The Practical Thought of Ch‘an and the Question of Self-realization

Ven. Seong-bon / A professor /
The department of Buddhism /
Dongguk university in Keoungju

Ch‘an is a religion of self-realization. The self-realization gets an individual to follow the life of Bodhisattva path with wisdom and personality after he has directly achieved by himself the perfect wisdom of Buddha-dharma. The perfect wisdom is insight that one achieves by realizing practically the spirit and thought of the Buddha-dharma. And it goes beyond language or letter a master uses to give an instruction to his disciples.

The self-realization in Ch‘an buddhism is wisdom that truly knows and sees one‘s own existence and reality. It denotes that one gets the eyes of wisdom which can penetrate the true reality of all things. Hence, the wisdom which can truly see the right Dharma is fulfilled by self-realization through Ch‘an practice, viz. by the experience of awakening

When considering Ch‘an practice from the general standpoint of Buddhism, there are various modes according to different schools and periods respectively. However, their main purposes focus on achieving and cultivating prajñā-wisdom through self-realization

In other words, the self-realization in Ch‘an buddhism signifies that one lives as a creative person doing what to do here and now, and fulfills the path of Bodhisattva to liberate the living beings from suffering with prajñā-wisdom after penetrating Buddha-nature that is one‘s own original nature.

* Key words

Ch‘anpractice(참선수행),self-realization(깨달음), prajñā-wisdom(般若智慧), The Discourse on the Awakening of Faith in Mahāyāna(大乘起信論), sudden enlightenment and seeing self-nature(頓悟見性)