Buddhist Meditations
Zen And Taoism Common And Uncommon Grounds of Discourse
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Zen And Taoism Common And Uncommon Grounds of Discourse

Kenneth Inada

Journal of Chinese Philosophy

Vol.15 1988   P.51-65

Copyright @ 1988 by Dialogue Publishing Company, Honolulu

Hawaii, U.S.A.


    This  ambitious   paper   should   be  taken   as  merely
preliminary and exploratory in nature.  I cannot obviously do
justice to such a multi- faceted subject in a single essay. I
should therefore like to present in basic outline a framework
in which Zen and Taoism  can be seen under a better  light so
as to foster  proper perspectives  on each and thereby  their
ultimate relationship. Though scholars in the field recognize
basic  differences  in the two  systems, still, in discussing
either one or both, the analysis  invariably  concludes  with
certain common elements  that give rise to a false impression
that the two are identical or nearly so. On the surface, both
layman  and expert  may not see any differences  at all.  But
beneath it there are certain differences that must be
perceived  and acknowledged, i.e., the format  of the systems
in terms of the quest for reality may manifest an illusion of
sameness.  We must always be on guard against being misled by
the  unique   forms   that   adduce   similar   contents   of
    D. T.   Suzuki  tells  us  that  there  are  eight  chief
characteristics  of  satori  or enlightenment: irrationality,
intuitive  insight,  authoritarianism, affirmation, sense  of
the  beyond,  impersonal  tone,  feeling  of  exaltation  and
momentariness.(2) The Taoist  would be very much at home with
all  of them, each  amplifying  in great  detail  the  Taoist
experience  without stirring  up any controversy  between the
two systems.  Yet  the  differences  are there  for both  the
Taoist and the Zennist, although not in clearly definable and
analyzable   terms.   Still,  there  are  common  grounds  of
discourse that point at "something universal,"  the "finality
of existence, " a "suprarelative  or transcendental aspect, "
the "infinite  expansion of the individual"  and "a new vista
of existence."(3)
    Our initial  mission  then is to seek  a common  focus, a
common ground upon which we may treat the two systems. I will
employ Suzuki s


eighth characteristic, momentariness, to show us the way.  In
both systems, the momentary nature of our experience is taken
to  be the  basis  of all  existential  modes  as well  as of
valuation.  It is the fountainhead  of everything  human  and
humanly  possible;  to ignore it and to regard experience  as
static  is not only naive but to indulge  in a falsehood  and
abstraction  that veers away from reality  itself.  The great
non-Asiatic metaphysician Alfred N.  Whitehead, in one of his
rare  insightful  moments  concerning  religion, stated  that
"that-religion will conquer which can render clear to popular
understanding some eternal greatness incarnate in the passage
of temporal  fact."(4) Both Zen and Taoism have already  con-
quered  the minds  of Asians  (and  many non-Asians, too, for
that  matter)  by  simply   rendering   clear  "some  eternal
greatness  incarnate  in the passage  of temporal  fact." Had
Whitehead  fully known the message of both Zen and Taoism, he
most  certainly  would  have  attached  a  footnote  to  that
statement.  We today  can  stand  witness  to his  propriety,
albeit from a purely Western point of view.
    In Buddhism, Zen being a crystallized version of Buddhist
thought, the point of departure  in understanding  the nature
of the experiencing self is its impermanent character
(anitya).  Thus  understood, the self  no longer  assumes  an
abstract   static  nature  but,  paradoxically   enough,  the
non-substantive, non-self  (anaatman) nature.  The  foregoing
statement, to be sure, is extremely  difficult for the layman
to accept, much less grasp, because his understanding  begins
and ends  within  the self-created  prison  walls  of alleged
entities, such entities  as the logical  entities  which have
nothing  to  do with  realities,as Wittgenstein  has  rightly
stated(5) Not only does the layman live in a Certesian  world
but he also does  not know  that  that  world  owes  its very
existence  to the initial  impulse  to grasp or frame  every-
thing within the substantive nature of things. Dichotomies of
all  kinds  abound, but  they  are  non-existent  in the real
world;  they are strictly  manmade, as the Zennist and Taoist
will aver.  In this regard, we may even state  further  that,
strictly  speaking, the  correspondence  theory  that  we  so
heavily  rely on in our daily activities  is really  impotent
and non-existent as well.
    Reality  or experiential  reality, for  in the  strictest
sense  no reality  is divorced  from experience, is a moving,
phenomenon. We have never-


theless  been  distracted  from  this  moving  phenomenon  by
deliberately  seeking and justifying  a causal connection  or
relationship in the passage of events. The strict empiricist,
David  Hume,  was  not  fooled  by  the  feigned  concept  of
causality working in our experience, but even he could not in
the end hit upon  its solution;being  a child  of the Western
tradition,  he had to solace himself in the end with the game
of backgammon.
    A different  picture  is  seen  in Taoism, especially  in
Chuang  Tzu's  brilliant   analysis.   The  ordinary  person,
according  to Chuang Tzu, waits to observe  the scales of the
snake  or the wings  of the  cicada  but perceives  only  the
molted snake or the demised  cicada.(6) He is unable to be in
tune with the lives of the snake and the cicada, indeed  with
his own life process, for he spends countless  hours catching
up with thore entities  which are already distanced  from the
reality of things.  He seeks for certainty of perception  and
understanding, but they  are not forthcoming  for the  simple
reason that certainty  can never be realized by following the
entities or elements involved in them. He has, in short, done
a   disservice    to   himself   by   demanding   a   steady,
one-dimensional perception of things.  This is the great hoax
or ontological  fraud  that  man wantonly  perpetuates.  Both
Taoism  and Zen recognize  the inanity  of this  pursuit  and
vehemently condemn it.
    In  several   passages   in  the  Chuang-tzu(a)  we  find
statements to the effect that experiential  reality cannot be
expressed  at all  except  in terms  of bits  or pieces.  For
example, due to man's  obsession  with  routine  and  mundane
matters, he has only a few days  in a month, if any, in which
he may be able  to have  a good  laugh  at himself, the laugh
being an expression  of a genuine encounter  with the reality
of things, an instant perception  of the incongruity  between
what is and what is not the truth  of existence.  A laugh is,
of course, spontaneous, and  lasts  but for  a split  second;
beyond  that it turns into amusement, and then reality  is no
longer the central focus: The experience of reality is of the
same   dimension   as  the  laugh.   Or,  put  another   way,
experiential  reality is seen "as quickly as the passing of a
swift  horse  glimpsed  through  a  crack  in  the  wall."(7)
Extending  the metaphor further, it can be said that although
the galloping horse is seen through the crack in many bits or
fragments, the  whole  horse  is  actually  seen.  It is  not
truncated or left dangling through the crack. The upshot


is that experiential  reality, like the swift  horse, is felt
(seen) entirely, but the bit by bit perception seems to belie
it --due mainly  to our overriding  epistemological  emphasis
and bias.  As we can see, the moving phenomena  of reality is
nothing  but  the  glimpses  of  the  Whiteheadian   "eternal
greatness  incarnate in the passage of temporal fact." To see
it otherwise  is simply to ignore the presence  of reality in
the making, a continuous  stream that flows and carries along
even our blunted consciousness  in its wake.  Furthermore  as
things  are  normally  perceived   in  chunks,  they  quickly
sediment  into passive  entities  and become  fodder  for the
manipulating  mind.  In this  way, the moving  phenomenon  of
reality are lost, or take a backseat,and hopelessly hang on.
    This  fragmentary  perception  is precisely  the movement
expressed  in the  yin-yang(b) where  the  yin and  the  yang
alternate  and seem to exhibit themselves  independently.  In
actuality, there  is  no  separation  between  the  two  into
clearly defined roles or realms. Both require each other
for.their respective so-called substance (ti(c)) and function
(yung)(d). Yet to describe the phenomena of yin-yang movement
into  substance  and function, as done  by Wang  Pi and other
later  Taoists, is  a blatant  travesty  of  the  reality  of
things,  a  deviation  which  merely  serves  our  insatiable
epistemic desires.  This last statement is not to be taken as
an outright rejection of epistemology  as such but a critique
of the wrongly or falsely contrived epistemic  elements which
go into  the ruminating  mill  without  due regard  for (heir
originating natures.  Clearly then aspects of neither the yin
nor the yang  are epistemic  elements, but are rather  moving
shades of the reality  of things in inviolable  mutuality.  A
shadow, afterall, does not wait  for the body to move, though
its prominence is only accentuated  by the latter's movement.
The whole second chapter  of the Chuang-tzu  (Ch'i-wu-lun(e),
"On the Equality  of Things") is an exercise  in the grasp of
the  moving  reality, and  perhaps  the  most  important  but
puzzling chapter in the entire work.  It ends with the famous
enigmatic dream of a butterfly  by Chuang Tzu himself.  There
is clearly  an epistemic  distinction  between dreamer, dream
and  dream-content.  But  no solution  is forthcoming  to the
episode  (i.e., whether  it was  Chuang  Tzu dreaming  of the
butterfly  or the butterfly  dreaming  of Chuang  Tzu) if the
analysis is limited to epistemic distinctions. Scholars are
quite correct in rejecting the


distinction  between  subject and object, between reality and
unreality.(8) These  scholars, however, do not go far  enough
in  examining  the  final  statement:  "This  is  called  the
transformation  of things (tu hua)(f)"(9) The statement taxes
our imagination, to be sure, but it is quite consistent  with
the whole message of Chuang-tzu, i.e., that reality  can only
be  grasped  in  the  swift  changes  ("galloping  horse") of
things.  In both Chuang Tzu dreaming of the butterfly and the
butterfly dreaming of Chuang Tzu himself, the distinction  of
both phenomena  pales into indistinction  as one realizes the
non-epistemic  content  of reality  on the move.  This is the
transformation, the  non-epistemic  process, that  inexorably
goes on regardless of the dream or dreamless state we are in.
The  transformation  is  beckoning  us to realize  "something
universal, "   "final, "   "suprarelative, "   an   "infinite
expansion," a "new vista of existence," etc., but we are, for
the most part, dulled into believing that we are awake are at
all times  not dreaming, not knowing  that  we wallow  in the
quicksands  of epistemology.(10) And so Chuang Tzu is able to
say  cryptically: "After  ten  thousand  generations, a great
sage  may appear  who will  know  their  meaning, and it will
still be as though he appeared with astonishing speed."(11)
    On the Zen or Buddhist side, a different  analysis on the
glimpse  of reality is found.  Since Zen practice  is usually
characterized  by minimal scriptural  reliance, it gives rise
to a false impression  that scriptures  are secondary or even
unnecessary  in the pursuit  of enlightenment  (as noted, for
example, in the Zen master's  seemingly  idolatrous  cries of
"Burn the Sutras! Kill the Buddha!"). But these cries must be
interpreted  within the context  of the disciple's  ready and
ripe state of being for the eventual satori or wu(g), and not
to be interpreted  in isolation or within the context of mere
pedagogy.  Furthermore, there  must be a clear  understanding
between  the  use  and  study  of  the  scriptures, including
listening   to   lectures,   and   the   understanding    and
concretization  of  the  ideas  thus  gained.   The  disciple
naturally  is  expected  to accomplish  both  and  to prepare
himself   diligently,  pliably   and  holistically,  for  the
climatic hint that might come at any moment to open his mind.
The crucial  hint  may come  in several  forms: the koan, the
shout, the  kick, the  slap,  silence,  etc.,  of  which  Zen
literature is replete.


    But let us return to the fundamental concepts of Buddhism
since Zen history unmistakably  records the understanding  of
these concepts in training and nourishment.  Belonging to the
Mahayana tradition, Zen utilizes many scriptures  within that
tradition,  such  as,  the  Diamond   Suutra,  La^nkaavataara
Suutra,    Madhyamaka    'Saastra,    Trim'sikaa,   Mahaayaa-
na'sraddhotpaada  'Saastra,  etc.,  but  any  Buddhist  would
quickly  remind us that these works have, as their basis, the
early  teachings  of the Buddha.  In this  sense, there  is a
continuity  in the whole Buddhist tradition and some scholars
have even stated that Zen is a rightful  return  to the early
Buddhist practice of seeking enlightenment  as exemplified by
the historical  Buddha.  Be that  as it may, it behooves  the
devotee  to learn and understand  what is in store for him in
the training  for enlightenment, such  training  entailing  a
complete mastery of the psychological  foundations of man.  I
will not go into the nature of man in any exhaustive way, but
present it in the broadest of outlines.
    The psychological nature of man is comprised of the basic
aggregates  of being  and the five skandhas  (ruupa, vedanaa,
samjnnaa, samskaara, vijnnaana).  In brief, these skandhas,as
the term itself reveals, are 'aggregating'  pheonomena, i.e.,
they are 'groupings'  or 'heapings'  that spell  out what  we
call individuality (pudgala) but, more specifically, are more
like individualizing  phenomenon.  Or, looked  at from the
other  side,  the  enlightened   side,  the  non-aggregating,
non-grouping, non-grasping  nature reveal a totally different
dimension  to a 'being'  where there is no hint of individua-
lity,  hence  the  non-self(anaatman) .   Ordinary   life  is
characterized always in terms of the aggregating pheomena due
to the inherent  grasping  and  clinging  to the elements  of
being.  The  nature  of being, as  we  normally  know  it, is
essentially  involved  in  the  establishment   of  something
permanent  and, coupled with this, there is the inability  to
ride out the impermanent rhythm of life.
    The  five  skandhas  completely  describe  man  from  his
corporeal  (ruupa) to the highly complex conscious (viijjanan)
realm  of existence.  The description  is even analyzed  into
realms  of being (12 aayatanas) which specify  the nature  of
contact   between   the   inner   ('subjective')  and   outer
('objective') realsm  of  man  and, still  further, into  the
finer complexes  of consciousness  (18 dhaatus) whereby  each
contact of inner and outer realms


produces   what  we  normally   refer  to  as  awareness   or
consciousness which becomes the basis of a full blown account
of ordinary cognitive and intel- lectual activity. Thus, just
to understand  the psychological  aspect  of man in the total
sense is an extremely  difficult  task that intimidates  all,
but a task which  cannot  be glossed  over or neglected.  The
relatively  short Diamond Suutra, for example, expands on the
five  skandhas, 12 aayatanas  and  18 dhaatus  but, alas, few
scholars  take heart  in them, ignoring  or glossing  over
their  discussion  as being  inconsequential.  We must remind
ourselves that the 6th patriach, Hui-neng, was enlightened by
reading this Sutra. Even the formidable La^nkaavataara Suutra
and  the  Madhyamaka  'Saastra  of  Naagaarjuna  treat  these
psychological  foundations  of  man, reminding  us  of  their
import and continuous presence in Buddhism.  But what has all
this  to do with  our  quest  for  experiential  reality? The
answer is, very much!
    The purpose of demonstrating the psychological phenomena,
in  a  word, is  to  counter-demonstrate  that  something  is
lacking, something  is  peculiar  or irregular  in the  whole
affair, that a cul-de-sac  will be reached if people go on as
they  do.  When  the irregularity  is sensed, for example, it
will show that there  is more than the psychological  factors
involved  in ordinary  experience, although  this  is not  so
obvious  at the beginning, due  to our overdependence  on the
conventionally    empirical   orientation   taken   for   our
perceptions.  The effect  of counter-demonstration  will show
up  ?lements  of being  that  only hamper, restrict, and defile
the experiential  process (such as, the rise of and adherence
to certain biases which block the development of a truly free
and easy  nature  of the  being  in question).  Such  a being
becomes  a proper candidate  for the realization  of the real
nature  of things  (tattvam, yathaabhuutam, literally, "truth
of existence," "thatness of being..).  These conceptions are,
to be sure, quite esoteric  to the non-Buddhist, but Buddhism
is here, once again, exploring yet another rendition of "some
eternal greatness incarnate in the passage of temporal fact."
But Buddhism,this  time, goes  further  with  its  own unique
doctrine  for that "passage of temporal  fact," the so-called
dependent   or   relational   origination    (yuan-ch'i(h)  ,
    I have written elsewhere(12) that the doctrine of relational
origination   issues  forth  in  two  strains,  one  with  an
empirical nature and the other


without.  In the former, the empirical, ordinary conventional
language  and conceptualization  function as usual and we are
at home with them except that, unfortunately, they are in the
realm of the unenlightened  because of the insatiable, though
unconscious, grasping  of and adherence  to the  elements  of
being  (an  activity   which  I  have  referred   to  as  the
ontological imperative).  In the latter,that without epirical
nature, there  is  no  action  prompted  by  the  ontological
imperative   and  thus  no  empirical  elements  at  play  to
implicate a vision of reality based on those element.  Again,
the former or empirical realm is referred to by the Buddhists
as belonging  to the sammsaaric  realm, whereas  the latter or
non-empirical, is nirvaannic. Now, the Zennist knows all about
this dual nature in the experiential process, but he is still
in a bind in that he does  not know how to extricate  himself
from  it.  He  has  been  told, ad  nauseam, of  the  dictum:
"Everyday-mindedness is the Way" (attributed to Pai-chang and
also to Matsu), but there is something paradoxical  about it.
That is, participation in everyday activities comes naturally
for all of us, fast and easy, and yet there  is no end to the
so-called self-feeding discriminative  process, the perpetual
turning  of  the  sammsaaric  wheel  due  to  the  ontological
imperative. How can the Zennist solve the paradox?
    The Zennist must, first of all, acknowledge the fact that
the  experiential   process   in  the  nature  of  relational
origination is all that he has got and that he must seriously
address  himself  to its  understanding.  To ignore  it is to
remain in the samsaaric  realm.  He must thus concentrate  on
the rise of experiential  events  in terms of perceiving  the
nature of experiential  events in terms of perceiving  the
nature  of dependency  (yuan(i), pratyaya) and  relationality
(yin-yuan(j)   ,    yuan-ch'i(h)   ,    pratiitya-samutpaada,
pratiitya-samutpanna) of those events and attendant  elements
in the  total  context  of being.  This  is where  meditation
enters to pacify or calm down the grasping nature of the mind
(chih-cho(k), upaadaana, abhinive'sa).  This grasping  nature
belongs  to the unsettled  mind which has not as yet captured
the  middle  ground  (way) of existence  by hovering  between
substantive nature and non-substantive (the extremes of which
are self- destruction and nihilism). But the middle ground of
existence  is captured  only when one perceives  rightly  the
rise  and fall  of experiential  events, or, more  precisely,
when one is not attached to the elements of the process


of relational origination.  Naagaarjuna and Prajnnaapaaramita
thinkers have introduced  the concept of emptiness (k'ung(l),
'Suunyataa) to check  the grasping nature, the  ontological
force, and thereby reveal at once the nongrasping nature that
opens  up  a  new  vista  of  existence.  So  that  when  the
enlightened  person (bodhisavttva) perceives things under the
aegis  of emptiness, his  perception  is characterized  by an
initial  epistemic  control, i.e., prevention  of the rise of
ontological entities, which then discloses the wondrous realm
of the thatness of being (chen-ju(m), yathaabhuutam). However
tempting  it may be, the concept  of emptiness  must never be
lifted to a metaphysical level or reduced to an ontology.  In
the    statement,   "perception    under    the   aegis    of
emptiness,"there is no metaphysicizing nor ontologizing for
the aim is toward the sameness  or equality  of the nature of
things (p'ing teng(n), samataa).(13) Hui-neng  captured  this
undifferentiable  realm when, in his famous poem, he referred
to   the    "non-ex-    istence    of   things    from    the
beginning"(pen-lai-wu-i-wu(o)) and  set  the  stage  for  the
rapid growth and dissemination of Zen thought in China.
    In the Yogaacaara-vij~naanavaada  tradition, the  concept
of emptiness  is applied uniquely  to the Eight Consciousness
(vij~naana) theory. This theory is yet another development in
understanding  the psychological foundations of man, carrying
over  much  from  the  early   Buddhist   knowledge   of  the
psychological   elements   (skandhas,   aayatanas,   dhaatus)
discussed earlier,but going further into the subtle nature of
the discriminative  faculty (manas the 7th consciousness) and
the all-containing  receptacle of the mind (aalaya-vij~naana,
the 8th consciousness).  The Zennist, again, must be familiar
with  all  of this  but, as  in the  case  of early  Buddhist
psychology  he acknowledges  the samsaaric  nature  which now
refers   to   all   activities    relative   to   the   eight
consciousnesses and seeks a way out of it. This system
premises  three aspects  of man's nature  of being, i.e., the
imagined nature (parikalpita-svabhaava), the dependent nature
(paratantra-sabhava)      and      the      pure       nature
(parinisspanna-svabhaava), the first  two being  samsaric  and
the last nirvaanic.(14) The samsaaric  nature goes on because
the first two natures are characterized  by a perpetuation of
the clinging to unrealities (i.e., things, objects, elements,
etc.) which forces the turbulent  irning of the mind function
(prav.rtti).  But the trubulence  will stop by the removal of
all dichotomies, such as, the basic  division  into outer and
inner realsm


of existence, the removal of which will happen with the right
understanding   of   the   psychological   play   of  all
consciousnesses aided by emptiness ('suunyataa) to block any
entrance  or acceptance  of those  unrealities.  This is why,
rather  than  mere correction  of conceptualization, the very
foundation of conceptualization  is turned upside down, so to
speak, to make one realize  the pure realm.  This process  is
known  as  the  ultimate  turning  over  (paraav.rtti) of the
turbulence  (prav.rtti) ;  the  result  of  turning  over  is
referred    to   as   consciousness-only    (wei   shih(P)  ,
vij~naptimaatra),  which  is  another  way  of  describing
perception  under  the aegis  of emptiness.  This is then the
basis upon which the Zennist will speak of the mind-only (wei
hsin(q),  citta-maatra) doctrine.  As  we  can  now  see, the
consciousness-only   or  mind-only  doctrine  lodges  in  the
natural  everyday  function  of  our  senses,  including  the
mind,but the whole experiential  process has been cleansed by
meditative discipline (yogaacaara).
    In this connection, it ought to be mentioned  that it was
Naagaarjuna  who  best  captured  the Buddh's  spirit  of the
existential  parity of samsaara  and nirvaanna  which gave the
Mahaayaana   tradition  the  necessary  ingredient   for  its
eventual    development     and    spread,    although    the
Praj~naapaaramitaa  literature that preceded Naagaarjuna  who
first  laid  the  foundation  of the  parity  concept  in his
formulation  of the Four-fold  Noble Truth which starts  with
suffering  (duhkha) and ends  with non-suffering  within  the
selfsame  ground  of existence.  Put  in a more  metaphorical
sense, the realization  of the rise  of suffering, its cause,
is at once  the  realization  of the  roots  of its  ultimate
cessation.  All  other  elements  or conceptions  toward  the
enlightened  realm  are nothing  but footnotes  to this great
insight  of the  total  parity  of existence.  Based  on this
insight,  where  nothing  extraneous  exists, I  have  always
referred to Buddhism as the most thorought going naturalistic
system.   Zen   or  the  Zennist   surely   exemplifies   the
crystallized version of this naturalism.
    In  sum, then, Naagaarjuna's  genius  permitts  us to see
clearly  that, shorn  of fragmentation  by the imposition  of
substantive  natures  or elements  (savbhaava),  the realm of
reality is before our very eyes! The relational origination
is always  the ground  of suffering  as well  as the selfsame
ground of non-suffering  or liberation, the connection of the
two can  only  be 'experienced'  by the  introduction  of the
concept of emptiness to hold


all  elements  in check  and simultaneously  permit  the  new
ground  to rear  itself.  If  emptiness  is  to  exhibit  the
dependent  nature  or mutual  reference  of elements  at play
(praj~napti  upaadaaya), then  it  is  also  the  concept  to
exhibit  the limits  of this dependency  or mutuality.  Being
ever  faithful  to the teachings  of the  Buddha, Naagaarjuna
concludes  that  relational  origination, as seen  under  the
aegis of emptiness, is also the middle  way.(15) We have thus
made a full  circle, as Naagaarjuna  has succinctly  stated-
but, ironically, the circle  of existence, i.e., roots of the
mannddala, has been  present  all along.  The middle  way which
avoids the extremes must be nascently present in our everyday
ways (activities) of existence;  to say otherwise  would  not
only complicate matters abstractly  but would introduce alien
elements into our very existence.
    Buddhist  reality,  then,  functions  in  a  total  sense
regardless  of the sammsaaric or nirvaannic realm.  It can only
be  realized   by  a  highly   disciplined   training   which
consummates in enlightenment, the uprooting of suffering from
its  very  basis.  Nothing  short  will  suffice  or succeed.
Suffering, in other words, is a total ontologized  phenomenon
in the sense that the basis of a single element  of suffering
is related  to the whole  being  and that, when the uprooting
occurs, the result  will be a total phenomenon.  In this way,
we may say with  all Buddhists  that  ignorance  (wu-ming(r),
avidyaa) and enlightenment(wu(g),bodhi) are two poles  of the
selfsame  phenomenon, one  of-which  is bound  and the  other
unbound, ontologically speaking.
    As  experiential  reality  is  taking  place  within  the
context of impermanence,the grasp of it must necessarily come
about   drastically   and   abruptly.   The  Zen  method   of
enlightenment  carries  these drastic  and abrupt means which
dare the devotee to act and respond in uncommon ways, all the
while  keeping  his  senses, including  the mind, wide  open,
resilient, total and full. He is unruffled by the paradoxical
nature of
sa.msaara  and  nirvaa.na, and  encouraged  and motivated  to
explore  its  depth  by  avoiding  entanglement  with  things
logical  and  conceptual.  The  Japanese  Zen  master,  Dogen
(1200-53), gave a graphic description  of the sammsaaric bound
life as katto(s) (vines), a life depicted  as wisteria  vines
entwining among themselves  in which the condition gets worse
and  worse.(l6) So beneath  all  the simplicity  and  artless
antics  of  the  devotee, the  ground  is  prepared  for  the
ultimate event. The method is gradual in the sense that


step  by step analysis, understanding  and concretion  of the
facts  of  existence  are  brought  together, but  the  final
enlightenment must come abruptly or suddenly.(17)
    In   contrast    to   the    Zen   abrupt    method    of
enlightenment,there  is the  Taoist  quietistic  method.  But
these two methods are not really contradictory since Zen, for
example, incorporates the quietistic nature in its meditative
process.  There  is  actually  no  difference  in the  Taoist
"forgetting  himself"  and the Zennist concept  of losing his
self.  Any devotee, eiher Taoist  or Zennist, may spend hours
"honing  up" for the final grasp  of reality, but he must not
waste  his  time  in futile  "brick  grinding"  to produce  a
mirror, or in squeamish rituals upholding Confucian virtues.
    The leading philosophic doctrine in Taoist quietism is
action-in-nonaction (wei wu-wei(t)).  Many interpretations
have   been   offered   on  this  important   doctrine,  from
laissez-faire  to do-nothing, but  its significance  will  be
missed  if there is no focus  on the glimpses  of reality  as
discussed  earlier.  Action  (wei) does  not take place  in a
vacuum but requires  a 'filler'  to function  properly.  That
'filler'  is provided  by the concept  of non-being  (wu(u)),
which  is part  and  parcel  of  non-action  (wu-wei) or vice
versa, and which is also the reality  glimpsed  in the manner
of the galloping horse.  It(wu) is like the interstices  of a
net and yet more, since it also inludes  the warp and woof of
the net itself -  the whole reality.  Thus, wu or the Tao are
primitives,the uncarved  block  (su p'o(v)), which  presences
itself  in the actions  taken  by man but does not force  its
manifestation.  Through  action  the nature of non-action  is
known, but  non-action  is always  the  foundation  of action.
There is a parity of process involved  here but not identical
with the Buddhist  kind, though similar  strains  run through
both.  Chapter  42 of the Tao Te Ching exhibits  how the Tao,
One,Two, Three and Ten Thousand Things implicate one another.
It is an affirmation  of the cosmological, atemporal analysis
of the phenomena of existence.  Chapter 1 of the same work, a
capsule presentation of Taoism, also spells out the nature of
parity  in subtle  ways, where non-being  is in the realm  of
heaven  and earth, and being  in the realm of all things.  In
sum, both being  and non-being  are the cosmological  twins -
always co-existent and co-functioning.
    Our discussion  of certain  common grounds  of discourse
has also


touched  on  certain  uncommon  grounds, but  the  parity  of
existence  demands the common and uncommon grounds be treated
within  the selfsame  reality  in the quest  for the  dynamic
truth  of  existence.   Metaphysically   and  cosmologically,
similiar grounds are covered in both systems and they seem to
collapse   at  some  points;   however,  real   and  alledged
identities must be sifted and never pushed too far. It was no
accident,  historically,  that  those  Chinese  who  took  up
Buddhism  seriously, like Hui-yuan and Seng-chao, were former
Taoists.  It is impossible to find out how much of Taoism was
abandoned  and how much  of Buddhism  was incorporated  in to
their final philosophies. It is enough for all of us today to
embark on the road in search of "the true man of no-rank."



1.  It is easy to speak in terms  of the form and content  of
    experience, but we must not lose  sight  of the fact that
    these are merely abstract  terms.  They describe  certain
    aspects of experience  but never experience-as-such, with
    which both Zen and Taoism  are profoundly  concerned.  As
    'subsequent discussion will attempt to show, both systems
    are  interested  in the  grasp  of the  true  reality  of
    experience and not its peripheral indirect elements which
    are only beclouding and disparaging.
2.  William Barrett, ed., Zen Buddhism: Selected Writings of
    D.T. Suzuki. New York: Doubleday& Company, Inc., 1956. pp.
3.  Ibid.
4.  Alfred North Whitehead, Adventures  of Ideas.  New York:
    MacMillan Company, 1933. p.41.
5.  Ludwig   Wittgenstein,  Tractatus   Logico-Philosophicus.
    London: Routledge  & Kegan  Paul  Ltd., 1949.  He saw the
    mission of philosophy  to be analysis  of thought and not
    about reality as such. The real world, so-called, is left
    to the sciences.
6.  Burton Watson, tr., The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu. New
    York: Columbia University Press, 1968. p. 49.


7.  Ibid.;p.330.
8.  Wing-tsit Chan, tr. & compiled, A Source Book in Chinese
    Philosophy, Princton: Princeton University  Press, 1963.
    pp. 190-91, especially his comments. Also, A.C.  Graham,
    "Chuang-tzu's  Essay on Seeing Things  as Equal," in Hist
    -ory of of Religions, Vol. 9.  Nos.  2 & 5.  p.  149.
9.  The Complete  Works of Chuang   Tru,p.49.
10. A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy.  p.189. See also The
    Complete Works of Chuang Tzu. p. 47.
11. The Comp Works of Chuang  Tzu.  p.  48.  Italics  mine as
12. "Two Strains in Buddhist  Causality, " Journal of Chinese
    Philosophy; Vol. 12, 1 (March 1985), 49-56.
13. The obvious  question  here is, how close is the Buddhist
    concept  of  sameness  (samataa,  p'ing-teng(n) ) to  the
    Taoist equality  of things (ch'i-wu(e))? This is surely a
    point of contact  between  the two systems.  The Buddhist
    concept refers  to the ultimate  nature of reality, i.e.,
    the enlightened  state  where  everything  is seen without
    a discriminating eye.  In this sense, it is relative to the
    Buddhas'  and Bodhisattvas'  way,of having regard for all
    creatures, hence the wisdom of sameness  (smataaj~naana).
    In  Taoism, the  monkeys  being  fed  3 or 4 nuts  in the
    morning and 4 or 3 nuts in the afternoon certainly show a
    difference  in the feedings  but the nuts  in combination
    add up to the same  numerical  figure, seven.  Still, the
    numerical  figure must be transcended  in order to arrive
    at  the  ch'i-wu  conception   of  things.   It  is  more
    cosmological than temporal.
14. Vasubandhu, Tri.m'slkaa, Verses  20-23;  see also  Source
    Book in Chinese Philosophy,pp 374-395.
15. Naagaarjuna, Muulamadhyamakakaarikaa, XXIV, 18.
16. Doogen Zenji,Shooboogenzoo,Chapter 38,Kattoo.
17. For example, it would  be difficult  to speak of a person
    becoming  gradually  good  or  gradually  evil  for  that
    matter, although  on the surface  such descriptions of
    human traits  are always  quite attractive, welcomed, and
    easily believed in.  Goodness  and evilness, however, are
    more  apparent  than  real, and  there  are no shades  in
    either one.

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