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Category: zazenkai talks

The Heze School: Guifeng Zongmi

by tendo zenji

Linage

Dajian Huineng (Sixth Patriarch)
Heze Shenhui
Cizhou Zhiru
Yizhou Nanyin
Suizhou Daoyuan
Guifeng Zongmi

Zongmi had no dharma heirs and the Heze lineage faded away soon afterwards. However the impact of his theory of Chan was monumental and the form of his critique became canonical.

Biography

GUIFENG ZONGMI (780–841) is remembered as the disciple of the Sichuan school Zen master Suizhou Daoyuan. However, Zen history also regards him to belong to the Heze Zen school of Heze Shenhui. He is widely respected as the leading Buddhist scholar of the late eighth and early ninth centuries. He possessed an intimate understanding of various Buddhist schools and doctrines, and made important contributions to the advancement of Buddhism in China. He was also the fifth ancestor of the Buddhist Huayan school, which based its teachings on the Huayan (“Flower Garland”) Sutra.

Andy Ferguson,. Zen’s Chinese Heritage: The Masters and Their Teachings (p. 269).

Zongmi on Chan

Zongmi sought to ground the practice of the myriad Chan schools, in the canonical Buddhist teachings. He surveyed the schools, summarizing them as having both an ‘idea’ (theory) and a praxis. That is the root Buddhist notion that they are rooted in and the form of their practice. He offered a critique of these schools even as he showed how they were all rooted in core Buddhist thought. He was both a transmitted master of the Heze lineage as well as considered a patriarch in the Huayan lineage. He was a scholar and a Chan master a rare combination.

His analysis of practice, derived from the Perfect Enlightenment Sutra, was in terms of awakening and practice. Awakening can be All-At-Once or Step-by-step. Likewise the practice can be All-at-Once or Step-by-Step. As per the Perfect Enlightenment Sutra All-At-Once awakening followed by Step-by-step Practice was the preferred approach. In this approach one comes to awakening all at once and then via continuous practice refine, deepen and mature the practice. In his critique of the seven major Chan Schools of his day he considered where the stood on this approach. It should be noted that this is the form that all Chan and Zen practice came to take where insight is all-at-once but then there is a long period of continued practice. While Zongmi and his Heze lineage may not have lasted long beyond him, his core notions became the defacto standard.

In our examination of Zongmi we read through Jeffery Broughton’s biographical sketch and examined the ideas that drove him. We followed this up by reading what Broughton refers to as the Chan Note which was a brief description of seven Chan Houses that he appended to a commentary on the Total Awakening Sutra. In the Chan Note, Zongmi looks at each houses in terms of theory and practice and summarizes them with a single slogan. We followed up our investigation of the Chan Note by reading through what Broughton terms the Chan Letter. This is a constructed essay taken from correspondence between Zongmi and the Chinese Official and serious lay Buddhist Pei Xiu. In this correspondence Zongmi examines four Chan Houses again in terms of theory and practice. He goes into a lot more detail with potted lineage histories and supported quotes. He utilizes as a metaphor the ‘Wishing Jewel’ which is a pure, bright jewel that absorbs whatever color is shined on it. Each house is described as missing the purity of the jewel in some way except for Zongmi’s own Heze. This piece is the most didactic of Zongmi’s where he hews closer to the the founder of the Heze School, Shenhui, whose relentless attacks defined and undercut what he labeled as the Northern School. Here Zongmi dismisses out of hand the Northern and Oxhead Schools and undercuts the dominate Hongzhou school in order to dissuade Pei Xiu from his interest in that house. There is though much of value in these pieces as they provide descriptions of early Chan thought that died out and Zongmi is an astute, if partisan, critic.

We concluded our survey of Zongmi by considering Broughton’s analysis of his attacks on the Hongzhou school. Broughton sees more in it than partisanship and that his primary concerns are more about forms of practice. In Zongmi’s magnum opus, which Broughton has dubbed the Chan Prolegomenon, Zongmi is much more ecumenical granting the Hongzhou School status with the Heze and noting that these are from Buddhist teachings just with their own angle and emphasis. The Prolegomenon was not thoroughly examined but it contains a wealth of information on the Chan teachings and practice of the day and Zongmi roots them all in traditional Buddhist teachings. We concluded our survey of Zongmi’s writings by considering his influence in China, Korea and Japan. As noted above, this influence is significant and the essence of his notions persists in the Zen, Son and Chan teachings of today.

Bibliography

1)  Zongmi on Chan
Translation and commentary by Jeffery L. Broughton
Columbia University Press, 2009
ASIN: B0092WV78Q

2) Zen’s Chinese Heritage: The Masters and Their Teachings
Andy Ferguson.
Wisdom Publications. Expanded edition (February 22, 2011)
ISBN-10: 9780861716173

The Hongzhou School: Baizhang

by tendo zenji

Linage

Dajian Huineng (Sixth Patriarch)
Nanyue Huairang
Mazu Daoyi
Baizhang Huaihai

Baizhang had numerous dharma heirs including Hunangbo, teacher of Linchi from when the dominate Linchi school formed.

Baizhang in the Record of the Transmission of the Lamp

 

Zen’s Chinese Heritage: The Masters and Their Teachings(p. 85)

A FOREMOST DISCIPLE of Mazu, Baizhang Huaihai (720–814) was originally from the city of Changle in Fuzhou. He took his vows as a monk under the Vinaya master Fachao on Mt. Heng. Brilliant and learned as a young man, he traveled to study under the great teacher Mazu Daoyi. The Wudeng Huiyuan ranks him, along with Xitang Zhizang and Nanquan Puyuan, as one of the three most illustrious disciples of Mazu.

Baizhang represents how Bodhidharma’s Zen tradition put down roots and matured in China. From the perspective of spiritual practice, Baizhang’s teachings hewed to the tradition attributed to Bodhidharma of not relying on scripture but instead on “turning the light inward.” While this approach naturally led to a de-emphasis or outright rejection of religious symbolism and to iconoclastic tendencies, Baizhang kept Zen firmly grounded with his emphasis on ethical behavior and his “pure rules” for the monastery. This also reinforced the centrality of the home-leaving tradition. Here was a Zen teacher of clarity, who recognized that understanding the nature of the mind and observing the wheel of birth and death is not the final goal of Zen practice, but its source. He demonstrated that while the nature of consciousness is that it is not in the domain of the individual, the physical body is its vehicle—and he taught that overemphasis on “mind” while degrading the role of body leads to unethical behavior and nihilism. Here, Buddhism’s emphasis on the “middle way” takes complete form in a tradition too susceptible to philosophical idealism and metaphysics.


Practice in the Present.

 
Zen’s Chinese Heritage: The Masters and Their Teachings(p. 86-7)

Baizhang’s “practice in the present” is how Zen follows Bodhidharma’s instruction about “observing” mind. It is the observation that the present is the only context for life and practice, yet not imbuing that observation with ideas of existence, nonexistence, etc. The “nature” of which Bodhidharma taught and Baizhang spoke is not a metaphysical substrata of the observable world, but an undefinable quality of consciousness that, as Shitou said, lies outside the perspectives of “temporary” or “everlasting.” To Baizhang, all such views fall short of what can be directly observed.

The idea of “overcoming spurious doctrines” again reveals the contrast between Zen and the Buddhism of Emperor Wu. It draws a clear line between Zen and the parts of Mahayana Buddhism that idealized the faith and expounded it in grand metaphysical terms. This grounding of Zen in the present and in ordinary life characterized Bodhidharma’s Zen tradition from its early times to the present.

House Wind

 
Zen’s Chinese Heritage: The Masters and Their Teachings(p. 89)

Baizhang taught and resided as abbot and taught on Daxiong (“Great Hero”) Mountain, which was also known as Mt. Bai Zhang in what is now Fengxin County in Jiangxi Province. Besides being a Zen master of the first order, Baizhang established the monastic rules of Zen monasteries, partly on the model of the Fourth Ancestor, Dayi Daoxin. Prior to Baizhang’s times, many Zen monks lived in temples constructed by other branches of Buddhism. Influenced by Baizhang’s instructions, Zen temples evolved to be more self-supporting and independent

Zen’s Chinese Heritage: The Masters and Their Teachings(p. 91)

In the everyday work of the monastery, Baizhang always was foremost among the assembly at undertaking the tasks of the day. The monks in charge of the work were concerned about the master. They hid his tools and asked him to rest. Baizhang said, “I’m unworthy. How can I allow others to work in my behalf?” He looked everywhere for his tools but was unable to find them. He even forgot to eat [while looking for his tools], and thus the phrase “a day without working is a day without eating” has become known everywhere.

 

Bibliography

I
Zen’s Chinese Heritage: The Masters and Their Teachings
Andy Ferguson.
Wisdom Publications. Expanded edition (February 22, 2011)
ISBN-10: 9780861716173

II
Classics of Buddhism and Zen, Volume 1: The Collected Translations of Thomas Cleary
Thomas Cleary
Shambhala (April 12, 2005)
ISBN-10: 1590302184

III
The Hongzhou School of Chan Buddhism in Eighth Through Tenth Century China
by Jinhua Jia
SUNY Press; Annotated edition edition (June 1, 2007)
ISBN-10: 0791468240

IV
Ordinary Mind as the Way: The Hongzhou School and the Growth of Chan Buddhism
by Mario Poceski
Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (April 13, 2007)
ISBN-10: 0195319966

Finding ourselves Outside

by tendo zenji

April 19th, 2020, Dharma Talk from Zazenkai at Tahoma Zen Monastery 

This cosmology as dwelling-place provided the context for virtually all poetic thinking in ancient China. Indeed, it was central to all Chinese culture, for wilderness has constituted the very terms of self-cultivation throughout the centuries in China. This is most clearly seen in the arts, which were nothing less than spiritual disciplines: calligraphers, poets, and painters aspired to create with the selfless spontaneity of a natural force, and the elements out of which they crafted their artistic visions were primarily aspects of wilderness. It can also be seen, for instance, in the way Chinese intellectuals would sip wine as a way of clarifying awareness of the ten thousand things by dissolving the separation between subject and object, or tea as a way of heightening that awareness, practices that ideally took place outdoors or in an architectural space that was a kind of eye-space, its open walls creating an emptiness that contained the world around it. There is a host of other examples, such as the ideal of living as a recluse among the mountains, or the widespread practice of traveling in areas of particular natural beauty, which generated an extensive travel literature. And as we shall see, meditation was widely practiced as perhaps the most fundamental form of belonging to China’s wilderness cosmology.
-David Hinton, Mountain Home: The Wilderness Poetry of Ancient China

Continuing the discussion of the intertwined triune approach of Being in the Body, Being Outside and Being in Silence, in this talk we consider awakening in nature.

When out of doors one is natural in ones body but by being aware of our bodies, centering ourselves in the abdomen we can truly inhabit them. As we move through the natural environment with all of it’s continual change we can become increasingly aware of silence. Behind every sound, behind the incessant activity is a deep silence.  Twilight when birds come to rest and people are generally not out and about you can feel a hushed stillness. This points to the deeper silence.  Paying attention to these conditions  facilitates getting past the self. There are active practices such as empty awareness, or landscape samadhi of the Ch’an Practitioners. 

Within this underlying cosmology, Chia Tao’s poem begins to look quite different, and our reading begins to resemble that of its original readers. It is now recognizable as a poem about the experience of attending to the movements of this primal cosmology. The wild mountain realm embodies this cosmology of natural process in its most comprehensive and awesome manifestation. Its basic regions appear almost schematically in countless paintings from the Chinese rivers-and-mountains (also shan-shui, but universally translated “landscape”) tradition: the pregnant emptiness of nonbeing, in the form of mist and lakes and empty space; the landscape of being as it burgeons forth in a perpetual process of transformation; and then, nestled within this self-generating and harmonious Cosmos, the human. The silence and emptiness that suffuse Chia Tao’s landscape are nothing other than nonbeing itself, and the distilled clarity of his images renders the individuating occurrences of tzu-jan’s unfolding.
-David Hinton, Mountain Home: The Wilderness Poetry of Ancient China

As an example of awakening out of doors, consider Chapter 2 from Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury (pp. 8-15). In this story Douglas is outside with his father an little brother and his true nature sneaks up on him. Hear the whole story in the recording from this talk embedded below the fold.

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Zazenkai 04.12.16 – No Nature

by tendo zenji

No Nature. Human societies each have their own nutty fads, mass delusions, and enabling mythologies. Daily life still gets done. Wild nature is probably equally goofy, with its stunning variety of creatures somehow getting by in all these landscapes. Nature also means the physical universe, including the urban, industrial and toxic.  But we do not easily know nature, or even know ourselves. Whatever it actually is, it will not fulfill our conceptions or assumptions. It will dodge our expectations and theoretical models. There is no single or set “nature” either as “the natural world” or “the nature of things.” The greatest respect we can pay to nature is not to trap it, but to acknowledge that it eludes us and that our own nature is also fluid, open, and conditional.” – Gary Snyder, No Nature.

It is easy for us to get past ourselves when we are outside.  Lost in the continuous sound of the surf, gazing raptly at distant mountain peaks, self forgotten among the tangled complexity and glory of the forest. But there is no nature, no nature that is separate from us. It is not a thing that we abscond to, escape to. It is us.  Humans are after all a part of nature and our constructs are merely complicated termite mounds, stone bird nests,  massive cave systems.

In the talk below, I examine taking advantage of this natural receding of the self when outside, to use this as a practice, the practice of being in nature.

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April 5th, 2020 Zazenkai – Our Great Vow as Right View

by tendo zenji

The Buddha said to him, “Subhuti, those who would now set forth on the bodhisattva path should thus give birth to this thought: ‘However many beings there are in whatever realms of being might exist, whether they are born from an egg or born from a womb, born from the water or born from the air, whether they have form or no form, whether they have perception or no perception or neither perception nor no perception, in whatever conceivable realm of being one might conceive of beings, in the realm of complete nirvana I shall liberate them all. And though I thus liberate countless beings, not a single being is liberated.’ “And why not? Subhuti, a bodhisattva who creates the perception of a being cannot be called a ‘bodhisattva.’ And why not? Subhuti, no one can be called a bodhisattva who creates the perception of a self or who creates the perception of a being, a life, or a soul.”

Red Pine, The Diamond Sutra (p. 71)

In the Diamond Sutra we find the Four Bodhisattva Vows that are renewed every day in Zen temples, monasteries and centers around the world.  The first vow, which is often shortened to “I vow to liberate all beings” is quoted above in full.  When you look at how the Buddha describes “all beings” what we see is that this really is, everything, reality itself.  In essence we are vowing to awaken reality.

When we first start sitting we tend to sit for ourselves. We wish to relieve suffering, be more centered, be happy, find peace and endless other reasons. These all come from the self. If we achieve a breakthrough, a glimpse into our true natures from the perspective, or ‘view’ of the self, then it is easy for the self to co-opt our realization.  We may have a moment of clarity, of unconditioned being, but it quickly becomes part of the self, our ego identities.

This was the great insight of the Mahayana and thus the View, or orientation was changed. We sit not for ourselves, not for realizing our own desires, but to awaken all things, to embody our true nature. This topic as well as more from Ch’an Master Huangbo was discussed in the talk from the April 5th, Zazenkai, which can be found below the fold.

 

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March 29th, 2020 Zazenkai talk – Just sitting in troubled times

by tendo zenji

A difficult practice for many is the practice of ‘just sitting’.  To just sit in awareness and deeply listen. So many of our practices, especially in Rinzai Zen, rely on words in order to to get us beyond language. But it is eminently worthwhile to cultivate sitting in awareness and the deep silence of our true natures. To be able to just sit and let the thoughts come and go without resting our attention on anything reveals this root silence. Not the silence of quiet, but the silence behind quiet, behind the sounds. This silence is an incredible resource. In it we we can let feelings arise and fully unfold. It can take that energy, however powerful. That energy arises from the silence and it can expand as far as may and then will be absorbed back in the silence. Then what remains is peace.

In these troubled times being able to tap into that resource is vital. But we will always be limited in this practice if our orientation is toward our own well being, toward our self.  Seeking solace and peace for our egoic self is of value and worth doing. But to go deeper, into our true nature our aspiration must be one of waking up to our true nature.  We do this for all beings sentient and insentient which means in essence we are doing this for our true nature.  When that is our alignment we find true peace from that place that is immovable and we are able to do what the moment requires of us.

These topics and more are discussed in the March 29th, Virtual Zazenkai at Tahoma Zen Monastery. Below the fold you will find video of this talk and further information.

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Golden Age of Ch’an Sources and References

by tendo zenji

Bibliography

I
Zen’s Chinese Heritage: The Masters and Their Teachings
Andy Ferguson.
Wisdom Publications. Expanded edition (February 22, 2011)
ISBN-10: 9780861716173

II
Master Ma’s Ordinary Mind: The Sayings of Zen Master Mazu Daoyi
by Fumio Yamada (Author), Nick Bellando (Translator), Andy Ferguson (contributor)
Wisdom Publications (April 11, 2017)
ISBN-10: 1614292817

III
The Records of Mazu and the Making of Classical Chan Literature
Mario Poceski
Oxford University Press; 1 edition (August 13, 2015)
ISBN-10: 0190225750

IV
Sun-Face Buddha: The Teachings of Ma-Tsu and the Hung-Chou School of Ch’an
Mario Poceski,
Jain Pub Co (April 1, 2001)
ISBN-10: 0875730221

V
Ordinary Mind as the Way: The Hongzhou School and the Growth of Chan Buddhism
by Mario Poceski
Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (April 13, 2007)
ISBN-10: 0195319966

VI
The Infinite Mirror: Commentaries on Two Ch’an Classics

Master Sheng Yen
Shambhala (October 10, 2006)
ISBN-10: 1590303989

VII
The Northern School and the Formation of Early Ch’an Buddhism
John R. McCrae
University of Hawaii Press (February 1, 1987)
ISBN-10: 0824810562

VIII
Zongmni on Chan
Jeffery Broughton
Columbia University Press (May 14, 2009)
ISBN-10: 0231143923

Web Resources

W.I
Sheng-yen
 Wikipedia page.

W.II
Inquiry into Matching Halves (Sandokai) Web page with text and references.

The Golden Age of Ch’an: Heze Shenhui

by tendo zenji

LINEAGE

Dajian Huineng (Sixth Patriarch)
Heze Shenhui

Heze Shenhui

Zen’s Chinese Heritage: The Masters and Their Teachings (p. 66):

HEZE SHENHUI (670–762) was an eminent disciple of the Sixth Ancestor. He strongly supported and promoted Huineng’s place in Chinese Zen history. Shenhui championed the Southern school of Zen, and vociferously attacked what became widely known as the Northern school, the school associated with Yuquan Shenxiu. Shenhui put forward two reasons for his attack on the Northern school. The first was, “The (ancestral) succession is spurious.” Attacking Shenxiu’s legitimacy as the Dharma heir of Hongren was an extension of Shenhui’s proposition that that honor belonged exclusively to Huineng. Obviously, the argument was self-serving as well, since Shenhui could thus make a claim to be the true Seventh Ancestor of the Bodhidharma line. The second reason for attacking Shenxiu was, “(His) Dharma gate is gradual.” By this, Shenhui meant that the various “gradual” spiritual practices employed by Shenxiu, as well as other disciples of Hongren, were fundamentally at odds with what Shenhui regarded as the genuine Zen of his teacher, Huineng.

Zen’s Chinese Heritage: The Masters and Their Teaching (p. 66-68):

Zen master Heze Shenhui of the Western Capital came from Xiangyang. His surname was Gao, and he became a novice monk at the age of fourteen. At their first meeting the Sixth Ancestor asked Shenhui, “You have come on an arduous journey from afar. Did you bring what is fundamental? If you have what is fundamental then you can see the host. Let’s see what you have to say.” Shenhui said, “I take no abode as the fundamental. What is seen is the host.” The Sixth Ancestor said, “This novice is talking nonsense!” He then took his staff and struck Shenhui. As he was being beaten, Shenhui thought, “[This master] is such a great and wise sage. It is difficult to meet such a person even after many kalpas of time. Having met him today how can I lament my life?” From this time forward Shenhui served as Huineng’s attendant. Once, the Sixth Ancestor addressed the congregation, saying, “I have something which has no head or tail. It is nameless and can’t be described. It has no back and no front. Do any of you know what it is?” Shenhui came forward and said, “It is the source of all things. It is the buddha nature of Shenhui.” The Sixth Ancestor said, “I said that it has no name and no description. How can you say it is the source of buddha nature?” Shenhui bowed and retreated. The Sixth Ancestor said, “In the future if this youngster heads a monastery, it will certainly bring forth fully realized disciples of our school.” ([Later,] Fayan said, “The record of that time was indeed excellent. Today, if we point to a greatly awakened school, it is the Heze school.”) Before long, Shenhui traveled to the Western Capital [Changan], where he received ordination.

Shenhui is a particularly problematic figure in Ch’an, who could be regarded as more a polemicist than a serious teacher.  In The Northern School and the Formation of Early Ch’an Buddhism John McCrae considers Shenhui’s attacks on the so-called Northern School (which was Shenhui’s designation for it) and finds most of his criticisms specious.

The Northern School and the Formation of Early Ch’an Buddhism (p,3):

“On critically important omission [in the Platform Sutra], however, indicates that the Platform Sutra, was not merely echoing history, but rewriting it. This is the complete absence of any reference to the role played by Shen-hui who carried the banner of Hui-neng during an extended, energetic campaign against Shen-hsiu’s [the founder of the so-called Northern School] disciples and the Northern School in general. The whole point of the narrative , in fact, is to validate Shen-hui’s claims about Hui-neng without reference to Shen-hui himself.  That is the Platform Sutra wished to adopt and build upon Shen-hui’s  teachings without identifying itself with his sometime acrimonious and self-serving campaign” 

Indeed if you look at the writings of Zongmi (780-841) who wrote several critical essays on the approaches the various Ch’an schools he both refers to Shen-hui as the “Seventh Patriarch” and completely dismisses the Northern School out of hand.

The Northern School and the Formation of Early Ch’an Buddhism (p. 5):

“Zongmi’s works contain a comprehensive systematization of the various interpretations of Ch’an, within which the teachings of the Northern School are regulated to the very lowest position. According to Zongmi, Shen-hsiu’s verse [in the Platform Sutra] and the supposed teachings of the Northern School fail to recognize the ultimate identity of enlightenment and the affiliations and illusions by which it is apparently obscured. As a result the long years, or liftimes of religious cultivation required to clean  away those illusions were all in vain.”

For more on Shenhui’s propaganda efforts and a more historically accurate view of the Northern School see McCrae’s The Northern School and the Formation of Early Ch’an Buddhism. For more on the Heze school and classical period Ch’an’s assessment of the various branches of Ch’an see Broughton’s Zongmni on Chan.

Bibliography

I
Zen’s Chinese Heritage: The Masters and Their Teachings
Andy Ferguson.
Wisdom Publications. Expanded edition (February 22, 2011)
ISBN-10: 9780861716173

II
The Northern School and the Formation of Early Ch’an Buddhism
John R. McCrae
University of Hawaii Press (February 1, 1987)
ISBN-10: 0824810562

III
Zongmni on Chan
Jeffery Broughton
Columbia University Press (May 14, 2009)
ISBN-10: 0231143923

 

The Golden Age of Ch’an – Qingyuan Xingsi and Shitou Xiquan

by tendo zenji

Lineage

Dajian Huineng (Sixth Patriarch)
Qingyuan Xingsi
Shitou Xiquan

From Shitou the Caodong, Fayen and Yunmen schools descended (Yunmen also has connections to Mazu Daoyi).

Qingyuan Xingsi

I. Zen’s Chinese Heritage: The Masters and Their Teachings (p. 56):

QINGYUAN XINGSI (660–740) was an eminent student of the Sixth Ancestor, Huineng. Three of the five traditionally recognized schools of Chinese Zen trace their origins through Qingyuan and his student Shitou Xiqian. Little is known with certainty about Xingsi’s life. He lived in relative obscurity at Quiet Abode Temple on Mt. Qingyuan, near the old city

I. Zen’s Chinese Heritage: The Masters and Their Teachings (p. 57):

One day, Qingyuan asked his disciple Shitou, “Where have you come from?” Shitou said, “From Cao Xi.” Qingyuan then held up his whisk and said, “But does Cao Xi have this?” Shitou said, “Not just Cao Xi, but even India doesn’t have it.” Qingyuan said, “You haven’t been to India, have you?” Shitou said, “If I’d been there, then it would have it.” Qingyuan said, “No good! Try again.” Shitou said, “Master, you must say half. Don’t rely on your disciple for all of it.” Qingyuan said, “Me speaking to you isn’t what matters. What I fear is that there will be no one to carry on my Dharma.”

I. Zen’s Chinese Heritage: The Masters and Their Teachings (p. 58):

After the master had passed Dharma transmission to Shitou, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth lunar month in [the year 740], he went into the hall and said goodbye to the congregation. Then, sitting in a cross-legged posture, he passed away. The emperor Xi Zong gave the master the posthumous name “Zen Master Vast Benefit.” His burial stupa was named “Return to Truth.”

Shitou Xiquan

I. Zen’s Chinese Heritage: The Masters and Their Teachings (p. 79-80 ):

SHITOU XIQIAN (700–90) was a disciple of Qingyuan Xingsi. He is a key figure of early Zen development. Three of the five traditional schools of Chinese Zen traced their origins through Shitou and his heirs. Shitou’s Zen lineage is sometimes remembered as the “Hunan school.” Along with Mazu’s Hongzhou school (in an area corresponding to modern Jiangxi Province), these two comprise the root of all subsequent Zen schools and lineages down to the present day. Many facets of Shitou’s life are obscure or lost. Historical records made little or no mention of a formal “Hunan school” during the years following Shitou’s death. He is connected to other great masters of the era mainly through believable anecdotes and claimed succession. Shitou taught that “what meets the eye is the Way.”

I. Zen’s Chinese Heritage: The Masters and Their Teachings (p. 80):

In the first year of the Tian Bao era [742–55] of the Tang dynasty, the master took up residence at South Temple on Heng Mountain. East of the temple there was a stone outcropping. The master built a thatched hut on top of this spot and was thereafter referred to as “Monk Shitou” (Shitou translates as stone or rock).\

I. Zen’s Chinese Heritage: The Masters and Their Teachings (p. 80-81):

Shitou is recorded to have had a great revelation while reading the Zhao Lun.54 In that text he came upon a passage that said, “The one who realizes that the myriad things are one’s own self is no different from the sages.” Shitou thereafter dreamed that he, along with the Sixth Ancestor, was riding on the back of a great tortoise that was swimming in the sea. Waking up, he surmised that the tortoise symbolized wisdom and that the sea was the sea of existence. Shitou took the dream to mean that he, together with the Sixth Ancestor, sat upon wisdom’s back, swimming in the sea of existence. This realization inspired Shitou to write a verse entitled Realizing Unity (in Chinese, Cantongqi, Japanese, Sandokai), an ode that is widely known and chanted in Zen temples down to the present day.  The Wudeng Huiyuan offers examples of Shitou’s teachings., J

II. The Infinite Mirror: Commentaries on Two Ch’an Classics

During the course of this program we read extensively from Chan Master Shen Yang’s commentary on Inquiry into Matching Halves (II) (in Chinese, Cantongqi, Japanese, Sandokai).

About Sheng-yen from his Wikipedia page

Sheng Yen (聖嚴; Pinyin: Shèngyán, birth name Zhang Baokang, 張保康) (January 22, 1931 – February 3, 2009) was a Chinese Buddhist monk, a religious scholar, and one of the mainstream teachers of Chan Buddhism. He was a 57th generational dharma heir of Linji Yixuan in the Linji school(Japanese: Rinzai) and a third-generation dharma heir of Hsu Yun. In the Caodong (Japanese: Sōtō) lineage, Sheng Yen was a 52nd-generation Dharma heir of Dongshan Liangjie (807-869), and a direct Dharma heir of Dongchu (1908–1977).[1]

Sheng Yen was the founder of the Dharma Drum Mountain, a Buddhist organization based in Taiwan. During his time in Taiwan, Sheng Yen was well known as a progressive Buddhist teacher who sought to teach Buddhism in a modern and Western-influenced world. In Taiwan, he was one of four prominent modern Buddhist masters, along with Hsing Yun, Cheng Yen and Wei Chueh, popularly referred to as the “Four Heavenly Kings” of Taiwanese Buddhism. In 2000 he was one of the keynote speakers in the Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders held in the United Nations.

Bibliography

I
Zen’s Chinese Heritage: The Masters and Their Teachings
Andy Ferguson.
Wisdom Publications. Expanded edition (February 22, 2011)
ISBN-10: 9780861716173

II
The Infinite Mirror: Commentaries on Two Ch’an Classics
Master Sheng Yen
Shambhala (October 10, 2006)
ISBN-10: 1590303989

Web Resources

III
Sheng-yen
 Wikipedia page.

IV
Inquiry into Matching Halves (Sandokai) Web page with text and references.

The Golden Age of Ch’an – Nanyue and Mazu Daoyi

by tendo zenji

Linage

Dajian Huineng (Sixth Patriarch)
Nanyue Huairang
Mazu Daoyi

From Mazu the Lin-chi, Kuei-Yang and Yunmen schools descended (Yunmen also has connections to Shi’tou Xiquan).

Nanyue

I. Zen’s Chinese Heritage: The Masters and Their Teachings (p. 56)

NANYUE HUAIRANG (677–744) was the senior student of the Sixth Ancestor, Dajian Huineng. He came from ancient Jinzhou. Two of the five traditional “houses” of Chinese Zen traced their origin to the Sixth Ancestor through Nanyue Huairang and his famous student, Mazu Daoyi. Nanyue left home at the age of fifteen to study under a Vinaya master named Hongjing.38 After his ordination he studied the Vinayapitaka, but he became dissatisfied, and then traveled to see a teacher named Hui An on Mt. Song.  Although Nanyue made some spiritual progress with Hui An, he soon continued on to Cao Xi in Shaozhou, where he met and studied under the great teacher and Sixth Ancestor of Zen, Dajian Huineng. Their first encounter is described in the Wudeng Huiyuan.

Huineng said to Nanyue, “Where did you come from?”
Nanyue said, “From Mt. Song.”
Huineng said, “What is it that thus comes?”
Nanyue couldn’t answer. After eight years, Nanyue suddenly attained enlightenment. He informed the Sixth Ancestor of this, saying, “I have an understanding.”
The Sixth Ancestor said, “What is it?”
Nanyue said, “To say it’s a thing misses the mark.”
The Sixth Ancestor said, “Then can it be made evident or not?”
Nanyue said, “I don’t say it can’t be made evident, but it can’t be defiled.”
The Sixth Ancestor said, “Just this that is undefiled is what is upheld and sustained by all buddhas. You are thus. I also am thus. “Prajnadhara has foretold that from beneath your feet will come a horse which will trample to death everyone in the world.40 Bear this in mind but don’t soon repeat it.” 

Nanyue then served the Sixth Ancestor for fifteen years.

Nanyue also said, “All dharmas are born of mind. Mind is unborn. Dharmas are nonabiding. When one reaches the mind-ground, one’s actions are unobstructed. Be careful when using this teaching with those not of superior understanding.” A great worthy once asked Nanyue, “If an image is reflected in a mirror, where does the light [of the image] go [when it’s no longer observed]?” Nanyue said, “It’s similar to remembering when Your Worthiness was a child. Where has your childlike appearance gone [now]?” (Later Fayan said, “What is the image that the worthy one cast in the mirror?”) The worthy one asked, “But afterward, why does the image not remain?” Nanyue said, “Although it is no longer reflected, it can’t be reproved even slightly.”

Six disciples entered Huairang’s room [to receive Dharma transmission]. He commended each of them, saying, “The six of you together will represent my body, each in accord with one part of it. One of you (the monk Chang Hao) inherits my eyebrows and their dignified appearance. One of you (Zhida) inherits my eyes and their stern glare. One of you (Danran) inherits my ears and their ability to hear true principle. One of you (Shenzhao) inherits my nose and its ability to perceive qi.41 One of you (Yanxuan) inherits my tongue and its ability for articulate speaking. One of you (Daoyi) inherits my mind and its knowledge of past and present.”

On the eleventh day of the eighth month in [the year 744] the master died on Mt. Heng. He received the posthumous name “Zen Master of Great Wisdom.” His stupa was named “Most Victorious Wheel.”

Mazu Daoyi

II. Sun-Face Buddha: The Teachings of Ma-Tsu and the Hung-Chou School of Ch’an (pp. 59-61):

This is a translation of the Chiang-His ma-tsu tao-i ch’an-shih ÿu-lu (Record of Ch’an Master Ma-tsu Tao-i of khans)

I. Zen’s Chinese Heritage: The Masters and Their Teachings (pp. 73-75):

MAZU DAOYI, “DAJI”(709–88) was a student of Nanyue Huairang. After Huineng, Mazu is the most famous of the ancient Chinese Zen masters. Two of the traditionally acknowledged major schools of Zen trace their lineage through this renowned Zen ancient. From his home in Sichuan Province, Mazu made his way to Zhongqing, where he initially studied under a second-generation teacher of Daman Hongren (the Fifth Ancestor). There he received ordination as a Buddhist monk. Later, he settled on Mt. Heng, where he met Nanyue Huairang. After ten years of study with Nanyue, he received Dharma transmission, then proceeded to travel as a yunshui the length and breadth of China, perfecting his understanding of the Buddha way. Eventually he settled at Zhongling (now Nanchang City), where students from every quarter came to study with him. Mazu’s Zen lineage is remembered as the Hongzhou Zen school. Located in what is now Jiangxi Province, it was the dominant Zen school of the later Tang dynasty (late ninth and early tenth centuries). Mazu was the first Zen teacher acknowledged to use the staff to jolt his students into awakening. The strident style of his Hongzhou school foreshadowed the uncompromising training methods of his famous Zen descendant, Linji Yixuan. Unlike some other Zen masters of his time, Mazu did not leave an extensive written record of his teachings. Instead, we know of him largely from imaginative legends that reflect the awesome sense of presence that he conveyed. Like the great Zen masters of all ages, Mazu emphasized the immediacy of Zen enlightenment. He emphasized the teaching that “mind is Buddha” and “This place is itself true thusness.” Mazu’s “sudden” approach moved the Chinese spiritual scales back toward “pointing directly at mind,” the essential teaching of Bodhidharma’s Zen.

The Wudeng Huiyuan provides the following account of Mazu’s life and teaching.

Zen master Mazu Daoyi of Jiangxi was from Shifang in Hanzhou [about forty kilometers north of the modern city of Chengdu in Sichuan Province]. His surname was Ma. He entered Luohan Temple in his home district. His appearance was most unusual. He strode like an ox and glared like a tiger. His extended tongue covered his nose. On the soles of his feet his veins formed two circles. As a youth he received tonsure under a monk named Tang in Zizhou. He was fully ordained under Vinaya master Yuan in Yu Province. During the Kai Yuan era [713–41] Mazu met Master Nanyue Huairang while practicing Zen meditation on Mt. Heng. Six others also studied with Nanyue but only Mazu received the secret mind seal. Nanyue Huairang and his student Mazu Daoyi can be compared with Qingyuan Xingsi and his student Shitou Xiqian. Though they came from the same source, they diverged into two branches. The brilliance of ancient Zen arose through these two masters. Liu Ke said, “In Jiangxi is Master Daji. In Hunan is Master Shitou. Anyone traversing the country seeking a teacher who doesn’t see these two will remain ignorant.” The record of Prajnadhara of India made a prediction about Bodhidharma, saying, “Although the great land of China is vast, there are no roads where my descendants won’t travel. The phoenix, with a single grain, nourishes the saints and monks in the ten directions.” The Sixth Ancestor [also citing an ancient prediction by Prajnadhara] said to Nanyue, “Hereafter, from the area to which you will go, a horse will come forth and trample everyone in the world to death.” Later, the Dharma of Nanyue’s spiritual heir was spread across the world. People of that time called him Master Ma. From Buddha Trace Mountain in Jianyang, Mazu moved to Linchuan. He then moved to Nankang at Gonggong Mountain. In the middle of the Dali era [766–79], Mazu lived at the Kaiyuan Temple in Zhongling. During that time the high official Lu Sigong heard of Mazu’s reputation, and personally came to receive instruction. Because of this, students from the four quarters gathered like clouds beneath Mazu’s seat.

Bibliography

I
Zen’s Chinese Heritage: The Masters and Their Teachings
Andy Ferguson.
Wisdom Publications. Expanded edition (February 22, 2011)
ISBN-10: 9780861716173

II
Sun-Face Buddha: The Teachings of Ma-Tsu and the Hung-Chou School of Ch’an
by Mario Pocesk
Jain Pub Co (April 1, 2001)
ISBN-10: 0875730221

III
Master Ma’s Ordinary Mind: The Sayings of Zen Master Mazu Daoyi
by Fumio Yamada (Author), Nick Bellando (Translator), Andy Ferguson (contributor)
Wisdom Publications (April 11, 2017)
ISBN-10: 1614292817

IV
The Records of Mazu and the Making of Classical Chan Literature
Mario Poceski
Oxford University Press; 1 edition (August 13, 2015)
ISBN-10: 0190225750