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大滿弘忍 Daman Hongren (601-674)
(Rōmaji:) Daiman Kōnin

Daman Hongren – Essentials of Cultivating the Mind
compiled by Satyavayu of Touching Earth Sangha

The essence of cultivating the Way is to discern that one's own body-mind awareness is inherently pure, not subject to birth or death, and without division. Perfect and complete in its self-nature, present awareness is the fundamental teacher. Focusing on it exclusively is superior to reflecting on the awakened ones of the ten directions.
How do you know that one's own awareness is inherently pure?...To use the bright sun as a metaphor: even if the clouds and mists of the world were to arise together in all directions so that the world became dark, still, how could the sun ever be extinguished?... The sun's light is not destroyed, but merely deflected by the clouds and mists. The pure mind possessed by all sentient beings is like this – simply covered by the layered clouds of discriminative thinking, false ideas, and ascriptive views. If you just distinctly maintain awareness of present clear mind and don't manufacture false thoughts, then the reality-sun of nirvana will be naturally manifested. That is how you can experience that your own mind is inherently pure.
How do you know that one's own awareness is inherently not subject to birth and death? The Vimalakirti Sutra says: “Suchness is without birth, suchness is without death.” The term “suchness” refers to the nature of awakened presence, the mind which is the source of all phenomena... Suchness is fundamentally, originally existent, not conditionally produced. The sutra also says, “ordinary beings all embody suchness; sages and wise ones also embody suchness.” Although the names and characteristics of ordinary and awakened beings are different, the essential reality of suchness embodied in each is identical and is not subject to birth or death... This is how it is realized that one's own mind is inherently not subject to birth and death.
Why is the mind the fundamental teacher? The true mind exists of itself and does not come from outside. As a teacher, it does not even require any tuition fee!... If you discern the “suchness” of the mind and maintain awareness of it, you reach the shore of nirvana... By clearly maintaining awareness of the mind, the false mind (of attachment to ideas) is not activated and you reach the birthless. Therefore we understand that the mind is the fundamental teacher.
Why is focusing on your own mind superior to reflecting on the awakened ones of the ten directions? You cannot transcend birth and death by constantly imagining awakened beings divorced from yourself, but you reach the shore of nirvana by maintaining awareness of your own fundamental mind. The Buddha says in the Diamond Sutra, “Anyone who views me in terms of form and seeks me by sound is practicing a mistaken path and is unable to see the one who is 'thus-come.'” Therefore we realize that maintaining awareness of (your own) true mind is superior to reflecting on awakened ones divorced from oneself. (But this word “superior” is only used for encouragement in the context of practice – In reality, the essence of the ultimate fruit of awakening is harmoniously inclusive and without opposing dualities)... If you can maintain awareness of the true mind without generating false thoughts or the illusion of personal possession, then you will automatically be equal to the Awakened Ones.
The nature of true presence is the core of both ordinary beings and awakened ones just the same. Why, then, are awakened ones liberated, while ordinary beings are deluded? At this point we enter the inconceivable which cannot be understood by the ordinary mind. You awaken by discerning the true mind, you become deluded by losing awareness of this true nature. If the conditions (for awakening) come together, then they come together – it cannot be definitively explained. Simply commit to your conviction of the ultimate truth, and maintain awareness of your own true mind. Do this constantly with focused energy, without fabricating false thoughts or the illusion of personal possession. Awakening then manifests of itself.
If you ask a lot of questions, the number of conceptual terms will simply become greater and greater. If you want to understand the essential point of the Awakened Way – then know that maintaining awareness of mind is the fundamental basis of nirvana, the essential gateway for entering the path, the basic principle of all the scriptures, and the teacher of all the awakened ones of the past, present, and future...
The essence of what is called nirvana is serene dissolution... When one's mind focuses on the true, false thoughts dissolve. When false thoughts cease, correct mindfulness arises, generating the wisdom of serene illumination, or the total comprehension of reality-nature, which is also called the experience of nirvana.
All concepts, and all affairs of past, present, and future, should be seen as dust on a mirror – when the dust is gone, true nature naturally becomes clearly visible. That which is learned by the deluded mind is completely useless. True learning is what is learned by the unconditioned mind, which never ceases perfect awareness. Although we can call this “true learning,” ultimately there is nothing to be learned. Why? Because “self “and “liberation” are both insubstantial, they are neither different nor the same. Thus, the essential principle of “nothing to be learned” is evident.
All the Awakened Ones of the past, present, and future are born within your own consciousness. When you do not give birth to false thoughts, when your illusions of personal possession have been relinquished, the awakened one is born within your own consciousness. You can only experience awakening by maintaining awareness of true mind.
My only desire is that you discern this fundamental mind for yourself. Therefore, I employ you: Make effort! Make effort! All the myriad scriptures and treatises say nothing other than that maintaining the true mind is the essential way to awakening... Do not try to search outside of yourself – this only leads to the suffering of continued conventional patterns. Just maintain the same mind of awareness in every moment of thought, and in all phases of mental activity.
When you sit...you may experience all kinds of good and bad psychological states...when you perceive such things, concentrate the mind and do not become attached to them. They are all insubstantial manifestations of deluded thinking. A scripture says, “The triple realm is an empty apparition that is solely the creation of the individual mind.” Do not worry if you cannot achieve special concentration or do not experience the various states of meditative absorption – just constantly maintain clear awareness of the present mind in all your actions.
If you stop generating delusive ideas and the illusion of personal possession, the you will realize that all the myriad phenomena are nothing other than manifestations of your own mind. The awakened sages only preach with extensive and verbal teachings because the mental tendencies of sentient beings differ, and require a variety of responses. In actuality, the (present) mind is the basic subject of all the myriad teachings and philosophies.
Make effort and remain humble. It is rare to get a chance to hear this essential teaching. Of those that hear it, very few are able to practice it... With great care keep your self clam, moderate your sensory activity, and attentively view the mind that is the source of all phenomena. Allow it to shine distinctly and clearly at all times, without letting yourself fall into mental blankness.
What is mental blankness? People who practice special concentration exercises can inhibit the true mind by being dependent on particular sensory activities, dulled states of mind, or restricted breathing...Although they may practice constantly, they cannot experience true clarity; they cannot reveal the mind which is the source of all phenomena. This is called blankness.
One can have success with minimal exertion by merely donning tattered robes, eating simple food, and clearly maintaining awareness of the present mind. Deluded people of the world do not understand this truth and put themselves through great anguish in their ignorance. Hoping to achieve liberation, they cultivate a broad range of superficial practices to gain merit – only to fall into the inevitable discontent of habitual cyclic existence.
(So just) make your body and mind perfectly empty and peaceful, without any discriminative thinking at all. Sit properly with the body erect. Regulate the breath and concentrate the mind so it is not within you, not outside of you, and not in any location in between. Do this carefully but naturally. View your own consciousness tranquilly and attentively, so you can see how it is always moving, like flowing water or a glittering mirage. After you have perceived this consciousness, simply continue to observe it gently and naturally, without getting fixed anywhere inside or outside of yourself. Do this calmly and attentively until its fluctuations dissolve into peaceful stability. This flowing consciousness will disappear like a gust of wind. When this consciousness disappears, all illusions disappear along with it...one's own mind becomes peacefully stable, and pure. I cannot describe it any further.
Anyone who can keep this mind in sight during all activities and in the face of the desires for forms, sounds, smells, tastes, and touch, and in the midst of the winds of success and failure, criticism and praise, honor and abuse, suffering and pleasure, has established a pure practice (brahmacarya), and will never again be born into the realm of birth and death.
My disciples have recorded this treatise from my oral teachings so that readers might intuitively resonate with the words and perceive the meaning behind them... I want everyone to discern their fundamental mind and experience awakening at once.
The basic principle of this teaching is the the manifestation of the one vehicle. It's ultimate intention is to lead the deluded to liberation, allowing them to become free from the realm of birth and death themselves, and to help others to cross over to the other shore of nirvana. But this treatise only speaks of the benefit to oneself, it does not elaborate on how to benefit others. It should be understood as a gate of direct practice. Anyone who practices according to these instructions will realize awakening immediately.

From the Xiu Xin Yao Lun (c.700) written by members of the “East Mountain School” (Hongren's students) as a summary of Master Hongren's teaching. Based on a translation by John R. McRae.

A monk asked Master Hongren, “Why don't we study the way of awakening in cities where there are many people, instead of at places deep in the mountains?”
Hongren answered, “The timbers needed to make a great building originally came from secluded mountain valleys. They can't be grown where many people are congregated. Since they are far from crowds of people, they can't be chopped down or harmed by axes, and are able to grow into great trees, which later can be used to make central beams and pillars. So in studying the teaching, one should find refuge for the spirit in remote mountain valleys, escaping far from the troubles of the dusty world. People should nourish their nature in deep mountains, keeping away from worldly affairs for a long time. When not always confronting common affairs the mind will naturally become at ease. Studying Zen in this way is like planting a tree, with the result that later it can bear fruit.”
During this era the great teacher Hongren only sat peacefully in an upright position and did not compile writings. He taught Zen orally to his personal disciples, quietly passing on the teaching to many others.

From The Record of the Lankavatara Masters (Lengqie Shizi Ji, before 750), based on a translation by Andy Ferguson.

Upon Master 大毉道信 Dayi Daoxin's (580-651) death, he was succeeded by his most important disciple, Daman Hongren, a native of the region who had been with Daoxin from the beginning.  Master Hongren continued Daoxin's work of establishing a monastic community focused exclusively on the study and practice of Zen.  As the reputation of the master and community spread, the population greatly increased and Hongren started another center nine miles east at Fengmaoshan, which also came to be known as “East Mountain” (Dongshan).  His  community was known as the “East Mountain School” and out of this group came many prominent masters who spread the Zen movement throughout China including Masters Shenxiu, Hui'an, and Huineng.




Treatise on the Supreme Vehicle
by Chan master Hongren
In: Minding Mind: A Course in Basic Meditation
Translated by Thomas Cleary
Boston, Mass. : Shambhala, 1995. 2nd Revised edition edition, 2009, pp. 1-15.

1. In aiming for the enlightenment of sages to understand the true source, if the essential issue of cultivating the mind is not kept pure, there is no way for any practice to yield realization. If any good friends copy this text, be careful not to omit anything, lest you case people of later times to err.

2. The basic essence of cultivating enlightenment should be discerned: it is the inherently complete and pure mind, in which there is no false discrimination, and body and mind are fundamentally pure, unborn, and undying. This is the basic teacher; this is better than invoking the Buddhas of the ten directions.

3. Question: How do we know that the inherent mind is fundamentally pure?

Answer: According to The Ten Stages Scripture, there is an indestructible Buddha-nature in the bodies of living beings, like the orb of the sun, its body luminous, round and full, vast and boundless; bet because it is covered by the dark clouds of the five clusters, it cannot shine, like a lamp hidden inside a pitcher.

When there are clouds and fog everywhere, the world is dark, but that does not mean the sun has decomposed. Why is there no light? The light is never destroyed, it is just enshrouded by clouds and fog. The pure mind of all living beings is like this, merely covered up by the dark clouds of obsession with objects, arbitrary thoughts, psychological afflictions, and views and opinions. If you can just keep the mind still so that errant though does not arise, the reality of nirvana will naturally appear. This is how we know the inherent mind is originally pure.

4. Question: How do we know the inherent mind is fundamentally unborn and undying?

Answer: The Scripture Spoken by Vimalakirti says that suchness has no birth and suchness has no death. Suchness is true thusness, the Buddha-nature that is inherently pure. Purity is the source of mind; true thusness is always there and does not arise from conditions.

The scripture also says that all ordinary beings are Thus, and all sages and saints are also Thus. "All ordinary beings", refers to us; "all sages and saints" refers to the Buddhas. Although their names and appearances differ, the objective nature of true thusness in their bodies is the same. Being unborn and undying, it is called Thus. That is how we know the inherent mind is fundamentally unborn and undying.

5. Question: Why call the inherent mind the basic teacher?

Answer: This true mind is natural and does not come from outside. It is not confined to cultivation in past, present, or future. The dearest and most intimate thing there could be is to preserve the mind yourself. If you know the mind, you will reach transcendence by preserving it. If you are confused about the mind and ignore it, you will fall into miserable states. Thus we know that the Buddhas of all times consider the inherent mind to be the basic teacher. Therefore a treatise says, "Preserve the mind with perfect clarity so that errant thoughts do not arise, and this is birthlessness.

6. Question: What does it mean to say that the inherent mind is better than invoking other Buddhas?

Answer: Even if you constantly invoke other Buddhas, you will not escape birth and death; but if you preserve your own basic mind, you will arrive at transcendence. The Diamond Cutter Scripture says that anyone who views Buddha in terms of form or seeks Buddha through sound is traveling an aberrant path and cannot see the real Buddha. Therefore it is said that preserving the true mind is better than invoking other Buddhas. The word "better", nevertheless, is only used to encourage people. In reality, the essence of the ultimate realization is equal, without duality.

7. Question: Since the true essence of Buddhas and ordinary beings is the same, why do Buddhas experience infinite happiness and unhindered freedom, without birth or death, while we ordinary beings fall into birth and death and suffer all sorts of pains?

Answer: The Buddhas of the ten directions realized the true nature of things and spontaneously perceive the source of mind; errant imagining does not arise, accurate awareness is not lost. The egoistic, possessive attitude disappears, so they are not subject to birth and death, they are ultimately tranquil; so obviously all happiness naturally comes to them.

Ordinary people lose sight of the nature of reality and do not know the basis of mind. Arbitrarily fixating on all sorts of objects, they do not cultivate awareness; therefore love and hatred arise. Because of love and hatred, the vessel of mind cracks and leaks. Because the vessel of mind cracks and leaks, there is birth and death. Because there is birth and death, all miseries naturally appear.

The Mind King Scripture says that true thusness, the Buddha-nature, is submerged in the ocean of cognition, perception, and sense, bobbing up and down in birth and death, unable to escape. Effort should be made to preserve the basic true mind, so that arbitrary thoughts do not arise, egoistic and possessive attitudes vanish, and you spontaneously realize equality and unity with the Buddhas.

8. Question: If the Buddha-nature that is truly Thus is one and the same, then when one is deluded, everyone should be deluded, and when one is enlightened, everyone should be enlightened. Why is it that when Buddhas awaken to this nature, the ignorance and confusion of ordinary people remain the same?

Answer: From here on, we enter the domain of the inconceivable, beyond the reach of ordinary people. Enlightenment is realized by knowing mind; confusion happens because of losing touch with nature. If conditions meet, they meet; no fixed statement can be made. Just trust in the truth and preserve your inherently basic mind.

This is why The Scripture Spoken by Vimalakirti says that there is neither selfhood nor otherness, that reality has never been born and does not presently perish. This is realizing the dualistic extremism of identification and alienation, thus entering into non-discriminatory knowledge. If you understand this point, then preserving the mind is foremost among the essentials of the teachings on practical knowledge. This practice of preserving the mind is the basis of nirvana, theessential doorway into enlightenment, the source of all the scriptures, and the progenitor of the Buddhas of all times.

9. Question: How do we know that preserving the fundamental true mind is the basis of nirvana?

Answer: The essence of nirvana is tranquil, uncontrived bliss. Realize your own mind is the true mind, and errant imagining ceases. When errant imagining ceases, you are accurately aware. By virtue of accurate awareness, dispassionately perceptive knowledge arises. By dispassionately perceptive knowledge, one finds out the nature of reality. By finding out the nature of reality, one attains nirvana. This is how we know that preserving the fundamental true mind is the basis of

10. Question: How do we know that preserving the fundamental true mind is the essential doorway into enlightenment?

Answer: "Even if you draw a figure of a Buddha with your finger, or perform countless virtuous deeds...."-teachings like this are just Buddha's instructions for ignorant people to create causes for better future states, and even for seeing Buddha. As for those who wish to attain Buddhahood quickly on their own, they should preserve the basic true mind. The Buddhas of past, present, and future are infinite, but not one of them attained Buddhahood without preserving the basic true mind. Therefore a scripture says that if you keep the mind on one point, there is nothing that cannot be accomplished. This is how we know that preserving the basic true mind is the essential doorway into enlightenment.

11. Question: How do we know that preserving the basic true mind is the source of all the scriptures?

Answer: In the scriptures, the Buddha explains all the causes and conditions, results and consequences, of all sins and virtues, drawing up even the mountains, rivers, earth, grasses, trees, and other beings for countless parables, similes, metaphors, on occasion manifesting countless varieties of spiritual powers and emanations. This is all because Buddha teaches people who lack insight but have all sorts of desires and innumerable different mentalities.

On this account, the Buddha uses means suited to individual mentalities in order to lead people into universal truth. Once we know that the Buddha-nature in all beings is as pure as the sun behind the clouds, if we just preserve the basic true mind with perfect clarity, the clouds of errant thoughts will come to an end, and the sun of insight will emerge; what is the need or so much more study of knowledge of the pains of birth and death, of all sorts of doctrines and principles, and of the affairs of past, present, and future? It is like wiping the dust off a mirror; the clarity appears spontaneously when the dust is all gone.

Thus whatever is learned in the present unenlightened mind is worthless. If you can maintain accurate awareness clearly, what you learn in the uncontrived mind is true learning.

But even though I call it real learning, ultimately there is nothing learned. Why? Because both the self and nirvana are empty; there is no more two, not even one. Thus there is nothing learned; but even though phenomena are essentially empty, it is necessary to preserve the basic true mind with perfect clarity, because then delusive thoughts do not arise, and egoism and possessiveness disappear. The Nirvana Scripture says, "Those who know the Buddha does not preach anything are called fully learned." This is how we know that preserving the basic true mind is the source of all scriptures.

13. Question: What is meant by 'indifference'?

Answer: When people who concentrate their minds focus on outward objects, and their coarse mentalities stop for a time because of this, they inwardly refine their true mind; when the mind is not yet clear and pure, and they examine it constatnly in whatsoever act they are enaging in, and are still unable to perceive the mind source independently, this is called an indifferent mind.

This is still a contaminated mind which as yet does not escape the great sickness of birth and death. As for those who don't preserve the true mind at all, they sink nto the bitter sea of birth and death. When will they ever escape? How pitiful! Work, work!

The sutras say that if people's true sincereity doesn't arise from within themselves, even if they meet countless Buddhas of the past, present and future, they can do nothing. The Sutras also say that when people know the mind, they liberate themselves; Buddhas cannot liberate people. If Buddha could liberate people, why have people like ouselves not attained enlightenment despite the fact that here hve been innumerable Buddhas in the past? It is because true sincereity does not come from within that people sink in the bitter sea. Work, work! With diligence seen the fundamental mind; don't allow for random polution. The past is not your concern; we can never catch up with what has gone by. I urge all those who have been able to hear, at this present time, this subtle teaching to comprehend these words: realize that perceiving mind is the greatest path.

If you are not willing to practice with great sincerity in the quest for enlightenment and the experience of infinite freedom and happiness [it brings], and rather start making a lot of clamor following after worldly things, searching after honor and profit with greed, you will fall into a vast hell and suffer all sorts of pain. What can you do about it? How will you cope? What will you do?

Work, work! Wear crummy clothes, eat plain food, and preserve your fundamental, true mind with perfect clarity. Appear stupid and inarticulate. This will conserve all energy, and is very effective. This how very earnest people are.

Ignorant worldly folk who don't understand this principle will go through many hardships in ignorance to carry out apparent good on a large scale. They wish to be liberated, but return again to birth & death. Those who maintain perfectly clear right mindfulness and save others to, however, are most powerful Bodhisattvas.
I am clearly saying to you all that preserving the mind is the main thing to do; if you don't make any efforts to preserve the mind, you are very, very foolish. By rejecting the here & now, you will suffer misery all your life; by hoping for the future, you suffer misfortune for myriad kalpas. If I indulge you, I don't know what else there is to say. The one who remains unmoved by the gusts of the eight winds is the real Jewel-Mountain. One who knows the results just does and says with
skillfullness, like water, adapting to all circumstances, giving out antidotes in accord with illnessess; one who can perform all this and not bring about false thoughts, so that egotism and the desire to possess die out, has truly gone beyond the world.

When the Buddha was still living, there was no end to his praise of this; I tell you about it now to encourage you diligently. If you don't bring to mind vain thoughts and are empty of egotism and the desire to possess, then you have gone beyond the world.

14. Question: What is the disappearing of egotism and the desire to possess?

Answer: When you have any desire to surpass other people, or any thoughts of your own ability, this is egotism and the desire to possess. These are an illness compared with nirvana. Thus, the Nirvana Sutra says, "Space contains all things yet does not hold the thought it can contain all things." That's a metaphor for the disappearing of egotism and the desire to posess, from which you can go on to indestructible concentration.

15. Question: Adepts who seek the true, everlasting peace, but who only care about impermanent, base, worldly virtues and don't care about the true, everlasting, subtle virtues of Absolute Truth haven't seen the principle, and only want arouse the mind to focus on doctrines which are thought about; as soon as conscious awareness arises, it is polluted. But if one just wants to forget about the mind, this is the darkness of ignorance; it isn't in accord with the true principle either. And if one only wants to neither to stop the mind or focus on principles, this is to incorrectly grasp emptiness, and living like a beast instead of a human. When this happens, if one doesn't have any methods of concentration / insight and can't understand how to clearly see the Buddha-nature, the adept only gets befuddled - how is one to go beyond this and arrive at total nirvana? Please point out the true mind.

16. Answer: You only need to have total confidence and effective determination. Gently quiet your mind, and I will teach you once again.

You should make your own mind & body uncluttered and serene, unentangled in any objects whatsoever. Sit straight, rightly aware, and fine-tune your breath so it is well adjusted. Examine your mind to see it as neither inside nor outside nor in between. Watch it calmly, carefully and objectively; when you master this, you clearly see that the mind's consciousness moves in a flow, like a water-current or like heat waves rising without end.

When you have seen this consciousness, you find it is neither out nor in: without hurry, objectively & calmly observe it. When you master this, then melt and flux over and over, empty yet solid, profoundly stable, and then the flowing consciousness will disappear.

Those who get this consciousness to disappear will then destroy the obstructing confusions of the Bodhisattvas of the ten stages. Once this consciousness is gone, then the mind is open and still, quiet, serene and calm, perfectly pure, and enormously stable.

I can't speak about it any further. If you want to attain it, take up the chapter in the Nirvana Sutra on the indestructible body, and the chapter in the Vimalakirti sutra on seeing the Immovable Budha: contemplate and reflect on them without hurry, search them carefully and read them thoroughly. If you are totaly familiar with these sutras and can actually maintain this mind in whatever you are doing - even in the face of the five desires and eight winds - then your pure conduct will be set firmly and your task will be complete; in the end you will no longer be subjected to a body that is born and dies.

The five desires are for images, tones, aromas, tastes and tangibles. The eight winds are gain and loss, praise and blame, honor and insult, pain and pleasure. This is where adepts polish and refine the Buddha-nature; it's no wonder that they do not attain freedom in this body. A sutra says, "If there is no place for a Buddha to abide in the world, Bodhisattvas cannot actually function."

If you desire to be free of this conditiond body, do not discriminate between the sharpness of dullness of your faculties in the past; the best require a single moment, and the worst take countless eons.

If you've got he strength and time to develop a altruistic roots of virtues according to people's natures so as t help your own self as well as others, adorning a Buddha-land, you must comprehend the Four Reliances and find out what reality actually is like. If you rely on clinging to the leter, you will miss the true source.

For monks learning to study the Path as renunciants, the fact is that "home-leaving" means leaving the fetters of birth & death: that's real "home-leaving".

When right mindfulness is totally present and cultivation of the path is successful, even if your limbs are cut off, so long as you don't lose your right mindfulness at the time of death, you will instantly attain Buddhahood.

I have written the foregoing treatise simply by taking the sense of sutras according to faithl; in truth, I don't know by perfectly complete experience. If there is anything opposed to the Buddha's principles, I will willingly repent and get rid of it; whatsoever is in accord with the Buddha's path, however, I donate to all beings, hoping they all will get to know the fundamental mind and attain enlightenment at once. May those who listen to this work become Buddhas in the futuer; I hope you will save my followers first.

17. Question: From start to finish, everything in this treatise reveals that the intrinsic mind is the Way; does it belong to the category of actualization or practice?

Answer: The heart of this treatise is to show the One Vehicle. Its main intent is to guide the ignorant so that they may free themselves from birth & death. Only then can they save others. Speaking only of helping oneselves and of helping others is characteristic of the practice-category; whosoever practices in harmony with the text will be the first to attain Buddhahood. If I am lying to you, in the future I will fall into 18 hells. I promise to heaven and earth: if I am untruthful, let me be eaten by tigers and wolves life after life.



The Spirit of Zen
by Sam van Schaik
Yale University Press, 2018, 272 p.

Leading Buddhist scholar Sam van Schaik explores the history and essence of Zen, based on a new translation of one of the earliest surviving collections of teachings by Zen masters. These teachings, titled The Masters and Students of the Lanka, were discovered in a sealed cave on the old Silk Road, in modern Gansu, China, in the early twentieth century. All more than a thousand years old, the manuscripts have sometimes been called the Buddhist Dead Sea Scrolls, and their translation has opened a new window onto the history of Buddhism.


Preface viii
PART I Introducing Zen 1
1 The Practice of Zen 3

2 Zen and the West 19
3 The History of Zen 31
4 The Lost Texts of Zen 47
5 Early Zen Meditation 63

PART II The Masters of the Lanka 83
6 Manuscripts and Translation 85
7 Jingjue: Student of Emptiness 88
8 Gunabhadra: Introducing the Lankāvatāra 102
9 Bodhidharma: Sudden and Gradual 114
10 Huike: The Buddha Within 129
11 Sengcan: Heaven in a Grain of Sand 141
12 Daoxin I: How to Sit 150
13 Daoxin II: Teachings for Beginners 168
14 Hongren: The Buddha in Everything 181
15 Shenxiu: Zen in the World 194

Notes 209
References 244
Index 000


 While the chapter on Hongren is mainly concerned with his life and his students, there is a brief passage on his meditation teachings. These involve visualizations: first, of a single syllable as a focus for concentration, and second, visualizing oneself sitting on top of a mountain, and seeing the whole world around. There are some similarities between Hongren's instructions and the tantric meditation practices that were beginning to arrive in China around the same time.



The Buddha in Everything

With Hongren, Zen comes of age. Many of his students went on to become famous meditation teachers in their own right, and his meditation centre on East Mountain gave its name to a whole tradition of teaching. According to all the early histories, Hongren first travelled to study with Daoxin on Shuangfeng Mountain. After he had been authorized by Daoxin to teach meditation, he moved to Mount Fengmao, which was to the east of Shuangfeng, and therefore known as East Mountain. There he established his residence, and over the years attracted many students who travelled to East Mountain to receive his teachings.

After Hongren's death, his residence on East Mountain was turned into a monastery. However, his most famous students did not stay on the mountain – they travelled, taking the ‘East Mountain tradition' of teaching meditation across China. In the Masters of the Lanka, Hongren is a quintessential meditation teacher. He lives in a secluded retreat, where he teaches orally, but never commits words to writing. His teaching style is pithy, sometimes puzzling, sometimes approaching the style of the koan.

According to the Masters of the Lanka, Hongren never wrote a book, yet there is a text attributed to him in some Dunhuang manuscripts: Treatise on the Essentials of Cultivating the Mind. 1 John McRae argues that this is a genuine record of Hongren's teachings by his students. He also shows that while the Treatise on the Essentials of Cultivating the Mind is not quoted in the Hongren section of the Masters of the Lanka, parts of it do appear in the chapters on Guṇabhadra and Huike. Therefore he believes that Hongren's work was plagiarized for these earlier sections. 2

I would agree with McRae that Jingjue (or whoever compiled the Masters of the Lanka) probably did struggle to find meditation teachings firmly attributed to these two figures. However, to state, as McRae did, that Jingjue plagiarized Hongren's work (while at the same time denying that Hongren ever wrote anything) is odd. As I have argued earlier, plagiarism is a very modern idea, entirely out of place in a pre-modern manuscript culture (whether in China or anywhere else in the world).

What's more, just because one manuscript attributes the Treatise on the Essentials of Cultivating the Mind to Hongren does not mean that this was generally accepted. When we work directly with the manuscripts, we see how often attribution of a text can change. This is a well-known feature of Chinese bibliography, as Endymion Wilkinson has written: ‘A problem encountered throughout Chinese history is the use of more than one title for the same book, caused in the early days by the fact that books circulated as manuscripts in different versions with no fixed title or author.' 3 We are lucky enough to have access to one group of local manuscripts, preserved by chance in the Dunhuang cave; in other communities, now lost to us, some of the same texts will undoubtedly have been attributed to different authors.

In any case, it is worth looking at the Treatise on the Essentials of Cultivating the Mind as a compendium of teachings that some at least considered to be by Hongren. The text is a series of questions and answers between an unnamed teacher and student. It is quite long, but has a simple message: the true nature of mind is present in all living beings, but temporarily obscured, like the sun when it is hidden by the clouds. It is always present, but we are not aware of it. There is no buddha apart from one's own mind, and to be a buddha is just to be always aware of the true nature of mind.

The practice taught in the Treatise on the Essentials of Cultivating the Mind is to recognize the inherent purity of one's own mind, and then to maintain that awareness. This is the essence of meditation, but it is an advanced practice; the text also teaches a preliminary practice for beginners, to calm the mind by sitting and visualizing the sun in the distance:

Sit properly with the body erect, closing the eyes and mouth. Look straight ahead with the mind, visualizing a sun at an appropriate distance away. Maintain this image continuously without stopping. 4

Here we have a classic Buddhist meditation technique, in which the focus of concentration is a visualized image of light. Once beginners have learned to calm their minds through this practice, they can do the main practice, which is described thus:

Make your body and mind pure and peaceful, without any discriminative thinking at all. Sit properly with the body erect. Regulate the breath and concentrate the mind so it is not within you, not outside you, and not in any intermediate location. Do this carefully and naturally. View your own consciousness tranquilly and attentively, so that you can see how it is always moving, like flowing water or a glittering mirage. After you have perceived this consciousness, simply continue to view it gently and naturally. 5

These instructions for meditation fit the third type of meditation in Daoxin's fivefold scheme, ‘to be always aware'. They also look very much like his practice of ‘observing the mind'. A practice like this could well have been taught by Hongren, or indeed many other meditation teachers of his generation and later.

* * *

Turning to Hongren's meditation teachings as presented in the Masters of the Lanka, there are two main types: a visualization practice taking the syllable ‘a' as the focus of meditation, and the use of difficult questions, especially ‘What is this?'

The visualization instruction is as follows:

When you sit, let your face relax and sit with your head and body straight. Calmly let go of your body and mind. Resting in emptiness, visualize the single syllable.

The ‘single syllable' is a term most commonly found in tantric practice literature, occurring in a number of esoteric texts in the Chinese canon. It is not common elsewhere, though in later Zen texts, the ‘key phrase' of koan practice is sometimes spoken of in similar terms. In Hongren's meditation teachings this is not a koan practice; it is a visualization practice. In the esoteric tradition, the syllable that is visualized is usually the syllable a, the first letter of the Sanskrit alphabet. 6

The visualization of the single syllable is only the first part of the practice, which expands into a vast and spacious visualization in which the meditator imagines him or herself on top of a mountain:

After you have mastered this, when you are sitting, imagine that you are in the wilderness. In the middle there is a solitary mountain. You are sitting on the barren ground on top of the mountain, looking in the four directions, seeing far into the distance, without barriers or boundaries. As you sit, you fill the whole world, completely relaxing your body and mind, abiding in the realm of the buddhas.

This striking visualization is not just intended to generate a sense of spaciousness and clarity; as Hongren says, in this imagined state of ‘filling the whole world' one is already in the realm of the buddhas. There is an echo of this practice in Hongren's last words, as recorded in the Masters of the Lanka : ‘The great master then raised his hand and gestured towards the ten directions, each time stating that the realized mind was already there.'

This practice can be seen as exemplifying the Yogācāra position that the distinction between internal senses and external objects is a false one; one's mind always reaches as far as one can see. There is also a similarity between Hongren's teaching here and Daoxin's instructions on seeing one's own body as that of a buddha:

It is empty and clear like a reflection; it can be seen, but not grasped. Wisdom is born in the midst of reflections; ultimately it has no location. It never moves, yet it responds to the needs of beings, manifesting without limitation.

We can also compare Daoxin's teachings on dying, during which one should be ‘absorbed in the pure sky-like mind'.

* * *

This chapter on Hongren ends with a series of questions. Though they may seem unrelated, a theme emerges from them: the presence of the buddha nature in everything. The classic idea of the buddha nature is that the potential for enlightenment exists in all sentient beings, whether human or otherwise. In China, this idea was extended to nonsentient living things such as grass and trees, and even inanimate objects such as rocks. Discussions about this were common in the eighth century. 7

In the Masters of the Lanka, the idea first comes up in the teachings of Guṇabhadra, who almost certainly did not teach the buddha nature of things, and here in the teachings of Hongren, who might have. But whoever originally gave these teachings, they come together in a consistent message: ordinary things have the buddha nature, and they can be our teachers.

Aren't earth, wood, tile and stone also able to sit in meditation? Can't wood, tile and stone also see forms and hear sounds, wear a robe and carry a bowl? When the Laṅkāvatāra sūtra talks about ‘the dharmakaya of the realm of objects', this is what it means.

This passage approaches the idea of the buddha nature in inanimate objects in a different way. With a series of questions which are not meant to be answered in any conventional way, Hongren asks why we consider inanimate objects to be nonsentient. Can't they also wear a robe and sit in meditation?

The key is the quote from the Laṅkāvatāra : ‘The objects of perception are the dharmakaya.' This means that, in the state of meditative awareness, one does not see the objects of perception as external. Everything one sees is merely one's own mind, and this mind is inherently luminous and pure: the dharmakaya itself. From this perspective there is absolutely no difference between any ordinary thing and a buddha, as Hongren tells his students:

A buddha possesses thirty-two qualities. Doesn't a jug also have these thirty-two qualities? Doesn't a pillar also have these thirty-two qualities? And how about earth, wood, tile and stone: don't they also have these thirty-two qualities?

So things have a buddha nature, and the nature of a buddha is to liberate sentient beings from suffering. Can this be true of things as well? According to statements attributed to Guṇabhadra, things definitely can teach the dharma:

Things too, like the leaves on this tree, can teach the dharma. This pillar can teach the dharma. The roof can teach the dharma. Earth, water, fire and wind can all teach the dharma. Earth, wood, tile and stone can also teach the dharma.

The idea of things teaching the dharma did not come out of nowhere. In the sutras of Amitabha, the sources of the pure land visualization practices taught by Daoxin and others, it is said that in Amitabha's pure land, the songs of birds teach the dharma and the sounds of trees bring about mindfulness of the Buddha. 8 As we have seen in Daoxin's teachings, the pure land is present here and now when we realize the true nature of our mind.

At the end of Daoxin's chapter, there is a specific argument for how things teach the dharma. He quotes from Vasubandhu's commentary on the Diamond Sutra: ‘The physical manifestation of the buddha is not the true buddha and does not teach the dharma.' 9 The second part of Vasubandhu's answer, which is not quoted, is: ‘Teach the dharma without clinging to subject and object; do not teach the linguistic distinction of categories.'

So what is the argument here? Rather than trying to intellectually justify the idea of things teaching the dharma, the very idea of teaching the dharma is challenged. How? Because the true sense of ‘teaching the dharma' is not a dualistic activity carried out by the physical manifestation of the buddha. It is the communication of nonduality, the absence of subject and object. Therefore ‘teaching the dharma' is no more applicable to buddhas than it is to walls, tiles and stones. But when nonduality is understood, everything has the potential to teach the dharma. 10


Chapter Six

In the Tang dynasty, at the Youju Monastery on Shuangfeng Mountain, Jizhou, the great master whose personal name was Hongren, became the successor to the meditation master Daoxin. 11 He was patient in his work of transmitting the dharma and his sublime dharma became famous, known at the time as the pure tradition of East Mountain. 12 It was praised by both monastics and laypeople in the capital city of Luoyang, due to the abundance of people who attained the result at East Mountain in Jizhou thanks to the East Mountain teaching tradition.

People asked Hongren, ‘Why don't your students gather in cities or towns? Do you really need to be mountain dwellers?'

He replied: ‘The timber for large buildings is sourced from secluded valleys, not from inhabited places. It is only because the trees are far from human beings that they have not been carved with knives or chopped down with axes. Left alone, they are able to reach their full growth over a long time till they are suitable for use as ridgepoles and rafters. 13 That's the reason we live in secluded valleys far from the noise and pollution, cultivating ourselves among the mountains, always staying far away from worldly business. With no objects before the eyes, mind becomes steady and peaceful on its own. As we follow this path, the blossoms bloom on the trees and the forest of meditation bursts into fruit.'

This great master, Hongren, sat quietly in meditation and did not produce any books, only giving people oral teachings on the profound principle and bestowing upon them his silent transmission. 14 There is a book on meditation methods in circulation which is claimed to contain the teachings of the meditation master Hongren, but this is wrong. 15

According to the master of Shoushan in Anzhou whose personal name was Xuanze, and who wrote the Record of the People and Dharma of the Lanka , the great master's secular name was Zhou. 16 His family were from Xunyang and he was born in the county of Huangmei. Because his father left when he was young, he took care of his mother, showing great filial piety. 17 At the age of seven, he entered the service of the meditation master Daoxin, and after leaving home he lived in Youju Monastery.

He dwelt in the perfection of vast compassion, holding integrity and purity close to his heart. He kept his lips sealed in the arena of claims to truth and falsehood, while merging his mind within the realm of empty forms. Thanks to his efforts in expanding the practice of offering rituals, his dharma community were able to support him. 18 They tamed their own minds while applying themselves exclusively to all of the ritual practices. 19

This teacher alone had the clear understanding that the four postures are the site of enlightenment, and three kinds of activity are all the work of the buddha. 20 He transcended the two extremes of peacefulness and disruption, and thus for him speech and silence were ever one. 21

All the time, people came from the four directions to request instruction. All nine types of disciple asked him to be their master, going to him empty and returning full. 22 Every month there were over a thousand disciples. He never wrote a book in his life, yet his teachings always tallied with the profound intention.

* * *

At one time, a meditation master from Jingzhou called Shenxiu prostrated himself before Hongren's eminent example, and personally received the entrustment of his transmission. In the first year of the Xianheng era (670), Xuanze arrived at Shuangfeng Mountain and received instruction from Hongren with reverence. He respectfully offered his services, and over the next five years he returned three times for audiences.

When monks and laypeople assembled together to reverently perform the offering ritual, upon accepting the offerings Hongren gave a sermon on the meaning of the Laṅkāvatāra, saying, ‘This sutra can only be fully understood by verifying it with your own mind; written commentaries cannot explain it.'

In the second month of the fifth year of the Xianheng era (674) Hongren ordered Xuanze and the others to begin work on a stupa. 23 Together, the disciples transported uncut stone and built a beautiful structure. On the fourteenth day of the same month, Hongren asked if the stupa had been completed yet, and they respectfully answered that they had finished. He then said: ‘It should not happen on the day of the Buddha's parinirvāna, but from that time onwards, you should use my residence as a monastery.' 24

He went on to say: ‘I cannot count the number of people I have taught in this lifetime. All of the most excellent have died and now there are only ten who might be able to transmit my methods in the future. 25 When I discussed the Laṅkāvatāra sūtra with Shenxiu, he swiftly got to the profound principle, and I am sure he will be of the greatest benefit. Zhishen from Zizhou and Registrar Liu from Baisong Mountain are both educated people. 26 Huizang from Huazhou and Xuanyue from Suizhou, I remember, though I no longer see them. Laoan of Songshan has progressed far along the profound path. 27 Faru from Luzhou, 28 Huineng from Shaozhou, 29 and the Korean monk Zhide from Yangzhou are all equally capable of being teachers, though only to people of their local regions. Yifang from Yuezhou will continue to give sermons.'

He also spoke to Xuanze, saying: ‘You should take great care of your simultaneous practice yourself. 30 After I pass into nirvana, you and Shenxiu will make the sun of the buddha shine again, and the lamp of the mind light up again.'

On the sixteenth day of the same month, Hongren asked, ‘Do you now know my mind?' 31 Xuanze respectfully answered that he did not know. The great master then raised his hand and gestured towards the ten directions, each time stating that the realized mind was already there. At noon on the sixteenth day he sat at ease, facing south, closed his eyes and died. He had seen seventy-four springs and autumns. 32

Hongren's body was ritually interred in a stupa on Mount Fengmao. Up to the present day, the stupa is just as it was back then. 33 Lu Zichan of Fanyang painted Hongren's portrait on a wall in Anzhou monastery. Li Jiongxiu of Longxi, a former head of the Ministry of Defence, eulogized Hongren in the following words: 34

Oh excellent man,
With a deep connection to the truth of the way!
Concentrating his mind, he came to the end of wisdom, 35
And high realization pervaded his spirit.
Free from birth, he brought about the result,
Demonstrating extinction, he became one with the dust.
Now that he has transformed himself,
How many years before we see his like again?

* * *

The great master said – There is a room that is completely full of excrement, earth and hay. What is this?

And he said – We sweep and clean away the excrement, earth and hay until it is all gone and not a thing remains. What is this?

* * *

When you sit, let your face relax and sit with your head and body straight. Calmly let go of your body and mind. Resting in emptiness, visualize the single syllable from afar. These are the stages of practice: if you are a beginner who grasps at every object, visualize the single syllable in your mind. After you have mastered this, when you are sitting, imagine that you are in the wilderness. In the distance there is a solitary mountain. You are sitting on the barren ground on top of the mountain, looking in the four directions, seeing far into the distance, without barriers or boundaries. As you sit, you fill the whole world, completely relaxing your body and mind, abiding in the realm of the buddhas. This is akin to the experience of the pure dharmakaya without barriers or boundaries.

He also said – At the point when you truly realize the vast dharmakaya, who is there to experience this realization?

* * *

He also said – A buddha possesses thirty-two qualities. Doesn't a jug also have these thirty-two qualities? Doesn't a pillar also have these thirty-two qualities? And how about earth, wood, tile and stone: don't they also have these thirty-two qualities?

Once he picked up two fire tongs, one long and one short, held them up side by side and asked: ‘Which one is long? Which one is short?'

Once, Hongren saw someone lighting a lamp, bringing a myriad things into being with one touch, and he said to everyone, ‘That person is a maker of dreams, a creator of illusions.' 36

Sometimes he used to say, ‘Nothing is created, nothing is made; everything, of every sort, is the great nirvana.'

* * *

He also said – Ultimate arising is the lack of arising as an entity. 37 It is not that there is a lack of arising independent of arising as an entity. As Nāgārjuna wrote:

Entities do not arise from themselves,
Nor do they arise from other,
Nor from both, nor without any cause;
Therefore we know that there is no arising. 38

If entities arise from conditions, then they lack an inherent nature. If they lack an intrinsic nature how can they be said to exist? Furthermore:

Space has no centre or periphery;
All of the buddhas' bodies are like this too. 39

When I give you my seal of approval because I can clearly see the buddha nature in you, it is this that I see.

* * *

He also said – When you are sitting in meditation in the monastery, aren't you also sitting in meditation under a tree in a mountain forest? Aren't earth, wood, tile and stone also able to sit in meditation? Can't earth, wood, tile and stone also see forms and hear sounds, wear a robe and carry a bowl? When the Laṅkāvatāra sūtra talks about ‘the dharmakaya of the realm of objects', this is what it means.




1. On the nine manuscript copies of the text, and the history of the (mainly Japanese) scholarship on them, see McRae 1986: 309–12, n.36.

2. McRae 1986: 119.

3. Wilkinson 2000: 267.

4. McRae 1986: 127. McRae also cites (p. 133) a passage from Yijing, where the buddha Vairocana is the sun.

5. McRae 1986: 130.

6. ‘Single syllable' is yī zì 一字. In later Zen texts, there is much discussion of the single-syllable ‘critical phrase' mu (無). Faure (1989: p. 169, n.45) considers this to be ‘sans doute' an allusion to the tantric practice of visualizing the letter ‘a'. Note the similar terms used by Daoxin: ‘single word/teaching' (yī yán 一言) and ‘single phrase' (yī jù 一句); these seem to refer to essentialized teachings rather than visualized syllables. A reference to the syllable ‘a' appears in one of the Tibetan Zen texts from Dunhuang, a commentary on the ‘Brief Precepts' (Tib. lung chung) found in Pelliot tibétain 699 (see van Schaik 2015: 189).

7. See Leighton 2015: 21ff.

8. Statements about animals and trees communicating the dharma occur in the longer and shorter Sukhāvatīvyūha sutras; see the translations in Gomez 1996: 16–18, 146–7, 180–1.

9. The title of the text is Vajracchedikā-prajñāpāramitôpadeśa, which appears in two canonical versions (T.25, no. 1511, p. 784b19; no. 1512, p. 819a29–b6). The two versions are different, but contain the same lines cited here. The citation is actually a quoted verse in the commentary itself, with no source; it is quoted in response to a similar question to the one here, i.e.: ‘In that case, the buddha Śākyamuni is not a buddha, and does not teach the dharma. Is that right?'

10. See also the typically interesting discussion of nonsentient beings teaching the dharma in Dogen's Shōbōgenzō , ‘Mujo Seppo' (‘Nonsentient Beings Speak the Dharma'). See Tanahashi 2010: 548–57; Nearman 2007: 653–65; Nishijima and Cross 2006: III.95–104.

11. Faure (1989: 163, n.1) points out that Shuangfeng Mountain was known as ‘West Mountain' while the neighbouring Mount Fengmao was known as ‘East Mountain'. He believes that the Masters of the Lanka confuses East Mountain with Shuangfeng. However, it is clear from later in the chapter that the Youju monastery mentioned here is Daoxin's monastery on Shuangfeng, and it is also stated later in this chapter that Hongren was entombed in a stupa on Fengmao. Thus the use of ‘East Mountain' here is meant to refer to the tradition established by Hongren in Fengmao, and not to Shuangfeng Mountain. The Genealogy of the Dharma Jewel states that Hongren initially travelled to Shuangfeng to study with Daoxin before moving to the Pingmao (not Fengmao), which it identifies as the East Mountain (see Adamek 2007: 85).

12. Here I am translating mén 門 as ‘tradition' to give a sense somewhere in between a ‘teaching method' or ‘doctrine' and a ‘school'. I think ‘tradition' suggests both of these without the baggage of ‘school' which suggests too much institutional presence.

13. There is a reference to ridgepoles and rafters in the Dhammapada (v.154, translation from Mascaró 1973: 56).

But now I have seen thee, housebuilder: never more shalt thou build this house. The rafters of sins are broken, the ridge-pole of ignorance is destroyed.

14. The ‘silent transmission' implies transmission of the nature of reality/mind through symbolic action, as in the story of the Buddha holding up the flower in silence to his students.

15. See McRae 1986: 90–1 for the text that was popularly attributed to Hongren (and partially appears in earlier chapters of this work).

16. The extent to which the following text was directly extracted from Xuanze's work, or whether it is a paraphrase, cannot be established in the absence of the original text. The character translated here as ‘according to' is àn 按 (see Kroll 2015: 3.I). It is specifically used in the two citations from Xuanze's text, here and in the next chapter. The use of àn suggests that what follows is meant to draw from that text, rather than to be a direct quote, as these are usually prefaced in this text with yún 云 or yuē 曰. The character àn can also indicate an author's or editor's aside ( nota bene ), and this is how Faure (1989: 163) takes it. Cleary (1986: 67) has ‘according to'.

17. This is a direct expression of the Confucian ideal.

18. The suggestion here is that Hongren increased his community's practice of performing offering rituals (Ch. gōngyǎng 供養 ; Skt pūja ), the usual way that Buddhist monks attract lay sponsorship. Just below in this chapter, an offering ritual is described, attended by laypeople and monastics, from whom Hongren receives the offerings.

19. The phrase hún yī 渾儀 here is difficult to translate in this context; I take hún to mean ‘complete' and to mean ‘observance' or ‘ceremony'. According to DDB (Muller), it is equivalent to Skt vidhi, Tib. cho ga.

20. The four postures are walking, standing, sitting and lying down; the three activities are speech, thoughts and deeds.

21. Note the deliberate pattern of four, three, two, one here.

22. The nine kinds of disciples include all male and female, ordained and lay classes of Buddhist practitioner.

23. The Chinese 塔 usually means a stupa in a Buddhist context; in China and Japan, the same word was used for the tombs of abbots of monasteries. Here, the implication is that Hongren is commissioning his own memorial.

24. It appears that Hongren is here predicting that he will die on or after the next anniversary of the Buddha's parinirvāna, and saying that after his death his residence should be converted into a monastery. The parinirvāna was traditionally celebrated on the fifteenth day of the second month. The implication of the text is that the stupa was intended by Hongren as a memorial for himself. Faure seems to agree with this but he only has the first statement as the direct speech of Hongren and therefore makes the intent unclear. A similar passage occurs in the Genealogy of the Dharma Jewel and Adamek (2007: 320) translates it as ‘I can't very well enter parinirvāna on the fifteenth day of the second month, the same as the Buddha.' According to Faure (1989: 164, n.21), the residence mentioned here was ‘sans doute' Hongren's family home in Huangmei. He cites the comparable cases where Huike's and Shenxiu's family homes were converted into monasteries. However, in the present context, it seems that Hongren is meant to be speaking to his students on Mount Fengmao, and it is his residence there, at the centre of a meditation teaching retreat setting, that he is asking to have converted into a monastery.

25. See Adamek 2007: 164–5; she says that lists of ten disciples of Hongren occur in several Chan histories; in others, from the Genealogy of the Dharma Jewel onwards, Huineng is made the prime disciple. Adamek suggests that the Masters of the Lanka is the more accurate of the two texts in some areas. See also Adamek 2007: 166, on the preface to Jingjue's commentary on the Heart Sutra , in which Jingjue states that his three main teachers were Shenxiu, Huian (i.e. Laoan) and Xuanze.

26. On Zhishen from Zizhou see also the Genealogy of the Dharma Jewel (Adamek 2007: 330–4). According to Faure (1989: 165, n.25), he is also the author of commentaries found in the Dunhuang manuscripts. Hongren's calling them both ‘educated people' would seem to be a double-edged compliment or even a mild criticism, given the account of his attitude to book learning.

27. Laoan means ‘Old An'. His dates are usually given as 582–709, and he was also known as Huian. See Adamek 2007: 165.

28. Faru is an important figure for historians of Chan, because his epitaph has survived (see Adamek 2007: 161, as well as McRae 1986: 85–6). The epitaph has Faru as Hongren's prime disciple. The inscription identifies the mind-to-mind silent transmission as the single practice concentration, and an inscription for one of Faru's disciples identifies this lineage with the Laṅkāvatāra sūtra . In the Transmission of the Dharma Jewel , Faru is also presented as the main disciple of Hongren and his biography is in between Hongren's and Shenxiu's (see translation in McRae 1986: 264–5).

29. Huineng is of course the figure who was accepted as Hongren's true successor by Shenhui and those who followed his lead; later, this became orthodoxy.

30. ‘Simultaneous practice' (jiān xíng, 兼行) is the practice of the six perfections all at once. This seems to be the practice that Hongren is asking Xuanze to cultivate and teach. Teachings on how the six perfections are present in the act of nonceptual meditation are found in a number of early Zen texts; see for example van Schaik 2015: 50–1 and 124–5.

31. There is probably some wordplay suggested here, also present in the English, where Hongren is asking Xuanze if he knows his wants and needs, while at the same time asking if he understands the nature of his (enlightened) mind. Thanks to Imre Galambos for this suggestion.

32. ‘Springs and autumns' (chūn qiū 春秋) can also be translated simply as ‘years' or ‘age' but it is a nice image. It is also the name of a chapter of the Shōbōgenzō : ‘Shunju'.

33. Cleary (1986: 69) translates this to mean that Hongren's body remained the same, but there is no other case of Hongren being said to be mummified.

34. This was a high-level post, with only one higher command level beneath the emperor.

35. This literally means: ‘cut off wisdom'. It is possibly a reference to the Daodejing which has the words: ‘If we could renounce our sageness and discard our wisdom, it would be better for the people a hundredfold.' Thanks to Imre Galambos for pointing this out.

36. The lamp is often used as a simile for the mind in Yogācāra Buddhist texts; this statement is a reference to how the mind creates the objects of perception.

37. According to Faure (1989: 169, n.51), this phrase occurs word for word in Jingjue's commentary on the Heart Sutra . Faure puts only this line in quotation marks.

38. The text is the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā, translated into Chinese by Kumarajiva, and this is the first verse after the dedication (T.30, no. 1564, p. 2b6–7).

39. These two lines are a direct quote from the Sarvabuddha-viṣayāvatāra-jñānālokā-laṃkāra sūtra (T.12, no. 35, p. 262c6).



See more at:
PDF: Notes on Chan



螢山紹瑾 Keizan Jōkin (1268–1325): 傳光錄 Denkō-roku
A fény átadása
32. FEJEZET Tiszteletreméltó DAIMAN KONIN


Honsoku (Bevezető eset):

A harminckettedik Pátriárka, Daiman Konin az Obai tartományba vezető úton találkozott a
harmincegyedik Pátriárkával, Daii Doshinnal. Daii Doshin azt kérdezte tőle: „Mi a családneved?"
Daiman így felelt: „Van családom, de a nevem nem egy közönséges ideiglenes név." Daii Doshin
akkor megkérdezte: „Akkor meg hogy hangzik ez a közönséges ideiglenes név?" Daiman Konin azt
felelte: „Az a név a Buddha Természet." Daii Doshin azt mondta: „Hát akkor nincs egy közönséges
családneved?" Daiman azt felelte: „Nincs, mert a Buddha Természet üres." Daii Doshin hallgatott, de
megértette Daiman Konin Dharma képességeit és átadta neki a Keszát és a Buddhista Dharmát.

Kien (Háttértörténet):

Daiman Konin Obai (Hunah Mei) tartományból származott, Kishu (Chi Chou) megyéből és az előző
életében a Dharma keresője volt, Saishodosha (a Hatto [Putou] hegyen) néven. Egyszer
megkérdezte Daii Doshint: „El tudod nekem magyarázni a Buddhista Utat." Daii Doshin azt felelte:
„Túl idős vagy ahhoz, hogy a Dharmát tanulmányozd és ha meg is tanulnád, nem taníthatnád
senkinek. Ha eljössz hozzám a következő életeben, megvárlak."
Ezután Saishodosha látott egy nőt, aki ruhákat mosott a folyóban. Köszöntötte őt és azt mondta:
„Maradhatok éjszakára?" A nő így felelt: „Van egy apám és egy fiútestvérem – menj és kérdezd meg
őket." Saishodosha azt felelte: „Ha beleegyeznek, maradok." A nő beleegyezése jeléül bólintott.
Végül, amikor befejezte a keresést, elment.
A nő, amikor hazaért, rájött, hogy várandós. Mindaddig mintagyerek volt a Shu (Chou) családban. A
családja viszont most gyűlölte őt és kidobta őt a házból. Mivelhogy nem volt hova menjen, nap
közben szokatlan munkákat végzett és éjszaka a házak eresze alatt aludt.
Végül is egy fiút szült. Érezte, hogy ez a szülés szerencsétlen volt és bedobta a gyereket egy
mocskos folyóba. A sodrás nem vitte el sem őt sem a mocskot a vízből. Hét napig az égi lények
védelme alatt állt. Két madár betakarta őt a szárnyaival éjszaka és két kutya bújt oda hozzá, hogy
melegen tartsák. A teste és a tudata tökéletes volt, minden érzéke éber és éles. Amikor az anyja
megint meglátta, megértette, hogy ez egy különleges gyerek és újra magához vette. Amikor felnőtt,
koldult a megélhetéséért. Az emberek úgy hívták őt, hogy Fattyú.
Egy bölcs ember azt mondta: „A gyereknek csak hét hiányzik a Buddha 32 jele közül. Bizonyosan
nem mehet túl a Tathagatán." Később a gyerek találkozott Daii Doshinnal az Obaiba vezető úton.
Mivelhogy Daii Doshin rájött, hogy a fiúnak szokatlan képességei vannak, megkérdezte tőle: „Mi a
Daiman Konin csendben maradt és Daii Doshin tudta, hogy ez az ember képes a Dharmát befogadni.
Daii Doshin asszisztense megkérte Daiman anyját, hogy engedje meg, hogy lemondjon a világról.
Akkor hét éves volt. Az avatás és a Kesza meg a Dharma átadása után állandóan Zazent gyakorolt,
kivéve a mindennapi rutin során, ami számára szintén Zazen volt. 675-ben közölte tanítványaival,
hogy befejezte a munkáját és távozik. Ezt elmondva, ülés közben belépett a Nirvánába.

Nentei (Dharmabeszéd):

A nevet, amit nem apánktól vagy az őseinktől és nem is a Buddháktól és Pátriárkáktól kapunk a
Dharma átadása során, Buddha Természetnek nevezzük. A Zen gyakorlásának az őt elsajátításának
a célja, hogy elérjük ennek a természetnek a lényegét és hogy tisztázzuk a megvilágosodást. Ha
nem éred el ennek a természetnek a lényegét, akkor megmaradsz a számszára kerekében (hiába
élsz és halsz) és zavarodott vagy magaddal és másokkal kapcsolatban.
Amikor a Buddha természetről beszélünk, mindannyiunknak más és más az arca az életben és a
halálban, de ezt a Buddha Természetet mindig minden pillanatban megvalósítjuk. Ezt mutatja meg
Daiman Konin története. Az előző életében, mint Saishodosha megmutatta a Buddha Utat. Ebben az
életben, Daiman Konin megkapta a Dharma és a Kesza átadását, amikor hét éves volt és ezeken az
életeken keresztül, a természete nem változott, csak a fizikai formája.
Wanshi Shokaku (Hung Chih's) Zen mester írt egy dicsőítést Daiman Koninról egy arcképre, hogy
kommentálja az előző életeit és azt mondta, hogy a Buddha tudat soha sem változik az egyik életről
a másikra. „Két test a múltból és a jelenből, de csak egy tudat a múltban és a jelenben." Még ha a
test változik is, a tudat nem változik. Ezt tudnotok kellene, ez így van megszámlálhatatlanul sok
kalpa óta.
Ha eléred ezt az igazi Buddha Természetet az nem látható a társadalmi osztályokban (kasztok).
Mivelhogy mindegyik kasztnak ugyanaz az igazi Buddha természete. Ha ezek az emberek
lemondanak a világról, akkor őket a „Shakya családnak" nevezzük. Akkor tudjuk, hogy nincs
közöttük különbség. Ebben a családban nincs különbség saját magadban és mi meg csak a
megjelenésben különbözünk. Ez olyan mint Daiman Konin előző élete mint Saishodosha és a mostani
élete gyerekként. Még ha ez a két élet különbözőnek is tűnik, tulajdonképpen azonosak. Anélkül,
hogy letisztáznánk ezt a fontos dolgot, ragaszkodunk magunk között a felszínes dolgokhoz,
állandóan csak zavarodottságot okozva. Ha viszont egyszer tisztázzuk ezt a tudatot, még ha változik
is a formánk életről életre, az igazi Buddha természetünk soha sem változik meg. Ezt láthatjuk
Saishodosha és a hétéves gyerek történetéből. Apa nélkül született, tehát látnunk kell, hogy az
emberek nem szükségszerűen egy anya és egy apa vérvonalával születnek. Ha viszont a
gondolkodás normális, érzelmi menetét követed, a testünk, a szőröstől-bőröstől a szüleinktől jön. De
valójában maga a testünk nem az öt szkanda. Így megértve a testet, semmi sem kíséri a szelfet és
nincs közöttünk különbség. Egy öreg bölcs azt mondta: „Minden érző lény mindig is a Dharma
Természet Szamádhijában volt számtalan generáción keresztül (kalpák)."
Ha megtapasztalod és gyakorlod a Buddha Természetet, találkozol az ötödik Pátriárkával, Daiman
Koninnal és a negyedik Pátriárkával, Daii Doshinnal is. Nincs különbség Japán és Kína, sem a
régmúlt és a jelen között.

Juko (Vers):

Most hogyan is kommentálhatnám ezt az elvet?
A hold fényes.
A víz tiszta
Az őszi ég tiszta;
Hogy is szennyezhetné be, akárcsak a legkisebb felhő is, ezt a tisztaságot?