Samurai Shakya Muni And The Prodigal Son
A great trouble with us is that we do not believe in half the...
Bodhidharma And His Successor The Second Patriarch
China was not, however, an uncultivated[FN#29] land for the s...
Where Then Does The Error Lie?
Where, then, does the error lie in the four possible proposit...
The Introduction Of The So-to School Of Zen
[FN#75] This school was started by Tsing-Yuen (Sei-gen)...
Poetical Intuition And Zen
Since Universal Life or Spirit permeates the universe, the po...
Our Conception Of Buddha Is Not Final
Has, then, the divine nature of Universal Spirit been complet...
Zen And Supernatural Power
Yoga[FN#250] claims that various supernatural powers can be a...
Zen Is Iconoclastic
For the followers of Bodhidharma, however, this conception of...
Each Smile A Hymn Each Kindly Word A Prayer
The glorious sun of Buddha-nature shines in the zenith of Enl...
Nature And Her Lesson
Nature offers us nectar and ambrosia every day, and everywher...
The Parable Of The Robber Kih
Chwang Tsz (So-shi) remarks in a humorous way to the followi...
Thing-in-itself Means Thing-knowerless
How, then, did philosophers come to consider reality to be un...
The Great Person And Small Person
For these reasons Zen proposes to call man Buddha-natured or
Scripture Is No More Than Waste Paper
[FN#107] Zen is not based on any particular sutra, either of...
How To Worship Buddha
The author of Vimalakirtti-nirdeca-sutra well explains our at...
The World Is In The Making
Our assertion is far from assuming that life is now complete,...
The First Step In The Mental Training
Some of the old Zen masters are said to have attained to supr...
The Second And The Third Patriarchs
After the death of the First Patriarch, in A.D. 528, Hwui Ko ...
Man Is Bad-natured According To Siun Tsz
The weaknesses of Mencius's theory are fully exposed by anot...
Let Go Of Your Idle Thoughts
[FN#263] A famous Zenist, Mu-go-koku-shi, is said to ha...
Bodhidharma And His Successor The Second Patriarch
China was not, however, an uncultivated[FN#29] land for the seed of
Zen--nay, there had been many practisers of Zen before Bodhidharma.
[FN#29] The translation of Hinayana Zen sutras first paved the way
for our faith. Fourteen Zen sutras, including such important books
as Mahanapanadhyana-sutra, Dhyanacarya-dharmasanyjnya-sutra,
Dhyanacarya-saptatrimcadvarga-sutra, were translated by Ngan Shi Kao
(An-sei-ko) as early as A.D. 148-170. Cullamargabhumi-sutra was
translated by K' Yao (Shi-yo) in A.D. 185; Dharmatara-dhyana-sutra by
Buddhabhadra in A.D. 398-421;
Dhyananisthitasamadhi-dharma-parygya-sutra by Kumarajiva in A.D. 402;
'An Abridged Law on the Importance of Meditation' by Kumarajiva in
A.D. 405; Pancadvara-dhyanasutra-maharthadharma by Dharmamitra in
A.D. 424-441. Furthermore, Mahayana books closely related to the
doctrine of Zen were not unknown to China before Bodhidharma.
Pratyutpanna-buddhasammukhavasthita-samadhi was translated by K' Leu
Cia Chan (Shi-ru-ga-sen) in A.D. 164-186; Vimalakirttinirdeca-sutra,
which is much used in Zen, by Kumarajiva in A.D. 384-412;
Lankavatara-sutra, which is said to have been pointed out by
Bodhidharma as the best explanation of Zen, by Gunabhadra in A.D.
433; Saddharma-pundarika-sutra, in its complete form, by Kumarajiva
in A.D. 406; Avatamsaka-sutra by Buddhabhadra in A.D. 418;
Mahaparinirvana-sutra by Dharmaraksa in A.D. 423.
If we are not mistaken, Kumarajiva, who came to China A.D. 384, made
a valuable contribution towards the foundation of Zen in that
country, not merely through his translation of Zen sutras above
mentioned, but by the education of his disciples, such as Sang Chao
(So-jo, died A.D. 414), Sang Shang (So-sho, whose writings
undoubtedly influenced later Zen teachers. A more important
personage in the history of Zen previous to the Blue-eyed Brahmin is
Buddhabhadra, a well-known Zen master, who came over to China A.D.
406. His translation of Dharmatara-dhyana-sutra (which is said to
have been preached by Bodhidharma himself when he was in India) and
that of Avatamsaka-sutra may be said without exaggeration to have
laid the corner-stone for Zen. He gave a course of lectures on the
Zen sutra for the first time in China in A.D. 413, and it was through
his instruction that many native practisers of Zen were produced, of
whom Chi Yen (Chi-gon) and Huen Kao (Gen-ko) are well known. In
these days Zen should have been in the ascendant in India, because
almost all Indian scholars-at least those known to us-were called Zen
teachers-for instance, Buddhabhadra, Buddhasena, Dharmadhi, and some
others were all Zen scholars.
Chinese Buddhist scholars did no less than Indian teachers toward the
uprising of Zen. The foremost among them is Hwui Yuen (E-on, died
A.D. 414), who practised Zen by the instruction of Buddhabhadra. He
founded the Society of the White Lotus, which comprised eighteen
eminent scholars of the age among its members, for the purpose of
practising Meditation and of adoring Buddha Amitabha. We must not
forget that during the Western and the Eastern Tsin (Shin) dynasties
(A.D. 265-420) both Taoism and Buddhism grew prosperous to no small
extent. And China produced, on the one hand, Taoists of an eccentric
type, such as the Seven Wise Men of the Bamboo Forest, while she gave
birth to many recluse-like men of letters, such as Tao Yuen Ming
(To-yen-mei, died A.D. 427) and some others on the other. Besides
there were some scholars who studied Buddhism in connection with
Taoism and Confucianism, and led a secluded life. To the last class
of scholars belonged Chwen Hih (Hu dai shi), known as Chwen the
Great. He is said to have been accustomed to wear a Confucianist
hat, a Buddhist robe, and Taoist shoes. It was in A.D. 534 that he
presented a memorial to the Emperor Wu, in which he explained the
three grades of good. The Highest Good consists, says he, in the
emptiness of mind and non-attachment. Transcendence is its cause,
and Nirvana is its result. The Middle Good consists in morality and
good administration. It results in a peaceful and happy life in
Heaven and in Earth. The Lowest Good consists in love and protection
of sentient beings. Thus his idea of good, as the reader will see
without difficulty, is the result of a compromise of Taoism and
Buddhism. Sin Wang Ming (Sin-o-mei, On the Mind-King), one of his
masterpieces, together with other minor poems, are still used as a
textbook of Zen. This fact unmistakably proves that Taoist element
found its way into the constituents of Zen from its very outset in
All that he had to do was to wait for an earnest seeker after the
spirit of Shakya Muni. Therefore he waited, and waited not in vain,
for at last there came a learned Confucianist, Shang Kwang (Shin-ko)
by name, for the purpose of finding the final solution of a problem
which troubled him so much that he had become dissatisfied with
Confucianism, as it had no proper diet for his now spiritual hunger.
Thus Shang Kwang was far from being one of those half-hearted
visitors who knocked the door of Bodhidharma only for the sake of
curiosity. But the silent master was cautious enough to try the
sincerity of a new visitor before admitting him to the Meditation
Hall. According to a biography[FN#30] of his, Shang Kwang was not
allowed to enter the temple, and had to stand in the courtyard
covered deep with snow. His firm resolution and earnest desire,
however, kept him standing continually on one spot for seven days and
nights with beads of the frozen drops of tears on his breast. At
last he cut off his left arm with a sharp knife, and presented it
before the inflexible teacher to show his resolution to follow the
master even at the risk of his life. Thereupon Bodhidharma admitted
him into the order as a disciple fully qualified to be instructed in
the highest doctrine of Mahayanism.
[FN#30] King Teh Chwen Tang Luh (Kei-toku-den-to-roku), published by
Tao Yuen (Do-gen) A.D. 1004, gives a detailed narrative concerning
this incident as stated here, but earlier historians tell us a
different story about the mutilation of Shang Kwang's arm. Compare
Suh Kas San Chwen (Zoku-ko-so-den) and Hwui Yuen (E-gen).
Our master's method of instruction was entirely different from that
of ordinary instructors of learning. He would not explain any
problem to the learner, but simply help him to get enlightened by
putting him an abrupt but telling question. Shang Kwang, for
instance, said to Bodhidharma, perhaps with a sigh: I have no peace
of mind. Might I ask you, sir, to pacify my mind? Bring out your
mind (that troubles you so much), replied the master, here before
me! I shall pacify it. It is impossible for me, said the
disciple, after a little consideration, to seek out my mind (that
troubles me so much). Then, exclaimed Bodhidharma, I have
pacified your mind. Hereon Shang Kwang was instantly Enlightened.
This event is worthy of our notice, because such a mode of
instruction was adopted by all Zen teachers after the first
patriarch, and it became one of the characteristics of Zen.
Next: Bodhidharma's Disciples And The Transmission Of The Law[fn#31]
Previous: Bodhidharma And The Emperor Wu