Bulguksa dabotap & seokgatap

Bulguksa dabotap National Treasures 20

Dabotap Pagoda and Seokgatap Pagoda (Sakyamuni pagoda) (Bulguksa Temple’s three-story stone pagoda, National Treasure No. 21) are the two representative pagodas in Korea. The height of the two is the same of 10.4m. The two pagodas stand facing each other at the yard, one in the east and the other in the west, between Hall of Sakyamuni and Jahamun Gate in Bulguksa Temple. The one in the east is Dabotap Pagoda. This pagoda is a representative special-type pagoda, and Seokgatap Pagoda (Sakyamuni pagoda) a representative general-type stone pagoda. The reason of building the two pagodas at the same site is to follow the content of Beophwagyeong (the Lotus Sutra) that the ‘past Buddha’ Dabo Buddha is standing beside the ‘present Buddha’ Sakyamuni to prove that his Buddhist sermon is right.

Bulguksa Temple was founded by Kim Daeseong’s offer in the 10th year (751) of King Gyeongdeok in Silla Period. Samgukyusa (“History of the Three Kingdoms”) says that Kim Daeseong built Seokguram Temple for his parents in his former life and Bulguksa Temple for his present parents. However, the construction of this temple was not finished till he died, and so it was finished afterwards by the Kingdom. After all, the temple was built not for the individual Kim Daeseong but for the Kingdom. Bulguksa Temple can be said to be the materialized Buddhist Elysium, or paradise where the past, present, and future Buddhist monks live. It shows the spirit world of the people in Silla Period very well.

We can easily see that Seokgatap Pagoda (Sakyamuni pagoda) is a 3-story pagoda standing on 2-story platform. But It is difficult to count the number of stories in Dabotap Pagoda. In fact, even experts have confusing opinions, some saying it is 4-story, others saying it is 3-story. However, the uniqueness of Dabotap Pagoda can be found at the structure of each part.

In the whole figure, 2-story rooms as pagoda body stand on the platform, and head decorations are on the top. The planes are cut to be square at the platform, and octagonal at the parts above it. Uniquely, it seems that there were stone staircases with guardrails on the four direction of the platform. But only stone pillars are left on both sides presently. They built the octagonal pagoda body after surrounding square guardrails around it. And they carved octagonal guardrails, bamboo joint-shaped stone pillars, and sixteen pieces of lotus flower design on the pagoda body. The skill is so excellent that we can’t imagine they carved from stones. The head decoration of Seokgatap Pagoda (Sakyamuni pagoda) is a restored one, while that of Dabotap Pagoda almost perfectly remains as it used to be.

This work is a masterpiece that excellently expresses the complicated structure of wooden construction without distraction through novel ideas. The work evidently shows the artistic essence of the United Silla Kingdom in that it has the well-organized structure using squares, octagons, and circles, and in that the length, width and thickness are standardized in every part. The pagoda seems to have been built in 751 when Bulguksa Temple was freshly remodeled with a large scale.

It is unfortunate that Dabotap Pagoda entirely contains the sorrow that the people felt when the Japanese Empire deprived them of the country. The Japanese dismantled and repaired the pagoda around 1925, but they didn’t leave any record about this fact. In the process, sarira, sarira casket and other relics that must have been put into the pagoda all disappeared. And out of four lions that were on the stone staircases of the pagoda, the Japanese Empire robbed us of three lions that must have been in good condition. Though we have long made efforts to retrieve the precious cultural properties, we can’t find their trace yet.


Bulguksa Samcheungseoktap (Seokgatap) National Treasures 21

Bulguksa Temple’s Samcheungseoktap pagoda (three-story stone pagoda) and Bulguksa Temple’s Dabotap pagoda (National Treasure No. 20) are respectively situated in the east and west of the front yard of the temple’s Hall of Sakyamuni. The reason of building the two pagodas at the same site is to follow the content of Beophwagyeong (the Lotus Sutra) that the ‘past Buddha’ Dabo Buddha is standing beside the ‘present Buddha’ Sakyamuni to prove that his Buddhist sermon is right.

Bulguksa Temple was founded by Kim Daeseong’s offer in the 10th year (751) of King Gyeongdeok in Silla Period. Samgukyusa (History of the Three Kingdoms) says that Kim Daeseong built Seokguram Temple for his parents in his former life and Bulguksa Temple for his present parents. However, the construction of this temple was not finished till he died in December of the 10th year (774) of King Hyegong, and so finished afterwards by the Kingdom. After all, the temple was built not for the individual Kim Daeseong but for the Kingdom. Bulguksa Temple can be said to be the materialized Buddhist Elysium, or paradise where the past, present, and future Buddhist monks live. It shows the spirit world of the people in Silla Period very well.

This pagoda is a stone pagoda in which the 3-story pagoda body stands on the 2-story platform. Gameunsajidongseo 3-story stone pagoda and Goseonsaji 3-story stone pagoda were the beginning and model of the United Silla Kingdom’s stone pagoda style that got to its peak in the middle of 8th century. The 2-story platform was made strong enough to sustain the whole weight of the pagoda. Imitating wooden construction style, the pagoda was made to have stone pillar-shaped carvings at each corner of the upper and lower platform. It is because that this pagoda was remade in 1973, imitating the head decoration of Silsangsa 3-story stone pagoda (treasure No. 37) in Namwon that was made 100 years later than Seokgatap Pagoda (Sakyamuni pagoda). The pagoda is marked out, being surrounded by stones that have lotus flower designs in every direction. It is separated to stand for the divine place for Buddha’s sarira. The mark makes the pagoda look grander, being a characteristic of the pagoda that cannot be easily found elsewhere.

Since its building, the original figure had been preserved properly, but it is very sorry that the pagoda was damaged by robbers in September of 1966. Afterwards in December of the same year, the pagoda was perfectly reconstructed, and at that time, they found out a square space where Buddha’s sarira had been seated, from the front side of the core of the 2-story pagoda body. Seokgatap Pagoda (Sakyamuni pagoda) is also called ‘Muyeongtap pagoda’ meaning the pagoda doesn’t have a shadow.

Stupas or Pagodas

Stupas or Pagodas

A stupa is a memorial — a symbol of the Buddha, as the principle of enlightenment, pointing indirectly to both the teacher and his teachings.
It is specifically a reminder of his final passing of the Buddha since sometimes it enshrines relics. In the early days, before Buddha statues were enshrined in temple halls, a stupa was the object of worship.
Traditionally, stupas are built in the central area of temples. There are two types of relics enshrined in a stupa: Buddha-sari (physical relics) and Dharma-sari or sutras (the Buddha’s teachings). On the surface of a stupa you will sometimes find carved figures of the Buddha, bodhisattvas or congregated guardians. Occasionally, wind-chimes hang from the corners of its roof and make beautiful sounds when a breeze blows.
A pagoda is the general term in English for a tiered tower with multiple eaves common to Nepal, China, Korea, Japan and other parts of Asia.
Pagodas in Korea were made of wood, earth, brick, stone or other materials.

Wooden Pagodas

Ssangbongsa Daeungjeon
Ever since Buddhism was first introduced to Korea in the late 4th century, the custom of building wooden pagodas became popular. Until recently, there were only two wooden pagodas remaining, preserved in Korea as cultural heritage objects: the Palsangjeon at the Beopjusa Temple and the Daeungjeon at the Ssangbongsa Temple, both used as Main Halls.

Palsangjeon, a five-story wooden pagoda, at Beopjusa Temple
Palsangjeon, literally, means hall of eight pictures. These eight pictures are of the acts performed by the Buddha in order to save people. The existing Palsangjeon is a square, wooden building with a five-tiered roof, 22.7 meters in height, with a surface area of eight square meters. It stands on a stone platform with an entrance at each of the cardinal directions. There are several structural characteristics to this Pagoda. For example, it has a central pillar running up the middle of the building, an inner frame of four stories in height with a log structure on top, and an outer frame ending at the third story.

The inside of the building is made up of three parts: the place to store the relics of the Buddha, the place to enshrine the statue of the Buddha and Palsangdo, the pictures of the eight scenes and a place for paying homage to Buddha.
All historical records of the Palsangjeon have been lost. Two inscriptions, however, were discovered during major repair work done in 1968. The dates of the inauguration of this building are on the relic container underneath the central pillar, and the other is on the main ridge of the roof. According to the inscription records, the relic was enshrined in 1605 and the roof frame was completed in 1626. The construction period lasted twenty-one years.

Stone Pagodas
There are many stone pagoda remains preserved in Korea. The first stone pagodas were built in the middle of the 6th century after two centuries of building wooden pagodas. The Silla stone pagodas and those of Baekje origin are distinguishable due to the techniques used and the design. They differ in the material used and the tectonic form adopted. In Silla, granite was used and the design was taken from wooden pagodas. In Baekje, andesite alone or mixed with granite was used and the design following this was brick-style masonry. A pagoda is basically divided into three parts: its foundation, body and finial.

Jeongnimsa Five-story Pagoda

The five-story stone pagoda on the site of Jeongnimsa Temple

The five-story stone pagoda at Jeongnimsa Temple was built during the Baekje Period (18B.C. –A.D. 660) along with the stone pagoda on the site of Mireuksa Temple in Iksan-si City. Believed to date back to the early seventh century, it is one of the oldest and most exemplary of the many stone pagodas still existing today.

The five-story pagoda body stands on a single narrow, low pedestal. Pillar stones are fixed in the middle and on the corners of each side of the pedestal. There are pillars at each corner of the body on each story. The roof stones are thin, wide and raised at the ends of the eaves to make them look elegant. From all this, we can guess that this pagoda was built following the design of a wooden building – a main characteristic of this pagoda. The whole figure is very majestic and beautiful and it is particularly prized because it is one of the two remaining stone pagodas from Baekje Period.

Gameunsa Twin Pagodas

The twin three-story stone pagodas on the site of Gameunsa Temple

These magnificent twin pagodas, built in the 7th century, are the biggest existing pagodas of their kind in the Gyeongju area. A pair of pagodas of the same size and style is found on the site of Gameunsa Temple. Traditionally, there were two types of temple layout. One was with one Main Hall and one pagoda. The other was first introduced at Gameunsa Temple and consists of twin pagodas for one Main Hall.
The twin pagodas have a three-story body on a two-tier foundation, creating an impression of stability and height. This impression is further increased by the main body of the first story, which is much taller than those of the other stories and a long, piercing mast as the finial. Something to take special notice of is each portion of the two pagodas is comprised of lots of stone pieces instead of a single stone. The pagodas have a carefully balanced ratio of one part to the next, which further increases the impression of dignity and magnificence. When the west pagoda was repaired in 1960, a royal palanquin-shaped relic container was retrieved from the third story.
Of all the pagodas in Korea, the two most representative pagodas at the same site are: the Pagoda of Many Gems and the Three-storey stone Pagoda of Sakyamuni in the world of Humanity at Bulguksa Temple. The reason for building the two pagodas at the same site is to follow the statement found in the Lotus Sutra that the Buddha of the past –Dabo — is standing beside the Buddha of the present — Sakyamuni — to witness the Buddha’s teachings.

Bulguksa Dabotap

The Pagoda of Many Gems at Bulguksa (다보탑, Dabotap)

The Dabotap stands to the right as one faces the Main Hall of the world of Humanity at Bulguksa — the Temple of Buddha Land. “Dabo” means “many Gems,” and the Dabotap is dedicated to the Dabo Yorae — the Buddha of Many Gems. Dabo was a disciple of Sakyamuni who eventually achieved enlightenment. Historically, there are records of a Dabotap being built in China in 732; the pagoda at Bulguksa was built less than twenty years later.

The three-story stone pagoda of Sakyamuni at Bulguksa (석가탑, Seokgatap)
The 8.2 meter high three-story pagoda is considered Korea’s most common stone pagoda and is even pictured on the 10 won coin. Indeed, along with the twin pagodas at Gameunsa, Seokgatap follows the “golden mean” in Silla pagoda architecture. During the restoration work in 1966, a wood-block printing plate containing a section of the Dharani Sutra was found in Seokgatap. This is considered to be the world’s oldest surviving wood-block printing plate.

The brick-shaped three-story stone pagoda on the site of Bunhwangsa Temple (모전석탑, Mojeonseoktap)
The pagoda of Bunhwangsa Temple is the oldest remaining stone pagoda of Silla origin. It was built in the 7th century. It is a stone masonry pagoda built by piling stones that were trimmed with charcoal-grey andesite. cut crudely into bricks. There is a record that the pagoda was originally nine-stories high, but today only three stories are left. Together with the nine-story wooden pagoda of Hwangryongsa Temple, it was built to supplicate the Buddha’s protection of the nation and the Queen’s reign.
This pagoda stands on a square single-story platform made of natural stones with a granite lion at each of the four corners of the platform. The pagoda body is presently only three-stories high and has been made by piling small brick-shaped stones trimmed from charcoal-grey andesite. Compared with the first-story core, it is prominently reduced in size from the second story on. There is a doorway complete with a stone lintel, threshold, doorjamb and two doors on each side of the first level. A pair of Vajrapani, guardians of Buddhism, stands sentinel at each doorway. The roof stone is like a brick pagoda that has staircase-shaped stories at both the upper and the lower part. Only the upper part of the three-story roof stone is square pillar-shaped. There are lotus flowers in full-bloom carved in the granite.

Gyeongcheonsa Pagoda

The ten-story marble pagoda of Gyeongcheonsa Temple

This pagoda was taken to Japan during the Japanese occupation period of Korea and relocated to the Gyeongbokgung Palace in 1960.
According to an inscription on the first story, this pagoda was erected in the 14th century. This 13 meter-high, ten-story pagoda is unusually made of marble, distinguishing itself from other pagodas of Goryeo origin. The three-tiered platform holds the first three stories of the pagoda. They are all cross-shaped with each part going out in the four directions. The next seven stories are square. Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and flower designs are sculptured on them. From the fourth story up, each story has railings and hipped-and-gabled roofs, suggestive of a wooden building with a tiled roof. The eaves of the roofs appear to have been influenced by the wooden architecture of the period, which makes them an important object of study for understanding the architecture of that time period.


In Korean, temples and palaces are painted in a particular style called “Dancheong”. Tanch’ong means “red and blue”, the principal colours used in these colourful cosmic designs. Originally arriving with Buddhism when it was brought from China, the patterns of tanch’ong were modified in Korea. Dancheong preserves the wood from insects and the elements and adds glory and richness to the buildings.

The outside eaves, the inside rafters and the ceilings are covered with intricate Dancheong patterns. On the main temple beams and among the rafters, interwoven between the patterns, you will find pictures of spirits, ancient monks, Bodhisattvas and dragons, to name a few. It is said that during the Shilla period, Dancheong was even found on commoners’ home. Now it is limited to temples and palaces as well as some musical instruments.

Buddhist paintings are not only beautiful but also full of meaning. Symbols are included in the paintings; beauty and meaning are interrelated to instruct the visitor on his spiritual quest, reminding him of the path.

On the outside ends of big buildings, up towards the roof, you will see three circles. These represent heaven, earth and man, the three important things that Dangun, the mythological founder of Korea, is supposed to have brought with him. They have come to represent the Buddha, his teaching and the community of Buddhists.

Lotuses, are another common symbol found in Buddhist paintings, are to be seen in many forms. The lotus grows from mud (representing ignorance) up to the clear sunlight (representing enlightenment).

The symbol of the fish is often painted on the main Buddha table. It represents the effort and determination necessary for attaining enlightenment, for the fish supposedly, never closes its eyes.

If you look closely, you will find swastika everywhere: on the outside of buildings, woven into patterns, even in the decorations in the subways and in roadside railings. The swastika is an ancient Buddhist symbol of peace, harmony and good luck.

Buddhist Painting, Dancheong

Buddhist Painting, Dancheong

The Ten Oxherding Pictures

Ten Oxherding
1 ◀The Search for the Bull▶
The bull never has  been lost.  What  need is there to  search?
Only because of separation  from my true  nature, I fail to  find
him.  In the confusion of the senses I lose even his tracks.  Far
from home, I see many crossroads,  but which way is the  right
one I know not.  Greed and fear, good and bad, entangle me.

Ten Oxherding
2 ◀Discovering the Footprints▶
Understanding the  teaching, I   see the footprints  of  the bull.
Then I learn  that, just  as many  utensils are  made from  one
metal, so  too are  myriad entities  made of  the fabric  of self.
Unless I  discriminate, how  will I  perceive the  true from  the
untrue?  Not yet having  entered the gate,  nevertheless I have
discerned the path.

Ten Oxherding
3 ◀Perceiving the Bull▶
When one hears the voice, one can sense its source.
As  soon  as  the  six  senses  merge,   the gate   is entered.
Wherever one enters one sees the head of the  bull!  This unity
is like salt in water, like color  in dyestuff. 
The slightest thing is not apart from self.

Ten Oxherding
4 ◀Catching the Bull▶
He dwelt in the forest  a long time, but  I caught him today! 
Infatuation for scenery interferes  with his direction. 
Longing for sweeter  grass, he wanders away.
His mind still is stubborn and unbridled.
If I  wish him to submit, I must raise my whip.

Ten Oxherding
5 ◀Taming the Bull▶
When one  thought arises,  another thought  follows.
When  the first thought springs from
enlightenment, all subsequent thoughts are true.
Through delusion, one makes everything untrue.
Delusion is not caused by objectivity;  it is the result  of
subjectivity. Hold the nose-ring
tight and do not allow even a doubt.

Ten Oxherding
6 ◀Riding the Bull Home▶
This struggle is over; gain  and loss are assimilated. 
I sing the song of the village woodsman, and play the tunes
of the children.
Astride the bull, I observe the clouds  above.
Onward I go,  no matter who may  wish to call me back.

Ten Oxherding
7 ◀The Bull Transcended▶
All is  one law,  not two.  
We only make  the bull  a  temporary subject.
It is as the relation of rabbit and trap, of fish and net.
It is as gold and dross, or the moon emerging from a cloud.
One path of clear light travels on throughout endless time.

Ten Oxherding
8 ◀Both Bull and Self Transcended▶
Mediocrity is gone.  Mind is clear  of limitation. 
I seek no  state of enlightenment.
Neither do  I remain  where no  enlightenment exists.
Since I linger in neither condition, eyes cannot see me.
If hundreds of birds strew my path with flowers,
such praise would be meaningless.

Ten Oxherding
9 ◀Reaching the Source▶
From the beginning, truth is clear. Poised  in silence,
I observe the forms of integration and disintegration.
One who is  not attached to “form” need not be “reformed.”
The water is emerald, the mountain is indigo,  and I  see that
which is creating  and that which is destroying.

Ten Oxherding
10 ◀In the World▶
Inside my gate, a thousand sages do  not know me.
The beauty of my garden is invisible.
Why should one search for the footprints of the patriarchs?
I go to  the market place with my  wine bottle and
return home with my staff. I visit the wineshop and the market,
and everyone I look upon becomes enlightened.

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

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


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

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

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


II. Early Reports on Ch’an

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

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


III. Search for the Origins of Ch’an

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

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

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

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


IV. Zen Orientalism

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

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


V. Choson Period Son Buddhism

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

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

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


VI. Contemporary Studies

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

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

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

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


VII. Korean Son

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

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

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

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

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


(A) Transmission of the Dharma

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

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

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

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


(B) Anti-Textual Positions

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

Toui confronted Chiwon, a scholastic, with the statement:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


(C) Harmonization of Texts and Meditation

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

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

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

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

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

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


D. Korean Son and Religious Suppression

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bodhidharma’s Practice of Recompense and Formation of Chan Buddhism

Kiyotaka Kimura(木村淸孝)
University of Tokyo

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


1. Classification of Chan

2. Chan of Tathaagat and Chan of Patriarchs

3. Bodhidharma’s practice of recompense and its succession



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

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

1. Classification of Chan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


2. Chan of Tathaagat and Chan of Patriarchs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


3. Bodhidharma’s practice of recompense and its succession

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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


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

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

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

transmission of robe and Dharma?)

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

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

Eventually, he could establish [the dharma].

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

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

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

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

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

Tun-hung Text

K?sh?ji Edition

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

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

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

to think even when involved in thought.

Non-abiding is the original nature of man.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Therefore, non-form is made the substance.

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

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

Tun-huang Text

K?sh?ji Edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bodhi originally has no tree,

The mirror also has no stand.

Buddha-nature is always clean and pure.

Where is there room for dust?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Confrontations of activity are expressed by words in pairs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

五祖相送/ 直至九江便/ 有一隻船子/ 五祖令惠能上船…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Select Character List

Akira Fujieda 藤枝晃

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

chang tzu 障自

Ch’i-sung 契崇

chen-lu tzu-hsing 眞如自性

ch’eng tzu 呈自

Chieh-yung t’ung ching 解用通經

chien tzu 見自

ching-fa 經法

Chinul 知訥

chio-ch’u 卓麴

Chiu T’ang-shu 舊唐書

Dai ni Zens?shi kenkyuu


Danky? g? 壇經考

En? kenkyuu 慧能硏究

Fang-pien t’ung ching


Fo-ching 佛經

Ho-tse Ta-shih Hsien-tsung’chi


Hu Shih 胡謫

Hui-hsin 惠昕

Hui-neng 慧能

Hui-yuan 慧遠

Hung-jen 弘忍

Keimeikai 啓明會

K?sh?ji(bon) 興聖寺(本)

kuan-tien 官店

kuan-tui 觀對

Kuda Rendar? 公田連太郞

Leng-yen ching 楞嚴經

Liang ch’uan 梁傳

ling tzu 令自

Liu-tsu t’an ching 六祖檀經

Lu Shou-ching 陸修精

lu-lung 旅籠

Lu-shan chi 廬山記

Meisha yoin 鳴沙餘韻

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

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


Nan-yang Hui-chung 南嶽慧忠

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

Rokuso danky? 六祖檀經

san-shih liu tui fa 三十六對法

Sekuchi Shindai 關口眞人

shih tzu 識自

shih tzu pen-hsin 識自本心

Shuang-feng (shan) 雙峯(山)

S?ngch’?l 性徹

Suzuki Daisetz 鈴木大拙

T’an ching chiao shih 壇經校釋

T’an ching tsan 壇經讚

T’ao Yuan-ming 陶淵明

Taish? shinshuu daiz?ky?


Tao-hsin 道信

te-jen 得人

teng-shih 登時

Tonhwang pon tan’gy?ng


Tonk? shutsudo rokuso danky?


Tun-wu wu-sheng pan-lo sung


t?ngsi 登時

t?ngsi t’asal 登時打殺

tzu chien 自見

tzu shih 自識

tzu shih pen-shin 自識本心

Ui Hakuju 宇井伯壽

wo tzu 悟眞

wu fang-pien 五方便

Wu-chen 悟眞

Yabuki Keiki 矢吹慶輝

Yanagida Seijan 柳田聖山

Yang Tseng-wen 楊曾文

Yi N?ng-hwa 李能和

Zengoroku 禪語錄


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

38) Lu-shan chi, T 2095.51.1028a.

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

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

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

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

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

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