The Differences between Investigating the Hwadu and Contemplating the Hwadu

The Investigation of the Hwadu and the Contemplation of the Hwadu

The investigation of the hwadu and its contemplation are definitely different. The investigation of the hwadu means to give rise to the feeling of doubt about the hwadu, whereas the contemplation means to concentrate the mind on the hwadu. One must investigate the hwadu, for it is difficult to produce a genuine doubt only by concentration. While investigation is the endless persistence in the condition that achieves the feeling of doubt fully, on the other hand, contemplation is the continuing concentration and observation of any phenomena or things as they are. So there are large differences on this point.

If one contemplates hwadu, the contemplating I and the observed hwadu come to be divided from each other. In such a condition of the separation of host and guest, if the hwadu is objectified and contemplated, this is not taking up the hwadu, but is the observation that follows after the hwadu. If one divides the subject I and the object hwadu, inevitably that separates I and the object, the subject and the object, I and hwadu. Therefore when one looks at contemplation of the hwadu structurally, one cannot deny that it is a relativistic standpoint.

Of course, through such contemplation one can achieve a mental unification. Excluding the wandering mind, one can unify the mind and enter into the state of clarity. However, this is not a hwadu samādhi in which the hwadu and I are one. Wherever, it is only a relativistic state that is projected into my consciousness. Thus the object that is illuminated in this realm is not a pure feature that is an object that surfaces in my consciousness. Because that does not cast off the subject and object completely, it cannot be thorough.

The investigation of hwadu must transcend all dichotomous realms of subject and object, I and you. If it cannot be so, one will not be able to cast off completely the oppositional discriminative consciousness. It is called being at the top of a hundred foot pole and advancing one step. One has to step one pace forward on top of a pole one hundred feet in length. To reach the origin, this means that one can be free and independent once one has transcended even the origin.

Why mustn’t one contemplate the hwadu?

Seon Master Huineng, the Sixth Patriarch, who founded Patriarchal Seon, criticized the watching of the mind and the watching of purity in sitting meditation as mistaken. In short, in achieving sudden enlightenment and seeing the nature, seeing the mind and even seeing it as pure becomes an obstacle. All objectifying methods of contemplation are incorrect.

If one tries to find a pure mind or tries to see the mind, Seon Master Huineng warned against vainly giving rise to the delusion of “the pure mind.” Moreover, he indicated the mind that one tries to find itself is a delusion. This is the same principle as the eyeball cannot see the eyeball. If one tries to find the mind with the mind, not only can one not find the mind, that seeking mind itself is a delusion.

Therefore, Seon Master Huineng also said, “One cannot calm the mind with the mind, one cannot halt the mind with the mind, and one cannot operate the mind with the mind.” This is because this is to create yet another mind and objectify it. If one happens to try to find the pure mind, on the contrary, one will fall into the discriminated mind of the pure mind and the false mind, and fall into the objectified mind. If one objectifies and contemplates the mind, as Seon Master Huineng indicates, it becomes the discriminating mind and the relativistic mind.

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