Prof. DUSAN PAJIN, Belgrade University, Yugoslavia
ON FAITH IN MIND
- TRANSLATION AND ANALYSIS OF THE HSlN-HSlN MlNG
Since Leng-chia Shzh-tzu Chi was discovered,1) Seng-ts'an's authorship of the Hsin-hsin Ming has been doubted, because of the remark that Seng ts'an did not put any writings into circulation. Ui 2) proposed that Seng ts'an, perhaps, only recited the text, otherwise written by someone else. Nishitani and Yanagida3) added some further arguments, considering that the text was written in the eighth century, two centuries after Seng-ts'an. This was accepted as valid by other authors.4)
CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE HSIN-HSIN MING
Dumoulin5) was among the first to recognize that in many
passages the composition of Hsin-hsin Ming is akin to the Avatamsaka
sutra, especially the closing stanzas (30-36).
Actually, there is some resemblance between the concepts of one mind (stanza 12), oneness (stanzas 5,6,7) and one vehicle (stanza 19) in Hsin-hsin Ming, and equivalent concepts developed in Hua-yen. However, the obviously common subjects of Hsin-hsin Ming and Hua-yen are relativity and interpenetration of time and space dimensions (in stanzas 32-33), equality of things (st. 33) and the famous "one is all, all is one" principle (st. 35), which are explained later in detail (in "Analysis of the text" - related to sections VII and VIII of the Hsin-hsin Ming). On such grounds we can conclude that this text should be - at least partly - related also with the Hua-yen tradition (i.e., not exclusively with Ch'an).
We can outline two significant contributions of the Hsin-hsin ming to the overall tradition of Chinese Buddhism.
a) The first is "faith in mind", which could be considered as a "ch'anist" response to the Buddhism of faith (Pure Land), since the object of faith is not Amitabha, but mind as a means of awakening.
b) The second contribution is the principle of oneness (i-chung). It is particularly mentioned in stanzas 5, 6 and 7. Otherwise, it is the running idea of the whole text, continually warning against various dualities: liking-disliking (stanzas 1, 19, 21), grasping-rejecting (st. 3), conditions/form-emptiness (qt. 5, 14), motion-rest (st. 6, 21, 26), truth-views (st. 10), right-wrong (st. 23), things/dharmas-mind (st. 12), subject-object (st. 13), coarse-fine (st. 15), strange-familiar (st. 18), sense-objects/awakeness (st. 19), things/dharmas-suchness (st. 24), profit-loss (st. 23) other-self (st. 25, 30), moment-aeon (st. 32), here-there (st. 32), small-large (st. 33), one-all (st. 35). These dualities should be refuted or transcended with the perspective of one mind - in emptiness and real suchness.
Broadly speaking, Hsin-hsin Ming is an elegant exposition of prajna (principles), and dhyana (practice). With approximation, we can say that sections I, V, and VI mostly deal with principles (oneness, one mind, emptiness, suchness), sections II. III, and IV mostly expose practice, while sections VII, and VIII describe the results of such practice, and applied principles.
PROBLEMS OF TRANSLATING
In translating ancient religious and philosophical texts, one of the
major problems is to decide - in case it is not a terminus technicus
per se - whether a certain word (in our case, a Chinese character)
is used colloquially, or as a terminus technicus. On such a decision
sometimes depends not only the appropriate translation of a particular
word, but the proper understanding of the whole passage, as well.
To decide, we should know the tradition of the text and have in mind the
context, as well as previous commentaries, if such exist (nevertheless,
these can also be misleading, since in many cases they are comments, not
for the sake of interpreting, but in order to give support and authority
of the tradition to the thoughts of their respective authors).
The second problem is that the translator uses a language the words of which have the same ambiguity (colloqial-technical) as the original language, or a vocabulary which (itself) lacks the necessary technical terms. This can be solved by using capitals, italics, etc. Also, one of the solutions for translating Chinese Buddhist texts was to use the Sanskrit terms as technical, in the same manner as in European philosophy one would use Greek or Latin, instead of native words, in order to convey the technical meaning and avoid ambiguity.
Meaning is developed through use. For example, for "awakening" or "enlightenment" no one uses capitals; through lengthy use it is supposed that these will not be misunderstood (that they will be understood as technical terms in a Buddhist context, and not in colloquial meaning). But some terms (One, Way, Void, Suchness) are still written with capitals. For translations from Chinese it is still customary to use Sanskrit equivalents to pinpoint the meaning, or when the terms from European languages are not good enough. For example, Chinese fa is better translated with Sanskrit dharma, than with "things" (as was done in this translation - but, to use "dharma" supposes that the reader is more familiar with Sanskrit, than with the Chinese, which, for the average person is not the case).
Wing-tsit Chan remarked that "Without adequate tools to help them, many translators have rendered technical terms in their popular meanings".6) Fortunately, some sixty years ago, Soothill and Hodous,7) filled the gap for Chinese Buddhist terms with their dictionary. However, their dictionary was possible thanks to the work done some 1500 years ago, by generations of Chinese Buddhists, who translated Sanskrit Buddhist texts into Chinese, using and standardizing certain Chinese characters as technical terms (equivalents) for Sanskrit terms.
In order to proceed with the analysis of the Hsin-hsin Ming, and its general meaning in the context of Chinese Buddhism, particularly Ch'an, we propose a new translation. Originally, the text, as presented in Taisho (Taisho shinshu daizokyo) No. 2010, was not divided in stanzas. The translators, excepting Suzuki, were faithful to this form. In the second version of his translation Suzuki has added numbers to the stanzas, in which he grouped the lines of the poem (his first translation, let it be remarked, omits four verses of stanza 6).10) In order to make possible easy reference for the analysis we have also divided the poem in stanzas, but this "versification" differs from Suzuki's version. However, in the right hand row we have given the numbers of his stanzas in brackets (for those who want to compare the translations). For easy reference we also suggest a division of the text into eight (principal) parts, notated with Roman numerals (I-VIII)..
l) The best way is not difficult
It only excludes picking and choosing
Once you stop loving and hating
It will enlighten itself.
2) Depart for a hairbreadth (2)
And heaven and earth are set apart,
If you want it to appear
Do not be for or against.
5) Do not follow conditions, (4)
Do not dwell in emptiness.
Cherishing oneness in the hearth,
Everything will stop by itself.
10) Do not seek the true,
Only abstain from views.
Do not dwell in dual views, (10)
Be careful not to pursue them.
15) Do not differentiate coarse and fine
And you will not be for or against.
The great way is all-embracing (15)
Neither easy nor difficult.
16) Small views are irresolute, full of doubt,
Now in haste, then too late.
Grasp beyond measure (16)
And you will go astray.
and loss, right and wrong
Away with this once for all.
If the eyes are not closed (21)
All dreams stop by themselves.
24) If the mind does not discriminate
All things are of one suchness.
In the deep essence of one suchness (22)
Resolutely neglect conditions.
doubts are cleared
True faith is firm and harmonized.
Nothing is detained,
Nothing to remember.
32) This teaching is not urgent, or extensive, (27)
Beyond a moment, or an aeon,
Not here, not there,
Everywhere in front of the eyes.
33) Very small and large are equal. (28)
When boundaries are forgotten,
Very large and small are equal,
The limits cannot be seen.
ANALYSIS OF THE TEXT
Now we shall proceed with the analysis of the text, section by section
(I-VIII), explaining technical terms, their meaning in the context of Chinese
Buddhism, and the main ideas of the text. When necessary we shall also
reach for the wider context of Indian Buddhism, in order to explain the
history of certain concepts.
Hsin-hsin Ming mentions faith (hsin) in its title and in the concluding stanza (36). We know that faith (Skt. sraddha) in Buddhism is one of the five qualities for making progress on the path (Skt. marga). Various texts speak of faith in Buddha (Tathagata), the Buddhist doctrine (Dharma), as well as Buddhist community (Sangha). In some Mahayanic texts (Sukhavativyuha, Mahayanasraddhotpada, Amitayurdhyana) faith has been promoted as a principal quality, and an agent of salvation. K.N. Jayatilleke11) has indicated three aspects of faith in early Buddhism: affective, conative and cognitive. In later Buddhism a theistic aspect of faith is introduced, and faith is redefined. takyamuni as a historical person is enveloped by a deified transhistorical Buddha. The faith that Sakyamuni attained at awakening, (which is - under certain conditions and precepts - repeatable for other Buddhists), has been transformed into a faith (related to worship and reverence) that salvation is based on a transcendental, omnipotent, transhistorical principle (Adi-Buddha), and bestowed to the faithful, with compassion, as grace from his emanations (other Buddhas, and bodhisattvas).
With this background, "faith in mind" is an original contribution of Hsin-hsin Ming. It introduces the meditative aspect of faith, based on mind-doctrine affirmed in Ch'an. To have "faith in mind" means to have faith that awakening will follow when the mind "returns to the root (or source)" and stops discriminating (realizes one-ness). It is based on a common denominator present in all sects of Ch'an tradition: "Mind is the root of the myriad phenomena... If you can completely comprehend mind, the myriad practices are completed".12)
In the first stanza of Hsin-hsin Ming we encounter the refutation of dualities. Perhaps, the author--whoever he was--was aware of the paradox, rather common in Taoism and Ch'an, when he said that the best way is not difficult, under the condition which is most difficult for humans: to stop loving and hating, picking and choosing.
The first four stanzas bear a definitely Taoist influence (compare Lao-tzu, I). They banish feelings and duality, connecting the way with vacuity (hsu) and deep meaning (hsuan chih). In relation to vacuity (hsu) we should emphasize the difference in meaning between this character in Taoism and the meaning of emptiness (k'ung ) in Buddhism. Lao-tzu (Ch. II) proposes the ideal of a "vacuous" (hsu) heart for man, that is, of peace and purity of mind, freedom from worry and egoism. To maintain this vacuity (according to Lao-tzu, Ch. 15-16) is to be open for the tao and;its way, "open and broad, like a valley". It means to keep the receptive, feminine aspect of mind, in order to be able to accord with the tao. Emptiness (k'ung) will be explained later in relation to stanzas 5, 7, 9 and 14.
In the first line (st. 1) we decided to translate chih-tao as "the best way". Blyth13) has suggested "great way" which is not wrong per se, but since in stanza 15 we already have ta tao, which must be "great tao", it was unreasonable to use the same word for different characters. In this translation we have been--as far as possible--faithful to the principle that the same character should be translated with the same word and vice versa - a different character with a different word. Other translators decided to use "perfect way" as equivalent for chih-tao. This is not wrong, but "perfect" also denotes something that has been brought to the end, finished. However, speaking of the way, we have something that has yet to be threaded. That is why we made an option for the "best way". On the other hand we have reserved "perfect" as equivalent for cheng, which appears in stanza 19. We understand that the "way" (which is spoken of in the first four stanzas) is not the Taoist tao, but the way of Buddhism (Skt. marga). With stanza 4 we leave the Taoist meanings, since the "great vacuity", which is a Taoist expression, is related to a peculiarly Buddhist term ("suchness"). In the fourth line of stanza 4 Waley missed the meaning of ju. He takes the colloquial meaning (so), instead of the technical, Buddhist meaning - suchness, thatness (Skt. tathata).
Stanza 5, and the last two lines of stanza 4 are important because they introduce several terms and ideas of overall importance for the whole text. First is grasping (ch'ui, Skt. upadana).14) With grasping and rejecting suchness cannot appear. The same goes for the duality of "following conditions" and "dwelling in emptiness." Conditions (yuan, Skt. pratyaya), or conditioning factors, are mental activity and external objects. Not to dwell in emptiness means that practice of meditation can become one-sided if attachment is developed for emptiness, peace and purity of meditative absorption. This is a recurrent warning, in all schools of Ch'an. That is why our text puts an accent on oneness (i-chung), which is also the main subject in stanzas 6 and 7.
Stanzas 5 and 7 (in contrast to stanzas 9 and 14) speak about emptiness (k'ung) in practice of meditation, which can become a pitfall. In stanzas 9 and 14 emptiness is considered from the prajna-perspective, as an essential trait of the world and connecting principle of all opposites, all dualities. On the other hand, one should not dwell and abide in emptiness during meditation (stanza 5). "When working on Zen, the worst thing is to become attached to quietness, because this will unknowingly cause you to be engrossed in dead stillness. Then you will develop an inordinate fondness for quietness and at the same time an aversion for activity of any kind''.15) Stanza 6 accentuates the overcoming of duality between rest and motion which is a subtle obstacle. "If one abandons deconcentration in order to seek concentration, what he will attain is the deconcentration but not concentration. If one turns back on impurity in order to get purity, he will get impurity but not purity".16) It is interesting to note the fourth line of stanza 7, which expresses that emptiness (in prajna-sense) is definitely out of reach from the dhyana-perspective. This has to do with the dynamics of meditation. If one seeks emptiness trying to reach rest, he always seems one step behind, until he realises that emptiness is the common and connecting principle of rest and motion, being and nothingness.
In Hsin-hsin Ming there is no explicit mentioning of meditation. However, sections II and III can be considered as "meditation sections". They contain admonitions on correct meditation practice, its possible mistakes and pitfalls. Stanzas 8 and 10 speak of stopping the internal monologue and the related thinking. Returning to the root and turning inward are related with such stoppage - otherwise they would just be an introversion.
The first two lines of stanza 10 introduce two important technical characters: chen (which also appears in stanza 18), meaning true, real, and chien, meaning view (Skt. drsti). The course toward awakening is not related with a mind in search of new truths. Such a search only multiplies (dual) views, leading to a road without end. That is why the admonition "abstain from views" is given as one of the main principles of the meditative via negativa.
Stanzas 11-14 return to the themes of oneness and duality. The first line of stanza 12 focuses oneness of mind, or one-mind (i-hsin, Skt. eka-citta). We find that eka-citta is mentioned back at the time of Asanga, who speaks about it in the context of the fifth perfection (dhyana-paramita) of the paramita-yana.17)
One Mind is also mentioned in the Surangama as a doctrine which enables one to overcome dualities, understand senses as a part of bodhi, and attain imperturbability (acala).18) In Chinese Buddhism the one-mind concept is exposed by Hui-ssu (sixth century) in "The Method of Concentration and Insight", which belongs to the T'ien-t'ai school: "...All dharmas are but one mind. Therefore there is no differentiation in itself, for differentiation is the one mind. As the mind involves all functions, the one mind is differentiation. They are always the same and always different".19)
The one mind doctrine was especially elaborated in the Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana.20) Here, one mind appears as suchness (tathata), in its pure form, and as samsara when it falls under conditions. Fa-tsang has written a commentary on the Awakening of Faith. For him, one mind is the unchanging, undifferentiated, non-dual basis of all experience: deluded and awakened.
In Hsin-hsin Ming one mind is considered in a meditative context (rather than as a metaphysical concept). It is a state of mind free of duality.
In the second line21) in stanza 17 we encounter the character t'i (essence, substance) which is usually paired with yung (function, application). It is an important concept in Buddhism, and other schools of Chinese philosophy. The character yang appears also in our text (in Stanzas 18 and 21), but the context suggests a colloquial rendering: "to use". Peculiar for our text is that (in stanza 12) it focuses blame (chin) as a factor that binds mind to things and arising (sheng). This relatedness of the subject and object is underlined in verse 13.
In order to avoid duality, Hsin-hsin Ming once more (in stanza 14) focuses emptiness as origin of both. Now comes the second stage of cultivating the mind: it consists in applying (yung) which is now changed through this "meeting" with t'i. This means that yung itself would be different after its "meeting" with t'i (the "meeting" is expressed by the "one-mind"). That is, yung is changed when mind understands its relation with things (fa - Skt. dharma) - how is it influenced by things, and how it influences things. Then the mind is free from things, as well as from its previous yung (function, application); it now functions in the world, but is not influenced and affected by the world. The new functioning in the world is exposed in part IV (stanzas 15-18) of the Hsin-hsin Ming; there we find what is, and what is not peculiar to such free functioning.
In the third line of stanza 17 we encounter a Taoist maxim of according with tao, but we should give it a Buddhist reading: accord your nature with the way (tao), i.e. accord with the Buddhist path (Skt. marga).
The fifth part opens introducing the One-vehicle (i-ch'eng, Skt. eka-yana).22)
In China we encounter the subject of One vehicle (i-ch'eng) in
the Hua-yen school. As in other teachings in that school, it calls upon
the authority of the Avatamsaka sutra However, here we have an interpretation
differing from Mahayana. In Fa-tsang's Treatise on the Golden Lion we
find an exposition of various schools and Buddhist doctrines in a five-level
gradation. The Hinayana doctrine includes all Theravada schools, the initial
doctrine of Mahayana includes Madhyamaka and Yogacara, the final doctrine
of Mahayana is given by the T'ien-t'ai school, the Mahayana doctrine of
sudden awakening is given by Ch'an, and the Yuan (rounded, complete, all-inclusive)
doctrine (yuan chiao) of the One vehicle is given by the Hua-yen
school. What is this all-inclusive teaching of the One vehicle? "When
the feelings have been eliminated and true substance (t'i) revealed,
all becomes an undifferentiated mass. Great functions (yung) arise
in abundance, and whatever it does is real (or absolute, chen).
The myriad manifestations, despite their variety, interfuse without disarray.
The all is the one, for both are similar, being empty in nature. And the
one is the all for cause and effect clearly take course. In their power
and functions each implies the other. They spread out and roll up freely.
This is called the all-inclusive doctrine of the One vehicle" (compare
slight variations in translations of this passage--because of its importance
it was quoted by various authors).23)
Now, how does this Hua-yen understanding of the One vehicle stand in relation to Hsin-hsin Ming?
We find this "one is all, all is one" principle, and the Hua-yen teaching of mutual penetration and identity, in stanzas 33, 34, and 35. Therefore, the One vehicle in Hsin-hsin Ming is open toward six sense-objects (lu chan, Skt. sad guna), six qualities (or "six dusts"), that appear in the conjunction of objects and sense organs, including reason. Perhaps, it is the "dust" which was supposed to be wiped from the "bright mirror of the mind" in the verse by Shen-hsiu (composed in competition for the successor of the fifth patriarch of the Ch'an school), while Hui-neng said that Buddha-nature is forever pure and cannot be defiled by "dust".
The integrative, monistic standpoint--similar to Hua-yen--is obvious from the third and fourth lines of stanza 19. This is where the One vehicle and the one mind doctrine meet, because one mind has two aspects: one is suchness (seen in perfect awakeness), the other is origination and cessation with six sense-objects.
Stanza 21 speaks of possible mistakes related with meditative practice.
One can find similar instructions in earlier texts, as in the Surangama
sutra. Surangarna and Hsin-hsin Ming are cautious and give warnings
against the possible misuse of meditative process. With the first two lines
of stanza 21 compare two lines from Surangama:
If mind be set on searching for the mind, that which
At heart is not illusion, becomes illusory.24)
This subtle obstacle was a matter of special attention in Buddhism,
especially Ch'an. For example, a text with a similar title (Hsin Ming),
attributed to Fa-jung,25) besides other points in common
with the Hsin-hsin Ming, has an admonition similar
to stanza 21.
If you wish to attain purity of mind,
then make effort (in the context of) no-mind (...)
To maintain tranquility with the mind is
still not to transcend the illness (of ignorance)".26)
It is worth mentioning that in Hsin-hsin Ming we do not find one of the common technical terms of Ch'an--especially of the Southern school--namely, wu-hsin (no-mind). The author of our text had much more affinity for one-mind (i-hsin), and wu-wei (non-action - in stanza 20), which is part of the Taoist legacy ("no mind", which is found in stanza 12, is actually pu-hsin). With respect to the Taoist legacy we should say that besides the general influence felt in part I of the poem, it is also present in using the typical Taoist term: non-action (wu-wei). We also find tzu-jan (spontaneity) in stanza 17 (which has a completely Taoist meaning), and in stanza 25. This is in line with the Ch'an principle, developed under the Taoist influence - to stress spontaneity, at the expense of rules, or discipline.
In Hsin-hsin Ming we cannot find any trace of the debate between the concepts of gradual and sudden awakening. We know that the concept of sudden awakening was already present in Indian Buddhism - "one-moment" (eka-kshana) awakening. However it seems that this concept was not concurrent, or opposed, to the idea of gradualness in Indian Buddhism.27) In China the debate lasted several centuries - from the begining of the fifth, until the end of the eighth century, with certain lapses. It started before Ch'an was recognized as a separate school but was most fervently pursued in Ch'an, especially after the division between the Northern and the Southern schools.
The first person in Ch'an who confronted sudden with gradual awakening, was Tao-sheng (ca. 360-434).28) This aroused the opposition of Hui-kuan, who, like Tao-sheng, was also a disciple of Kumarajiva. The debate continued through the fifth century. We will skip over the fine arguments of this debate and pay attention to only one remark, relevant for our inquiry. That is the difference between faith and understanding, in terms of "gradual" and "sudden". One of the arguments in favour of the doctrine of sudden awakening was as follows: "Enlightenment (ming) is not to be gradually reached, whereas faith (hsin) arises (gradually) from instruction. What do I mean by this? Faith arises and is strengthened in daily progress, but enlightenment is not gradual" (The Discussion of Essentials).29)
The fundamental and obvious argument in favour of suddenness is that the awakening is one: non-dual and non-divisible. This would mean that faith-in-mind (hsin-hsin), appearing in stanza 36 as non-dual, is not the same as divisible (and gradual) faith mentioned in this debate (the character hsin is the same). Hsin-hsin Ming mentions neither sudden awakening (tun-wu), nor gradual awakening (chien-wu), which were already in use at the time of Tao-sheng (i.e. three centuries before the supposed time of Hsin-hsin Ming). Its author deemed as unnecessary to specify (in terms of gradual or sudden) complete awakenness (cheng-chüeh), and awakening (wu).
The sixth century was an intermezzo. In the seventh century the debate between the doctrines of gradual and sudden awakening burst with new strength in an encounter between Shen-hsiu and Hui-neng, and in the division of Ch'an (into Northern and Southern sects).
By the end of the eighth century, in 794 A.D., there was also a recorded debate on the international level (held in Tibet), between Kamalasila from India, who was representing the orthodox gradual doctrine, and the exponents of Ch'an from China, who argued in favour of the doctrine of sudden enlightenment.30)
It should be noted that in Hsin-hsin Ming we find altogether two terms related with awakening - cheng-chüeh (stanza 19) and wu (stanza 21). In Chinese Buddhism ming (enlightenment) was used at least from the time of Tao-sheng (c. 400 A.D.), as a synonym for wu. This means that during the Indian history of Buddhism the basic term was "awakening" (Skt. bodhi), and that Chinese Buddhism introduced the term "enlightenment" (ming)31) into Buddhism (one should not be confused with the fact that, for separate reasons, in western writings the term "enlightenment" was used more often - it is more popular - then "awakening"). We also encounter this character (ming) in Hsin-hsin Ming, although not in a noun-sense (enlightenment). In stanza 1 (fourth line) it is used as a verb (enlighten), and in stanza 29 as an attribute (enlightened) - "ming" appearing in the titile of the text is a different character, which means "inscription."
Chüeh means "to awaken," "completely understand", or "awakenness" as a permanent accomplishment, while wu means "awakening". It is obvious that these two were used as technical terms - cheng-chüeh meaning "perfect awakenness" (Skt. sambodhi), and wu, meaning "awakening" (bodhi). Concerning these matters, Garma C.C. Chang remarks that wu "as shown in the Zen tradition, to denote the inner experience of the awakening to the prajna-truth (the truth realized through transcendental wisdom), is not the same as that of cheng-teng-chüeh (Skt. samyaksambodhi), which is the final and perfect Enlightenment of Buddhahood. Ch'an Buddhists seldom talk of cheng-chüeh (sambodhi), or speak of their Ghtan experience as chüueh (bodhi). Although chüueh and wu are very close, a difference still exists between them. Mu refers more to the: awakening experience in its immediate sense, while chüeh denotes permanent and complete Enlightenment (...). However, these experiences are different only in degree of profundity, not in essence, or in basic principle".32)
It is also worth noting that in Hsuan-tsang's doctrine of Mere Ideation (seventh century), in Fa-tsang's Hua-yen, and in T'ien-t'ai we find chüeh rather than wu.33)
In stanza 24 we encounter two important terms--one suchness (i-ju) and conditions (yüan). We have already mentioned the second term, which is also found in stanza 5 with the same meaning (Skt. pratyaya; Pali, paccaya -- root-conditions: greed, hate, delusion, etc.). Concerning suchness, we find altogether three variations of this term in Hsin-hsin Ming. In stanza 4 we find "suchness" (ju), in stanza 24 "one suchness", and in stanza 30 "real suchness" (chen-ju - Skt. bhutatathata). The first and the third are well known in Mahayana tradition, but the second seems to be an innovation of the author of Hsin-hsin Ming.
Stanzas 28-29 can be compared with Seng-chao: "Sage harbours (no desires, his mind is like an) empty hole: there are no perceptions nor thoughts. Indeed, though living in the midst of our ever-changing world, he remains completely detached..."
In the first line of stanza 30 we find two technical terms: real suchness (chen-ju), and thing-realm, or totality of dharmas, fa-chieh (Skt. dharma-dhatu). These concepts have been used in Mahayana, and also in the Mind-only school, T'ien-t'ai, and Hua-yen. In Ch'eng Wei-shih Lun Hsuan-tsang gives the following definitions. "Chen means genuine and real. It indicates that it is not baseless and false. Ju means constantly thus. The meaning is that this genuine reality remains, under all conditions, constantly thus in its nature".35)
The T'ien-t'ai school gives a slightly different meaning: "Further as to chen-ju: it is that of all things which, being genuinely and really thus, consists of the single mind only. This single mind is therefore called chen-ju (genuinely thus). Anything external to it is neither genuine nor thus,: but consists only of false and: diverse appearances".36)
In stanza 30 and the first two lines of stanza 31, we find the relation between real suchness (chen-ju), non-duality (pu-erh), equality (t'ung),37) and totality (nothing is left out) of the thing (dharma) realm (fa chieh). The connecting experience between the "meditative" (dhyana) and "wisdom" (prajna) aspects is the negation of the difference between "other" (t'a) and "self" (tzu). In meditation this is the experience of non-obstruction between ego and non-ego, when "all is free of marks" - and therefore, "not-different" (in a Buddhist context it would not be consistent to say that the ego has become all-inclusive with the falling off of the ego boundaries, because ego is also without marks). In the "wisdom" sense this means that in real suchness it is not possible to make any distinction -therefore, the realm of things (fa chieh), where nothing is left out, is experienced as non-distinctive totality, or oneness. This can remind someone of postmodern debate on "difference", and "other", but this is a different context, and should not be meddled with postmodern debate.
Stanza 32 expands (makes explicit) this experience with interpenetration (and transcendence) of time (urgent, moment, aeon) and space dimensions (extensive, here, there, nowhere, everywhere). This has also been explained by Fa-tsang in Hua-yen Yi-hai Pai-men: "Since a single moment has no substance of its own it becomes interchangeable with the great aeons. Because the great aeons have no substance they also embrace the single moment".38)
Non-duality (pu-erh) deserves separate comment. We find it in several stanzas (30, 31 and 36). It is also related to oneness (i-chung--one kind), in stanzas 5, 6 and 7. Non-duality (Skt. advaya, advaita) was the favorite principle in many schools of Indian philosophy, including Buddhism. In Buddhism this has been exposed in various texts, mostly of Mahayanic origin.
In Ashtasahasrika-prajnaparamita (Ch. XN7I) it is said that the "suchness of the Tathagata and of all dharmas is one suchness, non-dual (advaya), not divided (advaidhikara)".
In Abhisamayalamkara (Ch. VII) we find the: "momentary intuition of non-duality". The commentary says: "This form of momentary intuition represents the state when the bodhisattva, having during a long period of time made it his habit to negate the double aspect of the elements (as subjective and objective), has this double representation completely removed".39)
In Gandavyuha, when Sudhana reaches Maitreya, he is introduced to a dwelling place of those who delight in emptiness and in experiencing: the interpenetration of all the ages of the universe; the entrance (anupravesa) of one into all, and all into one; the non-obstruction (anavarana) of all phenomena; the non-duality (advaya) of all Buddhas.
At the climax of Vimalikirtinirdesa-sutra, thirty-two bodhisattvas
explain in words the principle of non-duality, each one setting forth the
solution of a pair of opposites ("coming" and "going",
purity and impurity, samsara and nirvana). Finaly, Manjusri states that
non-duality can be entered only by abstaining from words and thoughts,
and the same advice is given in Hsin-hsin Ming, in stanza 8..
Stanza 33 extends the principle of non-duality to large and small. On this subject Fa-tsang says in Hua-yen Huan-yüan Kuan: "When we see, for example, the height and width of a mountain, it is mind that manifests this largeness; there is no largeness apart (from mind). Or when we see the utter tinynes of a particle of matter (guna), here again it is mind that manifests this tinyness..." 40)
With regards to influences between Hua-yen and Ch'an, Suzuki has long
ago remarked: "While scholars of the Avatamsaka school (Hua-yen, D.P.)
were making use of the intuitions of Zen in their own way, the Zen masters
were drawn towards the philosophy of Identity and Interpenetration, advocated
by the Avatamsaka, and attempted to incorporate it into their own discourses.
(...) The influence of Avatamsaka philosophy on Zen masters grew more and
more pronounced as time went on, and reached its climax in the tenth century
after the passing of Tsung-mi,
the fifth patriarch of the Avatamsaka school in China".41)
In Hsin-hsin Ming we can also find traces of this syncretism, especially in the last seven stanzas. The relationship between Hua-yen and Ch'an has been sensed by contemporary authors like Gimello, who remarks: "One frequently encounters in Hua-yen thought difficult issues which might better be understood if only one knew their true relationship to meditative cultivation".42) The same remark stands for many stanzas in the Hsin-hsin Ming. In our opinion, the following stanzas are especially related to meditative cultivation: 6, 8, 10, 12; 13, 19, 21, 24, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30, 33, 35.
In Ta-ch'eng Chih-kuan Fa-men of the T'ien-t'ai school we can find similar ideas on large and small as in stanza 33. "The mind, being single, has neither largeness nor smallness. The hair-pore and the city both embody the single total mind as their substance. From this we should realize that the hair-pore and the city are integrated in substance and everywhere the same. For this reason the small admits of the large; thus there is nothing large that is not small. The large integrates the small: thus there is nothing small that is not large. Because there is nothing small that is not large, the large may enter the small, yet is not diminished. Because there is nothing large that is not small, the small may contain the large, yet is not increased".43)
However, the idea of relativity of small and large has been introduced
to the context of Chinese philosophy some thousand years before, by Chuang-tzu
and Hui-shih. Chuang-tzu (in ch. XVII, "Autumn Floods") observes
that "From the
point of view of differences, if we regard a thing as big because there is a bigness to it, then among all the ten thousand things there are none that are not big. If we regard a thing as small because there is a certain smallness to it, then among the ten thousand things there are none that are not small".44)
The other concept that connects Hsin-hsin Ming and Chuang-tzu is equality (t'ung). Chuang-tzu speaks of equality of things in ch. II: "Whether you point to a little stalk or a great pillar, a leper or the beautiful Hsi-shih, things ribald and shady, or things grotesque and strange, the Way makes them all into one. Their dividedness is their completeness, their completeness is their impairment. No thing is either complete or impaired, but all are made into one again".45) And then he adds: "There is nothing in the world bigger than the tip of an autumn hair, and Mount T'ai is tiny. No one has lived longer than a dead child, and P'eng-tsu died young".46)
Nevertheless, we should note the difference between Chuang-tzu and Hsin-hsin Ming. For Chuang-tzu everything is equal, because: (a) tao is the equalizer of everything, and (b) everything is appropriate in relation to its kind, environment and context. In Hsin-hsin Ming everything is equal because of emptiness and suchness.
In stanzas 34 and 35 Hsin-hsin Ming exposes the interpenetration of being (yu ) and non-being (wu),47) of one (i ) and all (i-chien).
With stanza 36 the discourse is brought to the end, because the subject is pronounced as beyond time (past, present, or future).
1. Leng-chia Shih-tzu Chi is one of the Tun Huang manuscripts (Pelliot 3436, and Stein 2054). It was discovered in 1926, and later included in Taisho, 85. 1283-1290. Seizan Yanagida has published a critically edited version with a Japanese translation in Shoki no Zenshi I, Zen no Goroku, 2 (Tokyo, 1971) pp. 49-326.
2. H. Ui, Zenshushi Kenkyu, I (Tokyo, 1939), p. 71.
3. Keiji Nishitani and Seizan Yanagida, Zenke Goroku, II (Tokyo: Chikoma Shob5, 1974), pp. 105-112.
4. David W. Chappell, "The Teachings of the Fourth Ch'an Patriarch Tao hsin (580-651)", in Early Ch'an in China and Tibet ed. by W. Lai and L.R Lancaster (Berkeley: Berkeley Buddhist Studies Series, 1983), p. 89.
5. Heinrich Dumoulin, A History of Zen Buddhism (London: Faber and Faber, 1963). p. 76.
6. Wing-tsit Chan, A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1972), p. XI.
7. William W. Soothill and Lewis Hodous, A Dictionary of Chinese Buddhist Terms (Delhi: M. Banarsidass, 1977). First edition: London, 1937.
8. To our knowledge, there already exist five translations of the Hsin-hsin
Ming in English. The first translator, D. T. Suzuki, has published
two versions of his translation--one in D.T. Suzuki, Essays in Zen Buddhism,
First series (London: Rider, 1970), pp. 196-201, and the other in Buddhist
Scrptures, trans. and ed. by Edward Conze (Harmondsworth: Penguin,
1969), pp. 171-175. His first translation was published in 1949. The second
translation was done by A. Waley, in Buddhist Texts Through the Ages
(Oxford: Bruno Cassirer, 1954), pp. 295-8. The third is by RH. Blyth,
Zen and Zen Classics, Vol. I, (Tokyo: The Hokuseido Press, 1960),
pp. 5~99. The fourth is by Lu K'uan Yu, Practical Buddhism (London:
Rider, 1971), pp. 34-8. The fifth, anonymous translation, can be found
in a manual, Daily Chants (Rochester: Zen Center, 1985).
At first it seemed that we could use one of these as the basis for a new analysis of the poem, but after closer scrutiny it was obvious that none of the existing translations were adequate for the purpose. The fifth translation is a rather free rendering made for immediate purposes in a Zen Centre. Of the other four, some are inconsistent in translating Buddhist technical terms (translations by Blyth and Yu, while Suzuki's translation occasionally introduces terms which seem to be part of a technical vocabulary (Absolute Reason), but actually belong to Hegelian philosophy, rather than Chinese Buddhism. Waley's translation is faithful except in technical terms. Perhaps he lacked the knowledge of Buddhist tradition and therefore translated technical terms as quasi-technical (in stanza 19, True Perception, instead of perfect awakeness; in stanza 21, Wisdom instead of awakening).
9. Buddhist Scriptures, pp. 171-5.
10. Essays in Zen Buddhism, r, p. 197.
11. K N. Jayatilleke, Early Buddhist Theory of Knowledge (London: Allen and Unwin, 1963), p. 389.
12. Zen Dawn, Early Texts from Tun Huang; trans. by J.C. Cleary (Boston and London: Shambhala, 1986), p. 81.
13. Blyth, Zen, 1, p. 53.
14. Chu is a technical term for grasping, clinging or attachment; which is understood as a more intensive form of thirst, or craving (Skt. tanha).
15. Po Shan, in Garma C.C. Chang, The Practice of Zen (New York: Harper and Row, 1970), p. 95.
16. Jan Yun-hua, "Seng-ch'ou Method of Dhyana", in Early Ch'an in China and Tibet, Lai and Lancaster, eds. p.57.
17. D.T. Suzuki, Outlines of Mahayana Buddhism (New York: Schoken, 1970), p. 70.
18. The Surangama Sutra, trans. by Lu K'uan Yu (London: Rider, 1969), p. 54 and 125.
19. Chan, A Source Book, p. 403.
20. Ta-ch'eng ch'i-hsin, Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana, trans. by D.T. Suzuki, "Chicago: OpenCourt, 1900).
21. In the second line of stanza 17 we also find the character chu, which is a technical term for stages (Skt. bhumi) on the bodhisattva path. If we read it in this sense it would mean that the essence is not related to stages, and that is in accordance with the concept of awakening which refutes stages. However, since Hsin-hsin Ming gives no special attention to sudden awakening, we have chosen a colloquial reading to abide, dwell. Blyth (Zen p. 79) has misunderstood the second line of stanza 17, translating t'i as activity.
22. One vehicle has an interesting history in Indian Mahayana, which
has been lately exposed by D.S. Ruegg in "The gotra, ekayaina and
tathagatagarbha theories of the Prajnaparamita according to Dharmamitra
and Abhyakaragupta", and A. Kunst in "Some Aspects of the Ekayana"
- both papers published in Prajnaparamita and Related Systems, ed.
by L. Lancaster (Berkeley Buddhist Studies Series), 1977.
In various Mahayana~texts the subject of One vehicle is interpreted differently. In Sri-Mala (The Lion's Roar of Queen Srimala), trans. by Wayman, A. and H., (New York: Columbia University Press, 1974), and the Lotus sutra, Ekayana is identified with Mahayana as a vehicle (yana) that incorporates all vehicles. It also takes tathagatagarbha as an explanation for the thesis of One vehicle: an embryo of the Tathagata is present in every sentient being, and (potentially) they are all Buddhas, which means that tathagatagarbha is the basis of only one vehicle--the vehicle of the tathagatas. Finally, samyaksambodhi is one, not various, or different, in relation to various vehicles - yana-s.
The gist of the interpretation in various sutras or their commentaries is that the three yanas, pertaining to sravakas, pratyekabuddhas and bodhisattvas is fundamentally Eka-yana pertaining to Buddhahood. The basis for this is that all-aspiring Buddhists are of one gotra (lineage), and all have tathagatagarbha (embryo of tathagatha). "No system postulating (different) vehicles indeed exists (in a certain meaning): I teach that the vehicle is one (ultimately). [But] in order to attract the childish I speak of different vehicles" (Larnkavatara-sutra, cf. Ruegg, in Lancaster, Prajnaparamita, p. 295).
One vehicle doctrine in the context of Japanese Buddhist thought was reviewed by M. Kiyota, "The presupposition to the understanding of Japanese Buddhist thought", Monumenta Nipponica vol. X~11, no. 34 pp. 251-9, 1967.
23. Fung Yu-Lan, A History of Chinese Philosophy, 11 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983), p. 347; Chan, A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy, p. 410; Chang, The Practice of Zen, p. 227.
24. Surangama, p. 1l7.
25. For John R McRae, Hsin-ming is falsely attributed to Fa-jung. See his article, "The Ox-head School of Chinese Ch'an Buddhism", eds., R. N. Gimello and P.N. Gregory, Studies in Ch'an and Hua-yen (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1986), p. 208. On the other hand, Henrik H. Sorensen, commenting on the authorship and contents of the Hsin-ming, says: "All in all, we must conclude that there are a number of important points such as style, and contents which clearly allow us to associate the text with Fa-jung and the Niu-t'ou School... Interestingly, the 'Hsin-hsin Ming'... has many points in common with the 'Hsin-ming', both as regards contents and style", H.H. Sorensen, "The 'Hsin-ming' attributed to Niu-t'ou Fa-jung", Journal of Chinese Philosophy, 13: 105 (1986).
26. Sorensen, "The Hsin-ming' attributed to Niu-t'ou Fa-jung", p. 106.
27. We know that Indian Buddhism has elaborated a broad spectrum of
ideas on these matters. We find altogether some six Sanskrit terms related
to this subject.
(a) Bodhi-citta designates the cognition of the necessity to step on the path (marga) and the decision/will to tread it. It is the power needed to tread the path, whether it is defined in terms of an arhat or a bodhisattva. However, these are supposed to differ--the first one is bent on attaining an awakening for himself, while the other is supposed to attain it in order to lead others to the path, and awakening.
(b) Bodhi is awakening. It means the full understanding (what was previously an aspiration) of the Buddhist truths (whether in Theravada, Mahayana or Tantrayana tradition), inner transformation of cognitive, emotional and volitional faculties, and a transition to unconditioned (not bound by karma) existence. It is sometimes described as "reaching the other shore", or "turning about in the deepest seat of consciousness", or "breaking through" the bondage of ignorance and karma. Bodhi is derived from the root budh, which means to awake; therefore it is correct to translate it as awakening, and less correct as enlightenment. However, light is related with awakening in some sutras and tantras, principally in two forms. First is the light of the all-powerful! Buddha, which enlightens and awakes sentient beings. Second is the individual, inner light of the mind. Under delusion it appears as false thinking, but after awakening it turns into the true light, radiant wisdom.
(c) Sambodhi (supposedly) means complete awakening.
(d) Samyak-sambodhi is "right complete awakening".
(e) Anuttara-samyak-sambodh is "ultimate right complete awakening".
However, these terms were not used consistently. For example, (b) and (c) were sometimes used as synonyms, as well as (d) and (e). Perhaps we can better understand this from the point of actual practice of meditation. There existed a practical need for terms which would designate experiences of various quality. Besides, it was supposed that the awakening of a Buddha is somewhat different in relation to the awakening of aspirants (Arahants, Bodhisattvas). For example, samyak-sambodhi (Pali, samma-sambodhi) was in Theravada a designation for the awakening of a Buddha; later it was anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. In Mahayana there was a tendency to use different terms for awakening of a Sravaka, Pratyekabuddha, Bodhisattva and Buddha, in order to underline the supposed difference in kind and quality.
However, divisions of the path, meditation, insight and of awakening, provoked a reaction, which derived its reasons partly from theory, and partly from practice. From the theoretical standpoint it was considered that awakening - after all - must be "in one piece", apart from the preceding "not yet complete" forms; otherwise, it would fall under ordinary undertakings, which are conditioned, relative, and a matter of accumulation. From the practical point it seemed that the practicing Buddhist is lost in a complex maze of an endless accumulation of merits, insights, wisdoms, samadhis and awakenings. One could expect a reaction to this in order to put things back in pristine simplicity and proclaim that there is, after all, an only One vehicle (Eka-yana), one germ of the thus-come (tathagata-garbha), one nirvana, and one awakening, which is spontaneous, instant and sudden. As Lankavatara puts it: "It is reached suddenly and intuitively as the 'turning about' in the deepest seat of consciousness; it neither enters, nor goes out--it is like moon seen in water".
Thus, sudden awakening, that caused so much turbulence in Ch'an, was already at stake in Indian Buddhism (see: L.O. Gomez, "Indian Materials on the Doctrine of Sudden Enlightenment," in Lai and Lancaster, Early Ch'an in China awl Tibet). The Sanskrit term, introduced in Abhisamayalamkara, was eka-ksana-abhisambodha - "complete-awakening-in-one-moment", a final removal of even the subtlest defilement and ignorance, attained in a thunderbolt-like (vajropama) samadhi (E. Obermiller, "The Doctrine of Prajnaparamita as Exposed in the Abhisamayalamkara of Maitreya", Acta Orientalia, XI, 1933, p. 44). This momentary intuition is said to be the end of the bodhisattva path. It is an intuition of ultimate non-duality (advaya). It is supposed to be the end of a progressive (gradual) process of intuition (anupurva-abhisamaya). In such a context "gradualness" and "suddenness" were not concurrent, but compatible parts of the same (and one) process. The final realization is a matter of moment, but this moment and suddenness have to be prepared through a gradual building up. This can be seen even in Ch'an of the Southern school. Sometimes, decades of training were necessary for "sudden attainment", and integrating t'i (essence) with yung (function) - which followed "sudden attainment" in everyday life and experience - was (for the most part) a gradual process.
28. That is one of the reasons for Fung Yu-Lan to say: "Ideologically speaking, the origin of the Ch'an school goes back to Tao-sheng" - A History of Chnese Philosophy, II, 388.
29. Compare the translation of this passage from Pieh Tsung Lun in Walter Liebenthal, The Book of Chao - Peking: The Catholic University 1948 p. 187; also, Fung Yu-Lan, A History of Chinese Philosophy, II, p. 278.
30. L.O. Gomez, "Indian Materials on the Doctrine of Sudden Enlightenment", pp. 393-405.
31. This character (ming) has a long history in Chinese philosophy. It was introduced back at the time of Lao tzu: "All things, howsoever they flourish, return to their root. This return to the root is called quiescence, which is called the invariable. To know this invariable is called enlightenment (ming)" - Tao Te Ching, XVI.
32. Chang, The Practice of Zen, p. 162-3.
33. See Fung Yu-Lan, A History of Chinese Philosophy, II, pp. 337, 356 and 381. In time, Chinese Buddhism developed the whole specter of technical equivalents for Sanskrit terms (either in meaning, or as transliterations). For example, for bodhi, beside wu, and chüeh, we find a transliteration p'u-t'i. For sambodhi, beside cheng-chüeh, we find a transliteration san-p'u-t'i. For samyak-sambodhi we find teng cheng-chüeh, and for anuttara-samyak-sambodhi, there is cheng-teng cheng-chüeh.
34. The Book of Chao, p. 109.
35. Fung yu-Lan, A History of Chnese Philosophy, II, p. 331.
36. Ibid. p. 361.
37. Equality, or sameness (t'ung - Skt. samata), of all things is one of the favorite subjects in Hsin-hsin Ming. Some authors observed that equality of things was attained in Indian Buddhism primarily by reducing all things to the common level of insignificance, and in Hua-yen by raising all things to the common level of supreme value. We cannot say that Hsin-hsin Ming applies either of these standpoints. In stanza 14 we see that dualities are equal on the basis of emptiness, which is their common "ground". In stanzas 30-31 equality is based on suchness and non-duality. In stanza 33 equality appears when boundaries and limits are seen as conventions. Thus, equality is here neither equality in insignificance, nor in value.
38. Garma C.C. Chang, The Buddhist Teaching of Totality (London: Allen and Unwin, 1972), p. 160.
39. Obermiller, "The Doctrine of Prajnaparamita as Exposed in the Abbisamayalamkara of Maitreya", p. 83.
40. Fung Yu-Lan, A History of Chinese Philosophy, II, p. 348.
41. Suzuki, Essays in Zen Buddhism, Third Series, pp. 19-20.
42. R. M. Gimmello, "Early Hua-yen, Meditation, and Early Ch'an: Some Preliminary Remarks", Early Ch'an in China and Tibet, p. 155.
43. Fung Yu-Lan, A History of Chinese Philosophy, II, p. 372.
44. The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu, trans. by Burton Watson (New York: Columbia University Press, 1968),
45. Ibid. pp. 40-1.
46. Ibid. p. 43
47. Compare Hsin-ming: "If one puts an end to the two extremes (of being and not being), then one will be both bright and clear" (Sorensen, "The 'Hsin-ming'...", p. 107).