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Epicureanism And Life
There are a good many people always buoyant in spirit and mir...

An Illusion Concerning Appearance And Reality
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Nature Is The Mother Of All Things
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Buddha-nature Is The Common Source Of Morals
Furthermore, Buddha-nature or real self, being the seat of lo...

Everything Is Living According To Zen
Everything alive has a strong innate tendency to preserve its...

Buddha The Universal Life
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Idealistic Scepticism Concerning Religion And Morality
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Idealistic Scepticism Concerning Objective Reality
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Difficulties Are No Match For The Optimist
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The Next Step In The Mental Training
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Real Self
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All The Worlds In Ten Directions Are Buddha's Holy Land
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The Usual Explanation Of The Canon
An eminent Chinese Buddhist scholar, well known as Ten Dai Da...

Bodhidharma And His Successor The Second Patriarch
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The Bad Are The Good In The Egg
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Zen Is Not Nihilistic
Zen judged from ancient Zen masters' aphorisms may seem, at t...

Zazen And The Forgetting Of Self
Zazen is a most effectual means of destroying selfishness, th...

Man Is Good-natured According To Mencius
Oriental scholars, especially the Chinese men of letters, se...

The Mystery Of Life
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Wang Yang Ming (o-yo-mei) And A Thief
One evening when Wang was giving a lecture to a number of stu...

Decline Of Zen

The blooming prosperity of Zen was over towards the end of the
Southern Sung dynasty (1127-1279), when it began to fade, not being
bitten by the frost of oppression from without, but being weakened by
rottenness within. As early as the Sung dynasty (960-1126) the
worship of Buddha Amitabha[FN#58] stealthily found its way among Zen
believers, who could not fully realize the Spirit of Shakya Muni, and
to satisfy these people the amalgamation of the two faiths was
attempted by some Zen masters.[FN#59]

[FN#58] The faith is based on Larger Sukhavati-vyuha, Smaller
Sukhavati-vyuha, and Amitayus-dhyana-sutra. It was taught in India
by Acvaghosa, Nagariuna, and Vasubandhu. In China Hwui Yuen (E-on,
died in A.D. 416), Tan Lwan (Don-ran, died in 542), Tao Choh
(Do-shaku), and Shen Tao (Zen-do) (both of whom lived about 600-650),
chiefly taught the doctrine. It made an extraordinary progress in
Japan, and differentiated itself into several sects, of which Jodo
Shu and Shin Shu are the strongest.

[FN#59] It is beyond all doubt that Poh Loh Tien (Haku-raku-ten)
practised Zen, but at the same time believed in Amitabha; so also Su
Shih (So-shoku), a most noted Zen practiser, worshipped the same
Buddha, Yang Kieh (Yo-keteu), who carried a picture of Amitabha
wherever he went and worshipped it, seems to have thought there is
nothing incompatible between Zen and his faith. The foremost of
those Zen masters of the Sung dynasty that attempted the amalgamation
is Yung Ming (Yo-myo, died in 975), who reconciled Zen with the
worship of Amitabha in his Wan Shen Tung Kwei Tsih
(Man-zen-do-ki-shu) and Si Ngan Yan Shan Fu (Sei-an-yo-sin-fu). He
was followed by Tsing Tsz (Jo-ji) and Chan Hieh (Shin-ketsu, lived
about 1151), the former of whom wrote Kwei Yuen Chih Chi
(Ki-gen-jiki-shi), and the latter Tsing Tu Sin Yao (Jo-do-sin-yo), in
order to further the tendency. In the Yuen dynasty Chung Fung
(Chu-ho, died in 1323) encouraged the adoration of Amitabha, together
with the practice of Zen, in his poetical composition
(Kwan-shu-jo-go). In the Ming dynasty Yun Si (Un-sei, died in 1615),
the author of Shen Kwan Tseh Tsin (Zen-kwan-saku-shin) and other
numerous works, writing a commentary on Sukhavati-vyuha-sutra,
brought the amalgamation to its height. Ku Shan (Ku-zan, died in
1657), a Zen historian and author, and his prominent disciple Wei Lin
(E-rin), axe well known as the amalgamators. Yun Ming declared that
those who practise Zen, but have no faith in Amitabha, go astray in
nine cases out of ten; that those who do not practise Zen, but
believe in Amitabha, are saved, one and all; that those who practise
Zen, and have the faith in Amitabha, are like the tiger provided with
wings; and that for those who have no faith in Amitabha, nor practise
Zen, there exist the iron floor and the copper pillars in Hell. Ku
Shan said that some practise Zen in order to attain Enlightenment,
while others pray Amitabha for salvation; that if they were sincere
and diligent, both will obtain the final beatitude. Wei Lin also
observed: Theoretically I embrace Zen, and practically I worship
Amitabha. E-chu, the author of Zen-to-nenbutsu ('On Zen and the
Worship of Amitabha'), points out that one of the direct disciples of
the Sixth Patriarch favoured the faith of Amitabha, but there is no
trustworthy evidence, as far as we know, that proves the existence of
the amalgamation in the Tang dynasty.

This tendency steadily increasing with time brought out at length the
period of amalgamation which covered the Yuen (1280-1367) and the
Ming dynasties (1368-1659), when the prayer for Amitabha was in every
mouth of Zen monks sitting in Meditation. The patrons of Zen were
not wanting in the Yuen dynasty, for such a warlike monarch as the
Emperor Shi Tsu (Sei-so), 1280-1294) is known to have practised Zen
under the instruction of Miao Kao, and his successor Ching Tsung
(1295-1307) to have trusted in Yih Shan,[FN#60] a Zen teacher of
reputation at that time. Moreover, Lin Ping Chung (Rin-hei-cha, died
in 1274), a powerful minister under Shi Tsu, who did much toward the
establishment of the administrative system in that dynasty, had been
a Zen monk, and never failed to patronize his faith. And in the Ming
dynasty the first Emperor Tai Tsu (1368-1398), having been a Zen
monk, protected the sect with enthusiasm, and his example was
followed by Tai Tsung (1403-1424), whose spiritual as well as
political adviser was Tao Yen, a Zen monk of distinction. Thus Zen
exercised an influence unparalleled by any other faith throughout
these ages. The life and energy of Zen, however, was gone by the
ignoble amalgamation, and even such great scholars as Chung
Fung,[FN#61] Yung Si,[FN#62] Yung Kioh,[FN#63] were not free from the
overwhelming influence of the age.

[FN#60] The Emperor sent him to Japan in 1299 with some secret
order, but he did nothing political, and stayed as a Zen teacher
until his death.

[FN#61] A most renowned Zen master in the Yuen dynasty, whom the
Emperor Jan Tsung invited to visit the palace, but in vain.

[FN#62] An author noted for his learning and virtues, who was rather
a worshipper of Amitabha than a Zen monk.

[FN#63] An author of voluminous books, of which Tung Shang Ku Cheh
(To-jo-ko-tetsu) is well known.

We are not, however, doing justice to the tendency of amalgamation in
these times simply to blame it for its obnoxious results, because it
is beyond doubt that it brought forth wholesome fruits to the Chinese
literature and philosophy. Who can deny that this tendency brought
the Speculative[FN#64] philosophy of the Sung dynasty to its
consummation by the amalgamation of Confucianism with Buddhism
especially with Zen, to enable it to exercise long-standing influence
on society, and that this tendency also produced Wang Yang
Ming,[FN#65] one of the greatest generals and scholars that the world
has ever seen, whose philosophy of Conscience[FN#66] still holds a
unique position in the history of human thought? Who can deny
furthermore that Wang's philosophy is Zen in the Confucian

[FN#64] This well-known philosophy was first taught by Cheu Men Shuh
(Shu-mo-shiku, died in 1073) in its definite form. He is said to
have been enlightened by the instruction of Hwui Tang, a contemporary
Zen master. He was succeeded by Chang Ming Tao (Tei-mei-do, died in
1085) and Chang I Chwen (Tei-i-sen, died in 1107), two brothers, who
developed the philosophy in no small degree. And it was completed by
Chu Tsz (Shu-shi, died in 1200), a celebrated commentator of the
Confucian classics. It is worthy to note that these scholars
practised Meditation just as Zen monks. See 'History of Chinese
Philosophy' (pp. 215-269), by G. Nakauchi, and 'History of
Development of Chinese Thought,' by R. Endo.

[FN#65] He was born in 1472, and died in 1529. His doctrine
exercised a most fruitful influence on many of the great Japanese
minds, and undoubtedly has done much to the progress of New Japan.

[FN#66] See Den-shu-roku and O-ya-mei-zen-sho.

Next: The Establishment Of The Rin Zai School Of Zen In Japan

Previous: Three Important Elements Of Zen

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