Former Professor at the Academy of Korean Studies
Translated by Jong-myung Kim 2)
The Tun-huang Text of the Platform Suutra : Reflection on and Prospect of Its Study
Yabuki Keiki(1879-1939) was the forerunner in the study of the Tun-huang version of the Platform Suutra (hereafter, PS) of the Sixth Patriarch (Stein No. 5475). In 1930 Yabuki compiled and published Reverberations of Wailing Sand (Meisha yoin) . In it he included the photolithographed Tun-huang text of the PS, an important part of Buddhist sources excavated from the Tun-huang area under the aegis of Keimeikai (Association of Enlightenment), thus initiating a substantial research on the work. Before that year, Yabuki already introduced the Tun-huang text to Japan which was included in volume 48 of the Taish? shinshuu daiz?gy? (hereafter, T), the Japanese edition of Chinese translation of Buddhist literature. However, the textual analysis of the PS was initiated in the year of 1930. Thereafter, studies of the provenance of the text and its thought have flourished, producing many works including “Issues of the Tun-huang Version of the PS of the Sixth Patriarch” (Dank? rokuso danky? no dai mondai) by Yanagida Seijan in 1980 3) . Scholarly accomplishments of the subject are as follows:
(1) Suzuki T. Daisetz and Kuda Rendar?, The Platform Suutra of the Sixth Patriarch Excavated from the Tun-huang Area (Tonk? shutsudo rokuso danky?) (Tokyo: Morie shoten, 1934);
(2) Yi N?nghwa, A Copy of the Tun-huang Text of the PS. How to Mark Punctuations to the Copy (Tonhwang pon sabon T’an’gy?ng. T’an’gy?ng tugy?l) (Keij? [Seoul]: K?mgyesanbang kyogan, n.d.);
(3) Ui Hakuju, “A Study of the PS” (Dank? g?), in the Second Volume of a Study of Zen History (Dai ni Zens?shi kenkyuu) (Tokyo: Iwanami shoten, 1941);
(4) Wing-tsit Chan, The Platform Scripture, the Basic Classic of Zen Buddhism (New York: St. John University Press, 1963);
(5) Philip B. Yampolsky, tr. with notes, The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch, the Text of Tun-Huang Manuscript (New York & London: Columbia University Press, 1967);
(6) Yanagida Seijan, “The PS of the Sixth Patriarch” (Rokuso danky?), in the Recorded Sayings of Zen (Zengoroku) (Tokyo: Tokyo chuu? g?ronsha, 1974), pp. 93-179;
(7) Komazawadai Zens?shi kenkyukai, A Study of Hui-neng (En? kenkyu) (Tokyo: Taishuukan shoten, 1978).
Among these works, Yanagida emphasized the importance of A Study of Hui-neng in the study of the PS while saying, “A rare work but the worst text on the PS came to be re-illuminated in this work,”4) thus indicating that a new area was begun in the history of research on the PS.
1.2. Yanagida views the publication of the A History of Hui-neng in 1978 as the point of departure for the latter period in the history of research on the PS. Then, what other elements can be considered for the periodization of the research history of the PS? One such element is the socio-economic background to the composition of the text. It is also necessary for us to reexamine conventional scholarship on the text because traditional research was primarily based on the K?sh?ji edition of the PS, which was different from the Tun-huang text in the context and logic. In addition, we need to broaden our scholarly horizon through an extensive survey of diverse fields relevant to the text. Unfortunately, since the publication of A Study of Hui-neng, only a few serious studies of the subject have been done. Two such works published after A Study of Hui-neng are: Kuo P’eng, Collation and Interpretation of the PS (T’an ching chiao shih) (Peijing: Chung-hua Shu-chu, 1983); and S?ngch’?l, ed. and tr., The Tun-huang Version of the PS (Tonhwang pon Tan’gy?ng) (Hapch’?n [Korea]: Haeinsa Changgy?nggak, 1987). However, these two works do not meet the standard as representatives of works published after 1978. It was not until 1987 that a new age opened in the research history of the PS. Yang Tseng-wen, Head Professor of the Buddhist Studies program of the Chinese Institute of Social Sciences, reported that two more important works in relation to the PS were preserved in the Tun-huang Museum. One work is another Tun-huang edition of the PS known as Supreme Great Vehicle Platform Suutra of the Southern School Which Advocated Sudden Teachings (Nan-tsung tun-chiao chui-shang ta-ch’eng t’an ching, hereafter, SGVPS), and the other is Treatise of Promoting the Southern School of Bodhidharma (P’u-t’i ta-mo Nan-tsung ting shih-fei lun, hereafter TPSCB). Yang also stated that comparative research between the SGVPS and the S. 5475 PS, and between the TPSCB and the revised text by Hu Shih was in progress. 5) Later, Yang published his research achievement of this subject as a book, in which Yang wrote an epoch-making chapter for the study of the PS. Japanese scholarship had dominated the scholarly field of the subject before the publication of Yang’s work. Therefore, it is said that Yang’s work also offered a momentum for Chinese scholarship to take an initiative in that field in lieu of the Japanese counterpart.
What will be the prospect of the future research on the PS? It is not an easy question to be answered. However, it is certain that the PS was also a historical product. Nevertheless, few studies examined the text from the historical perspective. Therefore, we first and foremost need to reexamine the conventional scholarship concerning the work which neglected the historical background to the composition of the PS.
I already presented a paper on a Tun-huwang text of the PS in 1966, when the 17th conference on Indology and Buddhist Studies was held at K?yashan University in Japan, sponsored by the Association of Indology and Buddhist Studies. 6) Since then, my scholarly concern with the subject has continued, regretfully without fruitful result. In the following, I will discuss some points at issue with a critical viewpoint which I have faced through my perusal of works on the PS by my fellow scholars, followed by an examination of the prospect of the future research on the subject.
2.1. The First issue is concerned with the meaning of the title words Platform Suutra (T’an Ching). The complete title of the PS has two versions. One is Southern Doctrine for Seeing the Nature and Becoming a Buddha through Instant Awakening: The Platform Suutra, Definitive and Doubtless Record of Dharma Jewel, Preached by the Sixth Patriarch Hui-neng, the Great Master, in Mount Ch’ao-ch’i (Ch’ao-ch’i shan ti Liu-tsu Hui-neng ta-shih shuo chien-hsing tun-chiao chih liao ch’eng-fo chu-ting wu-i fa-pao chi t’an ching), which is presumed to have been compiled by a monk named Hui-hsin, of whom nothing is known. 7) The other is Southern School Sudden Doctrine, Supreme Mah?y?na Great Perfection of Wisdom: The Platform Sutra preached by the Sixth Patriarch Hui-neng at the Ta-fan Temple in Shao-chou, one roll, recorded by the spreader of the Dharma, the disciple Fa-hai, who at the same time received the Precepts of Formlessness (Nan-tsung tun-chiao tsui-shang ta-ch’eng Mo-ho-pan-jo po-lo-mi ching: Liu-tsu ta-shih yu Shao-chou Ta-fan ssu shih-fa t’an ching), which is the title of the extant Tun-huang edition of the PS.
Therefore, we can recognize that the title of the PS was long in the initial period of its compilation and as time passed by, its title became shorter. This is the same case with the ?uura^ngama Suutra (Chn. Leng-yen ching), whose complete title is Ta fo-ting ju-lai mi-yin hsiu-cheng liao-i chu p’u-sa wan-hsing shou leng-yen ching. Over the course of time, its complete title was shortened to the Leng-yen ching.
As for the meaning of the term t’an ching, scholars maintained different views of the letter t’an. Hu Shih interpreted it into d?na, or almsgiving of goods or the doctrine with resultant benefits, in d?nap?ramit? (perfection of almsgiving). 8) Suzuki viewed it as an earthen platform. 9) However, scholars agreed that the letter ching stands for a Buddhist suutra. Yanagida even said, “The fact that Chinese monks identified recorded sayings of patriarchs with Buddhist suutras refers to that they equated the patriarchs with the Buddha in spiritual matters, thus revealing a special feature of Zen Buddhism.”10) Long before Yanagida, in his “Eulogy on the PS” (T’an ching tsan), Ch’i-sung (1007-1072), the Great Master Ming-chiao, of Northern Sung (960-1126) already said,
“What is called [T’an] ching was named so by the dharma descendants of the Sixth Patriarch in honor of his teaching, although it was contrary to the patriarch’s original intention. Following that ancient tradition, I dare not to change its meaning.” 11)
However, we may say that Ch’i-sung’s statement is not convincing. This is because the equation of Hui-neng’s teaching with that of the Buddha is unacceptable in terms of common sense. If so, can we say that people of later generations braved their ignorance and absurdity? It seems not so. The title of the PS recorded at the end of the text is Southern School Sudden Doctrine Platform Sutra of the Supreme Mah?y?na Vehicle, one roll (Nan-tsung tun -chiao chui-shang ta-ch’eng t’an ching-fa i chuan). The term ching-fa (“scriptural teaching”) in this title is a definitive clue to solving this riddle. This title coincides with the title at the beginning of the PS preserved in the Tun-huang Museum (Nan-tsung tun-chiao chui-shang ta-ch’eng t’an ching) thus suggesting that the original title at the beginning of the Tun-huang text must have been the same. In addition, the term ching-fa refers to Hui-neng’s teaching, as was pointed out by Suzuki and Kuda in their joint work.12) However, the ching-fa was changed to Fo-ching (“Buddhist Scripture”) in the K?sh?ji edition. 13) It is a common idea among scholars who are conversant with Buddhist terminology in translated works that ching-fa and Fo-ching are different terms. In Buddhist texts translated into classical Chinese, ching means suutra, while the term ching-fa or simply ching was chosen to stand for the Sanskrit term dharmapary?ya or pary?ya, 14) the doctrines of the Buddha regarded as the door to enlightenment. Although the letter ching with the meaning of suutra and the word ching as the abbreviation of ching-fa are expressed by the same Chinese character, their definitions are different. Therefore, the ching-fa in “ching-fa of Mah?y?na platform (ta-ch’eng t’an)” or the ching in “ching of lecture platform (shih-fa t’an)” is the translation of the Sanskrit term dharmapary?ya into Chinese and refers to the teaching of Hui-neng. It is sure that the author of the PS did not regard ching-fa or ching as suutra, but as Hui-neng’s teaching. The fact that the Platform Suutra employed many words used in doctrinal teachings also supports this argument. However, the K?sh?ji edition and the “Eulogy on the PS” interpreted ching-fa or ching as suutra and conventional scholarship has uncritically followed suit.
2.2. The term kuan-tien in the biography of Hui-neng is important for identifying the dating of the PS. In his “A Study of the PS” (Danky? g?), Ui Hakuju questioned about the meaning of the term while saying, “Kuan-tien was also called k’o-tien in the works composed after the Te-i edition of the PS. However, its meaning is not clear. Does it refer to a lodging house or an official residence?” 15) Scholars also interpreted it as a government store, 16) or the lodging house for officials, 17) or an inn (lu-lung), 18) or a lodging house run by the government, all of which were not supported by solid textual evidence.
The textual origin of kuan-tien is the Old history of T’ang (Chiu T’ang-shu), which says,
“In the ninth month of 846, by royal edict chio-ch’u (breweries run by the government) were established in Counties and Prefectures of eight Provinces. In addition, kuan-tiens were also set up and sold wine …” (chuan 49, “Shih-huo chih”).
According to this record, a kuan-tien signifies a liquor store monopolized by the provincial government. It is also presumed that the person who purchased firewood from Hui-neng before he was ordained was an official who worked for a kuan-tien.
From the record of kuan-tien in the Old History of T’ang, we can get important information concerning the dating of the PS. Akira Fujieda, Professor of the Research Institute for Humanistic Studies, Kyoto University, and the leading expert on Tun-huang calligraphy, argued that the PS was composed during the period between 830 and 860. 19) However, its dating should be changed to the period between 846 and 860.
2.2.2. The Tun-huang text of the PS was closely associated with the lineage of Shen-hui (670-762) during the era when Wu-chen was active, which is mentioned at the end of the text as appendix (Suzuki and Kuda, sec. 56-57). Their close relationship can also be proved from comparison between the Tun-huang text of the PS and the Tun-huang edition of the Songs of Wisdom Which are Sudden and Unproduced (Tun-wu wu-sheng pan-lo sung, hereafter, SWSU), 20) an alternative title of the Record of Manifestation of Themes by Great Master Ho-tse (Ho-tse Ta-shih [Shen-hui] Hsien-tsung chi). 21)
|Wu-chen resides at the Fa-hsing Temple at Mount Ts’ao-ch’i in Ling-nan, and as of now he is transmitting this Dharma. When [in the future] this Dharma is to be handed down, it must be attained by a man of superior wisdom, one with a mind of faith in the Buddha-dharma, and one who embraces the great compassion. Such a person must be qualified to possess this Sutra, to make it a mark of the transmission, and to see that in this day it is not cut off. This monk [Fa-hai] was originally a native of Ch’ü-chiang District in|
|Meritorious virtue and wisdom, both of which are glorified, were transmitted generation after generation and in this day they are not cut off. |
|After the Tath?gata entered Nirv??a, the teaching of the Dharma flowed to the Eastern Land. Among all, non-abiding was transmitted; even our minds do not abide. This true Bodhisattva spoke the true doctrine and practiced [in accord with] the real parables. |
|Since the death of the World-Honored One, twenty eight patriarchs of India transmitted the mind of non-abiding in common and they all explicated the knowledge and view of the Tath?gata…Bodhisattvas’ great compassion was transmitted without cessation. The purport of the teachings is like this…Its meaning is to awaken people (te-jen) (Does this only indicate the mutual|
transmission of robe and Dharma?)
|To the one who vows to save all, practices continuously, does not retrogress in the face of disaster, perseveres under any suffering, and thus possesses the deepest of blessings and virtue, to such a man should this Dharma be handed down. If a person’s talents are inadequate and his capacities do|
not suffice, he must seek this Dharma. This Platform Sutra mustnot be haphazardly assigned to a person who betrays the precepts and has no virtue.
Eventually, he could establish [the dharma].
Finally, do not transmit the dharma haphazardly [to a person who betrays the precepts and has no virtue.]
The above-cited passages of the PS manifest that the PS cited terms and phrases from the SWSU, thus emphasizing that Wu-chen transmitted the PS in the right way, and that the orthodox teaching should be continued without cessation.
As for the term ho-shang (monk) in the phrase “Ho-shang was originally a native of Ch’u-chiang District “scholars have argued that he was Hui-neng, 22) or Fa-hai.23) However, it is assured from the context of the PS that the ho-shang was Wu-chen. The reason why the monk’s identity was mistaken was because the joint work by Suzuki and Kuda, the first of the revised and annotated texts of the PS, unreasonably divided sections of 55 to 57 into three, thus separating section 56 from other parts.
2.3.0. The essential ideas of the PS are of two kinds: (1) no-thought (wu-nien), which is found in sections 16 and 17 in the Suzuki and Kuda’s joint work; and (2) thirty-six confrontations of activity (san-shih liu tui fa), the practical aspect of no-thought, which appears in section 56 of the same work.
2.3.1. Limited space does not allow us to conduct an in-depth analysis of the contents of no-thought. However, for convenience, let’s compare parts relevant to the concept of no-thought between the Tun-huang text of the PS and the K?sh?ji edition of it.
|Good friends, in the Dharma there is no sudden or gradual, but among people some are keen and others dull. The deluded recommend the gradual method, the enlightened practice the sudden teaching. To understand the original mind of your-self is to see into your own original nature. Once enlightened, there is from the outset no distinction between these two methods. [Those who are not enlightened will for long kalpas be caught in the cycle of transmigration.] |
|Good friends, in the orthodox teaching there is originally no sudden or gradual. There is sharp or dull in human nature itself. The deluded attains enlightenment gradually, and the enlightened practice the sudden teaching. To know his original mind by himself is to see into his original nature by himself. There is no distinction between these two methods.|
[This is why the pseudonyms of sudden and gradual are established.]
|Good friends, in this teaching of mine, from ancient times up to the present, all have set up no-thought as the main doctrine, non-form as the substance, and non-abiding as the basis. Non-form is to be separated from form even when associated with form. No-thought is not|
to think even when involved in thought.
Non-abiding is the original nature of man.
Successive thoughts do not stop; prior thoughts, present thoughts, and future thoughts follow one after the other without cessation. [If one instant of thought is cut off, the Dharma body separates from the physical body, and in the midst of successive thoughts there will be no place for attachment to anything.]
|Good friends, in this teaching of mine, from ancient times up to the present, the form of no-thought, which is what is set up first, is to be separated from form even when associated with form. No-thought is not to think even when involved in thought. Non-abiding is the original nature of man. When you distinguish good from evil, beauty from ugliness, and grudge from affection, and conflict, slander, deceive, and fight in words, do neither think of doing harm others and nor think of prior objects in successive thoughts. |
If prior thoughts, present thoughts, and future thoughts follow one after the other without cessation, then you are fettered.
|If one instant of thought clings, then successive thoughts do not cling, then you are fettered. Therefore, non-abiding is made the basis. Good friends, being outwardly separated from all forms, this is non-form. When you are separated from form, the substance of your nature is pure. Therefore, non-form is made the substance. |
|If successive thoughts do not cling to all dharmas, then you are free.|
Therefore, non-abiding is made basis. Good friends, being outwardly separated from all forms, this is non-form.
When you are separated from form, the substance of dharmas is pure.
Therefore, non-form is made the substance.
|To be unstained in all environments is called no-thought. If on the basis of your own thoughts you separate from environment, then, in regard to things, thoughts are not produced. If you stop thinking of the myriad things, and cast aside all thoughts, as soon as one instant of thought is cut off, you will be reborn in|
|In order for mind to be unstained in all environments is called no-thought.|
If on the basis of your own thoughts you always separate from environment, in regard to things, thoughts are not produced. If you stop thinking of the myriad things, and cast aside all thoughts, as soon as one instant of thought is cut
|another realm. Students, take care! Don’t rest in objective things and the subject mind. If you do so, it will be bad enough that you yourself are in error, yet how much worse that you encourage others in their mistakes. The deluded man, however, does not himself see and slanders the teachings of the sutras.|
Therefore, no-thought is established as a doctrine. Man in his delusion has thoughts in relation to his environment.
Heterodox ideas stemming from these thoughts arise, and passions and false views are produced from them.
|off, after death, you will enjoy your life in another realm. Students, think of this.|
Don’t rest in objective things and the subject mind. If you do so, it will be bad enough that you yourself are in error, yet how much worse that you encourage to others. Man in his delusion does not see and slanders Buddhist scriptures.
Because of this, no-thought is established as a doctrine.
[Good friends, what is it that no-thought is established as a doctrine? Only in relation to environment, seeing into nature is explained in words.
The deluded has thoughts in relation to his environment. Heterodox ideas stemming from these thoughts arise, and passions and false views are produced from them.
[Self-nature is originally not attached to any single dharma. Attachments produce the false duality of weal and woe, which is none other than passions and perverted views.]
|However, this teaching has established no-thought as a doctrine. [Men of the world, separate yourselves from views; do not activate thoughts. If there were no thinking, then no-thought would have no place to exist.] ‘No’ is ‘no’ of what?|
‘Thought’ means ‘thinking’ of what? ‘No’ is the separation from the dualism that produces the passions.
|Therefore, this teaching has established no-thought as a doctrine. |
[Good friends, no-thought means no discursive thought. Thoughts stand for perverted views. ‘No’ refers to non-duality and the mind of no passions.
[Thought means to think of the original nature of suchness.]
|Suchness is the substance of thoughts; thoughts are the function of suchness. |
|Suchness is none other than the essence of thoughts; and thoughts are none other than the function of suchness.|
[What gives rise to thoughts is not your eyes, ears, nose, and tongue, but your self-nature of suchness. Because your self-nature of suchness gives rise to thoughts, there is no eyes, ears, form, and sound in suchness. Good friends, think of this instantly.]
|If you give rise to thoughts from your self-nature, then, although you see, hear, perceive, and know, you are not stained by the manifold environments, and are always free. |
|If you give rise to thoughts from your self-nature of suchness, although your six sense-bases see, hear, perceive, and know, you are not stained by the manifold environments, and your self-nature is always free. |
220.127.116.11 The ideas of no-thought and non-abiding in the Tun-huang text of the PS refer to getting rid of false views of the nature of existence in concrete reality. The Tun-huang text explicates no-thought and non-abiding as follows:
What is called non-abiding means that the original nature of man does not exist in successive thoughts. Prior thoughts and future thoughts follow one after the other without cessation. If one instant of thought is cut off, the dharma body separates from the physical body.
This passage means that we should observe successive thoughts intuitively without being obstructed to a temporal sequence. It also signifies that truth, the origin of existence, is inseparable from the physical body, the foundation of existence. The Tun-huang text also said,
In the midst of successive thoughts there will be no place for attachment to anything. If one instant of thought clings, then successive thoughts cling; this is known as being fettered. If in all things successive thoughts do not cling, then you are unfettered.
According to this passage, the Tun-huang text emphasizes that a practitioner should not be attached even to one instant of thought. This position is also supported by the subsequent passage:
If, on the basis of your own thoughts, you separate from environment, then, with regard to things, thoughts are not produced. If you stop thinking of the myriad of things, and cast aside all thoughts, as soon as one instant of thought is cut off, you will be reborn into another realm.
Therefore, we can say that the Tun-huang text of the PS is aimed at clarifying the true feature of all existence, which cannot be recognized by the ordinary dualistic way of thinking, based on one’s subjective interpretation of all things. The two sentences, “On the basis of your own thoughts you separate from environment,” and, “in regard to things thoughts are not deluded,” do not mean that deluded thoughts actually exist, but that one erroneously assumes the nature of existence, thus producing discursive thoughts.
However, unlike the Tun-huang text, the K?sh?ji edition states the cutting off of thoughts from the negative viewpoint: it equates successive thoughts with subjective attachment, interpreting successive thoughts only from the psychological perspective without an ontological premise.
The K?sh?ji edition also touched up its contents: it added “good and evil, beauty and ugliness, etc., in the secular world…[They] do not think of prior objects” which is absent in the Tun-huang text; and it deleted. “Prior thoughts and future thoughts follow one after the other without cessation…This means that the dharma body is separate from the physical body,” which exists in the Tun-huang text. Moreover, the K?sh?ji edition states, “If prior thoughts, present thoughts, and future thoughts follow one after the other without cessation, it is known as being attached…. In regard to things, mind is not produced,” which is contrary to the statement of the Tun-huang text.
The terms, “without cessation” (pu-tuan) and “no-abiding” (wu-chu) appear to be synonyms in the Tun-huang text, whereas they are considered antonyms in the K?sh?ji edition. This produces a great disparity in interpretation of the issue of meditation (sam?dhi) and wisdom (praj~n?) between the two editions of the PS. In the Tun-huang text, it is also said :
Suchness is the essence of thoughts and thoughts are the function of suchness. If you give rise to thoughts from your self-nature, then, although you see, hear, perceive, and know, you are not stained by the manifold environments, and are always free.
This passage signifies that suchness and thoughts are the same from the ontological aspect. In addition, the relationship between the subject and object of thoughts is explained by the theory of essence and function. Therefore, the Tun-huang text does not regard suchness as a substantial entity, but as the state where thoughts are cut off. However, this is not the case with the K?sh?ji edition, in which successive thoughts are viewed as attachments to be cleared away. It posits that the self-nature of suchness is separable from the six sense bases (the physical constituents of successive thoughts). Therefore, the K?sh?ji edition admits the existence of unrestricted freedom, but it does not view suchness and thoughts in terms of essence and function of the same thing. Instead, it interprets them as different entities that exist in mutual dependence. This means that the K?sh?ji edition is based on the theory of dependent origination, which Mah?y?na scholiasts viewed as an inferior teaching to the theory of nature origination.
In the Tun-huang text, meditation is not different from wisdom. They each signify the true feature of existence, which stands for the non-duality between the dharma body and the physical body, between sa?s?ra (production and extinction) and suchness, and between defilements and enlightenment. However, the K?sh?ji edition represents a theoretical discrepancy with regard to the issue of the non-duality of meditation and wisdom. I believe this was the point that Nan-yang Hui-chung (?-775) and Chinul (1158-1210) criticized.24) However, we are left without knowing whether the corrections in the K?sh?ji edition were planned in advance expecting a result. I believe that the touch-ups in the K?sh?ji edition were not a result from a response to the doctrinal teachings, but that of literary rhetoric, thus changing the particular grammatical style of the Tun-huang text without textual grounds. For example, shih tzu pen-hsin (“to know one’s original mind”) was changed to tzu shih pen-shih (“to know original mind by oneself”). However, the term tzu in the examples of shih tzu, chien tzu, ch’eng tzu, chang tzu, ling tzu, and wo tzu (all of which appear in the Tun-huang text), does not have the meaning of “by oneself” or “of self,” but has only the nuance of “such.” If we revert these terms to tzu shih, tzu chien, etc., the term tzu functions as an adverb, thus changing the original meaning of these essential doctrines. Moreover, unlike in the K?sh?ji edition, the term tzu-hsing in the Tun-huang edition does not mean “self-nature,” but rather “from the nature” in most cases.
18.104.22.168. If we interpret chen-lu tzu-hsing in terms of “the logical geography of the knowledge which we already possess,”25) we may be fallacious with regard to its real purpose. Hui-neng’s poem reads :
Bodhi originally has no tree,
The mirror also has no stand.
Buddha-nature is always clean and pure.
Where is there room for dust?
However, the K?sh?ji edition changed the “Buddha-nature is always clean and pure” in this poem to “originally there is not one thing.” Wasn’t this change caused by the “logical geography” employed in the K?sh?ji edition?
As for this, a Korean monk named S?kch?n (1870-1948) criticized as follows,
Tzu-shih Fo-hsing ch’ang ch’ing-ching (“from this Buddha-nature is always clear and clean”) in the Tun-huang text of the PS was changed to pen-lai wu i-wu (“there was originally not a single thing”) [in the K?sh?ji edition.] 26)
In the literary sense, Fo-hsing ch’ang ch’ing-ching appears to be a more refined expression than pen-lai wu i-wu. However, this change can be likened to a person who was toppled into the mud while enjoying oneself on top of a lotus flower. Therefore, we can say that the K?sh?ji edition took literary beauty at the sacrifice of religious truth, making S?kch?n’s criticism convincing.
22.214.171.124. It was not only the Zen Buddhist school that was interested in discussing the issue of meditation and wisdom. This issue also attracted concern from Western philosophers, in particular, from Existentialists who discussed it by the concepts of “existence and reason”. Pak Chong-hong (1903-1976), whose penname was Y?ram, an eminent Korean philosopher and former professor of Seoul National University, once met Karl Jaspers (1883-1973) in Basel, Switzerland, on a certain summer day in 1956, and asked him the following question,
As an existentialist, you have argued that reason is innate in existence and it still exists even after the destruction of the existence. How could you say so? It is sure that if there is no existence, there will be no reason. How could you argue that reason can exist alone?…For example, if a mother who bears her child on her back is fallen to the ground, can the child on her back be safe?…If reason can radiate its own color without depending on others, why do you need to explicate the inseparable relationship between experience and reason? 27)
After listening to this question, Jaspers kept in silence for a long time and finally responded to Y?ram by saying,
“Do you know about Asian Buddhism? The color of wisdom addressed in Buddhism is identical to that of the reason at issue.”28)
Later, it is said that Y?ram thought that Jaspers was fallen into the fallacy of Ipse Dixit, or the Argument from Authority (Argumentum ad Verecundiam), in which one cites a person whom his opponent respects to win the opponent’s assent to a conclusion. We can say that Y?ram premised in his question that meditation and wisdom were not two, and thus, inseparable; whereas Jaspers was fallen into the fallacy of the duality of the two, which I presume was the reason why Jaspers separated existence from reason.
2.3.2. We don’t have enough space to conduct a detailed analysis of the thirty-six confrontations of activity. Sekiguchi Shindai already pointed out the importance of this issue. 29) However, its importance does not simply rest in the fact that Hui-neng emphasized its significance to his ten disciples at his death bed. This part was probably added around the time when the conflict between the Northern school and the Southern school (after the death of Hui-neng) was at its peak. Therefore, its real importance lies in the fact that it mirrored the thought of the Chieh-yung t’ung ching of the Southern school, which was composed in reaction to the Fang-pien t’ung ching of the Northern school.
As was indicated by Suzuki, the essential thought of the Northern School is wu fang-pien, in which fang-pien does not refer to skill-in-means, but to the essential teachings of the Northern School. 30) With regard to this, Suzuki and Kuda (sec. 30) state:
Confrontations of activity are expressed by words in pairs.
Going and coming are in mutual relationship. Finally, two dharmas are both eliminated and there is no place to go….The understanding and function of the thirty-six confrontations of activity penetrate into all the scriptures.
Therefore, the Northern School is based on the notion of apekaya (kuan-tui) of the M?dhyamaka School in which it approaches truth through three categories: existence (senseless outer objects), essence (self-production), and concept (language used to express the characteristics of dharmas). 31) The Tun-huang text says :
The confrontations of outer phenomena, which are apathetic, are five….There are twelve confrontations, including confrontations between language and speech and between phenomena and their characteristics….In the activities to which your self-nature gives rise there are nineteen confrontations….In language and the characteristics of things there are twelve confrontations. In the external environment, which is apathetic, there are five confrontations of natural phenomena. In the three bodies, there are three confrontations, making all together thirty-six confrontations.
According to this passage, there are confrontations of existence and concept, of essence and function, and of existence and concept combined with essence and function, totaling thirty-six confrontations. The K?sh?ji edition deleted the phrase “in the three bodies, there are three confrontations” (san-shen yu san-tui) from the above citation. However, the meaning does not change32) because the term “body” (k?ya) is diverse in its meaning: a physical body, a group, a kind, and a scope.
2.4. Let’s return to Hui-neng’s autobiography and examine the scene of his farewell to his master, Hung-jen (594-674). The Tun-huang text describes it as follows,
neng te i fa san ching fa ch’u wu tsu tzu sung neng yu Chiu chiang i teng shih pien wu tsu ch’u fen ju ch’u nu li…. 能得衣法三更發去五祖自送能 於九江驛登時便五祖處分汝努力…. (Suzuki and Kuda, sec. 10).33)
This citation remains to be an issue among scholars. Due to the difficulty in marking punctuation, the passage is cited without punctuation marks or spaces between letters. There is no problem with ” neng te i fa san ching fa ch’u” More important is the position of “teng shih pien wu” from the citation and scholars state different views of this part:
(1) Suzuki and Kuda, Ui, and Chan connect the teng shih pien wu with tsu ch’u fen, i.e., teng shih pien wu tsu ch’u fen (“I was instantly enlightened and the Patriarch instructed me.”).34)
(2) Yampolsky views it as an independent phrase, thus teng shih pien wu/ wu tsu ch’u fen ju ch’u nu li (I was instantly enlightened. The Fifth Patriarch instructed me, “Leave, work hard….”).35)
(3) Yi N?ng-hwa deletes the letter wu after the letter pien, thus reading it as t?ng (teng) si (shih)/ py?n (pien) ch’?bun (ch’u fen)/ y?·(ju) g?· (ch’u no (nu) ry?k (li) (“The Fifth Patriarch immediately instructed me. “Leave, work hard…”). 36)
(4) Yanagida adds the letter ch’u after the letter pien and changes wu (五) to wu (吾): “They instantly left (The two men arose instantly). My master treated them well…”37)
It is said that Hui-neng attained sudden enlightenment and followed the instruction of the Fifth Patriarch. If the patriarch’s instruction indicates the phrase “If you stay here there are people who will harm you. You must leave at once,” it means that Hui-neng’s understanding of the instruction was too late. If the instruction points out the phrase “Leave, work hard….,” it signifies that Hui-neng’s response was too rapid. Some works even corrected letters from the citation. However, this was not conducive to clarifying the meaning of the passage. The Biographies of Liang (Liang ch’uan) describes the life of Hui-yuan (334-416), the great monk of Mount Lu, as follows:
For over thirty years, his shadow was not viewed outside of the mountain and he did not leave his footsteps in the secular world. He said good-bye to his guests always at Stream Hu.
Mr. Chen’s Record of Mount Lu (Lu-shan chi) also mentions a story of Hui-yuan with relations to T’ao Yuan-ming and Lu Shou-ching,
The master Hui-yuan was on his way to sending the two off. The three reached the place of farewell, but they passed it unknowingly while walking and talking. When they finally recognized it, they all laughed loudly, hence the picture that depicted the laughs of the three people, which is currently circular in the world. 38)
However, this record is not a fact, but is an episode that was composed at the end of the T’ang dynasty (618-979). 39) This indicates that the composition of such an episode about famous spiritual leaders was common. In addition, the Ecumenical Center of the East Mountain, which was founded by Hung-jen, was not far from the East Forest of Mount Lu. While Hung-jen’s master Tao-hsin (580-651) devoted himself to spiritual practice in Mount Shuang-feng for more than thirty years, Hung-jen taught his disciples in Mount Chin for thirty years.40) Therefore, in the passage, “His shadow was not viewed outside of the mountain and he did not leave his footsteps in the secular world,” “he” can refer to Hung-jen. If so, this means that Hung-jen and Hui-neng’s initial acquaintance developed into a master-disciple relationship. Hung-jen’s style of instructing Hui-neng lacked visible affection. For instance, Hung-jen ordered Hui-neng to pound grains for eight months. However, even Hung-jen could not protect Hui-neng from unpredicted danger of those who were jealous of Hui-neng’s religious ingenuity. When it came time for Hui-neng to depart, Hung-jen followed him as far as Station Chiu-chiang, and there he was aware that he came along seventy li.
Wu-tsu tzu sung neng/ yu Chiu-chiang i/ teng-shih pien wu
五祖自送能/ 於九江驛/ 登時便悟 (The Fifth Patriarch himself sent Hui-neng off./ At Station Chiu-chiang,/ the patriarch was instantly aware [that he was there]).
Therefore, the subject of pien wu is not Hui-neng, but Hung-jen. In addition, the object of pien wu is sung neng yu Chiu-chiang i, i.e., the fact that Hung-jen followed Hui-neng to Station Chiu-chiang without knowing it. Placing the letter chih (至) between the characters neng and yu would clarify the meaning of the cited passage. However, the absence of chih does not adversely affect our understanding of its meaning.
The term teng-shih became a Korean term, and is now found in Korean language dictionaries, 41) and often appear in historical novels. Teng-shih is pronounced in Korean as t?ngsi. It refers to both “immediately or instantly” and “on the spot.” Its lexical meaning can be examined by using t?ngsi t’asal. T?ngsi t’asal refers to killing the person who committed crime on the spot.
The issue of teng-shih includes an interesting fact of Yin-shun, a Chinese Zen scholar-monk, who interprets teng-shih pien wu into teng-ch’uan shih pien wu (“While boarding a ship, the master was instantly aware”).42) Didn’t he know the term teng-shi? Didn’t the same case occur in time of composition of the K?sh?ji edition? By adding i-chih ch’uan-tzu (“a ship”), The K?sh?ji edition reads,
Wu-tsu hsiang sung/ chih (直) chih (至) Chiu-chiang pien/
yu i-chih ch’uan-tzu/ Wu-tsu ling Hui-neng shang ch’uan…43)
五祖相送/ 直至九江便/ 有一隻船子/ 五祖令惠能上船…
(The Fifth Patriarch sent [Hui-neng] off/ He directly arrived at the vicinity of Chiu-chiang/ There was a ship and the Five Patriarch let Hui-neng board the ship.)
3.1. Let’s go back to our discussion of the reflection on and prospect of the study of the PS.
As for the issue of the reflection on the topic, first, conventional scholarship has primarily depended on the K?sh?ji edition for the textual analysis of the PS. Of course, the Tun-huang text, which is neither a xylographic work nor a copied text, is not a good one, for the same reason. However, because the Tun-huang text was a product of a particular time and place. Therefore, there are phraseologies and terminologies unique to it, which are not found in the K?sh?ji edition. In addition, the Tun-huang text is clearer than the K?sh?ji edition both in the context and in logic. Accordingly, I believe that “the worst edition of the PS” is not the Tun-huang text, but the K?sh?ji edition. Therefore, the contextual revision of the Tun-huang text on the basis of the K?sh?ji edition can be likened to move the target to the flowing arrow. We have to bear it in mind that the best commentary on the Tun-huang text is the Tun-huang text itself.
Second, with regard to the prospect of research on the PS, we need to broaden our scholarly horizon to diverse fields relevant to the work. Traditional scholarship has primarily depended on Buddhist texts, poetry, poetic tales, and songs for research on the subject. However, an in-depth investigation of the social, economic, and intellectual background to the composition of the PS is a must subject. This is because words used and topics discussed in the Zen Buddhist tradition have diverse meanings according to the situation under investigation.
Third, the Zen school initially had elements of doctrinal teachings in both terms and thought. Therefore, a better understanding of the context and the essential themes of the PS will be impossible without a thorough analysis of the relationship between the Zen school and doctrinal teachings. I believe that a clarification of the contextual relationship between the Tun-huang text of the PS and doctrinal Buddhist texts will be one of the most important subjects of research on the PS in the future.
3.2. In his “Prolegomena” Imanuel Kant (1724-1804) said, “Human beings build up a pagoda of reason over and over again. Then, they destroy it in order to examine whether its foundation was firmly settled or not.”44) In conclusion, in my discussion of the reflection on and prospect of the study of the PS, I share a common view with Kant.
Select Character List
Akira Fujieda 藤枝晃
Ch’ao-ch’i shan ti Liu-tsu Hui-neng ta-shih shuo chien-hsing tun-chiao chih liao ch’eng-fo chu-ting wu-i fa-pao chi t’an ching 曹溪山第六祖惠能大師 說見性頓敎直了成佛決定無疑法寶記壇經
chang tzu 障自
chen-lu tzu-hsing 眞如自性
ch’eng tzu 呈自
Chieh-yung t’ung ching 解用通經
chien tzu 見自
Chiu T’ang-shu 舊唐書
Dai ni Zens?shi kenkyuu
Danky? g? 壇經考
En? kenkyuu 慧能硏究
Fang-pien t’ung ching
Ho-tse Ta-shih Hsien-tsung’chi
Hu Shih 胡謫
Kuda Rendar? 公田連太郞
Leng-yen ching 楞嚴經
Liang ch’uan 梁傳
ling tzu 令自
Liu-tsu t’an ching 六祖檀經
Lu Shou-ching 陸修精
Lu-shan chi 廬山記
Meisha yoin 鳴沙餘韻
Nan-tsung tun-chiao tsui-shang ta-ch’eng Mo-ho-pan-jo po-lo-mi ching: Liu-tsu ta-shih yu Shao-chou Ta-fan ssu shih-fa t’an ching 南宗頓敎最上大乘摩何般若婆羅密經六祖大師於韶州大梵寺施法壇經 卷
Nan-tsung tun-chiao chui-shang ta-ch’eng t’an ching
Nan-yang Hui-chung 南嶽慧忠
P’u-ti ta-mo Nan-tsung ting shih-fei lun 菩提達磨南宗定是非論
Rokuso danky? 六祖檀經
san-shih liu tui fa 三十六對法
Sekuchi Shindai 關口眞人
shih tzu 識自
shih tzu pen-hsin 識自本心
Shuang-feng (shan) 雙峯(山)
Suzuki Daisetz 鈴木大拙
T’an ching chiao shih 壇經校釋
T’an ching tsan 壇經讚
T’ao Yuan-ming 陶淵明
Taish? shinshuu daiz?ky?
Tonhwang pon tan’gy?ng
Tonk? shutsudo rokuso danky?
Tun-wu wu-sheng pan-lo sung
t?ngsi t’asal 登時打殺
tzu chien 自見
tzu shih 自識
tzu shih pen-shin 自識本心
Ui Hakuju 宇井伯壽
wo tzu 悟眞
wu fang-pien 五方便
Yabuki Keiki 矢吹慶輝
Yanagida Seijan 柳田聖山
Yang Tseng-wen 楊曾文
Yi N?ng-hwa 李能和
1). Former Professor of the Academy of Korean Studies.
2) The translator owes much to Philip B. Yampolsky’s the platform sutra of the sixth patriarch (New York: Columbia University Press, 1967), for the translation of the Tun-huang text of the Platform Suutra cited in this presentation paper, however, if applicable, with some revision.
3) Yanagida Seijan, Buddhist Texts Founded in Tun-huang and Zen (Dank? Butsuden to Zen) (Taid? shupansha, 1980), pp. 19-50.
4) Yanagida Seijan, ibid., p. 49.
5) Chung-wai jih-pao, October. 23, 1987 (mien 11). The two texts were originally owned by Jen Tzu-i. Hsiang Ta, Professor of Peijing University, introduced them in his Hsi cheng hsiao chi in 1950.
6) Kim Ji-kyon, “Kory? Chinul no Tan’gy?ng Palmun ni tsuite,” Indogaku Bukky?gaku kenkyuu 15-1.
7) Ennin, Nitt? shin kyuu seiky? mokuroku, T 55, p. 1083b)
8) Hu Shih, “I-chu liang-chung,” p. 862: Hu-shih, “An appeal for a systematic search in Japan for long-hidden T’ang dynasty source-material of the early history of Zen Buddhism,” in Hu Shih Ch’an-hsueh an (Cheng-chung shu-chu, 1975), p. 66.
9) Suzuki Daisetzu, Zen shis? shi kenkyuu dai san (Iwanami shoten, 1968), p. 290 and passim. This is a common opinion among scholars.
10) Yanagida Seijan, “Goroku no rekishi,” in Toy? kakuh? 57 (1985): 404.
11) Hsin-chin wen-chi, chuan 3, T 2115.52.662c.
12) Suzuki and Kuda, Tonk? shutsudo rokuso danky?, p. 17.
13) Yanagida Seijan, ed., Rokuso danky? daibon chuusei (Juumon shupansha, 1976), p. 53.
14) Dakasaki Jikido, Ry?kaky? (Taish? shupansha, 1980), p. 175. As for an example of translation of this term, refer to King?ky? (Iwanami bungobon), p. 210.
15) Ui Hakuju, Dai ni Zenshuu shi kenkyuu, p. 186.
16) Wing-tsit Chan, The Platform Scripture, p. 27.
17) Philip B. Yampolsky, The Platform Suutra of the Sixth Patriarch, p. 126.
18) Nakagawa Takashi, Rokuso danky? (Tsukuba shobo, 1976), p. 18.
19) Philip B. Yampolsky, The Platform Suutra of the Sixth Patriarch, p. 90, note 2.
20) Hu Shih, I-chu liang-chung, pp. 879-882; and Hu Shih, Shen-hui ho-shang
i-chi (Hu Shih chi-nien kuan, 1968), pp. 193-195, pp. 396-399.
21) Ch’uan-deng lu 30, T 2076.51.458c-459b.
22) Chan, The Platform Scripture, p. 22.
23) Philip B. Yampolsky, The Platform Suutra of the Sixth Patriarch, p. 64; Yanagida Seijan, “Rokuso danky?”, pp. 178-179.
24) Yanagida Seijan, Shoki Zenshuu shi no kenkyuu (Zen bunka kenkyuusho, 1966), p. 164.
25) Gilbert Ryle, The Concept of Mind (New York: Barnes & Noble Inc., 1949), p. 7: “The Philosophical arguments which constitute this book are intended not to increase what we know about mind, but to rectify the logical geography of the knowledge which we already possess.”
26) S?kch?n Pak Han-y?ng, S?kch?n mun soch’o (Seoul: P?ppow?n, 1962), 3b-4a.
27) Pak Chong-hong, Chis?ng kwa mosaek (Seoul: Pagy?ngsa, 1967), p. 127.
28) Pak Chong-hong, ibid., p. 128.
29) Sekiguchi Shindai, Zenshuu shis? shi (Sangibo bushorin, 1964), p. 131.
30) Suzuki Daisetz, Zen shis? shi kenkyuu dai san, p. 35.
31) This can be compared with Hegel’s theory of the dialectical development of existence, essence, and concept in his Wissenschaft der Logik.
32) Yampolsky viewed the san-shen yu san-tui as pleonasm and deleted it from his translation (The Platform Suutra of the Sixth Patriarch, p. 172, n. 257).
33) “I set out at midnight with the robe and the Dharma. The Fifth Patriarch saw me off as far as Chiu-chiang Station. I was instantly enlightened. The Fifth Patriarch instructed me: ‘Leave, work hard…’ (Yampolsky, The Platform Suutra of the Sixth Patriarch, p. 133).
34) Suzuki Daisetz and Goda Rendar?, Tonk? shutsudo rokuso danky?, p. 10; Ui Hakuju, “Danky? g?,” p. 122; Wing-tsit Chan, The Platform Scripture, the Basic Classic of Zen Buddhism, pp. 42-43.
35) Yampolsky, The Platform Suutra of the Sixth Patriarch, p. 133.
36) Yi N?ng-hwa, Tonhwang Tang sabon Tan’gy?ng. Tan’gy?ng tugy?l, p. 7b.
37) Yanagida Seijan, Zengoroku 3, p. 105.
38) Lu-shan chi, T 2095.51.1028a.
39) Matsumoto Bunzabur? Bukky? shi zakk? (Tokyo: Sh?ensha, 1943), p. 65.
40) Sekiguchi Shindai, Zenshuu shis? shi, p. 90.
41) Sin Ki-ch’?l, Sin K?m-ch’?l, Uri mal k’?n saj?n, vol. 1, p. 975.
42) Yin-shun, Chung-kuo Ch’an-tsung shih (Taipei: Kuang-i yin-shu chu, 1997), p. 191: “Wu-tsu tzu neng yu Chiu-chiang i teng (ch’uan) shih pien wu-tsu ch’u-fen…”
43) Yanagida Seijan, ed., Rokuso danky? daibon chuusei, p. 52.
44) I. Kant, “Prolegomena zu einer jeden kunftigen Metaphysik,” Felix Meiner Verlag, Hamburg, 1969), p. 2: “Denn die menschliche Vernunft ist so baulustig, daß sie mehrmalen den Turm aufgefuhrt, hernach aber wieder abgetragen hat, um zu sehen, wieden Fundament desselben wohl beschaffen sein mochte.”