Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Moheyan: Timeline and Timeless Zen Teaching

“There is evidence of human habitation in the Dunhuang area as early as 2,000 BC, possibly by people recorded as the Qiang in Chinese history.” ~Wikipedia

To set the stage: Dunhuang, Mogao Caves. Caves of the Thousand Buddhas. The first one is dug out in 366. Thereabouts. For Buddhist meditation and worship.

A Chan monk, Moheyan (Wade-Giles: Mo-ho-yen) travels to Dunhuang, once and future part of China but for the time being part of Tibet, in 781 or 787, to spread the Dharma. He has been schooled in East Mountain Teaching by what are now called Northern School teachers, which is not, despite belief, a gradual teaching.

In 793, the Council of Lhasa Debate between Moheyan and an Indian monk named Kamalasila takes place, although it actually took place in a monastery at Samye (where Moheyan was now situated). After the debate, which may or may not have even taken place, King Trisong Detsen of Tibet declares for Indian gradualism over Chinese subitism. Or maybe he did, and then again, maybe not.

Dunhuang, because it was not part of China at the time, escapes the Great Anti-Buddhist Persecution initiated by Tang Emperor Wuzong in 845 CE. For our timeline, this turns out to be a key exemption. Nothing is destroyed.

Tenth or Eleventh century. For some reason, an abundance of Buddhist manuscripts, some of which are Chan-related, transcribed in either Chinese or Tibetan script, are sealed up in one of the caves, and forgotten until…

June 25, 1900: documents are discovered in a sealed cave, Cave 17, to be known as the Library Cave, by the Daoist monk, Wang Yuanlu.

1907: Aurel Stein purchases a selected assortment and takes them back to England. Months later, Paul Perriot, in a similar fashion, buys and transports a number back to France.

1983. One of the documents, coded S-468, revealing Moheyan’s teaching, is translated by Luis Gomez and published in Studies in Ch'an and Hua-Yen, along with other Dunhuang texts, which, Gomez speculates, partially comprise a work entitled Gate of Immediate Access to Meditation.

2013: merely copying a portion of the first section of said work here:


from Gate of Immediate Access to Meditation
(Stein 468:1 "The Sudden Path.")


1.1. The cause of transmigration.

The root of the wheel of birth and death in the world is the discriminating mind. Why is this? The discriminating mind arises from habitual tendencies [that have grown since] beginningless time. Because of this, one perceives [everything] in accordance with the [conceptualizations] that arise [in the mind], and one acts in accordance with that perception, producing fruits that agree with such actions. Therefore, from the highest Buddha down to the lowest hell, one perceives only what is magically generated by one's own discriminating mind. [On the other hand], if the [discriminating] mind does not arise, one cannot find even an atom of a dharma [on which to settle].


1.2. Sitting in meditation.

A person who understands that this is so should give up other activities, sit alone in a place that is isolated and free from noise, cross his legs and keep his back straight, without sleeping morning or evening.


1.3. No-mind.

When he enters a state of deep contemplation he looks into his own mind. There being no-mind he does not engage in thought. If thoughts of discrimination arise, he should become aware of them.


1.4. Practice of no-mind: no-examination.

How should one practice this awareness? Whatever thoughts arise, one does not examine [to see] whether they have arisen or not, whether they exist or not, whether they are good or bad, afflicted or purified. He does not examine any dharma whatsoever.


1.5. The "path of dharma.”

If he becomes aware in this way of the arising [of thoughts, he perceives] the absence of self-existence.This is called "The Conduct of the Path of Dharma."


1.6. Erroneous meditation.

If one fails to have this awareness of the arising of thoughts, or if the awareness is incorrect, one will act accordingly, cultivate meditation in vain (or, cultivate an inexistent object!), and remain as a common man.


1.7. Conceptualizations.

When a person who cultivates meditation for the first time looks into the mind, there arise conceptualizations. To this one should apply the same principles as above.


1.8. Awareness.

After sitting [in this manner] for a long time, the mind will become tame, and one will realize that his awareness is also discriminating mind. How does this occur? It is comparable to becoming blemished by bodily actions, it is only on account of the blemish that one knows that one is blemished. In the same way, one has an awareness due to the blemished of the arising of thoughts. It is on account of this [arising] that we know that we have an awareness.


1.9. Awareness is to be abandoned too.

Awareness itself is without name or form, one cannot see the place whence it originally came, nor can one discern whither it will finally go. The awareness and place where it occurs cannot be obtained by any search. There is no way of reflecting on the inconceivable. Not to cling even to this absence of thought is [the immediate access of] the Tathagatas.


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