A Study on Mengshan De-yi’s Activity and His Relation with the Korean Buddhism

A Study on Mengshan De-yi’s Activity and His Relation with the Korean Buddhism in Late 13th Century Shown in Mengshan heshang pushuo

Choe, Yeon-Shik and Kang, Ho-Sun

/ Seoul National Univ.

Kanhua(看話, Kor. Kanhwa) meditation has become the representative philosophy in Korean Buddhism after the eminent Korean Zen master Chinul adopted it his zen training method. The close contact between Korean Buddhism and Chinese Jiangnan area Buddhism during the Mongol reign was important background for the Kanhua meditation to be main stream in Korean Buddhism.

Mengshan De-yi, the Zen master who advocated the Kanhua method in Jiangnan area had a great influence upon Korean Buddhism in the late 13th century. Mongshan gave teachings to Korean monks and high officials by exchanging letters and direct meetings. And after his death the Korean believers invited his disciple Tieshan Shaoqiong and helped him to spread his master’s teaching. Mongshan’s writings were also introduced into Korea and read widely. They caused great philosophical changes in Korean Buddhism

The Mengshan heshang pushuo kept in Chinese National Library in Beijing is a document that has never been introduced and analyzed before. It is composed of 4 volumes and takes nine sermons preached from 1287 to 1296. In the sermons there are not a few special characters of Mengshan’s thought not shown in his other writings. Some of the important teachings shown in this new document are following; first, the definite practices such as three-forbidden(三莫) and three-point(三要), second, the claim of immediate enlightenment and gradual practice(頓悟漸修) and the third is the connection of the reading and recitation of Scripture with meditation.

Besides the teachings we can also find some information about Mengshan’s life and activity which is not cleared until now. In 1278 he retired and resided at the Xiuxiu-an(休休庵) in Hangzhou. During this time, he devoted himself to teaching the Zen practice to monks and laymen. He also wrote and published many writings on Zen and supervised Buddhistic rituals and delivered sermons in Jiangsu and Zhejiang regions. He was supported by the intellects and officials in the regions.

In addition, there is a sermon which was preached in 1296 to celebrate the 60th birthday of Korean king at the time. This sermon was delivered on request of a Korean monk who came from Suseon-sa(修禪社) which had followed the teachings of Chinul. This is very important source to understand the relationship between Mengshan and Korean Buddhism. In particular, it proves that the Susheon-sa played a key role in connecting between Mengshan and Korean Buddhism.