The Correct Path of Seon

From 1st Journal of White Lotus Buddhist Studies(JWBS), 1991

This text is composed of essentials specially excerpted directly by Venerable Master Seongcheol from his previously published Seonmun Jeongno (Correct Path of Seon) plus supplementary explanations related to the practice (gongbu) of hwadu.

“There is not a single sentient being that does not possess the wisdom of the Tathagata, but because of their attachments to delusions they cannot realize (this wisdom). So if they can lose the delusions, all will have natural wisdom and unhindered wisdom revealed to them.” (80 fascicle Huayan jing [Avatamsaka Sutra], 50 )

Comment: The wisdom of the Tathagata means the Buddha-nature, and so if one discards the delusions that conceal the Buddha-nature, the Buddha-nature automatically appears.

“All sentient beings have the Buddha-nature, but because it is covered over by defilements, they do not know and do not see it.” (Daniepan jing [Mahaparinirvana Sutra], fascicle 7)

“The thus-so Buddha-nature can only be known by a Buddha.” (Daniepan jing [Mahaparinirvana Sutra], fascicle 7)

“The anuttara-samyak-sambodhi (supreme, correct enlightenment/awareness) is achieved due to seeing the nature.” (Daniepan jing [Mahaparinirvana Sutra], fascicle 7)

Comment: Since the Buddha-nature can only be seen by a Buddha who has eliminated all delusions, this is the supreme, correct awareness.

“The arhats do not see the Buddha-nature.” (Daniepan jing [Mahaparinirvana Sutra], fascicle 27)

“Even though a bodhisattva has reached the tenth (of the ten stages), that bodhisattva still does not clearly see or know the Buddha-nature.” (Daniepan jing [Mahaparinirvana Sutra], fascicle 8)

Comment: A bodhisattva, even at the tenth of the stages, still cannot clearly see the Buddha-nature because subtle delusions remain. Needless to say this also applies to arhats.

“Even though one profoundly believes that sentient beings all share the same true nature, because that is covered by adventitious contaminants, it cannot be completely visible. If one can discard the delusions and return to the true (nature), because one is calm and has nothing to do that is called entry into principle.” (Bodhidharma, Sixinglu)

Comment: This is seen in the Dunhuang texts etcetera, and so is recognized as being the personal teaching of Bodhidharma.

“Although the myriad Dharmas are all present in the self-nature, being covered by the floating clouds of false thoughts, the self-nature cannot be elucidated. If one has blown away the illusory falsities, inside and outside are completely clarified and the myriad Dharmas will all be visible in the self-nature.” (Dunhuang Platform Sutra)

Comment: “Inside and outside are completely clarified” is just like when the Buddha lit a light inside a glass bottle, the inside and outside were bright, which was called marvelous awareness.
“When in the space of a moment false thoughts are all extinguished, and inside and outside are completely clarified, one recognizes that one’s own original mind is itself liberation, which is no-thought.” (Platform Sutra)

Comment: The popularly circulating Platform Sutra writes, “People who see the nature are also the same as this.” Since ‘inside and outside are completely clarified’ and ‘immediate cultivation, no-thought’ are contents shared by the Dunhuang and popular Platform Sutra texts, these are the fundamental thought of the Sixth Patriarch expressed unchanged in the Platform Sutra. That is, if inside and outside are completely clarified, and if one sees the nature and delusions have all been removed, that is called no-thought. Since a fundamental principle of Buddhism is that the ending of delusions is seeing the nature, the words of the Buddha and patriarchs do not contradict this.

“When one has completed the bodhisattva stages and has distanced oneself from the subtle false thoughts, since one can see the nature of the mind it is called ultimate awareness.” (Qixinlun [The Mahayana Awakening of Faith])

“When the false mind is extinguished, the Dharmakaya (Body of the Law) will be clearly visible.” (Qixinlun [Awakening of Faith])

Comment: Since the Dharmakaya is the body of the Dharma-nature, this means that is the same as the Buddha-nature.

“If one removes and extinguishes ignorance one will see the original Dharmakaya.” (Qixinlun [Awakening of Faith])

“The Buddhas and Tathagata are simply the Dharmakaya.” (Qixinlun [Awakening of Faith])

Comment: The Awakening of Faith is a recognized summation of Mahayana Buddhism. Ultimate awareness in which all delusions have been removed is called seeing the nature. This agrees with the words of the Buddha and patriarchs.

“In the stage of no pollution of the diamond-like samadhi (vajra-upama-samādhi) that is the final mind (state) of the tenth stage, the mental thoughts of the subtle force of habit are all eliminated. Therefore it is said (that at this stage) one can see the nature of the mind.” (Xianshou Fazang, Qixinlun yiji [Notes on the Meaning of the Awakening of Faith], T44.268c)

Comment: The authoritative doctrinal scholar Xianshou also says that at the tenth stage that the subtle delusions must be eliminated before one sees the nature.

“The saints of the tenth stage preach that the Dharma is like clouds rising or rain falling, and that seeing the nature is like (seeing) with ones eyes covered over by fine gauze.” (Yunmen, Jingde chuandenglu 19)

“Just like a clear-eyed person who (sees) all the masses of material objects (with his eyes) covered by light gauze, the bodhisattva of the ultimate stage likewise sees all percepts. Just like a clear-eyed person who has no obstructions (sees) all the masses of material forms, the Tathagata sees all percepts likewise.” (Yujialun 50)

Comment: As even the bodhisattva of the ultimate and tenth stage has remaining subtle delusions, they do not see the nature.

“The enlightened person immediately cultivates. The self-nature is immediately cultivated.” (Platform Sutra)

Comment: These lines of the Dunhuang Platform Sutra are expressed in the popular Platform Sutra version as, “The deluded person gradually tallies, the enlightened person immediately cultivates. Immediate enlightenment and immediate cultivation likewise have no stages,” and so (these two versions) are unanimous in advocating immediate cultivation. This shared advocacy of immediate cultivation in the Dunhuang and popular versions of the Platform Sutra is a fundamental teaching of the Sixth Patriarch. The Sixth Patriarch did not propose gradual cultivation after enlightenment.

“As immediate enlightenment and immediate cultivation does not produce a single thought, it has terminated both before and after.” (Zongmi, Chanyuan zhuquanji duxu).

“If false thoughts are all completely extinguished, wipe away the place of elimination also.” (Record of Consulting Seon, in Taegorok)

Comment: Although one has eliminated all false thoughts, if one remains at the place of elimination that is the great death that cannot come to life. And so only when one has abandoned even the state of having eliminated all false thoughts is one properly enlightened.

“Anybody who does not produce a single thought and who has terminated before and after, will immediately be enlightened and immediately cultivate, immediately terminate and immediately realize, and will have no stages.” (Seosanjip 4)

Comment: The import of the immediate enlightenment of ‘immediate enlightenment with gradual cultivation’ and ‘immediate enlightenment with immediate cultivation’ is fundamentally different. The immediate enlightenment of gradual cultivation is the defilements and delusions left as they are, and the gradual cultivation is the removal of delusions. The immediate enlightenment of immediate cultivation is the great no-mind in which not even a single thought is produced, and so there is no need to remove delusions, which is called immediate cultivation.

Bojo’s immediate enlightenment is leaving delusions as they are, which he called the starting (mind) of the ten faiths [the first of the ten stages of the bodhisattva career]. The Sixth Patriarch’s immediate enlightenment is the inside and outside completely clarified of marvelous awareness, which he called the no-thought of the Buddha-stage. These two contradict each other. The correct-eyed lineage masters of the Seon School all passed beyond the non-production of a single thought, and since none (of them) lacked no-thought, therefore Bojo’s starting (mind) of the ten faiths that advocated leaving delusions as they are does not even have relative value. However, we must note that even though one has reached (the state of) not producing a single thought, if one remains with the non-production of a single thought that is a great death that cannot come to life and is not called seeing the nature.

“Fada was greatly enlightened at a word and said himself, ‘Hereafter every moment I shall practice the Buddhist practice.’ The Master said, ‘The Buddhist practice is the Buddha.’” (Dunhuang Platform Sutra)

Comment: As immediate enlightenment is the stage of the Buddha, this means that gradual cultivation after enlightenment is not necessary. The practice of the Buddha is the practice of immediate cultivation and perfect realization.

“Each one of our six generations of masters said, ‘Decisively and directly enter, and directly see the nature.’ They did not speak of stages or gradual. Those who would learn the Way should immediately be enlightened and gradually cultivate.” (Shenhui yiji 3)

Comment: As there was much immediate cultivation thought in the Shenhui yiji, Hu Shi declared that Shenhui had spoken of immediate cultivation. But Shenhui, while saying that the Chan/Seon School was immediate cultivation, on the other hand advocated gradual cultivation. Therefore the founding patriarch of gradual cultivation could be none other than Shenhui.

“First one should immediately be enlightened, and only then should one cultivate gradually. This refers to enlightenment through understanding. Therefore the Huayan (jing) preaches that ‘when the mind is initially determined (for enlightenment), that is achieving the correct awareness.’ And after that the three sagely and ten saintly (stages of the bodhisattva career) are successively cultivated and realized.” (Zongmi, Chanyuan zhuquanji duxu, Ji-nul, Jeolyo)

“One first enters the stages of the ten faiths after enlightenment.” (Zongmi, Chengxitu, Jeolyo)

Comment: ‘Successively cultivate the three sagely and ten saintly (stages)’ are evidently the words of doctrinal scholars, and so to call this (teaching an) advocacy of the Seon School of the separate transmission outside of the doctrine is ridiculous.

“Even though one is immediately enlightened that one’s self-nature is originally empty and quiescent, the adventitious contaminants and defilements are no different to what they were before.” (Ji-nul, Susimgyeol)

Comment: While the Buddha and the patriarchs said that the ultimate awareness of the great ground of no-mind is seeing the nature, Bojo said that the starting (mind) of the ten faiths that is no different to the preceding defilements and delusions is seeing the nature. Therefore this (claim) is fundamentally a violation of the words of the Buddhas and patriarchs.

“Turn back the light in a single thought and see one’s own basic nature. That nature-ground is the nature of the wisdom that lacks outflows [insight unstained by defilements], which is something one was originally fully provided with, and which is not in the slightest degree different to that of all the Buddhas. There it is called ‘immediate enlightenment.’”

“Although one is enlightened that the basic nature is no different to the Buddha, the beginning-less force of habit (means) it is ultimately difficult to remove immediately. Therefore, through cultivation that is dependent on enlightenment, one should long nurture the fetus of the saint (Buddha), and after a long time one becomes the saint. Therefore I say (one should) cultivate gradually.” (Susimgyeol)

Comment: Although Bojo said that the starting (mind) of the ten faiths that is no different to the preceding defilements and delusions is seeing the nature, that is not the seeing the nature (spoken of by) the Buddha and patriarchs.

“After enlightenment one should examine and reflect for a long time, and even if false thoughts suddenly arise, one should not follow them at all, but discard them and again discard them till one comes to (where) there is nothing more to be done in discarding (wuwei), which is to be at the point of the ultimate. The excellent teachers of the world herd the oxen [mind/thought] after enlightenment.” (Susimgyeol)

Comment: In the Mahayana sutras, the Avatamaska and the Mahaparinirvana, the Buddha says that the stage of the Buddha where delusions are all ended is seeing the nature, and that there is no need for further cultivation thereafter. In the Platform Sutra the Sixth Patriarch speaks in detail of inside and outside completely clarified as seeing the nature. He did not speak of further cultivation. Even in the oldest text, the Dunhuang version, one cannot find ideas about gradual cultivation.

Bojo said that the ten faiths that overlay the delusions are the seeing of the nature, and that the removal of the delusions is gradual cultivation. One can see that this contradicts the words of the Sixth Patriarch. To the extent that one says that the ten faiths that lie layer upon layer over the delusions are the seeing of the nature, to that extent one is wrong. (To the extent that one says that) one must not leave the delusions as they are, that inevitably means that naturally one pursues gradual cultivation. And thus one must know that this idea of gradual cultivation is clearly that of the doctrinal scholars and not that of the Seon School.

“In the idea of doctrine, immutability and adaptability to conditions, immediate enlightenment and gradual cultivation have a fore and after [temporal succession]. In the Seon Dharma, during one thought/moment, immutability and adaptability to conditions, nature and attribute, substance and function, are fundamentally simultaneous.”

Comment: These are words in Seosan’s Seonga gugam, which says that immediate enlightenment and gradual cultivation are the ideas of doctrinal scholars and not those of the Seon School.

“Of those who now mistakenly receive the meaning of Seon, some regard the gate (method) of immediate (enlightenment) and gradual (cultivation) to be the correct genealogy, and (some) regard the teaching of perfect immediacy to be the vehicle of the school, so how can I dare to speak of their errors in slandering the Dharma?” (Seon gyo gyeol)

Comment: Since the ideas of immediate enlightenment with gradual cultivation and perfect immediacy and the understanding through faith are those of the doctrinal scholars and not those of the Seon School, the mistaken assertion that this is an idea of the Seon School was cautioned against by Seosan as a major error of slandering the Dharma. Moreover, these identical lines (of caution) appear in the Seonmun bojangrok.

“Heze (Shenhui) is a lineage master of intellectual understanding.”

Comment: Heze was the founding patriarch of immediate enlightenment with gradual cultivation, and Guifeng (Zongmi) continued to propagate this. Bojo also was a person who did the utmost to advocate the ideas of Heze and Guifeng, and Bojo at the start of his Jeolyo criticized Heze as a “lineage master of intellectual understanding.” That criticism was a major change in (Bojo’s) thought.

“But although this principle is perfectly marvelous, because it is totally interpreted through the affective mind and is determined through thinking, in the short-cut entrance [gate or method] that is the entrance of Seon, each single one is selected out as a disease of intellectual understanding.” (Ganhwa gyeoluiron)

Comment: Perfect immediacy and understanding through faith mean an intellectual understanding of the Buddha Dharma.

“Perfect immediacy and the understanding through faith are verbal teachings of reality that are as numerous as the sands of the Ganges River, but they are called dead words. Therefore they make people produce obstacles to understanding.”

Comment: Bojo himself fiercely criticized perfect immediacy and the understanding through faith that is immediate enlightenment with gradual cultivation as dead words, but even now, eight hundred years later that double of perfect immediacy with immediate and gradual are still advocated as belonging to the Seon School. That is something that cannot be comprehended.

“Persons who make manifest the realization of wisdom are presently rarely seen and rarely heard of. Therefore, just now one should value the elucidation of the correct knowledgeable views that are reliant on the gate [method] of investigating the meaning of the hwadu.” (Ganhwa gyeoluiron)

“At present the majority of those who destroy doubts investigate the meaning. Therefore they cannot investigate the words, and so are one with the gate of perfect immediacy and the elucidation of correct understanding.” (Ganhwa gyeoluiron)

“Investigation of the meaning is the dead words of perfect immediacy. This is because they have ideas about the paths of principle, of language, and of understanding through hearing.” (Seonga gugam)

Comment: Investigation of words means the part of live words that have ended language and thought. In the Ganhwa gyeoluiron, Bojo abandoned the dead words of perfect immediacy that he had advocated up till then, and tried to advocate live words, but in the final section of the Gyeoluiron, he ended it with a weak conclusion.

That is, while Bojo himself held that investigation of the meaning was the same as the gate of perfect immediacy, because he again returned to the dead words of perfect immediacy and encouraged it, Bojo’s fundamental thought is thus known to be perfect immediacy and understanding through faith, just as it was previously.

Because this directly contradicts the inside and outside completely elucidated and the immediate entrance and immediate cultivation spoken of in the Platform Sutra, in a Seon School that is the Dharma-heir of the Sixth Patriarch, this absolutely cannot be approved. Because this tells us that Bojo could not have had a coherent and fixed view, it was a theoretical contradiction that was nothing but suicidal. In the Seon School, the Platform Sutra is still a standard, and one must return to the live words section of inside and outside completely clarified, and enlightened entry and immediate cultivation.

“If one values the doctrinal teaching and makes light of Seon, even though one passes through endless time, one is still completely of the demonic host of heaven and is a non-Buddhist.” (Seon Gyo seok).

Comment: As this is the conclusion of the Seon Gyo seok written by Seosan, these are awesome words. If one advocates the teaching (doctrine) beneath the signboard of the Seon School, one is professing that one is a demon of heaven, a heretic who is not of the Buddha Dharma, which means Seosan is a truly excellent guide.

“If one directly uses the live words of the short-cut method to teach them, and has gained enlightenment oneself, then that is the style of a lineage master who teaches people. If he sees that a student cannot understand and drags him into the mire by preaching doctrine, he will blind the eyes of many people. If a lineage master violates this Dharmic rule, even though he preaches the Dharma, and even though the flowers fall down from heaven in profusion (in approval), all of this is a stupid madness of running to the outside.”

Comment: Because Seosan in his Gugam indicated that (the teaching of) being first enlightened and afterwards cultivating under the principles of understanding through faith and the practice of realization is that of doctrinal scholars, the gradual cultivation ideas of Bojo are evidently those of a doctrinal scholar and those of the Seon School. There is a world of difference between advocating that the starting (mind) of the ten faiths in which there is no difference with the pre-existing adventitious contaminants and defilements will be the immediate enlightenment to the self nature and that these delusions will then be removed by gradual cultivation, and advocating that in marvelous awareness all delusions will have disappeared, and that inner and outer are completely clarified and one enters by enlightenment and cultivates immediately [i.e. simultaneously].

In the Seon School one must sever off and discard the dead words of perfect immediacy. If one cannot end and discard the attachment to the dead words of perfect immediacy, one will be “in a stupid madness that runs to the outside” as Seosan so sternly taught, and one will be a follower of the school of intellectual understanding that is most taboo in the Seon School.

While Bojo allowed that one could only see the nature in the ultimate awareness in which all the defilements and delusions that conceal the Buddha-nature have all disappeared, Bojo also said that the starting (mind) of the ten faiths stage that was no different to the preceding adventitious contaminants and defilements is seeing the nature. Thus from the very start this opposed the principles of the Buddha and the patriarchs. Even while advocating gradual cultivation, Bojo criticized the founding father of gradual cultivation, Heze, as a master of the school of intellectual understanding, and he also said that one had to decisively discard ideas of gradual cultivation. Although there appears to have been an ideological about-face in his Gyeoluiron, in the final section of this work, because there is an advocacy of the investigation of the meaning of dead words as before, this was only a temporary change in his thought, and was not a fundamental about-face. This counters his efforts in arguing that one must not investigate dead words. It is a fact that Bojo did not abandon the dead words of perfect immediacy and understanding through faith. One must eliminate this mistaken idea and must observe the legacy of Seosan’s strict instruction about this being a “stupid madness that runs to the outside.”

“Even though one gradually reaches a (state in which) sleep and waking are one, one still needs the hwadu to not be divorced from one’s mind.” (Taegorok)

Comment: Even though one becomes (as if in a state in which) sleep and waking are the same during the investigation of the hwadu, one still has to make an effort in investigating the hwadu. This is the lifeline of the meditation monk.

“If one is a strong man, examine a gong’an [Jap. koan]. A monk asked Zhaozhou, ‘Does a dog also have the Buddha-nature?” Zhaozhou replied, ‘It does not.’ In the twenty-six hours (of the day) simply examine the character ‘does not have.’ Investigate it day and night, whether walking, standing, sitting or lying down. Pay attention to it mind after mind [thought by thought] continuously, fiercely concentrate the mind. If you do this for a long time, (the hwadu and the doubt) will become one lump, and suddenly the flower of the mind will blossom and one will have been enlightened to the secret (occasion) of the Buddha and patriarchs.” (Yunqi, Changuan ceqin)

“The evaluation says, ‘This was taken up in later ages as a gong’an and was the beginning of the examination of hwadu. One does not necessarily firmly grasp the character ‘does not have’ (mu), but should stick to one case (gong’an), such as the character ‘does not have’ or ‘Mt Sumeru’ or ‘having died, one is cremated,’ etcetera, with enlightenment made the object. Even though the doubted (hwadu) are not the same, the enlightenment cannot be different.” (Yunqi, Changuan ceqin)

Comment: The transmission by writing of the investigation of the gong’an began with Huangbo (Huaihai). Not just the character ‘does not have’, but any gong’an that one receives direction for, if investigated diligently is sure to definitely enlighten one, and so this is the most developed method of meditation in the Seon School.

“’Having fully attained the ten faiths, one still needs to observe the precepts. If one lacks the practice of the precepts that is like erecting a tower up in empty space. Do you still observe the precepts?’ He said, ‘I observe the five precepts.’ ‘From now on only examine the character “does not have” and do not consider whether it is this or that. One must not make interpretations as to whether it has (exists) or has not (does not exist). Moreover, do not examine the sutras, doctrine and recorded sayings etcetera. Just simply take up this character ‘does not have’ and throughout the day, whether sitting, standing, walking or lying down, one must be alert like a cat hunting mice or a hen brooding on an egg; there cannot be any interruption. Before one has attained lucid enlightenment, one cannot change (the hwadu). At times one can again whip up a doubt that says, “All sentient beings have the Buddha-nature, but why did Zhaozhou say they do not?”’” (Weishan)

“In making an effort, one must not just only be mindful of the gong’an. If you are examining the character ‘does not have’ then one should give rise to a feeling of doubt about that character ‘does not have’. If you are examining the ‘cypress tree’ then you should give rise to a feeling of doubt about the ‘cypress tree.’ If one is examining ‘where does one revert to?’ one should give rise to a feeling of doubt about it. Only if one can initiate and give rise to a feeling of doubt will all the worlds of every direction be just one ball of doubt.” (Boshan Jingyu)

“Should you have doubt about the gong’an to be originally investigated, with that great ball of doubt you are sure to have great enlightenment. The thousands and tens of thousands of doubts will mass together into one doubt so that one will be able to make a determination about that originally investigated gong’an.” (Mengshan Deyi)

“Movement and calm as one, alert whether asleep or awake, the hwadu appears, just like the moonlight in translucent water, even in lively and disturbed rapids. When the light strikes them it is not scattered, and when the (waters) are dissipated it is not lost, for inwardly it is quiescent and undisturbed, and outwardly it does not move even though shaken. If the ball of doubt is here destroyed, the correct eye will be opened.” (Mengshan Deyi)

“Our patriarch came from the West and simply offered up the direct pointing and regarded great enlightenment to be the entrance through the gate (of Seon). He did not discuss meditation and miraculous powers.” (Mengshan)

“Correct enlightenment is like being in the dark for a long time and then encountering the light, or like suddenly awakening from a great dream; if one realizes one, one realizes all, and there is no longer the slightest trace of the habits of hate, love, grasping and abandoning in one’s breast.” (Zhongfeng)

“It is like coming from a blackened room into the bright sunlight.” (Xueyan)

“The hallucination of life and death forever extinguished, the correct substance of the Diamond are also revealed, and once (enlightenment is) attained it is attained forever and there is no interruption to that.” (Yuanwu, Xinyao).

“Seeing the nature and becoming Buddha, once attained is attained forever. Possessing one’s own treasure store, one manages one’s own treasures, so how can there be an end to their use?” (Xinyao)

“The singular method of the examination of the word (ganhwa) is the best short-cut. Śamatha-vipaśyanā and samadhi-insight are naturally within it.” (Jin’gak)

“Just throughout the whole of the day, whether sitting, standing, walking or lying down, one must examine the hwadu only.” (Jin’gak)

Comment: Although Jin’gak was the leading pupil of the leader of gradual cultivation thought, Bojo, he did not advocate Bojo’s joint cultivation of samadhi and insight, but rather advocated ganhwa, and he compiled the Yeomsong, a fundamental scripture of ganhwa Seon.

“There is a type of person (who holds that) there is a bright and intelligent nature that reasons and knows, that sees and hears, and is a lord over the corporeal field of the five skandhas. If one is like this and is an excellent teacher, one cheats people greatly. Do you know this? Now I ask you, ‘If you acknowledge this bright intelligence as your true reality, why when you are profoundly asleep are you still not bright and intelligent? If when you are deeply asleep you are not so (bright and intelligent), you are (mistakenly) recognizing a bandit as one’s own offspring, which is the root of birth and death and the conditional production of delusion.’” (Xuanshalu, Jingde chuandenglu 18)

“This Dharma is not something that can be understood by deliberation and discrimination.” (Lotus Sutra)

“The Buddha said, ‘Those who learn my Dharma will know only by realization.” (Zongjinglu 22)

“Even though this mind is Buddha, only those who realize will know it.” (Chengguan, Jingde chuandenglu 30)

“The dharma-nature is only known by the realizing wisdom, there is no other realm (that can know it).” (Uisang, Beopseinggye)

Comment: In the Beopseongdo that Uisang composed there is verse called Uisang’s Beopseonggye. In it he wrote that the realizing wisdom is something that only a Buddha knows. Even though (the idea that) one does not know if it is not the realizing wisdom is an iron rule that is consistent with the Buddhas and patriarchs of Seon and Doctrine, as Bojo says that enlightenment through understanding in which the delusions are the same as before is seeing the nature, he must be truly rebelling against the Buddhas and patriarchs. Therefore his gong’an, in other words, the hwadu, as a deliberation and discrimination that is not realizing wisdom, absolutely does not know.

“One lamplight can remove the darkness of a thousand years; one wisdom can extinguish the stupidity of ten thousand years.” (Platform Sutra)

Comment: Yuanwu sharply warned his disciple, Dahui, that even though one has (achieved a state in which) sleep and waking are as one, once one dies one cannot come back to life, (and so) ‘Not having doubt in the hwadu is a major illness.’ The gong’an of past patriarchs cannot be known before sleep and waking are as one and inside and outside are completely clarified. And therefore before sleep and waking are as one and inside and outside are completely clarified, one must still devote one’s whole body and strength to the investigation of the hwadu. Sleep and waking as one and inside and outside completely clarified are absolutely impossible before (one achieves the state of) a single thought not produced. And a single thought not produced is immediate cultivation, and if there is no immediate cultivation then that immediate enlightenment is not seeing the nature. Bojo’s biggest error was in deciding that enlightenment through understanding, in which the adventitious contaminants and defilements are the same as they were before, is seeing the nature. Enlightenment through understanding in which the delusions remain as they are is not seeing the nature, and with this one absolutely cannot know the gong’an of the past patriarchs. If one gives rise to the disease that one knows in the midst of delusions while meditating, one’s efforts will never achieve (enlightenment). Therefore the disease of intellectual understanding is certainly the greatest of the diseases. And so, because Bojo recognized this to be seeing the nature, the harm he did to later people was tremendous. The theory that one sees the nature through enlightenment via understanding fundamentally destroyed the Seon School for this is the greatest cause that furthered the disease of intellectual understanding.

Therefore meditators absolutely must not give rise to the thought that they know before they achieve the real state of inside and outside completely clarified, and the no-mind no-thought that is spoken of in the Platform Sutra. If one catches this disease of the view of knowing, while posing as a teacher, by doing so one guides later students erroneously and also destroys ones self. This is a truly frightful thing. However, as long as one does not think that perfect realization and immediate realization are too difficult, and does not catch the disease of intellectual understanding, if one genuinely makes a strenuous effort, within three or four years one will attain inside and outside completely clarified and can be greatly enlightened. However, it is absolutely forbidden to think of making a business through the disease of enlightenment via understanding. People who make a vigorous effort do not sleep before midnight, do not talk in the meditation cloister, and do not look even at the writings of the scriptures and recorded sayings, and even though the summer (meditation) retreat has finished do not go wandering, and assuming that they are the Ananda of this age, only try to exert themselves in vigorous practice. They are sure to achieve numinous experiences. One must be convinced that one cannot know the gong’an of the ancients before one achieves inside and outside completely clarified. People who say that their effort (in hwadu) is not working but do not vigorously practice should remove the signboard of the disease of knowledgeable views and genuinely make a vigorous practice. They will be sure to gain a good result.

Not only do I repeatedly say it, but people of the past also said “not doing is not (the same as) being unable to do.” Provided one genuinely practices vigorously and still cannot succeed, since it is cautioned that one should even cut off one’s own head (in the effort), assume that one is not born into this world, put aside all affairs, produce a fiercely heroic mind, do not be deceived by vain dreams, and only request that one can genuinely practice vigorously. This is not a struggle between the (other) persons and myself (ego), but is daring to comment so that the Buddha-Dharma will endure.

The Psycho-semantic Structure of the Word kṣānti (Ch. Jen)

The Psycho-semantic Structure of the Word kṣānti(Ch. Jen)

Sungtaek Cho (趙 性 澤)

Professor, Department of Comparative Studies, State University of New York


1. Introduction

2.1. “Unrelated” meanings of kṣānti

2.2. The polysemy of khanti;a new way of

understanding its diversity of meanings

2.3. khanti, a psychological complex

2.4. Various Psychological modes of khanti

3.1. Khanti as “liking” or “preference” or “intentionality”

3.2. khanti as “determining factor”

3.3. Khanti as “choice power” (khanti-bala)

3.4. khanti as “wisdom” (khanti-ñāṇa)

3.5. Khanti as “marga”

4. Kṣānti in the Mahāyāna Soteriology

The Psycho-semantic Structure

of the Word kṣānti (Ch. Jen)

1. Introduction

The anutpattika-dharma-kṣānti is one of the forms of enlightenment assuring avinivartanīya, or the non-retrogression stage of the bodhisattva. This is a key concept needed to understand the soteriology of Mahayana Buddhism. The set phrase anutpattika-dharma-kṣānti is, semantically, composed of two different parts: anutpattika-dharma and kṣānti. The former, meaning “non-arising of dharma,” contains the central Mahayana tenet of “the emptiness of dharma” ; the latter, which is derived from the verbal root “kṣam,” meaning “to forgive,” “to be tolerant,” or “to endure suffering,” is commonly translated as “patience” or “forbearance.” Thus, a possible translation of the phrase, anutpattika-dharma-kṣānti would be “patience in the [acceptance of] non-arising of dharma.” Yet, anutpattika-dharma-kṣānti has nothing to do with “patience” in the context of Mahayana soteriology. The attainment of anutpattika-dharma-kṣānti, usually accompanied by a prediction of future Buddhahood given by the Buddha himself, is the ultimate goal, indicating that one will realize in the near future the ultimate truth of Buddhism. The key to understand this important concept in Mahayana soteriology lies in the proper understanding of the word “kṣānti.” Many translators of Buddhist texts simply assume that “kṣānti” refers to “patience,” and their renderings become descriptive terms which are aimed at conveying the proper contextual meanings while holding back the meaning “patience.” However, an investigation of the earlier usages of kṣānti in Buddhist texts will show no relation to the word “patience.” Earlier Buddhist texts, namely the Suttanipāta, use kṣānti as if it had no sense of virtue, such as patience, in its meaning. Rather, as a Buddhist technical term, it denoted an attentive “intentionality,” or various modes of such mental states.

In order to understand the concept anutpattika-dharma-kṣānti properlyI would like to examine thevarious meanings of “kṣānti” in Buddhist texts written in Pāli as well as Sanskrit, Tibetan, and Chinese. I will explore the possibility of understanding the diversity of meanings of a single word, based on the “polysemous” analysis of the word. By doing so, I will discuss how in Mahayana Buddhism the concept of “kṣānti” was incorporated into its soteriological theory, its cultic practices and the hierarchy of its religious community. Also, I will examine how another Buddhist tradition, the Abhidharma, developed “kṣānti into a philosophical technical term defining a type of cognitive function. I will discuss how the fundamental differences in their philosophies are illustrated, explicitly as well as implicitly, in terms of their different understanding of “kṣānti.”

2.1. “Unrelated” meanings of kṣānti

Most translators assume that the various usages of the word kṣānti are secondary meanings derived from the ‘primary’ sense, ‘patience.’ Because of this, they have sought to find the possible metaphorical relationship between the primary sense and a specific usage of the word in a given context. They presuppose, consciously or unconsciously, the historical development of the meaning of kṣānti. In addition, they seem to ignore the fact that the so called “unrelated” usages of the word, without the sense of ‘patience,’ were already found in the earlier Buddhist texts in Pāli.

Having noticed that kṣānti (P. khanti) was used with “unrelated” meanings in Pāli texts, some scholars tried to challenge the long misunderstanding of kṣānti. They argued that it had been a unique-historical development of the doctrine of Sarvāstivādin or Mahayana traditions. Some of their work is informative enough to show us a new way of understanding the word, especially the research of Professors P. V. Bapat and Hajime Sakurabe, which I will review here.

Having noticed that the Pāli word khanti is used in two different senses : (1) liking, mental inclination, disposition, view or sight, and (2) forbearance, patience, endurance, capacity to bear etc., Professor P. V. Bapat challenged the translation of the Sanskrit word kṣānti as merely “patience” etc.. He argues as follows :

Even where the sense of “liking,” “view,” “inclination” appears to be more natural and resonable, the interpretation of forbearance or patience is attributed by several scholars. But these are some ‘leftouts’ even in Buddhist Sanskrit where the Pali word khanti is not rendered by kṣānti but kānti, liking.

He thus considers the “mechanical” use of kṣānti instead of kānti to be incorrect. He provides the evidence for his argument in the following passages:

In Bodhisattva-bhūmi (p. 33 Dutt’s edition) there is a verse in the last quarter of which we read : dṛṣṭe śrute kāntim a-samprakurvan : having no liking for what is seen or heard. This exactly corresponds to diṭṭhe sute hhantim (sic. for khantim) a-kubbamāno (Sn. 897). …Here is used as an equivalent of Pāli khanti. The use of aspirated kha, tha, pha, bha in Pāli-Prakrit for un-aspirated ka, ta, pa, ba respectively in Sanskrit is not unknown.

Essentially, his argument is based on the same approach as N. A. Jayawickrama and Sasaki H. Genjung, in that since philologically the Pāli word khanti can be sanskritized into either kānti or kṣānti, the mechanical use of the Sanskrit word kṣānti is not correct. His argument may be supported by some Chinese translations of the equivalent passages, as in the Chinese it was translated into (pu) ai, meaning ‘(not) loving,’ of which the Sanskrit equivalent form could be kanti. However, his argument is not substantiated in other examples. For instance, it is hardly believable that the kṣānti in dharma-jñāna-kṣānti etc., which is one of the most important concepts in Sarvāstivāda soteriology, is completely wrong for kanti. There is no textual evidence that kanti was ever used instead of kṣānti in Sanskrit texts, except in the Bodhisattvabhūmi, where the Sanskrit is not correct in many places. Even Yaśomitra, when commenting on passages where the word kṣānti occurs, kept silent while only providing ruci as the synonym for kṣānti, which is already found so frequently in the commentarial works in Pāli Buddhist texts. However, over all, Bapat’s article must be considered an important contribution to Buddhist studies. After all, he makes it clear that the word khanti (Sk. kṣānti) had meanings other than ‘patience’ etc., which had gone almost unnoticed by other contemporary Buddhist scholars.

Going one step further, Prof. Sakurabe, a famous Abhidharma scholar in Japan, examined the original sense of the word kṣānti. He also agrees that “…in Pāli canon apparently coexist both senses of the word khanti, ‘patience’ [<kṣam] and ‘willing to,’ ‘desire’ [<kam].” However, disagreeing that the second sense of Pāli word khanti could be derived from kam, he calls our attention to a compound word ditthi-nijjhana-kkhanti. He says :

Doubled consonant-kkh proves that khanti here is derived not from kam, but from kṣam ; an ideomatic(sic) use of nijjhānaṃ khamati (S ⅲ 225 ; Mⅰ133, 480), too, evinc it.

Philologically, his argument makes sense. But unfortunately, we can find a passage, “… khantiṃ diṭṭhiṃ ruciṃ mutiṃ pekkhaṃ dhamma-nijjhāna-khantiṃ” (Vbh 325 ; VM 371 ; M ⅱ 218), in which ‘single k’ shows us that his philological argument is not enough to prove his position, even though his point that khanti is not derived from kam must be correct. At any rate, based on the presupposition that the two senses of khanti must come from the same etymological origin, he disputes that khanti bears the meaning ‘liking’ or ‘desire.’ This rendering is mostly based on the assumption that khanti and kanti might be a homonymic confusion. Based on the Abhidharmakośa and its commentary by Yaśomitra, he feels that the Pāli word khanti means “intellectual implication,” as opposed ti “liking” or “desire,” as is generally assumed. He concludes that:

Here we can see close relations between those words as dṛṣṭi, kṣānti, saṃtirāṇa, (upa-)nidhyāna, rocana (a fellow derivative from ruc with ruci), āloka and jñāna, to all of which the intellectual implication is common. The word kṣānti in the compound anutpattikadharmakṣānti, too, should be understood in this connection.

However, he fails to answer the question of why khanti came to have such an intellectual implication.

In spite of both scholars’ inspiring suggestions, they failed to spot every variety of the “unrelated” usages occurring in the Pāli canon, partly because of their arbitrary, as well as limited, sources. In addition, they failed to explain how the “unrelated” usages were related to the primary meaning, ‘patience.’ Through my investigation of the occurrences of khanti in the Pāli canon, I have found that khanti has various meanings, rather than only two, as most scholars have assumed.

Therefore, in the following I attempt, first, to illustrate all the meanings of khanti in Pāli literature ; and second, to explore the possible ways of understanding the diversity of meanings of a single word, based on the “polysemy” understanding of that word. In doing so, I have created a new approach, quite different from what has been done so far by other scholars. I would therefore like to briefly explain my approach, which is based upon the belief that one single word came to have multiple meanings, not necessarily through history, but more likely synchronically, a process I call “polysemy.”

2.2. The polysemy of khanti;a new way of

understanding its diversity of meanings

Literally, “polysemy” means ‘diversity of meanings.’ In this paper, however, it means more than that. Probably the most important factor in “polysemy” is to accept the ‘diversity of meanings’ of a single word as a natural phenomenon in human language. It is a modern linguistic term that, when a word with several uses or meanings is examined, provides a way of accounting for many-to one mapping of function to form. Thus, it refers to “a grouping of related but distinctive senses of a single lexical item ; often there is an observable direction to the relationship between these senses, one being more central than, or prior to, others”.

It is beyond doubt that the Pāli word khanti is a typical “polysemy” word. However, this does not mean that this linguistic approach can be applied mechanically to the understanding of a Buddhist word. As we will see, the Buddhist use of language, especially in the case of khanti, provides unusual complications.

I presuppose that in order to understand the word khanti properly, every occurrence in the texts should be taken seriously. In other words, we have to accept that every occurrence in the texts is reasonable. It is not justifiable to make the general assumption that the various usages of the word are related, regardless of the context, nor to mechanically assume that the primary sense of the word is ‘patience.’ As aforementioned, such assumptions have been quite problematic in the past. Instead, what I think we have to do first is to take every occurrence seriously in the context, without any preoccupation with the meaning. The semantic relationship between the contextual meaning and the primary one can only be looked at after having taken this first step. With this in mind, I have taken every occurrence of the word in Pāli texts seriously. As a result of this, I have found that in Buddhist texts, the multi-meanings of kṣānti (P. khanti) were used from earlier times and yet these meanings were not, as generally assumed, historical ones but rather synchronic ones. However, the fact that the multi-meanings are synchronic or show ‘polysemy,’ does not necessarily exclude any possibility of a historical development to the Buddhist usage of the word. On the contrary, we should note that the usage of the word was dynamically and even radically developed throughout the history of Buddhist doctrine. Nevertheless, what is meant by “synchronic” is that the various meanings other than ‘patience,’ found in later Sanskrit Buddhist texts, were already found in the earliest Buddhist texts, such as Suttanipāta and Theragāthā and Therīgāthā. This makes evident the antiquity of the “unrelated” usage of the word khanti in Buddhist texts.

In fact, polysemy words are not rare in any language. Rather, it is one of the universal features of human speech. For illustration, I would like to consider for a moment the two senses of “cardinal” in English. The word can refer to both priests and to number. If they are not homonyms, which they are not, how can we understand these two apparently unrelated meanings? These two words have a common origin in a Latin word which meant “hinge.” Cardinals were priests on whom the rest of the church hinged, and cardinal numbers were the numbers on which the rest of the number system hinged. At one point, the relationship was a clear synchronic fact­not just a historical one, like the current relationship between the two English senses. The same approach, I believe, can be applied to understanding the various meanings of khanti (Sk. kṣānti) in Buddhist texts. This approach will not just give us some references by which to understand the “unrelated” usages of khanti but it will also give us a very significant hint as to the Buddhist psychology of earlier times.

If the “unrelated meanings” of khanti were, as we have mentioned, neither “historically developed,” nor related metaphorically to the meaning of “patience,” then how can we understand this use of language? In other words, what is the “hinge” on which the ordinary sense, as well as the technical ones can be connected?

Having investigated all of the occurrences of the word khanti in the Pāli Tripiṭaka, I found one important thing about the usage of the word in Buddhist texts. I found that the various “unrelated” meanings of khanti, such as ‘choice,’ ‘liking,’ ‘preference,’ ‘approval,’ or ‘ability’ (to comprehend etc.) do not just refer to the action denoted by each of them. They also refer to the mental state or the psychology underlying those actions. For instance, the word khanti in the passage of the Suttanipāta, “… nave knantiṃ na kubbaye [should not show a liking for the new],” cannot be simply understood as “enjoying,” or “being pleased with” (a new) object. Rather, it is more reasonable to understand the word as “putting one’s mind near the object,” or “directing one’s mind towards the object”­none other than the mental state or the psychology underlying “liking.” This will become clearer if we remember that Yaśomitra offered upanidhyāna, “put down near” as a synonym of kṣānti, in his commentary on Abhidharmakośa. As we will see in detail later, the other usages of khanti with “unrelated” meanings can also be understood in the same way : “directing one’s mind towards an object,” either external or internal, commonly underlies them. The question then becomes : how did the word khanti, meaning ‘patience’ or ‘endurance,’ become a psychological term denoting “directing one’s mind etc..” In regard to this question, one can only speculate. Buddhists from earliest times may have believed that the psychological property of “directing mind etc.” was the key factor of “being patient.” In other words, “being patient,” the opposite of an emotion like “anger,” was not merely “suppressing anger,” but more positively, “redirecting the mental state of ‘anger’ to another mental state such as ‘friendliness’ (maitrī, P. mettā) or equanimity (upekṣā).

This “redirecting” or “directing” is recognized as a central meaning in all of the various usages of khanti in Pāli texts. And from this central meaning various other meanings are derived, spreading in many directions. Therefore, though it seems natural that those various meanings, radiating from one central meaning, look “unrelated” to each other, we must consider the underlying psychological property central to each. Once we posit “redirecting” or “directing” as the center of the various meanings of khanti, we can easily understand not only how an “unrelated” meaning is related to the primary sense of khanti, but also how one meaning was transformed into another.

The psycho-semantic structure of the various usages of khanti is not only an example of the unique use of language by Buddhists, something which has gone unnoticed by many Buddhist scholars, it is also evidence of how intuitive and subtle was the ancient Buddhists understanding of the human mind. In the following discussion of the “polysemy” of the word khanti, I would like to avoid the historical sense and discuss through semantic logic how the word came to have the multi-meanings in the Buddhist context.

2.3. khanti, a psychological complex

On the subject of the “unrelated” usages of khanti, Rhys Davids in his Pā1i English dictionary, defines khanti as : “…in scholastic (i.e., Abhidhamma) language [it occurs] frequent in combination diṭṭhi khanti ruci” and “In dogmatic language… in combination diṭṭhi, khanti, ruci [each of which means, respectively,] one’s own views, indulgence and pleasure (=will), i.e., one’s intellectual, emotional, volitional sphere etc..” In at least two points he misunderstands the word khanti in Pāli literature. Firstly, those three combined words are not found in only “scholastic” or “doctrinal” texts, but also, as we will see, in many other “non-scholastic” ones, such as Sutta or Vinaya texts. Secondly, he speaks as if those three words referred to the three different spheres of human mental activities, and as if khanti could only refer to something “emotional.” However, this is not substantiated anywhere. Throughout Abhidhamma, commentarial, and other canonical texts, the three words do not just refer to their three mental activities. Instead, they are used as synonyms, or glossaries, complementary to each other. Moreover, we have to remember that in Yaśomitra’s Sphuṭārthā-Abhidharmakośa-vyākhyā, the word kṣamate, the verb form of kṣānti, is substituted by rocate, which could not possibly mean something “emotional” in this context. Here also, rocate and kṣamate can have no other meaning than ‘to recognize.’ In this sense, Oldenberg’s renderings of the triad, ‘belief,’ ‘opinion,’ and ‘persuasion’ are more reliable in understanding the three terms synonymously.

As I am unable to rely on the dictionary in defining the meaning of khanti for the purpose of this papaer, I would like to postulate some working hypotheses regarding ‘various meanings denoted by the various usages of khanti’ as a ‘psychological complex.’ I fell this is necessary because, as aforementioned, khanti apparently denotes in various contexts, various psychological modes. All of these modes are, nevertheless, commonly “radiated” from the central meaning, “redirecting” or “directing” underlying the psychology of ‘being patient.’

In Pā1i Tipiṭakam Concordance by E. M. Hare and K. R. Norman 97 occurrences of the word “khanti” are listed. As a purely hypothetical model for understanding the multi-meanings, or polysemy, of khanti as a whole, I classified them into the following three categories. : (1) khanti as opposite to “anger” etc.­19 occurrences ; (2) khanti as an “asceticism”­11 occurrences ; and (3) khanti as various psychological modes such as religious piety, intentionality, choice, ability, liking, preference or approval etc.­59 occurrences.

This classification does not assume any historical development of the meaning of khanti. And, also, these classifications are not mutually exclusive. In fact, each of the categories is blurred into the others and one occurrence may belong to more than one category. Nevertheless, this classification is useful, not only because it provides us with a visible formational structure for understanding the complicated “polysemous” development of the word, but also because each category provides us with an internal logical nexus, from one usage to another, so that we might comprehend how the occurrences in one category were developed to the ones in another category.

We might say that the first two categories are of the ordinary, or primary sense of khanti. Namely, we usually translate their usages as “patience,” “forbearance,” etc., which is the virtuous mental state mentioned as one of the Perfections (pāramitā). Although there is no difficulty in understanding the occurrences of the word, khanti (Sk. kṣānti) in categories (1) and (2), I have distinguished between them because even though they both refer to a virtuous mental state, the are not identical in their psychological modes nor their mental functions. The former one is always described as the opposite of krodha (anger), dveṣa (animosity), pratigha (repugnance) and vyāpadā (malice). Thus, as Har Dayal states, “it is defined as freedom from anger and excitement (akopanā, akṣobhanatā) and as the habit of enduring and pardoning injuries and insults (par-āpakārasya marṣaṇam).” On the other hand, the latter one is the “patient endurance of pain and hardship (duḥkhādhivāsana).” From this latter usage of khanti, where if functions as a very special spirit toward a higher state of mind, we can predict the occurrences in the third category.

The third category deals with the so called “unrelated” senses, ones with no relation to the meaning “patience.” Strikingly enough, these “unrelated” usages amount to over 50 percent of the entire occurrences in the Pāli Tripiṭaka. Moreover, as we will see, they occur through the whole texts of Pāli canon, from the earliest to the latest, and from Sutta and Vinaya to Abhidhamma and other commentary works. This seems to be enough evidence to prove the “polysemy thesis” of the word khanti. In my work, I will mainly discuss the occurrences of the last category.

2.4. Various Psychological modes of khanti

For the reason of structuring discussion, I classified the various psychological modes of khanti into five groups, according to psychological functions as well as contextual meanings. These are : (1)’liking’ ; (2)’determining factor’ ; (3)’choice power’ ; (4)’wisdom’;(5)’marga’ (path).

The semantic relationship among these five modes is much more complicated than we might expect. Because, in some cases, when one usage of the word, khanti, having been derived from the primary meaning, comes to have a ‘new’ meaning. Then it also becomes a central one from which other ‘new’ meanings are derived, forming a pattern almost like a ‘spider web.’ Even if this is the case, however, the underlying psychological property in khanti of ‘directing’ is still common in those various modes. In order to avoid the confusion, I would like to present a general survey of the way in which the various modes can be characterized before analyzing those occurrences in texts.

(1) khanti as ‘liking’ : This use of khanti will give us an opportunity to reconsider our ordinary experience of ‘liking’. What is meant by ‘liking’? Does it merely denote any ‘pleasure’ or ‘delightedness’ of mind? Rather, should it not denote “putting our mind near to a object.” Or, in other words, “to direct our mind toward the object arisen at the present moment, and try to keep holding it as if it were real?” In this sense, even if I titled this use of khanti as ‘liking,’ to follow conventional English translation, one could hardly say that ‘liking’ is exactly the correct translation. So, I will suggest another one.

(2) khanti as a ‘determining factor’ : We will see that Buddhists understood khanti as not only a mental state preparing one to understand Buddhist teaching, but also, by analogy, as a determining factor distinguishing one religion from another, one belief from another, or dhamma from non-dhamma etc.. Here also, we can see how khanti is characterized as the psychological property of “directing.” In other words, one’s mental, intellectual, or emotional attitude can be determined by which direction his mind is inclined towards ; for example, whether his mind is directed towards dhamma or non-dhamma.

(3) khanti as ‘choice power’ (khanti-bala)

What is another psychological aspect of “redirecting” one mental state to another? It is : “to abandon one thing to choose another.” As we will see, khanti is this very mental function, or power for “abandoning zeal for sensual desire and choosing renunciation” (kāmacchandassa pahīnattā nekkhammaṁ khantīti’ khantibalam), or “abandoning all defilements to choose the Arhant Path” (sabbakilesānaṁ pahīnatta arahattamaggo khantīti khantibalam).

(4) khanti as ‘wisdom’ (khanti-ñāṇa)

khanti, then comes to mean more than just “to choose another by abandoning one thing,” more and more it becomes “the intellectual choice to recognize truth.” Khanti, in this sense, is resonant especially of the kṣānti in the Sarvāstivāda doctrine, which asserted that kṣānti, a type of knowledge (jñāna ; P. ñāṇa), is the knowledge to investigate (saṃtīraṇa) dharma, or more precisely, one preceding moment of saṃtīraṇa. That is, with more elaboration, that the Sarvāstivādins considered the kṣānti to have a mental force capable of both destroying the mental defilements that obstruct the pure knowledge, as well as to give rise to pure knowledge. The former mental force of kṣānti is no different from khanti as a choice power, in the sense of abandoning, while the latter is no different from the khanti as wisdom (khantiñāṇa).

(5) Khanti as marga

It is a quite natural consequence, from those various usages we have seen so far, that khanti finally becomes an important concept in the Buddhist soteriology. Thus, khanti, in this context, is used as a more specific term, concerning the attainment of right knowledge, as seen in this example :

When a bhikkhu sees all formations (saṅkhāra) as impermanent (aniccato), it is possible that he shall make a choice in conformity [with actuality], and making a choice in conformity [with actuality] (anulomikāya khantiyā samannāgato) it is possible that he shall enter upon the certainty of rightness, (sammattaniyāmaṁ okkamissati) and by entering upon the certainty of rightness it is possible that he shall realize the fruit of stream-entry or the fruit of once-return or the fruit of non-return or the fruit of arhatship.

If followings, we will discuss each of these five modes of psychological complex, denoted by the word ‘khanti’.

3.1. Khanti as “liking” or “preference” or


Sn. 897

Yā kāc’ imā sammutiyo puthujjā, sabbā va etā na upeti vidvā, anūpayo so upayam kim eyya diṭṭhe sute khantim akubbamāno.


Whatever opinions are commonplace, with none of these indeed does a man who knows get involved.

Why should a man who is without involvement become involved, when he shows no preference for what is seen and heard?

Sn. 944

Purāṇam nābhinandeyya, nave khantiṃ na kubbaye hīyamāne na soceyya, ākāsaṃ na sito siya.


He should not take delight in the old ; he should not show a liking for the new. When (something) is diminishing he should not grieve ; he should not be attached to (an object of) fascination.

These two verses mention the ascetic life of the Buddhist sage (muni), who would not pay attention to any phenomenal things. The “khantim” in both verses must syntactically be an object of the verbs, “akubbamāno” and “na kubbaye,” respectively. Semantically, the two “khanti(m)” translate as “something” that one should not do. Thus, the two lines in which “khanti(m)” appears read as, “do not make any khanti.” In this sense, the current use of “patience” and “forbearance,” which are the primary translations of khanti, is far removed from its original meaning. Although commentaries do exist that provide information and helpful hints in understanding “khanti,” such as Pj Ⅱ 558.5 “…khantim akubbamāno ti … pemam akronto” and the synonyms “diṭṭhi, ruci, laddhi, ajjhāsaya” provided for khanti in Culla-Niddesa 165, these are only helpful in understanding the lines in that particular context. They do not explain how the word khanti came to have such a meaning in those contexts. Accordingly, many translators of the Sn. seem to have been guided by these commentaries. Fausboll translates Sn. 897d as “he who is not pleased with what has been seen and heard.” Neumann translates the same passage thusly : “Beim Sehen und Hören angehalten nimmer.” Chalmers translates the same passage thusly : “when phenomena of sense appeal to them no more.” E. H. Hare translates the same passage thusly : “why gives accord to things of sight and ear?” While these translations have not failed to convey the idea of the text properly, they seemed to have failed in conveying the word itself.

Thus the question still remains : What is the meaning of khanti in the Sn.? With the aid of only the contextual usage and its etymological meaning, it seems almost impossible to determine the exact meaning of this particular khanti. However, various Abhidharma texts may provide helpful hints, or clues, in determining the meaning of this word.

In the seventh chapter, “On Knowledge,” of Abhidharmakośabhāṣya, Vasubandhu discusses the various functions of wisdom (prajñā), which is one of the forty-six “Concomitant Mental Faculties” (citta-samprayukta-saṃskāra). According to his interpretation, jñāna (knowledge) is the ability to cognitively comprehend the Four Noble Truths, niścitam (decision), while kṣānti has the nature of investigation (santīraṇātmakatva) and, therefore, it can functionally be regarded as dṛṣṭi. As we discussed before, kṣānti is a synonym of upanidhyāna, meaning “putting down (the object) near (one’s mind),” or, directing one’s mind toward (a mental) object. In addition, another great Abhidharmist Saṅghabhadra presents a more detailed explanation of this in his Shun Cheng li lun (Nyāyānusāra śāstra).

Kṣānti (Ch. jen) gives rise to “investigation” and “enjoyment of mind.” It is not included in the function of jñāna, for its psychological function affects [the religious practitioner] more stronger than jñāna in preparation for [the Enlightenment].

As stated above, kṣānti is clearly a term used to denote a certain type of mental function. In order to avoid confusion, however, the lines of Yaśomitra and Saṅghabhadra must be sutdied carefully. According to them, kṣānti itself is not santīraṇa (investigation), which immediately follows the moment of kṣānti. In other words, kṣānti is just a preceding moment of santīraṇa. This is related to the Theravāda Abhidhamma theory of “the process of perception” (Vithi-citta-uppāda), which is well known for the famous “mango” simile popularized by Buddhaghosa. The process of perception, according to Theravāda Abhidhamma, can be summarized as follows, in which the functions arise, in due order, for one moment each :

[From the 4th moment to the 8th moment]

Awareness (āvajjana)[in the fourth moment]

Seeing (dassana), respectively

Hearing (savana)

Smelling (ghāyana)[in the fifth moment]

Tasting (sāyana)

Touching (phuṣana)

Receiving (sampaṭicchana)[in the sixth moment]

Investigating (santīraṇa)[in the sixth moment]

Determining (voṭṭhappana)[in the eighth moment]

Keeping in mind the phrase, “diṭṭe sute khantim akubbamāno” of Sn. 897, and the point made that “kṣānti (P. khanti) is a preceding moment of investigation (santīraṇa), the khanti in the Sn. can then be said to be in its functional process of mental perception corresponding to the sixth moment, ‘receiving’ (sampaṭicchana). In other words, “making khanti for what is seen” means “receiving ‘what is seen’ as an object into the mind.” This is attested by another phrase, “nave khantim na kubbaye” [should not show a liking for the new] in Sn. 944. Because in the phrase, “the new” (nava) is referring to the five skandhas arising just now (Nava vuccanti paccuppannā rūpā vedanā saññā saṁkhārā viññāṇam. Paccuppanne saṃkhāre taṇhāvasena khantiṃ na kareyya…). Therefore “liking for the new” means “directing out mind towards a new object arising presently.” This is made clearer in the “mango” simile. The time of stretching out his hand and taking the mango is as that of the resultant mind-element receiving the object (sampaṭicchana) ; the time of taking it and squeezing it is as that of the resultant element of mind-cognition examining the object (santīraṇa). As illustrated in the simile, the moment of ‘receiving object’ (sampaṭicchana) is not the moment of enjoying or being pleased with the external object, i.e., ‘liking’ or ‘delightedness’ (kānti), but the moment of putting one’s mind near to the external object. In the same way, the phrase in question, “diṭṭe sute khantim akubbamāno,” can be understood literally as “not making any (attentive) intentionality to what it seen or heard.” Therefore, the khanti in the Sn. is neither “a virtuous act,” such as “patience,” nor “any pleasure or delight of mind.” Rather, it is a mental state of an (attentive) intentionality [towards an external object]. However, if we consider the khanti, only in the contexts of the two verses, “liking” or “preference” can also convey the meaning properly. But, even if this is the case, what we still have to keep in mind is that “liking” is a correct translation only in the sense of the psychology underlying “liking.”

The “mind-body” theory by Professor John Searle, a modern philosopher, can be used to support the aforementioned speculation. According to Professor Searle, such mental states as “forgiveness,” “acceptance,” or “aspiration” can all be characterized as “intentionality,” which is “that property of many mental states and events by which they are directed at or about or of objects and states of affairs in the world.”

3.2. khanti as “determining factor”

The following verses from Aṅgulimāla Sutta shows us incisively how khanti was used with the meaning, “directing.”

[Thag. 875 ; M ⅱ 105, Aṅgulimāla Sutta]

874 : disā hi me dhammakathaṃ suṇantu, disā hi me yuñjantu buddhasāsane, disā hi me te manusse bhajantu ye dhammam eva-ādapayanti santo

875 : disā hi me khantivādānaṃ avirodhappasaṃsinaṃ sunaṇtu dhammaṃ kālena tañ ca anuvidhīyantu.

876 : na hi jātu so mamaṃ hiṃse aññaṃ vā pana kañcinam, pappuyya paramaṃ santiṃ rakkheyya tasathāvare

877 : udakam hi nayanti nettikā, usukārā namayanti tejanaṃ, dārum namyanti tacchakā, attānaṃ damayanti paṇḍitā

878 : daṇḍen’ eke damayanti aṅkusehi kasāhi ca ; adaṇḍena asatthena ahaṃ danto ‘mhi tādinā.


874 : Let even my enemies hear a discourse on the doctrine ; let even my enemies apply themselves to the Buddha’s teaching ; let even my enemies consort with those men who, being good, cause (other) to accept the doctrine.

875 : Let my enemies hear dhamma in proper time from those who speak about khanti and praise gentleness and let them act in conformity with the dhamma.

876 : Because he (Arahat) would not harm me or anyone else ; he would attain to the highest peace ; he would protect creatures moving and unmoving.

877 : Because canal-makers lead water, arrow-makers bend the bow, carpenters bend wood, wise men tame the self.

878 : Some tame with a stick, or hooks, or whips. I was tamed by the Venerable one without stick, without sword.

First of all, we need to note the passage in verse no. 875, “let them act in conformity with dhamma.” If I interpret it with more detail in the context of the previous phrase of verse 874, it will read : “having heard about ‘khanti and the gentleness’ [of mind toward dhamma], they will act, by the ‘khanti and the gentleness,’ in conformity with dhamma.” Moreover, as seen in the last line of the verse 874, those who speak about ‘khanti’ are not only themselves endowed with ‘khanti,’ but also cause others to accept dhamma (dhammam eva ādapayanti). In this sense, what is referred to by the metaphor of “canal-maker (nettika)” etc., in the verse 877, is clear enough. As canal-makers lead water naturally and gently, Arhat has not only already tamed himself but by speaking about ‘khanti and the gentleness,’ he also tames ordinary beings and lets them act in conformity with dhamma. Thus, ‘khanti and the gentleness’ has double references. One is [to teach dhamma] gently without violence, and the other one is to tame one’s own being and other beings in conformity with dhamma. Therefore, it is a quite natural use of language for the two words ‘khanti’ and ‘soracca’ (gentleness) to appear together. Although they convey seemingly different metaphorical images, because ‘khanti’ usually denotes something hard, like “steadfast” or “firmness,” together they create a single meaning through the context. This is true in the sense that in order to direct or redirect, or to cause something to bend (namati) without breaking it, the object and one who bends it should be soft and gentle. In fact, the image of softening the mind in order to abandon defilements is very prevalent in Buddhist texts that mention the Path to attain enlightenment. In order to understand this “soft image” of khanti, the followings Sutta will be helpful. We will notice that khanti, as a compound word, is combined with the word “soracca” meaning “gentleness” or “meekness” and is very frequently found in combined words with khanti.

[A ⅳ 45 ; D ⅲ 61 ; A ⅱ 68 ; ⅲ 46]

Katamo ca brāhmaṇa dakkhiṇeyyaggi?

Idha brāhmaṇa ye te samaṇabrāhmaṇa madappāmāda paṭiviratā khantisoracce nivitthā ekam attānaṃ damenti ekam attānaṃ samenti ekam attānaṃ parinibbāpenti.


What is, Brahman, the fire of the gift-worthy?

Consider, Brahman, those recluses and godly men who abstain from pride and indolence, who bears things patiently and meekly [or settled in khantisoracca], each taming self, each calming self, each perfecting self.

Here, in defining the religious mendicant, the key words are : “muda-ppamādā paṭiviratā” and “khantisoracce niviṭṭhā,” both of which lead the mendicant successively to the state of “taming self, etc..” The proper reading of this passage is to consider it as a temporal sequence : having abstained from … (paṭiviratā), settle oneself to … (niviṭṭhā). Even if only for the sake of logical coherence, this must be understood as “from one stage to another stage.” Thus, in this passage, khantisoracca is referred to as the counter part of “mada-ppamāda.” The meaning of mada-ppamāda (Sk. mada-pramāda) could mean, “intoxication of sensual pleasure.” Thus, the passage in question would read : “having renounced from” [the life style of] intoxication of sensual pleasure, the mendicant settles himself in the state of “khantisoracca.” So, if it were not for the sentence : “taming self … etc.,” to understand “khantisoracce niviṭṭhā,” the translation of, “(keep mind) patiently from (sensual pleasure)” would not be incorrect.

But, if we consider the syntactic relationship between “mada-ppamāda paṭiviratā khantisoracce niviṭṭhā” and “ekam attānaṃ damenti,” those passage must be understood as “one who renounced from the sensual pleasure and now settles himself in the state of khantisoracca is the one who tames well his own self….” Thus, in this instance, khantisoracca must be understood as not merely “to endure oneself from sensual pleasure” but also “to put one’s mind firmly (niviṭṭha) toward taming his own self, etc..”

From these two occurrences, we can now begin to understand why Buddhaghosa gave the word khanti as a synonym of Arhatship. And again, the khanti power of redirecting a mental state is not always toward Buddhist teaching. Sometimes, it also refers to a mental state “directed the wrong way” towards the non-Buddhist teaching. This is clearly shown when Buddha explains to Vaccha why it is difficult for him to understand Buddhism. The English word, “intentionality” or “[religious] piety” might be the proper translation of khanti in this context.

[M.Ⅰ 487]

Alaṃ hi te Vaccha aññāṇāya … so tayā dujjāno aññadiṭṭhikena aññakhantikena aññarucikena aññatrayogena aññathācariyakena.


You ought to be at a loss, Vaccha … it is hard for you who are of another view another intentionality, another objective, of a different observance, and under different teacher.

With these four differences, the different view, objective, observance, and teacher, an intentionality towards another direction makes it difficult for Vaccha to understand Buddhism. Both the lack of intentionality, as well as an intentionality oriented in a different direction, exist as obstacles that must be overcome in order to understand the truth.

With the exception of the khanti and ruci, the other three obstacles listed above are all shared by those who share a common religion. In other words, whose in the same religion all share the same views, observances, and teacher(s). But the “intentionality” and “objective” can belong to the psychological properties of the individual only ; it cannot be shared with others. Because of this psychological attribute, khanti will become an increasingly important concept in Buddhist marga. This individuality of khanti is clearly shown in the following passage.

In addressing the issue of the existence of two different religions, Buddhism and Jainism, Buddha enumerated a different list. However, this new list also included “khanti”.

[M.Ⅱ. 218]

Evaṁ vutte ahaṁ bhikkhave, te Nigaṇṭhe etad avocaṁ : Pañca kho ime, āvuso Nigaṇṭhā, dhammā diṭṭhe va dhamme dvidhā vipākā, Katame pañca? … Saddhā ruci anussavo ākāraparivitakko ditthi-nijjhāna-khanti.


When this had been said I, monks, spoke thus to those Jains: “These five conditions here-now, reverend Jains, have a two-fold result. What five?” Faith, inclination, tradition, consideration of reasons, and the intentionality of views and understanding.

A different khanti is not only an obstacle to understanding Buddhism, but also a determining factor of different religions. One may possess a pious intentionality, but if it is directed in a different way, it will lead one to a different conclusion Thus, the khanti can be seen as a factor in determining different ways of practicing a religion, or in forming a completely different religion. The passages of Mahāniddesa, commenting on Sn 781, clearly shows this character of khanti. What is indicated in this use of khanti is that a wrongly directed intentionality could evoke a religious prejudice or, collectively, an antagonism among religions.

Sn. 781

Sakam hi ditthim katham accayeyya chandānunīto ruciyā niviṭṭho? sayaṃ samattāni pakubbamāno : yathā hi janeyya, tatha vadeyya.


How could anyone overcome his very own view, (when he is) led on by desire, entrenched in his own inclination, fulfilling those (wrong views) himself? For as he knows, so would he speak.

Nd. 1. 64

Sakam hi ditthim katham accayeyyā ti. Ye te titthiyā Sudariṃ paribbājikam hantvā, samaṇānaṃ sakyaputtiyānaṃ avaṇṇam pakāsayitvā, evaṃ etaṃ lābhaṃ yasaṃ sakkārasammānaṃ paccāharissama ti evamditthikā evamkhantikā evamrucikā evamladdhikā evamajjhasayā evamadhippāyā…

In commenting upon “…sakaṃ diṭṭhim” (one’s own view) the commentator gives an example of “being entrenched in one’s own view”. He refers to well-known episode of Sundari, who was killed by heretics. What misguided the heretics to murder Sundari was noting but their own view directed the wrong way. The commentator was clearly aware that the word khanti would be one of the most proper words which could denote such psychology. Therefore, khanti, in this case, must be understood as [wrongly directed] “intentionality” or “religious piety,” entrenched in one’s own view. Another aspect that one must note here is the passage, “evaṃdiṭṭhikā evamkhantikā evamrucikā evaṃladdhikā evamajjhasayā evamadhippāya.” Through Pāli canon, we so often encounter a cluster of words such as diṭṭhi, ruci, khanti etc.. Even though there are variations in the numbers listed, the three items, diṭṭhi, ruci, khanti, appear in every case. The following passages are the contexts where the combination of diṭṭhi, ruci, khanti etc. occur.

How do we distinguish dhamma from non-dhamma when two monks contend with each other? For this matter, Mahāpajāpati the Gotamī spoke to the Buddha as follows :

[Ⅴ.ⅰ355 : Mahavagga Ⅹ]


It is said, Lord, that the monks of Kosambi … [to contending with other monks about eighteen points] … are coming to Sāvatthī. How am I, Lord, to behave in regard to these monks?

Well then, do you, Gotami, hear dhamma on both sides ; having heard dhamma on both sides, choose the views and the approval and the persuasion and the creed of those monks who are the speakers of dhamma. (…ye tattha bhikkhū dhammavādino tesam ditthiñ ca khantiñ ca ruciñ as ādāyan ca rocehi), ….

As mentioned here clearly, the four psychological modalities, diṭṭhi, khanti, ruci, and ādāya are the crucial criteria to distinguish dhamma from non-dhamma. Buddhists from earlier times noticed that even among monks sharing the same religious teaching (dhamma), and behavior code (vinaya), each monk could have a different psychological attitude toward their institutionalized system, as exemplified by Buddha, Dhamma and Saṅgha. Of these four, the three modalities, diṭṭhi, khanti, and ruci, are used very frequently in combination. As I mentioned earlier, Rhys Davids understood the triad, respectively, as “one’s views, indulgence and pleasure (=will), i.e., one’s intellectual, emotional and volitional sphere.” However, the psychological spheres of these three terms are not as clear, as Davids assumed. First of all, as we saw before, each one shares all of the “three psychological spheres” without any exclusion. Khanti, for example, is being used in all three of the spheres according to its context. It is more likely that the triad diṭṭhi, ruci, khanti, sometimes combined with other terms, is a set phrase of complementary terms which denotes one’s overall mental attitude, including all three psychological spheres, towards a religious teaching. Because of this character of ‘being complementary each other,’ the triad is always used together. When used for denoting one’s mental attitude the words never appear independently. If the three terms indicated the different three spheres, as Rhys Davids understood it, there would have to be a case where one person shares only one or two elements of the triad with other people. However, we cannot find such a case.

Thus, this triad is sometimes considered to be the major criterion for judging one’s religious piety in Buddhism. Buddhist Vinaya explains explicitly who can be ordained and who should not be and in what conditions one can be granted probation for four months. During these four months, if one fails in following matters he should not be ordained :

[Vin.ⅰ 70~71]

puna ca paraṃ bhikkhave aññatitthyapubbo yassa titthāyatanā saṃkanto hoti, tassa satthuno tassa diṭṭhiyā tassa khantiyā tassa ruciyā tassa ādāyassa avaṇṇe bhaññamaṇe kupito hoti anattamano anabhiraddho, budddhassa vā dhammassa vā saṃghassa vā avaṇṇe bhaññamāne attamano hoti udaggo abhiraddho, yassa vā pana titthāyatanā saṃkanto hoti, tassa satthuno tassa diṭṭhiyā tassa khantiyā tassa ruciyā tassa ādāyassa vāṇṇe bhaññamane attamano hoti udaggo abhiraddho, buddhassa vā dhammassa va saṃghassa vā vaṇṇe bhaññamāne kupito hoti anattamano anabhiraddho, ….


And again, monks, a former member of another sect becomes angry, displeased, dissatisfied if dispraise is being spoken of the teacher, the view, the approval (khanti), the persuasion, the creed of that fold of a sect form which he has came over ; he becomes pleased, elated, satisfied if dispraise is being spoken of the Buddha or of Dhamma or the Saṅgha ; or else he becomes pleased, elated, satisfied if praise is being spoken of the teacher, the view, the approval (khanti), the persuasion, the creed of that fold of a sect from which he has came over ; he becomes angry, displeased, dissatisfied if praise is being spoken of the Buddha or of Dhamma or the Saṅgha ; ….

Here, cleary, as the Buddha, Dhamma, and Saṅgha is mentioned as the institution of Buddhist religion, the teacher, views, the approval (khanti), the persuasion (ruci), and the creed (ādāya) are mentioned as a fold of another religion. Thus, only the one who has abandoned these five folds of another religion, could be ordained as Buddhist monks. Here, also as aforementioned, the three lists, teacher, views, and creed, collectively belong to a religious institution, while the other two, “ruci” and “khanti” belong to individual psychology. In order to accept Buddhist views etc., one has to redirect his mind to the Buddha’s teaching. As will be discussed later, “ruci” and “khanti” have a common psychological quality, that implies, turning the mind to a certain object. Before the mental state of “liking an object” occurs, his mind should first be turned to the object. With this connection, it might possible to translate the “ruci” (liking) of this passage into “persuasion”.

There are two other contexts where the triad, diṭṭhi, khanti and ruci in combination appear as a psychological complex : (1) “telling a conscious lie” (sampajānamusāvāda) and (2) “the schism of Sangha.” (saṅghabheda)

[Ⅴ.ⅳ2~3 : Suttavibhaṅga, pācittiya, expiation ; Ⅴⅲ 93 : Suttavibhanga, pārājika]


There are seven ways to tell a conscious lie


1. Before one has lied he knows that he is going to lie.

2. While lying he knows that he is lying.

3. Having lied he knows that he lied.

[In addition, with regard to the psychological modes of telling a lie :]

4. by misrepresenting (vinidhāya) one’s view (diṭṭhi)

5. by misrepresenting one’s approval (khanti)

6. by misrepresenting one’s pleasure (ruci)

7. by misrepresenting one’s intention (bhāva)

Here the four psychological modes are added to the three tenses of the verb bhaṇati. They are added on to the three modes of the verb bhaṇati, thus making seven constituents. Therefore, each of the four psychological modes is said to be the very motive when one tells a conscious lie. In other words, if one tells a conscious lie, it means that he misrepresented (vinidhāya) his diṭṭhi or khanti or ruci etc.. This use of the triad demonstrates well the psychological character of the triad as a whole, as well as khanti. The word sampajāna, meaning “attentive,” “considerate,” “deliberate” or “mindful,” implies that the mental state of misrepresenting khanti, or “telling a conscious lie”, is not an inattentive or careless act. Rather, it comes from the state of having one’s mind having entirely directed towards a certain object. Thus, “misrepresenting khanti etc.,” should be understood as a mental state, entrenched in wrong intentionality, aimed at attaining a certain purpose.

Therefore, in the case of schism of Community (Saṅghabheda), the triad is mentioned as the main psychological motive underlying most purposeful vicious actions that make one “doomed to the downfall.” The following story is mentioned in Ⅴ.ⅲ175 : When Devadatta proceeded with a schism in the Saṅgha, some monks who follow him were said to be as “those following him by taking up his ‘diṭṭhi,’ ‘khanti’ and ‘ruci’ (anuvattakā ‘ti, yaṃdiṭṭhiko hoti yaṃkhantiko yaṃruciko te pi taṃdiṭṭhikā honti taṃkhantikā taṃrucikā).” Another passage, which probably indicates the same meaning appears in the same text as follows : those monks following Devadatta defend him and say that “… this monk, adopting our desire and objectives, gives expression to them ; he knows that what he says for us seems also good to us.” (… eso bhikkhu amhākañc’eso bhikkhu chandañ ca ruciñ ca ādāya voharati, jānāti no bhāsati, amhākaṃ p’etaṃ khamatīti). As seen in these passages, diṭṭhi, khanti, and ruci etc. are shared by those people who agree upon the schism ; this triad is the very factor which distinguishes the schismatic monks from the others in the Community.

In general, a schismatic in Saṅgha is said to be “… doomed to the Downfall, to Niraya Hell, remaining there for an aeon, incurable.” If the condemnation is not for misrepresenting ditthi, khanti, ruci, etc., however, it is not “incurable.”

V.ⅱ 205~206 (Cullavagga)

Katamo pana bhante saṃghabhedako na apayiko na nerayiko na kappaṭṭho na atekiccho ‘ti.

Idh’ Upāli bhikkhu adhammaṃ dhammo ‘ti dīpeti tasmiṃ dhammadiṭṭhi bhede dhammadiṭṭhi avinidhāya ditthim avinidhāyakhantim avinidhāya rucim avinidhāya bhavām … ayam pi kho Upāli samghabhedako na āpāyiko na nerayiko na kappatthao na atekiccho.


[Upāli asks the Buddha]

“But which schismatic in Saṅgha, Lord, is not doomed to the Downfall, to Niraya Hell, remaining there for an aeon, not incurable?”

“This is a case, Upāli, where a monk explains non-dhamma as dhamma ; if he has the view that in this (explanation) there is dhamma, if he has the view that in schism there is dhamma, yet not misrepresenting ditthi, misrepresenting khanti, misrepresenting ruci, misrepresenting bhāva, … , even this schismatic in the Saṅgha, Upāli, is not doomed to the Downfall, to Niraya Hell, remaining there for an aeon, not incurable.

According to the passage above, there are two necessary conditions for the possibility of “curing schismatic monk.” The first is to recognize that there is dhamma in Saṅgha as well as in schism. Secondly, he must not have misrepresented khanti etc.. Even though these two conditions appear independent, they are in fact the same, because if one’s mind is directed firmly in the wrong direction, it is impossible to recognize that there is dhamma also in Saṅgha. In other words, to recognize the existence of dhamma in both parties means that his mind could be redirected towards dhamma in Saṅgha. Therefore, the crucial distinction between “curable” and “incurable” lies in whether his vicious action, such as schism, is resulted from his misrepresenting khanti or not.

As we have seen, the occurrences of khanti sometimes combined with diṭṭhi and ruci, are the determining factors in whether one could understand Buddha’s teaching (in the case of Vaccha, Mⅰ487); distinguish one religion from another (Mⅱ218 ; the case of the heretics killing Sundari, Nd.1. 64) ; distinguish dhamma from non-dhamma (the case of Kosambi monks, Ⅴ.ⅰ355), and whether a schismatic monk could be “curable” or not. All of these usages are based on the psychological property of “directing” underlying the word Khanti. Depending upon which direction one’s mind is directed, his intellectual, emotional and volitional attitudes toward a religion, are determined. In this sense, we might predict that khanti will become a more an more important concept in the Buddhist path.

At the conclusion of this chapter on “khanti as the determining factor,” I would like to examine the Āḷavaka Sutta, which contains some very significant hints for the usage of khanti in Pāli texts.

[Sn. 188~189 (Sⅰ215) : from Āḷavaka Sutta]

[Yakkha Āḷavaka asked Buddha. What in this world is the best wealth for a man? What, when well practiced, brings happiness? What indeed is the sweetest of flavours? Living in what way do they say one’s life best? Having answered to each of his questions, Buddha finally gives him conclusion :]

Sn. 188

Yass’ ete caturo dhammā saddhassa gharamesino saccam dhammo dhiti cāgo, sa ve pecca na socati.

* saccam dama dhiti cāgo (Sⅰ215)

Sn. 189

Iṃgha aññe pi pucchassu puthū samaṇabrāhmaṇe, yadi saccā dama cāgā khantyā bhiyyo ‘dha vijjati


Sn. 188

Whatever faithful house-holder has there four righteous things (dhamma): sacca dhamma dhiti cāga,

* sacca dama dhiti cāga (Sⅰ215)

he indeed does not grieve when he has passed away

Sn. 189

Come now, ask others too, many ascetics and brahmans, if anything is found in this world greater than sacca dama cāga khanti

The four dharmas which should be kept by faithful house-holder are enumerated in Sn.188 as “sacca dhamma dhiti cāga,” but in Sn. 189, these lists are rendered into “sacca dama cāga khanti.” Since the latter verse in the context is a refrain of the preceding verse, these lists should be same, and would certainly be natural in the context of the Sutta. In the same Sutta, appearing in Sⅰ215, line Sn. 188 reads “saccaṃ damo dhiti cāgo” for the line of Sn. 188, and “sacca dama cāgo khantya” for Sn. 189. Although, when we follow the reading of Sⅰ215, it is possible to consider “dama” as a homonym of “dhamma,” how do we account for the fact that “dhiti” was rendered into “khanti” in both texts? I presume that early Buddhists considered both words, “dhiti” and “khanti” to be synonymous, at least in this context. If this is the case, “dhiti” must be an important word in understanding the early usage of “khanti.”

Moreover, the meaning of “dhiti” in Pāli Buddhist text fits well with various usages of “khanti”, except when the khanti is used to mean “patience”. If we consider the meaning of Sanskrit verbal root “dhṛ” from which “dhṛti,” the Sanskrit equivalent of the Pāli word “dhiti” came, this point will be especially clear. In addition to the meanings, “to hold,” or “to bear,” “dhṛ” has another meaning : “to direct (our attention or mind)” or “to fix or resolve upon.” This will immediately remind us the psychological property of “directing or redirecting one’s mind towards,” which underlies every meaning of khanti. This can not be an incidental fact. Also, in Pāli Buddhist texts, thepsychology underlying theword, “dhiti” signifies almost the same thing as “khanti.” “Dhiti,” in Pāli texts, means “energy,” “courage,” or “resolution” and in Nd1. 44 and Pv. A 131, it is used to indicate “wisdom,” which is another important usage of khanti to be discussed later.

3.3. Khanti as “choice power” (khanti-bala)

[Ps ⅱ 171]

Katamam khantibalaṁ?

Kāmacchandassa pahīnattā nekkhammaṁ khantīti khantibalaṁ;

byāpādassa pahīnattā abyāpādo khantīti khantibalaṁ ;

thīnaṁiddhassa pahīnattā ālokasaññā khantīti khantibalaṁ ;

uddhaccassa pahīnattā avikkhepo khantīti khantibalaṁ ;

vcikicchāya pahīnattā dhammavavatthānaṁ khantīti khantibalaṁ ;

avijjāya pahīnattā ñānam khantīti khantibalaṁ ;

aratiyā pahīnattā pāmojjaṁ khantīti’ khantibalaṁ ;

nīvarnānaṁ pahīnattā pathamajjhānaṁ khantīti’ khantibalaṁ ;

sabbakilesānaṁ pahīnattā arahattamaggo khantīti’ khantibalaṁ.

Here, khanti is considered to be the power, to direct one’s mind toward higher spiritual stage by abandoning lower one. It is the power of “abandoning (pahīnattā) ‘zeal for sensual desire’ (kāmacchanda) and choosing (khanti) renunciation (nekkhamma), or ‘abandoning (pahīnattā) all defilements’ (sabbakilesa) and ‘choosing (khanti) the Arhant Path’ (arahattamagga).” This power of “abandoning one thing and choosing another” can be called identical in its psychological properties with that of the “directing” power of khanti. In this context however, khanti cannot yet be called “wisdom” nor an “intellectual ‘choice.'” Neither is it yet a recognition in a specific moment along the path, like the kṣānti stage in the four “wholesome roots (kuśalamūlāni)” of the Sarvāstivāda doctrine, or the “anutpattika-dharma-kṣānti” of Mahayana. It is more likely a religious piety, or an aspiration to abandon worldly things and move toward the supra mundane one. However, this psychological character of khanti must have greatly influenced the formation of the concept kṣānti in Sarvāstivāda doctrine. This is because the mental function of kṣānti, as a type of ‘knowledge’ (jñāna), is to help one abandon defilements which obstruct the pure ‘knowledge’, as well as give rise to pure or correct ‘knowledge’. Therefore, from this usage of khanti we know more clearly that religious aspiration is as a fundamental factor underlying the “intellectual” character of kṣānti in the Sarvāstivāda doctrine. Usually, scholars agree that religious aspiration is an element of the stage of kṣānti needed to advance to the stage of laukikāgra dharma, which is the highest truth of the mundane. But, they felt that the “aspiration” involved in that stage only indicated “patience.” They usually assumed this because the laukikāgra dharma stage would be very difficult to attain, thus requiring an extraordinary amount of “patience.” Therefore, this preceding stage has been named “kṣānti” or, the stage of patience. However, if we consider the usage of khanti in the passage above, their assumption cannot be substantiated. Even though it is undeniable that one must possess as unusual amount of patience in order to arrive at such a high stage, we have to consider a more fundamental function of kṣānti in the path. This function is that of abandoning the defilements that obstruct the pure knowledge. Therefore, the khanti in the Pāli usage, “abandoning and choosing”, must be regarded as another important concept to understand the kṣānti of the Sarvāstivāda school.

The following passage will show us that khanti signified an intellectual “choice” to recognize truth. However, the “choice” here is not as “intellectual” as will be found in the next chapter, “khanti as wisdom” (khanti-ñāṇa). It is similar to samyakdṛṣṭi

(P. sammādiṭṭhi) of the Noble Eight fold paths. Thus, it can be said to be a semantic ‘nexus’ between the khanti as ‘choice,’ and as ‘wisdom’.


Katamo ca sattānaṁ āsayo?

1) sassato loko ti vā, asassato loko ti vā ;

2) antavā loko ti vā, anatavā loko ti vā ;

3) taṁ jīvaṁ taṁ sarīran ti vā, aññaṁ jīvaṁ aññaṁ sarīran ti vā ;

4) hoti Tathāgato paraṁ maraṇā ti vā, na hoti Tathāgato paraṁ maraṇā ti vā ; hoti ca na hoti ca Tathāgato paraṁ maraṇa ti vā, n’eva hoti na na hoti Tathāgato paraṁ maraṇā’ ti vā.

… ete vā pana ubho ante anupagamma idappaccayatāpaticcasamuppannesu dhammesu anulomikā khanti patiladdhā hoti ; yathābhūtaṁ vā ñāṇam ….


What is [ordinary] beings’ bias?

1) The world is eternal or The world is not eternal ;

2) The world is finite or The world is not finite ;

3) The soul and the body are the same or The soul is one, the body another ;

4) Tathāgata is after death or Tathāgata is not after death ; Tathāgata both ‘is’ and ‘is not’ after death or Tathāgata neither ‘is’ nor ‘is not’ after death.

… Or else, avoiding two these extremes, they either choose in conformity [with supra mundane knowledge] with respect to ideas dependently arisen through specific conditionality or they acquire correct knowledge.

While Ñāṇamoli translates “anulomikā khanti patiladdhā hoti” into “choose conformity [with supra mundane knowledge],” which is quite proper translation in this context, we need to explain how the word ‘khanti’ can be used to mean ‘choice.’ Especially in this context, the passage states that in order to avoiding the two extremes, one must either “choose in conformity with supra mundane knowledge, or acquire correct knowledge.” This means that practitioner, when he has not yet acquired the correct knowledge, should accept and believe in the Buddhist doctrine. This reminds us of the well-known issues on the Noble Eight fold paths. The first stage of the Path is “right view” (samyakdṛṣṭi/sammādiṭṭhi). The problem for a practitioner suffering in ignorance (avidyā) is how to get the “right view.” Thus, to avoid this problem, some texts and commentaries either postulated another stage : ‘right knowledge’ after the eighth stage, ‘right concentration’ (samyaksamādhi), or changed the orders of the stages by putting the ‘right view’ after the eighth stage. All of these efforts stem from the question of how a practitioner, who is still in the state of ignorance, can gain the ‘right view.’

In any case, it is fairly safe to say that ‘right view’ (sammādiṭṭhi) has a double reference, including both initial faith in the Buddha (saddhā ; Sk. śradhā) and the final liberating insight (pañña ; Sk. prajñā). Significantly the line above, “choose in conformity with the supra mundane…,” also means the “initial faith in Buddha.” Thus, the idea of this passage is clear. That is that a practitioner who still has “wrong views” or “doubt,” must avert his wrong views and direct his mind to the Buddha’s teaching in order to have faith in Buddha’s teaching.

3.4. khanti as “wisdom” (khanti-ñāṇa)


Kathaṁ viditattā paññā khantiñāṇaṁ? Rūpaṁ aniccato viditaṁ, rūpaṁ dukkhato viditaṁ, rūpaṁ anattato viditaṁ ; yaṁ yaṁ viditaṁ, taṁ taṁ khamatīti viditattā paññā khantiñāṇam.


Ǫ. How is it that understanding (paññā) due to what is recognized (viditattā) is “knowledge as choice” (khanti-ñāṇaṁ)?

Ans. Matter (rūpa) is recognized as ‘impermanent,’ recognized as ‘suffering,’ recognized as ‘non-self’ : whatever is recognized, that he chooses (khamati), thus understanding (pañña) due to what is recognized (viditattā) is “knowledge as choice” (khanti-ñāṇa).

Here it is mentioned that the cognitive function of khanti to recognize the five constantly changing aggregates (pañcaskandha) as impermanent (aniccato), suffering (dukkhato), and non-self (anattato). Thus, the function of khanti as wisdom, or perhaps ‘intellectual choice’ is to understand properly what it is that is perceived by one’s sensory organs, and one’s mental faculties. However, in this context, it is not clear at how khanti could have such a function. The passage, “whatever is recognized, that the chooses” (yaṁ yaṃ viditaṁ, taṁ taṁ khamatīti) is the key to understanding this function of khanti properly. The word khamati, which is the verb form of khanti, was often used with the meaning “to choose,” in Pāli commentarial works. In PsA 450, for example, there is passage commenting upon “khamati” that reads, “tassa yogissa khamati ruccati” (that meditator has that choice, that preference), which reminds us that in Yaśomitra’s vyākhyā, the word kṣamate is replaced by rocate. In the context, rocate=kṣamate can have no other meaning than “to recognize.” As is well known, the original sense of the etymological root, “ruc” is ‘light’ or ‘bright’ which implies some intellectual faculty. The following passage will show the function of khanti as wisdom more specifically :

[Vbh. 325 ; VM. 371]

Tattha katamā cintāmaya paññā? … rupaṁ aniccan ti va, vedanā aniccan ti vā, saññā aniccā ti vā, saṁkhārā aniccā ti vā viññānaṁ aniccan ti vā, evarūpiṁ anulomikaṁ khatiṁ diṭṭhiṁ ruciṁ mutiṁ pekkhaṁ dhammanijjhānakhantiṁ parato assutvā paṭilabhati : ayaṁ vuccati cintāmayā paññā.


What is ‘wisdom by means of thinking?’ … Matter is impermanent ; feeling is impermanent ; perception is impermanent ; mental concomitants is impermanent ; consciousness is impermanent ; that which is similar, in conformity, ability (to comprehend), view, choice, opinion, seeing, ability to apprehend these states, is acquired without (by) hearing from others. This is called ‘wisdom by means of thinking.’

Here, ‘anulomikaṁ khantiṁ diṭṭhiṁ ruciṁ mutiṁ pekkhaṁ dhammanijjhānakhantiṁ’ is referred to as ‘wisdom’ (paññā/prajñā), a type of knowledge (jñāna). P. A. Thittila translates “khanti” into “‘ability’ (to comprehend)” and “dhammanijjhānakhanti” into “ability to apprehend to these states.” In his works on Visuddhimagga, however, Ñāṇamoli translated it differently, especially the underlined passage :

[VM. 371/trans. 483]

… any preference, view, choice, opinion, judgment, liking for pondering over things, … (in conformity with truth) … is of such kind as to conform with [the axioms] “matter is impermanent etc.”

From this, we see the discrepancy between the two translations. Ñāṇamoli was clearly aware of the semantic difference between dhamma-nijjhāna-kkhanti and dhamma-nijjhāna-khanti, while P. A. Thittila read dhamma-nijjhāna-kkhanti for dhamma-nijjhāna-khanti. In fact, even though many scholars have considered the latter reading a misreading of the former, both occur side by side throughout the Pāli texts. Since our task is to seek out the exact meanings of khanti in various contexts, this difference is much more significant than most scholars have considered it to be.

The single ‘k’ in the latter reading proves that khanti, here, might be derived not from verb root “kṣam” in Sk. but rather from “kam.” On the other hand, the former passage employs the doubled consonant­kkh, surely proving that it is derived from “kṣam” and not from “kam.” Thus, faithfully following the manuscript reading, Ñāṇamoli translated the compound word, “dhammanijjhānakhanti” as “liking pondering upon things (dhamma) and the single word,” “khanti” as “preference.” P. A. Thittila, however, having considered “…khanti” in the compound word as a misreading of “…kkhanti,” translated it similarly in both occurrences offering “ability (to comprehend)” for “khanti” and “ability (to apprehend) these states” for “dhammanijjhānakhanti.”

Even if we consider its Sanskrit equivalent term, dharma-nidhyāna-kṣānti, it is beyond doubt that this passage should be read as “…kkhanti.” Still, however, there are several cases in Sanskrit texts where kanti was used instead of kṣanti for khanti in Pāli. Therefore, it is evident that this compound word, whether it reads as “…kkhanti” or “…khanti,” should not be used independently to define the meaning khanti. Nevertheless, as we have ween before, G. H. Sasaki and H. Sakurabe took only arbitrarily one or the other of the readings to prove their hypothesis.

Instead of taking this occurrence independently, we need to examine it in the context. The passage in question can be rephrased as follows : “Any preference, view, choice, opinion, judgment, liking for pondering over things (khantiṁ diṭṭhiṁ ruciṁ mutiṁ pekkhaṁ dhammanijjhānakhantim) is of such as to conform (anulomikam) with the truth such as [the axioms], ‘matter is impermanent’… etc..” So, we might consider that the set phrase, “khantiṁ diṭṭhiṁ ruciṁ mutiṁ pekkhaṁ” construes the following word “dhammanijjhānakhanti.” Thus the whole passage can be interpreted as “Conforming his preference, view, choice, opinion, or judgment to the truth,” such as ‘the impermanence of all existence (sabbam aniccam),’ one ponders upon the real nature of all things (dhammanijjhānakhanti). Therefore, in this sense, khanti, diṭṭhi, ruci, etc. are the state of mind of being dedicated to the understanding of Buddha’s teaching (sutamayāpaññā) or the understanding attained from contemplating upon the teaching in meditation (cintāmayāpaññā). In other words, at the very moment when one’s preference, choice, judgment etc., are in conformity with truth, either from hearing the teaching or from contemplating upon it, it can be said that one has attained wisdom. Therefore, it is crucial that in order to attain the ‘correct knowledge’ one has to conform or, we may say, “direct” his khanti etc. to the truth taught by Buddha. Not everyone can attain the “understanding” (paññā), even if they listen to Buddha’s teaching. Unless his khanti, or mind in general, is ready to “direct” towards what he listens to or what he contemplates, it will be very difficult for him to understand the truth.

3.5. Khanti as “marga”

[Theragāthā 1029]

Khantyā chandikato hoti, ussahitvā tuleti tam, samaye so padahati ajjhattam susamāhito


Because of the [pious] intentionality he is eager ; having made an effort he weighs it ; at the right time he exerts himself, well concentrated inside.

This very old source proves that in earlier times the word khanti it self was not merely understood as having or retaining any virtuous quality itself such as “patience” or “forbearance.” Rather, it played a neutral role, free from any qualities of virtue. This verse shows us a gradual sequence from “khanti,” to “chanda,” to “ussahati,” to “tuleti,” to “padahati,” and so on. What makes one’s mind “eager” (chanda)? As we will see in the following occurrences, it is no other than ‘faith’ [in the teaching] (saddha), including ‘desire to listen’ (sotaṁ odahati) dhamma and more importantly ‘to direct one’s mind towards the dhamma taught’ ; then the ‘eager’ is born (sati chando jāyati). In the sense that one’s mind is fully dedicated to listen to and understand dhamma, I translated khanti in the passage above into “[pious] intentionality.” Thus, not everyone attains the correct knowledge (sammāñāṇa), even if they hear the teaching of Buddha. To do so, their mind must be ‘directed towards’ dhamma or, we may say, ‘with [pious] intentionality.’ Similarly, but in more detail, the sequential procedure toward the realization of the highest truth, by means of wisdom, is mentioned in other texts as follows.

M.Ⅰ. 480.


And how, monks, does the attainment of profound knowledge (aññārādhana) come by means of a gradual training (anupubbasikhka), gradual doing (anupubbakiriya), a gradual course (anupubbapaṭipada)? As to this, one who has faith (saddhājāto), draws close [to teacher] (upasaṅkamati), sits down near (payirupāsati), lends ear (sotaṁ odahati), hears dhamma (dhammaṁ suṇāti), remembers (dhatānam), tests the meaning (atthaṁ upaparikkhati) [while testing the meaning] the dhammas are approved of (dhammanijjhānam khamanti) ; eager is born (sati chando jāyati) … he realizes the highest truth itself, penetrating it by means of wisdom….

It is worthwhile to note here that the khanti, as used above, leads the practitioner only to the attainment of the realization of the highest truth but not yet to the final enlightenment. This usage of the cognitive function of khanti is concerned with a specific moment or stage. In other words, unlike the aforementioned usages, concerned with a general [pious] intentionality to “hearing dhamma” and “understanding dhamma,” khanti as used above is posited in the process of cognitive activities such as investigating the meaning, approving it, and finally attaining the highest truth. While the Eight fold path is a list of guiding principles which one can practice, step by step, leading to the attainment of correct knowledge, the gradual course described above is rather a cognitive, or psychological, process to be experienced along the Path. So, khanti is considered to have a particular function in a particular moment, throughout the entire process. In this sense, this use of khanti is related to the kṣānti in the darśana mārga (the Path of insight) of the Sarvāstivāda School. The Sarvāstivāda School also limits the role of kṣānti as one momentary stage in the darśana mārga. The cognitive function of khanti, similar to kṣānti in darśana mārga, is clearly expounded in the following passages :

[Ps.ⅱ 236 ; A.ⅲ 441~442, no. 98~101]

(Bhagavā etad avocad)

So vata Bhikkhave bhikkhu kañci saṅkhāraṁ niccato samanupassanto anulomikāya khantiyā samannāgato bhavissatīti n’etaṁ ṭhānaṁ vijjati, ‘anulomikāya khantiyā asamannāgato sammattaniyāmaṁ okkamissatīti’ n’etaṁ ṭhānaṁ vijjati, ‘sammattaniyāmaṁ anokkamamāno sotāpattiphalaṁ vā sakadāgamiphalaṁ vā anāgāmiphalaṁ vā arahattaphalaṁ vā sacchikarissatīti’ n’etam ṭhānaṁ vijjati.

So vata Bhikkhave bhikkhu sabbasaṅkhāre aniccato samanupassanto anulomikāya khantiya samannagato bhavissatiti thanam etam vijjati, ‘anulomikaya khantiyā samannāgato sammattaniyāmaṁ okkamissatīti’ ṭhānaṁ etaṁ vijjati, ‘sammattaniyāmaṁ okkamamāno sotāpattiphalaṁ vā sakadāgāmiphalaṁ vā anāgāmiphalaṁ vā arahattaphalaṁ vā sacchikarissatīti’ ṭhānaṁ etaṁ vijjati.


(The Lord said this:)

Bhikkhus, when a bhikkhu sees any mental formation as permanent it is not possible that the shall make a choice in conformity [with actuality], and without making a choice in conformity [with actuality] it is not possible that he shall enter upon the certainty of rightness, and without entering upon the certainty of rightness it is not possible that he shall realize the fruit of stream-entry or the fruit of once-return or the fruit of non-return or the fruit of arhatship.


Bhikkhus, when a bhikkhu sees any mental formation as impermanent it is possible that he shall make a choice in conformity [with actuality], and making a choice in conformity [with actuality] it is possible that he shall enter upon the certainty of rightness, and by entering upon the certainty of rightness it is possible that he shall realize the fruit of stream-entry or the fruit of once-return or the fruit of non-return or the fruit of arhatship.

In these two passages, we can see a “consecutive causal relationship” between the stages along the Path, especially in the Seeing of the Path (darśana mārga). If one has the wrong view (perverted view), he can not make “choice” (khanti) in conformity with the Four Noble Truths. If this is the case, one is not entering into the certainty of rightness (sammattaniyāmaṁ okkamissati) and because of this, it is not possible to realize the fruit of the sainthood, such as Stream-winner etc.. From this, we might confirm that the psychological or intellectual character of khanti belongs not to the category of “knowledge” (jñāna/ñāṇa) in a strict sense, but rather to the category of “view,” a more broadly intellectual stance towards a certain knowledge. In other words, having heard the teaching, one should keep the khanti in conformity with the truth, or what he was heard of been taught. In this way, he could gain the “certainty of the knowledge”.

Here, the phrase, sammattaniyāmaṁ okkamissati (entering upon the certainty of rightness) is comparable to that of samyaktva niyāma avakrānti in the Sarvāstivāda doctrine. According to Akbh., “the patience (dharmajñānakṣānti) is the entry into niyāma, for it is the entry into the certitude (niyāma) of the acquisition of absolute good or samyaktva. (sa iva ca niyāma avakrāntir ity ucyate / samyakvtaniyāma avakramaṇāt).” Further, and more elaborately, it continues on the theme of samyaktvaniyāma stating that : “entering into this absolute determination of acquisition of samyaktva is arriving, the taking possession of (prāpti). Once this possession arises, the ascetic is an Aryan.” (tatra niyamo niyāma ekāntībhāvaḥ / tasya abhigamanam avakramaṇam / tasyāṁ ca utpanna ayām āryapudgala ucyate) Soteriologically, the phrases, “sammattaniyāmaṁ okkamissati” and samyakvtaniyāma avakrānti seem to have the same function. Because both of them lead a practitioner to the entry into the sagely path of pure wisdom, or, in other words, the Path of Insight into the Four Noble Truths. However, if we compare the context where the two phrases occur, we can find a significant difference between them. What ensures “entering into the certainty of rightness” is not same in both traditions : dharmajñāna kṣānti in Sarvāstivāda and amulomiki khanti in Theravāda. As we see in Akbh., the former emphasizes the intellectual or cognitive character of kṣānti. The latter one, however, as the word anulomiki (agreeable) indicates, denotes a religious piety such as the faith in Buddha’s teaching. This difference might be another instance of the distinct characteristics of the two major Buddhist schools.

The following Sutta will show us clearly what is denoted by anulomiki khanti in Pāli texts.

[A. ⅲ 437]

Chahi bhikkhave dhammehi samannāgato suṇanto pi saddhammaṁ abhabbo niyāmaṁ okkamituṁ kusalesu dhammesu sammattaṁ. Katamehi chahi? Tathāgatappavedite dhammavinaye desiyamāne

1) na sussūsati,

2) na sotaṁ odahati,

3) na aññācittaṁ upaṭṭhapeti

4) anatthaṁ ganhāti

5) atthaṁ riñcati,

6) ananulomikāya khantiyā samannāgato hoti.

… Chahi bhikkhave dhammehi samannāgato suṇanto pi saddhammaṁ bhabbo niyāmam okkamitum kusalesu dhammesu sammattaṁ. Katamehi chahi? Tathāgatappavedite dhammavinaye desiyamane,

[But the converse holds…]


Bhikkhus, cumbered by these six conditions, though one may listen to Saddhamma, be can not become one to enter the certainty of rightness. When the Dhamma-displine declared by the Tathagata is taught,

1) he has no desire to listen

2) no desire to incline the ear

3) no desire to apply a heart of understanding

4) he grasps the profitless (anattham)

5) rejects the profitable (attham)

6) makes no choice in conformity [with actuality]

Bhikkhus, cumbered by these six….

[But the converse holds…]

Even though this phrase contains a few of the same passages as other aforementioned occurrences of khanti, it gives us a different impression. The six conditions, mentioned above, are neither sequential, nor cumulative steps in the Path. Rather, the former five conditions are the psychological contents of the last one. The former five conditions constitute the mental state of “making no choice in conformity [with actuality]”, which is the mental attitude that prevents us from entering upon the certainty of rightness. Here, the sequential, causal relationship is not necessary. Therefore, in order to understand dhamma properly, or “to enter the certainty of rightness,” one should “make choice in conformity [with actuality].” It is a mental state demonstrating nothing but one’s attitude towards dhamma such as “has desire to listen,” has desire to apply a heart of understanding” and “grasps the profitable (attham).” In this sense, the usage of khanti in this phrase is similar to the kṣāntis mentioned in the Sukhāvatīvyūha Sūtra. The passage runs as follows :

O Ānanda, … all those beings, through the seeing of that Bodhi-tree, never turn away, namely, from the highest perfect knowledge. And they obtain three kinds of kṣānti, namely, ghoṣānugā, anulomikī and anutpattika dharma kṣānti through the power of the former prayers of the same Tathāgatha Amitāyus… without failure and without flaw.

Only in this passage are the meanings of both kṣāntis, ghoṣānugā and anulomikī, are not clear. However, if we consider the meaning of khanti in Pāli text along with those in this passage, they can be understood as an aspiration “to listen to dharma as taught by Buddha” and “to have an agreeable attitude towards the teachings of Buddha,” respectively. As implied in these usages, the kṣānti in Mahayana Buddhism does not have the cognitive function of the Savāstivāda school, instead it has more in common with that of the previous Sutta where khanti is understood as a “pious intentionality of faith toward/in the teaching of Buddha.” However, G. H. Sasaki, in commenting upon the kṣānti in the same passage, misunderstood anulomikī kṣānti as “meaning to penetrate into the truth of non-self.” It might be helpful for him to consult “anulomikī khanti” in Pāli context, which yields : “choice in conformity [with supra mundane knowledge]” as interpreted by Ñāṇamoli.

In the meantime, another thing to note about the previous Sutta is that the khanti is considered to be a preceding moment or stage to enter the certainty of rightness. As we have seen in various occurrences, not every usage of khanti, in Pāli texts, is considered to be a “mārga moment,” or the required preceding moment to bring up a certain resultant fruit in next moment. Thus, even though it is unclear whether the khanti in the Sutta above refers to a momentary stage, it is still reasonable to consider that this use of khanti may influence the concept of kṣānti in the Sarvāstivāda School, where kṣānti is always considered to function in giving rise to “correct knowledge”.

4. Kṣānti in the Mahāyāna Soteriology

Since we have made important points that support various positions in the discussion of the many usages of khanti in Pāli Canon, there seems to be no specific conclusion to be made here. So, I would like to explain how this research on the Pāli usages of khanti may contribute to the understanding of the usages in the later two schools, Sarvāstivāda and Mahayana, but especially of the Prajñāpāramitā literature.

First, khanti was used with various meanings, regardless of the text strata in Pāli Canon. This means that, from very early times, Buddhists noticed a special psychological property which underlay the mental state of “being patient.” Also, they understood the common psychological property underlying “various mental activities,” such as “liking,” “preference,” and “choice.” All of these can be characterized as “intentionality,” or “directing one’s mind toward an object.” This must be due to the unique use of language of Buddhists. Even though the multi-meanings of a single word, i.e. “polysemy,” is not rare in human language, the Pāli word khanti is one of the few examples where various meanings derived from a single word are related to each other in their psychological qualities.

Second, from the usages of khanti, we can confirm that kṣānti, in Sanskrit, and jen, in Chinese translation, have meanings other than “patience.” This is especially true of the kṣānti in “anutpattikadharmakṣānti” (Ch. wu sheng fa jen), and “dharmajñānakṣānti” etc.. Another interesting thing regarding this topic is that in the earliest translations of Mahayana Sutras (T244 ; T225 ; T624 by Lokakṣema, T553 by Chi Ch’ien), the “anutpattikadharmakṣānti” was translated into “delightfulness in non-arising of dharma,” as if it had not been kṣānti, but kānti, in the original text. This fact proves that neither the meaning “patience” not the “cognitive” function, as found in the Sarvāstivāda doctrine, were necessary in forming the compound word, anutpattikadharmakṣānti. This indicates that the Mahayana usage of kṣānti is more closely akin to the Theravāda, than to the Sarvāstivāda, where the “cognitive” function is dominant over any other function. Also, this indicates, philologically, that there might have been homonymic confusion between khanti and kānti in Indic languages during the time when Lokakṣema and Chi Ch’ien were active, around the second to the third century C. E.

Third, the technical senses of kṣānti found in Sarvāstivāda and Mahayana are not a unique-historical development through the doctrines of the two later Buddhist schools. This does not mean, however, that the technical senses of the two schools come directly from the Theravāda. Rather, what I would like to emphasize is that the technical senses cannot be understood properly without understanding the various usages of khanti in Theravāda texts. However, it was in the Sarvāstivāda doctrine that those usages found in Theravāda texts were theoretically elaborated as a particular concept. On the other hand, it might have been through the Mahayana movement that the usage of khanti in Theravāda as “religious piety,” was more emphasized than ever and was elaborated as a fundamental religious experience.

In many Mahayana Sutras, the phrase “having heard the teaching of Buddha, many bodhisattvas and Śrāvakas attained anutpattika dharma kṣānti “frequently appears. This seems to refer to their fundamental religious experiences. While chanting the names of many Buddhas, praising the virtues of the Buddhas, and reciting sutras, they experience the emptiness of existence in various samādhi (trance), or actually experience the manifestation of Buddha or Buddhas while in a trance (pratyutpanna-buddha-saṃmukha-avasthita-samādhi). This was most likely the typical religious activity of the early Mahayanists. Thus, kṣānti is used in describing their religious experience with typical Mahayanistic interpretations. So here, the kṣānti indicates a “pious intentionality” aimed at achieving the state of anutpattikadharmakṣānti, where “nothing has been born or created in this world and things are seen yathābhūtam from the point of view of absolute knowledge, they are nirvana itself, are not at all subject to birth-and-death.” Even though it is not elaborated as much as in Mahayana doctrine, the following verses form Therīgāthā well demonstrates the usage of khanti as a fundamental basis of religious aspirations toward enlightenment.

[Therīgāthā 521~522]

So hetu so pabhavo taṃ mūlaṃ satthu sāsane khanti taṃ paṭhamasamodhānaṃ taṃ dhammaratāya nibbānaṃ

Evaṃ kathenti ye saddahanti vacanam anomapaññassa nibbindanti bhavagate nibbinditvā virajjantī ti


That was the cause, that the origin, that the root [of enlightenment] ; that very intentionality toward the teaching, that first meeting, that was quenching for one delighting in the dhamma.

So they say who have faith in the utterance of the one who has perfect wisdom ; they are disgusted with existence ; being disgusted with it they are disinterested (in it).

As seen here, the religious intentionality includes not only a positive attitude towards dhamma, but also as an agreeable attitude to the teacher preaching the dhamma. As the commentary of this verse mentions, the khanti is a pious intentionality, the desire to understand the dhamma as taught by the teacher. (sā va sāsane khantī, sā c’eva idha satthu sāsane-dhamme-nijjhāna-kkhati … tad eva satthu sāsane-dhamme abiratāya pariyosāne nibbānan ti phalūpacārena kāranam vadati). Moreover, as we have seen before in the verse of Theragāthā 1092, it produce an “eagerness” (chanda) to advance to a higher stage until enlightenment is attained. This concept, in addition to the mind being delighted in the dhamma, is the main cause of enlightenment. It seems beyond question that khanti in such contexts, having a religious flavor different form the Sarvāstivādin’s philosophical tone, is more closely related to the concept of kṣānti in Mahayana soteriology.

From this point of view, the kṣānti here must be understood differently than when used in the Sarvāstivāda context. In the Sarvāstivāda school, the kṣānti was a cognition functioning momentarily in the course of completing darśana mārga. While Mahayana, the kṣānti is an independent, final notion, as far as its spiritual value is concerned, indicating that one will realize, soon in the future, the ultimate truth of Buddhism.

無生法忍의 忍(kṣānti)에 대한 의미론적 연구

無生法忍(anutpattika-dharma-kṣānti)은 보살이 不退轉位에 이르기 위해 반드시 획득해야 할 중요한 한 깨달음일 뿐, 아니라 붓다의 受記와도 직접 관련이 있는 아주 중요한 개념이다. 이 술어는 일반적으로 ‘法의 無生을 忍하는 것’으로 이해되고 있다. 여기서 법의 무생이란 대승의 空사상을 일컫는 것으로, 반야경 등에서는 핵심적 주제이다. 그러나 문제는 ‘忍(kṣānti)’을 어떻게 이해해야 할 것인지에 대해서는 별다른 정설이 없다.

일반적으로 아비다르마에서 ‘忍’이 종종 ‘慧’의 한 작용인 ‘認可’나 ‘決擇’의 뜻으로 주석되어 있는 것을 그대로 받아들여, ‘~의 무생’을 ‘~을 認可하여 받아들이는 것’으로 이해하고 있다.

이때 문제가 되는 것은, 어떻게 ‘참는다’라는 뜻의 ‘忍’이 ‘認可’나 ‘決擇’의 뜻으로 쓰일 수 있는지, 지금까지 아무런 설명이 없다는 것이다. 일부 학자들은 소품반야 등을 인용하여, “법의 무생이란 놀랍고 두려운 것이기 때문에 불퇴전보살이 되기 위해서는 이를 ‘참고 견뎌야 한다.’”는 뜻에서 ‘忍’이란 말을 썼다고 한다. 그러나 이것 또한 별로 설득력 있는 설명은 아니다.

본 연구는 ‘忍’이란 말이 초기 팔리불교 경전에서부터 산스크리트로 된 아비다르마 논서, 그리고 한역 경전 등에서 어떤 뜻으로 사용되었으며, 이런 여러 多意的 용례를 가능케 하는 kṣānti라는 단어가 가진 의미의 내적 구조를 밝히고 있다.

본 연구는 ‘참는다’를 그 기본 의미로 가진 한 단어가, 어떻게 ‘좋아한다’, ‘認可 決定한다’ 등의 전혀 다른 의미로 轉移되는가를, 초기 불교 문헌을 비롯하여 산스크리트 문헌, 한역 문헌을 총망라해서 연구 조사하고 있다.

kṣānti는 ‘참다’, ‘인내하다’ 등을 뜻하는 동사 어근 ‘kṣam’에서 파생한 명사형으로, 주로 한역 불전에서 ‘忍’ 혹은 ‘忍辱’ 등으로 번역되고 있다. 六波羅蜜이나 十波羅蜜의 하나로서의 ‘인욕’은 본래의 뜻과 일치하고 있어 별 다른 의문이 생기지 않는다. 그러나 대승불교의 수행론이나 보살 계위에서 중요한 위치를 차지하는 ‘無生法忍(anutpattika-dharma-kṣānti)’이라든지, 부파불교에서의 수행론인 見道(darśana mārga)에서의 法類智忍(dharma-jñāna-kṣānti) 등의 8忍, 그리고 慧의 한 작용인 忍可 決定으로서의 忍 등은, ‘忍(kṣānti)’의 본래 뜻인 ‘참다’, ‘인내하다’라는 의미로서는 적절하게 이해되지 않는다.

서양의 불교학자들도 이러한 문제를 인식하여 ‘kṣānti’를 번역하는 데 어려움을 겪었던 것 같다. 예를 들면, Max Müller는 ‘resignation’으로, Sylvain Levi는 ‘acquescence’로 번역하고 있으며, 서양인은 아니지만 영어로 많은 저술을 낸 D.T. Suzuki는 ‘kṣānti’를 ‘recognition’이라고 번역하였다.

한편, Ñāṇamoli, K. R. Norman, I. B. Horner 등은 이를 ‘preference’, ‘approval’, ‘choice’ 등으로 번역했다.

이러한 번역에서 드러나듯이, 일군의 학자들은 ‘kṣānti’를 번역하면서 가능한 한 ‘참다’라는 본래의 의미를 살리려고 했고, 그러다 보니 문맥 속에서의 ‘kṣānti’의 의미를 충분히 살리지 못했다. 그리고 다른 한편의 학자들은 문맥의 의미에 충실한 번역을 함으로써 ‘참다’라는 본래의 의미와는 거리가 먼 번역을 하고 말았다.

한편, 일본 학자들 중에서도 ‘kṣānti’ 및 그 譯語인 ‘忍’의 특수한 용례에 관심을 가진 학자들이 있었다. 그 대표적인 사람이 Sasaki Genjung과 Sakurabe Hajime이다. Sasaki Genjung은 한역 의족경에서 팔리의 ‘khanti’가 ‘愛’로 번역되어 있는 것에 착안하여 산스크리트 경전의 ‘kṣānti’는 ‘좋아한다’ 등을 뜻하는 ‘kanti’로 되어야 맞는데, 과거 경전 편찬자들이 잘못 산스크리트화한 것이라고 다소 엉뚱한 주장을 하였다. 이에 대해 Sakurabe는 정확하게 Sasaki Genjung을 비판하고 있으나, 그 역시 ‘kṣānti’나 ‘忍’이 문맥상에서는 ‘愛’라든지 ‘樂’ 등의 의미로 쓰일 수 있음을 인정하고 있다. 그러나 어떻게 해서 ‘참다’라는 의미가 ‘좋아하다’, 혹은 아비달마 등에서 慧의 작용인 ‘認可 決定’의 의미로 전이될 수 있는지에 대해서는 언급하지 않고 있다.

이 점은 과거 譯經家들이나 註釋家들에 있어서도 마찬가지이다. 팔리 경전인 Sutta-Nipāta 일부를 漢譯한 義足經에서 ‘khanti(Sk. kṣānti)’를 ‘愛’로 번역했음은 앞에서 밝힌 바와 같고, 小品般若經의 고본 중 하나인 道行般若經을 번역한 支婁迦讖은 무생법인을 번역하면서 ‘無所從生法樂’이라고 하여 ‘忍’을 ‘樂’으로 번역하고 있다. 또한 衆賢도 그의 順正理論에서 ‘忍’을 慧의 한 작용으로 설명하고 있으나 어떻게 그 의미가 전이되는지에 대해서는 침묵하고 있다. 그것은 Sphuṭārtha-Abhidhamakośa-vyākhyā를 지은 Yaśomitra의 경우도 마찬가지이다.

일반적으로 한 단어가 불교 경전에서 다의적 혹은 전문 용어로 쓰이는 것은 그 단어에서 파생된 은유적․비유적 용법에서 비롯된다고 보는 것이 학계의 관례이다. 그런데 ‘kṣānti’의 경우는 여러 다른 용례들이 반드시 ‘참는다’라는 뜻에서 파생되어 비유적․은유적으로 쓰인 것도 아닐 뿐더러, 후일 아비다르마 논서나 대승경전에서 쓰이는 다양한 용례들이 이미 팔리 경전에서부터 나타나며, 그것도 가장 초기의 경전이라고 일컬어지는 Sutta-Nipāta에서 나타나고 있다. Sutta-Nipāta 제897게 및 944게에 ‘참는다’와는 다른 용례로 이미 쓰이고 있었던 것이다.

이것은 상당히 초기부터 ‘kṣānti’가 ‘참는다’라는 뜻 이외에 ‘좋아한다’, ‘선택한다’, ‘받아들인다’라는 뜻으로 쓰였으며, Thera-gāthā 등의 초기 경전에서도 아비다르마 논서 등에서 나타나는 ‘慧’의 한 작용으로서 ‘認可’, ‘決擇’ 등의 의미로 쓰이고 있는 것을 볼 수 있다.

최근 언어학에서의 큰 성과 중 하나는 의미론에 있어서의 ‘polysemy(多意)’이론이다. 이 이론에 따르면, 단어의 의미는 반드시 한 의미에서 비유적․은유적으로 파생되어 사용되는 것이 아니라, 동시에 여러 다의적 의미로 쓰일 수 있다는 것이다. 이 이론은 불교 문헌에서 ‘kṣānti’의 다의적 용례가 초기 불교부터 시대적 구분이 없이 나타나는 것과 일치한다. 지금까지 서구나 일본 불교학계에서 ‘kṣānti’의 다의적 의미를 적절하게 설명하지 못했던 것은, 첫째는 팔리 경전을 비롯한 광범위한 불교 문헌에서 나타나는 모든 종류의 다양한 용례들을 조사하지 않았고, 둘째는 ‘kṣānti’의 다양한 의미는 후대에 나타난 역사적 산물이라고 그릇된 가정을 했기 때문이다.

따라서 본 연구자는 다양한 용례를 두고 후대의 산물이라고 가정하는 그릇된 역사적 관점을 떠나, 다양한 의미가 동시적으로 쓰일 수 있는 것이 인류의 자연스러운 언어 사용의 한 방식임을 이해하는 ‘polysemy’이론에 입각해서 ‘kṣānti’의 다양한 의미를 이해하고, 그 다양한 의미에 어떠한 내적 연관이나 구조가 있는지 살펴보고 있다.

지금까지 불교학계에서 일반적으로 받아들이고 있는 바, 무생법인의 ‘忍’은 衆賢 등 아비달마 논사들의 주석을 바탕으로 이해해 왔다. 그러나, 현재까지 해 온 본 연구자의 팔리 경전에서의 연구 결과에 따르면, 무생법인의 ‘忍’은 초기 팔리 경전에서 자주 사용되는 용례 중의 하나인 ‘志向함’의 의미에 더 가까운 것이 아닌가 본다.

Hwadu Meditation and Contemporary Society

Hwadu Meditation and Contemporary Society

Sung Bae, Park

Professor of Buddhist Studies

State University of New York at Stony Brook


I have read many articles recently, and have had quite a few discussions with various knowledgeable people as well, regarding the topic of hwadu meditation. What I have observed from my readings and discussions is that people’s opinions about the hwadu fall into two distinct categories: “pro” and “con.” Those in the “pro”category feel that the hwadu is the only means by which enlightenment can be achieved, whereas those in the “con” category feel that hwadu is ineffective. However, from my observation, I have noticed that both sides are experiencing a sense of crisis regarding the proper use of hwadu meditation. I feel that the suffering on both sides is intensifying; I hear it as a scream for help, and I cannot ignore these screams. I will now look at each side in more detail.

The message of the “pro” people is simple: using hwadu is the only way to become enlightened. However, these people realize that many, if not most, people are not practicing it correctly. People may appear to be using hwadu during their meditation but in reality they are not. This is the crux of the crisis. In order to help these people, the “pros”continue to emphasize the teachings of the ancient Zen masters, reminding them of the basic fact of non-duality and so forth. Some of the “pro” people have proposed to develop some kind of special technique of meditation in order to help those who are having difficulties, such as putting band-aids next to their ears or having them listen to tranquilizing music with headphones, and so forth. However, such methods are not a solution, as they only serve to increase a sense of duality between the practitioner and the practice. In my opinion, the problem is that practitioners are not examining themselves deeply. In other words, they lack the necessary practice of brutal and honest self-criticism.

When I observe the “con” people, I see that they can be further divided into two groups. The first group consists of people who have tried using the hwadu, but feet that it doesn’t work, so they give up and claim that it cannot lead to enlightenment. These people, I feel, are innocent in the sense that they are not aiming to malign or demean others; they simply feel that the hwadu has no value. The second group is more sophisticated. These people are intellectually well-armed; they have much knowledge, having by and large been trainedor at least influenced by modern scholars. Of course, there are many things to be learned from their research, yet what I feel is lacking in their comments is any real interest in Zen meditation. They have no real desire for spiritual practice. They are isolating themselves within their fortress of intellectual security, and from there they feel safe enough to freely attack others. Again, as with the “pro’s,” I feel that there is an absence of brutal self-criticism. In a way, these people cannot be blamed entirely for their views. The media is forcing them to feel as they do, for the media sees any true spiritual practice, any practice based on non-dualism, as mysticism, and looks at it with a skeptical and disdainful eye. But putting blame aside, I find that there is presently no room in the consciousness of the “con” people to accept the mission of the hwadu. What is the mission? It is, metaphorically speaking, to cause the practitioner to have an experience of being in a shipwreck. That is, their very foundation must be shaken. This will be discussed in more detail later on, but for now I would like to ask: is it really possible for “con” people to accept the mission of the hwadu? My answer is: yes, it is possible. However, most of them are simply not ready for such an experience. They have not reached the point in their lives at which they are able to accept the possibility of, or the need for, any real or fundamental change in the way they view things.

Chapter I: The Nature of the Problem

Two immediate facts need to be mentioned; one concerning spirituality in general and one concerning hwadu meditation specifically. First of all, in Korea today, and indeed all over the world, an increasing spiritual thirst is becoming more and more evident among people of all ages and from all sectors. We are all experiencing the pressures caused by our modern way of living and are searching for ways to alleviate these stresses. As a result, we are discovering and learning about various techniques that can presumably enable us to calm our minds and/or strengthen our bodies. Some of these techniques include tai chi, yoga, chi kung, as well as various forms of breathing exercises and meditation. Any and all of these techniques are certainly capable of helping us to feel better.

The second fact that needs to be recognized is that hwadu meditation is, by its very nature, not intended to alleviate people’s tensions and stress. Its practice is far too serious and demanding for it to be categorized among the previously mentioned methods that are on the market today. This is important for people to realize so that they don’t attempt to compare hwadu meditation with any of these other methods, and so that they don’t hold any false illusions or expectations about either the purpose or the value of the hwadu. It requires tremendous discipline and diligence.

It is also helpful to remember that the hwadu method of meditation was introduced and practiced by Zen masters many hundreds of years ago, when the economy of the country, whether it is Korea, China, Japan, or any other country, was completely self-supported. If food was needed, people went into the fields and planted rice and vegetables. If fuel was needed, they went into the mountains and collected firewood. In such a serene atmosphere of relative simplicity, using the hwadu was doubtlessly much easier than it is in today’s world. The most vital requirement for hwadu meditation is the ability to attain a state of total concentration, so that one can thentranscend the limits of time and space. In our modern society, to reach such a state is not an easy task, as we are constantly being bombarded by all kinds of external distractions wherever we go. We cannot even try to escape them at home, as most of us now own television sets, radios, computers, telephones, and numerous other technological gadgets.

Another important feature of the hwadu is that it is not intended to be practiced only during the time of one’s formal sitting meditation. Rather, it is supposed to be used during each and every one of our four possible bodily positions: sitting, standing, lying and walking. In other words, regardless of one’s physical situation, whether he/she is in the meditation hall, the garden, the kitchen, the car, the store, the office, or wherever, his/her mind should be with the hwadu. Is it possible for modern people to maintain such a total, uninterrupted concentration?

It was in order to alleviate the problem of being distracted by external stimuli that serious practitioners left home in the past, and still do so today, to become monks or solitaries. They left the secular world behind and completely isolated themselves in the monastery or the mountains, living like hermits in partial or complete solitude. Yet the Zen masters taught that such an attitude, that is, of attempting to avoid difficult external conditions, was not correct. They constantly emphasized that hwadu meditation could be practiced by anyone, no matter who that person was or where that personlived. Many Zen practitioners living in our world today, however, have abandoned the hwadu method of meditation altogether, replacing it with other, easier styles of meditation, such as those mentioned earlier. Feeling the stresses of modern day society, they have opted for practices that help to calm their minds so that they feel able to cope with all their tensions. Yet this is not the true purpose of Zen.

What is to be done? In the Chogye order, here in Korea, the leaders are in a bit of a dilemma, as they have lost a large part of their membership to these popular styles of spiritual practice. To point out the dangers of this modern trend, a group of reformers has recently arisen and become quite vocal. This group is concerned about what they view as the misbehavior and even the corruption of the religious community. They have made it a point to analyze the psychology of hwadu meditation and they claim that the leaders of the Zen community, that is, the Zen teachers practicing today, are misleading people. What is the nature of their accusation? These reformists claim that the Zen leaders are “sugar-coating” hwadu practice by promising that if done correctly it leads one to enlightenment. The reformers point out that this was never the Buddha’smessage. As we know, his great gift to us was his understanding that we are all already enlightened, just as we are. So how can practicing the hwadu with such a futuristic goal in mind ever produce the correct results?

The majority of practitioners, however, are seduced by these promises of enlightenment. They don’t believe that they are already enlightened. They don’t understand that their real task is to awaken to their inherent essence as fully enlightened beings. They believe instead that by donating money or medicine or by providing gifts to the monks and leaders of their order they can earn merit and thus eventually gain salvation. The leaders in turn are monetarily benefiting from such attitudes, as they are the recipients of all these donations and gifts. Therefore, they are often reluctant to make any changes to this system. They continue to receive gifts while the members continue to practice incorrectly.

To summarize what has been said so far: 1 – In the present world, hwadu practice is generally viewed by most people as too difficult to undertake and 2 – the leaders and monks are not willing to correct people’s views, as they continue to profit from them.

Chapter II: The Real Meaning of “Hwadu”

Almost all Zen texts contain at least some discussion about the use of the hwadu in one’s practice. Indeed, hwadu meditation is and always has been considered the core of Zen practice. Yet this term “hwadu” is not being understood correctly by the vast majority of people living in Korea today. In my opinion, they have “stolen” the term and given it a completely erroneous meaning, which translates into English as “an agenda to be pursued or an issue to be clarified.” Korean journalists, politicians, and others from all walks of life use thisterm in their writings and/or speech freely, saying for example, “The hwadu of the president in this situation is…” or “What is the hwadu to be discussed here?”Such uses of this term are totally incorrect; the word is currently being presented in a secular manner, but that was not the original intention of the Zen masters who originally taught with it.

A similar situation may be seen to exist in the contemporary Christian world. The word “God” has also lost its original meaning, except to a very rare few. Most people these days view God as a kind of broker or agent to whom they can appeal when they have a need to be met. Yet this was certainly not the understanding of Abraham or Moses or Jesus.

Throughout the course of history humans have invented many such sacred words, whose original meaning has either been completely distorted or else has disappeared altogether. To name a few: “tao” in Taoism (meaning the Way), “ren” in Confucianism (meaning benevolence), “ti-yung”in early Chinese thought (meaning essence-function), and so forth. The meaning of these words was originally pure and essential, but as time passed people did not practice according to the original message of the meaning, and so these terms eventually lost their power. This is a great tragedy which has occurred to our human civilization, and it explains why I say that the meaning of “hwadu” has been stolen. It no longer exists in its pure form.

In Korea, during the Koryo dynasty (from the 10th to 14th century), there was a very popular event that used to occur regularly: Buddhist practitioners would gather together, not in a temple or monastery, but in a large field. There they would discuss and practice the teachings of the Buddha. As there were no boundaries to the field, anyone could attend. Such gatherings were called “yadan popsuke,”which means “Dharma seat in the field.”Later the Koryo was replaced by the Choson dynasty, which embraced neo-Confucianism, and this popular practice disappeared. To this day, the term “yadan popsuke” is still in use, but just like the word “hwadu,”its meaning has become greatly distorted; now when people use the term, they use it to mean “noisy.”This is yet another example of a sacred term whose original meaning has been lost due to people’s inability to live up to it.

So what is the original meaning of “hwadu,” the meaning reflected by the teachings of the ancient Zen masters? In my understanding, “hwadu” helps us to return to the Buddha. The hwadu may be used to help us make this journey back to the source. In the history of religion, such a message has always been the core principle: return to the Buddha, return to God, return to Allah, return to Brahman, and so forth. The special message that lies hidden within all these religions is that this source exists within each and every one of us. We ourselves contain or reflect the source that we are seeking. In the Buddhist tradition, when the ancient Zen masters saw that the practitioners did not understand or did not accept this truth, and instead viewed themselves as existing apart from their own, innate Buddha-nature, these Zen masters became angry and hit the seekers with a stick to wake them up. This was an animal instinct arising from inside and manifesting itself. Parents often exhibit the same behavior, scolding or even hitting their children if they see them doing something wrong. The Zen masters recognized the severity of the practitioners’ error in understanding, and wanted to help them rectify it. What was the mistake the seekers were making? In the Zen masters’ eyes, the aspirants’fundamental error was that they were too attached to the scriptures. After reading a particular text, they would organize various dogmas based on their understanding and would then become imprisoned in their own dogmas. The Zen masters knew very well that this was not in accordance with Buddhist teachings. They knew that no matter how well an aspirant might understand a scripture intellectually, if he remained attached to the idea that he was not a Buddha, his understand would yield no results, like a farmer without a harvest. So the message of the Zen masters was always the same: Don’t go in the wrong direction. Return to the Buddha.

How did the use of the hwadu come into being? At an earlystage in the history of Zen Buddhism, there emerged a division into two schools, each practicing quite differently. One school is called “Soto” in Japanese; in Korean it is called “mukjo.” Westerners usually translate this term as “sitting only,” and interpret it to imply the absence of the use of the hwadu. Yet if we analyze this word “mukjo,”we find that it may be broken down into two parts: “muk,” which means “silence,” and “jo,”which means “bright illustration.” In the “mukjo” school, then, the practice involved first quieting the mind and body and then observing the manifestation of one’s field of consciousness. There are several other terms which are now in use that reflect a similar practice: they are “samatha/vipassana” in Sanskrit, “chih/kuan”in Chinese, “ting/hui” in Chinese, and “dhyana/prajna” in Sanskrit. These terms all have similar meanings. Yoshito Hakeda, in his commentary on the Awakening of Faith, has translated “samatha/vipassana” as “cessation/clear observation.” Chinul, the well-known Korean monk of the 12th to13th century, made extensive use of the combined practice of “dhyana” (meditation) and “prajna” (wisdom).

The second school of Zen was called Rinzai in Japanese. This school used the hwadu exclusively. The Zen mastersof this school observed the practitioners of the Soto school with a critical eye and concluded that their practice was ineffective. They felt that too many seekers were using the “mukjo” practice in the hopes that some day all of their problems would be magically solved. They saw that the aspirants did not understand the true relationship between “muk” and “jo,”which is based on non-duality or non-separation. Instead, they were striving to create a balance between the two and thus were attempting to control their practice through the use of their intellects. The Zen masters knew, however, that in order for enlightenment to occur, the intellect must be abandoned. Yet instead what was happening was that the practitioners were holding onto their intellects with all their might! It is for this reason that the Zen masters created the hwadu; it was used to help practitioners loosen and ultimately break their bondage to their intellect. This is always the reason why Zen masters would hit meditators with a stick. The stick itself was a hwadu. It helped the seeker let go of his habitual conceptual tendencies.

With reference to the techniques of the Soto school, however, please do not misunderstand what I say. There is nothing wrong with the practice of “mukjo” if it is performed correctly. It must be understood, though, that the two aspects, “muk” and “jo,”should not be viewed as two different types of practice to be pursued. The truth of the matter is that if the first aspect, “muk,” is performed with the correct understanding, the second aspect, “jo,” will occur naturally on its own. Thus, if cessation is practiced correctly, then clear observation will automatically emerge, with no effort required on the part of the practitioner. We may see a similar truth if we look at the relationship between the sun and the clouds. When the clouds disappear, the sun is automatically seen. It doesn’t have to be coaxed out in order to manifest itself; it is already there. The Zen masters, then, introduced the use of the hwadu in order to help the practitioner dispel the clouds, which are a reflection of his own ego, his own intellect, so that he could see the sun, or his own Buddha-nature, shining in all its beauty and magnificence.

We live in a pluralistic world ; there is no one way of life or culture that exists to the exclusion of all the others. The same may be said of religions, beliefs, and practices. We need to respect all views, whether it is belief in the Pure Land, use of a mantra, practice of prostration, or the performance of various types of breathing exercises. What these practitioners need to be aware of, however, is that they are all practicing “muk” or cessation. That is, these practices are all examples of the first aspect of the Soto school practice, which involves the calming of the mind. They need to ask themselves if they are practicing it correctly. If they are, then the second part, “jo” or clear observation will arise spontaneously. So what does it mean to practice correctly? It means to break apart the whole of the intellect, the ego, and to abandon the dualism between the practice and the one who is practicing. If the seeker is able to practice in this way, then he will be in accordance with the Zen masters’ original message. This has been the basic teaching of all religious saviors of the past, and remains the most vital point which all monastery leaders should be imparting to their members.

Let us now delve into the nature of the hwadu a little more deeply. Why is it that the hwadu is considered by many as being too difficult to practice? Is it merely due to the fact that it requires one’s utmost concentration and discipline, as mentioned earlier? In my view, the issue goes deeper than that. In my understanding, as I mentioned earlier, the core of the nature of the hwadu is that it gives the practitioner the experience of being in a shipwreck. In other words, his very foundation is completely destroyed. Such an experience may be compared to an earthquake. About thirty years ago a severe earthquake struck Berkeley, California, where I was living as a graduate student. The experience was totally devastating. Inside my living quarters pictures fell off the walls. Books, tables, chairs, and all the furniture were turned over. Outside in the streets, buildings collapsed and cars were demolished due to the debris that fell on them. Our lives are based on the belief that our physical foundation, the earth, is solid. When this earthquake occurred, however, this belief was completely turned 180 degrees in my mind. Our earth is not a permanent fixture, I now realized; it can be disrupted at any time.

It is understandable that people seek security, both physical and psychological. Living in fear can and does cause many internal as well as external problems. Thus, we will do everything we can to avoid any fears that arise regarding our own mental and personal safety. Let it be understood: the hwadu will shake our very foundation, just as the earthquake shook my living space. What is the nature of this shipwreck, this earthquake that occurs within us as we practice the hwadu? What is it inside of us that is being shaken to the core?

Unlike the physical shaking of the earth caused by an earthquake, when we are shaken by the hwadu, it is our very belief system, which has been developed within us from the time we are born, that is being attacked. This belief system, which includes our world-view as well as our views about ourselves, has been created by the letter culture in which welive. By letter culture I mean the value system which we have created over hundreds and thousands of years by means of the written word. This letter culture has gone a long way to contribute to our illusion of safety; it has become a dogma for most of us, deceiving us by pretending to insulate us from fear and by claiming to make us feel strong and secure. It is like living inside a dark fortress.

The hwadu, however, bombs this fortress. It rips away any and all illusions we may have regarding who we are and what this world is. It does not allow us to receive the benefits which other types of meditation or spiritual practice may offer us, such as better health, ease of tensions, calmer minds, and so forth. Thus, if a teacher asserts that hwadu mediation can be used to achieve any such beneficial effects, he is being dishonest. We must never propagate the belief that the hwadu can be used in order to bring about any enhanced state of being, including enlightenment. To do so is to use the hwadu as a type of bait in order to lure or entice the practitioner, or like an advertisement in which one says, “Use the hwadu and be cured!” Such tactics are greatly misleading and do not support the teachings of either the Buddha or the ancient Zen masters.

Chapter III: The Solution

As mentioned above, almost every Buddhist monastery these days teaches various forms of meditation in addition to the hwadu. Also, many universities now include Zen Buddhism among their course offerings. In Korea alone, there are about 100 large-scale universities, most of which offer such courses, which generally include information on how to practice meditation. How are they teaching hwadu meditation? If we examine the Zen texts being used in these university courses and in them on a steries as well, we discover that there exists a serious problem: the texts, by and large, are based on ordinary logic as opposed to Zen logic. What is the difference between the two? In ordinary logic, a friend is a friend and an enemy is an enemy. In Zen logic, however, a friend may be an enemy and an enemy a friend. In other words, the reality of a situation and indeed, the reality of existence, cannot be based on one’s pre-conceived understanding alone. This is a fundamental fact that Zen students need to keep in mind at all times. Yet these texts are often using ordinary people’s logic, based on the intellect, in their attempts to interpret Zen logic. This is a serious mistake. The students are being misled and are thus bound to develop an incorrect understanding of the true meaning of Zen.

I like to use the Korean term “mom” which means body or essence, and “momjit” which means function, when discussing the logic of Zen. Zen logic is “mom” in other words, Zen logic is primarily concerned with the entire body or essence of any phenomenon or circumstance. It thus transcends the dualism of the intellect. Ordinary logic, on the other hand, is “momjit” logic, and reflects our usual, day-to-day way of viewing ourselves and life in general. This logic, stemming from our intellect, is based entirely on dualistic concepts of good and bad, right and wrong, and so forth.

We find many examples of Zen logic in the Buddhist texts. For example, after the Buddha gave his famous sermon on the four noble truths, one of his disciples, Kondanna, remarked that the second noble truth, which identifies desire as the cause of suffering, was in essence the same thing as the third noble truth, which refers to the cessation of desire. By his statement, Kondannawas using Zen logic; he was saying that the arising of a state and its cessation are no different. In other words, in one is contained the other and vice versa; they cannot be separated. In the field of science, we may discover a similar truth when we examine the law of gravity. What goes up must come down; one cannot exist without the other. This type of understanding is what we usually fail to recognize when we use our ordinary, conceptual way of thinking to view our world or ourselves.

Another example of Zen logic may be found in the Mahayana text entitled The Awakening of Mahayana Faith. This treatise categorizes all phenomena, including all sentient beings as well as our thoughts and actions, as operating within the confines of four distinct sequential stages: 1-arising, 2-abiding(or lasting), 3-decaying and 4-dying. The stage of arising corresponds to our physical birth; then for the major part of our lives we exist in the abiding stage; later, in old age, our bodies begin to decay; finally, at the end of our life, we die. The same process occurs with our every thought and action as well: they arise, experience a period of lasting or abiding, eventually beginning to ebb or die out, and finally they disappear altogether.

For ordinary people likeyou and I, these four stages are experienced as completely distinct and separate phases of a process. Usually, for regular people, it is not until a thought has already disappeared that we even realize that we were thinking the thought. Buddhist practitioners who have a slightly higher level of awareness, for example the level of a Hinayana Buddhist, are able to realize the existence of their thoughts when they are still at the third level, that is before they have disappeared from their consciousness. A Bodhisattva, who functions at an even higher level, is able to be aware of his thoughts while they at the second stage of abiding. This is the stage at which our thoughts are most powerful; we can see the value of being able to thus catch hold of our thoughts before they begin to lose their force and die out. Only an enlightened being, a Buddha, is able to perceive his thoughts at the very moment of their inception, as they are being created in his mind. Indeed, ultimate enlightenment entails knowing right from the start exactly what is occurring within your own mind.

The crucial point that the text makes is that these four stages are said to occur simultaneously. This is a clear example of Zen logic. Everything is seen to happen right at the very beginning; there is no sequential development of one stage occurring before or after another. This understanding is also reflected in the often-quoted analogy of the water and the wave. Each is a part of the other, and they both exist together and at the same time. It is not possible to separate them into two independent entities. Similarly, “mom” and “momjit” also operate in unison. Every “mom” is also a “momjit”and every “momjit” is also a “mom.”

The teachings of Hua-yen Buddhism are yet another example of this fundamental Zen truth. According to this school of thought, there exist 52 stages with regard to the attainment of enlightenment. The first stage refers to the arising of the desire for bodhicitta, or the wisdom mind, which reflects one’s initial desire for enlightenment. Each stage represents one step further along on the path, and the 52nd and final stage is the attainment of ultimate enlightenment itself. Hua-yen thought teaches that at the moment one enters the first stage, that is, the moment the aspiration for enlightenment arises, at that very moment the last stage is inherently included. This is the timeless perspective; by using theistic language, we may call it God’s perspective.

It is extremely difficult to comprehend the Zen logic described above. Our intellects alone cannot accomplish such a feat, for this logic points to an understanding which lies beyond the realm of our reason. It is here that faith is required in order to bridge the gap; otherwise, the practitioner may easily be tempted to give up his practice altogether. What is meant by faith? It is nothing other than having complete and utter trust in the teachings of Buddha. If the practitioner can develop and maintain such an attitude of firm conviction within himself, then eventually his intellect will soften its grip and the practitioner may catch a glimpse of the truth of non-duality.

Many, if not most, scholars, including Hakeda in his discussion of the four stages of phenomena as mentioned above( see p.40 in his translation and commentary on The Awakening of Faith), fail to recognize the crucial need for faith on the part of the practitioner. They discuss non-duality in a straightforward, scientific manner, but do not understand that such an approach is incomplete. Something more is needed if one is to grasp the truth of the Buddha; something is required if we are to transcend the limits of our intellect. In my opinion, it is the underlying background of faith, or the ultimate trust that we, too, are Buddha, which enables us to “cross to the other shore” and attain our goalof enlightenment. It is this issue, the issue of faith, that scholars need to recognize and address if they are to correctly and successfully interpret and communicate the Buddha’s understanding.


What is the hwadu? It is nothing but returning to the Buddha. We must not fall prey to the temptation of mysticizing it by saying that it promises enlightenment. The hwadu, in and of itself, does not promise us anything. It merely points to what already is, to what exists right in front of us. If a Zen master was asked, “What is the essence of the Buddha’s message?”, he would reply, “Flowers are red and leaves are green,” or “My nose is vertical and my eyes are horizontal.”

How did the mystification of the hwadu arise? Whatever the answer to that question, we must not view the hwadu in such an illusory sense. The hwadu means to return to our ordinary, everyday life as it is. There is no mystery about it; therefore, we shouldn’t try to add anything extra. Nor should we be concerned with others’practice with other methods- these things are not important. What is important is that we return to the Buddha. How can we do this? We need to fix our false techniques. We are already Buddha; we exist as timeless beings, as “mom.” So let’s not use “momjit” language or ways of thinking in our spiritual practice. Let’s move, act, think, and speak as that which we are. The hwadu shows us who we are. It is enlightenment itself. Let’s wakeup and celebrate our true identity.

* Keywords

Kanhwasŏn Hwadu, Bojo, Sudden-enligenment, Zen master

Kanhwasŏn Practice in Europe Present Situation and Future

Kanhwasŏn Practice(看話禪修行) in Europe Present Situation and Future

Bernard Senécal sj

/ Faculty of Religious Studies, Sogang University.

Ⅰ. Introduction

The practice of kanhwasŏn in Europe is in line with the broader context of the introduction of Buddhism into the Western world. Accordingly, in order to study that practice we must first examine the context it belongs to. The English historian Arnold Toynbee(1889-1975) did not hesitate to say that the introduction of Buddhism in the West constituted the most important historical event of the 20th century. It may perhaps be compared with the introduction of Indian Buddhism into China some two thousand years ago. As a result, the encounter of Buddhism with the West most certainly represents and event of extremely broad and deep meaning.

Many scholars have strove to define the boundaries of the encounter of Buddhism with the West. In 1952, Cardinal Henri de Lubac (1896-1991) published La Rencontre du bouddhisme et de l’Occident, a work that would become a classic. In 1999, Frédéric Lenoir published another book, on the same topic and with exactly the same title, in which he updated de Lubac’s work. And in 2000, the famous Singer-Polignac foundation, located in Paris, organized a colloquium on the understanding of the encounter of Buddhism and the West since Henri de Lubac(L’Intelligence de la rencontre du bouddhisme, La rencontre du bouddhisme et de l’Occident depuis Henri de Lubac). This colloquium may be understood as an attempt to understand the main events having marked the history of Western Buddhism during the second half of the 20th century. In 2002, a book entitled Westward Dharma, Buddhism Beyond Asia also came out. According to its authors the study of Western Buddhism has begun only recently and it is still too early to describe its outcome.

In fact, it is quite difficult to define in a fully satisfactory way such broad entities as Buddhism and the Western World. Consequently, in 2003, willing to favor a complete, precise and balanced understanding of Buddhism by Westerners, Paul Magnin published Bouddhisme, unité et diversité-Expériences de libération. Of course, the seven hundred and fifty pages of this synthetic introduction to Buddhism represent the culmination of the author’s thirty years of scholarly research and reflection. But as I began writing this paper, I would have appreciated to find a work capable to match Paul Magnin’s book, and that would have been entitled L’Occident, unité et diversité-Expériences de libération. If such a book existed, it ought to state clearly the ground on which the unity of the Western world and its experiences of liberation may be defined. Nevertheless, in order to talk about the encounter of Buddhism and the West coherently, one has to provide at least a minimal definition of those two concepts. But such definitions should be dynamic, that is, capable of taking into account the fact that reality is constantly changing. And that is even more so when we begin to realize that Buddhism and the West are already engaged in a process of mutual transformation. Such is the context in which we have to examine the practice of kanhwasŏn in Europe.

Since our research is limited to Europe, it may look easier at first sight. But such is not the case. That is because the kanhwasŏn practiced in Europe comes from at least four different countries : China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam. Moreover, things may be complicated by the fact that traditions that existed independently in their homeland may now interact freely as they have to coexist within the European countries they have been imported to. In addition to that, one has to take into account the fact that the activity of Masters like Sungsan and Thich Nhat Hanh goes well beyond Europe. That may make it all the more arbitrary to try to describe the practive of kanhwasŏn in Europe alone. We should also keep in mind that Europe is a huge continent of 3.900.000 square kilometers, with a population of 456.000.000 people, living in 25 different countries and speaking 20 official languages, not to talk about dialects. Even as it is strugling to achieve its unity, Europe keeps expanding by accepting new countries. As the result of those geographical characteristics, the context in which Buddhism is expanding in Europe is very different from that of America. Similarly, Buddhist-Christian dialogue has started later in Europe than in America.

There are two ways to approach the practice of kanhwasŏn in Europe. The first one consists in reducing the dimensions of the topic. In order to do that we can limit our study to the three main European schools offering kanhwasŏn practice to their followers.

The first one has been founded by the Japanese Taisen Deshimaru(1914-1982), a disciple of Kōdō Sawaki(1880-1965) from the Sōtō school(曹洞宗). Arrived in Paris in 1967, Taisen Deshimaru trained a lot of disciples and founded the Association Zen d’Europe, which later became the Association Zen Internationale(AZI). In 1979, he acquired the estate of la Gendronnière(Loir-et-Cher) and founded the first European Buddhist monastery. His several thousand disciples have founded over a hundred temples all over Europe. At present, the AZI runs over two hundred temples worldwide.

The second one is the Sanbo Kyodan(三寶敎團), a minority group among the Japanese Zen schools, also called the Kamakura school. It has been founded by Hakuun Yasutani(1885-1973), a disciple of Harada Dauin Sogaku(1871 -1961), who had inherited the Dharma of both the Rinzai(臨濟宗) and the Sōtō schools. This school distinguishes itself by two characteristics. First, it never required from its Western followers that they convert to Buddhism. On the contrary, it still claims that anybody, including non Buddhists, can benefit from the practice of kanhwasŏn. For this reason, the Sanbo Kyodan has transmitted the Dharma to a number of Westerners that were working in Japan, including Christian pastors, sisters and priests, as well as rabbis. Second, as those people with a first-hand knowledge of the East went back to their native countries, they created branches of the Sanbo Kyodan.

The third group has been founded by Thich Nhat Hanh and is based on the practice of the Vietnamese version of Sŏn called Thiên. Thich Nhat Hanh came to the West in 1970 and created several meditation groups in a number of countries. In 1982, he decided to settle down in France at the Village des Pruniers(Dordogne), and created an association called l’Ordre de l’Inter-Être, which very strongly emphasizes both the practice of meditation and the importance of social work.

Each of the above three groups reckons approximately thirty thousand people. Nevertheless, with around half of its members practicing hwadu(話頭) meditation, the Sanbo Kyodan from Japan is by far the most important European school of kanhwasŏn. There are, of course, other schools of kanhwasŏn in Europe, like for instance from the Japanese Rinzai or the Korean Kwanūm(觀音) lineages. However, since they are much less important numerically, just like Taisen Deshimaru’s AZI or Thich Nhat Hanh’s Ordre de l’Inter-Être, it is exclusively on a more detailed description of the Sanbo Kyodan that we shall focus our attention in the fourth part of this paper .

A second way to study the practice of kanhwasŏn in Europe, which we shall also use in this paper, consists in observing how the Western mind interacts with the spirit of the Sŏn school. More precisely, we will try to show how this mind encounters the religious tradition that has most contributed to the shaping of the Western mentalities. Even though Western Christianity is facing a deep crisis it undoubtedly remains the main religious tradition of the West. Therefore, the first part of this paper will be a synthetic introduction to the encounter of the practice of kanhwasŏn with the Occident. The second one will point to some aspects of Christianity that may facilitate the adaptation of kanhwasŏn practice to the Western world. A third one will describe what kind of help and transformation Christianity may expect from such a practice. A fourth and final part will describe some of the concrete attempts that have been made to integrate hwadu meditation to traditional Christian methods of meditation.

Ⅱ. Understanding the Encounter

of Kanhwasŏn with the West

Above all, one should keep in mind that kanhwasŏn has a very long history. A rapid glance at a book like Chŏng Sŏngbon Sūnim’s Sŏn’ŭi Sasanggwa Yŏksa is enough to realize it. In order to understand kanhwasŏn practice as it has been completed and established under the Song dynasty by Wŏno Kūkkūn(圜悟克勤, 1063-1125), from the Yanggi branch of the Imje school(臨濟宗 楊岐派), and his Dharma heir Taehye Chonggo(大慧宗杲, 1089-1163), one has to trace the remote beginnings of its history back to the third millenium B.C. in Indian Antiquity. As a result, the development of kanhwasŏn has taken place over several centuries and left us a considerable amount of litterature. It is a well known fact that kanhwasŏn practice may be considered the ultimate fruit of the encounter of Indian Buddhism with Chinese thought. Moreover Sŏn also is the most Confucian form of Buddhist. As a result, kanhwasŏn practice not only represents the result of a long encounter of Chinese thought with Indian Buddhism but also the complete emancipation of the latter from the speculative tendencies of the former.

This all means that kanhwasŏn is inseparable from very concrete situations. Consequently, one cannot but wonder how harmoniously the result of such a long historical process in the Far East can integrate itself as such to the West. Accordingly, it certainly isn’t an exaggeration to say that a full integration of kanhwasŏn to the Occident may require several centuries. Moreover, in order to be successful, the result of such a process should involve both faithfulness to the original spirit of kanhwasŏn and its perfect adaptation to Western culture. Maybe it will be possible, then, to talk about the quintessence of the encounter of Far East Buddhism with Western culture.

However, we may wonder if our scholarly knowledge of Buddhism and the sophisticated means of communication and transportation that are available in today’s world will not greatly accelerate and facilitate the settling of kanhwasŏn in the West. This could then mean that the Occident does not need, in order to understand the Buddha’s teachings correctly, a phase of adaptation similar to the one China went through as it interpreted Buddhists concepts through Taoist categories during two centuries. As a result, quoting the worldwide achievements of Masters like Hakuun Yasutani, Sungsan or Sheng-yen, some do not hesitate to claim that kanhwasŏn has already taken root in the West.

Nevertheless, Victor Sōgen Hori from McGill University does not hesitate to say that the Dharma still has to come to the West. Such a statement does not deny the existence of a great number of Sŏn centers throughout the Western world, but challenges the validity of the meditation practiced and the authenticity of the Dharma transmitted in those places. I also believe that it is to early to claim that the Dharma has already arrived to the Occident. Indeed, even though the Buddha’s tradition seems destined to enjoy a bright future in Occident, its followers still do not represent more than a tiny minority. Moreover, kanhwasŏn practice only represents a tiny fraction of Western Buddhism’s practice.

The following table displays the number of Buddhists and Buddhist groups found in ten European countries in the late 1990s.




from Asia









of Total


That Were






























































note: ~denotes very rough estimate

As we can see, in England, France, Germany, Holland and Switzerland the numbers of Buddhists coming from Asia is far superior to that of the native converts. We must also notice that the statistics corresponding to French Buddhism are nothing but a gross approximation. That is because good information remains difficult to find and because it is hard to define who really is a Buddhist. But this identification problem seems to go well beyond France.

We should also be careful to keep in mind that the figures displayed in the above table do not correspond to the Sŏn school but only to Buddhism as a whole. However, the following chart gives an idea on how Buddhism from five European countries may be categorized according to tradition.


Great Britain(%)


































It has to be noticed that, with the exception of France, Tibetan Buddhism has a majority in all countries. Nevertheless, we should keep in mind that a certain number of Sŏn centers in France have had to close their doors because of the fierce competition coming from Tibetan Buddhism. In other words, Europeans are strongly attracted by Buddhism from Tibet.

According to Martin Baumann, Buddhism is destined to remain a minority religion in Europe during the 21th century. That is enough to make some people in the Far East hastily conclude that Westerners cannot achieve enlightenment. Such statements recall us the Roshis(老師) claiming that being Japanese was a condition sine qua non to achieve enlightenment. Such a declaration is not only founded on ultranationalism, it also denies the core teaching of Mahāyāna Buddhism, according to which all sentient beings are endowed with the Buddha nature(佛性). In order to refute it, let us quote the dialogue that took place between the young and illiterate Hyenūng(慧能, 638-713) and the Fifth Patriarch Hongin(第五祖弘忍, 594-674).

“The priest Hung-jen asked me : ‘Where are you from that you come to this mountain to make obeisance to me ? Just what is it that you are looking for from me?’ I replied : ‘I am from Ling-nan, a commoner from Hsin-chou. I have come this long distance only to make obeisance to you. I am seeking no particular thing but only the Buddhadharma.’ The Master then reproved me, saying : ‘If you’re from Ling-nan then you’re a barbarian. How can you become a Buddha?’ I replied : ‘Although people from the south and people from the north differ, there is no north and south in Buddha nature. Although my barbarian’s body and your body are not the same, what difference is there in our Buddha nature?’ The Master wished to continue his discussion with me ; however, seeing that there were other people nearby, he said no more. Then he sent me to work with the assembly. Later a lay disciple had me go to the threshing room where I sent over eight months treading the pestle.”

Needless to say that it is very contradictory to pretend that the Dharma has to be transmitted to the West while harboring such prejudices.

Roshi Albert Low from the Montreal Zen Center insists to say that it is quite counter-productive to claim that the Dharma has not come to the West yet. Instead, he suggests to work at discovering or rediscovering the elements of Western thought and culture that may favor the acceptance and integration of the Dharma to the Occident. In a sense, what Albert Low says may be understood as Buddhism already existing in the West even before the coming of the Dharma. Nevertheless, however seductive such an idea may be, it ought to be handled carefully. Because if the Dharma already exists in the West, then its introduction from Asia shouldn’t make any difference.

In the next chapter, we shall examine closely some aspects of Christianity that may facilitate the adaptation of kanhwasŏn to the West.

Ⅲ. Christian Hermitic life and Kanhwasŏn

In order to understand how kanhwasŏn may be adapted to the West, it is very important to grasp thoroughly what constitutes the core of hermitic life in the Christian tradition.

1. The Age of the Desert Fathers

Western hermitic life began in the third century with Saint Antony of Egypt(250-356). He retired alone to the desert in order to begin living as a hermit. People being attracted by his life of asceticism, he soon found himself surrounded by many followers. Moreover, Antony’s influence rapidly reached the rest of Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Arabia and all parts of Europe where thousands of people made the decision to become hermits.

The appearance of Western hermitic life corresponds to the time when Constantine(? -337) converted to Christianity. Christians naturally rejoiced greatly as a long dreamed of event finally materialized. But such a triumph also had its side effect. Indeed, as the political power of the Church started to rise, the fervor of its followers began to cool down. Since it is precisely that fervor that had favored the spread of Christianity throughout the Roman empire, its loss could not but be deplored by lucid believers. Therefore, it certainly is no coincidence if the beginning of hermitic life corresponds to an overall weakening of the Christian faith. In other words, hermitic life can be understood as the strong reaction of some believers willing to recover the spirit that had animated the martyrs throughout three centuries of harsh persecutions. The Christians who animated that very powerful renewal movement are called the fathers of the desert.

In fact, in order to find the origins of Western hermitic life, one has to go back to great figures of the Old Testament like Abraham(19th c. BCE), Moses(13th c. BCE) and Elijah(9th c. BCE). And, of course, one also has to remember John the Baptist(1st c. BCE-1 c. CE), who lived in the desert during several decades, and Jesus the Christ, who did the same during forty days, fasting and, according to the tradition, overcoming all temptations.

The desert fathers left us a huge inheritance : “collections of their sayings, letters, sermons, ascetical treatises, biographies, monastic rules, and historical and theological essays of great value.” The literature left to us by the desert fathers has considerably influenced all currents of Christian spirituality.

Among the praying methods that they have taught us, one deserves special attention. It is called ʻprayer of the heartʼ and chiefly consists in repeating, day and night, to the rhythm of one’s breath, the name of Jesus. In many ways, this technique of meditation resembles the continuous(omae iryŏ 寤寐一如) observing(kan 看) of the critical phrase(hwadu 話頭) of a kongan(公安). The practice of the prayer of the heart began in the Eastern church from where it has spread all over the world. Its goal consists in achieving deep and constant peace of the heart.

Over the centuries, Christian hermitic life has taken a great variey of forms. It is neither necessary nor possible to describe them all in this paper. Therefore, I will only indicate briefly the role played by hermitic life at some key moments of the history of Christianity.

2. The Middle Ages and Saint Francisco of Assisi

Francisco of Assisi(1182-1226), the famous Italian saint who created the religious order that bears his name, may well be considered one of the chief representatives of hermitic life in the Middle Ages. In his time, the Church enjoyed considerable power and wealth. The extreme poverty that characterized Francisco’s life style has been a powerful challenge for an institution that had moved away from Christ’s spirit. There is no doubt that the long time that Saint Francisco spent in solitude, praying and fasting, allowed him to gather the spiritual energy necessary to accomplish his mission. It is also well worth noticing that he wrote a rule for hermits.

3. The Renaissance and Ignatius of Loyola

The Church of the Renaissance saw the rising of the Basque Ignatius of Loyola(1491-1556), the founder of the Society of Jesus, also called the Jesuit Order. Ignatius came to realize that the Church of his time was to narrowly centered on Europe and that it had to open itself up to the rest of the world. That is the reason why he founded an international religious congregation, which he placed directly under the authority of the pope. As a result, in order to answer rapidly and efficiently any demand of the supreme authority of the Church, the Jesuits are ready to go anywhere in the world. But the most amazing thing is the fact that Saint Ignatius not only lived as a hermit for over a year, but also considered seriously dedicating all his existence to that life style. Indeed, he wanted to enter the Carthusian Order, whose most famous monastery is La Grande Chartreuse, located in the French Alps. That religious congregation has been founded by Saint Bruno(1030-1101) for people desiring to spend their whole life in a community of hermits. Though Saint Ignatius’ desire has not been realized as such, it has considerably influence all the spirituality of the Jesuit Order. That is why it may be said that the Jesuits are Carthusians living right in the middle of the world. This means that there is a common ground between the desire of a hermit to enjoy the freedom of a complete solitude, that allows the total entrusting of oneself to the action of the Spirit, and the apostolic freedom, to be found in the middle of action, aimed by Saint Ignatius to realize the same goal. It also signifies that the contemplation of a hermitic life can be fully combined to a radical social commitment. Indeed, it is written in the constitutions of the Society of Jesus that any Jesuit willing to become a Carthusian monk is perfectly free to do so. This means that for the fully awakened one, there can’t be any contradiction between living in complete solitude and being present to the whole world. It also signifies that as it is possible to contemplate right in the middle of highly dynamic action, it is also possible to be active in the depth of the most profound contemplation. Here we can discover one of the main characteristics of the way of life embodied by Christ himself.

4. Today’s Hermitic life

Hermitic tradition remains very lively in today’s world. The mere fact that it exists offers people the possibility to take some distance from a society that is so full of itself that it believes that its high technique and industry are capable of satisfying all human desires. Indeed, even though they lived in solitude, hermits have always played the role of spiritual director for those that came to beg their help. Moreover, when hermits live in communities, they often run retreat houses allowing those willing to do so to share their life style for some time. Here, rather than describing the multiple forms of hermitic life found in today’s world, I will briefly recall some of its key figures. This should allow us to detect some of the main trends of hermitic life in today’s world.

The Frenchman Charles de Foucauld(1858-1916) has spent his life as a hermit in the Hoggar Mounts of southern Algeria. By doing so, among other things, he aimed at entering into dialogue with Islam.

The Frenchmen Jean Monchanin(1895-1957) and Henri le Saux(1910-1973), as well as the Englishman Bede Griffiths(1906-1993) have dedicated their lives to a dialogue between Christianity and Hindouism by living with the hermits of the Saccidananda region of India.

As one of the most famous hermits of the 20th century, the American Thomas Merton(1915-1968) considered that the wisdom of the Desert Fathers and Mothers “enables us to reopen the sources that have been polluted or blocked up altogether by the accumulated mental and spiritual refuse of our technological barbarism.” Such words remind us (8 c. BCE) what God said, through the prophet Hosea, to the Hebrews who once more had abandoned Him to worship idols : “I shall seduce you, take you to the desert and speak to your hearth.” One of Merton’s biggest contribution is his beginning of a dialogue between Christianity and the Buddhist monks and nuns of Asia. This dialogue has kept developing ever since.

Catherine de Hueck Doherty(1896-1985), from Russian descent, has written over thirty books, the best known of which is Poustinia. In that work she encourages people living in huge modern cities to create a space of silence and prayer, ie of desert, right in the middle of their homes. That is in order to become more intimate with God in every day life.

Finally, we can think of the Swissman Brother Roger(1915-2005), assassinated lately, whose Taizé community in France has considerably favored the development of Christian ecumenism worldwide.

The above examples allow us to draw the following conclusions. Although the meaning of hermitic life is very often misunderstood by people, it has always had a considerable impact on all the Christian tradition. Indeed, even though they dwelled in solitude, hermits have always strongly influenced not only the life of the Church but also the societies on the fringe of which they lived. In this sense, it is not exaggerated to say that hermitism is the blood of Christianity.

Even though hermits have never been more than a very small minority, it is important to underline that they have kept recalling all Christians the irreplaceable importance of silence and meditation whenever one wishes to deepen his understanding and knowledge of truth. Moreover, today’s hermits are inviting all Christians to achieve unity and to dialogue with the world religions.

All the above facts on hermitic life allow us to realize that Western society has at its disposal a strong tradition that can considerably facilitate its acceptation of kanhwasŏn practice.

Ⅳ. The Help that Western Christianity

can get from Kanhwasŏn

Like all religions, Christianity has been victim of its success. This is true to such an extent that we may say that as failure is the mother of success, success is the mother of failure. Western Christianity, despite having had to face challenges coming from atheism and inner divisions, has managed to maintain the same shape during several centuries. Moreover, it has had no serious contacts with another well organized religion, like Buddhism for instance, dealing thoroughly with the problems of suffering and death.

There is no need to describe, in this paper, the actual situation of European Christianity. As we have said above, this Christianity is facing a crisis. The decreasing number of its believers should be enough to prove it. As an explanation of this situation, we may say that European Christianity has lost a huge part of its vitality. Consequently it has also lost a lot of its capacity to attract people. In front of such a situation, some naturally ask whether Christianity still has a future or not. That is why so many Europeans are looking for a new source of hope. It is against this backdrop that kanhwasŏn is being introduced into the Western world. My argument is that as a transfusion of blood may save the life of a dying person, so may kanhwasŏn practice, without loosing its identity, become a source of renewal for Western Christianity. Of course, Christianity may end up developing a new shape through such an encounter.

From here on, before explaining what kind of help Christianity may get from kanhwasŏn practice, I will recall briefly what is the original spirit of the Christian tradition and what are the consequences of its loss.

1. The Original Spirit of Christianity

In the New Testament, Christ says of himself that he has nowhere to rest. In many ways such a statement may resemble one that is found in the Platform Sūtra of the Sixth Patriarch(六祖壇經) and according to which non-abiding is set as the main doctrine(無住爲本). In order to understand the meaning of Jesusʼ words, we have to go back to Abraham, the common ancestor of Christians, Jews and Muslims.

As a Bedouin, Abraham lived in the solitude and silence of the deserts he wandered about. As a nomad, he had a tent for abode and did not store surplus products. He lived entrusting himself to the circumstances and believing that all he needed, beginning with water and food, would be given to him day after day. Even though Abraham was waking toward a land that had been promised to him, that land should not only be thought of as a country like, for instance, todayʼs Israel. It should rather be understood as the true nature that one has to find within himself. In other words, in many regards, the Promised Land resembles the Pure Land. In that sense, we may say that Abraham was walking toward himself, or, in other words, toward his true nature. As he was following his course, Abraham was always open to the possibility of an encounter with God and with foreigners. As a result, he kept experiencing new realities. That is why it may be said that God kept surprising him. For God was not where Abraham expected him to be, He also was where Abraham did not expect Him to be. Similarly, Abraham did not know whom he would meet during his journeys across the desert. Such unexpected encounters kept transforming him. Consequently, as we can discover through Abrahamʼs experience, truth is not an abstract reality such that we could take hold of it. On the contrary, truth is a dynamic and lively reality we are being seized by through concrete experience. Such a truth is given at every step and rediscovered at every instant. If there were some signs along the desert roads followed by Abraham, they kept indicating contradictory directions. In other words, it was a road without a road. Some of Jesusʼ words may help us to understand what this means : “The wind blows where it will. You hear the sound it makes, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it goes. So is it with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

It is in order to rediscover the nomadic spirit of Abraham that hermits made and still make the decision to entrust themselves to the solitude and the silence of the desert. It is this very spirit that has allowed them to act as reformers within Christianity. As this spirit, when it is fully-fledged, is the Spirit of Christ, it has to be the spirit of all Christians. In other words, as all Buddhists have to become living buddhas, so should all Christians become living christs. But unfortunately, the descendants of Abraham tend to forget his nomadic spirit.

2. The Problem with Christianity

History teaches us that Christians, Jews and Muslims keep displaying a tendency to forget the common root of their respective faith : the spirit of Abraham. In other words, they tend to prefer a sedentary life to a nomadic one, noise to silence, and gathering together rather than solitude. That is why they abandon nomadic life, and build houses in cities well indicated by road signs and in which they can store in large quantities just about anything they want. However, such a transformation of their way of living has a considerable impact on their conception of truth. Truth loses its concrete and dynamic character to become a fossilized and absolute abstraction. At the same time, the Christians lose their ability to deal with reality inductively and their thinking becomes more and more deductive. Instead of being constantly transformed by constant and unpredictable encounters with God and others, they try to control those encounters by reducing God and others to their limited horizon. In a word, instead of living by the truth, they become administrators of the truth. As a result, the clerics harboring such a state of mind end up transforming the temple of Jerusalem into a place where a stuffed god is being worshipped. Such was Judaism in Jesusʼ time. It may be said that, just as Buddhism was a reformist reaction to Hinduism, Christianity was borne from a reformist reaction to such a temple. Jesus said to the clerics of his time : “Woe to you experts on the law! You have taken away the key to knowledge. And not only haven’t you gained access, you have stopped others who were trying to enter.”

Of course, all that we have just said represents a dramatized and condensed view of Western Christianity. Nevertheless, it may be said that a constant conflict, between a nomadic and a sedentary paradigm, constitutes one of the main impulses behind the unfolding of Christian history. Each time that the course of events has had an excessive tilt toward the latter, a reformist movement based on the former has arisen. This is exactly what a synthetic look at the history of hermitic life within Christianity has allowed us to highlight. And it may be said that the Christian conscience is always tempted to rebuild the Jerusalem temple, let it be in Rome or elsewhere. Such a tendency deepened as the Catholic church became split with the Orthodox church in 1054 and with the Protestant church in 1517. But the ecumenical council of Vatican II(1962-1965), as it has emphasized both the unity of all Christians and opened dialogue with all religions of humankind, has made a historical effort to put the situation right. And Pope John Paul II(1920-2005) has been perfectly faithful to that spirit of renewal. Such an opening, in an effort to renew Christianity, reminds us of the one made by some adepts of Zen desiring to renew their tradition through contacts with the West.

3. The Contribution of Kanhwasŏn

I think that kanhwasŏn can bring something to a Christianity eager to renew itself. Indeed, kanhwasŏn practice can remind Christians of the traditional values of hermitism and of Abraham nomadic life : silence, solitude, the mobility of non-abiding and meditation. Such a reminding cannot come from a inner challenge alone, it must necessarily also come from an external one. This means that a genuine reform is possible through an epoch-making event like the encounter of kanhwasŏn with Christianity.

Kanhwasŏn has the advantage that it can be practiced, either individually or in a group, even in the middle of cities. It suffices to regularly create a space of silence and solitude where we dwell. Kanhwasŏn may allow our troubled minds to get rid of their endless and sterile calculations so that they may recover their original simplicity. As a result, it helps one to acquire a right view as he faces the world he lives in.

It cannot be said that Christians do not have traditional methods of prayer. On the contrary, though they have many, most of the time they either do not know them or do not use them. Moreover, if they want to recover a dynamic understanding of truth, these methods of prayer may gain much from an encounter with techniques of meditation coming from another tradition. For instance, though there exist both an affirmative and a negative way (Via Affirmativa and Negativa) within Christianity, the vast majority of those who pray usually tend to rely solely on the latter. As a concrete example, let us recall one of the sayings of Jesus to his disciples : “Still, I must tell you the truth : it is much better for you that I go.” In fact, this means that in order to fully understand who He is and what He has said, Christians must let Him go. Even though Jesus has clearly told them not to do so, Christians keep being attached to Him in an excessive way, as if they were hooked to a finger pointing the direction of the moon. In many regards the dialectical relation of the affirmative and negative ways found in Christianity is very similar to the one found in Buddhism and especially in Sŏn. But the mutual complementarity of the two ways being much more clearly emphasized within Buddhism, the practice of kanhwasŏn can certainly help Christians to discover, or rediscover, and use a much more balanced approach of those two paradigms. In a word, Christians have to be born again from above. As Jesus has said : “Unless one is born from above, one cannot see the kingdom of God.” This is exactly what the practice of kanhwasŏn may allow Christians to discover. And if I say it, it is because I have experienced it.

Of course, some people could easily argue that the main ideas developed in this paper tend to reduce the understanding of the practice of kanhwasŏn to some of the needs of Western Christianity. But D. T. Suzuki did exactly the same when he introduced Zen Buddhism to the West as the “non historical essence of all religions.” It can be said that this is an extremely limited and selected view of Buddhism. That is because by introducing Zen as such in his most famous works, D. T. Suzuki repackaged Buddhism according to the expectations and hopes of his Western readers. Such an attitude may deserve many criticisms. Nevertheless, it is precisely because of that repackaging that D. T. Suzuki could successfully introduce Zen Buddhism to the Occident. And even though what he did may be considered somewhat flawed, since he intended to remain faithful to the spirit of Zen, it is hard to say that such a repackaging was completely wrong. Moreover, it is possible to say that the whole history of Buddhism is filled with similar examples. For instance, in his History of Buddhist Philosophy, David J. Kalupahana introduces Buddhism to Westerners through occidental categories, to such an extent that some critics claim that what he talks about isn’t Buddhism anymore. But in fact, since Buddhism has kept doing the same thing, for the sake of its adaptation, each time that it entered in a new area, such criticisms seem misplaced. The birth of Mahāyāna or of Tantric Buddhism may be considered other examples of the same phenomena.

I shall now talk about the concrete attempts that have been made to integrate the practice of kanhwasŏn with Christian methods of prayer.

Ⅴ. Attempts to Integrate Kanhwasŏn Practice and Christian Methods of Cultivation

Since there exist both common points and differences between Buddhism and Christianity, the attempts to integrate kanhwasŏn practice to Christian teachings have sparked off a number of reactions. I am now going to mention some of these reactions. Afterwards, I will describe the Sanbo Kyodan and give an account of the past history and of the prospects of the attempts made to achieve an integration of kanhwasŏn practice to the Christian tradition.

1. Western Reactions to Sŏn Buddhism

A first reaction consists in believing that the practice of Sŏn is the sole way to achieve truth. As a result, the advocates of such a position consider that Sŏn Buddhism is superior to all other religious traditions and they look down on them. The Dalai Lama is very critical of such people. They believe that the followers of traditions others than theirs cannot discover what they have found in Sŏn Buddhism. Such a feeling of superiority may make them look endlessly for an ever purer form of Sŏn tradition. As a result, they may end up looking and sounding very fundamentalist, confusing unessential matters like, for instance, clothes, furniture, or the tea ceremony, with essential ones. Such people make the Dalai Lama laugh. At the opposite extreme, some people consider that Sŏn Buddhism is nothing but a hoax destined to fool people. This is exactly the position of H. Van Straelen in his Le Zen Démystifié.

The two fundamentalist attitudes that we have just described are clearly opposed to an encounter between Sŏn Buddhism and the West. Between such extremes, we can find positions that are opened to a dialogue between the cultural and religious context to which Sŏn Buddhism has to adapt. But the problem is to find a good balance between mutual transformation and the maintaining of each partners identity.

Let us take a look at some attitudes regarding Christian Sŏn. According to Jacques Brosse, any attempt to disconnect the practice of Sŏn from Buddhism amounts to its neutralization. Similarly, Éric Romeluère claims that the teachings of the Sŏn school and of Christianity are so different that Christian Sŏn amounts to pure schizophrenia. On the other hand, the Benedict monk and priest Willigis Jäger has got so deeply into the practice of kanhwasŏn within the Sanbo Kyodan that he has obtained the Dharma seal and became, though still a Roman Catholic priest, Ko-un Roshi. He also runs a very successful meditation center, called the Benediktushof, near Würzburg, in Germany. Moreover, at an international level, Father Jäger is one of the three highest persons in charge of the Sanbo Kyodan. But recently, the Vatican has decided to prevent Father Jäger from teaching, declaring that the overall content of his predications does not conform to the tradition of the church. We may wonder if such a decision does not come from difficulties to understand the thought of a man who is too far ahead of his time. But even if it were so, let us remember the case of Thomas Merton who has managed to dwell in between the two extremes that we have just quoted. He declared that the more he got to know and love Buddhism, the more he could live as a good Christian. He also said that he felt closer to Buddhist monks practicing meditation than to Christians that did not. Nevertheless, Thomas Merton’s orthodoxy has never been challenged and he is unanimously recognized as a beacon of the encounter of Christianity with Buddhism.

2. The Sanbo Kyodan(三寶敎團)

With thirty thousand members, the Sanbo Kyodan is by far the largest organization teaching kanhwasŏn in Europe. Its followers have the choice between two different paths.

The first one, called ‘shikantaza(只管打坐)’ merely consists in sitting down, observing oneʼs breath and physical sentations or the sensations coming from outside the body but without developing any attachment to them. In addition to that, those who wish to do so may pronounce the sound mu(無) with their mouth and lips, but without producing any sound. About half of the members of the Sanbo Kyodan practice shikantaza.

The second method adds kanhwasŏn practice to shikantaza and is practiced by the other members of the Sanbo Kyodan.

The Sanbo Kyodan uses about seven hundred kongans(公案) coming from five different collections(konganjip 公案集). They are given to the adept, one by one, and in a predetermined order. He must find the answer to a given kongan in order to get the next one, and must solve all the seven hundred kongans to get the Dharma seal. The first collection contains twenty two kongans. It has been made for Westerners by the founders of the Sanbo Kyodan. In general, these kongans have been selected from the other collections and their content does not refer too much to the Chinese background they come from.

The other collections are the Mumungwan(無門關), the Pyŏgamnok(碧巖錄), the Chongyŏngnok(從容錄) and the Chŏndŭngnok(傳燈錄). Yamada Koun Roshi(1907-1989) has made commentaries(chech’ang 提唱) for all the kongans found in those records. As he wanted his students to understand easily, he thaught in English and explained to them the Chinese cultural, spiritual and religious background of each kongan. A commentary is not an answer to a kongan but an explanation that allows the student to get a better grasp of the question asked by it. The commenteries of Yamada Koun Roshi have been translated in English, French, German and other European languages. The making of the commentaries is based on the kongans. As the content of the kongans is extremely diversified, it allows the writers of commentaries to deal with just about every aspect of the adept’s life, either internal or external. In the Sanbo Kyodan, all the people that have either taken the direction of an already existing meditation center or created a new one have written commentaries in European languages.

The people practicing kanhwasŏn can do it individually or with a group meditating on a regular basis, generally weekly, or during an intensive training period lasting several days(yongmaeng chŏngjin 勇猛精進). The encounter with the roshi can take place during the weekly practice meeting, or twice a day during a period of intense training, or during an individual visit of the adept to the roshi. The adept enters the room where the roshi is sitting, bows in front of him, reads the text of the kongan that he is meditating and keeps silent during a brief moment. That silence is kept in order to allow the roshi to say something or ask a question if he wishes to. Afterwards, the adept displays the state of mind that he has achieved(ch’edŭkhan kyŏnggye 體得한 境界). In 99% of the cases, the answer must be non verbal. In other words, the state of mind achieved has to be expressed through a gesture or an attitude. If the answer is correct, the roshi may say a few words to help the student expand his conscience even more. Afterwards, the adept may start meditating the next kongan of the collection he is going through. If the answer is wrong, the roshi tells it to the student and then sends him back. In such a case, the adept has to keep trying to find an answer by himself, a process that may take several months, if not years.

Kongans do not have logical answers. Consequently, an answer has to be found in an other dimension than that of reason. By doing so, a level of conscience different from the ordinary one may be stimulated. A correct answer cannot come out of a logical process. It must rather spring up from the deepest part of the human being. The answer must be non verbal in order to prevent the mind from playing the endless game of its rational tricks. Here, the roshi’‘s attitude is very important, because he must discern instantly whether the state of mind displayed by the adept is rational or not. If it is, he must uproot the cause of the wrong answer on the spot. Here, ʻwrongʼ does not mean that the answer is bad from a rational standpoint, but rather that it cannot arouse a deeper state of conscience. Indeed, the goal of kongans is to spark off small or big awakenings. The intense observation of the critical phrase of a hwadu(話頭) continuously trains the mind of the practitioner and leads him toward an ever greater opening to the hidden reality of the world.

Two main reasons may be given to explain why the members of the Sanbo Kyodan are attracted by the practice of kanhwasŏn. The first one is because they believe that such a practice will allow them to discover something that does not exist in the Western tradition. The second one is because they hope that kanhwasŏn will help them to get the indomitable and countless passions of their mind under control. It is interesting to notice that they all start looking at kongans with a considerable amount of curiosity, believing that they are simple enigmas that they will be able to solve through rational thinking. However, most of them overcome this first approach. But the most essential problem comes from the Chinese cultural background in which kanhwasŏn was born. Its understanding requires the learning of an entirely new language with its symbols and metaphors. This is the reason why kanhwasŏn will never be popularized. Of course, a considerable number of works explaining the context in which kanhwasŏn was born, as well as translations and interpretations of the records of the sayings of the patriarchs, or of the sūtras and treaties, keep being published in Western languages. In addition to that, many efforts have been made to create kongans for Westerners and there are numerous possibilities. Material like some short stories coming from the Bible, as well as sayings of Christ or of the desert fathers could be used. But to my knowledge nobody has really succeeded yet in taking advantage of that material. Above all, there should be specific answers to the kongans thus made, but nobody has done yet the research necessary to find and test them.

The above informations allow us to see that the Sanbo Kyodan can rightly claim that it has a clear Dharma lineage. In addition to that, it also offers a fully-fledged course of kongans, to be solved one by one, and each having a distinct answer. On the other hand, it is important to mention that some other masters attach no importance to these three elements, claiming that a course of kongans to be covered step by step, each with its own answer, is against the genuine spirit of the Sŏn school. In addition to that, the Sanbo Kyodan also enjoys a good international organization and all its masters agree to abide by a strict, simple and clear code of ethics. In that regard, the meditation centers of the Sanbo Kyodan are unlike so many Sŏn centers that do not belong to a specific organization.

Beside the reasons that we have just mentioned, there are two others that may help to understand the success of the Sanbo Kyodan. The first one is that its first Western members are people who went to Japan to learn the culture and the language. It is with such a first hand knowledge that they went back to their native countries to transmit the teachings of the school. The second is its openness toward other religions, including Christianity. But the AZI of Taisen Deshimaru and the Association Inter-Être of Thich Nhat Hanh, the two other main Sŏn groups of Europe, also attract a number of Christians, even though that doesn’t seem to be the result of a systematic policy like in the case of the Sanbo Kyodan. For instance, many French Christians listen attentively to the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh whose great openness toward other religions is well known. Among the many books that he has written, one is entitled Going Home-Jesus and Buddha as Brothers. Similarly, it is not difficult to find many Christians among the members of the AZI. In 2004, during an encounter with Yuno Roland Rech, one of the high responsible of this group, he told me : “So much the better if the practice of Sŏn may be of some help to the Christians.” Of course, the great interest taken by some Christians in Sŏn does not necessarily mean that they intend to give up their religious identity.

Master Sungsan of the Kwanūm Sŏnjong has said : “I myself am the way, I am truth, and I am life.” Even though he interpreted this powerful Christian statement in a Buddhist sense, the mere fact that he used it should be enough to let us guess that he too kept Christians in mind.

The above facts show us that, whether we like it or not, Buddhism and Christianity are actually coexisting in the Western world.

3. Concrete Attempts of Integration

It is important to realize that quite often the Japanese roshis themselves have suggested the creation of kongans adapted to Christians. A good example is Taeŭi Roshi(大義 老師), from the Japanese Rinzai school and the master of Chongdal Nosa 宗達 老師(1905-1990), the Korean who has created the Han’guk Sŏndohoe(韓國禪道會) in 1965. But let us now take a look at the way such a task should be accomplished. In order to do that, I will examine the work done by some Jesuits that have worked in Japan during the last fifty years. Indeed, the specific contribution of each one of them is an indispensable link for the creation of a Christian kanhwasŏn.

The German Heinrich Dumoulin(1905-1995) is an academic who was thaught at Sophia University in Tokyo and gained an international reputation. Unfortunately, his famous work Zen Buddhism : a History, does not talk about Korean Sŏn.

Enomiya Lassalle(1898-1990) is another German but who became a Japanese citizen. Moreover, rather than studying Sŏn, he dedicated his whole life to its practice, going as far as going through all the kongans of the Sanbo Kyodan several times. In one of his works, he systematically compares the practice of the spiritual exercices created by Saint Ignatius of Loyola with that of kanhwasŏn. His numerous books have made him known worldwide and very much contributed to the propagation of Sŏn in the West.

The Irish William Johnston, also an academic teaching at Sophia University, has both practiced and studied Sŏn. He has compared Christian and Buddhist meditation methods, and especially the thought expanded by mystics like Master Eckhart with the negative way of the Sŏn school. His books keep selling very well worldwide.

The Japanese J. K. Kadowaki also is an academic teaching at Sophia University and who both studies and practices Sŏn. In his book Zen and the Bible, he systematically compares kongans with the content of the Old and New Testaments. But, most interestingly, he got the inspiration to write that book in the 1950s, from a professor called I. Ratzinger, who later became a Cardinal before becoming lately Pope Benedict II. This shows us that the man who now holds the highest responsibility in the Catholic church had already realized, some fifty years ago, the considerable importance of the encounter of Sŏn Buddhism with Christianity.

Ⅵ. Conclusion

Instead of being centered on the Sanbo Kyodan, this research could have chosen a more global approach to the study of kanhwasŏn practice in Europe. Or, on the contrary, it could have focused on the Korean share of would could be called “the European market of religions.” Nevertheless, I have chosen to set back the practice of kanhwasŏn in the global context of the encounter of Buddhism with Western culture, and especially with Christianity. Each of the other approaches would have had a value of its own. But the one that I have chosen has the advantage of avoiding to deal with an extremely broad question in a vague an abstract way. Instead, without losing the broadness of the topic, it has remained very concretely focused. Refusing to recognize the value of such an approach would be tantamount to trying to understand the Buddhist conquest of China without knowing anything about Chinese religions. Of course, the present research study should be completed by a number of others based on issues like feminism, philosophy, psychology, social justice, sociology, etc.

As we have seen in this paper, hermitic life, that has tremendously influenced the Western world, constitutes an excellent ground for the encounter of kanhwasŏn. Moreover, the present crisis of Western Christianity favors its acceptance of a tradition that may contribute to its renewal. We have also examined the reasons of the success of the Sanbo Kyodan, as well as the role played, during the last fifty years, by Jesuits working in Japan for the development of a Christian kanhwasŏn.

The firs reason of the success of the Sanbo Kyodan is the fact that its teaching has spread to the West through people that often had an outstanding first hand knowledge of Japanese language and culture. Secondly, it has a well defined Dharma lineage, proposes a step by step course of seven hundred kongans, each having a specific answer, and all its masters write commentaries on the kongans. Its also is well organized at an international level, sticks to a clear code of ethics, and is opened to a dialogue with other cultures and religions. But we have also learnt from Victor Sōgen Hori that the practice of capping(ch’akŏ 著語) should form an indispensable part of kanhwasŏn training. And we should not forget that the engaged Buddhism proposed by Thich Nhat Hanh is very successful in the West.

The study of the work done during the last fifty years by some Jesuits working in Japan allows us to say that the following elements are required for the creation of a Christian kanhwasŏn : a deep, broad and accurate knowledge of Buddhism, a thorough experience of the practice of kanhwasŏn, as well as a good understanding of the Bible, of Christian mystics, and of philosophy.

In Europe, Korean kanhwasŏn is far from being as well known as Japanese Zen. At present, nothing allows us to predict that things are susceptible of changing, let it be on the short or on the long run. So much the better if the conclusions of this paper may somehow contribute to change that situation.

Let us now enumerate some of the distinctive traits of Korean kanhwasŏn.

First, the fact that it remains unknown may play in its favor since people are often attracted by what is entirely new, especially in America.

Secondly, from the view point of the history of Buddhism, Chinul(知訥)’s tono ch’ŏmsu(頓悟漸修) doctrine is very innovative.

Thirdly, though the sudden-sudden(tono tonsu 頓悟頓修) conception of enlightenment advocated by Master Sŏngch’ŏl(性徹) has provoked a huge controversy it has also enriched Korean Buddhism and made it even more attractive.

Fourthly, the fact that Korean Buddhists and Christians each represent approximately 25% of the population of Korea constitutes a unique situation, providing exceptionally good conditions for the development of a Christian kanhwasŏn that could be exported.

Fifthly, the existence in Korea of associations of lay people(在家修行者) like the Han’guk Sŏndohoe(韓國禪道會) can serve as a model for the creation of similar groups abroad.

The encounter of kanhwasŏn with Western culture is a process that will most probably take several centuries rather than just a few decades. It is an extremely complex phenomena, the understanding of which will require the collaboration of many people during a great number of generations. Right now, among the Westerners that practice kanhwasŏn, some do it as Buddhists and others as Christians. But the two types are necessary and it would be desirable that they work together in harmony instead of clashing. That is because the coexistence of the two groups is indispensable to guarantee both the preservation of kanhwasŏn‘s specific identity and its full integration to the Occident. While the Western Christians will work at the integration of kanhwasŏn to their faith, the Western Buddhists will keep helping them to acquire a correct understanding of Buddhism. And conversely, the former will recall the latter that the Occident is not a religious tabula rasa. Needless to say that it would be of the outmost importance for the adepts of kanhwasŏn, let them be Buddhist or Christians or of any other religion, that they maintain strong ties with the Far East tradition they trace their roots back to.

Sometimes ago, I heard a French Buddhist scholar say to some people attracted by Buddhism : “Please do not come if you are not very seriously motivated.” These words came from the fear, shared by many, that Buddhism may be in danger of becoming an easy fashion. I want to say the same thing to the Westerners attracted by the practice of kanhwasŏn. But to all those that feel strongly committed to that practice, despite its difficulties, I want to communicate my certitude that, on the long run, the encounter of Far East Buddhism with Western Christianity will most probably bear fruits profitable to all humankind.

* Keywords

kanhwasŏn, Association Zen Internationale, Association Zen d’Europe, Han’guk Sŏndohoe, the sudden-sudden(tono tonsu 頓悟頓修), Sŏngch’ŏl(性徹)

The ‘Buhyu’ Line Members’ Perception of the ‘Lines’ and the Heritages of Master Bojo

The ‘Buhyu’ Line Members’ Perception of the ‘Lines’

and the Heritages of Master Bojo

Kim, Yong-tae / Seoul National University

The so-called ‘Buhyu’ Line(‘浮休系’) was populated by Buddhist priests who claimed to be inheriting the legitimate teachings(法脈) of Master Buhyu Seonsu/浮休善修(1543-1615). Along with the Cheongheo Line(‘淸虛系’) headed by Cheongheo Hyujeong/淸虛休靜(1520-1604), this Line was one of the two major Lines that existed in the Buddhist society during the latter half period of the Joseon dynasty. Both masters Hyujeong and Seonsu were all disciples of Buyong Yeonggwan/芙蓉靈觀, and during the time of Seonsu himself, there were no visible differences between them in terms of traditions(家風) and the line of succession(嗣法關係).

Later, since 1609, the Buhyu Line members have settled themselves at the Songgwang-sa/松廣寺 temple of the Jogyae-san/曹溪山 mountain, and became an independent line of its own. Byeogam Gakseong/碧巖覺性(1575-1660), who was the disciple of Seonsu, laid out the basis for the development of the Line, and during the time of Baegam Seongchong/栢庵性聰(1631-1700), who was the member of the next generation, the Line finally established its own identity as an independent line based upon the Songgwang-sa temple and the actions of the historic master Bojo Jinul/普照知訥(1158-1210).

The Buhyu Line members conducted annotations to Master Bojo Jinul’s writings and widely published them, in order to honor and promote the teachings and heritage of Bojo(‘普照遺風’). At the Budo-jeon/浮屠殿 shrine of the Songgwang-sa temple, the Budo(tab) pagodas of the Buhyu line members are erected in the order of the legitimate line of succession(‘嫡傳’), which displays the line of succession among mainstream members of the Buhyu Line, and reveals the Line members’ perception of their own heritage and hierarchy. After Seonsu, the line of succession shows Byeogam Gakseong/碧巖覺性, then Chwimi Sucho/翠微守初, then Baegam Seongchong/栢庵聖聰, then Muyong Suyeon/無用秀演, then Yeonghae Yaktan/影海若坦, then Pungam Saechal/楓巖世察, then Mugam Chwaenul/黙庵最訥, and finally Hwanhae Beobrin/幻海法璘, in order. Among these renowned priests, especially 4 renowned masters(‘四傑’) under the guidance of Pungam Saechal, namely Mugam Chwaenul/黙庵最訥, Eungam Nangyun/應庵朗允, Jaeun Haejing/霽雲海澄, and Byeokdam Haengin/碧潭幸仁 were trained, emerged, and became the mainstream of the Buhyu Line in the post-medieval(近世) period. The most notable one was Chwaenul(1717-1790), who actively engaged in commemorating his master Saechal and promoting his teachings. His actions truly consolidated the Line members’ own perception of the heritage of the entire Buhyu Line.

With regard to the religious identity of the entire Line, the Buhyu line considered the heritage of Master Bojo most importantly. But in terms of the concept of line of teachings(法統), the Line members also shared another belief that they were actually inheriting the teachings of the Imjae-jong school(‘臨濟宗風’) which had supposedly been introduced to the Korean people through Taego Bowu/太古普愚 during the ending days of the Goryeo dynasty. This particular notion of considering Taego’s teachings to be the ultimately legitimate one(the ‘Taego Beobtong-seol/太古法統說’) was suggested by the Cheongheo line members during the early half period of the 17th century, and was established as a theory supported by practically everyone(‘公論’) inside the Buddhist society. The Buhyu line apparently also accepted this generally received notion, and claimed that they have been inheriting the teachings of the Imjae-jong school as well.

In terms of philosophy, the main characteristic of the Buddhism in the late Joseon dynasty period could be named as the Seon-Gyo Gyeomsu/禪敎兼修 principle(the principle of practicing Seon and Gyo teachings together), based upon the notion of prioritizing the Ganhwa-seon/看話禪 practice above all else. This characteristic was well mirrored in the education process for the Buddhist priests(the Iryeok Gwajeong/履歷課程 curriculum), and the training course was established in the form of Sammun Sueob/三門修業, which meant practicing Seon, Gyo and Yeombul(禪‧敎‧念佛) at the same time altogether. Included in the Sajib/四集 of the Iryeok Gwajeong curriculum were the 『Doseo/都序』 of Jongmil/宗密 which was considered to be a very important text by Jinul, and the 『Jeolyo/節要』 text that featured annotations of Jinul. And in the Daegyo/大敎, there was the 『Yeomsong/拈頌』, which was published by Jingak Haesim/眞覺慧諶, who was also the disciple of Jinul. As we can see, the training process and the curriculum for the Buddhist priests of the late Joseon dynasty period clearly reflected the philosophical influences of Master Jinul, and the most basic element of that influence was the Seon-Gyo Gyeomsu principle. The Buhyu line succeeded the heritage of Master Bojo, maintained the principle of Seon-Gyo Gyeomsu, and considered Gyohak studies to be very important.

During the latter half period of the Joseon dynasty, among Gyohak studies, especially the Hwaeom-hak/華嚴學 studies blossomed. Since Seongchong had launched a huge project of publishing Jinggwan/澄觀’s 『Hwaeom Socho/華嚴疏鈔』 which was proofread and published by Pyeong Rim Yeob/平林葉 of the Chinese Ming(明) dynasty, and the 『Hwaehyeon-gi/會玄記』 text annotated by Boseo/普瑞 of the Yuan(元) dynasty, studies of the Buddhist Sutras(‘講經’) and publications of annotated versions of the writings of past masters continued vigorously, and led to a new social atmosphere which could be referred to as the Renaissance of the Hwaeom studies. From the Buhyu line, renowned Hwaeom-jong masters(華嚴宗師) such as Mowun Jineon/慕雲震言, Hwaeam Jeonghae/晦庵定慧 and Mugam Chwaenul emerged, and delivered superb achievements in terms of Gyohak studies, which even matched those that had been delivered by the Cheongheo Line members.

The Buhyu Line members featured a unified line of succession and a unique perception of their heritage and hierarchy. They maintained the principle of practicing Seon and Gyo teachings altogether, and considered Gyohak studies to be very important. What helped them establish such strong identity and a perception viewing their own heritage, was the heritage of Master Bojo, and their conviction and pride in inheriting such honorable heritage.

* Keywords

Buhyu line(浮休系), Cheongheo line(淸虛系), Jogyae-san/曹溪山 mountain’s Songgwang-sa/松廣寺 temple, Heritage of Master Bojo(普照遺風), Teachings of the Imjae-jong School(臨濟宗風), Taego Bowu/太古法統, Bojo Jinul/普照知訥, Buhyu Seonsu/浮休善修, Byeogam Gakseong/碧巖覺性, Baegam Seongchong/栢庵性聰, Mugam Chwaenul/黙庵最訥, Ganhwa-seon/看話禪 practice, Seon-Gyo Gyeomsu/禪敎兼修(practicing Seon and Gyo teachings together) principle, Iryeok Gwajeong/履歷課程, Sammun Sueob/三門修業, Hwaeom Socho/華嚴疏鈔

The Spirit of Buddhist Monastic Precepts & Christian Monastic Rules: a Comparative Study

The Spirit of Buddhist Monastic Precepts & Christian Monastic Rules: a Comparative Study

Bernard SENÉCAL S.J. / Professor,

Department of Religion,

Seogang University

This paper compares the basic spirit of Buddhist monastic precepts and Christian monastic rules. By first examining the data and then appraising them through the use of functional comparisons, it applies the methodology of religious phenomenology: a dialogical approach of truth that avoids the extremes of objectivism and subjectivism.

A first part shows that Buddhist monastic precepts and Christian monastic rules each display a very strong unity of spirit throughout time, despite the fact that they both underwent considerable transformations due to the need to adapt to ever changing historical situations. Indeed, as monastic precepts are meant to help the Buddhists that have renounced the world to achieve awakening like the Buddha, the monastic rules are meant to make Christians as awakened as Christ was.

A second part describes how monastic precepts and rules were respectively born, pointing to the fact that, although the core of the former progressively took shape within the Buddhist monastic community during the lifetime of the Buddha, the latter took shape several centuries after the death of Christ, during Constantine rule at the beginning of the fourth century, when Christian religious life began to appear in answer to the excessive secularization of Christianity within the Roman empire. Nevertheless, despite such a striking difference pointing to the distinctive character of each tradition, monastic precepts and rules are respectively meant to help one to achieve, through complete awakening, the compassionate or loving behaviour which constitute the ultimate goal of Buddhism and Christianity.

A third part demonstrates that both Buddhism and Christianity see ultimate reality as being thoroughly ethical in nature. Their respective founders became one with that ultimate reality through awakening, thus completely embodying that ethical ideal in time and space. As a result, their behaviour was highly ethical and they had no need at all for a fully-fledged set of precepts or rules. But the same cannot be said of their followers who almost always definitely needed and still need such precepts and rules in order to become awakened to that reality and embody it through their behaviour. At the same time, an excessive clinging to precepts or rules may end up being just as detrimental as their total neglect. The spirit of the Middle Way constitutes an excellent antidote to the constant temptation of falling into such extremes that obviously pervades both traditions.

In conclusion, it may be said that just as Buddhism sees in the practice of the monastic precepts, meditation and wisdom the three complementary disciplines indispensable to realize Buddhist awakening, Christianity sees in monastic rules, prayer and life in the Spirit, the three indivisible and sine qua non disciplines required to achieve Christian awakening. Interestingly, a tension has been at work throughout history within both Buddhism and Christianity regarding whether it is necessary or not to renounce the world to reach full awakening. Nevertheless, Buddhists having renounced the world and Christians having joined a religious society may be said to be close in spirit as they search for truth and respectively strive to achieve Buddhist Compassion or Christian Love in action.

* key words

renouncing the world, joining a religious order, Buddhist monastic precepts, Christian monastic rules, awakening, one body compassion, first commandment, Buddhist-Christian inter-monastic encounter, Chogye Order, Society of Jesus

The formations come into being of Ganhwa-Seon(看話禪)

The formations come into being of Ganhwa-Seon(看話禪)

Kim, Ho-Gui / The Buddhist Research Institute, Dongguk Univ.

The zen-school of Tang(唐) dynasty was the essence of China zen buddhism. But, in Song(宋) dynasty, the zen action and zen thought went off their color. So, gradually vicious practices and side effects appeared in many aspect.

The Ganhwa-Seon(看話禪) was a practice of zen-buddhism. Especially, Ganhwa-Seon emphasis so called Hwadu(話頭). That is, Ganhwa(看話) means have a look at the Hwadu. This Ganhwa-Seon come into being in Song-dynasty of Chinese by Daehye-Jonggo(大慧宗杲 : 1089-1163). Here we can ratiocinate some reasons, namely, the formations come into being of Ganhwa-Seon.

Firstly, We can examined that Daehye-Jonggo have the critical attitude for the thought of Silent-Penetration(黙照) by Jinhul-Chungryo(眞歇淸了). At that times, a group of the thought of Silent-Penetration lapsed into a state of coma. In many ways, this was a target of the critical attitude by Daehye-Jonggo, so called, a fancy, a foolish imaginings, a stupefaction, a sleeping sickness, a delusion, and the borderland between sleeping and waking, etc.

Secondly, the attitude of a peace-at-any-price principle about all seon-practice. The ways of prudentialism was originated from the closing years of Tang-dynasty. The secondly effect on seon-buddhism were prevalent every seon-masters at the time of the early days in Song-dynasty.

In this state of affairs, Daehye-Jonggo had the critical attitude for the thought of Silent-Penetration and the ways of prudentialism. So, he standed by his many opinions in his “The Discrimination between right and wrong on Seon-practice(辨邪正說)”. At that time, Daehye-Jonggo(大慧宗杲 1089-1163) set up against that problem and that followers. As a part of that preventive measure, he preached sermons for not only Buddhist priests but also high officials that The Discrimination between right and wrong on seon-practice.

Here we can abstract his taught for them in eight ways.

First, discriminate the expedients.

Second, Alert absence of expedients.

Third, Do not ignore of enlightenments.

Fourth, Do not depend on letters and notions.

Fifth, Only adhere The Muja-Hwagu(無字話頭) instead of divisionism.

Sixth, Do not consider at own discretion.

Seventh, Seek after for seon masters.

Eighth, Bear in mind the faiths.

These eight ways were as it used at that times, and are as it useful for modern seon practice and buddhist priests. Here we can examined some reasons about the formation come into being of Ganhwa-Seon(看話禪)

The real character of practice in the Khanwha-sôn(看話禪)

The real character of practice in the Khanwha-sôn(看話禪)

Kim, Young-Wook / Kasan Institute of Buddhist Culture

The whadu(話頭) suggested by the great Sôn leaders can be a true issue only when it is acceptted correctly by the disciplinant. The typical way to make any subjects into whadu is so called the Baechokkwan(背觸觀). It is a kind of gate without any method to break through, because whatever attempts, both an affirmative approach to it and a negative evasion from it, are not permitted. Khanwha-sôn had settled this method as a framework of practice. As there is no room for any kind of recognition, the essentials of a whadu cannot be understood by the conceptual thought or the cognitive category. According to the realization of one’s concerned whadu, the road to groping for something or other is entirly exhausted. That is the most suitable condition for enlightenment

Chozchu’s mu(無) is the most frequently raised whadu in the Khanwha-sôn, but anywhere it is in the scope of the above mentioned universal way of practice. Every answers to the mu case must not fit in the point of truth, and the approach with several kinds of concept and meaning will result in the failure. All gradual steps and phases do not need in this case. Because from the first whado is given as a gate like a fortress that cannot be penetrated by such a means. Simultaneously this is the most ideal condition to complete the whadu. And when it becomes so, whadu will be a kind of weapon to removes all sorts of discriminations

Searches for the answer from the superficial phrases which the great leaders set intentionally to teach the disciple is in the many cases presented with stratagem. The point to penetrate into the teacher’s intention is to raise the given whadu in one’s mind without leaving even a small gap in the ordinarly life.

Especially to challenge whadu mu has two common mistakes. The one is to think mu as nothingness in the opposition of existence, the other is to conjecture mu as the truth which surpasses all the oppositions. This two inclinations is the general form of illusion in considering on mu. The thought that the truth depends upon surpassing over the given whadu or it depends upon the whadu in itself, they are both misconceptions. We can escape from this mistakes so far as we know throughly that whadu mu has not any conceptual tastes and there is not a kernel in it.

There is not a special method which heals all troubles including the former faults. The only tactics is to run in holding whadu mu constantly. To say in other word, the arising of sickness and the cure both depends upon the correct whadu study. And it is also the reason that the truth must be embodied in the daily life. Because the given whadu must not go away from one’s mind in any moment. If we speculate on a whadu without ommision in every place and at all moments in ordinarly life, we may be able to accomplish the essential meaning of Sôn. That is the monent of breaking through the concerned whad

A Study on Mengshan De-yi’s Activity and His Relation with the Korean Buddhism

A Study on Mengshan De-yi’s Activity and His Relation with the Korean Buddhism in Late 13th Century Shown in Mengshan heshang pushuo

Choe, Yeon-Shik and Kang, Ho-Sun

/ Seoul National Univ.

Kanhua(看話, Kor. Kanhwa) meditation has become the representative philosophy in Korean Buddhism after the eminent Korean Zen master Chinul adopted it his zen training method. The close contact between Korean Buddhism and Chinese Jiangnan area Buddhism during the Mongol reign was important background for the Kanhua meditation to be main stream in Korean Buddhism.

Mengshan De-yi, the Zen master who advocated the Kanhua method in Jiangnan area had a great influence upon Korean Buddhism in the late 13th century. Mongshan gave teachings to Korean monks and high officials by exchanging letters and direct meetings. And after his death the Korean believers invited his disciple Tieshan Shaoqiong and helped him to spread his master’s teaching. Mongshan’s writings were also introduced into Korea and read widely. They caused great philosophical changes in Korean Buddhism

The Mengshan heshang pushuo kept in Chinese National Library in Beijing is a document that has never been introduced and analyzed before. It is composed of 4 volumes and takes nine sermons preached from 1287 to 1296. In the sermons there are not a few special characters of Mengshan’s thought not shown in his other writings. Some of the important teachings shown in this new document are following; first, the definite practices such as three-forbidden(三莫) and three-point(三要), second, the claim of immediate enlightenment and gradual practice(頓悟漸修) and the third is the connection of the reading and recitation of Scripture with meditation.

Besides the teachings we can also find some information about Mengshan’s life and activity which is not cleared until now. In 1278 he retired and resided at the Xiuxiu-an(休休庵) in Hangzhou. During this time, he devoted himself to teaching the Zen practice to monks and laymen. He also wrote and published many writings on Zen and supervised Buddhistic rituals and delivered sermons in Jiangsu and Zhejiang regions. He was supported by the intellects and officials in the regions.

In addition, there is a sermon which was preached in 1296 to celebrate the 60th birthday of Korean king at the time. This sermon was delivered on request of a Korean monk who came from Suseon-sa(修禪社) which had followed the teachings of Chinul. This is very important source to understand the relationship between Mengshan and Korean Buddhism. In particular, it proves that the Susheon-sa played a key role in connecting between Mengshan and Korean Buddhism.

Dharmakīrti and Taego Boowoo on the Transformation of Consciousness

U, Je-sun / Dongguk Univ.

Ever since the Buddha thought his teaching, the attainment of mokṣa has been the main task for Buddhists to achieve. In the Yogācāra school, it has been understood to result from the transformation of consciousness. This concept has occupied a special position in Buddhist philosophy as the link between theory and practice. The purpose of this paper is to examine the transformation of consciousness in the works of Dharmakīrti who are the representative logician of the Buddhist Pramāna school and Taego Boowoo who are the main Seon master of Korean Buddhism.

This paper shows that Dharmakīrti and Taego shares the same ideas as follows, even though they are different in their time and place as the 7th and 11th centuries, and India and Korea. ① They shares the same idea in terms of why a man should practice the meditation. The purpose of the practice is to save others from their sufferings as well as to be free from all sufferings of his own. ② They has the identical idea on what is the liberation from sufferings. It is the destruction of all kleśas. The means of their removal is to see the selflessness of all in the case of Dharmakīrti, and to see the Buddhahood of our mind in the case of Taego. ③ They has the same epistemological structure in liberation. The practice starts with the words. It is the process of removing conceptual construction (vikalpa) and transforming consciousness into prajñā. It leads to the attainment of mokṣa.