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The Four Alternatives And The Five Categories
There are, according to Zen, the four classes of religious an...

The Irrationality Of The Belief Of Immortality
Occidental minds believe in a mysterious entity under the nam...

No Need Of The Scriptural Authority For Zen
Some Occidental scholars erroneously identify Buddhism with t...

The Breathing Exercise Of The Yogi
Breathing exercise is one of the practices of Yoga, and somew...

Zen Is Iconoclastic
For the followers of Bodhidharma, however, this conception of...

Poetical Intuition And Zen
Since Universal Life or Spirit permeates the universe, the po...

The Third Step In The Mental Training
To be the lord of mind is more essential to Enlightenment, wh...

Bodhidharma And The Emperor Wu
No sooner had Bodhidharma landed at Kwang Cheu in Southern Ch...

Flight Of The Sixth Patriarch
On the following morning the news of what had happened during...

Decline Of Zen
The blooming prosperity of Zen was over towards the end of th...

Life And Change
Transformation and change are the essential features of life;...

The Honest Poverty Of The Zen Monk And The Samurai
Secondly, the so-called honest poverty is a characteristic of...

Buddha The Universal Life
Zen conceives Buddha as a Being, who moves, stirs, inspires, ...

The Buddha Of Mercy
Milton says: Virtue may be assailed, but never hurt; Surp...

Enlightened Consciousness Is Not An Intellectual Insight
Enlightened Consciousness is not a bare intellectual insight,...

The Introduction Of The So-to School Of Zen
[FN#75] This school was started by Tsing-Yuen (Sei-gen)...

The Method Of Instruction Adopted By Zen Masters
Thus far we have described the doctrine of Zen inculcated by ...

Real Self
If there be no individual soul either in mind or body, where ...

Do Thy Best And Leave The Rest To Providence
There is another point of view which enables us to enjoy life...

Nature Favours Nothing In Particular
There is another point of view of life, which gave the presen...

Three Important Elements Of Zen

To understand how Zen developed during some four hundred years after
the Sixth Patriarch, we should know that there are three important
elements in Zen. The first of these is technically called the Zen
Number--the method of practising Meditation by sitting cross-legged,
of which we shall treat later.[FN#54] This method is fully developed
by Indian teachers before Bodhidharma's introduction of Zen into
China, therefore it underwent little change during this period. The
second is the Zen Doctrine, which mainly consists of Idealistic and
Pantheistic ideas of Mahayana Buddhism, but which undoubtedly
embraces some tenets of Taoism. Therefore, Zen is not a pure Indian
faith, but rather of Chinese origin. The third is the Zen Activity,
or the mode of expression of Zen in action, which is entirely absent
in any other faith.

It was for the sake of this Zen Activity that Hwang Pah gave a slap
three times to the Emperor Suen Tsung; that Lin Tsi so often burst
out into a loud outcry of Hoh (Katsu); that Nan Tsuen killed a cat at
a single stroke of his knife in the presence of his disciples; and
that Teh Shan so frequently struck questioners with his staff.[FN#55]
The Zen Activity was displayed by the Chinese teachers making use of
diverse things such as the staff, the brush[FN#56] of long hair, the
mirror, the rosary, the cup, the pitcher, the flag, the moon, the
sickle, the plough, the bow and arrow, the ball, the bell, the drum,
the cat, the dog, the duck, the earthworm--in short, any and
everything that was fit for the occasion and convenient for the
purpose. Thus Zen Activity was of pure Chinese origin, and it was
developed after the Sixth Patriarch.[FN#57] For this reason the
period previous to the Sixth Patriarch may be called the Age of the
Zen Doctrine, while that posterior to the same master, the Age of the
Zen Activity.

[FN#55] A long official staff (Shu-jo) like the crosier carried by
the abbot of the monastery.

[FN#56] An ornamental brush (Hos-su) often carried by Zen teachers.

[FN#57] The giving of a slap was first tried by the Sixth Patriarch,
who struck one of his disciples, known as Ho Tseh (Ka-taku), and it
was very frequently resorted to by the later masters. The lifting up
of the brush was first tried by Tsing Yuen in an interview with his
eldest disciple, Shih Ten, and it became a fashion among other
teachers. The loud outcry of Hoh was first made use of by Ma Tsu,
the successor of Nan Yoh. In this way the origin of the Zen Activity
can easily be traced to the Sixth Patriarch and his direct disciples.
After the Sung dynasty Chinese Zen masters seem to have given undue
weight to the Activity, and neglected the serious study of the
doctrine. This brought out the degeneration severely reproached by
some of the Japanese Zen teachers.

Next: Decline Of Zen

Previous: The Disciples Under The Sixth Patriarch

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