The Zen Canon: Understanding the Classic Texts by Dale S. Wright

By Dale S. Wright

Bodhidharma, its first patriarch, seemingly stated that Zen Buddhism represents "a distinct transmission outdoor the teaching/Without reliance on phrases and letters." This asserting, besides the customarily puzzling use of language (and silence) via Zen masters, gave upward push to the suggestion that Zen is a "lived religion" established strictly on perform. This number of formerly unpublished essays argues that Zen really has a wealthy and sundry literary background. one of the most vital texts are hagiographic bills and recorded sayings of person Zen masters, koan collections and commentaries, and principles for monastic existence. This quantity bargains discovered but obtainable reports of a few of an important classical Zen texts, together with a few that experience got little scholarly realization (and many who are available merely to specialists). every one essay presents historic, literary, and philosophical observation on a selected textual content or style.

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One should not use mind to cultivate [the path in] mind. Bad is mind. One should not use mind to cut off [the bad in] mind. When you neither cut off nor create and leave it to luck and are spontaneous, then you are to be called a liberated person. You are also to be called a person who surpasses the measure. There are no dharmas to be bound up in, no buddhas to become. Why? Outside the cittadharmata¯ there is not one dharma to be apprehended. 33 Confirmation of what Tsung-mi says about Hung-chou can be found in two Hung-chou works, the Essentials of the Dharma of Mind Transmission (Ch’uan-hsing fa yao) and Wan-ling Record (Wan-ling lu), both by P’ei Hsiu.

He greatly spread this Dharma. An arising of mind, a movement of thought, a snapping of the fingers, a tinkling of musical chimes, a spreading of a fan, all action and all doing are the totalistic functioning of the Buddha-nature. There is no second controller. By analogy, one prepares many types of drinks and foods out of flour, but every one of them [continues to be] flour. The Buddha-nature is also that way. Passion, hatred, stupidity, the creation of good and bad [karma], the receiving of suffering and joy— in their totality every one of them is the [Buddha-nature].

Youthful Classical Education (780–804) Tsung-mi was born into a provincial elite family, the Ho, in what is today central Szechwan Province (Hsi-ch’ung County in Kuo Prefecture) in 780. His family was affluent and powerful but not part of the national elite. From the age of six to fifteen or sixteen he worked at typical Confucian studies, and from seventeen to about twenty-one he studied Buddhist texts, perhaps because of the death of his father. From twenty-two to twenty-four he was enrolled at the Righteousness Learning Academy (I-hsueh Yuan) in nearby Sui Prefecture, where he deepened his exposure to Confucian texts.

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