Thursday, November 28, 2013

profisee 34 - the space of mind

bare woods
in which the open space is

and every tree
an eye
that sees itself

like black-capped chickadees
zip by

completely unimpeded
in this still and

of natural immaculate

where breath is the wind
and always the one
and only way

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

profisee 33 - born in the unborn

in the phenomenon
of a body

to realize
all phenomena
lies nonsubstantially

within the infinite
space of one's self

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

profisee 32 - thesis of meditational relativity

forget the world
and love the one lost in it

there's no personalizing

all's the same although
your words may differ

a suddenness that gradually

Monday, November 25, 2013

profisee 31 - super efficaciously and expialidocious

let drop the veil
and be the light—
the only effort is
the honest effort
ceasing effort

& rest and watch
the light one is
subdue the world
that efficaciously
thinks you are

Saturday, November 23, 2013

profisee 30 - tekknaware

a finely-tuned device of body-
mind is born to carefully detect
its fundamental birthlessness

awareness so highly aware
as to be one-pointedly aware
of only itself, pure awareness

beneath the clouds you think
you are is the sun one really is
rest in what one is and see

the clouds for what they are—

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

profisee 29 - illumination meditation

ten thousand megaton
…awareness bright

the world is extraordinary
…but i am simply not

abiding within
…the flash of insight

nothing is lost
…so nothing is sought

Monday, November 18, 2013

profisee 28 - the cross stitch of nothing

the silence of all
is as it is

the peace of waking
from a dream

the heart of dawn
in the light of darkness

the clarity of seeing
through the seem

Friday, November 15, 2013

profisee 27 - third eye duet

how can i surrender
to what i am

my eyes see
only myself

one eye is my mother
one eye is my father

one eye doesn't know itself
one eye’s in utter fear
of what it thinks
it knows

learn yourself through one eye
love yourself with the other

as you knowingly
unthink yourself

you view your self
as third eye

nondual and viewless

Thursday, November 14, 2013

profisee 26 - remembering genesis

the personal is a product of memory
but i am not

the world lives
but i am

in the moment without thought
there's only

the genesis godness
zing of total awareness

but the me prefers
an impossible future

made out of an ideal
nonexistent past

the thing about memory is
you forget what you really are

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

profisee 25 - stir real, resting lightning

missing the lightning
i am

in the thunder of what
i'm not

love is not
the bond between

the personal
but the personal

the cruel coagulant
in love

stir your real
self up

follow ultraviolet
listen infrared

stop pumping
a world of irony

and rest in the surge
of the heart

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

profisee 24 - visions of awareness

being completely
aware of being
aware is

is not an end
in itself but merely
direction towards

anything less
than viewless
is evermore

Monday, November 11, 2013

profisee 23 - processing samadhi

there’s now
called love
and the memory of now
called thought

mistaking devices
of memory as consciousness
processing now is
a world of error

dropping out of the error
into the processing
is samadhi
of that i am

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Catalogue of Early Chan Dunhuang Texts and Selections from those of Daoxin and Hongren

Listed here are the earliest texts of Ch’an, using quoted material from Broughton, McRae, and Chappell (see color coding below). Especially of note are the three Records of the Bodhidharma Anthology (1.), “the beginnings of the recorded­ sayings genre of Ch'an literature,” as well as Essentials of Cultivating Mind (4.) and the Tao-hsin section (...Pacifying [or Calming] the Mind) of the Record of the Lanka Masters and Disciples (8.) which contain the wisdom of East Mountain Ch’an (arguably the actual beginnings of Zen) in later compilations of Hongren and Daoxin teachings respectively (i.e. not written by Hongren and Daoxin, but compiled by students later).

Available English translations are underlined. Selections of the Daoxin (Tao-hsin) and Hongren (Hung-jen) texts are included at the end of the post (brief excerpts of the Records of the Bodhidharma Anthology are available from a previous post here).

Blue = Broughton (Bodhidharma Anthology)
Brown = McRae (Seeing Through Zen)
Green = McRae (The Northern School and the Formation of Early Chan Buddhism)
Purple = Chappell (The Teachings of the Fourth Ch'an Patriarch Tao-hsin)
Black = minor aumdada notes

The discovery in the early part of this century of a small, walled-up cave within the Mo-kao Grottoes located outside the oasis town of Tun-huang in Northwest China has led to the retrieval of a lost early Ch’an literature of T’ang Dynasty times (618—907)…

About three hundred Chinese manuscripts relating to Ch’an have so far been discovered in the Tun-huang collections. Many are fragments of scrolls, and we have a number of scrolls bearing the same works. The total number of separate works included in these manuscripts is roughly one hundred, and it is from these one hundred titles that a list of the earliest works must be extracted…

Codicological work by a Japanese scholar outside the field of Zen studies distributes Ch'an manuscripts into three chronological strata:

1. 750-780, a period during which Chinese cultural influence still held sway at the remote oasis center

2. 780s to c. 860, the period of Tibetan occupation of Tun-huang and its aftermath, during which Tun-huang's cultural fabric was severed from that of China

3. the 900s, when Tun-huang was brought once again under Chinese rule by a powerful local Chinese family; sometimes referred to as the Return-to-Righteousness Army period in reference to the victorious local Chinese army; in spite of Tun­huang's being in Chinese hands once again, the cultural link to China proper was not fully restored. 

Here is a list of texts that are found on manuscripts classified as early stratum. With some confidence we can say that these are among the oldest Ch'an books. For each of these texts, with the exception of the Records, I will give a brief description of contents, an edition if available, and an English translation if available. 

1. The three Records of the Bodhidharma Anthology
Of the nine manuscripts containing material from the Bodhidharma Anthology, Ueyama…classifies…portions of Record I and Record II and…a small fragment of Record III as early stratum. He classifies all the others with the exception of Stein Ch. 7159 as middle stratum. Thus, of the seven texts in the anthology, only the Records are to be found on early-stratum manuscripts. This reinforces any claim that the Records are among our earliest Ch' an documents.
See Bodhidharma Anthology translated by Jeremy L. Broughton
Record I contains quite a few colloquial elements… These colloquial forms should alert us. They are the beginnings of a tendency that culminates in Sung Dynasty Ch'an literature, the most conspicuous characteristic of which is the use of colloquial language. Of course, in that literature the colloquial once again solidifies into a literary language… Record I takes the first big step toward breaking into the colloquial range of the recorded-sayings (yu-lu) genre of Ch'an literature; Record II is on the verge of breaking into that range. The vibrancy, the resonance with the spoken word, tells us more about original Ch'an than Tan-lin's elegant, balanced Two Entrances. These texts tell us of the deepening Sinification of Buddhism, in the sense of a move toward a spoken Chinese form of expression and away from the venerable, but artificial, style of the translation and commentarial traditions…”
Record II truly constitutes the beginnings of the recorded­sayings genre of Ch'an literature. There is a direct line from this work to the vast literature of Ch'an recorded sayings, and neglect of Record II has led us to place the beginnings of the recorded-sayings genre much too late in the history of Ch'an literature-usually in the ninth century.

2. Former Worthies Gather at the Mount Shuang-feng Stupa and Each Talks of the Dark Principle (Hsien-te chi yu shuang-feng shan t'a ko t’an hsuan-li)
The successor of these two Records is a rather strange, small text…, a collection of sayings (each with the same introductory verb, yiueh, as Record III) for twelve figures at an imaginary memorial gathering for the “fifth patriarch” Hung-jen at his stupa on Mount Shuang-feng just north of the Yangtze River in Hupeh. It is a very brief recorded-sayings text but lacks any colloquial forms and is designed to provide a particular slant on the genealogy of the embryonic tradition… 
See Bodhidharma Anthology - Appendix B translated by Jeremy L. Broughton

3. Treatise on Perfect Enlightenment (Yuan-ming lun)
NO· 3 was compiled by someone who relied on dhyana practice grounded in the Ta-ch'eng ch'i-hsin lun to realize the perfect teaching (yuan-chiao), as opposed to the gradual and sudden teachings. The perfect teaching is a meditative concentration in which one realizes that everything is equal to space. The opening reflects the opening of the Two Entrances. In place of principle and practice we find the categories of the Ch'i-hsin lun, the two gates of sentient-being mind: Thusness and arising-extinguishing. 
For an edition and translation, see McRae, The Northern School, 18-44 (from the back) and 149-71.
…probably taken from a lecture or lectures by Shen-hsiu or another Northern School figure, perhaps given to introduce a written treatise or commentary…this text is the most comprehensive statement of the teachings of the Northern School.

4. Essentials of Cultivating Mind (Hsiu-hsin yao lun)
NO· 4 is a.recorded-sayings work for Hung-jen of East Mountain. It is composed of two parts, the former consisting of the master's answers to disciples' questions and the latter a collection of the master's statements interspersed with occasional questions and answers. The main motifs are: the metaphor of the sun obscured by clouds; guarding mind (shou-hsin); and two types of meditation practice, one involving the visualization of the sun at an appropriate distance and the other a slow and peaceful ripening of gazing (shu-k'an) until the movements of consciousness disappear. 
For an edition and translation, see McRae, The Northern School, 1-16 (from the back) and 121-32. 
When Hongren's students moved from the provincial community at Huangmei to the imperial center, one of their first steps was to compile a written record of their master's teachings. This was the Treatise on the Essentials of Cultivating the Mind, which includes the straightforward admission that it was compiled not by Hongren himself but by his students, presumably after his demise. Actually, this is the earliest example within the Chan tradition of the composition of texts representing a given master's teachings, that is, of texts that were compiled and edited shortly after the master's death. The Treatise on the Essentials of Cultivating the Mind may have been prepared for use by Faru, who taught at Mount Song for a few years prior to his death in 689; the text was almost certainly known to Shenxiu by about the same time, and it was quoted in other texts during the second decade of the eighth century. 
Although Daoxin is treated in Chan hagiography as Hongren's predecessor, the written teachings attributed to Daoxin only appeared after the text attributed retrospectively to Hongren

5. On Examining Mind (Kuan-hsin lun)
NO· 5 is a work of Hung-jen's disciple Shen-hsiu. It came to be attributed to Bodhidharma and presented as a dialogue between Bodhidharma and Hui-k'o. It opens with a statement on examining mind (kuan-hsin) and the twofold function of mind-pure mind and defiled mind. It gives many metaphorical equivalents: the six bandits are the six consciousnesses; the three realms of Buddhist cosmology are the three poisons of greed, hostility, and stupidity; the three eons of the bodhisattva course are the mind of the three poisons, and so forth. The thrust isthat mere external seeking without internal cultivation is useless. 
For a translated edition, see Zen Dawn by J.C. Cleary

6. Three short treatises attributed to the fifth- to sixth-century figure Seng-ch'ou: Dhyana Master Ch'ou's Idea (Ch'ou ch'an-shih I); Dhyana Master Ch'ou's Medicinal Prescription for Curing the Outflows (Ch'ou ch'an-shih yao-fang liao yu-lou); and Treatise on the Mahayana Mind-Range (Ta-ch'eng hsin-hsing lun)
The first of no. 6 discusses quieting mind (an-hsin) in dialogue format. It seems to echo much in the Records. The second discusses eight medicines, such as one-third ounce of faithfully receiving the Dharma, two-thirds ounce of pure zeal, and so forth. One is to "grind up the above eight flavors with the kindness cutter and pulverize them in the samadhi mortar before processing them with a nonduality silk strainer." The third sets up two types of exertion-the gate of entering principle and the gate of producing function, clearly echoing the Two Entrances. In the functional mode the practitioner behaves and speaks in a manner that does not contravene the ways of the world. This approximates the first two of the four practices. This piece also contains the same sort of Records vocabulary. 
It appears no English translations are available as of yet.

7. Record of the Transmission of the Dharma Treasure (Ch'uanfa-pao chi; datable to sometime after 713)
NO. 7 was compiled by the layman Tu Fei, who had a close relationship with disciples of Shen-hsiu. It records the transmission of Dharma down from Bodhidharma, providing biographical entries for Bodhidharma, Hui-k'o, Seng-ts'an, Tao-hsin, Hung-jen, Fa-ju, and Shen-hsiu. Thus it accords Fa-ju the preeminent position as Hung-jen's successor and makes Shen-hsiu the successor of Fa-ju. It criticizes wall-examining and the four practices as "provisional, one-comer formulations." 
For a…translation, see McRae, The Northern School, 255-69. 
written around the year 712 on behalf of the members of the Northern School. As the earliest extant “transmission of the lamp” text…

8. Record of the Lanka Masters and Disciples (Leng-chia shih-tzu chi; datable to 719-20)
No. 8 was compiled by Ching-chueh, whose main master was Hsuan-tse. It records the transmission of the "lamp of dhyana," which illumines in silence, providing entries for Gunabhadra, Bodhidharma, Hui-k'o, Seng-ts' an, Tao-hsin, Hung-jen, and Shen-hsiu. At the eighth generation it gives the names of four of Shen-hsiu's disciples. Fa-ju is deleted. The most striking innovation here is the inclusion of Gunabhadra, the translator of the four-roll Lankavatara Sutra, as the first patriarch, with Bodhidharma as his successor. It is not just a string of biographical entries, but a virtual compendium of proto-Ch'an lore. It contains say­ings for certain patriarchs, quotes the whole of the Biography and Two Entrances, provides the earliest extant exposition of cross-legged sitting, and so forth. It emphasizes the concrete practice of "pure sitting" (ching-tso). 
For an edition see Zen Dawn translated by J.C. Cleary 
Also see The Teachings of the Fourth Ch'an Patriarch Tao-hsin by David Chappell in Early Chan in China and Tibet 
That is, the genealogical presentation of the Chan transmission was first recorded on paper in the early years of metropolitan Chan activity. The earliest recorded instance of this was in the epitaph for a certain Faru, a student of Hongren's who died in 689 (see p. 35), and by the second decade of the eighth century, the later followers of Hongren had produced two separate texts describing the transmission from Bodhidharma to Shenxiu. These two texts, which I do not discuss individually here, are known to contemporary scholarship as early “transmission of the lamp” histories after the title of the defining text in the genre written several centuries later, the Record of the Transmission of the Lamp [compiled in] the Jingde [period], or Jingde chuandeng lu.8 There are differences of content and emphasis between the two “Northern school” texts, but they both express essentially the same doctrine: that the central teaching of Buddhism was transmitted through a sequence of patriarchs reaching Shenxiu and his disciples. 
[T]he discovery by Hu Shih in 1926 of two Tun-huang manuscripts (one in Paris and the other in London) of the Leng chia shih tz'u chi ["Record of the Masters and Disciples of the Lankavatara," cited hereafter as LCSTC] gave us a reasonably authentic version of Tao-hsin's Ju-tao an-hsin yao fang pien fa men…(cited hereafter as JTFM)…However, the best source for our study of Tao-hsin appears in…the LCSTC complied by Ching-chüeh (683-750?) that Tao-hsin achieves his highest position. Although this text is generally placed in the K'ai-yüan period (712_741), Yanagida and Hu Shih feel it was written by 716 whereas Yin-shun dates it about 720… 
The -LCSTC lists two works written by Tao-hsin: the P'u sa chieh fa and the Ju-tao an-hsin yao fang pien fa men ("The Fundamental Expedient Teachings for Calming the Mind Which Attains Enlightenment," cited as JTFM). Although the P'u sa chieh fa no longer survives, it is the consensus of modern scholars that the lengthy description of Tao-hsin's ideas in the LCSTC is, in fact, the text of Tao-hsin's JTFM.


from Hongren's ...Cultivating Mind
Throughout the canon, the Tathagata preaches extensively about all types of transgression and good fortune, causes and conditions, and rewards and retributions. He also draws upon all the various things of this world, mountains, rivers, the earth, plants, trees, etc. to make innumerable metaphors. He also manifests innumerable supernormal powers and various kinds of transformations. All these are just the Buddha’s way of teaching foolish sentient beings. Since they have various kinds of desires and a myriad of psychological differences, the Tathagata draws them into permanent bliss according to their mental tendencies.

Understand clearly that the Buddha Nature embodied within sentient beings is inherently pure, like a sun underlaid by clouds. By just distinctly maintaining awareness of the True Mind, the clouds of false thoughts will go away, and the sun of wisdom will appear. Why make any further study of knowledge based on the senses, which only leads to the suffering of samsara?

All concepts, as well as affairs of the three periods of time, should be understood according to the metaphor of polishing a mirror: When the dust is gone the Nature naturally becomes manifest. That which is learned by the ignorant mind is completely useless. True learning is that which is learned by the inactive or unconditioned, wu wei mind, which never ceases correct mindfulness. Although this is called “true learning,” ultimately there is nothing to be learned. Why is this?

Because the self and nirvana are both nonsubstantial, they are neither different nor the same. Therefore, the essential principle of the words “nothing to be learned” is true.

One must maintain clear awareness of the True Mind without generating false thoughts or the illusion of personal possession. Therefore, the Nirvana Sutra says: “To understand that the Buddha does not actually preach the Dharma is called having sufficiently listened to the Buddha’s preaching.” Therefore, maintaining awareness of the True Mind is the basic principle of the entire canon…

All the Buddhas of the past, present, and future are generated within one’s own consciousness. When you do not generate false thoughts, the Buddhas are generated within your consciousness. When your illusions of personal possession have been extinguished, the Buddhas are generated within your consciousness. You will only achieve buddhahood by maintaining awareness of the True Mind. Therefore, maintaining awarenss of the mind is the patriarch of the all the Buddhas of  past, present, and future.

If one were to expand upon the four previous topics, how could one ever explain them completely? My only desire is that you discern the fundamental mind for yourselves. Therefore, I sincerely tell you: Make effort! Make effort!

I base my teaching on the Lotus Sutra in which the Buddha says: “I have presented you with a great cart and a treasure of valuables, including bright jewels and wondrous medicines. Even so, you do not take them. What extreme suffering! Alas, alas!” If you can cease generating false thoughts and the illusion of personal possessions, then all the various types of merit will become perfect and complete. Do not try to search outside yourself, which only leads to the suffering of samsara.

Maintain the same state of mind in every moment of thought, in every phase of mental activity. Do not enjoy the present while planting seeds of future suffering; by doing so you only deceive yourself and others and cannot escape from the realm of birth and death.

Make effort! Make effort! Although it may seem futile now, your present efforts constitute the causes for your future enlightenment. Do not let time pass in vain while only wasting energy. The sutra says: “Foolish sentient beings will reside forever in hell as if pleasantly relaxing in a garden. There are no modes of existence worse than their present state.” We sentient beings fit this description. Having no idea how horribly terrifying this world really is, we never have the least intention of leaving! How awful! 
translated by John R. McRae in The Northern School and the Formation of Early Ch’an Buddhism 

from Daoxin's ...Pacifying the Mind
The fundamental teachings of mine are [1] the mind of all the Buddhas is the First Principle, based on the Lankavatara Sutra; and [2] hsing san mei means that the mind which is aware of the Buddha is the Buddha, whereas [the mind which] does false thinking is the ordinary person, based on the Wen shu shuo po jo ching

Every aspect of the mind and body, [even] lifting your foot and putting it down, always is the place of enlightenment. All of your behavior and actions are enlightenment.

The P'u hsien kuan ching says: "The sea of all karmic hindrances totally arises from false thinking (wang hsiang). Those who desire to repent should sit upright and contemplate true reality (shih- hsiang)." This is called Repentence according to the First Principle, which eradicates the mind of the three poisons, the grasping mind, and the conceptualizing mind. If one continuously meditates on Buddha thought after thought, suddenly there will be clarity and serenity, and still further not even an object of thought. The Ta p'in ching says: "No object of thought (wu-suo-nien ) means to be thinking on Buddha (nienfo).

Why is it called wu-suo-nien? It means the mind which is "thinking on Buddha" is called thinking on no object (wu-suo-nien). Apart from mind there is no Buddha at all. Apart from Buddha there is no mind at all. Thinking on Buddha is identical to the thinking mind. To seek the mind means to seek for the Buddha.

Why is this? Consciousness is without form. The Buddha lacks any outer appearance. When you understand this truth, it is identical to calming the mind (an-hsin). If you always are thinking on Buddha, grasping [onto externals] does not arise, [and everything] disappears and is without form, and thinking is impartial without [false] discrimination. To enter into this state, the mind which is thinking on Buddha disappears, and further it is not even necessary to indicate [the mind as Buddha]. When you see this, your mind is none other than the body of the real and true nature of the Tathägata. It is also called the True Dharma; it is also called Buddha Nature; it is also called the Real Nature or Real Ultimate of the various dharmas; it is also called the Pure Land; it is also called enlightenment, the Diamond Samadhi, and original enlightenment; it is also called the realm of nirväna and widsom (prajña). Although the names are innumerable they are all the same One Essence, and do not mean a subject of contemplation nor an object of contemplation.

When the mind is impartial like this, without fail it is made clear and pure and always appears in front of you so that the various conditions are not able to become obstructive. Why is this? Because all these phenomena are the body of the One Dharma of the Tathägata. When one stays in this unified mind, all bondage and illusion spontaneously disappear. Within a single speck of dust are all innumerable realms. Innumerable realms are collected on the tip of a single hair.

Because their original nature is suchness (emptiness), there is not any mutual interference. The Hua yen ching says: "There is one volume of scripture [explaining that] in a single speck of dust one can see the phenomena of 3000 chiliocosms'. As briefly pointed out, it is impossible to exhaust everything when it comes to [describing the methods for] calming the mind (an-hsin). In this, skillfulness comes from the heart…

Neither by [trying to] meditate on the Buddha, nor by [trying to] grab hold of the mind, nor by seeing the mind, nor by analyzing the mind, nor by reflections, nor by discernment, nor by dispersing confusion, but by thorough identification with the natural rhythms of things. Don’t force anything to do. Don’t force anything to stay. Finally abiding in the one sole purity, the mind spontaneously becomes lucid and pure. 
translated by David Chappell in The Teachings of the Fourth Ch'an Patriarch Tao-hsin 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

profisee 22 - the catch_

it is through the body-mind
one comes to know
there is no body-mind

to absolutely know god
is to be god and to be god
is absolutely godless

without a world of thought
love moves
within a world of thought

Friday, November 8, 2013

profisee 21 - love at the starlight lounge

the universe loves that
i am the universe and

the universe only does
what it loves

sentimental love is
to unconditional love

as a spotlight is
to starlight

one angry backhoe is digging
up an empty dream

as ten thousand birds
of paradise are singing

clearly in a single voice
love love


Thursday, November 7, 2013

profisee 20 - do the looking glass

wisdom appears in the world
so the false may be the truth that knows
wisdom never appeared in the world

feel the one
orgasmic big 
bang i-am within

listen to the bliss you are
for only consciousness
really knows

the mirror cleans 
itself as one
is gazing through it

seeing there is no doer—
the means toward realization are
the functioning of realization

that which is aware
of That is
actually That

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

profisee 19 - this person will self-destruct_

never underestimate
the suction of samsara

even the silence of space
gets personal

in the blink of an i

the world is what
one makes of it

mission indivisible:
project love

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

profisee 18 - i.0

hate likes hate and
like likes like

hate hates like and
like hates hate

but love
loves them all—

the world is only
the memory of love

love is now

the new me is
i point oh—

what is thought
to be me is

the curtain behind which is
the reality i am

but in truth there's never a curtain
and nothing behind to be

Monday, November 4, 2013

profisee 17 - wake up reel

it is advisable
that before you die
(at any given moment)

you take this most opportune
limited lifespan
to realize

you are


rather than fiddle
while rome is burning
see that you imagine

yourself as confines
of this world
and that is why

you burn


watch your light
that makes this loud
and epic picture

and know

you are its
dark and silent

Friday, November 1, 2013

Concerning the Treatise on the Transcendence of Cognition or the Ceasing of Notions [Jueguan lun]

"Buddhist scholar, John McRae, attributes this text to the Ox-head School of early Chan. McRae explains that research of the Ox-head School (named after the mountain Mount Niu-t'ou, Ox-head Mountain), has, until recently, been almost entirely devoted to the study of this text, the Chüeh-kuan lun (Jue-guan lun) which was rediscovered through the publication in 1935 of D. T. Suzuki's Shōshitsu issho (Lost Works from Bodhidharma's Cave). In all, there are six extant Dunhuang manuscripts of this text, all of which were published by Suzuki in 1945 and then by the eminent Japanese scholar Yanagida Seizan in 1970. The authorship of the text is in dispute.  McRae notes that the text, which he dates as sometime after 750, has been variously attributed to Shen-hi, Bodhidharma, Niu-t'ou Fa-jung, the legendary figurehead of the Ox-head School or perhaps by someone else later in the Bodhidharma tradition…

The text is an early example of the creativity of early Chan writing. It is structured as a dialogue between master and pupil but is obviously a fictional encounter. Highly structured as it is, it may be, as McRae notes in his essay, The Antecedents of Encounter Dialogue in Chinese Ch'an Buddhism , “intended to model ideal teacher/student interactions and may in fact have resembled to some degree actual exchanges that took place between living meditation masters and practitioners.”  McRae translates the title as Treatise on the Transcendence of Cognition and the two ‘Professor Enlightenment' and ‘Conditionality'…The Ceasing of Notions…is [the title] translated by Venerable Myokyo-ni (Irmgard Schloegl, 1921–2007) and Michelle Bromley from earlier versions in German, English and Japanese (but notably, not Chinese).

The master in the text tries to lead the student from his notions of delusions and clinging, seeing everything in a dual way, to a true understanding of Chan. Master Nyuri constantly points to the student's errors in seeing things as a duality and not recognizing the emptiness in all things, including his questions. Throughout the dialogue, the student fails to understand the master's teaching until the very end when he becomes ‘enlightened', “finally breaking through to the pure, non-discriminating illumination of śūnyatā”."


Professor Enlightenment was silent and said nothing. Conditionality then arose suddenly and asked Professor Enlightenment: "What is the mind? What is it to pacify the mind (anxin)?"

[The master] answered: "You should not posit a mind, nor should you attempt to pacify it-this is called 'pacified.'"

Question: "If there is no mind, how can one cultivate enlightenment (tao)?"

Answer: "Enlightenment is not a thought of the mind, so how could it occur in the mind?"

Question: "If it is not thought of by the mind, how should it be thought of?"

Answer: "If there are thoughts then there is mind, and for there to be mind is contrary to enlightenment. If there is no thought (wunian) then there is no mind(wuxin), and for there to be no mind is true enlightenment." ...

Question: "What 'things' are there in no-mind?"

Answer: "No-mind is without 'things.' The absence of things is the Naturally True. The Naturally True is the Great Enlightenment (ta-tao)."...

Question: "What should I do?"

Answer: "You should do nothing."

Question: "I understand this teaching now even less than before."

Answer: "There truly is no understanding of the Dharma. Do not seek to understand it." ...

Question: "Who teaches these words?"

Answer: "It is as I have been asked."

Question: "What does it mean to say that it is as you have been asked?"

Answer: "If you contemplate [your own] questions, the answers will be understood [thereby] as well."

At this Conditionality was silent and he thought everything through once again.

Professor Enlightenment asked: "Why do you not say anything?"

Conditionality answered: "I do not perceive even the most minute bit of anything that can be explained."

At this point Professor Enlightenment said to Conditionality: "You would appear to have now perceived the True Principle."

Conditionality asked: "Why [do you say] 'would appear to have perceived' and not that I 'correctly perceived' [the True Principle]?"

Enlightenment answered: "What you have now perceived is the nonexistence of all dharmas. This is like the non-Buddhists who study how to make themselves invisible, but cannot destroy their shadow and footprints."

Conditionality asked: "How can one destroy both form and shadow?"

Enlightenment answered: "Being fundamentally without mind and its sensory realms, you must not willfully generate the ascriptive view (or, "perception") of impermanence."

[The following is from the end of the text.]

Question: "If one becomes [a Tathaagata] without transformation and in one's own body, how could it be called difficult?"

Answer: Willfully activating (ch'i ÑÃ) the mind is easy; extinguishing the mind is difficult. It is easy to affirm the body, but difficult to negate it. It is easy to act, but difficult to be without action. Therefore, understand that the mysterious achievement is difficult to attain, it is difficult to gain union with the Wondrous Principle. Motionless is the True, which the three [lesser vehicles] only rarely attain."

At this Conditionality gave a long sigh, his voice filling the ten directions. Suddenly, soundlessly, he experienced a great expansive enlightenment. The mysterious brilliance of his pure wisdom [revealed] no doubt in its counter illumination. For the first time he realized the extreme difficulty of spiritual training and that he had been uselessly beset with illusory worries.

He then sighed aloud: "Excellent! Just as you have taught without teaching, so have I heard without hearing...


"Here there is a threefold pattern of beginning questions, intermediate hesitation, and final achievement…which resembles Zhiyi's scheme of the three truths of absolute, relative, and middle. It is also structurally similar to Hegel's thesis-antithesis-synthesis pattern, but in this case the second element achieves its impact by the application of the fundamental Mahāyāna concept of Sūnyatā, or emptiness. Indeed, the same tripartite structure is apparent in the thought of at least one important Indian Mādhyamika philosopher. That is, an expression of Buddhism is made in the first element, the terms of this expression are erased in the second element, and the understanding of Buddhism is thereby elevated to a new level of profundity in the third element."



[1] Jue guan lun [Zen Irodalom Zen Literature]

[2] The Antecedents of Encounter Dialogue in Chinese Ch'an Buddhism by John R. McRae

[3] Seeing through Zen Encounter, Transformation, and Genealogy in Chinese Chan Buddhism by John R. McRae [University of California Press]