Buddhist Meditations
The Unifying of Rdzogs Pa Chen Po and Ch'an
16/06/2010 05:16 (GMT+7)
Font size:  Zoom out Zoom in

The Unifying of Rdzogs Pa Chen Po and Ch'an

Chung-Hwa Buddhist Journal
By A. W. Barber
Vol.3, 04.1990

   The traditional  accounts of the early history of Tibetan
Buddhism  are  far  from  unbiased.   They  do  not  portray
accurately  the history  of Buddhism  as it first moved into
that  country.  The  political/social  context  was far more
complex than traditional accounts would lead one to believe.
   Ch'an  Buddhism  was introduced  into Tibet in three main
currents.  These are: from Kim Ho-shang's teachings, from Wu
Chu's teachings and from Mo ho yen's teachings.  The various
forms of Ch'an gained  wide popularity.  So much so that the
first  Tibetan  born  abbot  of the most important  monastic
center, bSam yas, was a Ch'an  master.  At the same time the
rDzogs pa Chen po teachings from India were being introduced
by  Vimalamitra   and  Vairocana.   Doctrinally   there  are
considerable similarities between these two teachings.  The
teachings of Vimalamitra  became very popular in the central
district of Tibet. The teachings of Vairocana became popular
in the areas of Tibet near the Chinese border.
   The rNyingma  master Rong Zom lived at the time of Atisa.
Two generations before him the Ch'an teachings that survived
after the suppression of Ch'an (in Tibet), were unified with
the  rDzogs  pa Chen  po teachings  of Vairocana.  Rong  Zom
received  the  entire  teachings  of  both  Vimalamitra  and
Vairocana.  He was the first person to do so. After the time
of these  two  masters.  Because  the Ch'an  teachings  were
already preserved  in the system of Vairocana, with Rong Zom
the whole  of the rDzogs  pa Chen po and Tibetan  Ch'an were
   This information is well documented in  early  rDzogs  pa
Chen po texts and histories.  Further  references  are to be
found  in The Blue  Annals.  as well  as material  from  Tun
   In the past few years, there has been some attention paid
to the topic of rDzogs  pa Chen po and its connections  with
Ch'an.(1) Although the material that has been published  has
exhibited  excellent  scholarship,  it  has  not  been  very
extensive.  There remains considerable work to be undertaken
in developing this area of research.
   In the  following  paper, I hope  to build  on  my  other
published  papers  on this topic and add to our knowedge  in
two ways.(2) First, I would  like  to show how the important
figure  of Rong  Zom played  a key role in bringing  the two
traditions  together.  Second, 1 would also like to show how
Ch'an  thought  was  preserved  and  incorporated  into  the
structure  of  Tibetan Buddhism with its strong Indian based
gradualistic  path approach.  It will be shown that Rong Zom
was indeed instrumental  in the uniting  of these traditions
and that  Ch'an, although  having  to go underground  for  a
period, emerged  at  the  very  pennicle  of one  school  of
Tibetan Buddhism.
   As is well known, Buddhism  first started filtering  into
Tibet  at the time of Srong  Sum Gam po who married  both  a
Chinese princess and a Nepalese princess.  As legend has it,
both brought with them a statue of the Buddha. These statues
were  duely  enshrined  and  preceeded  to become  important
religious treasures of lasting inspiration.
   Previous  to  this  event, there  were  undoubtedly  some
contact  between  central  Tibet and Buddhism.  Legend holds
that  a copy of the Karandavyuha  Sutra  fell from  the sky.
While the validity  this story may have is undetermined, yet
it was  used  repeatedly  to show  the close  connection  of
Tibetan    rulers   with   Buddhism    and   notably    with
Avaiokitesvara.  There  is also  a report  of some Khotanese
monks having  gone to Tibet.  It seems reasonable  to assume
that wondering  monks and yogis were not altogether  unknown
on Tibetan soil. Yet, at best these minor incidents, perhaps
only set the stage for the  more  official   introduction of
Buddhism in  the  late  8th and  9th century  A.D.  However,
it is  logical  these  minor  incidents  developed among the
population   and,  more   importantly, among   the   various
chieftains, a base for Buddhism  to grow.  Although  Tibetan
history  prefers  to portray  the great  kings  of Tibet  as
enlightened  Bodhisattvas, who intrinsically  knew the value
of Buddhism  and were thus willing  to risk all in order  to
establish  it in Tibet, the reality  of such a portrayal  is
very different.
   The Kings  of Tibet most likely  saw in Buddhism  several
advantages.  The first and formost  was probably  the belief
that by adopting  it, the important  religious  base  of the
"Kings  right to rule," could be completely  under the kings
control.  Politically, this had further ramifications.  Some
of the more remote chieftains living in areas that boardered
Buddhist  countries  were already coming under the influence
of Buddhism. This allowed the kings in central Tibet to have
some critical alliances  in  their continuing problems  with
neighboring regions such as Zhan Zhung. Also, it allowed for
better relationships with the surrounding Buddhist countries
such as China  and Nepal.  Mention  must be made of the fact
that some Tibetans considered that Buddhist magic was by far
more powerful than their native shamanistic magic.  Finally,
the primitive  Tibetans  could  not but be impressed  by the
sophistication  of thought, religious  practices, and  other
cultural   dimensions,  such  as  education,  that  Buddhism
brought with it. Thus,it was to the kings every advantage to
foster Buddhism  and promote its wide diffusial.  The larger
the base of Buddhism in the country, the more secure was the
kings base of power.
   Given this  environment,  wondering monks were permitted,
religious  teachers were invited and the financing of Dharma
projects  of various  sorts  were undertaken.  We know  from
Chinese  sources  that China was very much aware of Tibetans
for many years before the 8th century A.D.  These encounters
were probably beneficial and some were reportedly military in
nature. The Tibetan have no source of comparable information.
Tibetans seem to have had only vague information about India
proper. There had been some contact with parts of India that
bordered Tibet such as Kashmire.(3)   Further, it is safe to
assume that Tibet had some knowledge of what is now Nepal.(4)
but accurate information of the Gangatic Plane and the heart-
land of Buddhism seems to have been lacking.   Therefore, it
was not at all suprising to find that
the Tibetans first looked to China, including Khotan and Tun
Huang, for its importation of Buddhism.(5)
    The earliest translations made, the earliest training in
Buddhism undertaken  by Tibetans, and the largest contingent
of  masters  all  were  Chinese  in  origin.   Of  important
consideration was the Tibetan occupation of Tun Huang in 780
A.D.  At this famous site, many manuscripts  were translated
from the Chinese originals into Tibetan. Thanks to the large
find of such  preserved  material  made in the beginning  of
this century, we now have become aware of these manuscripts.
However, a detailed study of the translation system used for
translating  Chinese  into Tibetan  has not come to light so
far.  Be this as it may, the available information indicates
that at the earliest stages, the Tibetans were spending  far
more time in trying  to understand  and to transmit  Chinese
Buddhism  to  their  native  soil,  than  they  were  Indian
Buddhism per se. This of course would change.
    As is now well known, Ch'an  monks  and Ch'an  teachings
gained  popularity  in  Tibet  early  in their  adaption  of
Buddhism.  Of course, the various  states of Tibet that were
closest  to China  and Central  Asia (where  Ch'an  had also
become popular) were the most influenced, such as Kham.  But
this popularity had affected the whole of the Tibetan world.
In China  at this  time, Ch'an  was coming  into its own and
many  different  schools  were  developing.  However, at Tun
Huang  various  Ch'an  schools   were  represented.(6)  This
assortment  of Ch'an teachings allowed for some unique mixes
of schools  as is represented  by Mo Ho Yen 和尚摩诃衍  (Tb.
Hwa shang Mahayana).  Mo Ho Yen seems  to have blended  some
teachings of the Northern school of Ch'an with the Pao T'ang
school.  It was this  hybrid  form  of Ch'an  that was being
propagated in Tibet.(7)
   There were three transmission lines of Ch'an into Tibet.
These  lines  of  transmission  were  supported  by  several
powerful families.
   The first line of transmission was from I chou  益州 -
成 都 and came  from  the master  Kim (Chin  ho shang) 金和尚
This lineage was brought  to Tibet by the son of  a  Chinese
commissioner  named   Sang  Shi  in  Tibetan   sources.  The
second line of transmission was probably from master  Wu Chu
无住 of the Pao  T'ang  school.  This lineage was brought to
Tibet by the Tibetan  minister  Ye shes dbang po.  The third
was introduced  by the famous master Mo ho yen, who traveled
to  Tibet  from  his  residency  at Tun Huang.(8)
   The first of the above mentioned transmissions took place
in circa  750 A.D.  Upon Sang Shi's  return  from China to a
politically  unstable  situation, the texts were hidden  for
two years before  he could translate  them.  Although  these
teachings  were to be quickly superseded  by the second line
of transmission, Sang shi's  teachings  were of considerable
importance.  Also  of importance  is the fact that  Sang shi
became abbot of bSam Yas Monastery.  This monastery  was the
central stage for the introduction of Buddhism into Tibet.
   The line of teachings  stemming  from  Wu Chu took on far
greater importance than that introduced by Sang Shi.  First,
Wu chu or his  students  claimed  that  he had received  the
transmission  from  master  Kim.  Although  this  is  highly
questionable, in the Tibetan  eyes, this must have added  to
his prestige. Second, the radical teachings of the Pao T'ang
school in someways parallels the more radical approach taken
in the Mahasiddha's  teachings  which were being  introduced
from India.(9)
   The  third  line  of  transmission   developed   as  much
influence  as that of the Pao T'ang line, if not more.  This
was introduced to Tibet by Mo ho yen of Tun Huang.  However,
the actual  historical  events  of his life as  well as  the
teachings  he passed  on, are still a subject  of study.(10)
According to legend, Mo ho yen was the Chinese representative
at  the  debate  of  Lhasa.(11) According  to  late  Tibetan
sources, his teachings  seem  to be a mixture  of both  late
Northern Ch'an and the Pao T'ang Ch'an. However, as noted by
other  scholars, the  historicity  of the  Lhasa  debate  is
highly  questionable.(12) Also,  more  study  is  needed  to
determine  first, if Mo ho yen  was influenced  by Pao T'ang
teachings  or  other  Ch'an  schools  besides  the  Northern
school.  Second, if the Tibetans had inadvertently  assigned
teachings  to Mo ho yen that were not representative  of his
position.  Third, to what extent was Mo ho yen influenced by
the other Ch'an teachings  available at Tun Huang.  Finally,
if  Mo ho yen  was  actually  influenced  by the  Mahasiddha
   Slightly after the first introduction of Ch'an in Tibet,
there  was  the introduction  of Indian  forms  of Buddhism.
Although  we read of a natural  encounter  between  Tibetans
interested  in Buddhism  and Buddhist  teachers at Tun Huang
and  of wondering  Ch'an  monks, the introduction  of Indian
Buddhism seems to have been totally under the control and by
invitation  only  of  the  ruling  house.  However, it seems
unlikely  that  this  was  the case  and I would assume that
wondering Indian monks and yogis were not completely unknown
in Tibet.  However, Tibetan  historians  have left us little
information  of the  earliest  contacts  between  Tibet  and
Indian Buddhism except the above picture.
   The  four  people  who  are  of most  important  for  the
introduction  of Indian Buddhism on Tibetan soil are: Sangha
Raksita, Padmasambhava, Vairocana  and  Vimalamitra.  Sangha
Raksita  is only  remembered  for  his  introduction  of the
monastic  tradition  (vinaya  rules  & ordination).  He  was
probably  involved  in more activities  than just that.  The
famous  Padmasambhava  has  had  his  name  associated  with
absolutely everything in Tibetan Buddhism. This is more myth
than  fact.  Vairocana, a Tibetan  monk, and Vimalamitra(14)
both studied under the same master in India.
   Because the connection between Ch'an and Tibetan Buddhism
is found  in the  rDzogs  pa Chen  po tradition, only  those
mentioned  above  who  had  a  solid  connection  with  this
tradition  will be discussed.  That would  be Vairocana  and
Vimalamitra.  Padmasambhava is said to have had a major role
in the introduction  of this  tradition  into Tibet  but, as
noted  by other scholars, this is probably  a myth.(15) From
my own research, I have found  no solid evidence  to support
Padmasambhava   being   claimed   as  one  of  the   initial
   Vimalamitra was an Indian who lived circa 800  A.D.   His
main  teacher  was Sri  Simha.  From  him  he had learned  a
tradition  known as Ati-yoga  or Mahasandhi  (Tb.  rDzogs pa
Chen po).  He later transmitted  this tradition to Tibet and
perhaps  China.(16) Vairocana  was one of the first Tibetans
to become  a monk.  He lived at the same time as Vimalamitra
and also studied with Sri Simha.  He studied  with Sri Simha
in India at Dhyanakantaka, located on the Krishna river.(17)
He later brought the tradition of Ati-yoga back to Tibet and
also some of the outlining areas, were  Tibet meets  Central
Asia/China.   Although it is reported that   Vairocana  only
transmitted  a portion of the tradition and that Vimalamitra
was responsible  for the section left out, upon scrutiny  of
the resources, it has been determined  that Vairocana taught
the entire tradition.(18)
   The  Ati-yoga   is  more  concerned   with   meditational
techniques  than  philosophy.  In  its  philosophy, it  has
combined components of both
Yogacara and Madhyamaka.One often finds lengthy  discussions
of the  eight consciousness (Sk.vijnana), Buddha-nature (Sk.
tathagatagarbha) and  other  such  topics.  It  is also  not
unocmmon  to find  typically, that the  Madhyamaka positions
are expanded and claimed to be the highest view. This hybrid
of Yogacara-Madhyamaka  was the philosophical vogue in India
during this same time period.(19) Every possible combination
of  the  various  sub-branches  of  the  Yogacara  with  the
sub-branches  of  the  Madhyamaka  was  developed.  Although
claimed  otherwise, present  day Tibetan  Buddhism  is still
strongly influenced  by these hybrids  in one way or another.
Further, unlike  most of  the  other traditions in India the
Ati-yoga    accepted  the  idea  of  sudden   enlightenment.
Meditationally  it put  forth the idea of seeing the mind in
its  nakedness.  Finally, it  promoted  a  non  conventional
approach to life as a Buddhist.
   One  can  see  from  the  above  paragraph  that there is
considerable  common ground between the  Ati-yoga and Ch'an.
Ch'an also had developed a hybrid of Yogacara and Madhyamaka.
This is based on the Lankavatara Sutra and the Diamond Sutra
(Sk. Vajracchedaka). Although at present this hybrid appears
to have formed solely due to the internal dynamics of Chinese
Buddhism, particularly  in Ch'an,it seems  that  no research
has been  undertaken  to investigate  the connection  of the
hybrid movements  in India and China where they occurred  at
about  the same time.  Further, Ch'an  also  teaches  sudden
enlightenment,   non-conventionality   and   original   face
(roughly equalivent to naked mind).
   In addition to the hybrid  philosophical position held by
the Ati-yoga  tradition,  its metaphysical base is firmly in
the Tantras.  Thus, explanations  of meditational mechanics,
modus  operandi, metaphors  and the such are all drawn  from
tantric  literature.  In contrast  to this, Ch'an  is firmly
based in the Sutras.
   Both Vimalamitra  and Vairocana transmitted the teachings
of Sri Simha in Tibet and set up seperate lineages. However,
there must have been some crossing over of the two lines even
during their life time,  as they stem from the same cycle of
teachings and the same teacher. If we follow Tibetan history,
these two lines seem to have remainded separate until the time
of Rong Zom.
   In summary then, the picture of Buddhism  in Tibet at the
time of Rong  Zom was far more  complex  than later  Tibetan
sources would have
us  believe.   Ch'an  in  three  different  forms  had  been
introduced and had gained considerable  popularity.  This is
examplified  by the fact that a number  of Ch'an works  were
translated  into  Tibetan, one  of its  representatives  was
selected  as abbot of the most famous monastery  in Tibet at
the  time  and  that  the  various  representatives  (either
Chinese  or Tibetan)of Ch'an  had gained  royal  support  in
Tibet. The rDzogs pa chen po (or Ati-yoga) of the Mahasiddha
Sri Simha, which has considerable  elements  in common  with
Ch'an had also been introduced.
   By the time of Rong Zom, these sudden teachings  of Ch'an
and rDzogs pa Chen po were receiving  less emphasis  and the
gradualistic  approach of Indian  Buddhism was beginning  to
make itself felt.
   The most important  thing  to note  here is that Rong Zom
brought  together  within  himself  both  lines  of Ati-yoga
originating  from Vimalamitra  and Vairocana.  Vairocana was
instrumental  in the establishing  of these teachings in the
Kham area.  Though he had worked in central  Tibet, his line
of transmission  was  much  stronger  in Kham.  Vimalamitra,
however, had spent his time mostly teaching in central Tibet
and therefore, his line was stronger  there.  That these two
lines  of  Ati-yoga  would  come  together  is  not  at  all
suprising.  Once Buddhism had grown to be national in Tibet,
various  small  groups  were  no longer  isolated  from  one
another.   Whatever  traditions   and  practices  they  were
following could be easily known by others.  This would allow
for someone like Rong Zom to collect various traditions.
   What  is  of  considerable  interest  to  us  here is the
connection of the Ch'an teachings with the rDzogs pa chen po
   Rong Zom was the son of Rong ban Rin chen Tshul khrims.He
was famous as a great Tibetan Pandita. He was born at Khungs
rong on the border of Lower gTsang.  Shortly  before  this a
scholar  called  Acarya Smritijnanakirti  came to Khams, and
translated several tantras.
After his death, he was reborn as Rong Zom. Others say, that
a pandita  named  Acarya  Phra la Ring mo came to Khams.  He
also translated  a commentary  on the gSang sning rGyud (sk.
Guhya garbha Tantra),he further  taught  this tantra.  After
his death, he was reborn  as Rong Zom.  When lord Atisa  had
met Rong Zom he said: "This  Lord is the incarnation  of the
Indian Acarya Krisnapada  the Great.  How shall I be able to
discuss the Doctrine with him."
   Rong  Zom studied  the sutras  at the age of seven.  From
thirteen  onwards,  he  became  a  great  scholar,  who  had
completed   his  studies   and  became  known  as  the  "one
unobscured  in all branches of knowledge."  Endowed with the
faculty  of prescience, knowing the proper time and measures
(to be adopted) in the disciplining  of living  beings, with
the view of establishing  in Bliss in this and future  lives
ordinary  living beings, and those who had entered religion,
he  produced  well-written   treatises.   All  the  treatises
composed  by him did not contradict  scriptures, reason  and
the explanations given to him by his teacher. They were free
from blemishes  in words and meaning, and they were known to
be unrefutable  by other  famous  scholars.  In addition, he
also  was  a  great  translator.   He  translated  the:  Sri
Vajramahabhairava          nama          Tantra,         the
Sarvatathagatakayavakcittakrsnayamari  nama Tantra, the 'Jam
dpal sNgags don, the Abhidhana uttaratantra and other texts.
His commentaries  and translations  covered the entire range
of Buddhist  learning.  Of considerable  importance  was his
work on the rDzogs  pa Chen po entitled: rDzogs pa Chen po'i
lTa sgom Man ngag...  Precepts  on the Theory and Meditative
Practice of the Great Achievement.
   During  this period  there took place a religious  debate
attended by all of the scholars  from the four districts  of
Tibet. They intended to debate with him, holding the opinion
that it was improper  for persons  born in Tibet  to compose
treatises. After they had gone over one of his treatises and
after debating  the subject  matter  with him, they all felt
amazed, and each of them honoured  him and then listened  to
his exposition of the Doctrine.
   He  heard  the  secret  precepts   of  the  Acarya  Padma
(sambhava) transmitted through the Spiritual lineage of sNam
mKha rDo rje bDud Joms and mKhar  chen dPal gyi dBang  phyug
and so forth till Rong ban Rin chen Tshul  khrims.  Further,
the  (Lineage)  which  originated  with  Vairocana (was also
received).   This   is   one  of  the  Lineages of the "Mind
Class  (Sems  sde)"(of the rDzogs  chen teachings).  At 1Dan
gLong thang sGron ma there appeared an ascetic named A ro Ye
shes 'Byung gnas, who possessed  the secret precepts  of the
seventh  link in the chain of the Indian Lineage, as well as
those  of the seventh  link  of the Chinese  lineage  of Hwa
shang (=ho shang).  He preached  the system  to Cog ro Zangs
dKar mDzod khur and to Ta zi Bon ston.  These two taught  it
to Rong Zom.  This (Lineage) is called the "(Lineage) of the
Great  Achievement  (rDzogs  chen)  according  to the  Khams
method."  Again, Vimala (mitra) taught the Doctrine to Myang
Ting dzin bZang po as well as bestowed  the secret  precepts
on rMa Rin chen  mChog  and gNyags  Jnanakumara.  These  two
transmitted them gradually to Rong Zom.
   Though  the dates  of birth and death  of this great  man
are, as stated  above, not  to  be found, it  is  said  that
Atisa, on  his  arrival  to  Tibet, met  him.  Therefore, he
should be regarded  as being almost a contemporary  of (him)
and 'Gos Lo tsa ba.(20)
   The important  point  to note in the above  are that Rong
Zom received  a hybrid form of the lineage of rDzogs pa chen
po that originated  with Vairocana as well as the lineage of
rDzogs  pa chen  po that originated  with  Vimalamitra.  The
lineage originating with Vimalamitra  has been traditionally
been  associated  with the two higher  classes  of teachings
found  in rDzogs  pa chen po;  i.e., the great  expanse  and
instruction   classes.   the  teachings  of  Vairocana   are
traditionally  held to be only the mind class.  Although one
will, from  a proper  historical  research, find  that  both
teachers  actually taught all three classes of the rDzogs pa
chen po, the traditionally  ascribed affiliation  should not
be overlooked  in viewing  the  development  of the line  of
   Of considerable  concern  to our  investigation  are  the
following  lines taking  from the hagiography: "Further, the
(lineage)which originate with Vairocana (was also received).
This  is  one  of the  lineages  of the  "Mind  class  (sems
sde)"(of the rDzogs  pa chen  po teachings).  At lDan  gLong
thang sGron ma there appeared  an ascetic named A ro Ye shes
'Byung  gnas, who  Rossessed  the  secret  precepts  of  the
seventh  link in the chain of the Indian Lineage, as well as
those  of the seventh  link  of the Chinese  lineage  of Hwa
shang (=ho shang).  He preached  the system  to Cog ro zangs
dKar mDzod khur and to Ta zi Bon ston.  These two taught  it
to Rong Zom.".
   Here we see that the lineage  of the "Mind class"  or the
rDzogs pa chen po that was taught in Kham by Variocana  (the
Indian lineage) had been united  with a form originating  in
China with its teacher identified as Hwa shang.  Although it
is tempting  to associate  this Hwa Shang with the famous Mo
ho yen Hwa Shang  no evidence  has  come  to light  for this
direct identification. Mo Ho yen was a teacher of Ch'an from
Tun  Huang.   These  two  lines  of  teaching  were  already
associated  with  each  other  when  Rong  Zom received  the
teachings.  Thus showing  that Ch'an  and rDzogs  pa chen po
were united only two generations  before Rong Zom.  However,
if we accept the traditional  view that Vairocana system was
only  of the Mind class, then, Ch'an  had only  united  with
this level.  It was not until Rong Zom, himself, had brought
the  teachings   of  Vimalamitra   together  with  the  Kham
teachings, that the whole  of rDzogs  pa chen  po was united
and this would included the Ch'an teachings.
   As with most of the later forms of Mahayana  Buddhism the
rDzogs pa chen po teachings  represent  a form  of Yogacara-
Madyamaka  in their doctrinal  position.  The Yogacara forms
the  working   models  for  understanding   the  mind.   The
Madhyamaka  is used in the formation of statements of truth.
In addition  to this, a developed  theory of Tathagatagarbha
emerged as the base for the whole of the doctrinal positions
   The  rNyingma  school, wherein  the  rDzogs  pa  chen  po
teaching   is   found,  in  general,  has   several   unique
philosophical  features.  In the  area  of Yogacara, it puts
forth  a theory  of  9 consciousnesses.  It  accepts  the  6
consciousnesses  of mind and 5 senses  as well as the manas.
The Alayavijnana  is divided  into two parts.  The first  is
called the Alayavijnana  and represents the storing capacity
for the karmic  seeds.  The second, is termed  the Alaya and
represents the "all ground" which allows the functioning  of
the whole process beginning  with the Alayavijnana.  Here we
can  perhaps  understand  the  Alaya  as the unaware  aspect
(ignorant) of the Tathagatagarbha.
   There  is also a distinction made between Tathagatagarbha
and Sugatagarbha.  The  first  is the phenomena possessed by
ordinary unenlightened individuals and the second is the same
phenomena but it is possessed by enlightened individuals.  A
clearly   distinction   of  these   two   is  important   in
understanding  statements  made throughout  the whole of the
rDzogs pa chen po doctrine.
   The  ultimate  truth  is understood  in usual  Madhyamaka
terms.  The fact that only two possibilities  are permitted,
i.e., samsara  and  enlightenment, directly  relate  to  the
conventional  and ultimate  truth.  Nirvana almost always is
used in a negative sense as the small rest taken by Hinayana
followers and not seen as a full and complete enlightenment.
Seeing that only two possibilities  exist, one is either  in
samsara  or one is not.  This view allows for no possibility
of a real  path  to exist.  Enlightenment  is seen as taking
place  suddenly.  Liberation  of  mind  and  forms  are  all
natural. Spontanious activity is the correct and appropriate
response to any situation.  When the mind is free, then, all
things are
of  themselves free, so  all is  naturally and spontaniously
self-liberated.  The initial by-product  of the meditational
process is a state of no-thought.  Later development  allows
one to be in a state of no-thought of no-thought.  The texts
continually  use  the  terms  relating  to no-thought;  e.g.
motionless, no-thought, no  perception, etc.  as  indicating
only  the  by-product  of the  process  of  meditation.  The
emphasis is given to the idea of "Rig pa." Rig pa means pure
pristine  awareness.  This  pure  awareness  can  be a state
wherein  one  does not move from the non-dual.  The word can
also be used as a verb "to be purely  aware"  when one is in
the state  of no-thought  of no-thought, this state  is also
without movement from the non-dual.
   According  to Long  chen  pa,the  rDzogs  pa chen  po  is
divided into two main lines. The first is the rDzogs pa chen
po in relation with other paths and the Great Explanation.
   The rNyingma schools divides the whole of Buddhism as
                    1. sravaka
                    2. pratiyekabuddha
                    3. bodhisattva (= mahayan sutra teachings)
                    4. kriya tantra
                    5. carya tantra
                    6. yoga  tantra
                    7. mahayoga tantra
                    8. anuyoga tantra
                    9. atiyoga tantra (=rDzogs pa chen po)
   rDzogs pa chen po in relations with other paths, means to
have the general view as explained in rDzogs pa chen po texts,
while practicing any of the paths 1 through 8. An individual
does not have to begin with the first. Beginning practice is
according  to  the  capacities   of  each  individual.   The
important  point is to maintain  the rDzogs  pa chen po view
while doing any practice.  The basis of this view is that we
are all already  Buddhas.  We engage in the activity  of any
path because that is the activity of a Buddha.  For example,
while Sakyamuni fully realized the rDzogs pa chen po view he
followed  the  Hinayana  systems  in  order  to  teach.   He
practiced  the tantras in order to worship other buddhas  as
well  as  to  teach.  Therefore.  it  is important  to learn
something  of the other  paths  to be able to engage  in the
activity of Buddhas.
     The Great Explanation relates to the three divisions of
the  rDzogs pa chen po.   These are the Mind class the Great
Expanse  class  and the Instructions  class.  The Mind class
teaches the seeing the mind in its
nakedness.  The Great Expanse class teaches the openness  of
being(=experiential  aspect  of  sunyata).  The  Instruction
class  teaches  the  techniques  for  stablizing  and  total
incorporation   of  the  overall  view  and  experiences  of
   There are of course many fine points that are not presented
here   in  our  brief   outline.   Basically,  the   various
meditations are aimed at producing a state of no-thought and
later   no-thought   of  no-thought.   There  are  visionary
techniques  used which  make for a close contact  with other
tantra classes.  The metaphors  used are usually  drawn from
the tantras.  However, even  the visionary  meditations  are
considerably  simplified when compared with other classes of
tantras.  The highest  levels  of practice  are that  of the
direct viewing of the non-dual state.
   Rong  Zom had  inherited, from  the teachings  of Kham, a
system of rDzogs pa chen po that had already mixed the Ch'an
of China with the Indian teachings  on sudden enlightenment.
As noted these teachings were introduced by Vairocana. Also,
as noted, Ch'an  was associated  with the mind class  of the
rDzogs  pa chen po.  When Rong  Zom had brought  these  Kham
teachings  together with the teachings of Vimalamitra, Ch'an
maintained its association with the Mind class.
   We have seen that it was the famous scholar/yogi Rong Zom
who had brought the teachings  of  Vimalamitra and Vairocana
together and there by forming  a  comprehensive whole to the
teaching  of rDzogs pa chen po.  Previous  to this, the Mind
class  of teachings  had become  associated  with  the Ch'an
teachings coming from China.
   Seeing that the Ch'an teachings had a very close doctrinal
affilitation  with the rDzogs  pa chen po, the mixing of the
two was a natural event. Later Tibetan teachers forgot about
this connection  and went on to teach  Ch'an  in association
with other teachings of rDzogs pa chen po.  This association
was so completely  forgotten  that in later  years, when the
rNyingma  were accused  of spreading  teachings  similar  to
Chinese  thought  (a maior religious  crime  in Tibet), they
would  strongly  deny  such charges.  In defence, they would
point to the Indian origin of the rDzogs pa chen po.
 1. see a;  Norbu, Namkha.  "rDzogs  Chen & Zen." Zhan Zhung
    Press 1985. b; Broughton, Jeffrey."Early Ch'an   Schools
    in  Tibet"  c;  Gomez,  Luis  O."The  Direct  &  Gradual
    Approach of Zen Master Mahayana..."/  b&c in: Studies of
    Ch'an and Hua Yen Univ. of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, 1983.
    d;  Lancaster  &  Lai.:  Early  Ch'an  in China & Tibet.
    Berkeley Buddhist Stds.  Series 1983. e;  my previous
    publications  are under  the name  of Hanson-Barber.  1.
    "No-Thought in Pao AT'ang Ch'an & Early Ati-yoga" JIABS #2,
    vol.  9.  1986;  The Life & Teachings  of Vairocana  Ann
    Arbor. Microfilm Int. 1985.
 2. For general rDzogs Chen see: Norbu & Lipman.  Primordial
    Experience.  Shambala.  Boston 1987;  Lipman & Peterson.
    You are  the Eyes  of the World.  Navato.  Lotsawa  Pub.
    1986. Guenther, H.V Kindly Bent to Ease Us. Emeryville,
    Dharma Press, 1978; Dowman, K. "The Three Incisive Precepts
    of Garab Dorje." Diamond Sow Pub.  1982;  Hanson-Barber,
    A.W.  "The Two Other Homes of Ati-Yoga in India." JISIBS
    vo1.4;  "The Identification  of dGa' rab rDo rje." JIABS
    #2. vol. 9. 1986.
 3. The first official envoy was Thomi Sambhota  who went to
    study language.
 4. Large tracks  of what is now Nepal were part of Tibet at
    various times.
 5. The  Tibetan  manuscripts  found  at Tun  Huang  are  an
    extensive collection.
 6. We find writings from: northern Ch'an, Pao T'ang Ch'an,
    Southern Ch'an, Ox head Ch'an and more, preserved there.
 7. ibid. Hanson-Barber. "No-Thought in Pao T'ang Ch'an...".
 8. see note l. b & c.
 9. op cit. Hanson-Barber
10. op cit. Studies in Ch'an & Hua Yen.
11. Tucci, G. Minor Buddhist Texts I & II. Delhi, 1986.
    Motilal  Banarsidass.  and  Bu  Ton  History  of  Indian
12. Although it is questionable, the symbol of the debate is
    important.  It represents  Tibet's  official  policy  of
    rejecting Chinese influence on a high level. The political
    importance of this is unquestionable.
13. Master Wu Chu may have had some connection  with Tantra.
    He is quotated  as talking about a "Dharani Gate (pg.13.
    op cit. Studies in Ch'an & Hua Yen). Mo ho yen is
    closely associated with Wu Chu in Tibetan sources. Tucci
    (op cit.) holds that some of the Ati-yoga  masters  were
    on Mo ho yen's side at the debate.
14. There were two Vimalamitras. One was a layman and the other
    a monk.  The historical  problems  have not been  sorted
15. see: Dargyay, E.M.  The  Rise  of Esoteric  Buddhism  in
    Tibet Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1976. and Hanson-Barber.
    The Life & Teachings of Vairocana, ibid.
16. Vimalamitra and other tantric masters are said to have gone
    through  Tibet  and on to Tun  Huang  as well  as Wu Tai
    Shan.  Some rDzogs  Chen texts  were found at Tun Huang.
    see Norbu & Lipman, op cit, pg. 7 & 137 n. 19
17. see Hanson-Barber op cit. "The Two Other Homes of Ati-yoga..."..
18. Hanson-Barber, op cit. The Life & Teachings of Vairocana.
19. Sangharaksita also taught a hybrid form of the two schools.
    Yet he was not associated with the rDzogs Chen.
20. Ruegg. S. The Blue Annals.
提 要:
    对早期西藏佛教史而言, 西藏本身的传统记载距离不偏不倚的要
求仍然很远, 因为它们未能正确地描绘出佛教是如何传入这一地区的
历史。至于那些缘于政治、社会因素而衍生出来的讲法, 其混淆的程
度较之上述那些传统 记载, 则更难令人置信了。
    中国禅法被介绍进西藏者有三派, 它们是: 金和上的禅法、无住
禅师的禅法和摩诃衍的禅法。自后, 各种不同的中国禅法弘化方式在
西藏地区广泛流行。这可以从西藏最重要的佛教中心 --bSam yas 寺
的第一位土生藏族住持是一位中 国禅法的大师这一点看出来。  在同
一时代, 印度的大圆满教义亦通过维摩密多与毘卢
    遮那二人而传入西藏。在教义上, 大圆满跟中国禅法有极多相似
的地方。维摩密多所弘扬的大圆满教义在西藏中部非常流行, 而毘卢
遮那所宣化的大圆满教义则流行于中、藏交界 的西藏地区。
    Nyingma派的大师Rong Zam是Atisa时代的人。虽然西藏禅宗曾遭
受过法难, 但在他住世的两代之前, 逃过法难的禅法已渐跟毘卢遮那
    到了Rong Zam, 他本人接受了维摩密多与毘卢遮那两人所传的全
部大圆满教义, 而且是第一个做到兼通两家之学的人。由于毘卢遮那
所传的教理系统中本来就早 已有了中国禅法的成分。  再通过  Rong
Zam 的融汇贯通, 这两派的大圆满之学便跟中国禅学融合了。
    以上所陈, 其讯息是早期的西藏大圆满文献和各类史书所提供。
而西藏编年史之一的「青史」和中国敦煌石室中的文献, 则提供进一

 Go back      Go top        Print view       Send to frinend        Send opinion
» Audio
» Photo gallery
» Buddhism Dictionary
» Lunar calendar