Zongmi on Chan

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Nicholas Weeks
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Zongmi on Chan

Post by Nicholas Weeks » Mon Mar 14, 2016 5:14 pm

I have the book & am now am dipping into it - excellent it is!

I would like a PDF, yet those range from $44-$60 - just for PDFs -- too much for me.

If anyone has a PDF of Broughton's book and is willing to share, PM me please.
The greatest homage we can pay to truth is to use it. -- Emerson

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Re: Zongmi on Chan

Post by Nicholas Weeks » Tue Mar 15, 2016 4:15 pm

Never mind the PDF, my printed book is adequate.
The greatest homage we can pay to truth is to use it. -- Emerson

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Re: Zongmi on Chan

Post by Anonymous X » Tue Mar 14, 2017 5:04 pm

Nicholas Weeks wrote:I have the book & am now am dipping into it - excellent it is!

I would like a PDF, yet those range from $44-$60 - just for PDFs -- too much for me.

If anyone has a PDF of Broughton's book and is willing to share, PM me please.
Indeed, this is a very good read. I don't recall anything like it.

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Re: Zongmi on Chan

Post by Anonymous X » Thu Mar 16, 2017 9:03 am

I never studied Chan teachings in a comparative way as Zongmi does in his letters with Pei Xiu. Zongmi's profound insight into the nature of mind and how the other Chan schools elaborate this in comparison with his view hits me squarely with profound force as far as his view of awakening goes. But the other part of commenting on the other schools as he does, could have a political implication that some academics might run with and accuse Zongmi of 'divide and rule' tactics, perhaps for the reason of state funding his school. I'm curious if any posters are familiar with the terrain of Chan at this time and how Zongmi was viewed by the other schools. Was he considered a supreme master, a manipulator, or both, maybe?

Astus, what say you? You seem to be broadly familiar with many of these schools and teachings.

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Re: Zongmi on Chan

Post by Astus » Thu Mar 16, 2017 9:09 pm

Anonymous X wrote:But the other part of commenting on the other schools as he does, could have a political implication that some academics might run with and accuse Zongmi of 'divide and rule' tactics, perhaps for the reason of state funding his school.
Zongmi at the time of writing those works on the Chan schools was a teacher living in Chang'an as an honoured master invited by the emperor. It seems he had no monastery or school to get sponsors for. so there appears to be no economical or political reasons behind his presentation of other groups.
Was he considered a supreme master, a manipulator, or both, maybe?
He was considered a great teacher, a sophisticated and erudite monastic.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: Zongmi on Chan

Post by Anonymous X » Fri Mar 17, 2017 5:24 am

Astus wrote:
Anonymous X wrote:But the other part of commenting on the other schools as he does, could have a political implication that some academics might run with and accuse Zongmi of 'divide and rule' tactics, perhaps for the reason of state funding his school.
Zongmi at the time of writing those works on the Chan schools was a teacher living in Chang'an as an honoured master invited by the emperor. It seems he had no monastery or school to get sponsors for. so there appears to be no economical or political reasons behind his presentation of other groups.
According to the biographical sketch at the beginning of 'Zongmi On Chan', he took up residence at Caotang monastery before 828 and his honoring came during the production of his great works which are dated to the 828 period. According to Broughton, 'Zongmi's major Chan works took shape during this phase of his career, and the timing is significant since it suggests that these works were in some way connected to the influential elite of the capital and court. He was broadcasting Chan to a very metropolitan audience.'

He was given great importance and honors until 835, when he was implicated in a failed attempt to oust the eunuchs from power. He was exonerated and passed his last years in obscurity, until his passing in 841.

Zongmi's influence at the height of his career seemed to be very great, especially in the sphere of power amongst the elite of Chang'an. Personally, I find no reason to think his influence was in part motivated by funding for his monastery and 'school of Heze'. But, I can see how some might conclude this. His phenomenal ability to get straight to the 'heart of the matter' concerning dharma and his exposition of view and praxis is really unrivaled. A great jewel to be treasured.

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Re: Zongmi on Chan

Post by Temicco » Mon Apr 03, 2017 7:59 am

Astus wrote: He was considered a great teacher, a sophisticated and erudite monastic.
By who? He seems to have been invisible to the bulk of the Southern lineage teachers, being referenced mainly in Korean Zen lit.
"It is just a matter of never letting there be even a moment's interruption in your awareness of your real nature."
--Yuanwu Keqin

"As long as you let go and entrust with belief, your daily life itself can be meditation."
--Daehaeng Kun Sunim

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Re: Zongmi on Chan

Post by Astus » Mon Apr 03, 2017 8:58 am

Temicco wrote:By who? He seems to have been invisible to the bulk of the Southern lineage teachers, being referenced mainly in Korean Zen lit.
He is considered the fifth patriarch of Huayan, and that in itself should be sufficient. He is also the primary commentator of the Perfect Enlightenment Sutra. His most outstanding spiritual heir was Yongming Yanshou, whose works have also been quite influential all over East Asia. As for his marginal role in Song era Chan compilations - on which I assume you base Zongmi's invisibility - that comes from the sectarian nature of such writings, but even in those books they did list him.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: Zongmi on Chan

Post by Temicco » Mon Apr 03, 2017 4:50 pm

Astus wrote:
Temicco wrote:By who? He seems to have been invisible to the bulk of the Southern lineage teachers, being referenced mainly in Korean Zen lit.
He is considered the fifth patriarch of Huayan, and that in itself should be sufficient. He is also the primary commentator of the Perfect Enlightenment Sutra. His most outstanding spiritual heir was Yongming Yanshou, whose works have also been quite influential all over East Asia. As for his marginal role in Song era Chan compilations - on which I assume you base Zongmi's invisibility - that comes from the sectarian nature of such writings, but even in those books they did list him.
In any event, his own authority as a Zen teacher is nil outside of certain circles. I don't mean the Jingde Chuandeng lu or anything, even just the primary and secondary writings of other Southern lineage Zen teachers.
"It is just a matter of never letting there be even a moment's interruption in your awareness of your real nature."
--Yuanwu Keqin

"As long as you let go and entrust with belief, your daily life itself can be meditation."
--Daehaeng Kun Sunim

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Re: Zongmi on Chan

Post by Astus » Mon Apr 03, 2017 5:25 pm

Temicco wrote:In any event, his own authority as a Zen teacher is nil outside of certain circles.
What authority do you mean? His works are still studied by Chinese Buddhists, so I don't know what more could one want.
I don't mean the Jingde Chuandeng lu or anything, even just the primary and secondary writings of other Southern lineage Zen teachers.
Could you be more specific? What writings?
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: Zongmi on Chan

Post by Temicco » Mon Apr 03, 2017 6:25 pm

Astus wrote:
Temicco wrote:In any event, his own authority as a Zen teacher is nil outside of certain circles.
What authority do you mean? His works are still studied by Chinese Buddhists, so I don't know what more could one want.
Realized Zen teachers positively discussing him or otherwise referencing his work. Obviously "realized" is valent, so even leaving that bit out, if you list the Zen teachers that do reference him, you get a spotty and non-unanimous picture. Emically, he is only discussed in specific circles. He is completely ignored in many others.
I don't mean the Jingde Chuandeng lu or anything, even just the primary and secondary writings of other Southern lineage Zen teachers.
Could you be more specific? What writings?
Huangbo's lectures, Foyan's writings, Dahui's letters, Hongzhi's CTEF, Wumen's Wumenguan, Yuanwu's letters, Yuanwu's Biyan lu, the majority of the sayings records translated thus far (although that latter set isn't necessarily valuable in a lot of cases, being written late so often). There's probably more I'm forgetting. He was considered relevant or important by exactly none of those teachers.

(On the other side of things, I believe some of Wansong's comments in Congrong lu reference him but I can't access my file of it right now. And I know that Jinul talks about him.)
"It is just a matter of never letting there be even a moment's interruption in your awareness of your real nature."
--Yuanwu Keqin

"As long as you let go and entrust with belief, your daily life itself can be meditation."
--Daehaeng Kun Sunim

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Re: Zongmi on Chan

Post by Astus » Mon Apr 03, 2017 7:43 pm

Temicco wrote:Huangbo's lectures, Foyan's writings, Dahui's letters, Hongzhi's CTEF, Wumen's Wumenguan, Yuanwu's letters, Yuanwu's Biyan lu, the majority of the sayings records translated thus far
Since Huangbo was Zongmi's contemporary, you basically mean Song era texts. The problem with that approach is that the type of Chan that Zongmi and Yongming represented were rejected by the proponents of Song era Linjizong teachers. First good example of that is Shenhui's treatment in the final version of the Platform Sutra where Huineng says to him:

“I told you it was without name or title, but you have called it the fundamental source, the buddha-nature. You’ve just covered your head with thatch. You’ve become a follower with only discriminative understanding.”
(Platform Sutra, ch 8, BDK ed, p 78)

Dahui criticised Zongmi's views (see Morten Schlütter: How Zen Became Zen. p 120-121), but certainly even Dogen has heard of Zongmi (see Eihei Koroku, p237n78, p403-404).
I believe some of Wansong's comments in Congrong lu reference him
Yes, he quotes him as Guifeng five times: case 1 (referring to his Origin of Humanity), case 42, case 45 (from his commentary on the Perfect Enlightenment Sutra), case 56, case 58 (from his commentary on the Diamond Sutra).
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: Zongmi on Chan

Post by Anonymous X » Wed Apr 05, 2017 11:00 am

Temicco wrote:
Astus wrote: He was considered a great teacher, a sophisticated and erudite monastic.
By who? He seems to have been invisible to the bulk of the Southern lineage teachers, being referenced mainly in Korean Zen lit.
Does this disqualify him as someone who has awakened to his own nature? I am quite sure there have been many invisible great ones, many more than the visible ones!

Have you read his works?

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Re: Zongmi on Chan

Post by Temicco » Wed Apr 05, 2017 8:18 pm

Astus wrote:
Temicco wrote:Huangbo's lectures, Foyan's writings, Dahui's letters, Hongzhi's CTEF, Wumen's Wumenguan, Yuanwu's letters, Yuanwu's Biyan lu, the majority of the sayings records translated thus far
Since Huangbo was Zongmi's contemporary, you basically mean Song era texts. The problem with that approach is that the type of Chan that Zongmi and Yongming represented were rejected by the proponents of Song era Linjizong teachers.
Why? Which books might talk about this?
First good example of that is Shenhui's treatment in the final version of the Platform Sutra where Huineng says to him:

“I told you it was without name or title, but you have called it the fundamental source, the buddha-nature. You’ve just covered your head with thatch. You’ve become a follower with only discriminative understanding.”
(Platform Sutra, ch 8, BDK ed, p 78)
Wait, sorry, what's this an example of?
Dahui criticised Zongmi's views (see Morten Schlütter: How Zen Became Zen. p 120-121), but certainly even Dogen has heard of Zongmi (see Eihei Koroku, p237n78, p403-404).
That's true.
Yes, he quotes him as Guifeng five times: case 1 (referring to his Origin of Humanity), case 42, case 45 (from his commentary on the Perfect Enlightenment Sutra), case 56, case 58 (from his commentary on the Diamond Sutra).
Thanks for the references.
Anonymous X wrote:
Temicco wrote:
Astus wrote: He was considered a great teacher, a sophisticated and erudite monastic.
By who? He seems to have been invisible to the bulk of the Southern lineage teachers, being referenced mainly in Korean Zen lit.
Does this disqualify him as someone who has awakened to his own nature? I am quite sure there have been many invisible great ones, many more than the visible ones!
Not at all (when he's taken at face value or in the eyes of other teachers), but for those who are interested in the Linji zong teachings, functionally it could. If he's never referenced as an example of a realized teacher but is instead even dismissed by these teachers, it seems discordant/counterfactual to follow their teachings and his at the same time, or to consider both to be realized.
Have you read his works?
Only sections; overall he's a big gap in my knowledge.
"It is just a matter of never letting there be even a moment's interruption in your awareness of your real nature."
--Yuanwu Keqin

"As long as you let go and entrust with belief, your daily life itself can be meditation."
--Daehaeng Kun Sunim

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Re: Zongmi on Chan

Post by Astus » Wed Apr 05, 2017 9:21 pm

Temicco wrote:Why? Which books might talk about this?
I recommend the works of Albert Welter, most probably Yongming Yanshou's Conception of Chan in the Zongjing Lu touches on the subject of the emerging Linjizong in early Song.
Wait, sorry, what's this an example of?
Zongmi claimed to be a descendant/follower of Shenhui, just as Yongming followed Zongmi's teachings later. They all use a very positive and assertive language for buddha-nature.
for those who are interested in the Linji zong teachings
Are you aware that in the last couple hundred years the Linjizong has been practically synonymous with Chinese Buddhism? I mean, the term means almost nothing outside of the Song and late Ming era sectarian debates.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: Zongmi on Chan

Post by Temicco » Wed Apr 05, 2017 9:36 pm

Astus wrote:I recommend the works of Albert Welter, most probably Yongming Yanshou's Conception of Chan in the Zongjing Lu touches on the subject of the emerging Linjizong in early Song.
Thanks.
Zongmi claimed to be a descendant/follower of Shenhui, just as Yongming followed Zongmi's teachings later. They all use a very positive and assertive language for buddha-nature.
Makes sense, I'll have to do some reading.
Are you aware that in the last couple hundred years the Linjizong has been practically synonymous with Chinese Buddhism? I mean, the term means almost nothing outside of the Song and late Ming era sectarian debates.
If that is the case, and I'm understanding you right, then the Linjizong underwent a marked shift in its attitude towards Zongmi at some point. It wasn't favourable towards him in the Song, so if modern Chinese Buddhists connected to the Linjizong study him, then that is a later development.
"It is just a matter of never letting there be even a moment's interruption in your awareness of your real nature."
--Yuanwu Keqin

"As long as you let go and entrust with belief, your daily life itself can be meditation."
--Daehaeng Kun Sunim

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Re: Zongmi on Chan

Post by Astus » Wed Apr 05, 2017 9:59 pm

Temicco wrote:if modern Chinese Buddhists connected to the Linjizong
What I meant to say that being a member of the "Linji lineage" means virtually nothing in terms of what one studies and practices. For instance, Ven. Hsing Yun is a Linji lineage member, and so is every monastic in Fo Guang Shan, while for all intents and purposes that organisation embraces all "eight schools" and propagates Humanistic Buddhism.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: Zongmi on Chan

Post by Anonymous X » Sun Apr 16, 2017 5:42 am

Temicco wrote:
Anonymous X wrote:
Temicco wrote:
By who? He seems to have been invisible to the bulk of the Southern lineage teachers, being referenced mainly in Korean Zen lit.
Does this disqualify him as someone who has awakened to his own nature? I am quite sure there have been many invisible great ones, many more than the visible ones!
Not at all (when he's taken at face value or in the eyes of other teachers), but for those who are interested in the Linji zong teachings, functionally it could. If he's never referenced as an example of a realized teacher but is instead even dismissed by these teachers, it seems discordant/counterfactual to follow their teachings and his at the same time, or to consider both to be realized.
Have you read his works?
Only sections; overall he's a big gap in my knowledge.
I don't really feel qualified to give an historical accounting of how Chan developed and what lead to the different schools stressing particular aspects of the Teachings, but up until Zongmi, no one that I have come across ventured to explain the position of every major Chan gate of his time. Not only did Zongmi accomplish this in a very erudite way, he brings all of the gates together in a very lucid fashion. All of his criticisms come together when seen from the view of 'nature' of mind, which is also nature of phenomenon. This point is also taken up by Dzogchen.

I can see some readers thinking that Zongmi is merely a first-rate scholar, but that is not my opinion. Because of his focus on the nature of mind, which is Knowing, shows me that he has indeed walked through that gateless gate. No one who has seen this can deny its truth, and in its light, illuminates all gates, all things.

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