The 9th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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Zen And Buddhism
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It developed in China and Japan, later taking the form of the 'Zen sect', with its own particular temples, rituals, priesthoods, and religious orders. In this sense, Zen should be called a form of Buddhism which stands side by side with other forms of Buddhism, such as the T'ien-t'ai sect, the Hua-yen sect, the Chen-yen sect, and the Ching-t'u sect, i.e., Pure Land Buddhism.
Further, not only in terms of temples, rituals, priesthood, and religious orders, but also in terms of teaching, thought, and practice, Zen, in the course of its long history, has come to have its own particular forms comparable to the other schools of Buddhism.
- At the same time, however, the answer to the question, "Is Zen a form of Buddhism?" should be "No", because Zen is not merely one form of Buddhism, but rather, in its fundamental nature, is the basic source of all forms of Buddhism.
Not relying on words or letters.
An independent transmission outside the teaching of the scriptures.
Directly pointing to man's Mind.
Awakening of one's (Original-) Nature, thereby actualizing one's own Buddhahood.
- Before elucidating the meaning of these four classes and, more important, before explaining the reason why Zen can be said to be the very root and source of all forms of Buddhism, a review of the nature and development of Buddhism is in order.
II. THE NATURE AND DEVELOPMENT OF BUDDHISM
What was it to which he became enlightened or awakened? To Dharma -- to the truth! The term 'Buddha' is thus a common noun which can be applied not only to Siddhaartha Gautama but to anyone who is enlightened by or who awakens to the Dharma, i.e., the truth.
In Christianity, one speaks of "Jesus Christ". 'Jesus' is the given name of the person who was born of Mary as the son of a carpenter at Nazareth, at the beginning of the Christian Era. 'Christ', however, is a common noun which means 'the Anointed One' or 'Messiah'.
- I understand that to make clear the essential relationship between Jesus of Nazareth and the Christ, that is, the hoped-for Messiah, Paul Tillich carefully used the phrase, 'Jesus as the Christ'. Following Tillich's example, Buddhists should correctly say "Siddhaartha as the Buddha", or "Gautama as the Buddha".
In Christianity the title, the 'Christ' can properly be applied only to Jesus of Nazareth. In Buddhism, on the other hand, the title, 'Buddha' can legitimately be applied not only to Siddhaartha, but to anyone who attains enlightenment or awakens to the Dharma.
In Buddhism, however, 'Buddha' is one who awakens to the Dharma, and the possibility of awakening to the Dharma can be attributed to any person in so far as he is a man. Secondly, in Christianity, Jesus as the Christ is the Son of God, the only incarnation of God in the history of the world; consequently, his historical existence is positively essential as the final (i.e., last, genuine, and decisive) revelation of God.
This characteristic of Buddhism is clearly expressed in the well-known passage, "Regardless of the appearance or non-appearance of the Tathaagata (`Saakyamuni Buddha) in this world, the Dharma is always present".
In marked contrast to the Christian understanding of Jesus Christ or Jesus as the Christ, who is the center of history as the final revelation of God, Gautama Buddha or Siddhaartha as the Buddha is neither the center of history, the final revelation, nor the final Awakening.
He is the first person in the history of the world who realized what the Dharma is, and the one who also mastered with his whole existence how the Dharma can be realized, that is, the way to the Dharma.
- In Christianity, also, the medieval spirituality of the 'imitation of Christ', and especially the doctrine of the Eucharist indicate that the Christian has to become one with Christ as Christ is one with the Father.
In Christianity, however, Christ with whom the Christian has to become one is the only genuine and decisive revelation and the center of history. To become one with Christ means to participate in Him.
- The fact that Siddhaartha as the Buddha, `Saakyamuni Buddha, is neither the only Buddha, the center of history, nor the final Awakening to the Dharma, was clearly and impressively expressed by `Saakyamuni himself.
Shortly before his death, `Saakyamuni addressed AAnanda, one of his ten great disciples, and others who were anxious at the prospect of losing the Master: "O AAnanda, be ye lamps unto yourselves. Rely on yourselves and do not rely on external help.
Obviously, when he said to his disciples, "Do not rely on external help", and "Look not for assistance to anyone besides yourselves", he included himself in terms of 'external help' and he excluded himself in terms of 'assistance'.
- In Buddhism, as you may gather from what has been said, the Dharma is beyond everyone -- beyond even `Saakyamuni Buddha, the founder of Buddhism.
Is one who does not realize the Dharma qualified to talk about it? Certainly not!
Apart from the 'realizer' there is no Dharma.
He is not, however, the only realizer of Dharma. In the sense that `Saakyamuni is a realizer of Dharma with its total universality, he may be said to be a center of the Buddhist faith, but he is certainly not the center of the Buddhist faith since everyone can become a center as a realizer of Dharma, a Buddha.
- How can we hold to these two apparently contradictory aspects of Dharma: its total universality and its dependency upon a particular man for realization?
First, it is your Self-Awakening in your ego-less true Self.
- It was on the basis of this 'Self-Awakening of Dharma' that `Saakyamuni said without any sense of contradiction, "Rely on yourselves", and "Seek salvation alone in the Dharma".
The statements, "Be ye lamps unto yourselves" and "Hold fast to the Dharma as a lamp", are complementary and not contradictions. One's self as the ultimate reliance is not the ego-self, but rather, the 'true Self' as the 'realizer of Dharma'.
Just as `Saakyamuni's awakening was the Self-Awakening of Dharma in the double sense mentioned above, so anyone's awakening to the Dharma can and should be the Self-Awakening of Dharma in the same sense.
- This is the basic standpoint of Buddhism, which was clarified by `Saakyamuni himself through his life after his Awakening and particularly, as mentioned before, as he approached death. His death, however, was an extraordinary shock for all his disciples and followers.
It was indeed a great shock for them not only because they lost their revered teacher but also because they faced the undeniable fact that even `Saakyamuni Buddha, the Awakened One, was subject to decay like themselves.
- Buddhism has experienced various schisms both in the early days after `Saakyamuni's death (especially in the development of the Buddhist Order) and in later years (particularly in the development of Buddhology).
On the other hand, Mahaayaana originated in the Mahaasa^nghika, i.e., the Great Assembly, which was more liberal and progressive, and which included monks of lesser attainment and even householders.
Theravaada Buddhism spread in Ceylon and Southeast Asia, while Mahaayaana Buddhism developed in China, Tibet, Korea, and Japan. In the course of its development, Buddhism produced many holy scriptures.
This is especially true of Mahaayaana Buddhism.
- III. KYOOSOO-HANJAKU (CHIAO HSIANG P'AN SHIH)
When a new sect was established, particularly in China and to some extent in Japan, there arose the practice of kyoosoo-hanjaku, chiao hsiang p'an shih [a], the judgement and interpretation of the various facets of Buddha's teachings.
First, as to the historical reason.
Those which are called the Mahaayaana sutras came into being intermittently over a period nearly one thousand years.
They grew out of different situations of thought over a broad geographic area.
Perplexed by the divergences in the suutras (all coming under the name of Buddhism), Chinese Buddhists felt a need to try to systematize them by judging and classifying them. This is the historical reason for the need of kyoosoo-hanjaku.
- The idea of kyoosoo-hanjaku, however, is based on a more essential and theological principle. Certain of the great Buddhists and Buddhist scholars who later became founders of new sects had a very serious and keen religious concern as to what was the genuine spirit of Buddhism and as to which suutra most clearly and sufficiently represented that spirit. From such a concern, kyoosoo-hanjaku, i.e., the evaluating and grading of the various suutras by new and profound standards, was developed.
Accordingly, kyoosoo-hanjaku is not merely an arrangement or classification of the Mahaayaana suutras into a system or a synthesis, but is rather a critical and creative founding of a new Buddhist system on the basis of what was believed to be the true spirit of Buddhism.
The most typical examples of kyoosoo-hanjaku in China are the 'ooFive Periods and Eight Doctrines]]' (wu shih pa chiao [b]) of the T'ien-t'ai sect and the 'Five Doctrines and Ten Tenets' (wu chiao shih tsung [c]) of the Hua-yen sect.
In Japan, the arguments of Kooboo Daishi, the Great Teacher, on the kenmitsunikyoo (hsien mi erh chiao [d]) and the juujuushin (shih chu hsin [e]), and the nisooshijuu (erh shuan shih chung [f]) system of Shinran may be mentioned as other examples.
In the early history of Buddhism in India a means of distinguishing Hiinayaana and Mahaayaana appeared which, while it cannot be called kyoosoo-hanjaku in its strict sense, may be said to be an anticipation of it.
- What is more interesting and noteworthy in this connection, however, is this: in some cases of kyoosoo-hanjaku, by opening up a new religious dimension in Buddhism, or by giving an entirely new interpretation to certain suutras, almost all extant forms of Buddhism were discarded or at least classified as entirely secondary.
Notable examples of this sort of kyoosoo-hanjaku are: Kenkyoo (hsien-chiao [g]) or Exoteric Buddhism versus Mikkyoo (mi chiao [h]) or Esoteric Buddhism, Shoodo-mon (Sheng tao men [i]) or Holy way gate versus Joodo-mon (ching-tu men [j]) or
- In these cases, the whole of Buddhism was divided in half not by simply classifying the extant forms of Buddhism into two groups, but by standing beyond all existing forms of Buddhism and by disclosing a new religious dimension lying at the heart of Buddhism.
- It was especially the Chen-yen, that is the Shingon sect, which established the distinction between Exoteric Buddhism and Esoteric Buddhism, insisting that, whereas Exoteric Buddhism focuses upon the oral or recorded teaching of the historical `Saakyamuni Buddha,
- Pure Land Buddhism set up the contrast between the Holy Way Gate and the Pure Land Gate, the distinction often referred to as jiriki-mon (chih li men [m]), i.e., the Self-Power Gate and tariki-mon (ta li men [n]), i.e., the Other-Power Gate.
Pure Land Buddhism insists that while up to now all schools of Buddhism have emphasized Awakening through one's 'self-power', we are now in the mappoo, i.e., the latter days for which the Holy Way Gate or Self-Power Gate is no longer suitable.
It also maintains that the Pure Land Gate, however, had existed from the very beginning, and was provided by Amida Buddha who foresaw the suffering of people during mappoo and thus fulfilled his vow of universal salvation.
- At any rate, kyoosoo-hanjaku was practiced by each newly established form of Buddhism which critically evaluated and somewhat belittled all the then existing forms of Buddhism.
- To be precise, the distinction between Exoteric and Esoteric Buddhism was made by 'Esoteric Buddhism', that between the Holy Way Gate and the Pure Land Gate was established by the "Pure Land Gate", while the contrast between Kyoo and Zen was set up by 'Zen'.
- Further, as I said above, these newly established Buddhist positions respectively constitute an antithesis over against the hitherto existing forms of Buddhism by radically criticizing their spiritual foundations.
This way of establishing an entire new form of Buddhism (by means of kyoosoo-hanjaku) has been possible in the course of Buddhist history because the ultimate truth of Buddhism, i.e., the Dharma, does not represent an all-controlling principle such as the 'Will of God', but rather, anaatman (non-ego) or `suunyataa, often translated as a non-substantial 'Emptiness' or 'Void'.
- In summary, Buddhism and particularly Mahaayaana Buddhism, based on the idea of anaatman or `suunyaata, developed itself freely and richly according to the spiritual climate of the time and place into which it was introduced.
In this connection it may be interesting to note that one Buddhist scholar regards the history of Buddhism as a history of heresy, meaning by this that Buddhism has developed itself by means of heresy and by constantly embracing various heresies.
- In the West, where Mahaayaana Buddhism is relatively unknown, people are apt to judge the whole of Buddhism by taking the 'original' form of Buddhism preached by `Saakyamuni as their standard. Such a static view fails to appreciate the dynamic development of Buddhism.
V. KYOO AND ZEN
Now, to return to the distinction between Kyoo and Zen, all forms of Buddhism, according to Zen, are based upon the 'teaching' delivered by `Saakyamuni, i.e., the teaching spoken and written as suutras.
Nowadays, however, as a result of historical and text-critical studies of the scriptures, it is known that the so-called suutras do not necessarily record the ipsissima verba of `Saakyamuni; but many of them, particularly the Mahaayaana suutras, were composed much later than `Saakyamuni.
- Each Buddhist school has its own particular suutra (or suutras) as the ultimate authority for its teaching.
For example, the Hua-yen School has the Avata^msaka Suutra, the T'ien-t'ai and the Nichiren Schools, the Saddharma-pu.n.dariika Suutra; and the Pure Land School, the 'three Pure Land Suutras' (i.e., the larger and smaller Sukhaavatii-vyuuha and the Amitaayur-dhyaana Suutras).
- To prove that they are Buddhist and that their teaching is true, the various schools have recourse to their authoritative scriptures.
- When Zen was founded with this realization as its background, it distinguished itself from all other forms of Buddhism based on suutras, calling them 'Kyoo' or 'Buddhism standing within Kyoo'.
Strictly speaking, Zen did not divide Buddhism into two groups, but by criticizing and standing somewhat outside of all the hitherto existing forms of Buddhism, Zen opened up a new religious foundation within Buddhism which had been obscured by the dogmatism and philosophical speculations rampant in Buddhism until that time.
In other words, considered from the point of view of suutras, Zen is 'outside the teaching'; however, looked at from the religious realization expressed in the suutras, Zen is even more 'within' than what is ordinarily called Buddhism.
- It is this Mind, the source of the scriptures, which was referred to in the previously cited phrases.
- In spite of `Saakyamuni's emphasis on reliance on oneself as a lamp, most followers (and the later Buddhist Schools) idealized `Saakyamuni as an object of worship or took the teaching of suutras (which were regarded as his own work) as the authoritative basis for Buddhism.
What is important for a Christian is the divine Revelation as the living Christ ever present and effective rather than the Bible. The Christ-experience, which a Christian reenacts in himself, is the foundation of his faith.
V. TRANSCENDING THE SCRIPTURES
This is, what is called gaining understanding by something other (than oneself). It hinders the way of Self-Awakening."
- One day the Emperor Wu of the Liang dynasty, a devoted Buddhist follower, requested Fu Ta-shih (497-569), an outstanding lay Zen Buddhist of that day to discourse on the Diamond Suutra.
"What an eloquent sermon it was!"
A monk once asked Lin-chi (?-866), a famous Chinese Zen master of the T'ang dynasty:
Wondering why Zen intentionally found its position outside of the twelve divisions of the Buddha's teaching, the monk had raised the question which was quite understandable to ordinary Buddhists of those days.
Lin-chi was telling the monk two things: first, that the monk had not yet begun to 'spade the weed patch' of his own mind, and secondly, that Lin-chi had never bothered, since his own awakening, to seek the Buddha-nature in the 'weed patch' of scriptural verbiage.
To call them a 'weed patch' or worse, 'toilet paper', was unpardonable.
- Zen, likewise, emphasizes contemporaneity with the Buddha, not by virtue of an immediate contemporaneity, but by virtue of an internal contemporaneity.
Wu-men Hui-k'ai, a Chinese Zen master of the Sung dynasty said: "If you pass through (the gateless barrier of Zen) you will not only immediately see Joshuu (the great Zen master of the past); you will also walk hand in hand with the successive Patriarchs, mingling your eyebrows with theirs, seeing with the same eyes, and hearing with the same ears."
In Zen, to become a contemporary of the Buddha means that one becomes an Awakened One himself by awakening to the same Dharma (i.e., the Buddha-nature) to which the historical Buddha and later Patriarchs awakened.
- When asked by Lin-chi "Where is Buddha?", the monk, had he really understood the meaning of 'Buddha', should have pointed to the Buddha-nature actualized in himself, and said: "Here is a Buddha."
As it was, however, the monk remained speechless.
But how different was his speechlessness from the silence of Fu Ta-shih before Emperor Wu! While Fu Ta-shih's silence eloquently revealed the Buddha-nature, the speechlessness of the monk exposed only the powerlessness of a Buddhism which relies so heavily upon the scriptures.
- In his discourses, Lin-chi addressed each person in the audience as "the one who is, at this moment, right in front of me, solitary, being illuminated, in full awareness, listening to (my) discourse on the Dharma".
Therefore, as soon as you try to search for him, he is far away; the nearer you try to approach, the farther he turns away from you. 'Mysterious' is his name."
- We should not miss the point that it is our true Selves that Lin-chi called 'Man' and 'mysterious'.
To awaken to 'Man' or "true Self who is, at this moment, in full awareness, listening to this discourse on the Dharma" is nothing but Self-Awakening through which one becomes an Awakened One, that is, a Buddha.
- Let me conclude this paper by mentioning one more story. Nan-chuan, a Chinese Zen master (748-834) was once asked by Pai-chang (720-814), one of his fellow monks, if there was a truth that the sages of old had not preached to men. "There is", said Nan-chuan.
So how do I know what either talking or non-talking is?" answered Pai-chang.
- In this paper, in distinguishing Zen from other forms of Buddhism, I am afraid I too have said too much.
On the contrary, the more I try to explain Zen, the more I seem to go astray.
Though you can't speak, thirty blows!"
That is the question.
- This is a revised and enlarged version of a paper originally published, with limited circulation, in Japan Studies No. 11 in 1968. The author is grateful to Japan Studies for permission to republish it.
He is also thankful for the invaluable suggestions of Dr. Winston Davis in the earlier stages of the manuscript and of Father John Brinkman and Mr. Robert Grous in its final stage.
1. There is considerable disagreement about the chronology of the Buddha's life among scholars: Thomas, 563-483 B.C.: Filliozat, 559-478 B.C. (Inde Classique, nos. 375, 376; pp. 2178, 2209); Nakamura, 463-383 B.C. (Maurya OOchoo no nendai ni tsuite -- On the Age of the Maurya Dynasty -- Toohoogaku, vol. 10, p. 1, f.).
3. Paul Tillich, Systematic Theology, Vol. I., 1951, pp. 132-33.
7. Ibid., p. 119.
9-10. Portions of the discussion from pp. 244-246 are taken from Shin'ichi Hisamatsu's article, "Zen: Its Meaning for Modem Civilization", Eastern Buddhist, New Series, Vol. I., No. 1, especially from p. 23-29.
13. Ibid., p. 57.