missionary scholars. From the opposite side of the equation, Prof. Kalupahana looks at Ch’an from the ancient patterns of South Asia and finds many elements that have precedence in the Indic textual tradition. Dumolin presents the opposite view. He states that Ch’an was a Chinese movement in “their thoughts and feelings. They were Chinese Buddhists, stepped in the spirit of Hua-yen philosophy–very different from the Buddhist disciples of the Pali canon” The eclectic nature of Chinese Ch’an makes it difficult to sort out the origin of its various elements.

The source of the Indian elements in Ch’an was understood to be the first Patriarch, Bodhidharma who brought the meditation tradition into China. In the study of the founders, whether it is Sakyamuni or Bodhidharma, a problem arises from the interpretations that are given to these individuals by some of the Western scholars. Western approaches to the study of Buddhism has been recently challenged by anthropologists in Sri Lanka. Obeyesekera has coined the word “protestant Buddhism” to describe one of the ways in which the tradition is viewed. Tambiah has joined Obeyesekera in speaking out against “protestant Buddhism.” Prothero in his study of the matter gives us a good definition. “Protestant Buddhism” is the idea that the essence of Buddhism is to be found in the texts and by implication not in the practice. This leads to misunderstandings, since the extraction of textual selections as a way to define a normative Buddhism, can never be fully supported when we look at the religion in a given place at a certain time. Buddhism in local practice may appear in a quite different guise from that described in Sanskrit and Pali texts of past centuries.

A second part of “protestant Buddhism” is the belief that Buddhism is primarily an ethical system and must be defined as such. By seeking for textual evidence, this ethic can be defined. It is usually judged to be a proper ethic when it agrees with the Western system, especially that of the Protestant cultures of Europe. Tambiah and Obeyesekera both feel that this has been a betrayal of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, a cutting away of practices that have been long the heart of the tradition for people. The magical, the rituals of fortune and for the dead, do not get included in “protestant Buddhism.”

“Protestant Buddhism” creates a number of problems for the study of Ch’an. The emphasis on ethics in society calls into question the value of meditation as a lifelong career. Monasticism was severely criticized by the Protestants in Europe and the missionaries and scholars were equally strong in directing attacks against this practice in Asia. Not only was popular practice, such as those aspects directed toward health and prosperity, overlooked by the reliance on text study, but so was Ch’an meditation. Another tendency in “protestant Buddhism” was the delight in making all major historical figures into reformers. Buddha was seen as a young Luther, a reformer who spoke out against the establishment of his time; Bodhidharma as one who rejected institutional Buddhism in China, and even Shen-hui gets accolades for being a later reformer of Ch’an itself. Seeing the important figures of Buddhism whether in India or in China, as reformers is often misleading. Bodhidharma and Sakyamuni can be better described as individuals of their own time, expressing values and ideas that were part of the collective perceptions of the era. While they may have helped bring about change, it was not the highest goal of their life. The focus on reformers is a definite sign of “protestant Buddhism.”


IV. Zen Orientalism

Bernard Faure describes the next stage of study as Zen Orientalism, when Zen came to be an object of discourse in the West. The interest was a result of the work of D.T. Suzuki. He had enormous influence in the introduction of Zen and Ch’an ideas to an English reading public. In Japan he was never part of the major academic community of Buddhist specialists in national or sectarian universities. For this Japanese scholarly community the Zen study that attracted the most attention was that of the philosopher at Kyoto University, Nishida Kitaro. The question which emerged from the work of these two scholars and those who used their works, was whether the teachings of Zen are outside of any historical or cultural context as constrasted with being a part of a historical lineage of masters. Nishida tied Zen philosophy to pure experience. This pure experience is free of cultural context. However, the role of the lineage of teachers in Ch’an and Zen has never been replaced by the philosophical approach.

In China, an important figure among the intellectuals of the first part of the 20th century was Hu Shih. He had studied in the U.S. and returned to China with his academic training combined with the classical work that he had done within the traditional system of study in his country. Hu Shih had a strong sense of the history of China and he saw Indian Buddhism as a “virus” which had infected the nation. Ch’an was the Chinese correction ofthe Indian excesses of mysticism. Ch’an was practical. His work in the U.S. may have shown most clearly when he declared that Shen-hui was a revolutionary figure–another reformer. When Hu Shih started to look at the Ch’an documents of the Dunhuang collection, he negated the traditional histories and looked to construct a true history of Ch’an. His attempt to contruct a true history pointed toward the importance of the Chinese cultural influences within Ch’an and the turn away from the older Indian forms of the religion.


V. Choson Period Son Buddhism

When we turn out attention to the Choson period in Korea, we can see how the local situation helped to determine the way in which Buddhism was studied. Each culture of East Asia gave Buddhism a different position at given times and places. The Mongols gave it a very high place in their court life and provided support for the practices which they had inherited from Tibet. Among the Han people, the attitude toward the religion was mixed. There was a bias against the teachings and practices, especially among many of the officials and literati. At the same time, there was a willingness to have a variety of religious expressions existing side by side within the general practices of Chinese religion. Buddhism had a secure place among the people and for certain issues, it was a primary focus. While some of the elite of the learned community considered the teachings to be inferior to the Chinese philosophies, monasteries, where Ch’an was practiced, abounded and received great support from a wide spectrum of society.

Japanese Buddhism had been adopted by the court during the Nara period and thereafter retained a place in the center of Japanese intellectual and religious life. Unlike China, there was no elite community that considered it to be inferior. This meant that Japan was to be the nation with the best scholastic basis for the study of Buddhism. The tradition has been a part of the curriculum of universities for centuries, including the national system of higher education.

How different was the case of Korea. The Chu-hsi School of Confucian thought came to dominate the official life of the Choson Korean court and the leaders in the provinces of the nation. Buddhism, the religion of the previous Koryo dynasty, was rejected and in many ways the recording of Korean Buddhist history was suspended. The tradition was seen as a decadent remainder of the power it had held in the preceding dynasty. Monks and Nuns were forbidden to enter the capital and other major cities, the educational system no longer included the Buddhists, and support from officials ceased. Korean historians who were part of the dominant Confucian supporters, gave scant attention to Buddhism in the national annals. For those who based their understanding of the history of Korean on these records, it appeared that Buddhism was a rejected and minor aspect of the life of the people. This characterization of Korean Buddhism continued into the 20th century and so Europeans and North Americans found little to interest them. Until more recent times, Korean Son was not a part of the research of scholastic endeavor either in universities or colleges of Korea or those abroad.


VI. Contemporary Studies

There has been an improvement in this scholarship during the last quarter of the 20th century, and we have seen the publication of a series of monographs that have advanced our knowledge about Ch’an, Zen and Son far beyond the previous understanding. Paul Demieville was an important person in making the study of all available documents for an understanding of the Ch’an history in China. He followed the French approach to look at the ethnographic as well as the textual sources for a study of the tradition. This was a reconstruction of the history not totally dependent upon the received tradition of the Ch’an movement. Of great importance was the discovery of Ch’an texts in Cave 17 at Dunhuang. These Dunhuang documents have helped scholars to revise the history of Ch’an and to see it as a much more complex and multifaceted movement than was previously thought. Other scholars have pursued similar strategies of looking at the full range of available documentation for the study of particular aspects of the Ch’an, whether it be the teachings of a particular master, the rules of conduct, or the cultural application of the practice. Some of these, and this is not a complete list, include Carl Bielefeldt, Martin Collcutt, Bernard Faure, Luis Gomez, Griffith Faulk, John McRae, Philip Yampolsky and others who are present at this conference. We have moved far beyond the previous understanding of Ch’an.

In most instances contemporary study of Ch’an has developed in Japan and these scholars were strongly influenced by contacts with the important Japanese scholars who looked to the Chinese material. There was no comparable study to this Chinese work for Korea among the Japanese scholars. A few good works were done such as those of Prof. Kamata, but no critical mass of scholarship has ever developed in Japan for the Korean tradition. The Japanese approach to Ch’an has also had some limitations. Because Zen in Japan is sectarian with separate ordination from other Buddhist groups, Ch’an in China is viewed as the forerunner of what happened in Japan. It is the history of Ch’an which was of interest and not the practice or the fact that Ch’an had a widespread and continuing pattern of development. After the introduction of Ch’an into Japan, and the establishment of the institutions of the Zen monasteries, less attention was paid to the subsequent developments in China. Japanese scholars have produced few studies of contemporary Ch’an or even Ch’an of the period after the Sung. Once the transmission was complete, attention was turned to Japan itself and not to the continuing developments of other forms of the tradition in China and Korea. This is one of the reasons why the study of Ch’an has seldom been extended to the contemporary practices and development.

The work of breaking through to a new era of study for Korean Buddhism and the Son tradition has come from a small group of scholars. In the 1960s and 70s, dissertations were written that provided the first substantial information on the history and practices of Son. The first was done by So Kyong-bo who made a study of the Chodangjip in 1960 and nearly two decades later Shim Jae Ryong followed this up with a first introduction to Chinul and in the same year Sung-bae Park dealt with the role of Wonhyo in the development of Korean Buddhist schools and Hee Sung Keel investigated the role of Chinul. Work on Chinul continued with the publications of Robert Buswell. This group of scholars received their training in Korea and North America. They were not part of that group of North American and European scholars who did part of their graduate research in Japan. This small band of scholars had to develop their own approach and they have pioneered in the creation of the literature that has allowed students to begin the discovery of the importance of Korean Son. We owe them a debt of gratitude for providing the scholastic entry into the study of this aspect of Korean Buddhism. The publications of these scholars gave a dimension to the study of Korean Son which had never been known in Europe or North America. This focus on those who published in English is not intended as a judgement of the work that was beginning to appear in Korean. Without the editions, translations, and histories that were published in Korean language volumes, the international community would not have been able to make the advances that they accomplished. Scholars such as An Chi-ho, Rhi Ki- young, Kim T’an-ho, Han Ki-du, Yi Chong-ik, and others have given us invaluable aid in the hard task of mastering the textual material related to Son.

From these works done in the last half of the 20th century, we have a description of the history of the Son movement. Robert Buswell has pointed out that the early introduction of Ch’an to Korea came before the Sixth Patriarch or the battles which followed between the Northern and Southern Schools. If this history is correct, then Pomnang received his study under the Fourth Patriarch Tao-hsin. His student studied in the linear of the Second Patriarch of the Northern School. While the Korean Son group of the Chogye Order now traces its origins to the Southern School of Ch’an, the teachings were being transmitted in Korea at an earlier date than the time when this school came to dominate. The of study of the ancient documents and the reconstruction of history based on all available sources has brought about a new understanding of how Korean Son developed.


VII. Korean Son

This brings us to the main point of our inquiry: the significance of the Korean Son for the study of the Ch’an tradition in China. I would like to make a few observations and suggestions for future work. The thrust of these comments will be to examine the history of the introduction of the Ch’an approach to Korea. As we consider the materials coming from those early practitioners, it should at the very least provide us with supporting documentation for the studies that center on China. In order to follow through with this type of research, we can note that there were eight famous Korean masters who went to China during the Tang dynasty and returned to Korea to start their own lineages in mountain monasteries. These masters are of interest to us, not only because of their activities in Korea, but also because they were trained in China. Receiving the instruction of Ch’an monks, the Korean Son masters represent one way of looking at the ideas and methods that were contemporaneous in the Tang dynasty. As we look at the biographies of the eight Silla dynasty Son masters, we have the following information about them:

The first one to go to China was Toui. He stayed in China for 34 years returning to Korea in 818. His teacher was Hsi-t’ang Chih-tsang from the lineage of Ma-tsu. He studied with this master for 20 years. When Toui returned to Korea, he lived for seven years and during that time started his training of local disciples, who established a center at Porim Sa more than three decades after the master’s demise. At the same time that Toui was working with Hsi-t’ang Chih- tsang, two other Korean disciples went to be trained. Hongch’ok arrived in 810 and Hyech’ol in 814. Hongch’ok stayed in China for 16 years and Hyech’ol for 25. Only after the death of Hsi- t’ang Chih-tsang in 814 did any of them leave China. When Hongch’ok had returned to Korea in 826 at the age of 54 he soon established his center at Silsang Sa.

After the three Koreans had gone to study with Hsi-t’ang Chih-tsang, a fourth followed them to China in 821; Muyom went to work with Ma-ku Pao-ch’e. Muyom stayed in China for 24 years, going home in 845 and setting up his center of mediation at Songju Sa in 847. Three years later Hyonuk set out for China and was to stay for 13 years doing study with Chang-ching Huai-hui. After his homecoming in 837, he lived and taught for 32 years and his disciples established a center for the continuation of the school in 897 at Pongnim Sa. The year following the departure of Hyonuk for China, Toyun arrived in the Tang kingdom and choose Nan-ch’uan P’u-yuan to be his master. He also had a long stay– 22 years– before going back to Korea in 847 and establishing a center in 850 at Hungnyong Sa.

From these examples of Son masters who studied in China, we see that there was a steady stream of Korean monks going and returning from China with contacts among a variety of Ch’an masters from 784-911. They lived in China and studied until after the death of their Chinese masters. They had a protracted stay in China, all for more than a dozen years and some for three decades. When these monks returned to Korea, they were themselves mature people. For example Hyech’ol was 54 on his return, Hyonuk 50, Toyun 50, Iom 42. We see that the Son monks of Korea usually went to Masters who were well known and already aged. The first three Korean students of Hsi-t’ang came to him in his later life. Toui joined Hsi-t’ang when he was 50, Hong Ch’ok when he was 75 and Hyech”ol during his last year of life at 79. Pomil joined his master when Yen Kuan was 81, and Toyun met Nan Ch’uan when the master was 77. This means that Korean Son monks were being taught by mature and revered masters of the Tang Ch’an tradition. They sought after the established leaders.

The impact of the group was great for Korea. Within a 50 year period, seven of the Nine Mountain Son monasteries were established as places where their heritage was continued by generations of disciples. Thus the Chinese Ch’an was transplanted in the 9th century into the main fabric of Korean Buddhist institutions. While the older scholastic schools of the Unified Silla had been the center of Korean life during the 7th and 8th centuries, Son carried the day in the 9th and Korean Buddhism was never the same.


(A) Transmission of the Dharma

It is important that we understand the importance of these monks in looking at the history of the Tang Buddhist developments. The teachings of the eight Korean Son monks constitute a major source for our study of Ch’an, but one which has been little used by Chinese scholars. During the 9th century, we can track the developments in China which must have been part of the experience of the Son monks. There were five distinct groups of the Southern School of Ch’an. Shen Hui the founder of this school had been victorious over the so called “Northern Schools”. The disciples of Shen Hui held to the principle that the transmission of the Dharma was one of the most important and sacred moments in Buddhism. Without a clear understanding of the way in which this transmission occurred there could be no assurance about the authenticity of it. There is some indication in the older Indian tradition of the transmission of the teaching from one teacher to another. We have the example of the Sakyamuni giving the dharma over to his disciple Mahakasyapa. But even in the Indian materials, the idea of single transmission is eroded when we look at the Astasahasrikaprajnaparamita Sutra, where the transmission for that text is given from Sakyamuni to Ananda, not to Mahakasyapa For the newly emerging Southern School, there was the idea that transmission could only be given to one individual in a generation. They used the analogy of kingship, saying that a nation could not have more than one king, and Ch’an could not have more than one master in one generation.

The Venerable Taiwanese Master Yin Shun has challenged this view of a single transmission. Yin Shun recognizes that a major issue was over the idea of whether there was one transmission of the Dharma in every generation. This would mean that it was crucial to know exactly which disciple received the transmission from Hui Neng in order to decide on the authentic passage of the teaching. But as Yin Shun shows in his research, the idea of one transmission in each generation was not a central practice before the school of Shen Hui made it so. He reminds us that there are many expressions found in inscriptions and texts that indicate the multiplicity of the transmissions. Hung Jen, the Fifth Patriarch, is quoted as saying: “I have taught many people in my life–the ones who transmit my dharma becomes masters in their own places.” Fa Hai, another famous master, is said to have had ten disciples who received the transmission. The study of Korean Buddhism shows us that as the tradition of Ch’an was being passed into the peninsula, it came from a number of sources and transmissions. Once we see the Korean along side the events of China and Japan, we can begin to spot just how multiple the transmissions were. The fact that the Korean Hung-chou School of Son had as it’s founder Nan Yueh Hai Jong (677-740), a little know disciple of Hui Neng immediately alerts us to fact that there was no one single transmission in the generation following Hui Neng, just as Yin Shun points out that there was no single transmission before Hui Neng’s time. Two of Hui-neng’s disciples Nanye Huairang and Qingyuan Xingsi, who died in the 8th century had formed the major transmissions. Two were linked to Nanyue Hairang (Yumen and Caodong) and three to Xingsi (Weiyang, Linji, and Fayan). While the idea of single transmission was put forward by the followers of Shen Hui, the idea did not take hold. It is an example of a concept that appears in the writings but not in practice.

Korean Son history is a good way to investigate the reality of how transmission was accomplished in the 9th century. It shows us that Buddhist history records multiple leaders, and a group of masters, all living and practicing at one time. Without multiple transmissions, it is hard to see how Ch’an could have been spread to Korea or Japan. .There was no feeling that the transmission from Hui Neng had to come through Shen hui. Huai-jong and other disciples received and passed along the Dharma. As Yin Shun points out, Hui Neng was just one of the many who received the transmission from Hung Jen the fifth Patriarch.

Huairang was of great importance to the development of Chinese Ch’an. From his lineage came the Weiyang, Linji and Fa Yan schools, all dominant in the Southern Sung. The Fayan school kept close ties to the court and thus when the dynasty shifted, they were pushed aside as belonging to the past. Ven.Yifa in her dissertation from Yale indicates that the Linji came to the fore because they had no ties to the government and thus were free to spread. Once again, the fact that Huairang is so important in the development of the Ch’an in China and that his tradition spread to Korea, means that the Korean Son is a valuable tool to looking backward to China to see the heritage that came to Korea in the Hung-chou school


(B) Anti-Textual Positions

If we accept the idea that the words of the Korean Son masters who trained for many years in China in the 9th century must accurately reflect the teaching that was being given at that time, then the words of Toui and Muyon are of importance.

Toui confronted Chiwon, a scholastic, with the statement:

Hence, separate from the five scholastic teachings, there has been a special transmission of the dharma of the patriarchal mind-seal. ….even though one recites in succession the Buddhist sutras for many years, if one intends thereby to realize the dharma of the mind- seal, for an infinitude of kalpas it will be difficult to attain.

Muyon echoed this distinct difference between the scholastic schools and Son:

As the [Son teachings] are not overgrown by the weeds of the three types of worlds, they also have no traces of an exit or an entrance. Hence they are not the same [as the scholastic teaching].

From these Son masters, we have an indication that the Ch’an of the 9th century was making a distinction between the two approaches. While this is usually explained as part of the spiritual understanding of the Ch’an practitioner, I think it is important to take a look at the history of Buddhism at that time. In particular, the role of textual work in monastic life needs to be examined for that period. One significant element stands out when we review the events.

During the 9th century, there were no translations being made of Sanskrit texts into Chinese. The recorded dates for the translated texts contained in the Koryo Canon tell us that translations came to a halt in 798. This endeavor was not reestablished until 983, when the Northern Sung court, aware of a number of Sanskrit texts that were not in Chinese, set up a bureau to continue the work. Our histories of Chinese Buddhism pay little attention to this 185 year period when new translations were no longer appearing. No effort was made to continue the activity which had been a major part of court and monastic strategy since the middle of the second century. For more than six centuries, missionary monks from Central Asia and Chinese pilgrims had been devoted to the task of finding all available Sanskrit Buddhist texts and making them available in Chinese. As long as the translation work continued, the focus of attention was directed toward the new discoveries and the fuller picture of the words of the Buddha. The thousands of texts that came into China and the ones being written in China claiming to be from Sanskrit originals, dominated the scholastic side of the religion. From the great volume of texts which were appearing in translation, monasteries had to give attention to the written word. Schools were developed to handle the flow of manuscripts and ideas that were being constantly supplemented with new discoveries. It was an exciting time, a time for Buddhists to collect every single work that contained the words from the “Golden Mouth of the Buddha.” The so called “Textual” schools were a direct result of the centuries of focus on translations.

When the Silla monks went to China to be trained in the rising Ch’an school of meditation, textual translation was no longer an issue. As the translations came to an end, it left room in the Buddhist monastic life for a focus on practice rather than the texts. The window of opportunity for Ch’an development came in part because of this shift in emphasis within the Buddhist community. The many schools that were based on textual study had arisen in China primarily in the 6th century, with the Fa Hsiang in the 7th and the Tantra in the 8th centuries. These were the years when the translations were being made in large numbers and catalogues compiled to handle the housing of so many volumes. The cessation of the translations in 798 was a very major change in Buddhist life and efforts. It reflected some of the political changes that were occurring. First, in 755 the An Lu Shan rebellion had weaken the Tang dynasty and was a symptom of shifts in society that would plague the successive rulers of that era. The government suppression of certain aspects of foreign religions in 845, indicated an unwillingness to have closer contacts with Central Asia. The Parthians were a menace and there was no desire to see them have an impact on the religious life of China. When we look at our group of Silla monks, it is interesting to note that three of the eight returned to Korea at the time of the suppression. Minyon went home in 845, Pomil in 846 and Toyun in 847. Since their masters were dead and the religious climate in China had changed, it was not surprising to find them deciding to return to their native land. Of the founders of Silla Son, only Iom went to China after the 845 events. His trip in 895 was long enough after the hard times to indicate that once again monks could find a place to study in the Chinese environment.

From this point of view, I am suggesting that the rejection of a textual basis for Buddhist thought, could occur in a time when there was a break in the translation work. This is not to say that the Ch’an masters were dependent on the cultural environment for their insights. However, when the insights were being put forth at a time when interest in the continuation of the translations had fallen to a low ebb, it is understandable that the selection of Ch’an meditation over scholastic textual reading would be more acceptable.


(C) Harmonization of Texts and Meditation

At the time when the great masters of the Korean Son tradition were studying in China, that is the 9th century, we can note that there was already a concern about the role of mediation in relationship to texts. One of the individuals who attempted to address this problem was Tsung- mi. Tsung-mi died in 841, at a time when eight of the Silla monks had already arrived in China. He had entered the Buddhist monastic life in 807 as a disciple of the Ch’an master Tao-yuan. Later he also studied with a Hua-yen master and in his training indicates that Chinese monks were able to train in more than one group. He is associated with a movement to find common ground between the Ch’an and Hua-yen schools. When we look at the Korean Son tradition, Tsung-mi’s approach does not seem to be reflected in the Silla developments. It is not until the time of Chinul, some two centuries later that we have the work becoming important. If the assumption is correct that the Silla masters brought back the dominant paradigms of Tang Ch’an, then the harmonization movement was a marginal one. Toui’s comments about the supremacy of Ch’an transmission over textual study, are strong statements. He does not give a focus to the idea that this transmission must be matched with the recorded words in the sutras.

There were many changes which swept through East Asia in the 10th century. The Tang rule came to an end in 907 and for more than 50 years there was a chaotic political situation. It is understandable that erudite occupations such as translations came to a standstill. The Khitan Empire followed the downfall of the Tang and they also were to have influence on the Korean world. When the Northern Sung finally was able to establish central authority for the Han peoples, the court gave unprecedented support to the Buddhists. First, they had a xylography collection carved for the entire canon. It is thought that this took place from 971-983. After completing the project in Sichuan, the court had created a standard set of texts that could be distributed as rubbings to the copy centers around the nation. The new technology of reverse image printing gave new interest to Buddhist textual study. The government then turned it attention to the problem of Sanskrit manuscripts which were available but had no counterpart in the printed edition. Therefore, in 983 the year when the printing blocks were delivered to Kaifeng, the work of translation was resumed after nearly two centuries of neglect.

When we look at the time of the first group of Ch’an Silla monks in China, we can note that they came at a time when the textual tradition was at its lowest ebb. When they returned to Korea, it was to carry the message that texts were not as important as the practice of meditation. The rejection of the textual approach mirrored the times. We can understand better the larger view of Chinese Buddhist life during the 9th century, if we study the teaching which these monks has received.

When we consider the experience of Iom who went to China in 895 and stayed until 911, then we have a monk who witnessed the final years of the Tang dynasty and the upheavals of the Wu-tai period (907-960). As things began to change after the establishment of the Northern Sung dynasty, Ch’an again reflected in its development the issues of the time. Printing brought an exciting new dimension to Buddhist textual tradition. New translations open up the possibility of seeing the final innovations of the religion in India. It was in this environment that the talk of harmonization of Ch’an and texts came to be an issue. Yen-shou (904-975) was one of the early proponents of the attempt to make use of the texts alongside meditation.

In Korea, we can follow this attempt at harmonization. In the first decade of the 11th century, a set of rubbings from the Northern Sung block print edition of the Chinese canon was brought to Korea. The importance of this printing technology was not lost on the Koreans and they were to excel in the later development of movable type. They made a set of printing blocks for themselves, apparently by making a tracing of the Sung prints. In 1063, the Liao court send another set of rubbings made from their own printing blocks and based on manuscripts that were different than those of the Northern Sung. Other prints arrived over the years from the Northern Sung representing the additional new translations that were being made. In other words, the 11th century was a revival of interest in Buddhist texts. It was at this time that Koreans began to think about the integration of texts with meditation practice. Uich’on (1055-1101) was one of the first in that century to speak of this reunion of the two aspects of Buddhism. One century after Uich’on birth, one of Korea’s most outstanding monks was born, Chinul. While Uich’on was seeking for harmony as one who stood firmly in the scholastic camp, Chinul worked for the same goal from his position within the Son tradition. We know that the printing of the canon remained important to Korea, because when the Mongols invaded in 1231 and burned the printing blocks, the exiled court made the replacement of them a national priority.

This review of history tells us that the Koryo Son masters moved away from the fierce rejection of the scholastic schools that had been a characteristic of the Silla masters. The work with texts that emerged after the introduction of printing, gives us an indication that while religious ideas may not be generated by events outside of the training, these ideas may well be intensified by trends and innovations. Thus we can see a parallel between translation projects, printing technology and the rise and fall of the importance and prestige of texts in the Ch’an and Son traditions.


D. Korean Son and Religious Suppression

Up to this point we have mainly discussed the ways in which Chinese patterns can be studied by looking at the Korean Son masters. There is another aspect of Korean Son which is unique and deserves attention. The story of Korean Buddhism during the Choson period is quite different from that of China or Japan. It is unique in the shift from significant government support to the opposite situation of extreme government repression. The result of the Neo-Confucian rejection of Buddhism was devastating to the established order of the religion. Monasteries were closed, lands confiscated by officials, serfs removed from the work force, ordination restricted, donations from wealthy followers limited, and public rituals no longer allowed to be performed. As the 14th century came to a close, the Buddhist were not just fending off attacks, the struggle for the very survival of the tradition had begun.

If we look at the situation in spatial terms, the Confucian group has appropriated social and family structure, leaving no room for any other approach. One definition of orthodoxy is the total control of a certain space in religion or society. Being orthodox means that no other system can share the same space in religion or society. Once such orthodoxy is in place, the rejection of any alternative is necessary. In the Choson, once the Neo-Confucians had established an orthodoxy for society, there was no possibility for the Buddhists to claim that they could share the social space.

The question for the Buddhists was what to do in these circumstances. With fewer resources, it was quite natural that the conflicting claims of supremacy of the scholastic and meditation schools would be put forward. Even as this matter of how to deal with the two aspects was still being debated in the monasteries, the collapse of urban Buddhism swept away much of the support for the scholastics. In 1471, the court stopped printing Buddhist books and all publication of doctrinal materials moved to monasteries.

The only monasteries that were open and managing to stay so, were located in rual areas. The remaining centers were not even in the villages and towns of the provinces, they were in the mountains. Away from communities that might give donations, at first glance it would seem that the surviving monasteries were too remote to attract followers. Life was difficult and the monks and nuns were required to farm and gather food in the forests. In these mountain monasteries, a form of Buddhism persisted that was quite different from that of the Koryo or the earlier times of the Choson. The scholastic schools were for all practical purposes gone and only the Son was left. The Son schools preserved in the mountain monasteries had an agenda and a strategy of practice that differed from the past centuries. The masters of that practice hoped to achieve in one moment of thought, the freeing of the mind from all attachments. When this occurs, then they believed there would be the revelation of the principle of the One Original Mind. In order to enter into this true meditative state, it was necessary to forsake the study of doctrine. We find the ideal being expessed in the Simbop yocho, where the Original Reality was described:

Heaven and earth cannot cover its body, mountains and rivers cannot hide it light. Nothing of it accumulates on the outside or the inside. Even the 80,000 texts cannot contain or make a record of it. No scholar can describe it, the intellectuals cannot know it, the literati and writers cannot recognize it. Even to talk about it is a mistake, to think about it is an error.

Buddhism has been put into a marginal position in the Korean society, where it had once been a major force. Treated with disrespect, criticized as destructive elements in society, the ordained members of the Buddhist order has little or no access to the social institutions of the time. While this was a dark moment in Korean Buddhist history, it was not without solutions. The answer for the monks and nuns was meditation. It was mediation that could be practiced by all, even those with little or no education. Meditation allowed practitioners in the mountains to achieve states of mind which could sustain them and their tradition. The practice did not need any of the government institutions; it did not require learning. Even the words of the Buddha, written in Chinese characters and difficult to read and understand, could be bypassed. One could proceed by meditation to achieve the same state as that of the Buddha and therefore have the highest experience. Had the Korean Buddhist attempted to maintain a scholastic Buddhism in the face of government proscriptions, it would have been impossible to compete with the learning of the secular world. Only in the practice of meditation could these despised practitioners find something that was beyond the control of officials. It was meditation that sustained the spirit of Buddhism during those dark centuries of the Choson period. There were many problems with the remnant of the monastic tradition during the last century of the Choson period, but it has survived one of the longest religious persecutions of all times. Rather than assuming that the Son tradition of the late Choson was a weak and beaten institutions, we perhaps should look for the strength which had allowed it to remain a part of the culture and to revive as conditions improved.

By making a more careful study of the Choson Son tradition, I believe that we will have ways of seeing Ch’an in China with new perspectives. There are many issues which need to be considered in both China and Korea. Since it is the Son school which survives in Korea and it is the Ch’an that dominates Chinese monastic life, we must consider the role of this meditation school in recent centuries. The Buddhism of East Asia traces its roots back to the Ch’an groups, whether in China or Korea. If we are to understand and deal with the contemporary situation, we must give thought to Son. The rejection of the textual tradition among many of the late Choson masters, has been influenced by political and social events. The role of meditation for a rural religion, whether in China or Korea, is worth careful consideration. The Son tradition of the Choson dynasty when studied in this way can be of great importance for our understanding of Korean life and society and it can give us a clearer picture of East Asian developments over the centuries.

Bodhidharma’s Practice of Recompense and Formation of Chan Buddhism

Kiyotaka Kimura(木村淸孝)
University of Tokyo

Bodhidharma’s Practice of Recompense and Formation of Chan Buddhism
: An Angle to the Radical Problem of Chan Tradition


1. Classification of Chan

2. Chan of Tathaagat and Chan of Patriarchs

3. Bodhidharma’s practice of recompense and its succession



It is said that Chan tradition began from Bodhidharma who was born in Persia or south India and came to China around the early days of the sixth century. However, concerning his life, we find out not a few fictions in Chan texts made in the later times in succession. For example, there is a famous story that Bodhidharma met with the emperor Wu of the Liang dynasty and answered him “you have no marit “, when asked about his contributions to the prosperity of Buddhism. We also know a story that Bodhidharma had been sitting for nine years to deepen his meditation. These stories are very significant to recognize true characteristics of Chan Buddhism. But, we can not believe them as historical facts. They seem to have been skillfully drawn up by Chan Buddhists of the southern sect, who stood in the row of Chan of Patriarchs, in order to make Bodhidharma the perfect founder of Ch’an tradition.

Then, what was Bodhidharma in fact ? What did he consider ? what did he teach? Has the Chan thought of Bodhidharma properly been accepted and succeeded to by Chan Buddhists who were proud of successors of Chan of Patriarchs ? Were there any essencials of it that were thrown away ? I would like to pursuit these questions from a historical viewpoint in this presentation, focussing on Bodhidharma’s practice of recompense and its succession in Chinese Chan tradition. I would be very glad if it gives a clue to see through the modality of Chan movement in the new millenium to lots of Chan researchers and Chan Buddhist.

1. Classification of Chan

The word of Chan originates in jhaana in Paali, dhyaana in Sa^nskrit, or some languages of central asia coresponding to them. It means concentration or calmness of mindin meditation as well as samaadhi or the like in general. But, it would be sure that there are various ways and degrees of meditation. Therefore, the scholars of the Yoga school in India classified meditation into three grades of meditation, that is to say, dhaara.naa, dhyaana, and samaadhi. They further classified the last one into two kinds of samaadhi named sampraj~naata and asampraj~naata, or biija and nirbiija (The Yoga-suutra). In Buddhism, however, strict classification of grades and degrees of meditations by words themselves does not seem to have been made anytime and anywhere. Probably, any of schools of Buddhism prefered to use one or some among many words which meant meditation by choice.

Then, what was a Buddhist scripture that classified meditation through using a word “dhyaana” and gave serious influences to the formation and development of Chan Buddhism in East Asia? In conclusion, we think that it is the La^nkaavataara-suutra.

This suutra has three kinds of Chinese versions. The first one was translated by Gu.nabhadra in the middle of the fifth century and loved for a long time by lots of Chinese, Korean, and Japanese, even after appearance of other two versions. So, let me introduce the teachings of it along with Dr. Daisetsu Suzuki’s translation.

復次, 大慧, 有四種禪. 云何爲四.
謂愚夫所行禪(baalopacarika.m dhyaana.m)
觀察義禪(arthapravicaya.m dhyaana.m)
攀緣如禪(tathataalambana.m dhyaana.m)
如來禪(tathaagata.m [^subha.m] dhyaana.m).
云何愚夫所行禪. 謂聲聞緣覺外道修行者, 觀人無我性, 自相共相骨鎖, 無常苦不淨相計著爲首, 如是相不異觀, 前後轉進, 想不除滅. 是名愚夫所行禪.
云何觀察義禪. 謂人無我, 自相共相, 外道自他, 俱無性已, 觀法無我彼地相義, 漸次增進. 是名觀察義禪.
云何 攀緣如禪. 謂妄想二無我妄想, 如實處不生妄想. 是名 緣如禪.
云何如來禪. 謂如來地, 行自覺聖智相, 三種樂住, 成辨衆生不思議事. 是名如來禪.
Further, Mahaamati, there are four kinds of Dhyaanas. What are the four? They are: (1)The Dhyaana practised by the ignorant, (2) the Dhyaana devoted to the examination of meaning, (3) the Dhyaana with Tathataa (suchness) for its object, and (4) the Dhyaana of the Tathaagatas.

What is meant by the Dhyaana practised by the ignorant ? It is the one resorted to by the Yogins exercising themselves in the discipline of the Sraavakas and Pratyekabuddhas, who perceiving that there is no ego-substances, that things are characterised with individuality and generality, that the body is a shadow and a skelton which is transient, full of suffering and is impure, persistently cling to these notions which are regarded as just so and not otherwise, and who starting from them successively advance until they reach the cessation where there are no thoughts. This is called the Dhyaana practised by the ignorant.

Mahaamati, what then is the Dhyaana devoted to the examination of meaning ? It is the one [practised by those who, ] having gone beyond the egolessnessof things, individuality and generality, the untenability of such ideas as self, others, and both, which are held by the philosophers, proceed to examine and follow up the meaning of the [ various ] aspects of the egolessness of things and the stages of Bodhisattvahood. This is the Dhyaana devoted to the examination of meaning.

What, Mahaamati, is the Dhyaana with Tathataa for its object ? When [ the Yogins recognise that ] the discrimination of the two forms of egolessness is mere imagination, and that where he establishes himself in the reality of suchness (yathaabhuuta) there is no rising of discrimination, I call it the Dhyaana with Tathataa for its object.

What, Mahaamati, is the Dhyaana of the Tathaagata? When [ the Yogin ], entering upon the stage of Tathaagatahood and abiding in the triple bliss which characterises self-realisation attained by noble wisdom, devotes himself for the sake of all beings to the [ accomplishment of ] incomprehensible works, I call it the Dhyaana of the Tathaagatas. ( D. T. Suzuki, The La^nkaavataara Suutra)

As known through these teachings, the La^nkaavataara Suutra groups four grades of dhyaana, intending that a Buddhist should proceed his religious step from observation of anaatman of personality to that of anaatman of dharma, further enter in the stage of negation of anaatman itself, finally reach to the Buddha’s modality. This ultimate stage is named the dhyaana of the tathaagatas. In addition, it is said that the ^sraavakas, the pratyekabuddhas, and non-buddhists are all left at the first step as the observers of anaatman.

Well, standing on the classification of Chan above-mentioned, Shenhui(686-760) is likely the first person who called Chan of Bodhidharma’s lineage the dhyaana of tathaagata ( cf. 鄭茂, 祖師禪について, Journal of Indian and Buddhist Studies, 34-1). Regarding the aim of Chan as exproitation of praj~naa with no impurity, Zongmi (780-841) accepted this concept and clarified how to see Chan thought in China. His opinion is as shown below.

又眞性則不垢不淨, 凡聖無差. 禪則有淺有深, 階級殊等.
謂帶異計欣上厭下而修者, 是外道禪. 正信因果, 亦以欣厭而修者, 是凡夫禪. 悟我空偏眞之理而修者, 水乘禪, 悟我法二空所顯眞理而修者, 是大乘禪, 若頓悟自心本來淸淨,元無煩惱, 無漏智性本自具足, 此心卽佛, 畢竟無異, 依此而修者, 是最上乘禪, 亦名如來淸淨禪, 亦名一行三昧, 亦名眞如三昧.
此是一切三昧根本. 若能念念修習, 自然漸得百千三昧. 達磨門下展 相傳. 是此禪也.
Furthermore, the truth is neither impure nor pure, just same for both ordinary persons and saints. On the other hand, there are some kinds of Chans from shallow one to deep one. They would be classifiied into five.

That is to say, non-Buddhist meditators have evil thoughts and seek for more pleasant situation, desiring to avoid unpleasant one. Their Chan is called non-Buddhist Chan. Worldly meditators believe in the theory of cause and effect in correct way, while also seek for more pleasant situation, desiring to avoid unpleasant one. Their Chan is called Chan of ordinary persons. There are meditators who only awaken ^suunyataa of the self, an aspect of the truth. Their Chan is called HInayaana Chan. There are meditators who awaken the truth of ^suunyataa of both the self and dharmas. Their Chan is called Mahaayna Chan. There is a modality of meditation based on the enlightenment in which one awakens original pureness of their own minds, not with any affliction, but with perfect withdom, if changing the words, awakens that anyone has Buddha’s mind itself. When one practices such a meditation, it is called the supreme Dhyaana, the Tathaagata Dhyaana, the concentrated Samaadhi, or the Tathataa Samaadhi.

This one is the root of all meditations. Practicing such a Dhyaana, one can gradually obtain thouthands of meditations without fail. This is the Dhyaana that successors of Bodhidharma’s Chan have maintained since the begining.

Here, we have to pay attention to the next three points. First ly, the non-Buddhist Chan was located on the lowest level through being cutted off from combination with Hiinayaana meditation in the La^nkaavataara Suutra. This would mean that Zongmi differenciated non-Buddhism from Buddhism and regarded the former as the religion to be strongly denied.

Secondly, Zongmi newly stood up the concept of Chan of worldly persons, who believed in the theory of cause and effect in correct way. For him, “worldly persons” were just believers of Buddhism. The word La^nkaavataara Suutra fundamentally means a worldly person. Therefore, it is clear that Zongmi looked worldly persons with another eyes.

Thirdly, Zongmi says that Dhyaana of the Chan school is the best among some kinds of meditation, which is called the supreme Dhyaana or the Tathaagata Dhyaana. Further, defining this meditation as the root of all meditations, he insists that one can obtain the enlightenment that one’s own mind is originally same as Buddha’s pure mind. We see here one of the typical interpretation of Dhyaana by a Chan Buddhist.

In addition, as known from using the word Tathaagata Dhyaana, Zongmi’s interpretation above shown was influenced by the La^nkaavataara Suutra. However, it was also influenced by the Awakening of Faith, because we can find out the words of the concentrated Samaadhi and the Tathataa Samaadhi as very important ones in it. We should keep in mind this fact too.

Well, ,Zongmi also made another classification of Chan from a viewpoint of what the purpose or the goal was in the same book, the Douxu. According to this theory, the Chan is devided into the next three kinds; one that aims at endeavoring to cease illusive activities of mind, one that has no ground to be relied on, and one that directly realizes the true mind same as Buddha’s. These three respectively correspond to Chan of the northern school, Chan of Shitou and Niutou’s lineages and Chan of Mazu and Shenhui’s lineages. And the first is lesser than the second, the second is lesser than the third. Changing the words, the last one is the best and ultimate Chan, though all of them are included in the Tathaagata Dhyaana above mentioned.

Then, what is the best and ultimate Chan? Zongmi interprets it as follows.


一切諸法, 若有若空, 皆唯眞性. 眞性無爲, 體非一切. 謂非凡非聖, 非因非果, 非善非惡等. 然卽體之用, 而能造作種種. 謂能凡能聖, 現色現相等.
於中指示心性, 復有二類. 一云, 卽今能語言動作, 貪瞋慈忍, 造善惡, 受苦樂等, 卽汝佛性, 卽此本來是佛, 除此無別佛. 了此天眞自然, 故不可起心修道. 道卽是心, 不可將心, 還修於心. 惡亦是心, 不可將心, 還斷於心. 不斷不修, 任運自在, 方名解脫. 性如虛空, 不增不減, 何假添補. 但隨時隨處, 息業養神, 聖胎增長顯發, 自然神妙, 此卽爲眞悟眞修眞證也.
二云, 諸法如夢, 諸聖同說. 故妄念本寂, 塵境本空. 空寂之心, 靈知不昧, 卽此空寂之知, 是汝眞性. 任迷任悟, 心本自知. 不籍緣生, 不因境起. 知之一字, 衆妙之門. 由無始迷之, 故妄執身心爲我, 起貪瞋等念. 若得善友開示, 頓悟空寂之知. 知且無念無形, 誰爲我相人相. 覺諸相空, 心自無念. 念起卽覺 , 覺之卽無. 修行妙門, 唯在此也. 故雖備修万行, 唯以無念爲宗. 但得無念知見, 則愛惡自然淡薄 , 悲智自然增明, 罪業自然斷除, 功行自然增進, 旣了諸相非相, 自然修而無修. 煩惱盡時, 生死卽絶. 生滅滅已, 寂照現前,應用無窮, 名之爲佛.
然此兩家, 皆會相歸性, 故同一宗.
All dharmas, beings or non-beings, are just of the truth itself. The truth is beyond any artificialities and its essense can be named by no words. That is to say, it is neither secular nor holy, neither related to the cause nor related to the effect, neither good nor evil, and yet it works in accordance with its essence, making up various things. For instance, it has an ability to get secularity or sainthood freely, also making a thing specially colored and shaped.

There are two groups to be distinguished concerning thinking way of the mind. The first one explains the mind as follows; Now, you speak and act. Just at the time, ,you desire something, you get anger, you are tender, or you are patient. In effect, you would get either good merit or bad reward, and receive either pleasure or suffering. The real state of your mind at each time is due to the buddhadhaatu, which proves that you are originally Buddha. Other than this mind, there is no Buddha anywhere. Getting aware that we have it by nature, we do not need to rouse the mind up and pursue any religious practice for attaining Buddhahood. As the way to attain Buddhahood is innate for the mind, it is impossible that we purify the mind by the same mind. As the evil also takes root in the mind, it is impossible that we cut off the evil mind by the same mind. Moka is exactly that we can behave in a state of nature beyond both cutting and purifying the mind. The mind itself is like the space by nature. It does neither increase nor decrease, and need no complements, nonetheless it works on a good timing in a suitable situation, cultivating the personality. In effect, the mind same as Buddha’s has marvelous and very effective mental functions, then naturally develops and realizes. Realization of these functions of the mind is the true awareness, the true practice, and the true enlightenment.

The second one interprets the mind as follows; A lot of saints have preached that all dharmas were like matters in dream. According to their teachings, any of momentary moving of the mind is in quietude by nature, and any of objects for our senses and conciousness is ^suunya by nature.The mind that is quiet and ^suunya has bright wisdom in its true meaning. This wisdom is the truth of your mind. Delusion or enlightenment, whichever you may submit to, your mind is wise in itself. It does neither arise by relying on any conditions, nor occur by depending on any circumstances. The letter Zhi, which means wisdom, is certainly the gate, from which all of marvellous matters appear. In the uncountable past times in sa.msaara, anybody in this world deluded himself. So, he accounts that his body-mind is himself, further getting desirous or angry to keep himself. If we meet with a good friend able to open the door of mystery of the mind and listen to him, we would be at once aware of this wisdom that is ^suunya. As the wisdom has no reflction and no shape, no one can differ the self from the others. Enlightening that all of phenomenal matters are ^suunya, we know the original modality of mind as that of no reflection. If any reflection occurs in your mind, be aware of it. As soon as you are aware of it, it would disappear at once. The crucial point of Buddhist practice is just in here. Therefore, just the state of no reflection of mind has to be aimed and attained, although lots of right conducts are recommended for Buddhists. Only in case that the knowledge of no-reflection is gotten, egoistic feelings of love and hate naturally decrease, compassion and wisdom naturally increase, evil karmas are naturally removed, and good karmas naturally develop. Already understanding that all of phenomeral matters have no substantial characteristics, one can practice as a true Buddhist with no efforts. that practice is of no purpose. When we remove all of delusions, even our lives in sa.msaara come to an end and the ultimate wisdom not only comes out but also works without limit. At this time, any of us becomes a Buddha. These two groups hold together that we should conform ourselves not to the phenomenal matters but to the very truth of mind that is essencial. So, we can deal with them as included in one school.

According to this argument, it is insisted on the standpoint of the ultimate Chan schools that the sole truth is exactly the true mind from that all of phenomenal matters come out. We can count two kinds of them. The first is the Chan in which the truth is regarded as buddhadhaatu every being has by nature. Here, the right way of life is considered to live in a state of nature as a son of Buddha. The second is the Chan in which the truth is asserted to be the wisdom of the mind with no reflection by nature. It is here said that any one should be aware of it to become a Buddha. Actually speaking, the former means Mazu’s lineage and the latter means Shenhui’s one. However, these two are included in the ultimate Chan, Ch’an of TathAgaata mentioned in the La^nkaavataara-suutra.

Anyway, Chan of Tathaagata defined as the ultimate Chan in the La^nkaavataara-suutra was linked with social schools of Chan through Zongmi’s classification and interpretation. Needless to say, it is not right that all of Buddhists after his era have accepted his idea. But, it seems to be sure that Zongmi’s idea urged Chan Buddhists of later generations to probethe Chan of Tathaagat. In effect, the problem that what the actual modality of Ch’an of Tathaagat was would have gotten an important issue to be solved by them. I believe that the concept of Chan of Patriarchs must have arisen from their coping with this issue.


2. Chan of Tathaagat and Chan of Patriarchs

As pointed out in the paper titled Soshizen-no-Gen-to-Ryu, Journal of Indian and Buddhist Studies, 10-1, by Professor Seizan Yanagida, the word Chan of Patriarchs appeared on the chapter of Xiangyan Zhixian ( 香嚴智閑. ?-898 ) of the Zutangji ( 祖堂集 ).

Here, Zhixian confesses his stage of mind to Yangshan Huiji (仰山慧寂. 803-887) ,” Last year, I was not yet poor. But, this year, I fell in poverty. Last year, I have no place to stand up an awl. But, this year, I do not have even an awl itself.” Then, Huiji criticizes it and says, ” My brother, you never know that there is Chan of Patriarchs, while just know Chan of Tathaagata.”

It would be certain that Chan of Patriarchs means higher stage of mind than Chan of Tathaagata in the dialogue above mentioned. Through this fact, we can guess that the concept of Chan of patriarchs must have widen to some degree in the Buddhist society in the later harf of nineth century, when Huiji has played an active part as a leading Chan Buddhist.

However, Mazu Daoyi ( 馬祖道一.709-788 ), grandfather in dharma for Huiji, considers that Chan of Tathaagata the ultimate modality of Chan, as known by the following preach.

The original is now realizing without doubt. So, we need neither meditation nor any other religious practices. It is just Chan of Tathaagata that no religious practices such as meditation can be chosen for training. ( The Mazu-yulu)

Adding to, he does not use the word of Chan of Patriarchs. Using it may have begun, I suppose, from the era of Chan Buddhists belonging to the generation of Mazu’s desciples, who learned the classification of Chans by Zongmi.

Then, what is the content of the concept of Chan of Patriarchs? About this issue, Doctor Yanagida says as follows, holding his ground on the Bodhidharma’s definition of the patriarch stated in the Baolinzhuan.

People who asserted to hoist Chan of Patriarchs named the traditional way of meditation Chan of Tathaagata, and called the true standpoint at which the very truth is alive in a daily life Chan of Patriarchs, considering the latter higher than the former in quality.

But, it would be doutful whether his summerization here shown is correct or not.

Generally speaking, both asking about Chan of Patriarchs and defining it directly seem to be rare in the history of Chan thought. So, the next one, which is described as an episode successive to above-introduced dialogue in the fifth volume of the Zongmentongyaoji (宗門統要集), is extremely valuable to clarify this issue.

香嚴後又呈一偈云, 吾有一機, 瞬目示伊. 若也不會, 別喚沙彌, 師云, 且喜師第會得祖師禪.

Afterward, Xiangyan presented a poem again ; As I have one function, I would show it to him with a blink. If he did not yet understand it, I should call him a ^sraama.nera to distinguish him from the other. The teacher said, “I am glad to know that you mastered Chan of Patriarchs.”

To this episode, two Chan Buddhists added some words respectively . That is to say, Xuanjue Xingyan (玄覺行信 ) commented, “Please answer , whether Chan of Tathaagata and Chan of Patriarchs should be devided or not.” On the other hand, Zhangqing Huileng(長慶慧稜. 854-932) simply commented, ” Throw off all of them in a moment.”

Through those episode and commentaries, we can recognize that Chan of Patriarchs was regarded as the Chan which gave importance to our usual activities. Further, we can also know that two kinds of Chans, the one named Chan of Tathaagata and the other named Chan of Patriarchs, are not necessarily classified from a viewpoint of estimating which is superior at least for a term in medieval China. Daihui Zonggao (大慧宗고 1089~1163 ), the founder of so-called Kanhuachan (看話禪 ), also stands in this row, because he talked about the original dharma as follows.

Not-halting at the present is named dhyaana. Not-attaching the future is named praj~naa. Not-taking the past is named j~naana. Taking such manners is also called Chan of Tathaagata, also called Chan of Patriarchs. When you can master and enlighten that in your daily life, dhyaana, praj~naa, and j~naana as your activities themselves are all similar to the space, having no limitation. ( Daihuiyulu, 2 )

It is clkear that he used those two words about Chan in the same meaning here.

As known from these matters, it seems to be a subtle issue how to distinguish Chan of Patriarchs from that of Tathaagata, and it is difficult to define Chan of patriarchs clearly. But, we would be able to indicate the next two points; (1) Chan of patriarchs is the concept that is applied to the basic character of Chan of the southern school from Bodhidharma. (2) the most important purpose of using it is to represent the modality of the truth itself alive in a daily life of everybody.

Anyway, the concept of Chan of Patriarchs must have been effective to remind people of the value of daily life. On this side, we should appreciate the advocation of it.


3. Bodhidharma’s practice of recompense and its succession

Then, did Ch’an of Patriarches success to Bodhidharma’s Ch’an properly? We do not think so. For us, it seems to be most problematic how it concerned itself with the practice of recompense, which Bodhidharma taught as one of crucial practices.

At first, we have to set eyes on what is the Ch’an advocated by Bodhidharma. Now-a-days, this question is generally answered that it is the theory of two ways to the enlightenment and four practices (二入四行論). We agree with this opinion in such a meaning as we can regard it as the thought attributed to him, though it is uncertain whether he preached it systematically or not as we see now.

Well, according to this theory, ” two ways ” means Meditational Way and Practical Ways. ” Four practices” means Practice of Recompense, Practice in Proportion to Conditions, Practice of Nothing to be desired, and Practice of Correspondence with Dharma, each of which is indicated as one of the practical way.

Then, what should be payed attention from a viewpoint of succession of Ch’an of Bodhidharma’s Chan? It would be, we believe, the first one of these practices. Because it seems to be the most fundamental. So, we would discuss it in the following part.

According to the text, The Practice of Recompense is interpreted as follows by Bodhidharma.

Chan Buddhists should consider like this, when he has sufferings; I have been not only bearing grudge and hate against lots of people but also wounding and killing them for uncountable kalpas in the past, repeating rebirth into various fields of existance one after another. Even if I am not guilty at present and conducting myself well, it must be due to my own evil karmans in the past that I have now sufferings. But, Neither persons nor gods can see it. Therefore, I have to be patient to accept all of those sufferings with sincerity and should not accuse anyone. A stra says that a saint laments for nothing, because he knows the deep root of sufferings. When one gets such awareness of sufferings, his mind accords with the truth and goes in Buddha’s world in spite of grudge and hate in himself.

As known through this passage, Bodhidharma recommends deciples to be deeply conscious of their own karmans and to be only patient of sufferings at present. He would consider, I guess, that one can not achieve Buddhahood, if not being conscious and patient of karmic sufferings. The Dhammapada, a famous suutra of Early Buddhism, says; a person who is brave-minded and patient of being abused, beaten, and punished by others in spite of innocence — him I call a Braahmana (gaathaa, 399 ). We may regard Bodhidharma as a Braahmana in this meaning.The Luoyangjialanji reports that when Bodhidharma came to China and saw the Yongningsi temple in Luoyang for the first time, he joined his palms in pront of the breast, chanting “nama.h” day by day. Is not his behavior like this related with the practice of recompense above mentioned? We believe that he could behave just simply as if he was a naive devotee from the country, because he was deeply conscious of his own karmans and endeavored sincerely after the practice of recompense. In my opinion, the practice of recompense is quite an indispensable element of Bodhidharma’s Chan.

By the way, generally speaking, the importance of consciousness of karmans is especially stressed in Pureland Buddhism. For example, Shandao (善導. 617-681) in China solely relyed upon Amita Buddha, grounded on the consciousness that we were all foolish and have repeated life and death as many as uncountable in the stream of sa.msaara ( cf. The Commentary to the Guanwuliangshou-jing, vol.1). Shinran (親鸞. 1173-1262), the founder of Jodoshinshu in Japan, confesses his own spiritual life as follows in his last years.

淨土眞宗に 歸すれども, 眞實の心はありがたし. 虛假不實のわガ身にて, 淸淨の心もさらになし. …….惡性さらにやめがたし, こころは蛇 のごとくなり. 修善も雜毒なるゆへに. 虛假の行とぞなづけたる. 無慙無愧のこの身にて, まことのこころはなけれども, 彌陀の廻向の御名なれば, 功德は十方にみちたまふ. 小慈小悲もなき身にて, 有情利益はおもふまじ. 如來の願船ぃまさずば, 苦海をぃかでかわたるべき. (「愚禿悲歎述懷」)

Although I have already believed in teachings of Pureland Buddhism, it is difficult for me to make my mind true. As I am of vanity and insincerity, I can not make my mind pure at all. —- It is hard for me to lieve from evil spirit. Therefore, my mind resembles to snake’s or scorpion’s. Even if trying to do something good, that results in something wrong. So, any of my acts is named practice of vanity. Because not ashamed of anything, I have no mind of sincerity.

However, the merit of chanting the name of Amita Buddha prevails everywhere of all of the worlds and reaches to every being, for the name of Amita Buddha is transfered to all of beings by Amita Buddha himself. As I have not even a little bit of maitrii and karu.naa, I never want to work for the sake of beings. Without Amita Buddha’s ship of vow, why can I cross the ocean of sufferings? (The Gutoku-hitanjukkai)

Bodhidharma would probably want to root the consciousness of karmans as comparable to these thoughts on the ground of Ch’an Buddhism.

Then, did the Ch’an Buddhists, who hold their own as the successors of Ch’an of Patriarches, have practiced the recompense Bodhidharma advocated? Did they have valued it at least? To my regret, I can hardly find out such Ch’an Buddhists. But, there is an exeptional one as far as I know. His name is Yongjiaxuanjue(永嘉玄覺. 675-713).

According to the Jingdechuandenglu, Xuanjue visited the sixth patriarch Huineng as a result of recommendation by Tiantai scholar Xuanlang, after learning the teachings of the Tiantai school. It is reported that they met and talked with each other as follows.

初到振錫携甁 , 繞祖三. 祖曰, 夫沙門者, 具三千威儀, 八方細行. 大德, 自何方而來, 生大我慢. 師曰, 生死事大, 無常迅速. 祖曰, 何不體取無生, 了無速乎. 曰, 體卽無生, 了本無速. 祖曰, 如是如是.
時大衆無不愕然. 師方具威儀參禮, 須臾告辭. 祖曰, 返太速乎. 師曰, 本自非動, 豈有速那. 祖曰, 誰知非動. 曰, 仁者自生分別. 祖曰, 汝甚得無生之意. 曰, 無生豈有意耶. 祖曰, 無意, 誰當分別. 曰, 分別亦非意. 祖嘆曰, 善哉善哉. 少留一宿. 時謂一宿覺矣.
When Xuanjue visited the patriarch, he walked around the patriarch three times, while ringing a khakkhara and holding a pot for a travel. The patriarch asked; The Buddhist should keep three thousands of behaviors and eighty thousands of minute actions based on the precepts. An honorable, where are you from and why are you arrogant ? Xuanjue replied; The issue of life and death is most crucial, and imparmanent matters come to me rapidly. The patriarch asked again; If so, why don’t you realize non-arising of anything and attain to non-rapidity of time? He replied; Realizing is just non-arising, and Attaining is originally non-rapidity. The patriarch agreed; That’s right.

Hearing the dialogue like this, many of Ch’an Buddhists around them were all surprized. then, Xuan jue greeted to the patriarch with right manners and was about to go out at once. The patriarch said; You quit very rapidly, don’t you? Xuanjue replied; Everything is originally beyond moving. So, rapidity itself does not exist. The patriarch asked; Who knows not-moving? He replied; You have just discriminated between moving and not-moving without perception. The patriarch said; You do not seem to have already got the meaning of non-arising. He asked; What meaning does non-arising have? The patriarch said; It has no meaning, of course. However, who can discriminate non-meaning from meaning? He replied; Discrimination itself is also beyond meaning. The patriarch praised him; Quite fine! Please stay here one night.

That is the reason why people in those days called him “one night stayer Jue”.

Here, we can understand that Xuanjue made up his theoretical standpoint on the philosophy of ^suunyataa. But, his thought is neither idealistic nor nihilistic. There is a sentense in the Poem of Enlightenment, one of his works, which insists that even attaining enlightenment of ^suunyataa, if one denied the reason of cause and effect, he would bring upon unfortunate matters one after another. As proved by this passage, He has thoroughly tried to hold his ground on the real world in the link of cause and effect and rejected conceptualization of enlightenment of ^suunyataa. It is quite reasonable that Dogen (道元. 1200-53), the founder of Sotozen in Japan, highly estimated Xuanjue’s thought of cause and effect in a fascicle named Jinshin-inga of the Shobogenzo of 12 volumes in his late years.

Then, what is the base of such thought by Xuanjue? In conclusion, we think that it would be his correct acceptance of Bodhidharma’s practice of recompense.

We find out the following passage in succession to the description of Ch’an tradition in India and China in the same work above mentioned.

末法惡時世, 衆生福薄難調制. 去聖遠兮邪見深, 魔强法弱多恐害, 聞說如來頓敎門, 恨不滅除令瓦碎 . 作在心殃在身, 不須怨訴更尤人. 欲得不招無間業, 莫謗如來正法輪
In the evil age of dharmas declined, all beings have little good merits and are difficult to be rightly controled. As they are extremely far from the time of saints, they have false views deeply rooted. Because devils are strong, while right dharmas weaken, there occur many of dreadful things. Although Buddha’s teachings of direct path to promptly realize enlightenment are preached, to my regret, they have no power to break up to the end. On my reflection, any of our actions are caused by our own minds, any of bad matters we meet are due to our own bodies. Therefore, we should neither bear grudge against anyone nor accuse anybody. If not want to make karmans to the hell, we should never blame Buddha’s teachings of right dharmas.

As clearly known from this passage, deploring miserable circumstances of the age, Xuanjue considers that everyone has to receive all of deeds related to himself on his own responsibility. Here is a reason why we call him a true successor of Bodhidharma, though he stayed only for one night under the sixth patriarch Huineng.

Of course, it is problematic to interpret Xuanjue’s standpoint only by linking with Bodhidharma. We have to pay attention to the following two points at least concerning the process of formation of his thought of karmans.

The first is the life in his youth. According to the Zutangji, when he was young, he lived at the Kaiyuansi temple and took care of his mother and elder sister, incuring great blame. In those days, it would be a sort of necessity for him to refrect his own karmans and select the best behavior day by day.

The second is that he has mastered Tiantai’s doctrine, as well acknowledged through the Yongjiaji. Then, What work of the Tiantai school is the most relative with Xuanjue’s thought of recompense? I believe it is the Anlexingyi by Huisi(慧思. 515-577), for he discusses on three kinds of endurances and states about the meaning of endurance to sattvas, the most intimate one among those three, as follows.

衆生忍者, 有三種意. 第一意者, 菩薩受他打罵輕辱毁咨 , 是時應忍而不還報, 應作是觀. 由我有身, 令來打罵. 譬如人的, 然後箭中. 我若無身, 誰來打者. 我今當動修習空觀. 空觀若成, 無有人能打殺我者. 若被罵時, 正念思惟, 而此罵聲隨開隨滅, 前後不俱. 審諦觀察, 亦無生滅. 如空中響, 誰罵誰受. 音聲不來入耳, 耳不往取聲. 如此觀已, 都無瞋喜.
There are three meanings on the endurance to sattvas. The first meaning is that a Bodhisattva entirely endures and never revenges to anybody when beaten and blamed, observing like this; Because I have a body, I am beaten and blamed by others. It is as if an arrow hits a mark because of a mark existing. If I have no body, who comes to and beats me? I must practice the observation of ^suunyataa in meditation. If it realizes, anyone can not beat and kill me. When blamed by others, a Bodhisattva rightly considers like this; One voice of blaming is now appearing, but it would disappear at the next moment. One voice and the next never exist at the same time. If observing it furthermore, the voice itself neither appears nor disappears. It is alike sound in the sky. Who blames and who is blamed? The voice never comes to any ears, while the ears never catch any voice. When already observing like this, there is neither anger nor delight.

Huisi’s thought here quated pets stress on realization of merit ofendurance through the practice of observation of ^suunyataa Therefore, it is different in quality from Bodhidharma and Xuanjue’s which has a direction to deepening the consciousness of karmans. However, these three are almost same in an aspect of endurance with no revenge. Further, it has a sinilarity with Bodhidharma’s the third and fourth practices in some respects, though I could not explain them in detail. We believe that Xuanjue accepted Bodhidharma’s practice of recompense under the influence of Huisi’s thought of endurances.


After the transmission of the La.nkaavataara-suutra to China in the fifth century, there occured the formation ofso-called Ch’an Buddhism in which Bodhidharma was regarded as the first patriarch in China , supported by rising of interest in what Ch’an was. Then, by the ninth century, a group of Ch’an Buddhists belonging to Huineng’s Nanzong lineage began to advocate Ch’an of Patriarches as the ultimate Ch’an in Buddhism and lots of other Ch’an Buddhists have followed them. However, exept Xuanjue, they do not seem to properly success to Buddhism that Bodhidharma tried to plant in the soil of China. This point is probably shown most clearly, I am sure, on the issue of acceptance of practice of recompense above discussed.

That is to say, the practice of recompense Bodhidharma attached impotance to has been made light of or neglected in tradition of Ch’an Buddhism in general. Changing words, Bodhidharma has not been rightly recognized as the founder of Ch’an Buddhism in spite of being called such.

But, I believe that the practice of recompense is extremely significant, when we consider Ch’an from a practical poit of view. It should not be admited to throw away the practice of recompense in light of original ground of Mahaayaana Buddhism or soteriological standpoint of the religion itself. Is it a wrong opinion that Ch’an Buddhism would be a school of Mahaayaana Buddhism and have power to save all of beings, only in case that the practice of recompense is an indispensable element of it ?

Anyway, it seems to be sure at least that we have to reconsider about the meaning of the practice of recompense Bodhidharma advocated at the beginning of Ch’an tradition, especially when we hope to revive Ch’an Buddhism as an effective religion in the modern world.

The Tun-huang Text of the Platform Suutra : Reflection on and Prospect of Its Study

Former Professor at the Academy of Korean Studies
Translated by Jong-myung Kim 2) 
The Tun-huang Text of the Platform Suutra : Reflection on and Prospect of Its Study  

Yabuki Keiki(1879-1939) was the forerunner in the study of the Tun-huang version of the Platform Suutra (hereafter, PS) of the Sixth Patriarch (Stein No. 5475). In 1930 Yabuki compiled and published Reverberations of Wailing Sand (Meisha yoin) . In it he included the photolithographed Tun-huang text of the PS, an important part of Buddhist sources excavated from the Tun-huang area under the aegis of Keimeikai (Association of Enlightenment), thus initiating a substantial research on the work. Before that year, Yabuki already introduced the Tun-huang text to Japan which was included in volume 48 of the Taish? shinshuu daiz?gy? (hereafter, T), the Japanese edition of Chinese translation of Buddhist literature. However, the textual analysis of the PS was initiated in the year of 1930. Thereafter, studies of the provenance of the text and its thought have flourished, producing many works including “Issues of the Tun-huang Version of the PS of the Sixth Patriarch” (Dank? rokuso danky? no dai mondai) by Yanagida Seijan in 1980  3) . Scholarly accomplishments of the subject are as follows:

(1) Suzuki T. Daisetz and Kuda Rendar?, The Platform Suutra of the Sixth Patriarch Excavated from the Tun-huang Area (Tonk? shutsudo rokuso danky?) (Tokyo: Morie shoten, 1934);

(2) Yi N?nghwa, A Copy of the Tun-huang Text of the PS. How to Mark Punctuations to the Copy (Tonhwang pon sabon T’an’gy?ng. T’an’gy?ng tugy?l) (Keij? [Seoul]: K?mgyesanbang kyogan, n.d.);

(3) Ui Hakuju, “A Study of the PS” (Dank? g?), in the Second Volume of a Study of Zen History (Dai ni Zens?shi kenkyuu) (Tokyo: Iwanami shoten, 1941);

(4) Wing-tsit Chan, The Platform Scripture, the Basic Classic of Zen Buddhism (New York: St. John University Press, 1963);

(5) Philip B. Yampolsky, tr. with notes, The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch, the Text of Tun-Huang Manuscript (New York & London: Columbia University Press, 1967);

(6) Yanagida Seijan, “The PS of the Sixth Patriarch” (Rokuso danky?), in the Recorded Sayings of Zen (Zengoroku) (Tokyo: Tokyo chuu? g?ronsha, 1974), pp. 93-179;

(7) Komazawadai Zens?shi kenkyukai, A Study of Hui-neng (En? kenkyu) (Tokyo: Taishuukan shoten, 1978).

Among these works, Yanagida emphasized the importance of A Study of Hui-neng in the study of the PS while saying, “A rare work but the worst text on the PS came to be re-illuminated in this work,”4)  thus indicating that a new area was begun in the history of research on the PS.

1.2. Yanagida views the publication of the A History of Hui-neng in 1978 as the point of departure for the latter period in the history of research on the PS. Then, what other elements can be considered for the periodization of the research history of the PS? One such element is the socio-economic background to the composition of the text. It is also necessary for us to reexamine conventional scholarship on the text because traditional research was primarily based on the K?sh?ji edition of the PS, which was different from the Tun-huang text in the context and logic. In addition, we need to broaden our scholarly horizon through an extensive survey of diverse fields relevant to the text. Unfortunately, since the publication of A Study of Hui-neng, only a few serious studies of the subject have been done. Two such works published after A Study of Hui-neng are: Kuo P’eng, Collation and Interpretation of the PS (T’an ching chiao shih) (Peijing: Chung-hua Shu-chu, 1983); and S?ngch’?l, ed. and tr., The Tun-huang Version of the PS (Tonhwang pon Tan’gy?ng) (Hapch’?n [Korea]: Haeinsa Changgy?nggak, 1987). However, these two works do not meet the standard as representatives of works published after 1978. It was not until 1987 that a new age opened in the research history of the PS. Yang Tseng-wen, Head Professor of the Buddhist Studies program of the Chinese Institute of Social Sciences, reported that two more important works in relation to the PS were preserved in the Tun-huang Museum. One work is another Tun-huang edition of the PS known as Supreme Great Vehicle Platform Suutra of the Southern School Which Advocated Sudden Teachings (Nan-tsung tun-chiao chui-shang ta-ch’eng t’an ching, hereafter, SGVPS), and the other is Treatise of Promoting the Southern School of Bodhidharma (P’u-t’i ta-mo Nan-tsung ting shih-fei lun, hereafter TPSCB). Yang also stated that comparative research between the SGVPS and the S. 5475 PS, and between the TPSCB and the revised text by Hu Shih was in progress. 5) Later, Yang published his research achievement of this subject as a book, in which Yang wrote an epoch-making chapter for the study of the PS. Japanese scholarship had dominated the scholarly field of the subject before the publication of Yang’s work. Therefore, it is said that Yang’s work also offered a momentum for Chinese scholarship to take an initiative in that field in lieu of the Japanese counterpart.

What will be the prospect of the future research on the PS? It is not an easy question to be answered. However, it is certain that the PS was also a historical product. Nevertheless, few studies examined the text from the historical perspective. Therefore, we first and foremost need to reexamine the conventional scholarship concerning the work which neglected the historical background to the composition of the PS.

I already presented a paper on a Tun-huwang text of the PS in 1966, when the 17th conference on Indology and Buddhist Studies was held at K?yashan University in Japan, sponsored by the Association of Indology and Buddhist Studies.  6)  Since then, my scholarly concern with the subject has continued, regretfully without fruitful result. In the following, I will discuss some points at issue with a critical viewpoint which I have faced through my perusal of works on the PS by my fellow scholars, followed by an examination of the prospect of the future research on the subject.

2.1. The First issue is concerned with the meaning of the title words Platform Suutra (T’an Ching). The complete title of the PS has two versions. One is Southern Doctrine for Seeing the Nature and Becoming a Buddha through Instant Awakening: The Platform Suutra, Definitive and Doubtless Record of Dharma Jewel, Preached by the Sixth Patriarch Hui-neng, the Great Master, in Mount Ch’ao-ch’i (Ch’ao-ch’i shan ti Liu-tsu Hui-neng ta-shih shuo chien-hsing tun-chiao chih liao ch’eng-fo chu-ting wu-i fa-pao chi t’an ching), which is presumed to have been compiled by a monk named Hui-hsin, of whom nothing is known. 7) The other is Southern School Sudden Doctrine, Supreme Mah?y?na Great Perfection of Wisdom: The Platform Sutra preached by the Sixth Patriarch Hui-neng at the Ta-fan Temple in Shao-chou, one roll, recorded by the spreader of the Dharma, the disciple Fa-hai, who at the same time received the Precepts of Formlessness (Nan-tsung tun-chiao tsui-shang ta-ch’eng Mo-ho-pan-jo po-lo-mi ching: Liu-tsu ta-shih yu Shao-chou Ta-fan ssu shih-fa t’an ching), which is the title of the extant Tun-huang edition of the PS.

Therefore, we can recognize that the title of the PS was long in the initial period of its compilation and as time passed by, its title became shorter. This is the same case with the ?uura^ngama Suutra (Chn. Leng-yen ching), whose complete title is Ta fo-ting ju-lai mi-yin hsiu-cheng liao-i chu p’u-sa wan-hsing shou leng-yen ching. Over the course of time, its complete title was shortened to the Leng-yen ching.

As for the meaning of the term t’an ching, scholars maintained different views of the letter t’an. Hu Shih interpreted it into d?na, or almsgiving of goods or the doctrine with resultant benefits, in d?nap?ramit? (perfection of almsgiving).  8)  Suzuki viewed it as an earthen platform. 9)  However, scholars agreed that the letter ching stands for a Buddhist suutra. Yanagida even said, “The fact that Chinese monks identified recorded sayings of patriarchs with Buddhist suutras refers to that they equated the patriarchs with the Buddha in spiritual matters, thus revealing a special feature of Zen Buddhism.”10) Long before Yanagida, in his “Eulogy on the PS” (T’an ching tsan), Ch’i-sung (1007-1072), the Great Master Ming-chiao, of Northern Sung (960-1126) already said,

“What is called [T’an] ching was named so by the dharma descendants of the Sixth Patriarch in honor of his teaching, although it was contrary to the patriarch’s original intention. Following that ancient tradition, I dare not to change its meaning.” 11) 

However, we may say that Ch’i-sung’s statement is not convincing. This is because the equation of Hui-neng’s teaching with that of the Buddha is unacceptable in terms of common sense. If so, can we say that people of later generations braved their ignorance and absurdity? It seems not so. The title of the PS recorded at the end of the text is Southern School Sudden Doctrine Platform Sutra of the Supreme Mah?y?na Vehicle, one roll (Nan-tsung tun -chiao chui-shang ta-ch’eng t’an ching-fa i chuan). The term ching-fa (“scriptural teaching”) in this title is a definitive clue to solving this riddle. This title coincides with the title at the beginning of the PS preserved in the Tun-huang Museum (Nan-tsung tun-chiao chui-shang ta-ch’eng t’an ching) thus suggesting that the original title at the beginning of the Tun-huang text must have been the same. In addition, the term ching-fa refers to Hui-neng’s teaching, as was pointed out by Suzuki and Kuda in their joint work.12) However, the ching-fa was changed to Fo-ching (“Buddhist Scripture”) in the K?sh?ji edition. 13) It is a common idea among scholars who are conversant with Buddhist terminology in translated works that ching-fa and Fo-ching are different terms. In Buddhist texts translated into classical Chinese, ching means suutra, while the term ching-fa or simply ching was chosen to stand for the Sanskrit term dharmapary?ya or pary?ya, 14)  the doctrines of the Buddha regarded as the door to enlightenment. Although the letter ching with the meaning of suutra and the word ching as the abbreviation of ching-fa are expressed by the same Chinese character, their definitions are different. Therefore, the ching-fa in “ching-fa of Mah?y?na platform (ta-ch’eng t’an)” or the ching in “ching of lecture platform (shih-fa t’an)” is the translation of the Sanskrit term dharmapary?ya into Chinese and refers to the teaching of Hui-neng. It is sure that the author of the PS did not regard ching-fa or ching as suutra, but as Hui-neng’s teaching. The fact that the Platform Suutra employed many words used in doctrinal teachings also supports this argument. However, the K?sh?ji edition and the “Eulogy on the PS” interpreted ching-fa or ching as suutra and conventional scholarship has uncritically followed suit.

2.2. The term kuan-tien in the biography of Hui-neng is important for identifying the dating of the PS. In his “A Study of the PS” (Danky? g?), Ui Hakuju questioned about the meaning of the term while saying, “Kuan-tien was also called k’o-tien in the works composed after the Te-i edition of the PS. However, its meaning is not clear. Does it refer to a lodging house or an official residence?” 15)  Scholars also interpreted it as a government store,  16)   or the lodging house for officials, 17)  or an inn (lu-lung), 18)  or a lodging house run by the government, all of which were not supported by solid textual evidence.

The textual origin of kuan-tien is the Old history of T’ang (Chiu T’ang-shu), which says,

“In the ninth month of 846, by royal edict chio-ch’u (breweries run by the government) were established in Counties and Prefectures of eight Provinces. In addition, kuan-tiens were also set up and sold wine …” (chuan 49, “Shih-huo chih”).

According to this record, a kuan-tien signifies a liquor store monopolized by the provincial government. It is also presumed that the person who purchased firewood from Hui-neng before he was ordained was an official who worked for a kuan-tien.

From the record of kuan-tien in the Old History of T’ang, we can get important information concerning the dating of the PS. Akira Fujieda, Professor of the Research Institute for Humanistic Studies, Kyoto University, and the leading expert on Tun-huang calligraphy, argued that the PS was composed during the period between 830 and 860. 19)  However, its dating should be changed to the period between 846 and 860.

2.2.2. The Tun-huang text of the PS was closely associated with the lineage of Shen-hui (670-762) during the era when Wu-chen was active, which is mentioned at the end of the text as appendix (Suzuki and Kuda, sec. 56-57). Their close relationship can also be proved from comparison between the Tun-huang text of the PS and the Tun-huang edition of the Songs of Wisdom Which are Sudden and Unproduced (Tun-wu wu-sheng pan-lo sung, hereafter, SWSU), 20) an alternative title of the Record of Manifestation of Themes by Great Master Ho-tse (Ho-tse Ta-shih [Shen-hui] Hsien-tsung chi). 21) 



Wu-chen resides at the Fa-hsing Temple at Mount Ts’ao-ch’i in Ling-nan, and as of now he is transmitting this Dharma. When [in the future] this Dharma is to be handed down, it must be attained by a man of superior wisdom, one with a mind of faith in the Buddha-dharma, and one who embraces the great compassion. Such a person must be qualified to possess this Sutra, to make it a mark of the transmission, and to see that in this day it is not cut off. This monk [Fa-hai] was originally a native of Ch’ü-chiang District in


Meritorious virtue and wisdom, both of which are glorified, were transmitted generation after generation and in this day they are not cut off.

After the Tath?gata entered Nirv??a, the teaching of the Dharma flowed to the Eastern Land. Among all, non-abiding was transmitted; even our minds do not abide. This true Bodhisattva spoke the true doctrine and practiced [in accord with] the real parables.

Since the death of the World-Honored One, twenty eight patriarchs of India transmitted the mind of non-abiding in common and they all explicated the knowledge and view of the Tath?gata…Bodhisattvas’ great compassion was transmitted without cessation. The purport of the teachings is like this…Its meaning is to awaken people (te-jen) (Does this only indicate the mutual

transmission of robe and Dharma?)

To the one who vows to save all, practices continuously, does not retrogress in the face of disaster, perseveres under any suffering, and thus possesses the deepest of blessings and virtue, to such a man should this Dharma be handed down. If a person’s talents are inadequate and his capacities do

not suffice, he must seek this Dharma. This Platform Sutra mustnot be haphazardly assigned to a person who betrays the precepts and has no virtue.

Eventually, he could establish [the dharma].

Finally, do not transmit the dharma haphazardly [to a person who betrays the precepts and has no virtue.]

The above-cited passages of the PS manifest that the PS cited terms and phrases from the SWSU, thus emphasizing that Wu-chen transmitted the PS in the right way, and that the orthodox teaching should be continued without cessation.

As for the term ho-shang (monk) in the phrase “Ho-shang was originally a native of Ch’u-chiang District “scholars have argued that he was Hui-neng, 22)  or Fa-hai.23)    However, it is assured from the context of the PS that the ho-shang was Wu-chen. The reason why the monk’s identity was mistaken was because the joint work by Suzuki and Kuda, the first of the revised and annotated texts of the PS, unreasonably divided sections of 55 to 57 into three, thus separating section 56 from other parts.

2.3.0. The essential ideas of the PS are of two kinds: (1) no-thought (wu-nien), which is found in sections 16 and 17 in the Suzuki and Kuda’s joint work; and (2) thirty-six confrontations of activity (san-shih liu tui fa), the practical aspect of no-thought, which appears in section 56 of the same work.

2.3.1. Limited space does not allow us to conduct an in-depth analysis of the contents of no-thought. However, for convenience, let’s compare parts relevant to the concept of no-thought between the Tun-huang text of the PS and the K?sh?ji edition of it.

Tun-hung Text

K?sh?ji Edition

Good friends, in the Dharma there is no sudden or gradual, but among people some are keen and others dull. The deluded recommend the gradual method, the enlightened practice the sudden teaching. To understand the original mind of your-self is to see into your own original nature. Once enlightened, there is from the outset no distinction between these two methods. [Those who are not enlightened will for long kalpas be caught in the cycle of transmigration.] Good friends, in the orthodox teaching there is originally no sudden or gradual. There is sharp or dull in human nature itself. The deluded attains enlightenment gradually, and the enlightened practice the sudden teaching. To know his original mind by himself is to see into his original nature by himself. There is no distinction between these two methods.

[This is why the pseudonyms of sudden and gradual are established.]

Good friends, in this teaching of mine, from ancient times up to the present, all have set up no-thought as the main doctrine, non-form as the substance, and non-abiding as the basis. Non-form is to be separated from form even when associated with form. No-thought is not

to think even when involved in thought.

Non-abiding is the original nature of man.

Successive thoughts do not stop; prior thoughts, present thoughts, and future thoughts follow one after the other without cessation. [If one instant of thought is cut off, the Dharma body separates from the physical body, and in the midst of successive thoughts there will be no place for attachment to anything.]

Good friends, in this teaching of mine, from ancient times up to the present, the form of no-thought, which is what is set up first, is to be separated from form even when associated with form. No-thought is not to think even when involved in thought. Non-abiding is the original nature of man. When you distinguish good from evil, beauty from ugliness, and grudge from affection, and conflict, slander, deceive, and fight in words, do neither think of doing harm others and nor think of prior objects in successive thoughts.

If prior thoughts, present thoughts, and future thoughts follow one after the other without cessation, then you are fettered.

If one instant of thought clings, then successive thoughts do not cling, then you are fettered. Therefore, non-abiding is made the basis. Good friends, being outwardly separated from all forms, this is non-form. When you are separated from form, the substance of your nature is pure. Therefore, non-form is made the substance.
If successive thoughts do not cling to all dharmas, then you are free.

Therefore, non-abiding is made basis. Good friends, being outwardly separated from all forms, this is non-form.

When you are separated from form, the substance of dharmas is pure.

Therefore, non-form is made the substance.

To be unstained in all environments is called no-thought. If on the basis of your own thoughts you separate from environment, then, in regard to things, thoughts are not produced. If you stop thinking of the myriad things, and cast aside all thoughts, as soon as one instant of thought is cut off, you will be reborn in In order for mind to be unstained in all environments is called no-thought.

If on the basis of your own thoughts you always separate from environment, in regard to things, thoughts are not produced. If you stop thinking of the myriad things, and cast aside all thoughts, as soon as one instant of thought is cut

Tun-huang Text

K?sh?ji Edition

another realm. Students, take care! Don’t rest in objective things and the subject mind. If you do so, it will be bad enough that you yourself are in error, yet how much worse that you encourage others in their mistakes. The deluded man, however, does not himself see and slanders the teachings of the sutras.

Therefore, no-thought is established as a doctrine. Man in his delusion has thoughts in relation to his environment.

Heterodox ideas stemming from these thoughts arise, and passions and false views are produced from them.

off, after death, you will enjoy your life in another realm. Students, think of this.

Don’t rest in objective things and the subject mind. If you do so, it will be bad enough that you yourself are in error, yet how much worse that you encourage to others. Man in his delusion does not see and slanders Buddhist scriptures.

Because of this, no-thought is established as a doctrine.

[Good friends, what is it that no-thought is established as a doctrine? Only in relation to environment, seeing into nature is explained in words.

The deluded has thoughts in relation to his environment. Heterodox ideas stemming from these thoughts arise, and passions and false views are produced from them.

[Self-nature is originally not attached to any single dharma. Attachments produce the false duality of weal and woe, which is none other than passions and perverted views.]

However, this teaching has established no-thought as a doctrine. [Men of the world, separate yourselves from views; do not activate thoughts. If there were no thinking, then no-thought would have no place to exist.] ‘No’ is ‘no’ of what?

‘Thought’ means ‘thinking’ of what? ‘No’ is the separation from the dualism that produces the passions.

Therefore, this teaching has established no-thought as a doctrine.

[Good friends, no-thought means no discursive thought. Thoughts stand for perverted views. ‘No’ refers to non-duality and the mind of no passions.

[Thought means to think of the original nature of suchness.]

Suchness is the substance of thoughts; thoughts are the function of suchness.

Suchness is none other than the essence of thoughts; and thoughts are none other than the function of suchness.

[What gives rise to thoughts is not your eyes, ears, nose, and tongue, but your self-nature of suchness. Because your self-nature of suchness gives rise to thoughts, there is no eyes, ears, form, and sound in suchness. Good friends, think of this instantly.]

If you give rise to thoughts from your self-nature, then, although you see, hear, perceive, and know, you are not stained by the manifold environments, and are always free.

If you give rise to thoughts from your self-nature of suchness, although your six sense-bases see, hear, perceive, and know, you are not stained by the manifold environments, and your self-nature is always free. The ideas of no-thought and non-abiding in the Tun-huang text of the PS refer to getting rid of false views of the nature of existence in concrete reality. The Tun-huang text explicates no-thought and non-abiding as follows:

What is called non-abiding means that the original nature of man does not exist in successive thoughts. Prior thoughts and future thoughts follow one after the other without cessation. If one instant of thought is cut off, the dharma body separates from the physical body.

This passage means that we should observe successive thoughts intuitively without being obstructed to a temporal sequence. It also signifies that truth, the origin of existence, is inseparable from the physical body, the foundation of existence. The Tun-huang text also said,

In the midst of successive thoughts there will be no place for attachment to anything. If one instant of thought clings, then successive thoughts cling; this is known as being fettered. If in all things successive thoughts do not cling, then you are unfettered.

According to this passage, the Tun-huang text emphasizes that a practitioner should not be attached even to one instant of thought. This position is also supported by the subsequent passage:

If, on the basis of your own thoughts, you separate from environment, then, with regard to things, thoughts are not produced. If you stop thinking of the myriad of things, and cast aside all thoughts, as soon as one instant of thought is cut off, you will be reborn into another realm.

Therefore, we can say that the Tun-huang text of the PS is aimed at clarifying the true feature of all existence, which cannot be recognized by the ordinary dualistic way of thinking, based on one’s subjective interpretation of all things. The two sentences, “On the basis of your own thoughts you separate from environment,” and, “in regard to things thoughts are not deluded,” do not mean that deluded thoughts actually exist, but that one erroneously assumes the nature of existence, thus producing discursive thoughts.

However, unlike the Tun-huang text, the K?sh?ji edition states the cutting off of thoughts from the negative viewpoint: it equates successive thoughts with subjective attachment, interpreting successive thoughts only from the psychological perspective without an ontological premise.

The K?sh?ji edition also touched up its contents: it added “good and evil, beauty and ugliness, etc., in the secular world…[They] do not think of prior objects” which is absent in the Tun-huang text; and it deleted. “Prior thoughts and future thoughts follow one after the other without cessation…This means that the dharma body is separate from the physical body,” which exists in the Tun-huang text. Moreover, the K?sh?ji edition states, “If prior thoughts, present thoughts, and future thoughts follow one after the other without cessation, it is known as being attached…. In regard to things, mind is not produced,” which is contrary to the statement of the Tun-huang text.

The terms, “without cessation” (pu-tuan) and “no-abiding” (wu-chu) appear to be synonyms in the Tun-huang text, whereas they are considered antonyms in the K?sh?ji edition. This produces a great disparity in interpretation of the issue of meditation (sam?dhi) and wisdom (praj~n?) between the two editions of the PS. In the Tun-huang text, it is also said :

Suchness is the essence of thoughts and thoughts are the function of suchness. If you give rise to thoughts from your self-nature, then, although you see, hear, perceive, and know, you are not stained by the manifold environments, and are always free.

This passage signifies that suchness and thoughts are the same from the ontological aspect. In addition, the relationship between the subject and object of thoughts is explained by the theory of essence and function. Therefore, the Tun-huang text does not regard suchness as a substantial entity, but as the state where thoughts are cut off. However, this is not the case with the K?sh?ji edition, in which successive thoughts are viewed as attachments to be cleared away. It posits that the self-nature of suchness is separable from the six sense bases (the physical constituents of successive thoughts). Therefore, the K?sh?ji edition admits the existence of unrestricted freedom, but it does not view suchness and thoughts in terms of essence and function of the same thing. Instead, it interprets them as different entities that exist in mutual dependence. This means that the K?sh?ji edition is based on the theory of dependent origination, which Mah?y?na scholiasts viewed as an inferior teaching to the theory of nature origination.

In the Tun-huang text, meditation is not different from wisdom. They each signify the true feature of existence, which stands for the non-duality between the dharma body and the physical body, between sa?s?ra (production and extinction) and suchness, and between defilements and enlightenment. However, the K?sh?ji edition represents a theoretical discrepancy with regard to the issue of the non-duality of meditation and wisdom. I believe this was the point that Nan-yang Hui-chung (?-775) and Chinul (1158-1210) criticized.24)  However, we are left without knowing whether the corrections in the K?sh?ji edition were planned in advance expecting a result. I believe that the touch-ups in the K?sh?ji edition were not a result from a response to the doctrinal teachings, but that of literary rhetoric, thus changing the particular grammatical style of the Tun-huang text without textual grounds. For example, shih tzu pen-hsin (“to know one’s original mind”) was changed to tzu shih pen-shih (“to know original mind by oneself”). However, the term tzu in the examples of shih tzu, chien tzu, ch’eng tzu, chang tzu, ling tzu, and wo tzu (all of which appear in the Tun-huang text), does not have the meaning of “by oneself” or “of self,” but has only the nuance of “such.” If we revert these terms to tzu shih, tzu chien, etc., the term tzu functions as an adverb, thus changing the original meaning of these essential doctrines. Moreover, unlike in the K?sh?ji edition, the term tzu-hsing in the Tun-huang edition does not mean “self-nature,” but rather “from the nature” in most cases. If we interpret chen-lu tzu-hsing in terms of “the logical geography of the knowledge which we already possess,”25) we may be fallacious with regard to its real purpose. Hui-neng’s poem reads :

Bodhi originally has no tree,

The mirror also has no stand.

Buddha-nature is always clean and pure.

Where is there room for dust?


However, the K?sh?ji edition changed the “Buddha-nature is always clean and pure” in this poem to “originally there is not one thing.” Wasn’t this change caused by the “logical geography” employed in the K?sh?ji edition?

As for this, a Korean monk named S?kch?n (1870-1948) criticized as follows,

Tzu-shih Fo-hsing ch’ang ch’ing-ching (“from this Buddha-nature is always clear and clean”) in the Tun-huang text of the PS was changed to pen-lai wu i-wu (“there was originally not a single thing”) [in the K?sh?ji edition.] 26)

In the literary sense, Fo-hsing ch’ang ch’ing-ching appears to be a more refined expression than pen-lai wu i-wu. However, this change can be likened to a person who was toppled into the mud while enjoying oneself on top of a lotus flower. Therefore, we can say that the K?sh?ji edition took literary beauty at the sacrifice of religious truth, making S?kch?n’s criticism convincing. It was not only the Zen Buddhist school that was interested in discussing the issue of meditation and wisdom. This issue also attracted concern from Western philosophers, in particular, from Existentialists who discussed it by the concepts of “existence and reason”. Pak Chong-hong (1903-1976), whose penname was Y?ram, an eminent Korean philosopher and former professor of Seoul National University, once met Karl Jaspers (1883-1973) in Basel, Switzerland, on a certain summer day in 1956, and asked him the following question,

As an existentialist, you have argued that reason is innate in existence and it still exists even after the destruction of the existence. How could you say so? It is sure that if there is no existence, there will be no reason. How could you argue that reason can exist alone?…For example, if a mother who bears her child on her back is fallen to the ground, can the child on her back be safe?…If reason can radiate its own color without depending on others, why do you need to explicate the inseparable relationship between experience and reason? 27) 

After listening to this question, Jaspers kept in silence for a long time and finally responded to Y?ram by saying,

“Do you know about Asian Buddhism? The color of wisdom addressed in Buddhism is identical to that of the reason at issue.”28)

Later, it is said that Y?ram thought that Jaspers was fallen into the fallacy of Ipse Dixit, or the Argument from Authority (Argumentum ad Verecundiam), in which one cites a person whom his opponent respects to win the opponent’s assent to a conclusion. We can say that Y?ram premised in his question that meditation and wisdom were not two, and thus, inseparable; whereas Jaspers was fallen into the fallacy of the duality of the two, which I presume was the reason why Jaspers separated existence from reason.

2.3.2. We don’t have enough space to conduct a detailed analysis of the thirty-six confrontations of activity. Sekiguchi Shindai already pointed out the importance of this issue. 29) However, its importance does not simply rest in the fact that Hui-neng emphasized its significance to his ten disciples at his death bed. This part was probably added around the time when the conflict between the Northern school and the Southern school (after the death of Hui-neng) was at its peak. Therefore, its real importance lies in the fact that it mirrored the thought of the Chieh-yung t’ung ching of the Southern school, which was composed in reaction to the Fang-pien t’ung ching of the Northern school.

As was indicated by Suzuki, the essential thought of the Northern School is wu fang-pien, in which fang-pien does not refer to skill-in-means, but to the essential teachings of the Northern School. 30) With regard to this, Suzuki and Kuda (sec. 30) state:

Confrontations of activity are expressed by words in pairs.

Going and coming are in mutual relationship. Finally, two dharmas are both eliminated and there is no place to go….The understanding and function of the thirty-six confrontations of activity penetrate into all the scriptures.

Therefore, the Northern School is based on the notion of apekaya (kuan-tui) of the M?dhyamaka School in which it approaches truth through three categories: existence (senseless outer objects), essence (self-production), and concept (language used to express the characteristics of dharmas). 31)  The Tun-huang text says :

The confrontations of outer phenomena, which are apathetic, are five….There are twelve confrontations, including confrontations between language and speech and between phenomena and their characteristics….In the activities to which your self-nature gives rise there are nineteen confrontations….In language and the characteristics of things there are twelve confrontations. In the external environment, which is apathetic, there are five confrontations of natural phenomena. In the three bodies, there are three confrontations, making all together thirty-six confrontations.

According to this passage, there are confrontations of existence and concept, of essence and function, and of existence and concept combined with essence and function, totaling thirty-six confrontations. The K?sh?ji edition deleted the phrase “in the three bodies, there are three confrontations” (san-shen yu san-tui) from the above citation. However, the meaning does not change32)   because the term “body” (k?ya) is diverse in its meaning: a physical body, a group, a kind, and a scope.

2.4. Let’s return to Hui-neng’s autobiography and examine the scene of his farewell to his master, Hung-jen (594-674). The Tun-huang text describes it as follows,

neng te i fa san ching fa ch’u wu tsu tzu sung neng yu Chiu chiang i teng shih pien wu tsu ch’u fen ju ch’u nu li…. 能得衣法三更發去五祖自送能 於九江驛登時便五祖處分汝努力…. (Suzuki and Kuda, sec. 10).33) 

This citation remains to be an issue among scholars. Due to the difficulty in marking punctuation, the passage is cited without punctuation marks or spaces between letters. There is no problem with ” neng te i fa san ching fa ch’u” More important is the position of “teng shih pien wu” from the citation and scholars state different views of this part:

(1) Suzuki and Kuda, Ui, and Chan connect the teng shih pien wu with tsu ch’u fen, i.e., teng shih pien wu tsu ch’u fen (“I was instantly enlightened and the Patriarch instructed me.”).34) 

(2) Yampolsky views it as an independent phrase, thus teng shih pien wu/ wu tsu ch’u fen ju ch’u nu li (I was instantly enlightened. The Fifth Patriarch instructed me, “Leave, work hard….”).35)

(3) Yi N?ng-hwa deletes the letter wu after the letter pien, thus reading it as t?ng (teng) si (shih)/ py?n (pien) ch’?bun (ch’u fen)/ y?·(ju) g?· (ch’u no (nu) ry?k (li) (“The Fifth Patriarch immediately instructed me. “Leave, work hard…”). 36) 

(4) Yanagida adds the letter ch’u after the letter pien and changes wu (五) to wu (吾): “They instantly left (The two men arose instantly). My master treated them well…”37)

It is said that Hui-neng attained sudden enlightenment and followed the instruction of the Fifth Patriarch. If the patriarch’s instruction indicates the phrase “If you stay here there are people who will harm you. You must leave at once,” it means that Hui-neng’s understanding of the instruction was too late. If the instruction points out the phrase “Leave, work hard….,” it signifies that Hui-neng’s response was too rapid. Some works even corrected letters from the citation. However, this was not conducive to clarifying the meaning of the passage. The Biographies of Liang (Liang ch’uan) describes the life of Hui-yuan (334-416), the great monk of Mount Lu, as follows:

For over thirty years, his shadow was not viewed outside of the mountain and he did not leave his footsteps in the secular world. He said good-bye to his guests always at Stream Hu.

Mr. Chen’s Record of Mount Lu (Lu-shan chi) also mentions a story of Hui-yuan with relations to T’ao Yuan-ming and Lu Shou-ching,

The master Hui-yuan was on his way to sending the two off. The three reached the place of farewell, but they passed it unknowingly while walking and talking. When they finally recognized it, they all laughed loudly, hence the picture that depicted the laughs of the three people, which is currently circular in the world. 38)

However, this record is not a fact, but is an episode that was composed at the end of the T’ang dynasty (618-979). 39)  This indicates that the composition of such an episode about famous spiritual leaders was common. In addition, the Ecumenical Center of the East Mountain, which was founded by Hung-jen, was not far from the East Forest of Mount Lu. While Hung-jen’s master Tao-hsin (580-651) devoted himself to spiritual practice in Mount Shuang-feng for more than thirty years, Hung-jen taught his disciples in Mount Chin for thirty years.40) Therefore, in the passage, “His shadow was not viewed outside of the mountain and he did not leave his footsteps in the secular world,” “he” can refer to Hung-jen. If so, this means that Hung-jen and Hui-neng’s initial acquaintance developed into a master-disciple relationship. Hung-jen’s style of instructing Hui-neng lacked visible affection. For instance, Hung-jen ordered Hui-neng to pound grains for eight months. However, even Hung-jen could not protect Hui-neng from unpredicted danger of those who were jealous of Hui-neng’s religious ingenuity. When it came time for Hui-neng to depart, Hung-jen followed him as far as Station Chiu-chiang, and there he was aware that he came along seventy li.

Wu-tsu tzu sung neng/ yu Chiu-chiang i/ teng-shih pien wu

五祖自送能/ 於九江驛/ 登時便悟 (The Fifth Patriarch himself sent Hui-neng off./ At Station Chiu-chiang,/ the patriarch was instantly aware [that he was there]).

Therefore, the subject of pien wu is not Hui-neng, but Hung-jen. In addition, the object of pien wu is sung neng yu Chiu-chiang i, i.e., the fact that Hung-jen followed Hui-neng to Station Chiu-chiang without knowing it. Placing the letter chih (至) between the characters neng and yu would clarify the meaning of the cited passage. However, the absence of chih does not adversely affect our understanding of its meaning.

The term teng-shih became a Korean term, and is now found in Korean language dictionaries, 41)  and often appear in historical novels. Teng-shih is pronounced in Korean as t?ngsi. It refers to both “immediately or instantly” and “on the spot.” Its lexical meaning can be examined by using t?ngsi t’asal. T?ngsi t’asal refers to killing the person who committed crime on the spot.

The issue of teng-shih includes an interesting fact of Yin-shun, a Chinese Zen scholar-monk, who interprets teng-shih pien wu into teng-ch’uan shih pien wu (“While boarding a ship, the master was instantly aware”).42)  Didn’t he know the term teng-shi? Didn’t the same case occur in time of composition of the K?sh?ji edition? By adding i-chih ch’uan-tzu (“a ship”), The K?sh?ji edition reads,

Wu-tsu hsiang sung/ chih (直) chih (至) Chiu-chiang pien/

yu i-chih ch’uan-tzu/ Wu-tsu ling Hui-neng shang ch’uan…43) 

五祖相送/ 直至九江便/ 有一隻船子/ 五祖令惠能上船…

(The Fifth Patriarch sent [Hui-neng] off/ He directly arrived at the vicinity of Chiu-chiang/ There was a ship and the Five Patriarch let Hui-neng board the ship.)

3.1. Let’s go back to our discussion of the reflection on and prospect of the study of the PS.

As for the issue of the reflection on the topic, first, conventional scholarship has primarily depended on the K?sh?ji edition for the textual analysis of the PS. Of course, the Tun-huang text, which is neither a xylographic work nor a copied text, is not a good one, for the same reason. However, because the Tun-huang text was a product of a particular time and place. Therefore, there are phraseologies and terminologies unique to it, which are not found in the K?sh?ji edition. In addition, the Tun-huang text is clearer than the K?sh?ji edition both in the context and in logic. Accordingly, I believe that “the worst edition of the PS” is not the Tun-huang text, but the K?sh?ji edition. Therefore, the contextual revision of the Tun-huang text on the basis of the K?sh?ji edition can be likened to move the target to the flowing arrow. We have to bear it in mind that the best commentary on the Tun-huang text is the Tun-huang text itself.

Second, with regard to the prospect of research on the PS, we need to broaden our scholarly horizon to diverse fields relevant to the work. Traditional scholarship has primarily depended on Buddhist texts, poetry, poetic tales, and songs for research on the subject. However, an in-depth investigation of the social, economic, and intellectual background to the composition of the PS is a must subject. This is because words used and topics discussed in the Zen Buddhist tradition have diverse meanings according to the situation under investigation.

Third, the Zen school initially had elements of doctrinal teachings in both terms and thought. Therefore, a better understanding of the context and the essential themes of the PS will be impossible without a thorough analysis of the relationship between the Zen school and doctrinal teachings. I believe that a clarification of the contextual relationship between the Tun-huang text of the PS and doctrinal Buddhist texts will be one of the most important subjects of research on the PS in the future.

3.2. In his “Prolegomena” Imanuel Kant (1724-1804) said, “Human beings build up a pagoda of reason over and over again. Then, they destroy it in order to examine whether its foundation was firmly settled or not.”44)  In conclusion, in my discussion of the reflection on and prospect of the study of the PS, I share a common view with Kant.

Select Character List

Akira Fujieda 藤枝晃

Ch’ao-ch’i shan ti Liu-tsu Hui-neng ta-shih shuo chien-hsing tun-chiao chih liao ch’eng-fo chu-ting wu-i fa-pao chi t’an ching 曹溪山第六祖惠能大師 說見性頓敎直了成佛決定無疑法寶記壇經

chang tzu 障自

Ch’i-sung 契崇

chen-lu tzu-hsing 眞如自性

ch’eng tzu 呈自

Chieh-yung t’ung ching 解用通經

chien tzu 見自

ching-fa 經法

Chinul 知訥

chio-ch’u 卓麴

Chiu T’ang-shu 舊唐書

Dai ni Zens?shi kenkyuu


Danky? g? 壇經考

En? kenkyuu 慧能硏究

Fang-pien t’ung ching


Fo-ching 佛經

Ho-tse Ta-shih Hsien-tsung’chi


Hu Shih 胡謫

Hui-hsin 惠昕

Hui-neng 慧能

Hui-yuan 慧遠

Hung-jen 弘忍

Keimeikai 啓明會

K?sh?ji(bon) 興聖寺(本)

kuan-tien 官店

kuan-tui 觀對

Kuda Rendar? 公田連太郞

Leng-yen ching 楞嚴經

Liang ch’uan 梁傳

ling tzu 令自

Liu-tsu t’an ching 六祖檀經

Lu Shou-ching 陸修精

lu-lung 旅籠

Lu-shan chi 廬山記

Meisha yoin 鳴沙餘韻

Nan-tsung tun-chiao tsui-shang ta-ch’eng Mo-ho-pan-jo po-lo-mi ching: Liu-tsu ta-shih yu Shao-chou Ta-fan ssu shih-fa t’an ching 南宗頓敎最上大乘摩何般若婆羅密經六祖大師於韶州大梵寺施法壇經 卷

Nan-tsung tun-chiao chui-shang ta-ch’eng t’an ching


Nan-yang Hui-chung 南嶽慧忠

P’u-ti ta-mo Nan-tsung ting shih-fei lun 菩提達磨南宗定是非論

Rokuso danky? 六祖檀經

san-shih liu tui fa 三十六對法

Sekuchi Shindai 關口眞人

shih tzu 識自

shih tzu pen-hsin 識自本心

Shuang-feng (shan) 雙峯(山)

S?ngch’?l 性徹

Suzuki Daisetz 鈴木大拙

T’an ching chiao shih 壇經校釋

T’an ching tsan 壇經讚

T’ao Yuan-ming 陶淵明

Taish? shinshuu daiz?ky?


Tao-hsin 道信

te-jen 得人

teng-shih 登時

Tonhwang pon tan’gy?ng


Tonk? shutsudo rokuso danky?


Tun-wu wu-sheng pan-lo sung


t?ngsi 登時

t?ngsi t’asal 登時打殺

tzu chien 自見

tzu shih 自識

tzu shih pen-shin 自識本心

Ui Hakuju 宇井伯壽

wo tzu 悟眞

wu fang-pien 五方便

Wu-chen 悟眞

Yabuki Keiki 矢吹慶輝

Yanagida Seijan 柳田聖山

Yang Tseng-wen 楊曾文

Yi N?ng-hwa 李能和

Zengoroku 禪語錄


1). Former Professor of the Academy of Korean Studies.

2) The translator owes much to Philip B. Yampolsky’s the platform sutra of the sixth patriarch (New York: Columbia University Press, 1967), for the translation of the Tun-huang text of the Platform Suutra cited in this presentation paper, however, if applicable, with some revision.

3) Yanagida Seijan, Buddhist Texts Founded in Tun-huang and Zen (Dank? Butsuden to Zen) (Taid? shupansha, 1980), pp. 19-50.

4) Yanagida Seijan, ibid., p. 49.

5) Chung-wai jih-pao, October. 23, 1987 (mien 11). The two texts were originally owned by Jen Tzu-i. Hsiang Ta, Professor of Peijing University, introduced them in his Hsi cheng hsiao chi in 1950.

6) Kim Ji-kyon, “Kory? Chinul no Tan’gy?ng Palmun ni tsuite,” Indogaku Bukky?gaku kenkyuu 15-1.

7) Ennin, Nitt? shin kyuu seiky? mokuroku, T 55, p. 1083b)

8) Hu Shih, “I-chu liang-chung,” p. 862: Hu-shih, “An appeal for a systematic search in Japan for long-hidden T’ang dynasty source-material of the early history of Zen Buddhism,” in Hu Shih Ch’an-hsueh an (Cheng-chung shu-chu, 1975), p. 66.

9) Suzuki Daisetzu, Zen shis? shi kenkyuu dai san (Iwanami shoten, 1968), p. 290 and passim. This is a common opinion among scholars.

10) Yanagida Seijan, “Goroku no rekishi,” in Toy? kakuh? 57 (1985): 404.

11) Hsin-chin wen-chi, chuan 3, T 2115.52.662c.

12) Suzuki and Kuda, Tonk? shutsudo rokuso danky?, p. 17.

13) Yanagida Seijan, ed., Rokuso danky? daibon chuusei (Juumon shupansha, 1976), p. 53.

14) Dakasaki Jikido, Ry?kaky? (Taish? shupansha, 1980), p. 175. As for an example of translation of this term, refer to King?ky? (Iwanami bungobon), p. 210.

15) Ui Hakuju, Dai ni Zenshuu shi kenkyuu, p. 186.

16) Wing-tsit Chan, The Platform Scripture, p. 27.

17) Philip B. Yampolsky, The Platform Suutra of the Sixth Patriarch, p. 126.

18) Nakagawa Takashi, Rokuso danky? (Tsukuba shobo, 1976), p. 18.

19) Philip B. Yampolsky, The Platform Suutra of the Sixth Patriarch, p. 90, note 2.

20) Hu Shih, I-chu liang-chung, pp. 879-882; and Hu Shih, Shen-hui ho-shang

i-chi (Hu Shih chi-nien kuan, 1968), pp. 193-195, pp. 396-399.

21) Ch’uan-deng lu 30, T 2076.51.458c-459b.

22) Chan, The Platform Scripture, p. 22.

23) Philip B. Yampolsky, The Platform Suutra of the Sixth Patriarch, p. 64; Yanagida Seijan, “Rokuso danky?”, pp. 178-179.

24) Yanagida Seijan, Shoki Zenshuu shi no kenkyuu (Zen bunka kenkyuusho, 1966), p. 164.

25) Gilbert Ryle, The Concept of Mind (New York: Barnes & Noble Inc., 1949), p. 7: “The Philosophical arguments which constitute this book are intended not to increase what we know about mind, but to rectify the logical geography of the knowledge which we already possess.”

26) S?kch?n Pak Han-y?ng, S?kch?n mun soch’o (Seoul: P?ppow?n, 1962), 3b-4a.

27) Pak Chong-hong, Chis?ng kwa mosaek (Seoul: Pagy?ngsa, 1967), p. 127.

28) Pak Chong-hong, ibid., p. 128.

29) Sekiguchi Shindai, Zenshuu shis? shi (Sangibo bushorin, 1964), p. 131.

30) Suzuki Daisetz, Zen shis? shi kenkyuu dai san, p. 35.

31) This can be compared with Hegel’s theory of the dialectical development of existence, essence, and concept in his Wissenschaft der Logik.

32) Yampolsky viewed the san-shen yu san-tui as pleonasm and deleted it from his translation (The Platform Suutra of the Sixth Patriarch, p. 172, n. 257).

33) “I set out at midnight with the robe and the Dharma. The Fifth Patriarch saw me off as far as Chiu-chiang Station. I was instantly enlightened. The Fifth Patriarch instructed me: ‘Leave, work hard…’ (Yampolsky, The Platform Suutra of the Sixth Patriarch, p. 133).

34) Suzuki Daisetz and Goda Rendar?, Tonk? shutsudo rokuso danky?, p. 10; Ui Hakuju, “Danky? g?,” p. 122; Wing-tsit Chan, The Platform Scripture, the Basic Classic of Zen Buddhism, pp. 42-43.

35) Yampolsky, The Platform Suutra of the Sixth Patriarch, p. 133.

36) Yi N?ng-hwa, Tonhwang Tang sabon Tan’gy?ng. Tan’gy?ng tugy?l, p. 7b.

37) Yanagida Seijan, Zengoroku 3, p. 105.

38) Lu-shan chi, T 2095.51.1028a.

39) Matsumoto Bunzabur? Bukky? shi zakk? (Tokyo: Sh?ensha, 1943), p. 65.

40) Sekiguchi Shindai, Zenshuu shis? shi, p. 90.

41) Sin Ki-ch’?l, Sin K?m-ch’?l, Uri mal k’?n saj?n, vol. 1, p. 975.

42) Yin-shun, Chung-kuo Ch’an-tsung shih (Taipei: Kuang-i yin-shu chu, 1997), p. 191: “Wu-tsu tzu neng yu Chiu-chiang i teng (ch’uan) shih pien wu-tsu ch’u-fen…”

43) Yanagida Seijan, ed., Rokuso danky? daibon chuusei, p. 52.

44) I. Kant, “Prolegomena zu einer jeden kunftigen Metaphysik,” Felix Meiner Verlag, Hamburg, 1969), p. 2: “Denn die menschliche Vernunft ist so baulustig, daß sie mehrmalen den Turm aufgefuhrt, hernach aber wieder abgetragen hat, um zu sehen, wieden Fundament desselben wohl beschaffen sein mochte.”

The Role of Zen Buddhism in the Modern Scientific Era

Yongjeung Kim
Emeritus Professor
Dongguk University

The Role of Zen Buddhism in the Modern Scientific Era

1. Our Scientific Era and its Doomsday Effect

I want to begin to write this essay with mentioning Prof. Seonglae Park, who is the famous scholar in the history of science. Prof. Park carefully explained in his heading remarks of the quarterly journal, “Gwahak Sasang”(The Thought of Science) how the West occupied the East, and how the moral civilization of the East has been changed by the Western mechanic civilization and anticipated the situation of the coming 21st century world as follows:

I dare to say that human beings would be disappeared just before 3,000 years. As dinosaurs disappeared in the past, human beings, who reigned during a few million or ten thousand years and ruled this world with their absolute power, would be completely disappeared in the earth too.1) 

Even though what he said suggests a direct warning for human beings who live in this modern world, his warning must be seriously considered due to his thoughtful scholarship. He is very cynical about the real contribution to our capitalistic and individualistic society. He continues to say:

The coming 21st century will begin in a chaotic condition with the fever of capitalism and individualism. we tend to interpret the word ‘ism’ as an expression of will of human beings….However, capitalism and individualism are not ‘isms’ by which we, human beings, consciously remake our world. They are nothing but the results of the thought in which we let our nature leave, namely, the give-up of our will. In the past a thousand years, the fact that capitalism or individualism has been survived among other thoughts means that we gave up our attempt to improve our society with our will.2)  

Any body would agree that the crisis of our modern world occurs because of the unlimited enlargement of human beings’ nature, the unlimited economic development, and the accompanying the destruction of environment and the falling-down of our natural humanity. Of course, I do not ignore the advantage that capitalism and technology have given us. In other words, its flourishing material growth. But, the problem is the material civilization radically flourished, while the mental civilization is decreased. Furthermore, men forget what nature gives us and what freedom they really have to enjoy.

Karl Jaspers once pointed that the modern history of the West has been made with a “false enlightenment.” According to him, the spirit of the modern Europe tended to go ‘either-or’ direction, namely, going into a mechanic view of nature but not a harmonious view. Hence, the modern spirit of Europe becomes falling into insincerity. 3) Here, the ‘false enlightenment’ means that our knowledge, will, and act are based on the mechanic view of nature by which our intellect becomes insincere.

According to Jaspers’ criticism, Descartes did not see the limit of science and forgot its practical aim. And, he attempted to construct ‘universal science.’ However, his idea was dogmatic and was based on a mechanic mythology. 4)  In other words, in the beginning the spirit of Europe aimed to a kind of balance between organic and mechanic views of nature. But, Cartesian ‘universal science’ overemphasized the mechanic view and a technological knowledge and finally mechanic control of natural environment. Hence, man, who is often symbolized as ‘the son of nature’ or ‘the humanity of internal nature,’ is buried with the destruction of external nature.

Today the limit of science is shown in the world here and there; that is, the destruction of natural environment and the collapse of humanity as well as the limit of science itself. The American science critic, John Horgan, says how the limit of science is going on as follows.

Moreover, science itself, as it advances, keeps imposing limits on its own power. Einstein’s theory of special relativity prohibits the transmission of matter or even information at speeds faster than that of light; quantum mechanics dictates that our knowledge of the micro realm will always be uncertain; chaos theory confirms that even without quantum indeterminacy many phenomena would be impossible to predict; Kurt Godel’s incompleteness theorem denies us the possibility of constructing a complete, consistent mathematical description of reality. And evolutionary biology keeps reminding us that we are animals, designed by natural selection not for discovering deep truths of nature, but for breeding. 5) 

Science itself does not give men a complete truth but a partial truth by which men are destined to satisfy. In his book, Horgan presents ten kinds of eschatology; eschatology of development, philosophy, physics, cosmology, evolutionary biology, social science, neuro science, and et cetera. For him, the radical development of science itself shows the end of science. Quoting Gunther Stent, Horgan argues the paradox of development and the end of science.

“If there is a limit of science and a difficulty by which there cannot be any development of science, science will be developed in a very speed just before meeting such difficulty. When science is shown successful, powerful, and effective, it means the end of science coming close. Stent said in his book The Incoming of the Golden Age that this speedy development of science makes us think such development and will be stopped in our life or one or two generation.” 6) 

The above quotation predicts that the end of science is coming close in proportion to the speed science develops.

Science has a double-value, positive and negative. If science is employed in a negative way, for example, the war using atomic bomb, the earth and our world would be ruined. In addition, the moral consciousness of human beings would be crashed.

In modern society, the life of men is getting comfortable and wealthy, but they are interested in seeking after pleasure. What is worse, they make a mistake the effect of drug and virtual reality for the true reality. Stent cynically ended his argument in his book that sooner or later our scientific development will be stopped, …and all our attempt for art and science during 1,000 years finally will let our life seem a true result by a just impromptu happening. 7)  Although we do not much need to worry all these negative phenomena, we still have to keep in mind these phenomena because the negative phenomena are getting serious.

The principal problems of our modern techno-scientific society are rooted from intellectuality, measurement, quantification, symbolization as well as bureaucratization, materialization, economicalization, business-making. Although the industrial society has been developed by the above items, these items, which come from the reason-based thoughts, are nothing but mechanic systems which are against our true life. The systematic and mechanic power of the modern techno-scientific society respects the dignity of humans, while such power debilitates the value of life and is indifferent to the dignity of our human life.

Therefore, A. N. Whitehead earlier found that although matter itself lacks sense, value and aim, the mechanic and materialistic view of nature comes from the classical view of physics because it is supposed that matter is absolutely real. 8)  So, Whitehead called such materialistic view of nature as a lose of value and aim, and attempted to change it into a holistic view of nature.

Erich Fromm, who was the greatest of psychoanalysis, realized that the mechanic power of modern technological civilization wrongly guided our true life into senseless thing and finally drew our life into a material death. 9) This disease of necrophila is made by the external power of modern environment in which the bureaucratic, technocratic information system consists. What is worse, school system and education are easily involved in such a negative modern system.

Among all these difficult conditions, the information society alienates and isolates human beings, and finally transforms the moral men into the machines. Today we live in the period of great change that we have not experienced. In the name of the frontier science, the development of technology established the invention of new materials with the super-computer and the satellite communications. Besides, by the genetic science, we became to make a new kind of species and a radical development of agriculture and livestock farming, and the medical science.

But, the unlimited flood of mas media and the computer game guide young men to be given to the intemperance for their sexual instinct and make them the playful murder. The problems of information society are shown in other cases: for example, the problems of virtual reality on the dimension of cyberspace, computer hacking, and the outflow of information and etc: all these cases make us consider moral questions we have not experienced in the past.

Especially we cannot properly cope with our technological crisis, because we realize that with moral treatment, we cannot well control the technological problems of computer. For example, because the organism of long-range gun, missile or atomic bomb is absolutely unhuman, even any coward can kill a million people at a moment only using buttons without a serious conscience. In fact, in the modern automatic machine, computer chips and automatic sensors are attached, and so we easily forget our responsibility about the results when we operate the buttons of the machines. Then alienation from using the machine is made. In next chapter, I will discuss such alineation problem with the information engineering.

2. Information Engineering and Alineation

The modern society establishes its network system through autonomy, separation, or cooperation. For example, each robot, which has relatively a simple tool functioning independently and cooperating with other parts of it, establishes a given aim.

Since 1990s, people have been interested in the artificial life (AL) rather than the artificial intellect (AI). That is, beyond the artificial intellect, they have researched making a kind of artificial life. The research of AL goes a step farther than the research of AI. Christopher Langton is the scientist who used the word ‘artificial life.’ He presumed that if the ability of ‘self-copy’ might be defined ‘life,’ with a relatively simple model an artificial life can be made. In his model of AL consists of a cellular automaton which is a two dimensional grid. Each grid means a cell and each time transforms into a new cell responding to the mixture of a current condition and others. At this moment, a collection of each grid-cell is defined as life. 10)

The alive image through a computer graphics is also considered as a kind of artificial life because through the graphic image, real or unreal life can be depicted in a given space-time condition without any difficulties. The live expression through the computer graphics has an ‘elementary meaning’ among the several visualization of simulation. For example, a high quality of technology is necessary in order to express the move of human body with the computer graphics. If this technology can be acquired, a high quality art can be made only by the computer graphics. Then, a real machine like an alive animal can be an area of artificial life.

Now we meet a new era treating a life without a real life, namely, an artificial life. At the late 20th century, the leading technology is information by computer, while the beginning 21st century will be laid with the science of artificial life as the leading technology. Recently by the robot technology, a micro-precision machine goes into the human body and then treat the disease of human body. DNA simulation is possible even on the computer, and by the life information technology, the reproduction of sheep becomes possible. At the moment, agriculture and livestock farming and medical science contributes for human welfare by the DNA simulation and the technology of reproduction.

On the other hand, negative phenomena of life science happens to young generation: for example, a possibility of virtual reality which harms their personality and make them be in a chaotic state. The confusion of virtual reality and true reality are paradoxically made by the development of science. Another example of the negative phenomena is a third kind of life and an absolutely new kind of bacteria which are produced by the extravagant use of the reproduction technology.

The more urgent problem is the human alienation by the increase of information system. Today most young generation spend their time playing the computer game, and so they do not have enough time to talk with their family. In a certain sense, computer is a machine which helps to isolate humans. Computer, as a machine which is a phase of a given game, offers an isolate space to people: personal computer offers a series of discontinuous scenes. All these scenes are the thing given but not a chosen by people consciously. In it, there is a given rule, but people operate the given scene by a programmed rule.

By the development of the information technology of the computer, labor is replaced by robot and plants are robotized. According to this robotization, men’s labor is restricted and isolated by automation. Men work with a fixed order and a given information which are already programmed by the production and sales fields.

Although all these programmed information originally are set up for men’s welfare, they feel, in a sense, anxious to the given machine-like ordering. A reasonable question what nature and humans are become meaningless by such development of science, in which humans are proved as a limited entities. The anxiety was due to the development of warfare, which was possible by the scientific civilization through the 1st and 2nd World wars. Human anxiety is not due to a special object or event but a limited existence of humans which is rooted from the power of science. Furthermore, the anxiety comes from the increase of much freedom which is made by the progress of industrialization and a misguided democracy.

For Kierkegard, men feel anxious to the possibility of freedom, namely, the free choice of picking up the fruit of good and evil, when Adam and Eve heard God’s order “Not to eat that fruit.” 11) According to J. P. Sartre, man cannot escape from his existence because he is a man. Hence, anxiety comes from man’s existent choice. But, nowadays people get losing the feeling of anxiety by the progress of information society. 12) Such lose must be ‘oblivion’ which is different from Heideggerian ‘existence forgetfulness’ or J. Derrida’s. (which was mentioned in his speech published in 1968’s book The End of Man.) Men just act according to the programmed order of computerized database. When they perform any work depending upon computer, they are overwhelmed by it, and finally get forgetting their existence and losing their personality.

In fact, insects and animals do not feel anxiety. instead, it is right if they just live following their natural equipment or their own information system. But, now men act by a given programmed information when they use computer and cannot live without computers. Hence, they do not feel any more existential anxiety and a sense of death, and finally do not need to feel such assumed anxiety.

Men become busy with the development of information media rather than taking a rest. They spend most time using beeper and handphone, and invest more time watching television, typing on the computer, sending facsimile to others. Although the development of multimedia gives them a great advantage, such development take their valuable time and energy.

Norbert Wiener, who invented cybernetics, claimed that if the modern man is interested in ‘know-how’ by which a method of establishment is acquired and neglects ‘know-what’ with the question “What is the value and aim of man’s life?,” he won’t help kill themselves. 13) He also warns: “The time is too late, and the choice of good and evil knocks at our door. Human atoms are knit into an organization in which they are used, not in their full right as responsible human beings, but as cogs and levels and rods.”14)  

In any way, in this modern information society, men must choose from the programmed menu of computer. If most works we have to treat are practical things in our ordinary life, we cannot have much time the important problems, “what the ideal life we must pursuit.” What is worse, we cannot escape from the network system because we spend a lots of time for making program and using the given programmed data on the computer.

In a short word, the modern man falls into a programmed system, like in a cage and alienates himself. The question is how man can recover such alienation. It is possible through the Zen meditation by which he becomes a ‘true man.’ The only way to become the true man is acquired by the Zen meditation.

3. The Recognition of the Quantum Theory

Although I have criticized the negative side of the modern science and its culture, I also have to point out a positive side. For the positive side, I will consider the philosophy of the Middle Way of Buddhism and the thinking method of quantum physics in terms of their epistemic way. It is because the quantum theory can help for mediating religion and science, and East over West: the quantum theory will present an absolutely different thinking method from the traditionally existing causal determinism.

In the beginning of 20th century, from the fact that the micro materials of electron and photon tend to have a double qualities of particle and wave at the same time, the quantum physicists began to understand the quality of quantum: that is, they realized the quality of wave from that a quantum makes diffraction and an intereference fringes. But, when they realized that a quantum reflected an electron from the surface of metal by the photoelectric effect, they also must accept that a quantum is a particle. When they found the double quality of particle and wave of a quantum, they had to change their existing understanding of nature.

As you see, in the beginning of 20th century two radical development of the relativity theory and the quantum mechanics changed the traditional views of matter and world. Since the quantum mechanics has been born, the opposed theories of particle and wave are modified into a unified theory for a quantified particle and wave. That is, the quality of particle and wave for light is not a separate character, rather shows a double character of an identical substance: in other words, the double character is considered as a ‘wavecle.’ Matter consists of the continuum of particles which oppose and mediate each other, and matter finally reveals a complementary property of micro material. Supposing the existence of a photon, the wave of light is accompanied with a particle which holds a quantum units of energy, and then matter and energy become to have a double character of wave and particle. It is by the complementary function of the double character that a new understanding of physics is made. In a macro way, both matter and light consist of a continuous wave, while in a micro way they also consist of a discontinuity of particles. N. Bohr’s theory of complementation is the result that men attempted to understand the double character of wave and particle without any difficulty.

By this double character of wave and particle, it is possible that an uncertain element lies in the micro world of the photon, electron, and atom. In 1927, Heisenberg measured this uncertainty in which he tried to measure the position and speed of the quantum particle at the same time. We want to get an exact measurement of the position of an electron, while we cannot get any knowledge about the momentum of the electron. In the other hands, if we can measure the momentum of the electron, we cannot do its position. This paradox happens because if an electron is fixed in a certain position, the process of ‘fixing the electron’ makes an effect for the momentum of the electron. The attempt to measure the momentum of the electron also makes an effect for us to realize exactly the position of the electron because the momentum shakes the position of the electron.

This paradox is due to the original meaning of nature rather than the limit of human recognition accompanied by technology. That position and momentum of an electron cannot be measured at the same time shows that in a micro world a causal determinism is meaningless. 15) 

By N. Bohr and Heisenberg, we become to know that the position and momentum of a particle cannot be measured at the same time, because the atoms of matter and light are resulted as the phenomena of particles in a certain experiment, and as the phenomena of waves in the other experiment. Consider a more logical answer why these different phenomena occur. Hans Reichenbach explains the problem of this paradox mentioning L.V. de Broglie. While the classic physicists had been involved in the two-valued logic for the double character of particle and wave, de Broglie dared to think a possibility that light could consist of a particle as well as a wave. For him, the two-valued logic, ‘either-or’ logic, must be replaced by ‘both-and’ logic in which a complementary theory would be made. He set up a three-valued logic which consists of ‘true (T),’ ‘false (F),’ and ‘indeterminate (I),’ and then considered a true result by an experiment of a momentum of a particle as an indeterminacy. What a particle is in a state of indeterminacy means that when a momentum of a particle is determined, the determinacy is uncertain. That is, when an utterance is true, the other utterance must be in an indeterminate state from the given condition. Furthermore, de Broglie’s ‘both-and’ character of particle and wave makes us interpret a possibility that particle and wave exist at the same time. Of course, such existence does not mean that they are real in a certain condition, rather real only in an interpreting condition. That is, both particle and wave are true all the time.  16) 

His argument is to divulge a limit of human recognition, and makes us imagine the thought of the middle Way in buddhism. For N. Bohr, it is meaningless to ask what the electron is. And, according to Paul Davies, with the development of Bohr’s idea, the Western philosophical view of the whole and part, and the macro and micro world is radically changed.

“So the quantum reality of the microworld is inextricably entangled with the organization of the macroworld. In other words, the part has no meaning except in relation to the whole. Thus holistic character of quantum physics has found considerable favour among follows of Eastern mysticism, the philosophy embodied in such oriental religions as hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism. Indeed, in the early days of quantum theory many physicists, including Schrodinger, were quick to draw parallels between the quantum concept of part and whole, and the traditional oriental concept of the unity and harmony of nature.”17)

With the paradox of Schrodinger’s cat which is understood by Paul Davies and J. Brown, I will show a similarity of quantum mechanics and Zen Buddhism.  18) 

A cat is penned up in a steel chamber, along with the following diabolical device. Suppose that the probability of radioactive substance half in a given period. If the radioactive substance flows out, the counter tube discharges, and moving a hammer by an attached cord shatters the flask which holds hydrocyanic acid. Then, the hydrocyanic acid comes out and the dies.


According to the quantum theory, matter consists of a double-laid state in which radioactivity can flow out or not. Then, we can suppose that the probability of life and death of the cat is half. The probability of alive and dead state is half if we express the cat in terms of the quantum mechanics. How to understand this strange state is expressed by the paradox of Schrodinger’s cat.

In our common sense, the cat should be dead or alive. There is no choice between alive and dead. Because each probability of alive and dead state of the cat is half, we cannot say that the cat is alive and dead. If we, however, observe these states, one of the states occurs in a real condition. If we suppose that the cat is alive, and open the steel chamber, the cat is found alive, while if we suppose that the cat is dead and open the chamber, the cat is dead. That is, according to our chosen will, the cat is alive or dead. Technically saying, we can say that a wave function is broken and each state has its own value.

Although all these results happen in a micro state of an electron, when we understand nature, these results have a significant meaning in which our subjective recognition works. This curious relationship between particle and us is found as the spin state of particle.

The particle of neutrino and electron have a kind of internal rotation, namely, a spin (of course, all elementary particles have a spin). If we make an experiment apparatus to find the direction of spin and choose a certain direction for a co-ordinates, we discover that the spin is pointing a field-direction. That is, the spin of the particle is always pointing the direction we choose. A particle always points a direction as we want to point. In the micro world of the elementary particles, our subjective element is mediated. This state is very similar with the cases of ‘a smile with the flower shown’ and ‘an immediate communication from mind to mind’ in Buddhism in which people can intuitively feel a co-understanding without any word. In the case of the quantum mechanics, particles of electron work like human beings pretending to communicate by the mind. Of course, we do not know why this happens.

Davies and Brown argues that the significant role of observation in the quantum mechanics lies in dealing with the relationship between matter and mind. That the wave function suddenly changes when we observe the quantum shows the idea that mind is over matter. This idea is similar with the Buddhist idea ‘Buddha nature all over the world’: the physical state affects the spiritual state and vice versa.

P. Neumann uttered that anything cannot ‘break’ the wave function. The wave function, however, is broken when man’s consciousness is involved. In other words, when a result of measurement enters into man’s consciousness, the complex pyramid organization of quantum is easily shown as a distinct reality.

For Eugene Wigner, mind plays an important role in which mind determines the nature of measurement and makes happen an irreversible change of the quantum state of matter.

As Davies and Brown says, the relationship of mind and matter in the quantum physics is very similar with the thinking method of Eastern religion in many ways. In Zen Buddhism, there are some important arguments: ‘language beyond language’ and ‘a secret beyond canon.’ A true reality is understood only by mind from mind and the canonical truth is understood just by our self-reflection but not by the Buddhist canons themselves. All external things and events are only the mirror-like thing of our original nature and all canonical principle are just the musical echoes of our true nature. Therefore, we should not identify our original nature with such a mirror-like thing or echoes. We can identify ourselves only if we directly observe our original nature.

The reality of Zen Buddhism is well understood by the relationship between Buddha and K??yapa. 19)  K??yapa is known as the founder of the Indian meditation. Originally ‘dayana’ meant a concentrated meditation. On the other hand, the Chinese meditation meant the sudden enlightenment. Hence, the real nature of meditation means the revelation of self and self-proof.

According to D. T. Suzuki, the Zen meditation presents a method in which we go into an object itself and realize the object as it is. To know what a flower is a means for us to become the flower, blossoming with the flower and getting wet with rain and being exposed to the sun. Hence, the flower wants to talk with us and at the same time I share, with the flower, joy and suffer. Now I can understand the phase of the flower, namely, its life. Not only I know the mystery of the universe with enlightenment but also I know the mystery of itself. 20) At this moment, universe and I are unified: in this unity universe becomes me and vice versa.

Here, the Zen meditation and the quantum mechanics meet each other. That is, the quantum mechanics cannot be explained by the two-value thinking as the Zen meditation cannot do. Although in a sense the quantum mechanics is a new way of recognition, it indirectly is to show as what the Zen meditation is. In next chapter, I will explain the Buddhist thought of the Middle Way with ‘language beyond language’ of the Zen meditation. When we understand that thought, we also can find the logical ground of the intuitive world of the Zen meditation in which life and death are unified as one.


4. The Epistemology of the Middle Way

Nagarjuna unfolded his philosophy of the Middle Way by paramartha-satya and lokasamvrti-satya: Nirodha-?ryasatya belongs to the param?rtha-satya and suffering, attachment, and way belong to lokasamvrti-satya: that is, the paramartha-satya means a state of salvation, while lokasamvrti-satya means its previous state or a means of the paramartha-satya. Therefore, Nagarjuna said that paramartha-satya cannot be required without lokasamvrti-satya, and without such paramartha-satya, we cannot get nirvana. 21)   The point we have to keep in mind here is that paramartha-satya is divided into both an expressible absolute and an unexpressible absolute, and that lokasamvrti-satya must be considered reasonable as well as non-reasonable.

Param?rtha-satya of an unexpressible absolute is the true suchness beyond language’ as a truth, while param?rtha-satya of an expressible absolute is the ‘true suchness depended upon language.’ The latter belongs to the lokasamvrti-satya because ‘satya’ depending upon language cannot be an experience of salvation. The Hegelian dialectics proceeds in a reasonable way depending on language. So, such dialectics cannot deal with ‘the transformation of reasonableness into un-reasonableness.’ Nagarjuna’s ‘dialectics of negation’ does not accept reasonable thinking. To negate reason, we have to be reasonable which is a self-negation of reason. Through a reasonable thinking we discover a paradox and throw it away. The self-negation of reason is performed by the paramartha-satya which is expressible by language; that is, negating language by language. Hence, T.R.V. Murti calls this form of logic as ‘reductio as absuridum.’22)   Although the expressible stage might be reasonable, this stage is still unreasonable because it has a paradox in which a reason has to be explained by reason. So, we must reveal the unreasonableness and then we can transcend from the limit of language and get nirvana.

Won-Hyo (617-686) said: “To cut all kinds of problems of the world with wisdom is a secular law but not a principal law. It is because in the emptiness there is no dying thing and no making thing die, and so everything is empty and is in a state of nirvana.23)  In other words, for him there is no division between truth and falsity, which are not different. His idea is analogous to the idea that ‘stopping observation’ is two wings of birds and two wheels of carriage.

Although Won-hyo criticizes some parts of the thought of the Middle Way, his original idea of truth and falsity is same with Nagarguna’s. Truth and falsity (or secularity) are same, in which we should not be attached to not only falsity but also truth. We have to throw away the attachment for truth and falsity.

Won-hyo’s idea becomes clear if we research one of ‘the first dialect’ which explains Sung-lang’s thought that two different values reveal the Middle Way. His dialect might be schematized as follows.

** Two different values reveal the Middle Way.

1. Birth/Death……….the Middle Way for Secular Value

2. No-Birth/Death………..the Middle Way of True Value

3. Not-birth/Death and Not-(No-Birth/Death)…………the Middle Way of Revealing Two Different Values  24) 

According to the above schema, birth/death is set as the Middle Way of secular value. Most people believe that there in this world birth and death really exist. Hence, the law of birth/death is considered a secular or false value and no-birth/death is considered as true value. Since many intellects do not have any difficulty to understand the fact that there is no-birth/death, in this schema birth/death and no-birth/death is set to be responded to the secular or false value and the true value, respectively.

If we, however, consider birth/death as a real phenomenon and no-birth/death as a real phenomenon, our consideration is also mistaken. We need a unity for two different values which reveal the Middle Way.

Therefore, Sung-lang explains two different values as follows.

“Those two values are a mysterious teaching for the Middle Way as well as a true sermon in which our culture and language are searched. Being and non-being are discovered by a principle. Although being and non-being are separate and cannot be recognized as a unity, reality is found as one principle. Hence, with the ways of truth and falsity, we can educate people to make them find a right way.25)

Won-hyo, in his Sipmunhwajaengnon(十門和諍論) said: “When people, who had attained Buddhahood, lived, their world was peaceful. However, in the future world, people are involved in a vain arguments and fight each other, and finally they would not escape from their inevitable retribution, namely, karma.” 26)   So, Won-hyo said that with the light of wisdom the world can be equal.27) He continued to say: “Like the difference of birds’s marks in the air, the example of the air accompanies with such difference. Although the birds’s marks once existed, we cannot differentiate the actual marks of birds.”28) After all, enlightenment is attained by throwing away fancies which always occur. The state without fancies is like the air.

Now we know that the quantum mechanics and Zen meditation share with the thought of the Middle Way in terms of recognition of the world. Although there must be more careful understanding about this argument, I, at least, can claim that quantum mechanics and Zen Buddhism are in the state of complementation.

5. The Contemporary Meaning of Zen Meditation in the Era of Science

Today the scientific civilization can be described as the civilization of machine, possession, ambition, and competition. On the other hand, by the Zen meditation we can acquire culture for life, non-possession, freedom from desire, and harmony. We, however, know what the problems this techno-scientific world have. We also find a similarity between the quantum mechanics and the Buddhistic thought of the Middle Way. Hence, modern science tends to hold favorable and non-favorable view with Buddhism. Then, we need a careful insight to discriminate the right and wrong points about the effects of modern science.

As I said before, people are not interested in recovering their natural humanity. They are losing their mind just being interested in using computer, television, handphone, money and enjoying sensual pleasure and playing golf and gambling. To escape from these bad situations, we must consider the real meaning of the Zen meditation.

People often say that yoga is for attaining ecstasy and Zen meditation for enlightenment. As the Great master Seo-Ong once said, enlightenment is acquired when man becomes free without having any discrimination against others. All critical situation is due to our dualistic thought and unfair discrimination. The extreme materialism, individualism, and egoism bring our world to a crisis and aggravate conflicts and split. Zen meditation accepts all forms of State, nationality, religion, thought, and culture. That is, Zen meditation provides a universal ground in which all forms of societies are harmonized.

To prove the effects of Zen meditation, I will explain Zen meditation summarizing its five steps (which are read in Korean as follows.)

1. Jeong Joong Pyun…..the Pyun in the Jeong (substance behind phenomena)

2. Pyun Joong Jeong…..the Jeong in the Pyun (phenomena transitioning to substance)

3. Jeong Joong Lae…..coming from the Jeong (phenomena coming from substance consciously)

4. Gyum Joong Ji….the arriving in the Gyum (substance and phenomena coming together)

5. Gyum Joong Do…..the settling in the Gyum (substance and phenomena harmonizing each other)

Suzuki said that “The sho [Jeong in Korean] and hen [Pyun in Korean] constitute a duality like the yin and yang in Chinese philosophy. Sho literally means ‘right,’ ‘straight,’ ‘just,’ ‘level’; and hen is ‘partial,’ ‘one-sided,’ ‘unbalanced,’ ‘lopsided.’ 29)  He explained the relationship between Jeong and Pyun in English as follows.30)

1) Jeong is translated in English as follows; “the absolute, the infinite, the one, God, dark (undifferentiation), sameness, emptiness, wisdom, and the universal. And, Pyun is translated as follows; the relative, the finite, the many, the world, light, difference, form and matter, love and the particular. I will quote Suzuki’s explanation for the five steps.

[Jeong Joong Pyun] means that the one is in the many, God in the world, the infinite in the finite, etc. When we think, the [Jeong] stand in opposition and cannot be reconciled. But in fact the [Jeong] cannot be the [Jeong] nor can the [Pyun] be the [Pyun] when either stands by itself. What makes the many [Jeong] the many is because the one is in it. If the one is not there, we cannot even talk of manyness.” 31)

2) “[Pyun Joong Jeong] complements (1). If the one is in the many, the many must be in the one. The many is what makes the one possible. God is the world and the world is in God. God and the world are separate and not identical in the sense that God cannot exist outside the world and that the one is indistinguishable from the other. They are one and yet each retains its individuality: God is infinitely particularizing and the world of particulars finds itself nestled in th bosom of God.” 32)  

3) “We now come to the third step in the life of the Zen-man. This is the most crucial point where the noetic quality of the preceeding two steps transforms itself into the conative and he becomes really a living, feeling, and willing personality. Hitherto he was the head, the intellect, in however exacting a sense this might be understood. Now he is supplied with the trunk with all its visceral contents and also with all the limbs, especially with hands, the number of which may be increased even up to one thousand (symbolizing an infinity) like those of Kwannon the Bodhisattva. And in his inward life he feels like the infant Buddha who uttered, as soon as he came out of his mother’s body, this pronouncement: ‘Heaven above, earth below, I alone am the most honored one.’”33)

The [Jeong in Jeong Joong Lae] is not used in the same sense as in [Jeong Joong Pyun] or in [Pyun Joong Jeong]. The [Jeong] in [Jeong Joong Lae] is to be read together with following [Joong] as [Jeong Joong], meaning ‘right from the midst of [Jeong] as [Pyun] and [Pyun] as [Joong]. Jeong Joong Lae is like the ‘thunderous silence,’ which is the eye of the hurricane. The eye is the center of the hurricane and without the eye the hurricane does not occur. The eye is what makes the hurricane possible. Eye and hurricane conjointly constitute the totality. When the Gyum Joong Ji arrives, it jumps in the hurricane escaping from the eye, namely, the center. Here, both Jeong and Pyun are enfolded by the wind which comes from all over directions. Then, man becomes the hurricane itself.

[Gyum] means ‘both’ and refers to the dualism of black and white, dark and light, love and hate, good and bad — which is the actuality of the world in which the Zen-man leads his life now. While [Jeong Joong Lae] still reminds us of something in the preceding two steps, [Gyum Joong Ji] has altogether left them behind, for it is like itself shown of its intellectual paradoxes, or rather, it includes indiscriminately, undifferentially, or better, totalistically, everything that is intellectual or affective or conative. It is the world as we have it with all its ‘brute facts,’ as some philosophers take them, irrevocably facing us. 34) The Zen-man finally realizes that ‘klesa’ is Bodhi, and at this level experiences that appearance which is reasonably understood, and substance is one. Furthermore, appearance and substance cannot be separated and must be in a complementary condition.

Let’s continue to understand Suzuki’s explanation: “We now come to the last step, [GyumJoong Do]. The difference between this and the fourth is the use of [Do] instead of [Ji]….But, according to the traditional interpretation, [Ji] has not yet completed the act of reaching, the traveler is still on the way to the goal, whereas [Do] indicates the completion of the act. The Zen-man here attains his object, for he has reached the destination. He is working just as strenuously as ever; he stays in this world among his fellow beings. His daily activities are not changed.” 35)  

In the fourth step, Zen-man really wants to jump into the universe. His desire might be called a step of meta-cosmic. On the other hand, this fifth state is the transmeta-cosmic state, in which the Zen-man must come back to the condition unifying both appearance and substance. Although he is described as a hero, now he discovers a paradise in this world and becomes to respect all trivial things. He comes to be sincere for himself and helps others and shows a life-model for them. He hereby becomes a true-man.

Suzuki summarized all five steps as follows: “These five are divisible into two groups; noetic, affective or conative. The first three are noetic and the last two are affective or conative. The middle one, the third ‘step,’ is the transition point at which the noetic begins to be conative and knowledge turns into life. Here, the noetic comprehension of the Zen life becomes dynamic. ‘The word’ takes flesh; the abstract idea is transformed into a living person who feels, wills, hopes, aspires, suffers, and is capable of doing any amount of work. In the first of the last two ‘steps,’ the Zen-man strives to realize his insight to the utmost of his abilities. In the last he reaches his destination, which is really no destination.”36)  

The American philosopher of religion, Thomas Merton said in his book Mystics and Zen masters that “If the West continues to underestimate and neglect the spiritual heritage of the East, it may hasten the tragedy that threatens man and his civilizations. If the West can recognize that contact with Eastern thought can renew our appreciation for our own cultural heritage,…then it will be easier to defend that heritage, not only in Asia but in the West as well.”

Now the time that religion and Western science meet each other was made. I will specify such meeting of science and religion, quoting a Korean newspaper.

“Recently an attempt was to find a commonality between two different thoughts. With using brochures, television and making workshops, this great meaningful conference was given in Berkeley, California with the topic ‘Science and the meaning of mind.’ Most scientists who participated in this conference were Christians, Jews, and Islamics. For a long time they attempted to solve the conflicts between religion and science. There was a common sense in this conference in which the universe had a purpose and by its purpose human beings would be really existed.”

– Munhwa Daily (number 2054) July 20 –


6. Conclusion

Since 1970s, I have been researching comparative philosophy as well as philosophy of science to harmonize modern science and Eastern religion and ethics. Gwahak Sasang (Thought of Science), the quarterly journal in which I have worked as a chief-editor, has been published to harmonize Eastern religion and science.

In his Dharma teaching, the Great master Seo-Ong once said that the real nature of man penetrates his consciousness as well as unconsciousness, and does his free and easy state, and finally enlighten himself without any limitation. Such unlimited penetration of human nature is to attain the divine enlightenment.

According to Seo-Ong, men have to critically consider their given civilization which has been affected by modern science, and consider the relationship between their civilization and the Zen meditation. When the relationship between them is well harmonized, men can solve the problem how their future world must be guided. Seo-Ong presents his idea as follows to solve this problem.

In Zen Buddhism, we can find a principle of existence in which one and many is unified, and particulars and universals are also unified. Without particulars, ‘one’ becomes meaningless, and without one, particulars are split, lacking unification. Today men are losing such a ‘universal one’ because of particularism due to the modern science, and is taking conflicts. In a short word, our modern civilization is implicated in seeking after particulars still losing ‘one.’ Men can easily be fallen into a mental disease. To solve this problem, they have to create a new kind of scientific civilization in which one and many are unified. Then, men can harmoniously develop their civilization anticipating a peaceful world.37) 

The significance of Zen meditation is found when it is the basis of harmony and unification of all over things in the world, because by the meditation people can be in an absolute freedom. As Seo-Ong said, the absolute freedom is accomplished by ‘penetrating freedom’ itself. Furthermore, through the absolute freedom all conflicts disappear and finally all antagonistic concepts of truth and falsity, the absolute and the opposite, one and many, good and evil, beauty and ugliness, and ‘I and you’ are harmonized in which ‘one’ belongs to ‘two’ and vice versa.

Erich Jantsch, who is the Austrian physicist and one of the founders for Rome Club, said that “Buddha’s thought is the best example of process philosophy, an that each man is the mind at large and with evolution of his mind each participate with the sacred principle and purpose.”38)  If we can say that the real meaning of the Zen meditation is identified with the purpose of all universe through the Zen meditation, we can actively participate with the dynamic state of the holy universe.


1) In the 『Gwahak Sasang』Vol.25, (Seoul: Bumyangsa Press, 1998) P.24.

2) ibid., pp. 24-25

3) Karl Jaspers, Rechenschaft und Ausblick, R. Piper & Co. Verlag (Munchen), 1951, pp. 240-241.

4) Karl Jaspers, Descartes und die Philosophie, (Berlin: Walter De Gruyter & Co., 1966), p. 97.

5) John Horgan, The End of Science, p.13. Also refer to gunther Stent’s The Coming of the Golden Age, (Garden City N.Y.: History Press, 1969)

6) ibid., p. 20 Also Refer to Gunther Stent’s The Paradoxes of Progress, (San Francisco: W.H. Freeman,1978)

7) ibid., p.

8) A. N. Whitehead, Science and the Modern World, Cambridge, 1938, pp. 61-68.

9) Erich Fromm, The Heart of Man: Its Genius for Good and Evil, 1968, p. 59

10) M. Warldrop, Complexity, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992). Refer to chapter 6.

11) Refer to The Concept of Anxiety of Kierkegard.

12) Refer to Sartre’s Being and Nothing.

13) Norbert Wiener, The Human Use of Human Being, Cybernetics and Society, AVON BPPKS, 1967. p. 253.

14) Ibid., p. 254.

15) P. Brown and J. Davies, The Ghost in the Atom, Cambridge University Press, 1989.

16) Hans Reichenbach, The Rise of Scientific Philosophy, University of California Press, 1973, pp. 175-184.

17) Davis, Brown, op. cit., p. 12

18) Davies, Brown, ibid., pp. 29-35.

19) 指月錄(Zhiyuelu), Vol. 1, p. 11.

Buddha once delivered a sermon for people. Ending his sermon, Buddha picked up a flower and showed it to people without a word. People were embarrassed with his strange act and sat with curiosity. Only K??yapa smiled. here, Buddha said: “I know how the right truth is saved and how nirvana lies in our deep mind. The real image pretends to have no image. The delicate way to open the truth is to know ‘the language beyond language’ and ‘the secret beyond canon.’ I hereby give you truth.”

20) Erich Fromm and D. T. Suzuki, Zen Buddhism and Psychoanalysis, Harper & Row, 1970. p.134.

21) 末木剛博, {東洋之合理思想}, 講談社, pp.120-121, 龍樹, {中論}, 8, 24, 10.

22) T.R.V. Murti, The Central Philosophy of Buddhism, George Allen and Unwin, 1974, p.132 and p.140.

23) Junghee Un, Won-Hyo’s Taes?ng Kisillon So(大乘起信論疏), IIjisa Press, p.211.

24) Naeseok Kim, ‘Sung-lang’s Thought of Three-Principle,’ in Anthology of Buddhistic Essays for honoring Dr. Baek Seonguk, Dongguk University Press, pp. 43-67.

25) Refer to the same page of the above book.

26) Refer to his introduction of Sipmunhwajaengnon(十門和諍論)

27) Refer to introduction of the above book.

28) Refer to the introduction of the above book.

29) Erich Fromm & suzuki, op. cit., pp.60-61.

30) Ibid., p. 61.

31) Ibid., p. 61

32) Ibid., p. 61

33) Ibid., pp. 61-66

34) Ibid., p. 67-73.

35) Ibid., p. 74

36) Ibid., p. 60

37) Seo-Ong, The Collective Essays of Dharma Teaching, Minjoksa Press, 1998, p. 196.

38) Erich Jantach, The Self-Organizing Universe, Pergamon Press, 1980 (trans. by Dongsun Hong, 1989) pp. 422-423.



Cheng Sungbon

Dongguk University


In general, it is erroneously assumed that the patriarchal Ch’an is an easy-going religion which, appropriating the declaration of Ma-tsu Tao-i (馬祖 道一, 709-788), who is an outstanding Ch’an master of the T’ang Dynasty, saying, ‘Tao lies in ordinary human mind (平常心是道)’ does not require a cultivation, for it is embodied in the ordinary human mind of everyday life. And the dictum, ‘the mind itself is no other than the Buddhahood (卽心是佛)’ has also been regarded as a supporter of the foregoing oversight.

In fact, in the patriarchal Ch’an tradition of the T’ang Dynasty, we may come across numerous statements which, in its face value, seems to thoroughly deny the cultivation or even the enlightenment itself: for instance, the assertion of Ma-tsu, ‘Tao does not call for the practice (道不用修)’, or the phrase found in the Pao-lin chuan (寶林傳), and in the Lin-chi lu (臨濟錄), ‘there is neither practice nor verification (無修無證)’ typically shows ostensible negligence of practice or enlightenment in the Buddhist religion.

It is the same case as the Tso-ch’an (坐禪, meditation in sitting position): Records found in the Ch’uan-teng lu (傳燈錄), or the Ch’an-yu lu (禪語錄) tell us that Ch’an masters could achieve the enlightenment through insignificant incidents run across in the ordinary mundane life, or through the dialogue with Ch’an masters, or through routine chores, not even mentioning the practice of Tso-ch’an. It is, therefore, no wonder to assert that, as the juncture of the enlightenment can be ‘spontaneously’ encountered without any artificiality, the practice of Tso-ch’an is not imperative in the Ch’an Buddhism.

The anecdote of Ma-tsu Tao-i may even deepen this sort of misunderstanding:

When Ma-tsu Tao-i practice Tso-ch’an in Mt. Nan-yueh (南嶽) to attain Buddhahood, the master Hui-jang (懷讓), severely criticizing the practice of Tso-ch’an, says; “if you are determined to be the Buddha through the practice of Tso-ch’an, it is as absurd as you are to make a mirror by grinding a particle of a tile.”

These specific examples mentioned above, however, do not necessarily mean that practice is of no use in the system of patriarchal Ch’an Buddhism. It is true that those who have distorted view on the patriarchal Ch’an and its catechism, often claim such view as Ch’an does not call for any practice or cultivation whatsoever because ordinary human mind, which we are inherently granted, stand for the Buddhist truth. By doing so, they, advertently or inadvertently, have undermined the true spirit of the patriarchal Ch’an Buddhism.

Thus, this work, in its attempt to set what is misled right, will be mainly focused to criticize those possible misunderstandings and, hopefully, to serve the re-establishment of the fundamental spirit of the patriarchal Ch’an Buddhism. In order to achieve present task, it will be concerned with a few questions as follows:

– What the Master Hui-jang criticized Ma-tsu’s practice of Tso-ch’an which the latter thought would lead the attainment of the Buddhahood for?

– Is the practice of Tso-ch’an useless in the system of the patriarchal Ch’an Buddhism?

– On what ground did Ma-tsu assert that ‘Tao does not call for the practice,’ claiming that ‘Tao lies in ordinary human mind (平常心)’?

– What is, then, the definition of the ordinary human mind?

– As a whole, how is the patriarchal Ch’an practice systematized, and how does the claim, ‘Tao does not call for the practice’ get the validity in this system?


– Tao lies in ordinary human mind –

It is often said that the patriarchal Ch’an Buddhism is ‘the religion of everyday life’, ‘the religion of mundane life’ or ‘the religion of self-enlightenment.’ To validate these statements, it is necessary to examine the definitive dictum of patriarchal Ch’an Buddhism, which is ‘Tao lies in ordinary human mind.’

According to the Ch’uan-teng lu (vol. 28), the juncture around which the dictum, ‘Tao lies in ordinary human mind’ was produced, is described as follows:

The practice is not necessary to achieve the Tao. All that is required is non-defilement. What is defiled? If one arouse the disposition of the life and death (sa?s?ra) and get deliberately intentive (to be the Buddha), it is called defilement (of the mind). If one wish to know the Tao, it (Tao) lies in ordinary human mind. The ordinary human mind means, by definition, the mind without deliberate disposition, without the dichotomy of right or wrong, without adoption or rejection, without the attachment to either permanence or impermanence (of the dharmas), or without distinction of the ordinary man or the sage. The S?tra says; ‘the bodhisattva practice is neither that of the ordinary man or that of the sage. What is confronted with things and events and what is associated with daily circumstances (that is ordinary human mind) is nothing other than the Tao. Tao is dharmadh?tu, and every mysterious functions as countless as the sands of Ganges river are not ruled out of the dharmadh?tu.

(T. vol. 52, p. 440a)

This celebrated sermon of Ma-tsu is recorded in his autobiography in the Ch’uan-teng lu and the Yu-lu (語錄). Let us, then, investigate the ordinary human mind as is adopted in his sermon. The sermon has it that the ordinary human mind is ‘that of neither deliberate disposition, nor the dichotomy of right or wrong, nor adoption or rejection, nor permanence or impermanence, nor distinction of the ordinary man or the sage.’ In short it designates unbiased, non-deliberate ‘fundamental mind (本來心).’

Likewise, the Hsin-hsin ming (信心銘) signifies the same idea:

The ultimate Tao is of no difficulty

It is only repugnant to discrimination

(至道無難 唯嫌揀擇)

Consequently, ‘the ordinary human mind (平常心)’ defined by Ma-tsu indicates non-biased, non-fixed, or non-discriminative original human mind (本來心). And this original human mind is the Tao, and, at the same time, is the Buddhahood (卽心是佛).

Nevertheless, a historical survey on the thought of Shen-hui (神會, 684-758) of Southern branch of Ch’an Buddhism and the Liu-tsu t’an-ching (六祖壇經) provides us with a little different information as to how human mind may be defined: That is, both of them advocate ‘true nature of mind (眞如自性)’ which is originally pure. As they discriminate delusive mind (妄念) and pure mind (眞如自性), the former is inferior and is to be criticized in favor of the latter. The system of practice, accordingly, advocates the abrupt realization of the true nature of mind, which is so called abrupt seeing one’s own nature (頓悟見性).

On the other hand, Ma-tsu does not discriminate the delusive mind and true nature of mind. He integrates two different minds into one ‘ordinary human mind’ that functions in the everyday life. Given the standpoint of Ma-tsu, there is no true nature of mind apart from delusive mind. In other words, ‘the ordinary human mind’ proclaimed by Ma-tsu is none other than ‘the true nature of mind (眞如自性)’ or ‘true nature of originally pure mind (自性淸淨心). Let us examine his own remarks cited in the Ma-tsu yu-lu (馬祖語錄):

(He) again asked; “what attitude do we have to keep to attain the Tao?”

The Master Ma-tsu replied; “the true nature of mind is inherently secured in us. Only those who are not entangled with things and events (i. e., external objects) may be truly called practitioners. If one takes what is good at the cost of what is evil, or practices meditation to cultivate insight into the emptiness, it is deliberate mind. Furthermore, if one seeks after the Tao outside, he would be only alienated from it.

(Zokuzokyo, vol. 119, p. 406a)

The ordinary human mind, as Ma-tsu asserts, is equivalent to the true nature of pure mind which all human beings immanently keep within themselves. In fact, the ordinary human mind of everyday life is boundlessly fruitful and perfect and it is, at the same time, naive and normal mind. As mentioned above, the ordinary human mind of Ma-tsu does not indicate the discriminative, biased, and defiled mind, but the originally pure, unbiased and non-discriminative mind.

Ma-tsu’s own sermon confirms again this very point: “The practice is not necessary to achieve the Tao. All that is required is non-defilement. What is defiled? If one arouse the disposition of the life and death (sa?s?ra) and get deliberately intentive (to be the Buddha), it is called defilement (of the mind).”

Asserting that ‘Tao lies in ordinary human mind’, Ma-tsu clarifies that the Tao is to be realized by the ordinary mind detached from defilements. In the Ma-tsu’s system of thought, the defilement means the mind of sa?s?ra (transmigration) stained with kle?a (lust), or deliberate, discriminative disposition of mind with which one practices to attain the Buddhahood. Only if the mind is dispense with such defilements, the original pure mind will be revealed of itself. And it is so-called ‘the ordinary human mind.’

In the chapter for Hui-neng of the the Ch’uan-teng lu (vol. 5), it is said that ‘Tao is realized by virtue of the mind (道由心悟).’ Again, in the Tsu-t’ang chi (祖堂集, vol. 3), there is such a phrase as ‘no deliberate mind is identical with the Tao (無心是道)’. As such, Tao lies in the awakened mind, not in any place or things in the external world. In short, these statements emphasize that the most crucial factor in the realization of the Tao is the self-awakening of the original pure mind.

It should be reminded here that the term of defilement (汚染), which seems to be Ma-tsu’s own innovation, as mentioned before, was adopted with the presupposition that ‘the ordinary human mind’ is identical with ‘the true nature of originally pure mind.’ To be sure, the ordinary human mind asserted by Ma-tsu is not defiled, discriminative ordinary mind (衆生心). If so, does the practice, which seems to have been a effective device to wipe out such discriminative defilements, not necessary?

There is a well known dialogue between Hui-neng, the Sixth Patriarch and Nan-yueh Hui-jang, his disciple, in which, along with the term ‘defilement’, the pivotal point of the theory concerning practice and verification in the Ch’an Buddhism is referred. It is found in the chapter for Nan-yueh Hui-jang of the Ch’uan-teng lu (vol. 5):

The Sixth Patriarch; Where are you from?

Hui-jang; I’m from Sung-shan.

The Sixth Patriarch; What kind of a thing thus came?

Hui-jang; Even if you say it ‘a thing’, it (your designation) is not proper.

The Sixth Patriarch; Is there any necessity do you think to practice and to verify?

Hui-jang; Even though neither of them is not necessary, what is the most important is non-defilement.

The Sixth Patriarch; Only this non-defilement is what is secured and cherished by all the Buddhas. You’ve got the point and so do I.

(T. vol. 515, p. 240c)

This is the juncture where Nan-yueh Hui-jang inherited the Buddhist Truth from the Sixth Patriarch.@@@ When Hui-jang says “Even if you say it ‘a thing’, it (your designation) is not proper”, it is derived from his own experience. By virtue of this insight, Hui-jang could inherit the authentic tradition of Ch’an Buddhism which stemmed from the Sixth Patriarch. This remark, which has been often cited by Ch’an masters, is believed to have been the philosophical foundation by which the Hui-neng’s stanza of the mind was altered into the line, ‘there is nothing by nature (本來無一物)’ in the Liu-tsu t’an-ching.

Both of the dicta, “Even if you say it ‘a thing’, it (your designation) is not proper (說似一物卽不中)” and “there is nothing by nature (本來無一物)” convey the same idea: As everything is by nature impermanent and lacks of their own being, that is, is empty, there is no entity or form that is self-existent. The idea that ‘there is no self-consistent dharma (無有定法)’

bore in the Diamond S?tra manifests the same way of thought. In other words, the dictum, ‘there is nothing by nature (本來無一物)’, indicates the truth of emptiness entertained by Mah?y?na Buddhism. Consequently, the Sixth Patriarch verified Hui-jang of his full enlightenment, because, the Sixth Patriarch thought, the latter declare the truth of emptiness by his dictum, “even if you say it ‘a thing’, it (your designation) is not proper (說似一物卽不中).”

Subsequently, when the Sixth Patriarch asked again to make sure Hui-jang’s stage of enlightenment, “Is there any necessity do you think to practice and to verify (還可修證否)?” Then, Hui-jang answered, “Even though neither of them is not necessary, what is the most important is non-defilement.” At this juncture Hui-neng, fully satisfied, verify his authenticity of enlightenment saying, “Only this non-defilement is what is secured and cherished by all the Buddhas. You’ve got the point and so do I.” In this episode, Hui-neng explicitly advances that the content of enlightenment of all the Buddhas is no other than the non-defilement. Whoever achieves the non-defilement (of mind), Hui-neng acknowledges, is undoubtedly the enlightened one.

Here, it may be safe here to summarize the Ch’an Buddhist point of view concerning practice and verification: The non-defilement (of mind) means the originally pure mind detached from any discriminations, prejudices, and so forth. This mind is, however, not different from that of everyday mundane life. All human beings are inherently granted this fundamental mind. Accordingly, this fundamental mind is not acquired through practice or any kind of deliberate effort because it is already seated in them. Only within this limited meaning, the assertion ‘the Tao does not call for the practice, could have the right place.

It is clear, therefore, that the mind declared by Ma-tsu in his dictum, ‘Tao lies in ordinary human mind,’ does not indicate the defiled human mind (衆生心), but originally pure, fundamental mind which functions in daily life without any defilement of lust, ignorance, hatred, or even the desire to be the Buddha. What, then, constitutes the practice of non-defilement?


The fundamental spirit of the Ch’an Buddhism needs to be realized in everyday life of ordinary human beings, who freely interacts with men and their circumstances, whether it is a predicament or a favorable situation, without any impediment. It is a life of freedom and wisdom even in a worldly level. The Ch’an Buddhism signify the life of ordinary human mind, and thereby fulfill the world of the Buddha which is original mind. The basis of the patriarchal Ch’an Buddhist practice consists of Tso-ch’an, Ch’an dialogue and daily chores. Let us examine one by one.

1) The practice of Tso-ch’an

Tso-ch’an is regarded as the essential practice of the Ch’an Buddhism.

Basically, the practice of Tso-ch’an is a device by which one elucidates the original state of one’s own self. It is the practice carried out in a quiet place, mostly in the hall of meditation, either individually or collectively. Through the practice of Tso-ch’an, which is self-awakening meditation, the mindfulness is secured. Again, through mindfulness, the path leading to enlightenment is cultivated.

From the historical point of view, there is no doubt that the formation of the Chinese Ch’an school initiated by the group of the practitioners of Tso-ch’an. Letting aside the case of the Buddha ??khyamuni who practiced meditation under the bodhi tree and the legendary story of Bodhidharma who is believed to have practiced meditation against the wall at the Shaolin temple in the Mt. Sung-shan (嵩山) for nine years, Tao-hsin (道信), the Forth Patriarch, who established the Tung-shan teaching, is supposed to have lectured the Tso-ch’an i (坐禪儀) at the Mt. Shuang-feng (雙峰). Hung-jen, the Fifth Patriarch, who practice Tso-ch’an under Tao-hsin’s instruction, is believed to have worked in the daytime and to have practiced Tso-ch’an in the night.

It is also well known that the tradition of retreat of both in summer and winter has been observed since the time of the historical Buddha. In the retreat, the most essential practice is Tso-ch’an. It is confirmed that the practice of Tso-ch’an has been essential practice at least in the Chinese Ch’an Buddhist school when we look up the Ch’an-yu lu in which the practice of Tso-ch’an is often taken the theme of Ch’an dialogue, or the Lin-chi lu which bear the information about the practice of Tso-ch’an of Huang-po and Lin-chi.

Nevertheless, as we have seen in the previous chapter, there are many who misunderstand that the patriarchal Ch’an Buddhism reject the practice of Ch’an. It is no wonder considering such phrases as; ‘Tao does not call for the practice’ (by Ma-tsu) ‘Tao is realized by virtue of the mind, why Tso-ch’an?’ or ‘The originally pure Buddhahood is universal presently and inherently. So the adoption of the practice of Tso-ch’an is not necessary’ (by Hui-neng) Above all, the Ch’an dialogue between Ma-tsu and Hui-jang, so called ‘making a mirror by grinding a tile,’ which is recorded in the chapter for Nan-yueh Hui-jang of the the Ch’uan-teng lu (vol. 5), shows a typical example:

During the Period of K’ai-yuan (開元), Ma-tsu Tao-i was practicing Tso-ch’an at the Chuan-fa yuen (傳法院). The master (i. e., Nan-yueh Hui-jang), noticing he was a promising practitioner, approached and asked him, “what are you practicing Tso-ch’an for?”

“I want to be the Buddha.” replied Ma-tsu.

Thereupon, the master brought a tile and began to grind it against a rock in front of the hermitage. Seeing that, Ma-tsu asked, “what are you doing with it?”

“I’m going to make a mirror.” answered the master.

“How can you make a mirror by grinding a tile?”

“How, then, can you make the Buddha by practicing Tso-ch’an?” retorted the master.

At this, Ma-tsu asked, “What should I practice then?”

“When a farmer drive a cart, if the cart would not proceed, to which one does he have to take a whip, the cow, or the cart?” the master asked in return.

Ma-tsu could not answer for the question.

Then, the master gave him an instruction as follows;

“Do you practice the Tso-ch’an (坐禪, sitting meditation) or learn to make the Tso-fo (坐佛, sitting Buddha)? If it is Tso-ch’an, Ch’an has nothing to do with sitting or reclining. If it is Tso-fo, fo has no established posture (or form). Just dwell on the non-residing truth and never arouse the mind of adoption or rejection. If you learn to make the Buddha, you will end up with suffocating the Buddha! If you attach to the posture of sitting meditation, you will never realize the true purport of the Buddha-truth!”

On hearing the master’s sermon, he felt as if he drank the ghee (clarified butter).

(T. vol. 51, p. 240c)

This is the juncture in which Nan-yueh Hui-jang transmitted his Buddha-truth to Ma-tsu. It is well known, and typical example showing the practical feature of the patriarchal Ch’an Buddhism which emphasize the dicta, ‘neither practice nor verification is available’ or ‘the Tao does not call for the practice.’ This anecdote also points out wrong views related to the practice of Tso-ch’an. For instance, the practitioner should not have prejudice or fixed ideation as to the sitting position or even the deliberate purpose to be the Buddha. In this context, the Sixth Patriarch emphasizes the practice and verification without defilement, and Ma-tsu also asserts the ordinary human mind without defilement.

Even though the patriarchal Ch’an Buddhism seems to have denied the practice of Tso-ch’an in appearance, it should not be forgotten that it always presupposes the practice of Tso-ch’an. At any rate, Tso-ch’an is one of the Three Teachings of the Buddhism, which are precept, meditation (or concentration), and wisdom. In Ch’an dialogue, masters never asks how long one have practiced Tso-ch’an in the monastery. They always asks how long one have been there, because the practice of Tso-ch’an is a part of daily routine.

The Tun-huang (敦煌) version of the Liu-tsu t’an-ching systematically establishes the practical spirit of the practice of Tso-ch’an. The S?tra presents the practical spirit of the Southern branch of the Ch’an Buddhism as follows:

What is the characteristics of the practice of Tso-ch’an in the Southern branch of the Ch’an Buddhism? In this teaching, the practice of Tso-ch’an regard as of great importance not to be hindered by things and events in the external world. Not to arouse delusive mind toward the external world is called Tso (sitting), and, by virtue of realization of the Buddhahood, not to be confused is called Ch’an (meditation).

This utterance invokes the question of the form of the Ch’an tradition observed by the Northern branch or traditional Ch’an in general except the Southern branch. The Northern branch of the Ch’an Buddhism, the latter thought, was only concerned with the elimination of lust (kle?a), or, at best, was interested in the state of quiescence the practice of the Ch’an brought about. Though the same idea as this is found in the Shen-hui yu-lu (神會語錄) for the first time, in the course of editing the Liu-tsu t’an-ching, he inserted in it this definitive Southern Ch’an idea, thereby the essential philosophy of the Southern branch of Ch’an Buddhist school was firmly established in the history of Chinese Buddhism.@@@

‘Not to be hindered by things and events in the external world’ indicates the practice of the emptiness. That is, Tso (sitting), it is said, means the state that the original mind is not obstructed by the external world. That, by virtue of realization of the Buddhahood, not to be confused is called Ch’an (meditation) indicates the state of the ‘abrupt enlightenment and seeing true nature’ which is asserted by the Southern branch of the Ch’an Buddhism. Enlightening of the Buddhahood may be understood, in this school, as the experience in which the practitioner does not give up the subjectivity of the enlightenment and, on the ground of the self-enlightenment, and exerts the wisdom of enlightenment freely and without obstruction through the jungle of things and events.

The definition of the Southern branch of the Ch’an Buddhism, as represented in the Liu-tsu t’an-ching of the Tun-huang version, integrates the thought of emptiness of the school of Prajñ? and the thought of the Buddha-nature into the practice of the Ch’an which is the essence of the practical spirit of the Mah?y?na Buddhism. Based on this definition of the Tso-ch’an, Tsung-tse (宗?) of the Sung Dynasty wrote the Tso-ch’an i, and Lin-chi, in his Lin-chi lu, also made exposition as to the practical spirit, the self-enlightenment of the ordinary human mind, of the practice of Tso-ch’an:

If you admire the sage and dislike the ordinary man, you never will come out of the sea of birth and death (sa?s?ra, the transmigration). As the kle?a (passion) is aroused by the delusive mind, if you can do without the delusive mind (that is, if you do not exert the deliberate mind), how are you hindered by the kle?a? Only if you do not attach to the form by discriminative disposition, you would immediately obtain the Tao. Even though you seek after (the Tao) elsewhere for three asa?khya period, you are never freed from the transmigration. You’d better practice Tso-ch’an in lotus position on the meditation board at the Ch’an monastery.

(the Lin-chi lu, vol. 13, p. 13.)

Birth and death here means, as in the sermon of Ma-tsu, the arising and disappearing of the kle?a (生滅心). The desire that seeks after the Tao in the external world and the discrimination of the sage and the ordinary man – all these defilements should be eliminated through the practice of Ch’an in the Ch’an monastery. In this context, Lin-chi discourses no deliberate mind (無心): ‘The place where your delusive mind of an instant is pacified, is the tree of wisdom. And the place where your delusive mind of an instant is not pacified, is the tree of ignorance. The original mind without delusive disposition is equal to no deliberate mind. Living at ‘this very place’, ‘without deliberate mind or action’ is the life where the dictum, ‘Tao lies in ordinary human mind’ is realized. Subsequently, the Lin-chi lu reiterates the concrete method for Ch’an practice in the following way:

You, monks! Only yourself that is working in front of you is none other than the Patriarchs and the Buddhas. Not knowing this, you are looking for the Tao outside in vain. Don’t be awry! You can not get at the dharma outside nor can you get at anything inside. Even though you are trying to get something from my own discourse, you would simply fail. The most important thing for you to do is to pacify your delusive mind, and by doing so, you would live freely without any deliberate intention. Do not let the delusion that has arisen last and let the delusion that is not yet arisen be as it is. If you practice the Tso-ch’an in this way even for an instant, it is far better than you do otherwise for ten years.

(T. vol. 47, p. 500c)

The Buddhist dharma is the dharma of the mind aiming to realize the mind as Hui-neng said, ‘the Tao is realized by virtue of the mind.’ So Ma-tsu and Lin-chi always emphasize that one should not look after the Tao (or truth) outside (莫向外馳求). The assertion, ‘do not let the delusion that has arisen last and let the delusion that is not yet arisen be as it is,’ manifests the core idea of the practice of the Tso-ch’ang. It says that, letting aside any delusion or things and events whatsoever, one should be well aware of himself and this very situation in order to live in accordance with the original pure mind. There is a dialogue in the chapter for Tung-shan in the Tsu-t’ang chi (vol. 6).

Question; what is the ailment?

The master; The delusive mind of an instant is the ailment.

Question; What is the remedy?

The master; To keep the delusive mind not to arise is the remedy.

This is also cited in the Tsung-ching lu (宗鏡錄, vol. 38), and the same idea is also expounded by Shen-hui in his discourse based on the Ta-ch’eng ch’i-hsin lun (大乘起信論). Moreover, Tsung-mi (宗密), in his Tu-hsu (都序), and Huang-po, in his record of discourse, account the same philosophy of mind. In this way, pacifying the delusive mind is thus the main structure of the practice of the Tso-ch’an. Tsung-tse of the Sung Dynasty systematizes it in his Tso-ch’an i in the following way:

Do not take into account good and evil. If the delusive mind once arise, be fully aware of the fact that the delusive mind has arisen. If you are aware of it, it will disappear right away. If you practice in this way for a long time and ignore all cause and conditions (of your dispositions), the objective world and your subjectivity will be integrated. This is the essence of the Tso-ch’an.

The maxim, ‘do not take into account good and evil,’ which is for the first time exposed in Shen-hui’s discourse, is later appeared in the Liu-tsu t’an-ching as the Hui-neng’s own wording to Hui-ming who chased him to the uphill. What is then the practice of not taking into account good and evil? As we have examined in Ma-tsu’s discourse, any discrimination, between the sage and ordinary man, or between good and evil, is a defilement of mind. The defiled mind taking adoption or rejection is discriminative mind. And, finally it is the delusive mind.

It is important not to arouse the delusive mind. And the particular practice not to arouse the delusive mind is ‘to be fully aware of the fact that the delusive mind has arisen.’ If one can not be aware of the fact that the delusive mind has arisen, he will be submissively drifted in the sea of birth and death (i. e., in the transmigration). On the contrary, if one is able to be aware of the fact, by means of the practice of Tso-ch’an, that the delusive mind has arisen in him, the delusive mind will disappear at once and the practitioner will restore the fundamental, pure mind. That is, the essential function of the practice of the Ch’an is the self-realization and restoration of the fundamental pure mind which is, by the definition, not discriminating good and evil, the sage and ordinary man, the adoption and rejection, and so forth.

2) The practice by virtue of Ch’an dialogue

In the Ch’an dialogue a master and his disciple encounter, where the former provides the latter with the opportunity to realize the enlightenment. It is an extension of the life of Ch’an practice. What then is the origin and function of the Ch’an dialogue?

As Ch’an is an self-enlightened practice based on the original pure mind, Ch’an dialogue can be defined as the dialogue between original pure minds. It is quite different from those between delusive minds of the ordinary sentient beings. In short, the way of Ch’an life in which the function of the original mind is inter-communicated is called Ch’an dialogue.

Ch’an dialogue begins with the affirmation of language and verbal expressions as they are the revelations of original mind or the Buddha nature. So, with the activation of the Ch’an-yuan ching-kui (禪院淸規) in the Ch’an monasteries, the convention of public Ch’an dialogue has been regularly evolved as one of the pedagogical method since the T’ang Dynasties. Some of the devices are Si-jung (kor. 示衆), Sang-dang bup-mun (上堂法門), So-cham bup-mun (小參法門). The tradition of the Ch’an dialogue in monastery has been established through this dialogues and sermon.

The characteristics of the Tso-ch’an may be summarized as the self-enlightenment of original mind through establishment of self integration by oneself, while Ch’an dialogue is formed primarily through encounters between masters and practitioners. Through mutual interaction, whether it is a verbal expression or any physical activities, one may confirm the original mind without being entangled by the objective world.

Through Ch’an dialogue, the practitioner may experience a great conversion. Sometimes one may ask himself who he is or what he is doing at the moment in question. And, by so doing, by specific cause and conditions, he thoroughly realizes the original mind which is beyond the dualism of subject and object.

The maxim of Ch’an Buddhism, ‘directly pointing out the mind of human being, one makes him see the true nature to be the Buddha (直指人心 見性成佛),’ typically stands for the spirit of Ch’an dialogue. The phrase, ‘To point out the human mind,’ indicates pedagogical method by which the masters point out the original mind of the disciple and thereby makes the latter enlighten the Buddhahood.

The reason why the method of Ch’an dialogue is brought about as a part of Ch’an practice is to affirm the original pure mind in the everyday life. The practice of Tso-ch’an is focused on the individual, speechless meditation by cutting off any activities in daily life. But we can not live without physical or mental activities such as going, staying, sitting, reclining, speech, silence, acting, stillness, and even relieving oneself nature. The Ch’an dialogue is a device not to lose the original pure mind within these activities of daily life.

The Ch’an dialogue is philosophically founded on the Ma-tsu’s Ch’an thought, embodied in his dictum, ‘Tao lies in ordinary human mind,’ which asserts that Ch’an practice should be carried out in everyday activities because they are revelation of the original mind. In other words, the Ch’an dialogue has been evolved as a practice of everyday activities, in which the original pure mind should not be buried by things and events of the external world. ‘Inquire into the meaning of a thing by pointing it out’ in the Leng-chia shih-tzu-chi (楞伽師資記) too is one of the Ch’an dialogue. To be sure, as the records of Ch’an dialogue shows, everything of mundane world, whether it is animal, plants, tea meeting, etc., can be a theme of Ch’an dialogue.

That our daily activities is, as a whole, a manifestation of the Buddha-nature (or original pure mind) may well be expressed by Ma-tsu in his dictum, ‘Tao lies in ordinary human mind,’ or by Lin-chi in his aphorism, ‘be the subject everywhere you go, be truthful any situation you are placed (隨處作主 立處皆眞).’ A stanza for the transmission of the Buddhist dharma by the venerable Manara, the 22th Patriarch of the Ch’an Buddhist school, was produced based on the practical spirit of the patriarchal Ch’an Buddhism:

The mind is shifted as the objectives shift

And the juncture of the shift is truly mysterious

If one realize the true nature following the stream of the objectives,

he would not hindered by joy or sorrow.

As the Liu-tsu t’an-ching says, the true nature of mind would not be colored by the objects of the external world. This stanza recites the same idea as the patriarchal Ch’an Buddhism. So to speak, in every situation, one should not forget original mind in order not to be attached to the objective world, such as joy, sorrow, or discriminative dispositions.

3) Duty and labour in the monastery life

This is a Ch’an practice in daily activities, the evolution of the original mind.

In fact, the labour of monks was prohibited in the Indian Buddhist precept, whereas in the Chinese Ch’an Buddhist monastery, it was a duty for monks to do daily labour under the regulation of the Ch’an monastery (禪院) since it was branched out of the Precept monastery (律院).

Pai-chang (百杖, 749-814), in his Ch’an-men kui-shih (禪門規式), prescribes that ‘the universally required labour (普請) should be adopted by all the members of the community for co-operation.’ The same rule is found in the Tai-sung-seng shih-hueh (大宋僧史略) compiled by Ts’uan-ning (贊寧), and in the autobiography of Pai-chang in the Sung kao-seng chuan (宋高僧傳). The universally required regulations is a responsibility of labour for all, from the elder to novice, to co-operate in the daily chore as well as productive labour to run the monastery. In a sense, it is a Ch’an practice through which the original mind is cultivated. The practice of labour is, along with Ch’an dialogue, the Ch’an practice composed of daily activities to sustain mindfulness. It is, therefore, called cultivation within things and events.

This feature of the Chinese Buddhism differs, in a large amount, from that of the Indian Buddhist tradition where Buddhist practice consists of mortification, meditation in a retreat, or mendicant wandering. There are lots of episodes concerning labour in monastery: Hung-jen, the 5th Patriarch of the Chinese Ch’an school, participated in labour during daytime; Hui-neng, the Sixth Patriarch, laboured in the mill of the monastery for several years From these legendary episodes, it is supposed that the labour was a part of the Ch’an practice. The chapter for Pai-chang in the Ch’uan-teng lu, records following dialogue on the labour:

Yun-yen (雲巖); For whom are you working so hard?

Pai-chang; For the single person.

Yun-yen; Why don’t you have him work?

Pai-chang; He is not able to make a living.

The single person is a true personality with no ranks (無位眞人), that is, the self-enlightened one. In this context, it is clear that the labour is another form of the Ch’an practice. Ch’an means the life of the Tao – the life living with the original mind in all the activities. Here, the discrimination between labour and Ch’an practice does not make sense.

The patriarchal Ch’an is not so much as the negative practice of mere elimination of kle?a and discriminative dispositions as the practice within everyday activities awakening original mind to the enlightenment. As the Buddha-nature is universally granted to all sentient beings regardless their race or status, according to the idea of the S?tras, there should not be any discrimination on either the kinds of activities or on varying ranks of the member of the community.

Both the dignity of human beings and the ideal of the original mind can not be reified by means of mere speculative reasoning; Only through the practice of mental or physical activities may the ideal be realized by the practitioner. Due to the universally required regulations, the Ch’an school of the T’ang Dynasty could, both economically and orderly, secure its survival. This trend is well informed by the maxim of Pai-chang, ‘no work, no meal (一日不作 一日不食).’ It stands for a harmony of daily life and Ch’an practice. In this manner, the Chinese Ch’an Buddhism put its root into the daily life of the Chinese society.

As the universally required labour consists of cutting wood, plowing land, practitioners always interact with the nature. This aspect also colored the Chinese Ch’an Buddhism. The record of activities in the Lin-chi lu shows an anecdote where Huang-po and Lin-chi have a talk during the universally required labour:

At the universally required labour, Lin-chi was working behind Huang-po. Looking back Lin-chi, Huang-po noticed that the former doesn’t have a hoe in his hand.

“What is the matter with your hoe?”

“The single person took it with him,” answered Lin-chi.

“Come on, let us talk about on this matter.”

When Lin-chi neared, Huang-po, raising his hoe, said, “No one ever cannot take this one.”

Thereupon, Lin-chi snatched the hoe from Huang-po’s hand and said, “How did I have it in my hand?”

“I have seen one who did the universally required labour pretty well,” then Huang-po returned to the monastery right away.

This dialogue shows that labour is not mere a labour but an experimental station where the original pure mind is perpetually put into a trial. As mentioned above, the interaction with nature is a feature of the Chinese Ch’an Buddhism. And this interaction in the long run leads to the integration of subject and object. The stanza of Su Tung-po (蘇東坡) pictures this integration;

The sound of the stream is the lengthy sermon of the Buddha.

How is the form of the mountain not the body of the Buddha?

(溪聲便是廣長舌 山色豈非淸淨身)

Su Tung-po, well versed in the Ch’an philosophy, sees in the objects of the nature the manifestation of the truth, i. e., the Buddha-nature or the original pure mind, whatever it may be called. All the objects of nature found in the Ch’an literature is not mere objects but reified truth that is emptiness, or oneness of all the existences.


So far, we have surveyed the system of Ch’an practice in terms of Tso-ch’an, Ch’an dialogue and Ch’an as a daily labour. As a matter of fact, they are classified as such for the convenience’ sake. The basic spirit common to all is the living Ch’an cultivating the original pure mind in any circumstances. In the patriarchal Ch’an, the life of Ch’an is called Ts’an-ch’an (參禪) which signifies the life living with the original mind that is not to be defiled by the external world. The Cheng-tao ke (證道歌) resounds the Ts’an-ch’an as follows:

Wandering over the rivers and the sea,

Crossing the mountains and the streams,

(I) sought the masters and the Tao, practicing Ts’an-ch’an.

Since I found the path of the Ts’ao-hsi (曹溪, referring to Hui-neng, the Sixth Patriarch),

I have been fully convinced that there is nothing to worry about birth and death (transmigration).

Going is the practice of the Ch’an, and sitting is also the practice of Ch’an.

Whether speaking, keeping silence, moving, or being still, the original entity is in peace.

This stanza of Yung-chia Hsuan-chueh (靈嘉 玄覺, 675-713) recites the life of the Ch’an practitioner who wanders about to seek masters all over the country, and, at the same time, it presents the spirit of the patriarchal Ch’an free from all fetters of transmigration. This absolute freedom is obtained through Ts’an-ch’an, the sincere effort to resolve the question of life and death in this world of impermanence.

The lines of the stanza, ‘whether speaking, keeping silence, moving, or being still, the original entity is in peace,’ relate the stage of the sage who lives daily life with absolute freedom and full self-enlightenment. As he transcends all hindrances, he can live leisurely in peace under the light of the original pure mind. Both of the phrase in the Li-tai fa-pao chi (歷代法寶記), ‘Ch’an is cultivated all the time,’ and the phrase in the Tun-wu yao-men (頓悟要門), ‘to those who understand, either one of the going, staying, sitting, or reclining is the Tao,’ delivers the same idea.

The practice of Ch’an is self-practice of the original mind immanent in the practitioner, the the practice restoring the original pure mind by removing the cloud of delusive mind through practice of Ch’an. So, it consists of self-questioning process. The episode of the venerable Jui-yen (瑞巖) tells us the the way of self-questioning practice of Ch’an Buddhism:

He always calls himself, “host!.”

Then, he himself replies, “yes!”

“Are you awakened?” he again asks himself, and adds, “Anywhere, by anyone, you should not be deceived at all.”

He always resolved not to be hindered by the external objects which covers the light of the original pure mind.

The place where practitioners seek after the Tao should be the original pure mind. If one pursues the Tao in the hope of finding it in the external world, he would never realize the Buddhahood. This is why Ma-tsu and Lin-chi emphasized the introspection into the original mind, saying, ‘Do not search for (the Tao) outward.’ The Buddhist truth in general, letting aside the practice of the Ch’an, call for the exertion of a practitioner himself; as though he seems to inquire the Tao of his master, he virtually inquires it of himself. The purport of the Ch’an Buddhism is, as Lin-chi advanced in the Tsung-men tung-yao (宗門統要, vol. 5), ‘to achieve the Buddhahood and to make the Patriarch’ by elucidating the original mind immanent in all beings. Summing up, deliverance of all sentient beings, which is the final goal of the Buddhism, is initiated by the Ch’an practice centered on the cultivation of the original mind.

The Reflection On The Metaphysical Presuppositions Of The Korean Buddhism

Ven. Chong-rim

Senior Director of Research Institute
of Tripartaka Koreana
The Reflection On The Metaphysical Presuppositions Of The Korean Buddhism 


Is the Korean Buddhism Metaphysically oriented?

To speak conclusively, the answer is ‘yes,’ if we have to select one alternative between metaphysical and non-metaphysical. Although there have been different point of views among the Chinese Ch’an schools, they all interpreted the teachings of the Buddha to represent metaphysical worldview. Even the concepts such as Causality (Prat?tyasa?utp?da) and Emptiness (??nyat?), which are central terms of the Buddhism in general, have been understood in the frame of metaphysical thoughts: The former, which is the structure of the existences, has been understood by at least East Asian Buddhists as referring to the phenomenal world in the dualistic idea of noumenon and phenomena; The latter also has gained the idea of the primordial essence of the universe. The concept of the Enlightenment (悟) in the Ch’an Buddhism also presupposes metaphysical entity in the logical structure of substance (體) and function (用).

In the Buddhist thought, the origin of the metaphysical thought may be traced back to the Treatise of the Buddha-nature (佛性論) and the Tath?g?tagarbha thought (如來藏 思想) which were introduced into China in the relatively early stage. In addition to these thoughts, the metaphysical trends of the Taoist philosophy exerted critical impact on the formation of the Chinese Buddhist thought. Consequently, so called the domesticated Chinese Buddhism, such as Ch’an, T’ien-t’ai, Hua-yen etc., has been evolved in the direction of metaphysical inclinations. In this circumstance, the Buddhists of the East Asia, that is, China, Korea, Japan, have interpreted the Buddhist Scriptures and Treatises under the light of metaphysically oriented system of thought. In the same manner, the mind also came to assume the role of the creator of the world.

The limit or discrepancy of the metaphysical notion in the Buddhism played far-reaching influence on the doctrinal system of the Buddhism.

Human being bears numerous suppositions, as the basis of his activities, such as instinct, scientific evidence, divine nature, or ideology: Human being has primarily instinctive proclivity. He selects an object according to his desire and acts in accordance with the instinctive disposition. Yet very often he is not allowed to do so. Again, although he is subject to an object or the rule of nature, he is not totally destined by the law of cause and effect. Finally, even though the divine nature and an ideology may serve the ground on which he find the meaning of life or he select his action, they sometimes distort the life as it really is. All the objects of the external world, though they sometimes provide with guiding principle, mostly disguise the reality of the world from us. Thy oblige us to have dualistic viewpoint, and to make slavery life.

The metaphysical system of thought which presuppose immutable reality is non-Buddhist. This fallible viewpoint is stemmed from the illusive attachment to a criterion which regulates our way of living. According to the attitude whether one takes the metaphysical substance or not, result is quite various as to the interpretation of the Buddhist doctrine especially of one of the key terms of the early Buddhism, Causality; At least in the early Buddhism, the Ultimate Reality, or Permanent Substance whatsoever were basically denied. This standpoint, however, altered with the historical evolution of the Buddhism in which the Causality also has been understood and interpreted under the influence of this trends.

Even these days, the apparition of the Permanent view does not seem to have been completely wipe out. As long as the interpretative presupposition still throw the shade on the Buddhist thought, the metaphysical speculations would not come into an end. In other words, if we should not give up those ontological basis, the Buddhism will not escape from the pitfalls; it may either reinforce the theistic leaning, or assume mystical veil.

Hopefully, if we turn the ontological understanding into the epistemological understanding of the concepts of the Causality or Emptiness, or if we could draw the non-substantial picture of the Buddhist doctrine, the question of discrepancy embraced in East-Asian Buddhism would be resolved.


Despite the conviction that the Son (禪) implies excellent methodology, it is often doubted that the Son, which seems to assume the metaphysical trends, follows the right path the historical Buddha showed. This doubt is not solely concerned with the Son Buddhism, rather it is the question of all the sects of the Buddhist thought. When it comes to the question of the Ching-t’u (淨土, the Pure Land) school, it is more or less admittable for the school accept the metaphysical presupposition as an expedient. The case of the Son, however, it is not necessarily required.

The Causality, meaning dependently co-origination, designate the idea of relativity and interdependence. As all the existences are, as causes and conditions one another, inter- dependently woven, there is no independent, ever lasting entity apart from the relation itself.

Nonetheless, an age-old ideation that there should be the permanent existence or the primordial substance have dominated the thought of the human beings. As a result, we came to have the idea of the Absolute divine or pantheist doctrine, which gave birth to many entailed realistic categories of dualism such as the divine and man, subject and object, nature and form, substance and function, and so forth.

The Causality has also been interpreted in the frame of thought; even if the phenomena are ephemeral, it is believed, there are ever lasting, immutable essence behind them. One of the Three Marks of the Truth, impermanence (anitya 無常) signifies the truth of phenomena which is in flux, for all the existences are just transient combination of causes and conditions. The truth of non-self (an?tman 無我), by the same logical inference, denies the invariable subjectivity or essence of each phenomena; Each the existences is lacking of its own being (自性).

The crucial point lies in the concept of nirv?na (涅槃). Although the concept originally indicates the state where the kle?a is blown out, it came to point out the noumenon, the realm of the ever-lasting, primordial substance (本體界). In this context, the concept of an?tman is altered into the capitalized ?tman that is in absolute peace in that realm. In short, while the Causality indicates the phenomenal world, the concept of nirv?na points out the world of the absolutist, primordial, substance. We are accustomed to this sort of dualistic concept of dharma.

The concept of Emptiness designates neither nothingness (無), the opposite term of existence (有), nor non-existence (非有), the contradictory concept of existence (有). It denies the reification of the world of existence which is always changing without any essence within themselves. The concept of the Emptiness recognize the world of transformation as it is being never hindered by verbal expression or deep-seated disposition for the permanent existence.

If one reifies the world of relation that is in flux, the Buddhism will end up with another form of realism. At best, it may require the existence of the omniscient being who is planning the relation and controls the organizations of the universe. This distorted view of the Emptiness, no doubt, will render to be the solid ontology of the Buddhism; the concept of the Emptiness may, as a matter of course, be superseded by the Ultimate Reality or the Primordial essence of all the existences.

In the dictum, ‘in true Emptiness is mysterious existence (眞空妙有),’ the true Emptiness means both the Emptiness in existence and ,in its Emptiness, the creative power producing all beings in the universe. The Emptiness is equivalent to the Causality and to the Middle Path in terms of epistemological point of view, but not of ontologically.

In the Nirv??a S?tra (涅槃經), which discourses the Buddha-nature of all sentient beings (一切衆生 悉有佛性), the four doctrines of the early Buddhism, i. e., impermanence, suffering, emptiness, and non-self, are transformed to the Four Qualities of the Nirv??a (涅槃四德) which are permanence, joy, self, and purity on the ground of the Two Truths (二諦). In the level of the Conventional Truth, this world of transmigration is full of agony, ephemeral, non-self, and empty, where as, in the level of the Supreme Truth, the Buddha-body as the Dharma-body (法身) enjoys permanent, joyful, realm of the Self. This transform by the Nirv??a S?tra typically shows us the initiative stage of the evolution leading to the metaphysical standpoint.

When demarcating the Buddhist philosophy into ontology and epistemology, the teaching of the Buddha ??kyamuni is assigned to latter with the empirical tendency. Yet the mind in the dictum, ‘directly points out the mind of the human being (直指人心), and the nature in the dictum, ‘makes him see the nature and realize the Buddhahood (見性成佛), are identified with the metaphysical Reality. The Tao, which is eternal dharma, presupposes the Principle (理), on the other hand, the Enlightenment presupposes the nature. However, the original nature of both of the concepts, it is insisted, is empty (of its own being). The truth that the emptiness is, along with the phenomena, also empty of its own being may only be realized by endless negation of absolute negation or transcendence of the argument. Even so, the negation or transcendence can not elude the realm of metaphysical structure. We, therefore, take into account the very frame of the metaphysical speculation itself.


The religious attitude of the human beings may be divided into extroversive and introversive one. Of them, the Son methodology belongs to the latter. These two attitudes differentiate the answer to certain religious questions in terms of religious ideal, the method to lead the ideal and psychological apparatus.

The extroversive attitude lays its religious purport on the divine city. The idea of devas and the pure land may belong to this case. On the contrary, the introversive one sets up the realm of nirv??a where the divine being is no more necessary as in the case of the divine city. This is the main difference between theism and atheism.

In accordance with the form of faith or the object of faith, there are also two different types of the Absolute (being). They are personified and non-personified being. In the former case, the deliverance solely depends on the revelation and the grace of God. In the latter case, to the contrary, one has to find the path leading to the deliverance by himself. The difference between the personified and the non-personified give rise to the different attitudes of the ‘other-power’ and the ‘self-power.’

The theistic religion based on the other power, in spite of severe criticisms on it, has been prosperous even up to these days. Although the Buddhism belongs to atheistic religion, the Buddhas in the Mah?y?na Buddhism and the Bodhisattvas in the Pure Land school stand for the standpoint akin to the theism.

By the psychological attitude, religion may be also divided into the religion of pathos and that of ethos. The former, we may name the Islam and the Christianity in this category, depends on emotions and the latter, the Hinduism and the Buddhism belong to this category, on reason and intuition.

These all diversities of religious attitudes make the methodological difference of practice. There are, according to the methodology, three types of practice; petition, invocation and contemplation: The petition makes use of the method of ritual and incantation in order to get the supernatural power; The invocation is a form of faith for the the revelation and the grace of the divine being to get the deliverance by forming the relation with the transcendental divine and the human being; The contemplation stand for the introversive religion of ethos in which one wishes to attain the truth through meditation and insight.

Although the contemplative meditation or insight seems to pursue the sam?dhi (定, concentration), it entertains speculative contents as the object of the contemplation. The object of insight serves a means to get concentration. The meditation is a method to get the divine being or cosmic truth by pondering over the reality or the truth. Through the practice of insight, one does not cognize the contents of the object. It is a means of integration of man and the Ultimate Reality through the practicing the concentration of the mind and thereby eliminating delusive mind.

There is the Ku-an which is the object of the Son practice. Nevertheless, the Ko-an is not the meditative object, nor the contents of idea. Though the Ko-an sometimes implies the contents of idea, it does not conceives the contents of idea as the meditative method does. On the contrary, the Ko-an method functions to rule out the conceptual reasoning or logical inference. It is true that meditative practice also eliminates the delusive mind by concentrating on the object of the meditation. However, the Ko-an method, in addition to the function of elimination of delusive mind by concentration on the Ko-an, gives rise to doubts within the mind. In other words, denying all object, either internal idea or external things and events, the Ko-an Son practice develops only the function of doubt.

The difference between the Son practice and other system of practice seems to lie in the distinction whether a practitioner has the object of worship or the truth as the object of ideation. Thus, in this sense, it seems that only the Son methodology is able to remove the idol worship, and, even more importantly, the fallacy of the Absolutism.

In the Ko-an practice, in the first place, the conscious of doubt becomes the mass of doubt, and then both the subject that conceives the object and the object that is conceived by the object will fade away. By annihilating dualism of subject and object, which is the fundamental discrepancy of the human beings, one comes to experience radical transformation. To be oneness without being attracted by pantheism is final goal of the Son Buddhism, which is the experience of the Enlightenment.

The two typical forms of the Son practice are the Son of Calm Reflection (默照禪) and the Son of View of Hwa-du (看話禪). The difference between the two may be detected in the relation of sam?dhi (定) and the Enlightenment (悟). In the Son of Calm Reflection, the sam?dhi functions as the cause of the Enlightenment. On the other hand, in the Son of View of Hwa-du, the relation of the two is ignored. The function of the Ko-an intends the alertness of consciousness, while the sam?dhi that the Son of Calm Reflection pursues is the settling down of the mind. The purpose of the sam?dhi of the practice is the manifestation of the inherent nature on the calm mind.

Although the practice of the Ko-an partly aims at the exclusion of delusive mind or outer stimuli, the main function of the Ko-an practice is the enforcement of the mass of doubt; it is intensive function of the mind. Mere sam?dhi is no more than the serene state of the mind. But the awakened consciousness reacts every momentary stimuli as they really are in the full awareness.


The basic standpoint of the Buddhism represents atheism and not the religion of faith as the term is generally understood. The religion of the ‘other-power,’ which shows the attitude of self-annihilation, is much different from the Buddhism which seeks for the enlightenment through self-awakening. Faith oriented Buddhism, which shows the feature of the ‘other power’ religion, is in a sense not Buddhist. Religions have been evolved with the shift of time and space. So it is difficult to tell which element is Buddhist or non-Buddhist.

It is true that faith oriented Buddhism has contributed the evolution of the Buddhism, but from the viewpoint of the Son which criticizes even some of the early Buddhist doctrine, it is non-Buddhist. It is uncertain whether faith oriented Buddhism played affirmative role or not. At any rate, the faith oriented Buddhism altered the fundamental aspects of the Buddhism and contributed to the adoption of the factors of other religious thought into the Buddhist rite. This is the basis on which the Korean Buddhism is called the Buddhism of integration. In general, it is estimated by some scholars that the faith oriented Buddhism has been more or less the origin of confusion in the idea of the Buddhism.

Among the cultured religions, such as the Judaism, the Christianity, the Zoroastrianism, the Hinduism, and the Buddhism, only the Buddhism is atheistic religion. The Mah?y?na Buddhism, different from the early Buddhism which primarily emphasized individual practice to achieve the enlightenment, emphasizes the Bodhisattva practice. In this circumstance, the sentient beings, just like in the theistic religions, depends their deliverance upon the vow or compassion of the Bodhisattvas.

Faith oriented Buddhism not only creates feud between emotion and reason, but brings about difference of the worldview. From the Buddhist point of view, there are neither the will of the divine beings nor definite law of the universe. Although Einstein, claiming that the God would not play at dice, believed in the will of the God and in the order of universe controlled by the God. However, according to the principle of uncertainty, the motion of a particle is random. It is the same as the case of the biological evolution. The evolution of living creatures is largely influenced by contingency or by mutations.

Korea looks like a exhibition of religions from the shamanism to the so-called world religion. If a religion is the system of symbol representing varying religious experiences, the realm of experience exerts absolute meaning to whoever experienced it. On the contrary, either the system of symbol or institution of the church is the result of historical transformation, and so it has only relative importance. Nevertheless the religion of today makes much of the institution and its system of symbol at the cost of the value of individual experience.

In the modern times, we have nothing that is sacred. Everything is buried under the insignificance of the mundane daily life. What is sacred transcends beyond unawakened life and the manifestation of the transcendental. There is no holy being in the early Buddhism. So is in the Son Buddhism. If any, the sacred of the Son Buddhism lies in the all activities of everyday life, that is in the speech, silence, motion, and stillness. There is no such thing as the Reality in the name of the divinity or the transcendental.

In the personified religion, the sacred is revealed through the manifestation of the divinity, myth, and through sanctified place. On the other hand, in the non-personified religion such as the Buddhism, cosmic principle or immutable substance is immanent within concrete things and events.

For example, the post-modernism is neither mythical nor ontological, rather it is functional. If we interpret the teaching of the Buddha in terms of the Causality, the post-modernism and neo-science can be discussed within the territory of the Buddhism. The future is neither optimistic nor pessimistic. The most important thing we have to deal with is the question of metaphysical viewpoint. We are to find the sacred in this very life and in this very moment rather than to attach to the metaphysical presuppositions which do not belong to this time in this place.

The Linchi-lu and the Korean seon Buddhist Tradition

Shim, Jae-ryong 

Seoul National University
The Linchi-lu and the Korean seon Buddhist Tradition

1. Preliminary Remarks

What does it mean to re-establish the traditional Korean seon Buddhism of the Patriarchs(祖師禪)? Is it really possible to re-establish tradition? If possible, in what manner? Plethora of questions pop up in our mind. We do not dare to answer all the questions. This is a limited attempt to show that the Linchi Ch’an is closely connected with Korean Patriarch seon Buddhism throughout history, and is still alive in Korea deserving our attention as an important tradition. In this paper we evaluate the recent Imje style Son movement through historical reflection.

Tradition is alive as long as it is held as valuable but questioned and put to critical evaluation for possible uses. Keeping in mind that tradition can play either a positive or a negative role, we can approach the current Ch’am Saram (True Human) Society Movement led by Rev. S?-ong at the Paekyang-sa Monastery.

Tradition is a process of selection. What does Rev. S?-ong select among the many strands of Son Buddhism? what is left unselected? and what is added? In every epoch-making selection, tradition is transformed. Tradition is, therefore, a continuous transformation. Whether the transforming process is continuous or discontinuous is difficult to decide. It may not be an exclusively disjunctive choice.

In the case of Lin-chi Ch’an (Imje seon in Korean) tradition in Korea, we can trace a fairly well formulated tradition-line being upheld as orthodox continuously since the time of its first introduction from China to this peninsula. At every turn of historical event, the Imje seon was utilized by Korean seon masters and patriarchs to the needs of society, secular or sacred: at times of trouble to bolster its authority and sustain its experiential authenticity over against other sects or religions and most times usually to instruct aspiring students of high capacity in the seon to immediate enlightenment. Those many uses of Korean Imje seon tradition bespeak its tremendous influence on Korean seon Buddhism.

In short, Imje seon is a living tradition in Korean Buddhism. It is still alive in the dharma talks of masters; offering rare opportunities of enlightenment to students, giving credentials to those who are awakened and providing both lay people and monks with some possible remedy to the modern malaise such as loss of humanity and even environmental hazard. It is a task for us to evaluate those awesome claims. But one thing is definite and clear: the Imje seon tradition is live in Korea, not in a sectarian sense, but in its claim to the universality, comprising two notions; one, the spirit of independence or freedom from all kinds of slavery in the conspicuous Imje style and another, that of infinite compassion in the general Buddhist tradition.

Idiosyncratic of Korean seon Buddhism, however, is the fact that, in spite of its overall influence, the Imje seon has never established itself as a sect as is the case of Japan nor has its sectarian name been used as the representative of Korean seon Buddhism. It is all the more strange that the Linchi-lu, the record of the life and sayings of Chinese Ch’an Master Linchi I-xuan (d.866), has never been published nor studied as an independent text in Korea, though parts of it were included in Son anthology, up until Korean Chogye Order ex-Patriarch S?-ong(西翁)’s Imjerok S?ong Y?n?i (臨濟錄 西翁 演義 an extended commentary of the Linchi-lu by Old Man from the West) in Han’g?l, a vernacular Korean language was published fairly recently in 1974. Hence this attempt to trace some uses of the Imje seon tradition in Korean Buddhist history and the role the Linchi-lu has played in the process of conscious selection within that tradition.

We will illustrate five uses of the Imje seon thus far, including the current Ch’am Saram Movement. By so doing we try to carve out the characteristic feature and significance of this revival and retrieval movement called “Ch’am Saram Ky?lsa Undong (True Human Society Movement). We hope we can confirm the contemporary relevancy of Imje seon and its universal appeal to human kind in stark contrast to the sectarian and ultra-nationalistic bent of the Japanese Rinzai sect.


2. Korean Imje seon Tradition and Transformations

Seeing is believing. Seeing the Buddha nature is the key to becoming a Buddha. Thus declare the famous motto of Son Buddhism. But any kind of seeing can be subjective. To guarantee the authenticity or veracity of seeing experience, inter-subjective recognition by the teacher of the student’s seeing the Buddha nature i. e., enlightenment is provided in the Son Buddhist tradition. Through the teacher’s recognition the holy pedigree of transmission lineage is established in Son Buddhism, supposedly uninterrupted from the Buddha Shakyamuni through Bodhidharma, Huineng and Linchi down to the present Korean Chogye Son Buddhist Order Patriarch. Hence the sacred authenticity and orthodoxy of the Korean Son Patriarchs belonging to the Chogye Son Buddhist Order as the representative of Korean Son Buddhism. This seems to be the popular understanding about the Korean Son Buddhist tradition among the Korean Buddhist populace.

We will contend, however, in the following that the Korean Son Buddhist tradition has been consciously formed by selective acceptance of the transmission lineage from China during the Koryo period, and consolidated during the Choson period in Korea. In the process Imje Son and implicitly the Linchi-lu play important roles to establish that Korean Son Buddhist tradition. The formation of Korean Son Buddhist tradition was thus completed during the Koryo period and further consolidated consciously during the Choson period. Perhaps we can call this process the formation of the Korean Son Buddhist paradigm.

Of special note is the emphasis laid upon the Dharma lineage by Korean Son Buddhists. In order to emphasize the importance of teacher’s recognition and direct transmission from the teacher to the student in the seon lineage, the first generation Korean Son Buddhists belonging to the Nine Mountains schools concocted even the story of Chingwi Chosa(眞歸祖師), who supposedly recognizes and gives sanction to the historical Gautama Siddharta Buddha Shakyamuni. The secular family ties seem to be copied and confirmed repeatedly even in the sacred family tree in the Son tradition. <Give citation and note. Ch’?nchaek’s seonmun pojang-nok>


Another surprising fact about Korean Son Buddhism is that Chinul (1158-1210), the actual founder of the current Chogye Son Buddhist Order, has never been approved by any teacher at all for his enlightenment experience but he self-taught himself arduously through careful reading of books related to Ch’an and even Hwaom Buddhist scriptures. For Chinul, books are the teachers. It is a strange feat for a Son monk, whose tradition, being separate from the doctrinal Buddhism, avowedly eschews any scriptural adherence by claiming non-dependence on words and letters. How could this strange feat happen and yet how on earth Chinul is still considered by some as the founder of Chogye Son Buddhist Order in Korea? This is a topic for our immediate concern. And in what connection to Chinul, does Imje Son play any role in establishing Korean Chogye Son Buddhist tradition?

2.1. Chinul’s Appropriation of Ta-hui’s Records -Taxonomy of seon Practice according to the Three Dark Gates of Linchi

The hallmark of the Korean Son Buddhist practice since the time of Chinul’s immediate disciple Chingak (1178-1234) is the hawdu(話頭) or kongan(公案) meditation, a uniquely Son Buddhist technique of “looking critical phrase” (看話) in the story-telling book of Son transmission lineage, for the sake of inducing enlightenment. Chinul is the one who first introduced this technique to Korea without having any direct contact with Chinese masters but indirectly through reading Ta-hui’s(1089-1163) Records(大慧語錄) on the occasion of his third and final awakening experience. His culminating experience was so striking and radical, according to his biographer, that he accepted and approved this special technique as the most effective short-cut (徑截門) for the superlative capacities to enlightenment, although he provided lower capacity students with two other approaches; one, simultaneous cultivation of meditation and wisdom (惺寂等持門) based upon the teachings in the Platform Sutra (六祖檀經), and another, all round and sudden approach by faith and understanding (圓頓信解門) based on the Li Tung-xuan’s interpretation of the Huayen Sutra (李通玄, 華嚴新論), thus completing his comprehensive three-way approaches to becoming a Buddha basically following Chinese Huayen-Ch’an monk-scholar Tsungmi.

Imje style practice, modified by Tahui and Linchi sect in China, was only a part; one third of the Pojo Chinul’s triple approaches to Buddhahood or true humanity. But for Chinul’s followers thereafter accepted, among the three approaches, the hwadu meditation to be the exclusive, effective method for cleansing conceptual adherence to letters and words and thus attaining the ultimate enlightenment.

A partial adaptation of Imje Son is further witnessed by Chinul’s utilization of Imje’s various instructional devices. Chinul uses specifically the so-called three mysteries of dark gates (三玄門) and four processes of liberation from subjectivity and objectivity (四料簡) as instructional devices as presented in the Linchi-lu. The former was utilized by Chinul to analyze and classify entire Buddhist scriptures including Son writings, while the latter was included in the ten kinds of No-mind practice.

…In Son there are three mysteries(dark gates): first, the mystery in the essence; second, the mystery in the word; third, the mystery in the mystery. The mystery in the essence (體中玄) is the approach to dharma which demonstrates the unimpeded interpenetration of all phenomena and involves such statements as “throughout boundless world systems, oneself and others are not seperated by as much as the tip of a hair; the ten time periods of past and present, from beginning to end, are not separate from the present thought-moment.” It is a preliminary approach for inducing an awakening in those of beginning potential.

Since this approach has not yet abandoned understanding based on the verbal teachings, the mystery in the word (句中玄) is employed. These words have no traces, are ordinary, have a cleansing effect, and eliminate grasping so that students can suddenly forget their conceptual understanding and knowledge of the Buddha-dharma.

But since this approach also involves cleansing knowledge and vision and cleansing words and phrases, the mystery in the mystery (玄中玄) – the use of pauses, silence, the staff, and the Son shout – is also employed in training. When this last approach is used, one can suddenly forget the cleansing knowledge and vision and the cleansing words and phrase of the second mysterious gate. As it is said, “When we get the meaning and forget the words, the path is near at hand.” This is called the sudden realization for the dharmadhatu. For inferior men of beginning capacity, the Son school points out that there is a sublime mind, pure in nature, which follows along with the stream of falsity and pollution; this enables such men to understand easily and enter into faith. After they have entered in faith and forgotten their understanding, they can achieve personal realization. But if they do not forget their understanding, they will ait??? in the deep pit of liberation unable to use their bodies freely in displaying the manifold supplementary practices belonging to the approach of conditioned arising. (Buswell’s translation; The Collected Works of Chinul, pp.214-215 Complete and Sudden Attainment of Buddhahood 圓頓成佛論)

An initial attempt to classify all the Buddhist writings can be gleaned in the above. In the Straight Talk on the True Mind (眞心直說), Chinul’s most comprehensive guide for Son practice, he quotes Imje’s Four stages of liberating from both subjectivity and objectivity without directly pointing to the name of Imje. For Chinul, Imje was one of the Chinese Ch’an masters who shed light on the “sublime path of the patriarchs.” In the synopsis of ten different techniques for extinguishing delusions concerning the true mind, Chinul quotes Imje as one of the ancients (sic ancient patriarchs in China):

…Three: efface the mind but preserve objects. This means that when we are practicing, we extinguish deluded thoughts and do not concern ourselves with the external sense-spheres. We are only concerned with extinguishing the mind, for when the deluded mind is extinguished, what danger can sensual object present? This is the teaching advocated by the ancients” “take away the man but leave the object.”

…Four, efface objects but preserve the mind. This means that when we are practicing, we contemplate all internal and external sense-spheres as being void and calm. We preserve only the one mind, signaling solitarily and standing alone….If the mind is attached to the sense-spheres it becomes deluded. But if there are no sense-spheres, what delusion can there be? The true mind shines alone and is unobstructed in regard to the path. This is what the ancients called “take away the objects but leave the man.”…

…Five: efface both mind and objects. This means that when we are practicing, we initially make the external sense-objects void and calm and then annihilate the internal – the mind. Since internal and external are both calmed, where can delusion arise?…This is the patriarchs’ teaching of “take away of both man and objects.”…

…Six: preserve both mind and objects. This means that when we are practicing, mind remains in its place and objects remain in their place. If there is a time when the mind and the objects come in contact with each other, then the mind does not grasp at the objects and the objects do not intrude upon the mind. If neither of them contacts the other, then, naturally, deluded thoughts will not arise and there will be no obstacles to the path…. This is the patriarchs’ teaching of “take away neither the man nor the objects.”…(Buswell’s translation pp. 170-171)

We have observed two specific uses of Imje’s teaching as part of the Chinese patriarchs’ instruction as to the methods of eliminating delusions. Hence Chinul’s use of Imje was not a total acceptance but a partial application of some of his instructional devices. Imje, according to Chinul, in terms of Chinese Ch’an lineage, was only one of the patriarchs in Chinese Ch’an Buddhism belonging to Matsu-Hungchou line, never the originator of Linchi branch/sect in distinction to other sects like Fayen, Yunmen, Tsaotung, and Kueiyang, forming the so-called five families of late Chinese Ch’an lineage. In passing, we can also note that Chinul uses t’i-yung category in two combinations as expedient means of explaining methods of eliminating delusions.

This picture of Imje Son has been dramatically changed : Imje Son became the only orthodox line of Son in Korea immediately after Chinul’s demise, for his direct disciple Hyesim Chingak(edited all the available Son stories in an anthology, which later became the standard text for kongan meditation for all Korean Son monks. Chinul’s round about way of dealing with the problem of Son-Kyo controversy by striking a balance between the two tilted towards an extreme and exclusive practice of kongan meditation.

2.2 T’aego’s Direct Transmission of Lin-chi Ch’an Lamp – Origin of the Korean seon Patriarch Lineage Debate

This exclusive tendency was strengthened when T’aego Pou (1301-1382) went to Yuan China and got a seal of recognition from the Linchi line Chinese master Shi-wu Ching-kung(1270-1352): T’aego emphasized the hwadu meditation as the only method of attaining Buddhahood. Out of the three masters in the same Koryo period, namely Naong Hyegun (1320-1377) and Paeku Kyonghan (1299-1375) included, who had any connection to the Chinese Linchi lineage, T’aego was selected and his line of transmission became consolidated during the Choson period by the followers of Sosan Hyujong(1520-1604) specifically by Chunggwan Haean(1567- ?) who repudiated the nativistic Ho Kyun (1569-1618)’s claim to include Chinul and Naong to be the legitimate heir to Chinese Ch’an lineage. Under the severe oppression of Buddhism in the Confucianism dominated Choson society, it is understandable to uphold the legitimate lineage of Son Budhist tradition to safeguard its authority by connecting it to the then East Asian universal frame of reference, i. e., the only living Chinese Linchi line.

Even in contemporary Korea there still is a lively discussion as to who deserves to be the founder or sectarian head patriarch (宗祖) of the Korean Chogye Son Buddhist Order. Conservative and universalism-oriented elements tend toward Ta’ego while nativistic and progressive, toward Chinul. Six out of 28 registered Korean Buddhist denominations list incidentally T’aego as their founding father. To put an end to the controversial matter, Chogye Order statute lists Toui, the first importer of Chinese Ch’an to Korea during the Unified Silla period as the founding father.

2.3 Paekp’a’s Re-appropriation of Lin-chi’s Three Phrases – Establishment of the Korean Patriarch seon Taxonomy

At the impending downfall of the Choson dynasty, Paekp’a Kungson (1767-1852) tried to reestablish the Son Buddhist tradition through careful analysis of the whole scriptures of Son. Korean Son Buddhist taxonomy of triadic Son is firmly put into place in the minds of Korean people. The current usage of the Patriarch Son seems to stem from Paekp’a and his followers’s prolonged discussion extending well over one hundred and fifty years: a similar feat can be found in the Korean Confucian debate over four beginnings and seven emotions during the first half of the Choson period. Some may criticize the overly metaphysical paraphernalia and pedantic bickering of the debate. But the focal point of the discussion rests firmly on what kind can be the legitimate heir to the true spirit of Son. The Patriarch Son(祖師禪) is the highest, because it refers to the state of enlightenment of true emptiness and subtle beings (namely, manifold phenomena) comparable to the Buddha mind, while Tathagata Son(如來禪) is concerned only with the One Mind, hence put to the second level. The third and lowest is the intellectually ratiocinating Son (義理禪) where discrimination of phenomena and essence exists, existence and emptiness co-exist and spoken of. Throughout two centuries of discussion nobody challenges the supreme orthodoxy and authority of the Patriarch Son. Hence, the establishment of Korean Patriarch Son by multitudes of scholar-monks starting from Paekp’a, confronted by Ch’oui Uisun (1786-1866), conjoind by Udam Honggi (1832-1881), and Soldu Yuhyong(1824-1889), rebutted finally by Ch’ugwon Chinha (1861-1926). All of this discussion was ignited and refueled by the three phrases in the Imje-rok. Criticized as an empty talk, it still bears grave importance of the Linchi’s influence over the Korean Son Buddhist tradition.

2.4 Manhae’s Imje-chong Movement – Failure of the anti-Japanese Sectarian Movement

The history of Buddhism in Korea during the past and present century is riddled with problems like unification of the many strands of Buddhism, how to deal with colonial authority and its edicts and questions of reform and revival of the Buddhist order. Manhae Ha Yongun(1879-1944), opposing to the Japanese political move to merge Korean Son Buddhism to one of the Japanese Soto sect, proposed and created a counter-order/sect, the Imje-chong in 1911 but soon aborted by the Japanese colonial government. We are reminded of the famous diction in the Story of the Three Countries: Dead Kongmyon is better than the living Chungdal. The name Imje had such an appeal to Korean Patriarch Son Buddhists.


3. Concluding Remarks: The Linchi-lu and the Korean Patriarch seon – The significance of the Ch’am Saram Society Movement

Now we are ready to put the Ch’am Saram Movement in perspective. As the fifth and the final transformation of Korean Son Buddhism, this movement is significant and epoch-making in the sense that it tries to cope with the Western civilizational challenges. The previous transformations were made within the East Asian Buddhist framework of reference. Ven Seo-ong’s attempt to retrieve and revive the Imje Son spirit is a colossal venture to radically transform the Korean Son Buddhism, and by the same token, the Buddhist tradition itself in the upcoming age of global civilization.

When any tradition is secured and established, something is selected and accepted while another is left unselected. Thus the tradition is transformed. When Rev. So-ong tries to re-establish the Imje Son tradition, he selects the Linchi-lu as a whole and commented it in its entirety. But the focus of his selection rests securely on the single idea of ch’am saram, the True Human Without Rank in the Linchi-lu. He brush aside all the historical ramifications in one stroke as nothing but a heap of puppets: the three mysteries and concomitant taxonomical classifications, claim to the orthodox lineage requiring us sectarian fidelity are puffed at by him. He selects the true humanity ideal for the sake of coping with the new age of globalization.

Ven. Seo-ong’s approach to the traditional patriarchs’ Son including Imje is epitomized in the Three Vows of the True Humanity:

“Firstly, let us awaken ourselves to the true self of no form and non-abiding and put it to practice by compassionate living [together with all other beings].

Secondly, unobstructed, unbound by any thing, being free from everything, let us create [a new] history where all human kind can live in peace and with equal [right].

Thirdly, being aware of the fact that our individual selves, human kind, and the universe are both eternal and solitary living entity, and yet keeping their own identity, let us respect each other, help each other without grasping [anything as absolute] and practice [our enlightened awareness] in the truthful and right manner so that we can construct a world where beauty is appreciated.”

We take note of two factors in the above vows. It is to be remarked first, that Ven. Seo-ong does not fall into a trap of ontological commitment. In the descriptive explanation at the beginning of his extended commentary on the Imje-rok, he explicitly denies Son to be connected or even compared with either of the Western metaphysical category of both mysticism and pan-theism. His method of ‘infinite break through (無限透過)’ seems to connote this attitude of non-commitment, which is reminiscent of the historical Buddha’s positive and yet anti-metaphysical stance. Incidentally the so-called Critical Buddhist charge of substantialism, associating the Buddha nature to the idea similar to Atman does not seem to apply to Son Buddhism, including Ven. Seo-ong’s recommendation of True Humanity movement.

Ven. Seo-ong also emphasizes the key idea only i. e., that of Ch’am Saram, a rarified universal model of true humanity, in the Imje-rok without labeling it as the Imje-chong sectarian tenet. Hence, he effectively disengages himself with any sectarian or nationalistic/nativistic implication of his proposal to revive Korean Son Buddhist tradition to cope with the globally human problem.

By logical extension, Ven Seo-ong tries to universalize the basic and only aim of Son practice: to become a truly human being. To forge a radical transformation out of ordinary, sense-enslaved man to the universally true humanity in a socially engaged network of world system is an extremely sophisticated and yet very laudable endeavor.

We have no qualm over the first claim. In the universalization process just mentioned in this period of paradigmatic change, however, we are supposed to invent many mediatory steps to fill the wide gap between the rarified universal model of true humanity and the concrete social problems like justice, human rights, environmental hazard, and furthermore construction of world peace. Internally within the Buddhist tradition, the Patriarch Son Buddhist is required to deal with other alternative meditation techniques by critically repudiating them and thus re-confirm the uniqueness as well as the supremacy of the idiosyncratic hwadu meditation. Externally the general idea of religious freedom must find its way and channeled into the socio-political dimension. Without aping a Buddhist type of liberation theology, how could we find the crucial link between the Son idea of unbounded, unobstructed freedom and the concrete social proposal of reform or revolution of the whole world? It is all the more necessary for any Son Buddhist to critically aware of the unbridgeable gap between the spiritual manifesto and the concrete social transaction. But the first gigantic step toward building a brave new world in the radical spirit of Imje’s universal freedom has already taken by Ven. Seo-ong. It is up to the present gathering of practicing monks and intellectual scholars to make up the mediatory steps to fulfill his grand design.


Eshin Nishimura   (西村惠信)
Professor of Department of Buddhism
Hanazono University


1. Historical Root of Hakuin Zen Tradition

2. Self-confidence and its Practice

3. Evil state of illusion

4. Definite awareness of the Reality

5. Passing through the Patriarchal gates

6. Non-attachment to the ultimate

7. How to live the ordinary life

8. Succession of Buddha-Dharma

9. Breeding of the Seed of Buddha


Tourie-Enji(東嶺圓慈 1721-1792) is one of the greatest disciples under Hakuin-Ekaku 白隱慧鶴(1685-1768), a restorer of Japanese Rinzai Zen Buddhism in Tokugawa era. He was especially respected among Hakuin’s disciples as Delicate Tourei(微細の東嶺 misai-no-Tourei) for his carefulness in his Koan study(公案工夫 Kouan-kuhuu). Maybe it is because of Tourei’s inborn intelligence.

According to the Tourei’s biography, upon arriving at Shouin-ji 松蔭寺 for the first time, great master Hakuin asked Tourei to help his preparation for the discourse upon Kidouroku(虛堂錄, Record of Hsu-t’ang chih-yu 虛堂智愚 1185-1269) for coming new semester, since Hakuin knew that Tourei had already learned almost all of Patriarchal records such as personal history, life episode, dialogue and so on, by heart at his age of twenty-three.

Five years later, twenty-eight years old, Torei’s weak body got a heavy disease from too much private meditation at some layman’s house in Kyoto. He came to know that his life is comming to an end within three to five years, so he wrote down two volumes of manuscript entitled “The Theory of Unestinguished Lamp of Zen Buddhism(宗門無盡정論 Shuumon-mujintou-ron: for short, TULZ is used in this paper”) taking only thirty days. Recovering from disease, Tourei intended to burn up his manuscript, but Hakuin who thought this would be a kind enough guidance for Zen student under Koan Zen study put a stop it.

“TULZ” was published in 1800 that is eight years after Tourei’s death, though Tourei himself had prohibited his disciples to open his manuscript to the public. It is our good fortune, however, to have this kind of rare systematic text book of Koan study published by his lay disciple after Torei’s passing away, so that Hakuin’s creative method of Koan Zen study is still at hand today in its original form, so that unestinguished lamp of Zen tradition is still living even in our days.

TULZ is not an ordinary record of Patriarchal teaching done from the standpoint of the truth of the first principle[第一議諦 or daiichigitai in Jp.] like other texts, but the text described by Tourei’s own hand for future use. Therefore it is written from standpoint of the truth of second principle[第二議諦 or dainigital in Jp.]. He arranges various kinds of Patriarchal episodes along with the procedure of Zen study from the entrance to the final attainment of Reality, so that Rinzai Zen students might be able to go along same path as the Patriarchs took for their deepening of Zen mind.

1. Historical Root of Hakuin Zen Tradition

The first chapter of “TULZ” is entitled “ Root of Zen Transmission”(宗由 shuuyuu in Jp.) in which Tourei describes general history that is a transmission tree of Rinzai Zen tradition starting with Buddha and end up with his own master hakuin-ekaku.

Like other religions, Rinzai Zen takes importance upon its traditional history as well as its teaching. Or it might be better to say that history of Zen transmission itself is nothing but the essence of Zen Buddhism. Because Zen transmission has been only achieved through the indirect transmission of existential essence of Zen from master to his disciples, as existential philosopher Soren Kierkegaard ever pointed out by saying that the direct transmission is impossible in the case of transmission of the Truth. Therefore the discontinued continuity is only the form of transmission of the Buddha’s Lamp. This means that there is no so-called continual history in Zen tradition but the series of each personal experience.

When Tourei entitles the first chapter “The Reason of Zen tradition”(or 宗由 shuyu in Jp.), “Reason” here means the historical base on which Zen Buddhism stands. Though this chapter is the historical description of Rinzai Zen transmission, it is still not a mere history of Rinzai Zen, but a ground on which Rinzai Zen is surely based. In fact, Tourei’s way of description is not historical but simple arrangement of episodes in the life of Patriarchs. In this specific reason, a history of Rinzai Zen tradition is what is beyond the history itself

The specific reason why historical description could still be super-historical is because it is not a simple document of the Patriarchs, but the records of particular situations in which each Patriarch came to realization of Reality, and therefore they are called “Ancient Samples and Episodes” 古則話頭 that is so-called Koan(公案). Each Kouan(episode) is what has happened once in history and yet it happened as a full manifestation of Reality in each case. Therefore, Shuyu(宗由 or Root of tradition) does not mean mere origin of Rinzai Zen history, but the “Root” where the essence of Zen is manifested through the individual experience.

Therefore, what Tourei tries to describe in the first Chapter is not a simple introduction of this text, but the presentation of the essence of this text in which all other following chapters are also based upon.

In the very beginning of this chapter, Tourei admires Buddha’s declaration of the nobility of his individual existence right after his birth as follows;

Stop talking! Your saying already betrays this Matter too much. Master Yun-men Wan-yen ever criticized you saying; “If I were there with you at that moment, I would club him and give it to dog to eat. I wish you kept this world in peace”. (Eshin Nishimura Text published from The Institute for Zen Studies, 1992, page24)

In this way, Tourei demonstrates his admiration of Buddgha’s birth in the negative way of saying to stress the significance of Buddha’s coming into this world. All these way of saying shows Tourei’s subjective standpoint, which is free from the tradition within the definite framework of Zen tradition. Here we may see the unique attitude of Rinzai Zen Buddhist monk to go beyond their own tradition for the purpose of going down to deep horizon where they can really meet with all patriarchs of history.

2. Self-confidence and its Practice

Second chapter of TULZ is entitled the self-confidence and its practice [信修 sinshu in Jp.] where Tourei discusses the inevitable preparation for Zen student intending to begin Koan Zen study.

Here I dare to translate this particular Chinese term 信 not belief of faith as ordinarily done, because in Zen study the term 信 (sin) does not mean so-called religious act done toward some outer Being beyond man, but somehow means self-confidence for the Reality which is hopefully realized at the end of his way of Koan Zen study course. Torei writes as follows;

If a man wishes to achieve his path of Zen, in the very beginning, he has to have great root of self-confidence(大信根 Dai-shin-kon). Then what is this confidence?
A confidence about the existence of the same inborn nature and infinite Wisdom as all Buddhas ever had. A confidence of the fact that there is neither big nor small in each individual’s religious ability(根 kon, “root”), neither wise nor fool in each individual daily religious capacity(幾 ki), so that all those who go this way should achieve the goal without exception. A confidence that along with the deepening procedure of meditation, there easily happens various kinds of evil delusions, and if a man took it as the ideal sate of the way(悟りSatori), he would suddenly fall down to the second or non-Buddhist level of the goal. A confidence that when time has come and man’s effort has fully devoted, Buddha-nature is revealed by itself, so that man does not need to use his intellectual judgement anymore. A confidence that no matter how buddha-nature is suddenly revealed, unless a man has a chance to see a Zen master to pass the Gates set by ancient Patriarchs, he would walk through the wrong way of life. A confidence that there is still one more small step(些子向上の一著子 sasi-koujyouno-ichijyakusu) remains even after you finish passing through all those patriarchal gates. A confidence that no matter how man attains this special step, there is deep delicacy in the daily activity following each individual different personality. A confidence that a matter of Zen transmission has most important significance so that man should transmit the lamp to the disciples and not monopolize it for himself. A confidence that each part of daily life is nothing but retraining of his Dharma, and carry on that daily training with him so that Dharma might not be extinguished in the future.(Nishimura’s Text, page41)
In this way, Tourei encourages us to have confidence as a fundamental condition of whole series of Zen study, therefore this second Chapter is not a part of TULZ anymore, but covers whole system of the text. Here we may see the characteristic of this text, which should be called unsystematic system of Koan Zen study. And this kind of structure can be seen in each Chapter of TULZ.

In this second Chapter Tourei put stress also upon the importance of Vows of Bodhisattva(菩薩の警願 bosatu-no-seigan) as the fundamental condition for the beginner of Zen study. Needless to say, Vows of Boddhisattva is most indispensable to Zen study as Mahayana Buddhist practice, otherwise Zen study comes to be merely the self-centered. He writes as follows;

After the above confidence firmly settled, student must make Vows to himself not to abandon his study until he finally arrives at the achievement of his study.
Not to have any idle mind from his study, no matter how long his journey of suffering would continue.
Not to be controlled by other Buddhist teaching even though he might fall into hell because of his deed. Not to fall into non-Buddhist view by being satisfied with easy realization of Satori experience which is mere evil state of delusion.
To practice Bodhisattva deed after once he achieved his study, and so on.   (Nishimura’s Text, page42)

3. Evil state of illusion

In this chapter, Tourei talks about the danger of the evil state, which appears along with the way of koan study. This dangerous state of mind called Genkyou(現境 or literally translated the appearing state) is already taught as devil state(魔境 or makyon in Jp.) in the Buddhist canons or texts such as the 40th Chapter. of Part one of Maha-prajna-sutra(大般苦經), the 10th volume of Surangama-stura(首楞嚴經) and the 8th volume of Mo-ho-chih-kuan(摩訶止觀)

Among various kinds of evil state of mind, Tourei calls our attention more to the good state(善境界) or zenkyoukai in Jp.) than the evil, because man can easily guard himself from the unpleasant condition of his feeling, while he enjoys himself whenever he feels to be comfortable with the good feeling even though it is nothing but the illusion. Therefore, pleasant illusion which Zazen meditation brings into man is thought to be very dangerous.

Some examples of good state of mind are taken out by Tourei himself such as the view that the existing beings are all empty(法空の見), view that everything is equal(一味平等の見), view that the Reality is being manifested throughout the universe(現成底の見), view that this body is perfect by itself(當體卽是の見), and so on. All these states of view are only possible through deep meditation practice, therefore we should say this is the disturbance, or the necessary evil, which is happen on the way to the real goal of Zen way.

Medieval Japanese Zen Master Musou-soseki(夢窓疎石 1275-1351) is also talking about Madou(魔道 or Evil-path) in his Text “Muchuu-mondou” (夢中問答 or A Dialogue in Dream) as follows;

There are two kinds of Evil that are inner evil and outer evil. Outer evil means the Evil king(魔王 or Maou) and his people(魔民) who are coming from outside the Buddhist student and disturb him. The Evil king is called 天魔(天魔 or Tenma) since he is staying in the sixth Heaven(第六天) and so-called 天狗(Tengu or long-nosed goblin) are his people. That Evil king thinks all sentient being as his relatives, therefore he intends to disturb the sentient being who makes effort to enter the Buddha’s way….. Even if there were no such disturbance from outside, in such a case as Buddhist student has delusion in his mind, or has attachment with incorrect view, or has self-pride of his achieved state, or sinks into meditation, or is proud of wisdom, or hopes to be released from suffering only for himself in the idea of his Arahat, or falls to the second level of compassion to the other(愛見の慈悲), and so on. All these belong to the inner evil since they are all disturbances for the ultimate Bodhi(or 無上菩提 or Mujyou-bodai in Jp.). (Nishimura’s translation and comment of Muchuu-mondou published NHK Press, 1998, page29)
All these inner and outer evils are what might usually happen also in the process of Christian mysticism as is called “The dark night of the soul” by Mystics. Zen students also have to go once through this dangerous state.

4. Definite awareness of the Reality

An anthentic evidence (or 實證 jisshou in Jp.) of existence of Reality realized as a whole bodily experience is needless to say a core of whole procedure of koan Zen Practice, and that would happen when hard discipline under the Koan study reaches climax. A well-known phrase: “A great awareness(or 大悟 taigo in Jp.)” is only possible amid great darkness or mass of doubt(or 大疑 taigi in Jp.)” is a principle of Koan study Zen(or 看話禪 Kanna Zen) demonstrated by Ta-hui Tuang-kao (大慧宗高 1089-1163) in Sung dynasty China, and Japanese Koan Zen which was re-systematized by Hakuin-ekaku is direct descendant of this tradition.

In particular, Tourei is putting emphasis upon the necessity of visit with an authentic Zen master(明師 meisi or 正師 shousi in Jp.) whenever a student arrives at this experience of Self-realization, otherwise he will fall into the tremendously dangerous cave of self satisfaction. Tourei writes as follows;

Upon attaining a realization of Self Nature(見性 kenshou in Jp.), Zen student has to visit an authentic master in order to remove the delusion of self-awareness(悟中迷 gochuu-no-mei). In old day, Huang-lung Szu-hsin(黃龍死心
1043-1114) told that when you meet one delusion, you mast gain one awareness. After you attain an awareness, you have to be aware of both delusion in awareness(悟中迷 gochuu-no-mei) and awareness in delusion(迷中悟 meichuu-no-go). Therefore you should know that the time to visit an authentic master or the time to start to study in more authentic way. (Nishimura’s Text, page67)
Reading above quotation, we might know that even though the self-realization of Reality which is known as Satori(悟り) in Japanese seems to be a core of Koan Zen practice, it is merely one stage which happens half way of the whole process of Rinzai Zen study where the more important Zen study really begins.

5. Passing through the Patriarchal gates

This Chapter called “Toukan”(透關) is so to speak the checking upon the attained state of awareness(悟り Satori in Jp.) by reflection on the mirror of Buddha’s or Patriarchal paradigm. As well-known among people today, to deepen one’s awareness of Reality through following the foot prints which Buddha or Patriarchs have ever marked is called Kouan Zen practice(公案禪修行) and this is no other than the proper method which Rinzai Zen tradition started from Sung dynasty China and still practices today in Japanese Rinzai Zen.

In fact, Japanese Rinzai Zen has been able to maintain its traditional Lamp of Dharma only because of this somehow artificial looking method which was systematized by Hakuin-ekaku who was so much worried about declining of Japanese Rinzai Zen as he violently criticized Bankei-youkaku’s unique “Unborn Zen”(盤珪永琢の不生禪 Hushou Zen), Ungo-kuyou’s “Meditating on Buddha Zen (雲居希膺の念佛禪 Nembutu Zen) or Eihei-Dougen’s Meditation-only Zen(永平道元の只管打坐 Sikan-taza) calling them “a modern blind priest living in nothingness only(近代斷無の해僧 Kindai danmu no kassou)” or “the evil party of silent meditation(默照の邪黨 Mokushou no jyatou)” and so on.

Tourei writes in this Chapter as follows;

Today, we easily see Zen brothers who misunderstand Zen as the Wisdom which transcends the rational understanding(沒意智 motuichi), and assert that since Zen Buddhism has been transmitted outside scriptures, it does not need to use any Buddhist scripture. Those people do not realize that if Zen were transmission outside Scripture, it should also accept inside. If “outside Scripture” could not accept inside Scripture, that Outside would also not be true. Why is it so? Because when a mirror is bright enough, it reflects any object whatever it might be. So in the case when object does not appear in the mirror, it means that mirror is not bright. Nonetheless, you sometime refuse the object to hide the darkness of the mirror. This is never the view of great path of Buddhism. In the same way, in the Scripture, there is contained deep teaching of Buddha or Patriarchs, which often points at the disturbance of your path of Zen study. But only because your awareness of Reality is not yet clear, you ignore the Golden words of Buddha and are unable to research the deepest meaning of Scripture. What I mean here is not take Scriptures as the main object of study, but take them as bright mirror. It is important to reflect Self-nature upon the Teaching of Buddha and Patriarchs and also to reflect the Teaching upon the Self-nature. In so doing, both Self-nature and Teaching should be most clear. (Nishimura’s Text, page81)
The attitude of Zen student toward Koan should be same as Tourei talks about Buddhist scripture as above quoted. This particular Chapter of TULZ commands us to reflect the state of awareness of Self-nature (Reality) upon the Koan so that Self-nature is examined if it is clear enough. But as Tourei writes to study Koan is not the final purpose of Zen study but to reflect the Koan upon the Self-nature to examine if Self-nature is clear enough.

For the purpose of bringing student to the ultimate attainment of self realization of Reality(大悟徹底), Hakuin systematized traditional paradigmatic episodes(古則話頭) into the more effective order(公案體系). Koan system itself is, however not opened in any document form, but secretly transmitted through Nissitu-sanzen(入室參禪) or private interview of student with Roshi(老師) in small room of the monastery. And contents of so-called seventeen hundred Koans(千七百則の公案) are told to be different each other according to the two main branches, that is to say Inzan-branch(隱山系) and Takujyu-branch(卓州系), that were separated under Gasan-jitou(峨山慈棹 1727-1797) who is the one of Hakuin’s Greatest disciple.

However, both branches are at least keeping the fundamental Koan system which Hakuin set for his students. Or it would be better to say that Hakuin confirmed Koan system which had already been developed by the Japanese Rinzai Zen patriarchs in early days of Japanese Zen such as En’ni-ben’nen(圓爾辨圓 1202-1280) or Nampo-jyoumain(南浦紹明 1235-1308). These Patriarchs divided Chinese Koans into three groups according to their function, namely Richi(理致 or Ultimate of Truth), Kikan(機關 or Skillful Method) and koujyon(向上 or Non-attachment).

“Richi” is the group of words, which show the True Reality and most of them are extracted from Buddhist scripture and Patriarchal record. All Koan of Richi are the theoretical expression of Buddhist theology or State of Zen mind, so students practice Zazen meditation(坐禪) reflecting his mind upon the Koan so that he will realize authentic meaning of each phrase through his bodily experience of awareness(Satori 悟り or Kenshou 見性 in Jp.)

“Kikan” is the group of the episodes by which student knows how the Patriarchs of early days of China came to self realization of Reality, and by refelcting upon those stories through Practice of Zazen meditation, he might attain the living mind of the Patriarch or Kassoi(活祖意) which is called Satori.

“Koujyou” is the group of Koan through which student wipes the dust which he get by above two groups koan. In other words, student has to remove so called the attachment of Buddha-view(Bukken 佛見 in Jp.) or Dharma-view (Hokken 法見) or his Pride of Ultimate attainment of Reality so that he might return to what Buddha or Patriarchs really taught which is nothing but original Ordinariness(Heijyoutei 平常底).

Hakuin opened these three divisions into the five, that is to say Hossin(法身 or dharma-kaya), Kikan(機關 or Skill), Gonsen(言詮 or Word expression), Nantou(難透 or difficult to pass through) and Koujyou(向上 or Non-attachment).

6. Non-attachment to the ultimate

As I already mentioned above, the qualitatively different path still remained for the student as a final part of his Zen study jhourney and it is called Kojyon(向上). A well-known phrase: “This particular path of Koujyou has never been transmitted by any past Saint” (向上之一路, 千聖不傳). This path is specially called “Smallness of Koujyou”(向上之些子) which means that this path is the entirely different from the preceding path where student has passed, or it would be better to be said that this path is the total negation of what has been experienced before. Therefore student should not continue his quantitative progress of path walked but jump into the entirely different realm of quality. Chinese Patriarchs teach this jump by saying: “Have one more step at the top of hundred feet pole!” Here Tourei writes as follows;

Here is a path of non-attachment. This is called the One which even patriarchs never transmitted before. ….. This is what all Patriarchs ever transmitted from one to the other. (Nishimura’s Text, page92)
What Tourei mentions here seems to be somehow paradoxical, but this is the essence of Zen transmission. However, as a matter of fact, such Self realization of Reality is never able to be transmitted from man to man directly but only transmitted through indirectly transmitted as an existential philosopher Soeren Kierkegaard ever pointed out. Therefore, we may realize that Koan system itself is not the object of study as it is mere foot-prints of Patriarchs and not the Reality of Patriarch himself. Student should not follow such a shadow of the Reality. Instead, he should jump out of traditional transmission after all. This might be the deep significance of the small path of non-attachment.

7. How to live the ordinary life

Next chapter of TULZ is entitled Rikiyuu(力用 or daily Use) in which Torei talks about the way of living daily life for the student who achieved his Zen study. A student who came to be free from tradition and returned to his own self has to live his daily life authentically(履踐分明 risen-hunmyou in Jp.) His ordinary daily life has to be the continuity of Right meditation(正念相續 Shounen-souzoku in Jp.).

As Bodhi-Dharma says, There are many who attain the Buddha’s Way, but very few who are practicing it. And, moreover, this practice should have no traces(沒종跡 Mosshouseki in Jp.). Torei calls this kind of daily use “Wisdom-use beyond scale(格外の知用 kakugai no chiyuu)” because nobody knows his Saint-ness.

8. Succession of Buddha-Dharma

In this Chapter of Succession, Tourei discusses the Importance of Succession of Buddhas Lamp. Succession (師承 Shijyou in Jp.) means to succeed to the Wisdom-life of Buddha(佛の慧命 Butu-no-emyou in Jp.) from certain Zen master who is supposed to be a carrier of Zen Buddhist tradition. For this very reason, student who lives his life in the daily use of attained Reality has to go out of his home for searching authentic Zen master. If student kept staying within his enjoyment of Awareness of Reality, he would remain inside of the mere self-satisfaction. Such a self-satisfaction is called the “Heresy of Selfish awareness without Master”(無師獨悟の外道 musidokugo-no-gedou in Jp.). Tourei writes upon this danger as follows;

A matter of Succession is the most central. Ancient Zen student who arrives at the source of Self-awareness and passes a certain numbers of Patriarchal gates, used to travel throughout the country without any doubt about Reality and have a discussion or fix to the prices of commodities after discussion(問答商量 Mondou-shouryou in Jp.) with any person he meet. But sometime later on, he happened to meet Great Zen master who has Great eyes of Dharma(大眼目 daiganmoku in Jp.), and was compelled to realize the essence of Zen existing in completely different realm that is called Non-attachment, from the Reality he had held until that time. Then he quits his travelling and begins his sincere study under the Great master. In this way, he arrives at Unmovable confidence of his reality. This is the time of Succession(師承). Since that time, he lives with unforgettable thanks to the master about the kindness he received. Such a student should be called “Dharma-successor”(法嗣 Hassu in Jp.). the Patriarchs of Zen tradition all the same have transmitted Fruit of Zen in this way. (Nishmura’s Text, page 119)
From above quotation, we may know that the horizon where succession of Patriarchal lamp become possible is even under the bottom of egoistic self where individual personality is broken into the universal Non-self which is common with master’s Non-self. This is what Wu-men Hui-kai(無門慧開 1183-1150) writes in his “We-men-kuan” (無門開 Mumonkan in Jp.) like “To walk hand in hand with the traditional Patriarchs, and to see the things with same eyes of Patriarch’s and to listen with same ears”.

In other word, Succession is not possible so far as the master and the student stand in opposition to each other, but only possible when student comes down to the transcendentally deep level where he may touch directly with transcendental Non-self of the Master. As we already studied in the above Chapter, this transcendence is only possible with one important step beyond the ultimate self realization of the Reality which was called Koujyou or Non-attachment. However to arrive at such complete level of Non-attachment is so hard that even Wu-tsu Fa-yen(五祖法演 ?-1104) says; “I have studied Zen for twenty years, and now I feel the shame to know my incompleteness(我參二十年, 今方職羞).

9. Breeding of the Seed of Buddha

In this chapter entitled “Chouyon 長養” or Breeding of the seed of Buddha, Torei talks about importance of cultivation of Buddha-seed which student sowed deep in his body through his long Zen meditation. He writes as follows;

Yuan-wu Ko-chin(환悟克勤 1063-1135) says; “Ancient Masters used to live their lives in the humble hermitage or stone cave and take poor meals prepared in broken pans, after he attained Buddha-way(佛道). They never hoped to be known in the world and occasionally spew a word to switchover student’s mind to transmit Buddha’s Dharma”. Therefore, what Zen student has to do is only to
breed the Buddha-seed through many years. Do not like to build a monastery for the purpose of accepting more students. (Nishimura’s Text, page127)
Torei is then taking a number of examples of ancient Patriarchs who hid themselves in the deep mountain or amid the secular world for many years such as the six Patriarch Hui-nung(六祖慧能638-713)’s fifteen years in the South countryside, Nan-yang Hui-chung(南陽慧忠 ?-775)’s forty years, Ta-mei Fa-chang(大梅法常 752-839)’s thirty years, and so on.

10. Currency

The final Chapter of TULZ is the conclusion or the End of long Path of Zen study. Or we should say that it was the ultimate purpose to begin study of Zen when a student was standing at the gate of Zen Path. Since Zen Buddhism is based upon the Mahayana Buddhist thought, no matter how this particular branch is hoping to realize a Reality in his own-self and therefore it might be called the religious way of Self-inquiry(己事究明の行道) lasting throughout a whole life, it should be done for the salvation of all sentient Beings. Here the title of this Chapter “Currency” (流通 Ruzuu in Jp.) means the spread of the Buddha Dharma all over this earth.

However Currency of Buddha Dharma might not be the same as so-called religious Mission or social service done under the name of religion. For Tourei, “currency” actually means transmission of Unextinguished Lamp of Zen (in fact, this was the title of his work) to only a few students. Torei writes as follows;

Yen-tou chuan-huo(巖頭全豁 828-887) says’ “Whenever you intend to demonstrate Great teaching of Buddha, you have to let it issue from your own heart each by each, so that it fills the whole heaven and earth for the sake of all other beings. “I hope that Buddha’s Dharma would last forever by the currency that is possible in a way of gaining of an authentic Seed of Dharma. What I worry is the Buddha Dharma is now in danger like the eggs been piled up! I really do not hope that Buddha Dharma extinguish so easily in future. Situation is like the case that the several persons are traveling through the stormy field. And the all lanterns are almost going to be blown out by the storm. However, if there were one person in the party gives his effort only to concentrate his mind upon a lantern not to extinguish, all other people would be saved by that one lantan. (Nishimura’s Text, page131)
As Tourei teaches here in its most impressive example, “Currency” does not mean to scatter Zen to the masses of world, but maintain the fruit and its seed within deep individual person so that his existence itself could naturally be a shining Lamp for the world of Darkness. This is nothing but what Zen Patriarchs have taught as “The Great Compassion of Non-object”(無緣の大悲 Muen no daihi) which is entirely different from ordinary Compassion occasionally given to a particular Object(衆生緣の慈悲 Shujyouen no jihi). And Tourei here stresses the importance of this specific sort of Compassion as an Ultimate purpose of Zen study.