Buddhist Meditations
The Poetics of Ch'an:Upaayic Poetry and Its Taosist Enrichment
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The Poetics of Ch'an:Upaayic Poetry and Its Taosist Enrichment

Sandra A.Wawrytko
Chung-Hwa Buddhist Journal
No.5 July,1992
Chung-Hwa Insitute of Buddhist Studies






            The inherent suitability  of the poetic form for

        communicating  the ineffable  has long been known to

        poet-practioners in all mystical traditions.  Poetry

        offers  possibilities  of indirection  and evocation

        far   beyond   those   of  any  prose   style.   The

        open-endedness of a poem serves the same function as

        the blank  space  in a Ch'an painting, allowing  the

        audience  to resonate  (yu-yun, Japanese  yoin) with

        the work and, most importantly, with the artist.  In

        this  way, "Artistic  appreciation  is...transformed

        into meditation."

            This paper discusses the pivotal role played by

        poetry,as it evolved from the Sanskrit gaathaa found

        in  Buddhist  suutras,  within  the  Ch'an  sect  of

        Buddhism.   After  a  brief  review  of  the  poetic

        component  in  early  Buddhist  literature, we  will

        consider   the  indigenous   Chinese  tradition   of

        poetically-expressed  philosophy that influenced the

        evolution of sinitic Buddhism. The creative mergence

        of  these  diverse  sources  within  Ch'an  is  then

        considered   through   examples   of   the   upaayic

        application  of  poetry  in  terms  o f a three-fold

        process of awakening.

            The opening section describes the poetic path to

        enlightenment, focussing on the function of gaathaas

        in the Buddhist  literature.  Of primary  importance

        here is an understnading of why and how poetry could

        function  as a vehicle of Dharma in the suutras from

        the very inception of Buddhism.

            The poetic  precursors  in the Taoist  tradition

        are then considered. Two roots of the Chinese poetic

        tradition  generally  have been identified-the  Shih

        Ching   (Classic   of  Poetry)  emphasized   by  the

        Confucian school and the Ch'u Tz'u. (Elegies of Ch'u

        or Song  of the  South) displaying  affinities  with

        Taoist  philosophy.  The latter  currents  were best

        able   to  resonate   with   Buddhist   thought,  as

        exemplified   in  Lao  Tzu's   Tao   Te  Ching,  the

        Neo-Taoist  currents in Liu I-ch'ing's  New Tales of

        the World (Shih-shuo Hsin-yu), and the transitional,

        Buddhist tinged lines of T'ao






            The Ch'an synthesis reflects a threefold process

        of enlightenment, sometimes characterized as the Way

        of the Ancient  masters, The Ch'an  of Voidness, and

        the Ch'an of the Patriarchs.  This same process  can

        be traced in certain poetic expressions of the Ch'an

        practitioners,including Hui-Neng,Pai-chang Huai-hai,

        and   Hsiang-yen   Chih-hsien.   A   more   in-depth

        epistemological analysis of the threefold experience

        of awakening  is presented  in terms  of the  famous

        enlightenment  poem of Ch'ing-yuan Wei-hsin. The ex-

        position  aims  to  demonstrate  that,  building  on

        Indian sourecs, and enriched  by Chinese  poetic and

        Taoist  traditions, Ch'an  poetics  evolved  into  a

        powerful upaayic tool.







            The inherent suitability  of the poetic form for

        communicating  the ineffable  has long been known to

        poet-practitioners   in  all  mystical   traditions.

        Examples  may be cited from such diverse  sources as

        the  Psalms  of the  Bible  and  the Bhagavad  Gita.

        Pieces  have  been  penned  by poets  as diverse  as

        Kukai, Mechthild of Magdeburg, and William Blake.(2)

            Poetry offers possibilities  of indirection  and

        evocation  far beyond those of any prose style.  Its

        metaphorical  use  of  language  is  able  to elicit

        meanings  without  bluntly  asserting   them.   More

        importantly,  perhaps, it  has  the  advantage  over

        clearcut declarations  of suggesting  a multiplicity

        of   meanings,  suited   to  its   multiplicity   of

        audiences.  Here  indeed  it truly  can be said that

        "less is more": less explicit  content  leaves  room

        for   more   implicit   connotations.    Thus,   the

        openendedness of a poem serves the  same function as

        the blank  space  in a Ch'an painting, allowing  the

        audience  to resonate  (yu-yun,)Japanese  yoin) with

        the work and, most importantly, with the artist.  In

        this way, "Artistic  appreciation  is..  transformed

        into   meditation."(3)

            The following  discussion  concerns  the pivotal

        role  played  by  poetry, as  it  evolved  from  the

        Sanskrit  gaathaa  found in Buddhist  suutra, within

        the Ch'an sect of Buddhism.  After a brief review of

        the poetic component  in early Buddhist  literature,

        we will consider the indigenous Chinese tradition of

        poetically-expressed  philosophy that influenced the

        evolution of sinitic Buddhism. The creative mergence

        of  these  diverse  sources  within  Ch'an  is  then

        considered   through   examples   of   the   upaayic

        application  of  poetry  in  terms  of  a three-fold

        process of awakening. This leads to an outline for a

        poetics of Ch'an as reflected  in an epistemological

        analysis  of  a famous  set  of Ch'an  enlightenment

        poems. Lucien Stryk observes:

            Writers   of  such  poems   did  not  think   of

        themselves as poets. Rather they were


        (1) Ke-tao(Japanese, Kado), the poetry way.

        (2)For an inter-cultural wealth of examples, see The

           Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry,

           Stephen  Mitchell  ed.  (New York: Harper  & Row,


        (3) Horst  Hammitzsch, Zen  in the  Art  of the  Tea

            Ceremony, Peter  Lemesurier  trans.  (New  York:

            E.P. Dutton, 1988), p.93.





        gifted  men-masters,  monks, some  laymen-who  after

        momentous   experiences    found   themselves   with

        something  to say which  only a poem could  express.

        Enlightenment, point  of  their  meditation, brought

        about  transformation  of  the  spirit;  a poem  was

        expected to convey the essential experience  and its



        As will be argued  here, these  poems  do not merely

        document and validate the enlightenment  experience,

        but also played an important  role as catalysts  and

        guides for progress along the enlightenment path.


        The Function of Gaathaas in the Buddhist Literature


            The Sanskrit  term gaathaa  (Chinese  chia-t'uo;

        Japanese ga-da( is a "song...a metrical narrative or

        hymn, with  moral  purport, described  as  generally

        composed  of  thirty-two  characters,..  a  detached

        stanza." (5) Gaathaas are classified  among the nine

        classes  of  suutras  in  Theraraada   Buddhism,  as

        distinguished   from  actual   sermons,  prophecies,

        etc.(6) In the Mahaayaana  canon, gaathaas represent

        one of the twelve divisions of the canon.(7)

            Gaathaas  often  appear  within  the context  of

        suutras  as  means  of  further  explicating  stated

        points.  For example, the Diamond  Suutra  concludes

        with  a brief  poetic  pronouncement  that restates,

        while reinforcing, the abstract  message of the text

        in terms of concrete images:


            All phenomena  are  like

            A dream, an illusion, a bubble  and  a shadow,

            Like dew and lightening.

            Thus should you meditate upon them.(8)


        Similarly,  in the La^nkaavataara Suutra the  Buddha

        punctuates his discourse with


        (4) Lucien Stryk in his Introduction  to The Penguin

            Book  of Zen  Poetry, Lucien  Stryk  and Takashi

            Ikemoto  eds., trans.  (New York: Penguin Books,

            1981), p.13

        (5) William Edward Soothill, A Dictionary of Chinese

            Buddhist  Terms  (London:  Kegan  Paul,  Trench,

            Trubner & Co., Ltd., 1934), p.225a.

        (6) Soothill, p.19b.

        (7) Soothill, p.44a.





        gaathaas   summarizing   the  main  thrust   of  his

        exposition.  The same rhetoric  style is adopted  by

        many  who  preach.  For  example, Jesus  of Nazareth

        often  avails  himself  of  vivid  metaphorical  and

        allegorical language to convey his message about the

        Kingdom of God.

            It is quite likely  that these poetic  phrasings

        of doctrine  represent  a mnemonic  device  for  the

        listeners,  with  the  rhyme   scheme   serving   to

        facilitate  memorization.   The  necessity  of  such

        devices was further reinforced  by the fact that the

        sermons of the Buddha were not written down for some

        four hundred  years, but committed  to memory by his

        followers  and  transmitted  orally.(9) The concrete

        language  of the  poetic  versions  also  stimulated

        comprehension  by  offering  an  alternative  to the

        abstract   profundity   of   the    concepts   being

        expressed, as well  as making  the encoded  messages

        more accessible to less sophisticated members of the


            An  additional  factor here was  the  difficulty

        inherent   in  communicating   certain   fundamental

        aspects  of  the  Dharma.  As  a preclude  to Ch'an,

        Buddhism in India already was exploring the rarefied

        realm   of   spiritual   experience    that   defied

        verbalization.    The   following    passage    from

        A.s.tasaahasrikaa  Praj~naapaaramitaa  outlines  the

        linguistic and conceptual liabilities  of discussing



        The  Enlightened   One  sets  forth   in  the  Great

        Ferryboat  (Mahaayaana);  but there is nothing  from

        which  he sets forth.  He starts  from the universe;

        but in truth  he starts  from  nowhere.  His boat is

        manned with all the perfections  (paaramitaas);  and

        is manned  by no one.  It will  find its supprot  on

        nothing whatsoever  and will find its support on the

        state  of  all-knowing, which  will  serve  it as  a

        non-support.  Moreover, no one has ever set forth in

        the Great ferryboat;  no one will ever set froth  in

        it, and no one  is setting forth in it now.  And why



        (8) The Diamond Suutra, Charles Luk trans., included

            in the Bilingual  Buddhist  Series, Suutras  and

            Scriptures,  Vol.1   (Taipei,  Taiwan:  Buddhist

            Culture Service, 1962), p.132

        (9) Edward  Conze  notes: "For  four  centuries  the

            Scriptures  went  not  written  down,  and  only

            existed  in the memory  of the monks.  Like  the

            Brahmins, the Buddhists had a strong aversion to

            writing down religious knowledge." Buddhism: Its

            Essence and Development (New York: Harper & Row,

            1959), p.89.





            this? Because neither the one setting  forth nor

            the goal for which he sets forth is to be found:

            therefore,  who  should  be  setting  forth, and

            whither? (10)

        This situation  created  quite a quandary  for those

        who  nonetheless  sought  to propagate  the  Dharma.

        Thus, the following guidelines were set forth:


            ‧Rely on the teaching, not the teacher.

            ‧Rely on the meaning, not the letter.

            ‧Rely on the definitive  meaning (nitaartha),

              not the interpretable meaning (neyaartha).

            ‧Rely  on  wisdom  (j~naana), not  on  [ordinary]

              consciousness (vij~naana). (11)


        Each of these guidelines redirects the focus away

        from  intellectual  abstractions  and  back  to  the

        original   experiential   core   of   the   Buddha's

        enlightenment.  The same point is emphasized  by the

        Buddha  in his parting  advice  to his disciples  to

        diligently   pursue   their   individual   paths  to


            And   so  the  stage   was  set  for  linguistic

        indirection   and   evocation,  summarized   in  the

        well-known four points of Ch'an, often attributed to



           ‧ direct transmission outside the Scriptures;

           ‧ non-reliance on verbal expression;

           ‧ direct pointing to the hear/mind(hsin);

           ‧ seeing  into one's  original  nature  (hsing) to

           ‧ realize our inherent Buddhahood.


        Properly  applied, poetry can satisfy  each of these

        requirements: it goes beyond the actual  content  of

        orthodox   texts,  it  utilizes   language   without

        limiting itself to sim---


        (10) A.s.tasaaharkaa  Praj~naapaarmitaa  (The Wisdom

             that  has Gone  Beyond), as quoted  by Heinrich

             Zimmer  in  Philosophies  of India  (Princeton,

             1951), p.485.

        (11) Catuhpratisaranasutra  ( Sutra   of  the   Four

             Refuges), as quoted  by Donald  S.Lopez  in his

             introduction   to  his  edited  text,  Buddhist

             Hermeneutics  (Honolulu: University  of  Hawaii

             Press, 1988), p.3.





        ple  denotation,  and  it  provides   a  species  of

        ostensive  definition  through  its  marshaling   of

        images.  Finally, by  means  of the  above  methods,

        poetry  provides  insight  into the inmost depths of


            The mergence of Buddhism  and poetry through the

        common  thread  of enlightenment  was aptly noted by

        literary critic Yen Yuu in the twelfth century:


            Generally  speaking, the Way of Buddhism lies on

            enlightenment.  The way of poetry  also  lies on

            enlightenment.     Meng    Hao-yen's    academic

            achievement   is  far  below   that  of  Han  Yu

            (769-824).  Meng's  poetry  is much better  than

            that of Han Yu. The reason for this is that Meng

            has  achieved  enlightenment, but  Han has  not.



        Accordingly,    Buddhists     were     distinguished

        contributors  to the Chinese poetic tradition, while

        Chinese  poets were greatly  influenced  by Buddhist





        The Twofold Root of the Chinese Poetic Tradition


            Chinese   culture   was  eminently   suited   to

        appreciate  the  Buddhist  use of poetry  due to its

        centuries-long  cultivation of poetic sensibilities.

        Being grounded in the same philosophical perspective

        of reality that suffuses the I Ching, Chinese poetry

        from   its   inception   has   evidenced   a  highly

        sophisticated  use of imagery.  The images  were not

        construed  as mere metaphors, but in fact  represent

        metaphysics  made  concrete: "the Chinese  poem  was

        assumed   to   invoke   a  network   of  preexisting

        correspondences-between  poet  and  world  and among

        clusters of images." (13) Thus, philosophers such as

        Confucius   made  poetry  a  focal  point  of  moral

        education.  (14)

            Two books generally are considered  to represent

        the earliest collections of


        (12) Yen  Yu,  as  quoted  by  Chang  Chung-yuan  in

             Creativity  and  Taoism:  A  Study  of  Chinese

             Philosophy, Art, and Poetry (New York: Harper &

             Row, 1970), p.186.

        (13) Pauline  Yu, The  Reading  of  Imagery  in  the

             Chinese   Poetic   Tradition   (Princeton,  New

             Jersey:  Princeton  University  Press,  1987) ,


        (14) For a fuller discussion  of this point, see Yu,

             "Imagery in the Classic of Poetry," pp.44-83.





        Chinese  poetry, the Shih Ching (Classic  of Poetry)

        and the Ch'u Tz'u (Elegies  of Ch'u  or Song  of the

        South).  Geographically  considered, they  represent

        respectively  the northern  and southern  strains of

        early  Chinese  civilization, the first centered  in

        the  vicinity  of the  Yellow  River  (Shandong  and

        Hopei) and the second  in the Yangtze  river  valley

        (Hunan  and  Hupeh) .Culturally,  these  anthologies

        contain   the  twofold  root  of  Chinese   literary

        tradition,    whose    offshoots    developed     as

        manifestations   of    two    essentially    diverse

        approaches  to life, two unique ways of being in the


            The Shih Ching anthology consists of folk songs,

        court compositions, and ritual hymns. The preface to

        the text succinctly  conveys the reigning perception

        of  poetry's   origins   within   individual   human

        experience,  as   well   as   its   social-political



            Poetry  is where  the intent  of the  heart/mind

            (hsin) goes.  What  in the  heart  is intent  is

            poetry when emitted in words.  An emotion  moves

            within and takes form in words.  If words do not

            suffice, then  one sighs;  if sighing  does  not

            suffice, then one prolongs  it [the emotion]  in

            song;   if  prolonging  through  song  does  not

            suffice,then  one unconsciously  dances  it with

            hands and feet.  Emotions are emitted in sounds,

            and when sounds  form a pattern, they are called

            tones.  The tones of a well-governed  world  are

            peaceful   and  lead   to  joy,  its  government

            harmonious;  the tones  of a chaotic  world  are

            resentful  and  angry, its government  perverse;

            the tones  of a defeated  state are mournful  to

            induce  longing, its people in difficulty.  Thus

            in regulating success and failure, moving heaven

            and  earth, and  causing  spirits  and  gods  to

            respond, nothing comes closer than poetry. (15)

            In  contrast,  the  Ch'u   Tz'u   represents   a

        collection  of poems composed in the southern  state

        of Ch'u, many of which  are attributed  to Ch'u Yuan

        (343? -278 b.c.e.), the first Chinese  poet known by

        name.  These  poems  differ  both stylistically  and

        thematically  from  the  poems  of the  Shih  Ching,

        bearing the unmistakable  influence of the religious

        culture  of the Ch'u state, which  was more  closely



        (15) Great  Preface  (Ta  Hsu) to  the  Shih  Ching,

             attribute to Wei Hong; included in Yu,pp.31-32.





        nected  to its tribal origins  than was the agrarian

        culture to the north.  The Ch'u Tz'u poems are known

        for  detailed  descriptions  of magical  flights  to

        heavenly kingdoms and of encounters with the various

        gods  and goddesses  of the Ch'u pantheon, generally

        associated  with various  rivers and mountains.  The

        poets  of the south  anthologized  in the Ch'u  Tz'u

        blithely  describe  the ecstatic spirit journeys  of

        shamans  and meeting  with divine beings.  Exorcism,

        prophecy,  divination,  dream   interpretation,  and

        other occult  activities  were practiced  by the wu,

        many of whom were women.


        Lao Tzu


            Not  surprisingly, the  reputed  founder  to the

        school  of Taoism, Lao Tzu (Li Erh), is said to have

        been a native  of Ch'u.  Moreover, adherents  of the

        Taoist school were also predominantly from the south

        (as opposed  to the northern  base  of the Confucian

        school, Ju Chia).  Lao Tzu's  preference  for poetic

        expression  is reflected in the style of his reputed

        text,  the  Tao  Te  Ching.   The  mystically-tinged

        elements   of  the  Ch'u   anthology   reappear   as

        embodiments of metaphysical  truths in Taoist texts.

            Although  poetical in content, the form in which

        the Tao Te Ching  is written  does  not  conform  to

        traditional  models  of the  shih;  it does  fit the

        broader  definition  of poetry as recognized  in the

        West  by virtue  of its  frequent  use of rhyme  and

        pervasive  imagery.  By way of illustration, let  us

        examine the images in the seminal opening chapter of

        the Tao Te Ching.

            The tao  that  can be taoed  is not the enduring


            The name  that can be named  is not the enduring


            As  No-thingness  [Tao]  is named the origin  of

            Heaven  and Earth;

            As Being [Tao]  is named  the mother  of the Ten

            Thousand Things.

            Thus, always   in   terms   of  No-thingness,

            One contemplates its [hidden] wonders;

            Always in terms   of  Being,

            One   contemplates   its [manifested] forms.

            These two spring forth from the same [source],





            And yet they differ in name.

            Both are called "profoundly dark";

            Profoundly dark and ever profoundly dark,

            The gateway to infinite wonders.(16)


        In these lines Lao Tzu initiates the questioning  of

        the   legitimacy,  and  even   the  possibility,  of

        confining   reality   to  the  limits  of  language,

        qualifying   him  as  a  precursor  of  Ch'an.   The

        "enduring Tao" as all-pervasive  substratum  remains

        everelusive, nor can it be fixated  by a mere  name.

        The word "enduring" (ch'ang) is sometimes translated

        as "constant"  or "eternal".  The Chinese  character

        depicts  a flag  outside  the  headquarters  of  the

        commanding general. Extrapolating from this concrete

        image, the flag may  be interpreted  as a sign  or a

        symbol of leadership. Furthermore, the flag connotes

        a special  sense  of  movement  within  constancy, a

        supple  flexibility  fluttering  in the breeze.  The

        sense  of stability  amid  flux is missing  from the

        word "eternal," which refers to something outside of

        time, outside of change (e.g., the Platonic  Forms).

        Tao,   however,   is   immanent   in,  rather   than

        transcendent  of, the  world  of  change-it  is  the

        changeless  that endures in the midst of change.  In

        the Silk manuscript  the word  "heng"  (constant) is

        inserted  in  place  of  "ch'ang."   This  character

        depicts the heart/mind  (hsin) in a constant  orbit,

        revolving  around  and  around  in  a  set  pattern.

        Despite  the differences  between the words heng and

        ch'ang, they do share a common sense of movement  in

        accordance with a natural rhythm. In contrast to the

        western philosophical preference for an otherworldly

        ("real world") perfection that is eternal, Lao Tzu's

        Tao is consistent with the traditional  Chinese view

        of  dynamic  reality, as contained  in the  I Ching.

        Change, then, is not an affront  or a weakness  or a

        negation, but simply and admitted characteristic  of


            The name  given  to Tao, is not  its real  name,

        merely a heuristic device. What is unique about this

        so-called  Nameless  Tao is that not only can it not

        be named  by us, but moreover  no name  can ever  be

        applicable  to it.  The ultimate  reality  cannot be

        encompassed  within the necessarily restricted scope

        of linguist  patterns.  The problem  resides  not in

        Tao, but  rather  in the  inherent  deficiencies  of



        (16) Charles We-hsun Fu and Sandra A. Wawrytko,

           trans., Lao  Tzu: Tao  Te Ching: A New  Annotated

           Translation (forthcoming from Greenwood Press).





        discourse, and so the essential dissonance  existing

        between language and Taoism is revealed. Language is

        fundamentally  based  on  naming.  Names  provide  a

        common  point of reference  for communication;  they

        define and delimit reality within the confines  most

        comfortable  to human comprehension.  Thus, language

        is best able to deal with tangible objects and their

        properties  (such  as color) that  fall  within  the

        range of human experience.  The cultural  nuances of

        that experience  occasionally  result  in words that

        defy  translation  when  a corresponding  experience

        does not exist in the second culture.(17)

            The  strength  of language  allows  us to fix or

        secure  things by means of a name or label.  However

        such  fixation  also  can be fatal.  Thus, Friedrich

        Nietzsche sarcastically berates western philosophers

        for a mind-set grounded  in abstract  verbalization:


            You ask me which of the philosophers' traits are

            really  idiosyncrasies? For example, their  lack

            of historical  sense, their  hatred  of the very

            idea of becoming, their  Egypticism.  They think

            that they show their respect for a subject  when

            they de-historicize  it, sub specie aetenuu-when

            they turn it into a mummy. All that philosophers

            have handled  for thousands  of years  have been

            concept-mummies;   nothing  real  escaped  their

            grasp alive.  When these honorable  idolaters of

            concepts  worship  something, they  kill  it and

            stuff it;  they threaten  the life of everything

            they worship. Death, change, old age, as well as

            procreation  and  growth,  are  to  their  minds

            objections-even refutations.(18)


        In   sharp   contrast,  Lao   Tzu   emphasizes   the

        flexibility of names vis-a-vis Tao.  The name Mother

        of the Ten Thousand  Things applies  to Tao as Being

        (yu), that is, the "manifest forms" that are subject

        to   linguistic   analysis   and   fixation.   These

        correspond to the limits of cognition and intellect.

        But it also has another name, "No-


        (17) One example would be the Japanese  phrase "mono

             no  aware."  There  is no exact  equivalent  in

             English, inasmuch  as  its  cultural  aesthetic

             does not include  nor value precisely  the same

             experience as does the Japanese aesthetic.

        (18) Friedrich  Nietzsche, "Reason'  in Philosophy,"

             from  Twilight  of the  Idols, Walter  Kaufmann

             trans.  And included in The Portable  Nietzsche

             (New York: Viking Press, 1968), p.479.





        thingness"  (wu) as "origin of Heaven and Earth." In

        the latter sense we are forced  beyond the limits of

        language  and into the realm of the wondrous (miao).

        This  is the same rarefied  territory  tread  by the

        Ch'an  Buddhist, a region  suffused  with  ineffable

        spirituality.  Deprived  of the crutch  of language,

        how  are we to communicate  such  things? The Taoist

        invites  us to soar on the wings of poetry, engaging

        our creative imagination and transcending  cognitive

        reason.  Lao Tzu seems to echo the insights of Lu Ji

        regarding the creative process:


            Impose on empty nonbeing to ask forth being,

            Knock on deepest silence in search of sound.(19)


        Although  both  perspectives,  the  Mother  and  the

        Origin, are possible, there is a definite  priority,

        ontologically speaking, given to No-thingness.

            One might  interpret  this  passage  as a set of

        guidelines  suggesting  how  to reconcile  the  dual

        perspectives, later discussed  as the worldviews  of

        the  worldling  and  the Sage.  The worlding  is not

        totally  wrong  in  his  or her  perceptions, merely

        excessively  limited, a limitation  inherent  in the

        temptation to name, to verbalize, to define reality,

        thus bringing  it into our sphere  of influence  and

        control.  Another  image from chapter  38 serves  to

        clarify the relationship  between these two views in

        an appropriately poetic way:


            Those who have  foreknowledge  are [merely]  the

            flower of Tao,

            And the beginning of human folly.

            Accordingly, the accomplished  person  holds  to

            what is thick,

            And does not reside in what is thin;

            Holds  to the fruit  and does not reside  in the


            Therefore, prefers the one and avoids the other.


        The  flower  prefigures  the fruit, as the worldling

        does  the  Sage.  But  no fruit  is forthcoming  if,

        dazzled by the flower's beauty, we pluck it from the

        branch and


        (19) Lu Ji, Wen Xuan, 17/4b/p.309. as quoted by Yu,






        interrupt (wei) the natural cycle.


            The  key  word  in  the  lines  describing   the

        "manifest  forms"  versus  the "hidden  wonders"  is

        "contemplate"  (kuan).  Usually  this  character  is

        simply translated  as "see".  Yet it connotes  much,

        much more  than  mere  seeing;  it is a very special

        species  of seeing. Etymologically  it contains  two

        components-a  heron beside  an eye on two feet, that

        is, human vision. The encoded message, then, implies

        something unique about how this bird see.  The egret

        is  a water  bird  that  has  a very  characteristic

        survival  skill-it  stands perfectly  still for long

        periods  of time.  Rather  than  clumsily  splashing

        about the shallows  on its ungainly legs frightening

        its prey, it waits  unobtrusively, non-threateningly

        for the fish to come  to it, and then  strikes  with

        its long beak.(20)

            Perhaps  this is Lao Tzu's subtle recommendation

        for reading his text, for comprehending Tao.  If you

        pick up this book intending to force the meaning out

        of it you  will  never  be successful.  Instead, you

        have  to wait  for the meaning  to come to you.  The

        more  you  try to grasp  it and the more  you try to

        analyze  it, the deeper  you sink into the obscuring

        mire  of language.  Taoism  is, in that  sense, very

        demanding, it  requires  considerable  patience  and

        receptivity.  Receptivity  is the  key  point, being

        ready and able to resonate  with what reveals itself

        to you.  The same  can  be said  for the cultivation

        that precedes enlightenmental break-through in Ch'an


            The  closing  lines  of the  first  chapter  are

        equally     important     in     emphasizing     the

        interrelatedness    of    the    two    perspectives

        (paralleling  the  Samsaara/Nirvaa.na   mergence  in



            These two [the  manifest  forms  and the hidden

            wonders]   spring   forth   from   the  same


            And yet they differ in name.

            Both are called "profoundly dark,"


        (20) An alternative  etymology  interprets  kuan  in

             terms of a "bird's-eye  view" from the heights,

             and by extension meaning a look-out point, high

             tower, or Taoist monastery.





            Profoundly dark and ever profoundly dark,

            The Gateway to infinite wonders.


        Notice what Lao Tzu is describing here;  he does not

        offer  us  the  clear, glaring  truth, but  a  murky

        profundity.  He does not promise  infinite  wonders,

        only the Gateway, the point  of entry  is indicated.

        The rest of the way remains  for us to travel alone,

        again,  a  prefiguring  of  the  Ch'an  emphasis  on


            The character  rendered  here  as "profoundly

        dark" (hsuuan) depicts  a piece of silk thread which

        has been dipped in dye.  Hence, it bears the literal

        meaning  of  dark, darkened, and  by  extrapolation,

        something mysterious. This same character is used in

        combination with several others throughout the text:

        "the  profoundly  dark  mirror  (hsuan-lan) " or the

        inmost  heart/mind  (10);  "profoundly  dark  virtue

        (hsuante)," the most  deeply  rooted  of all virtues

        (51,65); "the profoundly dark female (hsuan-p'in), "

        embodying the Taoistically prioritized yin force (6)

        ;  "the profoundly dark union (hsuan-t'ung)" between

        ourselves and Tao(56,65).

            Furthermore, since this is a piece  of silk that

        has been dyed, one might  read this, hermeneutically

        speaking, as a spurious process.  The mystery is not

        really inherent in Tao any more than the darkness is

        inherent  to the  silk.  Tao  is  mysterious  to  us

        because  we have  artificially  distanced  ourselves

        from  it,  inducing  a  sense  of  estrangement  and

        alienation.  We have  mystified  it by our unnatural

        attempts  to make it conform to language  and logic.

        On the other  side of the gateway, when the barriers

        of   language    have   been   surmounted,   "subtle

        enlightenment (wei-ming)" awaits (chapter 36). It is

        precisely    this   something   else   that   defies

        expression, except by poetic indirection.

            The Buddhists  found  their  natural  allies  in

        the Taoist  camp.  The collaboration  began  with  a

        borrowing   of  Taoist   terminology   to  translate

        Buddhist  concepts  into  the  Chinese  intellectual

        context, culminating in the birth of a new school:


            Zen may.. be regarded as the fullest development

            of Taoism  by wedding  it to congenial  Buddhist

            insights  and the powerful  Buddhist  impulse of

            apostolic  zeal.  If  Buddhism  is  the  father,

            Taoism  is the mother of this prodigious  child.

            But there can be no denying that the child looks

            more like the mother than the child.(21)





        Neo-Taoist  Currents in Liu I-ch'ing's  New Tales of

        the World (Shih-shuo Hsin-yu)


        The   cultural   encounter   will   and   increasing

        adaptation   of  Buddhism  in  Chinese  intellectual

        circles  is recorded  in the pages of Liu I-ch'ing's

        classic  collection  of anecdotes, New Tales  of the

        World  (Shih-shuo  Hsin-yuu).  It also  records  the

        skirmishes between the "Conformist" Confucian forces

        and  the  "Naturalist"   Taoist   camp,  vying   for

        political control of the court. The execution of the

        out-spoken  naturalist proponent Hsi K'ang (223-262)

        was a strong inducement  for more veiled expressions

        in a poetic form. Thus, Juan Chi (210-263) contrasts

        the broad vision of the Naturalists  with the narrow

        vision of the Conformists  using the imagery  of the

        crane and the small birds:


            Amid the clouds there is a dark-hued crane;

            With high resolve  it lifts its mournful  sound.

            Once flown from sight into the blue-green  sky.

            In all the world it will not cry again.

            What has it to  do with  quails  and  sparrows

            Flapping their wings in play within the central

            court? (22)


        One could  readily  conclude  that Buddhism  offered

        ever greater  attractions  for the disappointed  and

        embattled  Taoist  forces  as a means to escape  the

        domination  of their  Confucian  foes.  The  general

        openness  of the intellectual  climate  during  this

        period facilitated a Taoist-Buddhist synthesis among

        the literati.(23) These develop-


        (21) John  C.H.Wu, The  Golden  Age  of Zen,  rev.ed

             ( Taipei,  Taiwan : United  Publishing  Center,

             1975), p.44

        (22) Note  the  poet's  allusion  to  the  differing

             visions  of the P'eng bird and the little  dove

             in  the  first  chapter   of  the  Chuang  Tzu,

             respectively  representing  Great Knowledge (ta

             chih) and Small Knowledge (hsiao chih).  Quoted

             by Richard B.Mather in his introduction  to Liu

             I-ch'ing's  Shih-shuo Hsin-yu: A New Account of

             Tales of the World (Minneapolis: University  of

             Minnesota   Press,  1976) ,  p.xix.   See  also

             Mather's informative discussion of the conflict

             between the Naturalists and the Conformists  in

             this essay.





        ments are reflected in the pages of the New Tales of

        the World ( shih-shuo  Hsin-yu ),  where the Taoist-

        Buddhist interactions are documented. Among the most

        influential  of the Buddhists  was the monk Chih Tun

        (314-366), who was highly regarded for his eloquence

        and scholarship,including creative reinterpretations

        of  such  Taoist  texts  as  the  Chuang  Tzu.   His

        importance  can  be gauged  from  the fact  that  he

        merited   nearly   fifty  mentions   in  the  Tales.

        Commenting  on a comparison between erudition in the

        North  as opposed  to the  South, Chih  Tun utilized

        both metaphorical  language  and an allusion  to the

        Taoists' distrust of language:


            Sages  and  worthies, of course, are  those  who

            'forget  speech,' but  if  we're  talking  about

            people  from the middle  range down, the reading

            of the Northerners is like viewing the moon in a

            bright   place,  while  the  erudition   of  the

            Southerners  is like peering at the sun  through

            a window.(24)


            The   Tales  also  demonstrate  the   continuing

        prominence  of poetic  expression  in all  walks  of

        life-from  political  intrigue  to social criticism,

        literary  fame to refined entertainment.  The poetic

        preference  for interweaving  the strongly imagistic

        Taoist terminology into one's work gradually evolved

        toward Buddhist doctrine.(25)


        T'ao Ch'ien


            The poet T'ao Ch'ien  (365-427;  also known  as

        T'ao Yuan-ming) represents a transitional  figure in

        the  increasing   rapport  of  Taoist  and  Buddhist

        currents.  He was on intimate terms with individuals

        from  both  groups.  Especially  noteworthy  is  his

        connection  with monks from the White  Lotus Society

        that eventually developed into Ch'an Buddhism.

            T'ao  Ch'ien has been hailed for both his poetic

        prowess and his spiritual re-


        (23) For  a detailed  discussion of this climate see

             Kenneth  Ch'en, "Neo-Taoism  and  the  Praj~naa

             School  during  the  Wei and  Chin  Dynasties,"

             included  in  Chinese  Philosophy,  Volume  II:

             Buddhism (Taipei, Taiwan: China Academy, 1974),


        (24) Liu I-ch'ing,  A  New Account of Tales  of  the

             World, Chapter 7, section 25, p.105.

        (25) See Liu Chun's comments to chapter IV,  section

             85, p.137.





        finement: "the extreme beauty of T'ao Ch'ien's poems

        cannot be equaled by any other works because no poet

        had ever given  so much of his inner  experience  in

        his works." (26) His path of progress  may be traced

        in a poem simply entitled "Going Back to the Farm":


            When young, ill at ease with the common world,

            Naturally (hsing pen) loving hills and mountains.

            Mistakingly  [I]  fell into  the  midst  of  the

            worldly web,

            Onec gone [into the web] thirty years [went by].

            The caged bird pines for the forest of old,

            The ponded fish mourns for past depths.

            Clearing wilderness on the borders of the south-

            ern wasteland,

            Guard the stupid self back down on the farm;

            The place is more than a mu,

            [With] a grass shelter of eight or nine units

            Elms and willows shelter the eaves behind,

            Peach and plum trees overarch the building in front.

            Dimly seen, the far off village,

            Hovering [above], the village smoke;

            A dog barks deep within the lane,

            A rooster crows from the topmost branch of the mulberry tree.

            Door [shelter] and yard devoid of worldly confusion,

            Empty rooms overflowing with ease/tranquility.

            So long caged/confused within,

            [Now] returned, back to tzu-jan.(27)


        The  poem  begins  with  a depiction  of  his  early

        preference  for Nature (" naturally loving hills and

        mountains") and corresponding  uneasiness  with  the

        mundane world.  This is followed by an interlude  of

        alienation  from  Nature  and self.  This  stage  is

        vividly  depicted  in terms  of a bird or fish  torn

        from its natural habitat and


        (26) Chang Chung-yuan, Creativity and Taoism, p.191

        (27) My translation.





        forced into the artificial restrictions of a cage or

        pond.  In each case longing remains for what was-the

        bird "pines"  while  the fish "mourns."  We then see

        the poet  liberated  from  the "worldly  web" in his

        third and final stage, having gone back to Nature in

        his rural seclusion.  Here "worldly  confusion"  has

        been dispelled, supplanted  by the tranquility  that

        overflows    in    emptiness    (paralleling     the

        "No-thingness" of wu yu).  T'ao Ch'ien has seen both

        the way of the worldings  and  the way of the  Sage.

        The way  of the world  left  him discontented, so he

        returned  to his  true  roots.  He did not  need  to

        acquire   tzu-jan,  only  to  remove  his  temporary

        alienation  from it, just as Ch'an awakening  is not

        an attainment, but a realization.

            Consistent  with  Taoist  thought,  T'ao  Ch'ien

        emphasizes  the  "returning"  (fu)  action  involved

        here, the return to the root that is Tao itself.  He

        also makes several allusions  to passages in the Tao

        Te  Ching,  most  specifically  the  utopian  vision

        described in chapter 80:


            Although  the  neighboring   country  is  within


            And the  crowing  of cocks  and barking  of dogs

            there can be heard,

            The two peoples never are in touch with one another,

            Throughout their lives.(28)


        References  to tzu-jan and tranquility  point to the

        same inspirational source, while T'ao Ch'ien himself

        became a model emulated by later poets.




        The Threefold Process of Enlightenment (29)


            Building  upon both the indigenous  and imported

        traditions,  Chinese  Buddhists  gradually   adapted

        doctrines  to their own cultural  context, in accord

        with Buddhism's long-standing  emphasis on upaaya or

        pragmatic   adaptability.   The  Ch'an   school   is

        particularly   noteworthy   for  its  expansion   of

        traditions,  as  well  as  its  infusion  of  Taoist

        elements.   The  result  was  a  creative  synthesis



        (28) Translated  by  Charles  Wei-hsun Fu and Sandra






        the ultimate sinification of Buddhist philosophy and


            The same synthesizing  current  is evidenced  in

        the evolution of poetic forms within Ch'an practice.

        Shin'ichi Hisamatsu has stated that verse (ge or ju)

        was the primal  form of Ch'an  literature:


            Sometimes   this   verse   was   metrical,  with

            conventional  rhymes and tones, and sometimes it

            was completely  free of formality.  Zen Activity

            manifest  in words  favored  the use of concrete

            and  straightforward  images  in  a literary  or

            poetic  manner, rather  than the use of analytic

            or theoretical  prose.  Zen dialogues  in verse,

            for  example,  resulted  in  a  unique  literary

            style,  which   was  appropriate   to  the  full

            expression of Zen Activity. Poetry also has been

            used since  the early  days  of Zen as a vehicle

            for  transmitting  the  dharma  from  master  to

            disciple..in  Zen  lieterary  expression, poetry

            ranks first.(30)


            In addition  to the more orthodox  uses of poems

        to summarize  essential  points in sermons and serve

        as manifestos of enlightenment, poems now functioned

        as responses to the characteristically Ch'an kung-an

        (koan)   technique.    Poems    were    particularly

        appropriate   retorts  to  the  kung-an  since  both

        expressions  shared a translogical  core of meaning.

        When the kung-an had achieved its end of driving the



        (29) Tung-shan   Liang-chich's    Five   Levels   of

             Achievement  (wu wei kung hsun) bears a certain

             resemblance  to the three-fold  model  proposed


             1. hsiang, or subjectivity

             2. feng, or objectivity

             3. kung,  or  non-action   (from  which  action


             4. kong kung, or the interfusion between action

                and non-action

             5. kung kung, or the absolute freedom from both

                action and non-action

             See  Chang  Chung-yuan, Original  Teachings  of

             Ch'an Buddhism, Selected  from The Transmission

             of the Lamp (New  York: Pantheon  Books, 1969),

             pp.51-53. It should be emphasized that my model

             is purely heuristic, and has no pretensions  of

             being exhaustive or comprehensive.

        (30) Shin'ichi  Hisamatsu, Zen  and  the Fine  Arts,

             Gishin  Tokiwa trans.( Tokyo : Kodansha Inter-

             national Ltd., 1971), pp.13-14.





        dent beyond  the limits  of rational  discourse  and

        mundane  consciousness, poetry was apt spontaneously

        to spew forth.  Thus the Ch'an Master  would be able

        to  evaluate  the  student's  comprehension  of  the

        incomprehensible  by decoding images that might seem

        bizarre,  if  not  nonsensical, to  the  unawakened.

        Enlightenment  poems  themselves  also  came  to  be

        utilized  as kung-an, as were  the  death  poems  of

        great masters.

            Different  students  might  legitimately   offer

        quite  different   poetic  responses   to  the  same

        kung-an, while  simultaneously  revealing  the  same

        insight.  For example, the following poems were both

        equally  acceptable  replies to the kung-an known as

        Joshu's  'Oak in the courtyard':


            Joshu's 'Oak in the courtyard'

            Nobody's grasped its roots.

            Turned from sweet plum trees,

            They pick sour pears on the hill.


            Joshu's 'Oak in the courtyard'

            Handed down, yet lost in leafy branch

            They miss the root. Disciple Kaku shouts

            'Joshu never said a thing!'




        Despite   their   differing   contents,  both  poems

        demonstrate  that their respective authors have seen

        beyond the upaayic nature of the kung-an exercise to

        glimpse  the transcendental  truth  that  makes  the

        kung-an  itself  superfluous-like  the ladder pushed

        aside once the height  has been reached  or the raft

        left on the shore once the river has been crossed.

            For purposes of discussion, a three-fold process

        can be mapped within the Ch'an poetics:


        (31) Quoted by Lucien Stryk, The Penguin Book of Zen

             Poetry, p.14.





            Great   Faith   (ta-hsin) ,  adherence   to  the

            doctrines of Buddhism;  "Our supreme faith..  is

            in the  Buddha's  enlightenment  experience, the

            substance  of  which  he  proclaimed  to be that

            human  nature, all  existence, is  intrinsically

            whole, flawless, omnipotent-in  a word, perfect.

            Without  unwavering  faith  in this the heart of

            the  Buddha's  teaching,  it  is  impossible  to

            progress far in one's practice."

            Great  Doubt(ta-yi-t'uan), a turning  away  from

            vicarious knowledge and toward self-reliance  by

            the  introduction   of  a  salutary  skepticism;

            "mass-doubt".. as to why the world should appear

            so  imperfect, so full  of  anxiety, strife, and

            sufering, when in fact our deep faith  tells  us

            exactly  the  opposite  is  true.  It is a doubt

            which  leaves  us no rest."  (32) As one  master

            observed: "The  heart  is  Buddha'-this  is  the

            medicine   for  sichk  people.   'No  Heart,  no

            Buddha'-this  is to cure  people  who  are  sick

            because of the medicine." (33)

            Great Death (ta-shi), the point of break-through

            with the "death" or eradication  of the illusory

            ego-self;  both faith and doubt  are transcended

            in that there  is no one in whom  that faith  or

            doubt can be anchored.


            Ch'an practice is designed to guide the student

        successively   through   these  three  levels,  each

        building  on  its  predecessor.  By  virtue  of this

        strategy, practitioners  viewed themselves as having

        gone beyond other Buddhists in terms of the depth of

        their  penetration  into  "original  nature"  or the

        present    state    of   Buddhahood.    Thus,   they

        distinguished three levels of broadening awareness:


            1. the  Way  of the  Ancient  Masters, based  on

               reading   Buddhist   Scripture   (and   hence

               restricted  to the limitations  of linguistic


            2. Tathaagata  Ch'an, Ch'an of the Perfected One

               (ju-lai  ch'an), or the  Ch'an  of Emptiness,

               resulting from a non-reliance on language and

               Scriptures, inclu-


        (32) Cf.  Zen Master Hakuun Yasutani's  Lectures  on

             Zen, "10 The Three Essentials  of Zen Practice"

             in Philip Kapleau's  the Three Pillars  of Zen:

             Practice,  and  Enlightenment  (Boston:  Beacon

             Press, 1965), pp.58-60

        (33) Master  Nanyo,  Irmgard  Schloegl  trans.,  The

             Wisdom  of  the  Zen  Masters  (New  York:  New

             Directions, 1975), as quoted by p.55.





               sive of Bodhidharma;

            3. the Ch'an of the Patriarchs (tsu shih ch'an),

               or  the  direct  experience  of enlightenment

               through mind to mind transmission, expressed

               not through conventional language, but rather

               through  either  action  (body  language)  or

               silence. (34)

        Only the thired level of awareness could claim to be

        complete and perfect, the other two being mere means

        to this ultimate end.

            A certain similarity  may be discerned here with

        the three  phases  of the teaching/learning  process

        recognized by the T'ien-t'ai sect:


            1. to sow  the seed  of Buddha's  wisdom  in the


            2. ripening of the seed

            3. harvesting of the seed, abandonment of



        What distinguishes  the Ch'an  approach, however, is

        the crucial transitional  second stage that directly

        contradicts  the  initial  stage.  In  contrast, the

        T'ien-t'ai methodology nurtures the seed sown in the

        level  to  its  second  stage  ripening.  Congruence

        returns  in  the  final  stage, where  the  seed  is

        harvested, that is, removed  and revealed  as a mere

        means  to the end  of enlightenment. The abandonment

        noted here this extends even to doctrine itself, the

        previously  sown seed. The common core would seem to

        be  upaaya   ,  the  orthodos   doctrine   expounded

        innumerable  times  by the  Buddha  that  emphasizes

        efficacy  an flexibility.  Both  the T'ien-t'ai  and

        Ch'an  schools  thus  may  be  seen  as  appropriate

        responses  to the cultural  imperatives  under which

        Buddhist   doctrine   had   to  accomplish-and-hence

        adapt-its message to the needs and sensitivities  of

        Chinese audiences.(36)


        (34) this threefold  divison  represents  a movement

             initiated by the Sixth Patriarch, Hui-neng, and

             his "sudden enlightenment" school. See Heinrich

             Dumoulin, Zen Buddhist; A History: Vol, I India

             and China, James  W.Heising  and Paul  Knitter,

             trans.  (New York Macmillan publishing company,


        (35) Soothill, p.55a.





            The Ch'an  of the Ancient  Masters, reliance  on

        the  scriptures, entails  cognitive  literalism, the

        use  of abstract  language.  Given  its intellectual

        content and concepts, hsin or consciousness comes to

        the  fore.  While  it  is  the  beginning  point  of

        awakening, it is by no means a complete answer, only

        a partial  answer.  In seeking to cognitively  solve

        the  existential  quandary  of  life  and  death, it

        remains  ever  incapable  of  dis-solving   Samsaara

        within Nirvaana.

            When Buddhism  arrived  in China, it brought  in

        its wake a rich intellectual tradition. Many suutras

        and  volumes  of  philosophical   commentaries  were

        available    from original   Indian   sources    and

        increasingly  in Chinese  translation.  This immense

        foundation  also proved to be a source  of problems,

        by mistaking  the words written about awakening  for

        the experience itself.  The temptation  was to limit

        oneself   to   the   intellect,   to   assume   that

        intellectual  comprehension  was both  the beginning

        and the end o f Buddhist Dharma. However Buddhism is

        not merely  an intellectual  experience, it is first

        and  foremost  an existential  experience.  To limit

        oneself to intellectual understanding  is premature;

        it is imperative  to transcend the boundaries of the

        intellect, inclusive of language and logic.

            Seeing  the need to be rid of the intellect, the

        next level of Ch'an Buddhism  focussed  on the Ch'an

        of Voidness.  Emphasis is now placed on negation, as

        a reaction against an addiction to the intellectual,

        over-involvement    in    the    cognitive    level.

        Accordingly, people  burned  images  of the  Buddha,

        used the suutras  for toilet  paper, and engaged  in

        myriad forms of bizarre behavior to demonstrate that

        they   were   far  removed   from   the  stultifying

        influences  of  intellect.  In  this  sense, Chinese

        practitioners were  able  to  delve  their  own rich

        heritage of poetic expression, with its compellingly

        concrere images.

            Finally,   as   the   process   continues,   the

        realization   is  made  that  one  also  must  avoid

        fixation at the second, nay-saying level.  Only then

        is  the  final  level   realized,  seen  either   as

        transcendence  or the revelation  of the foundation.

        This Ch'an of the Patriarchs refers to the flesh and

        blood practitioners of the time, who best revered


        (36) An interesting  resource  for analysis  of this

             culturally-induced   transformation   are   the

             sermons  attributed  to  Bodhidharma  (Ta-mo) .

             "Outline  of Practice, " "Bloodstream  Sermon,"

             "Wake-up  Sermon, " and "Breakthrough  Sermon."

             The  adaptation   of  Chinese  terminology   to

             express the technical  terminology  of Buddhist

             doctrine is of particular note.





        the Buddha not by slavish  discipleship, but by bold

        re-enactment of his existential awakening.


        The Place of Poetry in Hui-Neng's Platform Suutra


            The  thought  of Hui-neng  (638-713), the  Sixth

        Patriarch, represents  an important turning point in

        the evloution of Ch'an.  A southerner by background,

        he  incorporates   Taoist  elements   into  Buddhism

        doctrine  as a means  of expressing  his  unique-and

        culturally influenced-interpretations of Dharma.  He

        even  is credited  with  attracting  Taoists  to his

        sermons.  Although tradition holds that Hui-neng was

        illiterate, this obviously posed no obstacle for him

        in  the  composition  of  classical  five  character

        verse.  In the  Platform  Suutra  he used  the stock

        Buddhist technique of intergrating poetic exposition

        into  his  lectures  to  summarize   and  underscore

        important  points.  (37)

            Poetry had a particularly  seminal  role to play

        in the progress  of Hui-neng's  career  in the Ch'an

        school. His case reveals a dimension of dynamism and

        poetic interplay  in terms of what might be termed a

        duel  played  out with  gaathaas  as "weapons."  His

        poetic  opponent, Shen-hsiu, thus takes  on the role

        of presenting  the first level of awareness  against

        which  Hui-neng   reacts,  then  building  upon  the

        insight evoked to realize the final stage. The stage

        is  set  by the  Fifth  Patriarch, Hung-jen, in  the

        context  of a poetry  contest, with transmission  of

        the  Ch'an  leadership  as the  prize.  Although  he

        cautions his disciples  that "deliberation  is quite

        unnecessary  and  will  be of  no use."  Shen-hsiu's

        entry betrays the hyperreflection of its author:


            Our body may be compared to the Bodhi-tree;

            While our heart (hsin) is a mirror bright;

            Carefully  we cleanse  and watch  them  hour  by


            And let no dust collect upon them.


        (37) Passages  quoted here are from Suutra Spoken by

             the Sixth patriarch, Wong Mou-lan  trans., rev.

             Dwight  goddard, included  in Vol.I  of Suutras

             and Scriptures, pp.337-446.





        Certainly these lines demonstrate that Shen-hsiu has

        learned  his  lessons  well.  Shen-hsiu  was in fact

        Hung-jen's  star  pupil  and assumed  heir apparent.

        Unfortunately,  as  Hui-neng  recognized,  there  is

        nothing more than intellectual  awareness  reflected

        here, as if he merely enjoyed a dream of awakening.

            Hui-neng, by contrast, was already  half-aroused

        from his slumbers and asked someone to write out the

        following retort:


            By no means is Bodhi a kind  of tree,

            Nor  is the  bright  reflecting  mind  (hsin), a

            case  of mirrors.

            Since  mind is emptiness,

            Where can dust collect?


        Typical  of the second  stage, these lines  focus on

        negation, pointing  out  the error  of the  previous

        poem.  While the Fifth Patriarch immediately  sensed

        the  potential  they  revealed, there  was one  more

        stage to be realized.

            Following  transmission  of the Dharma  from the

        Fifth  patriarch, Hui-neng  was fully  awakened.(38)

        Although  we have no gaathaa as documentation, we do

        have  his  poetically-phrased  reponse  to the Fifth

        Patriarch's  offer to ferry him across a river as he

        left the monastery:


            (So  long  as  I  was)  under  illusion,  I  was

            dependent on you to get me across, but now it is

            different--since  I am  now  enlightened, it  is

            only right for me to cross  the sea of birth and

            death  by  my  own  effort  to  realize  my  own

            self-nature (tse-hsing).


        Later, after  hearing  the gaathaa  of Ch'an  Master

        Wo-lun vaunting  his self-proclaimed  enlightenment,

        Hui-neng composed these lines:


            Hui-neng has no special aptitude;

            He does not cut off any thoughts.



        (38) The  text  reads: "Hui-neng  yen  hsia  ta wu."

             Previously  Hui-neng had described his response

             to hearing the Diamond Suutra as "hsin chi k'ai






            His mind responds to all situatins.

            In what way can the Bodhi tree grow? (39)


            Hui-neng  went on to develop the concept  of the

        original   nature  with  greater  clarity  than  had

        hitherto been applied.  His reference to wu-hsin (no

        mind) displays on obvious similarity to the concepts

        of  Taoism.  The  use  of  the  qualifying  term  wu

        fulfills  the same  function  for hsin  that Lao Tzu

        accomplishes  for wei.  That is, rather than being a

        denial  or negation, it represents  a more  profound

        transcendence.   Your  original   nature  is  always

        present, like enlightenment;  it is tzu-jan, natural

        spontaneity.  The subtle change of focus wrought  by

        Hui-neng  moves  us  from  the  Taoist  emphasis  on

        methodology  (wu-wei  as non-interference  with  the

        working  of Tao) to existential  awareness, which is

        more appropriate  to Buddhism.

            Hsin represents  not simply  one's  intellectual

        center, but the way of dealing  with the world  that

        relies on consciousness  and the comparatively  weak

        tools  of  language   and  logic.   When  these  are

        recognized  as a potential  trap, one  is led to the

        second  stage of denial, pu-hsin, really a denial of

        our self-restriction  to consciousness.  However, it

        is impossible do this literally. Instead, we need to

        cultivate  the mind of no-mind  at the third  level,

        which is the Buddha mind. What we must rid ourselves

        of  is  not  sin,  but   attachment   to  artificial

        limitations. In a sense, then, we are excavating the

        underlying foundation. It is a kind of homecoming, a

        return to Tao, a return to one's original mind. This

        also grows out of the transmission Hui-neng received

        from the Fifth Patriarch  to avoid attachment, which

        Hui-neng further developed as non-abiding  (wu-chu).

        This  translates  into an avoidance  of fixation  on

        concepts, words, or doctrines, whether positively or

        negatively propounded.  It constitutes teaching  by

        non-teaching, which thus avoids  both the dependency

        of the first level (Great Faith) and the more subtle

        dependency on independence (Great Doubt).  So it has

        been said, "the Buddha taught for forty-nine  years,

        but no word was spoken."


        (39) As  quoted  by  Wu, p.81.  wo-lun's  poem, also

             cited  by Wu, was:

             Wo-lun  possesses  a special aptitude:

             He can cut off all thoughts.

             No situation can stir his mind.

             The Bodhi tree grows daily in him.





        Ch'an Master Pai-chang Huai-hai


            Pai-chang's ( 749-814 ) three level continuum of

        "the incomplete  and the complete teaching" seems to

        reflect the same experiential  process of awakening.

        Although  Pai-chang  does not use poetry per se, his

        prose is permeated  with poetic  images  that engage

        the   reader   in  a  trans-intellectual   mode   of



            1."The way of two vehicles" (Theravaada Buddhism)

              concerns  the  monks  who diligently  practice

              Buddhist   discipline    in   a   meditational

              lifestyle.  While  this is recognized  as "the

              elementary  good," it is also  criticized  for

              "obstructing  Buddha's  light"  and  "shedding

              Buddha's  blood," The problem here is that the

              practitioner  has taken  it all too seriously,

              and  views   Buddhism   from   too  narrow   a

              perspective. It is the way of "one who is fond

              of the raft [that  is, the doctrine]  and will

              not give it up," which constitutes  a  kind of

              grasping  when in fact  all forms  of grasping

              are  to be exorcised.  It  is, in  effect, and

              attachment to non-attachment.

            2." The half-word teaching " is  an  improvement

              over these well-motivated errors, for there is

              neither   grasping  nor   dwelling   in   non-

              attachment.  Yet even here  we have only  "the

              intermediate  good." The fatal flaw resides in

              "meditation   sickness..the   bondage  of  the

              bodhisattvas."    By   this   is   meant    an

              isolationism  in which  one  is so  intent  on

              /addicted  to meditational  practice  that the

              rest of the world ceases to exist.  This is an

              artificial, even escapist, approach  amounting

              to wisdom  bereft  of  compassion.  Only  con-

              summate  wisdom  allows  for   the  return  to

              in-the-world  experience  without degeneration

              to being of-the-world.

            3." The full-word teaching " alone avoids all of

              the above  pitfalls.  Thus  it is deemed  "the

              final good" in which  there  is no attempt  to

              understand  or make sense  of not dwelling  in

              non-attachment.  One is then able  to re-enter

              the world  with  a combination  of wisdom  and

              compassion.The extremes of over-intellectuali-

              zing  and  anti-intellectualization  are  both


            This same three-fold process is reflected in the

        poetic expressions  of Ch'an practitioners.  In each

        case  we can see a re-enactment  of " a deer leaping





        times  and  getting  out of the net"  to become  "an

        enlightened   one   beyond   confinement."(40)  Most

        especially, this signals an end to self-confinement:


            To say the present mirror awareness is one's own

            Buddha   is  words  of  measurement,  words   of

            calculation-it  is like the crying  of a jackal.

            This  is still  being  stuck  as in glue  at the

            gate, Originally  you  did not acknowledge  that

            innate  knowing  and  awareness   are  your  own

            Buddha,  and  went  running  elsewhere  to  seek

            Buddha.  So you  needed  a teacher  to tell  you

            about innate knowing and awareness as a medicine

            to cure this disease of hastily seeking outside.

            Once  you no longer  seek outwardly, the disease

            is  cured  and  it  is necessary  to remove  the

            medicine. If you cling fixedly to innate knowing

            awareness  [level two;  the Ch'an of Emptiness],

            this  is  a disease  of meditation.  Such  is  a

            thoroughgoing  disciple;  like water  turned  to

            ice, all the ice is water, but it can hardly  be

            expected to quench thirst.(41)


        The  reference   to  stagnation   at  the  gate   is

        interesting  by  way  of  comparison  to  Lao  Tzu's

        reference  to "The  gateway to infinite  wonders" in

        the  final  line  of  the  Tao  Te  Ching's  opening



        Hsiang-yen Chih-hsien


            In the  case  of  Hsiang-yen  (p.898), we see  a

        poetically documented progression  through the three

        stages  of enlightenment.  (42) What is particularly

        important  here  is the implication  that  his  main

        obstacle seems to be his own brilliant intellect and

        his impressive  scholarship.  Master  Tokusan  makes

        this  point  very clearly  in the Mumonkan: "However

        deep your knowledge of the scriptures, it is no more

        than  a strand  of hair  in the  vastness  of space;

        however  important  seeming your worldly experience,

        it is but a drop of water in a deep ravine." (43)


        (40) Pai-chang, p.31.

        (41) Pai-chang, p.34.

        (42) The  subsequent  discussion  of  Hsiang-yen  is

             derived  from Chang  Chung-yuan's  translation,

             Original  Teachings   of  Ch'an  Buddhism,  pp.

             189-91, 219-20.





            The original catalyst for Hsiang-yen's  extended

        enlightenment  experience  came  in  form  of a very

        popular  kung-an  with  which  he was confronted  by

        Ch'an  master  Kuei-shan  Ling-yu:  "what  was  your

        original  face before your parents  gave you birth?"

        At a loss  as to how  to reply, Hsiang-yen  suddenly

        realized  the futility of his abstract  learning and

        exclaimed "There is no hunger which can be satisfied

        by pictures  of  food  painted  on paper!" Thus, his

        "hunger"   for  enlightenment   remained  unsatiated

        despite  his having  read numerous  texts describing

        it.  Vowing to abandon  his studies  of Buddhism, he

        burned his notes and left the monastery.

            Much later,  while  living   a  quiet   life  of

        seclusion, the  seed  planted  by  Master  Kuei-shan

        began  to  sprout.  As he was  weeding  his  garden,

        spontaneously  Hsiang-yen  burst into laughter  upon

        hearing  the sound  of a dislodged  rock  hitting  a

        piece   if  bamboo.   He  composed   a  gaathaa   to

        commemorate his break-through:


            With one  stroke,  all  previous  knowledge   is


            No  cultivation  is  needed  for this.

            This occurrence reveals the ancient way.

            And is free from the track of quiescence.

            No trace is left anywhere.

            Whatever  I hear  and  see does  not conform  to


            All those who are enlightened.

            Proclaim this to be the greatest action.


        These  lines  indicate  that Hsiang-yen  indeed  has

        completely  let go of his misguided fixation on mere

        scholarship, something  he was unable  to accomplish

        by simply  burning  his notes.  Being instantaneous,

        his    break-through    required    no   (conscious)

        cultivation. On the contrary, it involved what Chang

        Chung-Yuan   refers   to  as  "the  cultivation   of

        non-cultivation."  Nonetheless, there  is an air  of

        verbal pretentiousness  about these lines, betraying

        a dissonance  with consummate  Ch'an.  The poet  is,

        perhaps, too eloquen t and still too attached to his

        intellectual acumen. Hence, he boldly claims to have

        revealed the "ancient way" and to have freed himself

        from "the track of quiescence."  Conformity  to mere

        rules is disavowed, and he


        (43) Tokusan  as  quoted  by  Lucien  Stryk  in  his

             preface  to  Zen  Poems  of  China  and  Japan,






        ranks himself  among the enokghtened  in his closing


            Learning  of  Hsiang-yen's  experience, a fellow

        monk.  Yang-shan  Hui-chi  (807-883), went to him to

        verify Hsiang-yen's enlightemnent. After hearing the

        above gaathaa  he relegated  it to the lowest level,

        and raised a challenge  to Hsiang-yen: "Hereing  you

        followed the sayings of the ancient masters.  If you

        have  really  been  awakened, speak  from  your  own

        experience."   In  response  Hsiang-yen  composed  a

        second gaathaa:


            My poverty  of last  year was not real  poverty.

            This year it is want indeed.

            In last  year's  poverty  there  was room, for a

            piercing gimlet.

            In this  year's  poverty  even the gimlet  is no



        These lines include  a recognition  of past error on

        Hsiang-yen's   part,  an  admission   that   he  had

        misjudged  his  situation.  The previous  sprout  of

        wisdom  now  displays  a  bud.   The  reference   to

        "poverty" connotes detachment from artificiality and

        superficiality, and is consistent  with the negative

        formulation  of the second level reflected  in Great

        Doubt.  The  "piercing  gimlet"symbolizes  lingering

        attachment, which  he now believes  he has  removed.

        Note that this poem is both shorter  than  the first

        and more simply stated.

            Yang-shan acknowledged this to be an improvement

         over the first effort, yet still found  it somewhat

         lacking.  He dismissed it with the remark. "You may

         have the Ch'an  of Tathaagata, but as for the Ch'an

         of the Patriarchs, you have not even dreamed of

         it." In other  words, Hsiang-yen  is adrift  on the

         sea  of  voidness, and  has  yet  to  land  on  the

         opposite   shore.   Inspired   by  this   critique,

         Hsiang-yen immediately retorted:


            I have my secret.

            I look at you with twinkling eye.

            If you do not understand this.

            Do not call yourself a monk.

        In  this  briefest  and  most  vague  of  the  three

        gaathaas Hsiang-yen has finally demon-





        strated that he has arrived  at the deepest level of

        awareness.  The bud has burst into full bloom Unlike

        the others, it asserts  no claims  of awakening.  It

        makes   no   attempt   at  either   description   or

        symbolization,but simply presents a phenomenological

        exposition  of the present  moment (being-here-now).

        The sentiment it contains runs parallel to Lao Tzu's

        lines "Whoever knows does not speak;/Whoever  speaks

        does not know" (Tao Te Ching, chapter 56). Yang-shan

        responded  approvingly, " I  rejoice   that  brother

        Hsiang-yen has grasped the Ch'an of the Patriarchs."

            The poetic expressions, then, become a series of

        vehicles for enriching  and ultimately  consummating

        the original glimmering  of enlightenment.  At first

        Hsiang-yen  cannot resist the temptation  to expound

        on his experience  in stereotypically  Ch'an jargon,

        displaying  a misguided conformity to non-conformist

        expressions.  The  remonstrance  of his fellow  monk

        forces  him  to  reconsider,  and  his  response  is

        accordingly less flamboyant. However, only the final

        poem shows that he has exorcised  the demons  of lan

        guage  and conceptualization, as he fully recognizes

        the   futility    of   verbalizing    enlightenment.

        Enlightenment  is for  him  no longer  an object  of

        intellect  but  rather  a fact  of being.  The Ch'an

        strategy  behind this process has been described  as



            The Zen experience  is centripetal, the artist's

            contemplation  of subject sometimes  referred to

            as  'mind-pointing'.  The  disciple  in an early

            stage  of discipline  is asked to point the mind

            at  (meditate  upon) an  object, say  a bowl  of

            water.  At first, he is quite naturally inclined

            to metaphorize, expand, rise imaginatively  from

            water  to  lake,  sea,  clouds,  rain.   Natural

            perhaps, but  just  the kind  of 'mentalization'

            Zen masters  caution  against.  The disciple  is

            instructed  to continue until it is possible  to

            remain  strictly  with  the  object, penetrating

            more deeply, no longer looking  bold it but, the

            Sixth Patriarch  Hui-neng maintained  essential,

            bold  it..so  close  an identification  with the

            object  that  the  unstable   mentalizing   self



        (44) Lucien Stryk, The penguin Book of Zen Poetry,










        To  explore  this  process   more  closely,  let  us

        consider antoher set of enlightenment poems, perhaps

        the most famous of all, illustrating  the dawning of

        Ch'an awareness for Ch'ing-yuan Wei-hsin.  His three

        stage process of understanding has often been quoted

        in explications of Ch'an practice:


            Thirty  years  ago, before  I began the study of

            Zen, I  said, 'Mountains  are  mountains, waters

            are waters.'

            After  I got an insight  into  the truth  of Zen

            through  the  instruction  of  a good  master, I

            said, "mountains  are not  mountains, water  are

            not water.'

            But now, having attained the abode of final rest

            [that  is,  Awakening],  I  say, 'Mountains  are

            really mountains, water are really waters'(45)


        There is much of philosophical  significance  within

        these unpretentious lines and their mundane images.


        I. 'Mountains are mountains, waters are waters.'


            This  is the  way  things  are in the  world, in

        terms  of our mundane  perception, the  keynotes  of

        which    are   differentiation,   affirmation,   and

        objectification.  This  level  of  consciousness  is

        associated  with the "deaf worldling"  by Pai Chang.

        (46) In  terms  of Nietzsche's  Three  Metamorphoses

        (Thus  Spoke  Zarathustra), the image is that of the

        camel, bearing the burden of social conditioning, as

        characterized by Great Faith.

            These simple-and  simplistic-declarative  state-

            ments of is-ness issue from the


        (45) Quoted  by Abe  Masao  in his Zen  and  Western

             Thought,   edited    by   William    R.La-Fleur

             (University of Hawaii Press, 1989), p.4.  Masao

             goes   on  to  elucidate   the  epistemological

             significance, of these  lines  in the remainder

             of  that  chapter   entitled   "Zen  Is  Not  a

             Philosophy, but.." (pp.5-18).  My own discussin

             here  is both a restatement  and an elaboration

             of his analysis.

        (46) Pai-Chang, p.29.





        viewpoint  of a subject  (1) encountering  an object

        (the other). It thereby presupposes a duality, along

        with  its attendant  categories  of objectivity  and

        subjectivity.  Most importantly, these  distinctions

        posit  the ego-self  as center  and focal point.  At

        this   rudimentary   level,  hsin  or  consciousness

        engages in (ultimately futile) wei activity, seeking

        to control and manipulate  what is perceived  as the


            In  turn, the  I  or  ego-self  perpetrates  the

        subject/object   duality   of   questioner   (1)  as

        distinguished   from   that   which   is  questioned

        (myself). Hence arises the eternal and central query

        of  western  philosophy  concerning   self-identity,

        epitomized   by  the  Cartesian   meditations.   The

        subjective  (inquiring) Self may be identified  with

        the  Tree  Self  discussed  in the Upanisads  as the

        aatman. Since it is impossible to grasp this aatman,

        the  ultimate  result  of  the  attempt  to do so is

        self-estrangement  and  anxiety.  In  a  generalized

        sense, the Buddha  termed  this dukkha, while modern

        psychotherapy  has referred to it as the Existential

        Vacuum (k'ung k'ung tung tung). As Abe observes:"The

        ego-self, split at the root into subject and object,

        is forever dangling over a bottomless  abyss, unable

        to gain any footing." (47)

            The existential realization of the  unattainabi-

        lity  of the True  Self constitutes  an opaque  wall

        blocking   the  path   of  enlightenment.   Only  by

        destroying   the  ego-self   can  no-self  or,  more

        precisely, no-ego-self, emerge, thereby  putting  an

        end  to  the  false  subject/object   duality.   The

        possibility of realization, and the impossibility of

        attainment, also  underscores  the present  fact  of

        enlightenment  as  an  awakening  to  a pre-existing

        reality   rather   than  an  accomplishment   to  be



        II 'Mountains  are  not  mountains, waters  are  not


            The  keynote  at this  stage  is the  denial  of

        differentiation,  affirmation, and  objectification,

        that is a total contradiction of the preceding stage

        and   can   be  characterized   as  nihilistic.   It

        encompasses  the an-aatman  and pu-wei  of Taoism as

        well as Hui-neng's pu-hsin, in direct opposition  to

        the previous stage. For Nietzsche, it corresponds to

        the  nay-saying  rebellious  lion, representing  the

        common chord of destruction-Great Doubt.

            However, inherent  in  this  negation  is  a new

        differentiation,     an     ultimately     misguided

        polarization  between  differentiation  and lack  of

        differentiation. This is a


        (47) Abe, pp.6-7.





        crucial  and  necessary   transitional   phase  that

        represents  a two-edged Zen sword that may both kill

        and save.  On the one hand, it represents a solution

        to the fundamental  problematic of stage one, rooted

        in existential awareness, by uprooting the ego-self.

        The result  of this  obliteration  is detachment, an

        ebbing  of anxiety, and  tranquility.  On the  other

        hand it contains an implicit  danger of fixation  on

        no-self.  Paralleling  Pai chang's  warning  against

        " meditation  sickness, " it   includes   the   risk

        factor of  wallowing  in  non-attachment, leading to

        indifference  and lack  of compassion  as negativity

        predominates.  Latent  within  it Abe  identifies  a

        "hidden form of anxiety".

            Thus, it  also  represents  an obstacle  on  the

        enlightenment path, but a much more subtle obstacle,

        hiding is liabilities  by its transparency.  That is

        to say, unlike  the  opaque  wall  presented  by the

        ego-self  that must be broken through  in going from

        the first to the second stage, this wall deludes  us

        into   thinking   we  already   have  achieved   our

        objective, for we are allowed  to glimpse  the goal.

        The  danger   is  that   we  will   mistake   seeing

        enlightenment   for  being   enlightened,  just   as

        Hsiang-yen  mistakingly   assumed  his  poverty  was

        "real"  poverty,  unlike  his  original  error.  The

        common flaw in both the first and second stages is a

        lingering  objectification-first   in  terms  of  an

        ego-self and then as its denial, a no-self. Even the

        no-self    is    ascribed    the    properties    of

        unattainability  or emptiness  that  perpetuate  the

        myth   of   thing-ness.   Furthermore,  this   thing

        continues  to  be  perceived  as needing  to acquire

        enlightenment, creating  a gulf between  that  which

        experiences  realization  and  that  which  is to be

        realized. At this point, as Abe puts it, Realization

        A has been  grasped: 'I, as the True Self, am empty,

        unattainable.'  What  remains, however, is  an  even

        more radical step: "Emptiness must empty itself."


        III  'Mountains  are  really  mountains, waters  are

        really waters.'


            Stage three brings  us full circle, in a kind of

         Taoist returning with a difference. Differentiation

         emerges at the negation of no differentiation  in a

         negation  of negation, or double  negative.  Mutual

         cancellation  brings  about  absolute  affirmation.

         This is the emptying  of emptiness  giving  rise to

         fullness;  an  overcoming  of the  very  overcoming

         process,   a   liberation   from   the   liberation

         imperative. All attachments,even to non-attachment,

         are now effectively removed, as are the last





        shreds of dukkha.  Nietzsche identifies  this as the

        self-forgetting  innocence  of the  child, who  says

        'yes'  to  life.  Or, as stated  by Master  Lin-chi,

        "When  hungry, I eat;  when  tired, I  sleep.  Fools

        laugh at me.  The wise understand."  (48) It signals

        the  Great  Death  of  the  remaining   remnants  of


            In the  threefold  process  of the  negation  of

        ego-self  followed  by the negation  of no-self  the

        true and ever unattainable true self is at long last

        realized.  This is wu-hisn, no-mind, the Middle  Way

        between former polarities.  It is not a solution  or

        resolution  of the problem  of self, but rather  its

        dis-solution  and  dis-appearance.   The  walls-both

        opaque and transparent-have  now been dis-solved  as

        well.  Abe speaks here of Realization B: 'Emptiness,

        the   Unattainable,  itself   is  the  True   Self.'

        Objectification  is  at  an  end,  and   realization

        merges  with  the realizer.  In coming  home  to our

        original  nature  we also  realize  that  the  whole

        world, represented  by the mountains  and waters, is


            The above discussion  illustrates  the multitude

         of uses to which  poetry  was put as a means to the

         end of enlightenment.  Building  on Indian sources,

         and   enriched   by  Chinese   poetic   and  Taoist

         traditions, Ch'an poetics  evolved  into a powerful

         upaayic tool. Chang Chung-yuan's pronouncement that

         "pure   serenification..constitutes   the   highest

         achievement  of Chinese  poets, to whom ontological

         and poetic experience are one" is hereby abundantly



        (48) Lin-chi (Rinzai), as quoted by Schloegl, p.79.

        (49) Chang Chung-yuan, Creativity and Taoism, p.174






      │CULTIVATION PROCESSES  │HUI-NENG                 │

      │UNDERLYING SUDDEN      │unclouding the mind-Fifth│

      │                       │Patriarch                │

      │ENLIGHTENMENT          │                         │

      │THROUGH THE STIMULUS   │                         │

      │OF THE KUNG-AN         │                         │


      │THE WAY OF THE ANCIENT │Our body may be compared │

      │─────────── │to the Bodhi-tree;       │

      │MASTER                 │                         │

      │───                 │                         │

      │reliance on the scrip- │While our hear(hsin) is a│

      │tures                  │mirror bright;           │

      │COGNITIVE LITERALISM:  │                         │

      │ABSTRACT LANGUAGE,     │Carefully we cleanse and │

      │INTELLECTUAL CONTENT   │watch them hour by hour, │

      │AND CONCEPTS           │And let no dust collect  │

      │                       │upon them.               │

      │GREAT FAITH:           │-Shen-hsiu               │

      │THE MIND IS THE BUDDHA │                         │


      │THE CH'AN OF           │By no means is Bodhi a   │

      │──────           │kind of tree,            │

      │TATHAGATA/VOIDNESS     │Nor is the bright        │

      │─────────     │reflecting mind(hsin),   │

      │burning the Scriptures │a case of mirrors.       │

      │DISTRUST OF LANGUAGE   │Since mind is emptiness, │

      │AS INADEQUATE TO CONVEY│Where can dust collect?  │

      │REALITY GREAT DOUBT:   │-Hui-neng                │

      │NON MIND, NO BUDDHA    │                         │


      │THE CH'AN OF THE       │(So long as I was) under │

      │────────       │illusion, I was dependent│

      │PATRIARCHS transcend-  │on you to get me across, │

      │─────             │but now it is different..│

      │ing the Scripture,     │since I am now enlighten │

      │individual spontaneity │-ed, it is only right for│

      │BEING-HERE-NOW:        │me to cross the sea of   │

      │ACTUAL EXPERIENCE      │birth and death by my own│

      │GREAT DEATH            │effort to realize my own │

      │silence (ta-chi,great  │self nature(tse-hsing).  │

      │potentiality) or       │-Hui-neng                │

      │action(ta-yung, great  │                         │

      │activity)              │                         │







        │HSIANG YEN          │CH'ING YUAN WEI-HSIN      │

        │What was your       │                          │

        │original face before│                          │

        │your parents gave   │                          │

        │you birth?          │                          │


        │With one stroke,all │Thirty years ago, before I│

        │previous knownledge │began the study of Zen, I │

        │is forgotten.       │said, "Mountains are      │

        │No cultivation is   │mountains, waters are     │

        │needed for this.    │waters."                  │

        │This occurrence     │                          │

        │reveals the ancient │                          │

        │way.                │                          │

        │And is free from the│                          │

        │track of quiescence.│                          │

        │No trace is left    │                          │

        │anywhere.           │                          │

        │Whatever I hear and │                          │

        │see does not conform│                          │

        │to rules.           │                          │

        │All those who are   │                          │

        │enlightened         │                          │

        │Proclaim this to be │                          │

        │the greatest action.│                          │


        │My poverty of last  │After I got an insight into

        │year was not real   │the truth of Zen through  │

        │poverty.            │the instruction of a good │

        │This year it is want│master, I said, "Mountains│

        │indeed.             │are not mountains, waters │

        │In last year's      │are not waters."          │

        │poverty there was   │                          │

        │rooms,for a piercing│                          │

        │gimlet.             │                          │

        │In this year's      │                          │

        │poverty even the    │                          │

        │gimlet is no more.  │                          │


        │I have my secret.   │But now, having attained  │

        │I look at you with  │the abode of final rest   │

        │twinkling eye.If you│[that is,Awakening],I say,│

        │do not understand   │"Mountains are really     │

        │this, Do not call   │mountains, waters are     │

        │yourself a monk.    │really waters."           │

        │                    │                          │






















        统有其两大本源 -- 即儒家所强调的诗经与楚辞及其道家哲











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