Huyan Theoretical Interpretation on Jinul’s Sudden Enlightenment and Gradual Cultivation

Seok Gil-am / Researcher,
Geumgang Center for Buddhist Studies

This paper is aimed to analyze meaning with Jinul’s Sudden Enlightenment and Gradual Cultivation from view of Huayan theory of Nature Arising (性起, Xingqi).

Nature Arising occupies the core position in Huayan thought. It is explained as the world where the Non- Discriminated and Originally Non-Moved Tranquillity is identified with the Non-Discriminated Arising. Thus, in respect that the Non-Discriminated and Originally Non-Moved Nature is described by Nature’s Arising, main characteristic of Nature Arising theory lies in positive stressing Buddha’s World as presented in Sentient Beings’ mind. The fact that both Zhiyan (智儼) and Uisang (義湘) emphasize that the Chapter on Samanthabhadra’s Practice (普賢行品) is included in Nature Arising, informs us that they take the core of Nature Arising as Arising’s union with Nature.

As represented by “As soon as s/he arises his/her mind for the first time, s/he attains right Enlightenment,” Huayan theory of becoming Buddha is generally said to be “First Abide Becoming Buddha” (住初成佛) or “Full Faith Becoming Buddha.” (信滿成佛) However, it just means entering the world of Enlightenment. Rather, the focus of “First Abide Becoming Buddha” lies in having firm faith in the world of Originally Non-Moving as the original aspect of the world. It is the reason why Samanthabhadra’s Practice as both causal practice and resultant practice is contained in Huayan Buddhism.

Even though Jinul’s thinking of Sudden Enlightenment and Gradual Cultivation seems to also correspond to this, it has subtle difference from this. Jinul’s Sudden Enlightenment which stresses Function of one’s own Wisdom is different from Huineng (慧能)’s Sudden Enlightenment emphasizing Function of Wisdom of outer objects. It has also difference from the fact that Huayan Nature Arising identifies Arising with Nature as the original nature and that already has placed Samanthabhadra’s Practice on the original aspect of Nature Arising. In this point, there is a reason why Jinul puts Gradual Cultivation as the practice followed enlightening after Sudden Enlightenment. Because he asserts Sudden Enlightenment with emphasizing its characteristic as Function of one’s own Wisdom, his idea should be different from Huayan Nature Arising focusing on Arising, and, consequently, he has no choice but present Gradual Cultivation.

In other hand, it might be because he intends to explain Buddhist characteristic as the practice after enlightening like the compassion practice and Buddha’s practice. Though expressed as the practice after enlightening, Jinul’s Sudden Enlightenment and Gradual Cultivation might reveal his will to search the character- istic of Buddhism not within the enlightenment itself but within the practice after one’s enlightenment. Thus, Jinul’s Sudden Enlightenment and Gradual Cultivation is the idea transformed, by his intention focused on Gradual Cultivation, from Nature Arising of Huayan and from Sudden Enlightenment of Huineng.

* key words

Huayan, Nature Arising (性起, Xingqi), Samanthabhadra’s Practice (普賢行), Sudden Enlightenment(頓悟), Gradual Cultivation (漸修), Jinul(知訥), Huineng (慧能)