The understanding of mind in the Northern line of Ch'an (Zen)
By Robert B. Zeuschner

Philosophy East and West
V. 28, No. 1 (January 1978)
pp. 69-79

Copyright 1978 by University of Hawaii Press
Hawaii, USA


Robert Zeuschner is Instructor in Philosophy at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

 

 

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    The nature of mind has long been one of the most perplexing problems in Western philosophy, achieving particular prominence since the time of Descartes (1596-1650) who, in the second of his Meditations, attempted to distinguish between mind-substances and physical-extended substances. Understanding the nature of mind has been a difficult and still unresolved problem in the West: but there does seem to be some general agreement that mind is to be understood in terms of such things as thoughts, feelings, hopes, fears, acts of deliberation, discriminations, concepts, choosing, judging, and so on. Probably the single most important problem in the field of philosophy of mind has been the relationship between mind and the physical body, or in its contemporary formulation, the relationship between the mind and brain states.

    Yet, interestingly enough, this latter aspect was not a dominant concern in Buddhist philosophy, [1] and in later developments such as Chinese Ch'an Buddhism, the interest tended to be focused upon two aspects of mind, [2] as so often distinguished by the Ch'an masters in their sermons and writings. [3] These two are commonly called the "pure mind" (ching-hsin [a]) and the "defiled mind" (jan-hsin [b]). Whereas the problem in the West has tended to be the relationship between the physical and the mental, in Mahaayaana Buddhism and Ch'an Buddhism, in particular, the problem instead was the relationship of the ordinary mind to "Awakening" (chueh [c]) or "Enlightenment" (wu [d]). Although this has not been of interest in Western philosophical circles, there have been some psychologists who seem to be investigating similar problems. [4]

    As we shall see, the so-called defiled mind is the activity of mind which conceptualizes, judges, distinguishes subject from object, hates, craves, and constructs the conceptual framework within which we categorize our perceptions and experiences. This defiled mind seems to correspond roughly to the Western notion of mind, but what is this "pure mind"? How is the pure mind related to the defiled mind? Are they two different minds or two aspects of the same thing? Are they separable? Is one more fundamental than the other? If so, in what sense? These tended to be the kinds of questions which the Ch'an Buddhists were concerned with, and it goes without saying that the realization of the pure mind was considered an essential part of the goal for the Ch'an Buddhist.

    To get a feeling for this pure mind, the following quotation taken from the sermons of Ch'ao-chou Ta-tien [e], a disciple of the famous Ch'an master Shih-t'ou (700-790), describes the pure mind:

    The master ascended the 'high seat' and spoke to the assembled monks, saying:

Now, you students of the Way must realize your own original mind (tzu-

 

 

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chia pen-hsin [f]).... Simply do away with all of your erroneous imaginings, thoughts and discriminations. This is your true mind (chen-hsin [g]). This mind has nothing to do with sensory realms, with maintaining the experience of silence and quietude, and is completely free from interaction [with these kinds of states]. Just this mind is Buddha, and it is not spiritual cultivation. What is the reason for this? It responds to worldly activities, it is in accord with the illumination [of each thing], it is calm and self-functioning. Penetrating to the place of this functioning cannot be grasped conceptually. And the name we give to this subtle functioning is the ''original mind'' (pen-hsin [h]). [5]

    A somewhat different yet complimentary description of the same thing is offered by the well-known Ch'an master Huang-po (d. 850). He writes:

This Mind, which is without beginning, is unborn and indestructible. It is not green nor yellow, and has neither form nor appearance. It does not belong to the categories of things which exist or do not exist, nor can it be thought of in terms of new or old. It is neither long nor short, big nor small, for it transcends all limits, measures, names, traces and comparisons.... It is bright and spotless as the void, having no form or appearance whatever. To make use of your minds to think conceptually is to leave the substance and attach yourselves to form.... If you students of the Way do not awake to this Mind itself, your will overlay Mind with conceptual thought, you will seek the Buddha outside yourselves, and you will remain attached to forms, pious practices and so on, all of which are harmful and not at all the way to supreme Enlightenment. [6]

    We should note here that the Ch'an masters like Huang-po and Ch'ao-chou do not seem to be postulating a pure mind out of philosophical necessity, that is, in order to make their philosophical scheme coherent and consistent. Neither do they seem to simply infer the existence of a pure mind through the observation of the behavior of others, or from the observation of patterns in nature, patterns in history, and so on. Rather, their descriptions are tied to certain experiences of the Ch'an masters. Many of these people have undergone experiences of an unquestionably profoundly moving nature, usually called "Awakening" and "Enlightenment." As a result of these experiences the previous descriptions of the pure mind tend to be so vivid and personal.

    However, even though this pure mind may have been a result of personal experience and not a concept arrived at as a theoretical necessity by the process of philosophical analysis, still, talk about such a pure mind surely generated much speculation and philosophical theorizing. Although many of the Ch'an masters refused to be drawn into the arena of philosophical discourse, the existent texts belonging to the early Chinese Buddhist tradition, which we call Northern Ch'an, show no such hesitation on the part of the Northern Ch'an masters. The Northern tradition, established by Shen-hsiu (605-706), was intellectual and philosophical and did try to clarify its statements with clear explanations. But, as we have noted, the problem which concerned the Northern Ch'an masters was the problem of how human beings who perceive the world by means of a "defiled mind" could become Enlightened and thereby achieve the pure mind described earlier by Ch'ao-chou and Huang-po. Utilizing the

 

 

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discussions upon the nature of the mind which we find in the Northern Ch'an texts, [7] we can begin to understand how one very early Ch'an line understood this problem, and we can also begin to understand the ideas of the Northern tradition which has been very inadequately studied in the West. [8]

 

II

    The basic description of mind in the Northern line's writings seems inspired by the celebrated Mahaayaana classic, Ta-che'eng chi'i-hsin lun (Awakening of Faith in the Mahaayaana). In this text, mind is divided into two aspects as follows:

One is the aspect of Mind [9] in terms of the Absolute (tathataa, Suchness), and the other is the aspect of Mind in terms of phenomena (sa^msaara, birth and death). Each of these two aspects embraces all states of existence. [10]

We find a very similar passage in a text attributed to the founder of the Northern line of Ch'an, Shen-hsiu. In his Kuan-hsin lun [i] (On the Clear Contemplation of Mind), Shen-hsiu writes:

...from mind arises a functioning, of which there are two varieties distinguished. What are these two? The first is the pure mind. The second is the defiled mind. These two types are the dharmadhatu just as it is (tzu-jan [j]). From the very beginning, both exist. [11]

Shen-hsiu goes on to explain that sentient beings undergo suffering (du.hkha) and repeated rebirths "because their defiled mind obstructs Suchness." [12] This is then compared to the fundamental ignorance that is like the clouds which obscure the illumination of the sun while leaving the sun itself unaffected. Shen-hsiu explained earlier that the pure mind and the defiled mind are actually different functions (yung [k]), or activities of mind, and not two different minds. What, then, accounts for the origin of the defiled mind?

    Shen-hsiu explains that "mind, from within its source, by itself, produces the Three Poisons naturally." [13] The Three Poisons are anger (dosa), craving (raaga), and confusion (moha), and these three are the source of evil karman. Although the Three Poisons are generated from within the mind itself, this does not mean that the world is not involved as well. We find that the Three Poisons are aroused by the functioning of the senses. The text states:

...the six senses are also called the Six Thieves, and those Six Thieves are also called the six consciousnesses (vij~naana). Coming in and out of the various sense organs, there is craving and attachment within the myriad realms. This can become evil karma and spoil Suchness itself....All sentient beings give birth to these Three Poisons and use these Six Thieves....One who seeks liberation will discard both the Three Poisons and the use of the Six Thieves. [14]

Shen-hsiu then adds, "the three realms of karmic retribution arise solely due to mind," and "simply be able to control (she [l]) the mind and you will be free from falsehood and evil." [15] The defiled mind gives rise to the three realms

 

 

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of karmic retribution, it "obstructs Suchness," and it is the cause of the sense-realms where one craves (or rejects) what is perceived.

    As is clear, the defiled mind obscures the perception of things as they truly are (things as Suchness). It is a standard Mahaayaana doctrine that ordinary people do not experience "things as they truly are'' (yathaabhuta), but rather filter and distort 'what is' through the conceptual process (vikalpa) . And it is precisely this distorting process, which is a major source of the unsatisfactoriness (du.hkha) , which seems to universally pervade the life experience. To perceive things "as they truly are" is to be free from du.hkha, and to be free from du.hkha is to be liberated.

    Now that we have a grasp on the defiled mind, according to the writings of the Northern line, we can investigate the undefiled, or pure mind. The texts of Northern Ch'an lay great stress upon this pure mind, and go to great lengths to show how it differs from the defiled mind. The pure mind (ching-hsin) is described as being 'free from" or 'apart from' (li [m]) [16] the activity of thinking, or conceptualization. It is an aspect of consciousness (citta) which can be separated from (li) the calculating and perceiving functions of mind. It seems to be an "ultimate consciousness" which is somehow independent of (li) its contents, the conceptualizing activities of our defiled, or ordinary mind. And, not only is the pure undefiled mind not the mind of conceptualization---it is Awakening itself. As one of the early versions of the five Upaaya texts of the Northern line states: "The meaning of 'Awakening' is the mind itself which is free from thinking (hsin-t'i li-nien [n])." [17] The Northern line has taken this expression (which is originally found in the Awakening of Faith [18]) and turned it into a general maxim which is developed at great length in subsequent discussions in the same text, and in numerous later texts as well. It appears almost as a sort of litany, or key phrase expressing an insight which the authors of the texts referred to constantly. For example, in the Ta-ch'eng wu-sheng fang-pien men (Gateway of Unborn Upaaya in the Mahaayaana), we find the following discussion:

The Buddha-mind is pure and clear, free from (li) existence and free from nonexistence. Body and mind not arising is keeping constant awareness of the true mind. This extinction is true Suchness. Mind not arising is the mind of true Suchness; form not arising is form as true Suchness. Because mind is true Suchness, mind is emancipated; because form is true Suchness, form is emancipated. Mind and form both free (li) is "not a single thing" (wu yi wu[o]) and is the great Bodhi tree. [19]

Here, in traditional Buddhist fashion, the pure mind, also called the "Buddha-mind" and the true mind, is asserted to be free from all things: thoughts do not arise prior to action; conceptualized objects (forms) do not arise in one's consciousness. This pure mind is ultimately equated with Suchness, or things "as they truly are." Later on, the same text states, "If the mind is undisturbed (wu-tung [p]), the mind is Suchness and is Wisdom (chih [q] ) ." [20] The undisturbed

 

 

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mind, nonattached to forms and nonattached to concepts, is the pure mind, the true mind, or "our own original mind." Since it is our own mind when it is unobscured which is the basis for Enlightenment, this is not something to be grasped in terms of doctrine or philosophical concept or philosophical system. Shen-hsiu is describing this pure mind in a very traditional Ch'an manner when he says, in the Transmission of the Lamp:

All the teachings of Buddhism
Originally exist from [the pure] mind.
If you try to grasp mind by seeking outwardly
You are running away from your own father. [21]

To seek for Enlightenment, or Awakening, in the external realm of teachers. texts, scriptures, commentaries, or holy practices is to misunderstand the ground of Awakening--which is simply one's own original (in the sense of "fundamental") mind. Another of the five Upaaya texts states:

Awakening [from] false thinking, one understands body and mind, and one penetrates Fundamental Awakening (pen-chueh [r]'). Awakening [from] false thinking is Initial Awakening (shih-chueh [s]); penetrating [the source of] body and mind is Fundamental Awakening. Initial Awakening is the Buddha Way; Fundamental Awakening is the Buddha itself (fo-t'i [t]). [22]

False thinking is the activity of the defiled mind, which involves both the realm of conceptualization and attachment to concepts, and the realm of perception and attachment to what is perceived (the Six Thieves). When the defiled mind is active, the world too becomes defiled:

The eye sees [and there is] conceptualizing; thoughts arise and numerous concepts are born; there are divisions and barricades, and one does not understand. Accordingly, this is the defiled universe, the realm of the sentient being... [However] if the eye sees [and there is] conceptualizing and knowing, and [yet] one is free from thinking (li-nien [u1] ), then there are no barriers and divisions, and this is the pure universe; it is the realm of a Buddha. [23]

The defiled mind is therefore the mind which conceptualizes and which is not free from thinking--this is the aspect of mind which discriminates and dichotomizes while (mis)taking the discriminated world for the true nature of 'what is'. In misunderstanding the nature of reality and clinging to that incorrect 'map' of the world, this aspect of consciousness is the cause of the unsatisfactoriness (du.hkha), which is a natural result of living in a world which is misperceived and misunderstood in its most fundamental nature. On the other hand, the pure mind is the aspect of mind which is free from (li) the activity of this misplaced conceptualization. Perhaps we have here an emphasis upon pure consciousness (citta) as opposed to the contents of consciousness (chetasika). When the six senses (as "Six Thieves") are active, there is craving for and attachment to the things perceived, combined with a misunderstanding of their true nature, which generates present du.hkha and evil karma in future states.

 

 

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    But, how is one to become free from thinking and free from the Six Thieves? The answer of Northern Ch'an is that one must control (shel) the activities of the senses, which is described as "purifying" them. However, the distinction between pure and impure is not an ultimate one for Northern Ch'an. This can be seen very clearly in the shortest of the Northern Ch'an texts, the Ta-ch'eng pei-tsung lun (Treatise of the Northern line of the Mahaayaana), which clearly denies any ultimacy to the contrast between the pure and defiled aspects of mind. The text says; I do not even give rise to a mind of compassion; How much less a mind of poisonous spite?

I do not even give rise to a mind of purity and clarity;
How much less the mind of foulness and impurity?
...............................................
I do not even give rise to a mind which is genuine and true;
How much less to an inverted mind [which incorrectly understands the nature of what is]?
...............................................
I do not even give rise to a mind of Enlightenment (Bodhi);
How much less to a mind of defilement?
I do not even give rise to a mind of liberation;
How much less to a mind of bondage? [24]
I do not even give rise to a mind of Nirvana;
How much less to a mind of sa^msaara? [25]

Here the dichotomy of pure mind versus defiled mind, and its cognate pairs, nirvaa.na versus sa^msaara, liberation versus bondage, and so on, is completely minimized. It seems that we might not need to eliminate one-half of the pair (purity versus impurity) to obtain the purity which the Northern texts desire. Must the defilements actually be eradicated in order to achieve the pure mind? Although this is not dealt with explicitly, another short text of Northern Ch'an states:

The name we give to the eradication of defilements is 'sa^msaara'.
The name we give when there is no eradication of defilements is 'nirvaa.na'.
The name we give to the awareness (chien [v]) of liberation is 'sa^msaara'.
The name we give when there is no awareness of liberation is 'nirvaa.na'.
The name we give to the awareness of Nirvana is 'sa^msaara.'
The name we give when there is no awareness of Nirvana is 'nirvaa.na. [26]

This shows a clear awareness of the duality problem. The pure mind is claimed to be beyond all categories, and this means all divisions, and especially the division between pure and impure. If one eliminates half of the pair, one has not escaped the basic dichotomy. The elimination of defilements still confines one within the conditioned realm of sa^msaara. To be aware of being liberated is still to remain in the conditioned realm of sa^msaara; to be aware of the attainment of nirvaa.na is to remain in the realm of sa^msaara. One does not attain to

 

 

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the purity advocated by Northern Ch'an by eliminating impurity, for both are halves of a pair of complementary concepts. One cannot have purity by the elimination of impurity, any more than one can eliminate all downhills and expect to still have uphills. Instead, what is required is a total turning about mentally, so that the entire picture of complementary pairs is now understood as being an inadequate conceptual framework for dealing with the world. It is only when all categories are no longer accepted as being ultimate, when there is no awareness of liberation, no awareness of bondage, no awareness of defilement, no awareness of nirvaa.na, that we have perceived the world in its Suchness, being just what it is. This is what the Ch'an masters speak of when they discourse on the pure mind, the original mind, the true mind, and the Buddha-mind.

One knows that the six sense-organs are fundamentally undisturbed (wu-tung [p], and the essence of Awakening is suddenly perfected (tun-yuan [w]); illumination shines, everywhere reflecting.... Because the mind is free from thinking (li-nien [u2]), all realms and gunas are pure and clean, without obstacle (wu-ai [x]) and perfectly free.... [27]

    On the basis of the preceding analysis, we seem justified in concluding that the pure mind is more fundamental than the defiled mind because the Northern Ch'an texts say that one can eliminate the defiled mind while the pure mind continues to operate in pure awareness. Perhaps we could think of the defiled mind as the activity of thinking dichotomously, placing a "screen of thought" between pure awareness (consciousness grounded solely in the pure mind as the most fundamental level of awareness) and the world. In Ch'an, the world as perceived from the clear awareness is then described as a realm which is simultaneously "truly empty" (chen-k'ung [y]) and "marvelously actual" (miaoyu [z]), the realm of Suchness. Our ordinary, or defiled mind takes this realm and transforms it into a universe of good, evil, principles, concepts, and objects with substantial self-natures. According to the Northern texts, to live in a state of clear awareness is to be free from thinking, and when one is free from thinking one is also "free from forms," and then the six senses (Six Thieves) are now purified or cleansed. In other words, when there is pure awareness operating from the level of one's original pure mind, one has reached the innate fundamental state of consciousness in which things "as they truly are" presents itself to man without any of the distorting processes which create a defiled world out of the realm which in itself is simply Suchness. Now, one perceives things as they truly are and is free from the suffering (du.hkha) caused by the distortion of reality. To see things as they truly are means an end to the conceptualization which distorts its objects, and this is the beginning of wisdom (praj~naa) and spiritual freedom. One can deal with worldly affairs without being confused and can operate from a clear awareness rooted in the deepest level of human consciousness.

 

 

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    The clear implication is that human beings can operate in the world, utilizing language and making discriminations, without thinking. The emphasis is on unconditioned activity (wu-wei [aa]) instead. Unconditioned activity seems to be the activity of a person who is "free from thinking," the person who responds from a state of pure consciousness or pure awareness (citta) instead of allowing the contents of consciousness (chetasika) to "muddy the waters," so to speak. Ch'an Buddhism, in general, seems to equate "thinking" (nien) with metaphysical pictures or beliefs which are superimposed upon a reality which in itself can only be described as being Such-as-it-is (tathataa) . The enlightened person operates from the level of pure awareness, or the pure mind, and it is not the case that he first pictures what he intends to say or do, or that he first thinks to himself what he wants to do prior to acting or speaking. The Ch'an view is that most of us carry on a continual dialogue in our heads, and this obscures a genuine and spontaneous response to the world. The Ch'an ideal is the person who responds spontaneously (tzu-jan [ab]), naturally, without thinking, without mental pictures, without thoughts being translated into words prior to their being spoken. This ideal is obvious in the way martial arts are discussed in the East. Taking Japanese kendo (the way of the sword) as an example, the point is that if the combatant has to think to himself, "I see the sword coming and I should utilize block #13, and then counterattack with..." the battle is lost before it has begun. [28] What is required instead is a pure awareness, a "mind like a mirror," in which no thinking interrupts the spontaneous response demanded by the life-situation. This same kind of awareness seems to be what is described by the phrase "pure mind" in Northern Ch'an. One who operates from a consciousness which is free from thinking is not behaving like a machine but, in fact, can operate from the highest levels of creative activity. This same sort of pure awareness seems to be the traditional goal of the painter in China and Japan; and this kind of awareness is claimed to result in creativity and originality, and allows the artist to capture the 'living spirit' (ch'i [ac]) of the subject. [29]

    In other words, the Ch'an master can be creative, aesthetic, intelligent, and yet maintain a state of awareness which is untainted by the defiled mind, or the active interposition of thought-concepts upon the pure mind. He can live a full, happy, spontaneous, natural, and creatively fulfilling life without having particular ideas or thoughts as a necessary prerequisite for communication, or all the other things that people do in life. The enlightened person simply does what the situation calls for, without the mediation of thinking. A person can act, speak, exist creatively without having a thought or idea, which we so often feel must necessarily precede one's words, one's speech, one's creative activity.

    At the beginning of this article, numerous questions were raised concerning the nature of the pure mind and its relationship to the defiled mind. In light of the previous discussion, we can now consider the Northern Ch'an answers

 

 

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to these questions. First of all, the "defiled mind" is the aspect of mind in which concepts occur prior to actions, the mental activity in which thinking is interpositioned between a person's spontaneous response and his response. Although this is certainly not the same picture of mind as found in Western philosophy, there is an area of general agreement here--namely, that the mind is characterizable by such activities as conceptualizing, judging, distinguishing subject from object, and so on. Although in the West, this is generally seen as encompassing the total range of what is meant by "mind." Northern Ch'an texts are suggesting that (a) this is only one aspect of mind and not the totality of mind, (b) this aspect is undesirable, (c) this aspect is eliminable, and (d) the elimination of the "defiled mind" results in the most creatively satisfying life possible. The pure mind is not a separate mind from the defiled mind (we do not have a duality, a two-mind theory).

    The pure mind is the mind which is free from thinking (li-nien), it is the pure awareness which is allowed to respond skillfully and creatively to life situations without a thought preceding and corresponding to each word, sentence, or action. Consequently, Northern Ch'an can argue that these two aspects of mind are separable, for one can learn to live free from thought; one can take the activities of one's ordinary life where one reacts nonconceptually and spontaneously (such as playing a good game of tennis, playing a musical instrument where the awareness of subject playing object is not present), and extend or expand this attitude to one's activities in all spheres of living. The pure mind is the more fundamental of the two aspects, for in Northern Ch'an it is seen as existing at all times, whether thinking is going on. Perhaps it can be seen as pure consciousness as opposed to the contents of consciousness, as has been previously suggested. When one has eliminated "erroneous imaginings, thoughts and discriminations," this is the pure mind. When this is described as being the Buddha-mind, we simply must recall that in Ch'an terminology, Buddha means nothing more than Enlightenment. A Northern Ch'an text explains, "The word 'Buddha' is a Sanskrit word which in this country (China) means 'Awakening' (chueh). [30]

    On the basis of the preceding, we can understand that, for this line of Northern Ch'an at least, what it is to be Awakened, free from duhkha, and free from the cycle of sa^msaara, is to be able to respond freely and spontaneously to one's life situations, without the imposition or mediation of thinking. Clearly we have not exhausted this interesting topic, for it is obvious that there are numerous subsidiary questions which need to be raised, for example, why is it that everyone seems to suffer from the problem of the mediation of thinking? And we could pursue the question of whether and under what circumstances such calculative thinking can be approved or encouraged. However, these issues are best dealt with at another time.

 

 

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NOTES

1. However, the issue was not totally missing in Buddhism. For example, we find a discussion of precisely this point in the `Suura^ngama suutra. T 945(19): 105-153. This Chinese text has been translated by Charles Luk, The Surangama Sutra (London: Rider & Co., 1966).

2. The Chinese character which is generally translated "mind" is hsin [ad], and it does not correspond exactly to the Western term. The character hsin is a pictogram of the human heart, and the Chinese associate both the affective and intellectual elements with the physical human heart. In English, "mind" tends to be associated with the head and the brain, and is used mainly for the 'cold' intellectual activities and not feelings and emotions. In Chinese, however, the affective elements are strongly associated with hsin, so that in addition to "mind," "to think," "mental processes," and 'to cognize," hsin equally well is rendered as "heart" and with it are all of the emotional associations which we have with the English word "heart." Occasionally some translators have used "heart" instead of "mind" to translate hsin, for example, Irmgard Schloegl, The Zen Teachings of Rinzai (Berkeley: Shambhala, 1976).

3. The author does not wish to imply that it is only in Ch'an Buddhism that we find these two aspects of mind. Their origin can be traced back to the 'luminous thought' (citta.m prak.rtiprabhaasvaram) mentioned in some early Buddhist texts, such as the Anguttara Nikaaya, and numerous later Mahaayaana texts such as the La^nkaavataara, Sriimaalaadevi, and Avata.msaka, among others. An excellent discussion of the development of this idea can be found in Lamotte, L'Enseignment de Vimalakiirti (Louvain: Institut Orientaliste, 1962), pp. 53-60. Other discussions of this topic can be found in J. Takasaki, A Study of the Ratnagotravibhaga, 33 (Rome: Serie Orientale Roma, 1966), and David S. Ruegg, La Theorie du Tathaagatagarbha et du Gotra (Paris: Publications de l'Ecole Francaise d'Extreme-Orient, 1969).

4. For example, see S. R. Dean, "Beyond the Unconscious: The Ultra-Conscious, " Psychologia, 8 (1965): 145-150. Numerous other articles in this vein can be found in Psychologia. Some of the people in the humanistic psychology movement also discuss problems related to this topic.

5. Ching-te Chuan-teng lu (Transmission of the Lamp), in the Taisho collection of Buddhist texts, T 51: 313a12-20. This Ch'ao-chou should not be confused with his famous contemporary, the long-lived Chao-chou Ts'ung-shen (778-897).

6. John Blofeld, Zen Teachings of Huang-po (New York: Grove Press, 1959), pp. 29-31. Some changes have been made in Blofeld's translation with reference to the original Chinese text found in T 48:379c and 380a.

7. We shall base our discussion upon the following Northern Ch'an texts. This list does not include all of the Northern Ch'an texts, but does include all of the predominantly philosophical texts which are readily available.

(1) Kuan-hsin lun (On the Clear Observation of Mind), incorrectly attributed to Bodhidharma but later established as being a text by the founder of the Northern Ch'an line, Shen-hsiu (605?-706). The text can be found in T 2833(85):1270-73. A detailed study of the authorship of the text is found in Sekiguchi Shindai, Daruma daishi no kenkyuu, Tokyo, 1969, pp. 213-34.

(2) P'o-hsiang lun (On breaking through form), a more polished and slightly revised version of (1), found at T 2009(48):366c-369c. Another variant of this is found in the Zokuzokyo collection of Chinese Buddhist texts, ZZ 15.5.411b-414b.

(3) Miao-li yuan-ch'eng kuan (Discernment of Marvelous Reality and Highest Truth), attributed to Shen-hsiu. A brief excerpt is quoted in T 2006(48):943a24-b6.

(4) Ts'an ch'an-men shih (Verses in Praise of Ch'an). This is the title which the work is catalogued under in the Taisho collection, but it is not the original title of the work. T 2839(85): 1291-93.

(5) Ta-ch'eng wu-sheng fang-pien men (Gateway of unborn upaaya in the Mahaayaana), T 2834(85): 1273b-78a.

(6) Ta-cheng we fang-pien: pei-tsung (Five Upaaya of the Mahayana Northern Tradition) . This is actually two separate texts, combined to make the longest of the Northern Chan philosophical writings. Found in Ui Hakujuu, Zenshuushi kenkyuu, Vol. I, Tokyo, 1939, pp. 468-511, and in D. T. Suzuki, Suzuki Daisetsu zenshuu, Vol. III, Tokyo, 1968, pp. 190-212 and 221-235.

(7) Ta-ch'eng pei-tsung lun ("Treatise by the Northern line of the Mahayana"). Three short poetic descriptions, subtitled "On the Mahayana Mind" (ta-ch'eng hsin). T 2836(85):1281c-82a.

8. The split within Ch'an Buddhism following the sixth patriarch Hui-neng (638-713) is very famous, yet little was known of the actual details of this until the discovery of numerous texts belonging to the two schools, found around the turn of this century at the caves of Tun-huang.

 

 

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The best discussion of the background of this division is found in Philip Yampolsky. The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch (New York: Columbia University Press, 1969).

9. We should note that the term hsin (mind) is often used ambiguously in Chinese texts; the same character is used to refer to both aspects of mind. An expedient often adopted in English translations is to capitalize "Mind" whenever it seems to be referring to the "pure mind" or the "Buddha-mind." and reserve "mind" for the ordinary discriminating activity of consciousness. This translation is that of Yoshito Hakeda (see note 10), and he adopts this convention.

10. Yoshito Hakeda. The Awakening of Faith (New York: Columbia University Press, 1967). p. 31. Original Chinese text is found in T 1666(32): 576a.

11. The opening paragraphs of the Kuan-hsin lun gathered in the Taisho collection are missing, therefore, this quotation was taken from the variant entitled P'o-hsiang lun. T 2009(48): 367a.

12. P'o-hsiang lun, T 2009(48):367a.

13. Kuan-hsin lun, T 2833(85): 1270c18.

14. Kuan-hsin lun. T 2833(85): 1270c18.

15. Kuan-hsin lun, T 2833(85):1271a.

16. The Chinese character li is important in Northern Ch'an, and it poses a problem for it can be translated in several different ways. Among these are "free from," "detached from," "independent of, " "transcends," and "to be separate from." The question of the most accurate way to translate it in the context of Northern Ch'an has been discussed in my article, which will appear in a forthcoming volume devoted to the history of early Ch'an Buddhism in China and Tibet.

17. Ts'an-ch'an-men shih, T 2839(85): l292b.

18. Ta-ch'eng-ch'i-hsin lun, T 1666(32):576b12.

19. T 2833(85): 1273c20-22.

20. T 2833(85):1276b4.

21. Ch'uan-teng lu (Transmission of the Lamp), T 51:231 b24.

22. Ui Hakujuu, Zenshuushi kenkyuu, vol. 1, p. 469. Also Suzuki. Suzuki Daisetsu Zenshuu, vol. 3, p. 191.

23. Ui, Zenshuushi kenkyuu, p 470; Suzuki, Suruki Daisetsu zenshuu, p. 192.

24. The Taisho text has repeated the Chinese characters for "liberation" in both lines. Following the suggestion of Ui, we have corrected the second "liberation" to read "bondage."

25. T 2836(85): 1281c17-29.

26. T 2836(85):1282a11 13.

27. Ui, Zenshuushi kenkyuu, p. 470; Suzuki, Suzuki Daisetsu renshuu, p. 192.

28. An extended discussion of this aspect of Ch'an in relation to swordsmanship can be found in D. T. Suzuki, Zen and Japanese Culture, Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1959) , pp. 87-214.

29. For a superb description and study of this kind of mental state in the context of creative aesthetic activity, see Chang Chung-yuan, Creativity and Taoism (New York, Julian Press, 1963).

30. This statement is repeated throughout all of the five Upaaya texts, for example, T 2839(85): 1293.

 

Chinese glossary

a 淨心

b 染心

c

d

e 潮州大顛

f 自家本心

g 真心

h 本心

i 觀心論

j 自然

k

l

m

n 心體離念

o 無一物

p 無動

q

r 本覺

s 始覺

t 佛體

u1 u2 離念

v

w 頓圓

x 無礙

y 真空

z 妙有

aa 無為

ab 自然

ac

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