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September 12, 2013


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"... some of the Chan ideas represented in the Platform Sutra, particularly the related doctrines of the "self-nature" (zixing) and the Buddha-nature, which the Platform Sutra puts into Huineng's mouth. The depiction of self-nature as related to all other dharmas is rather strange for a Mahayana text and veers dangerously close to mind-body sort of dualism, a point noted in the Jingde chuandenglu by Huineng's disciple Nanyang Huizhong, who suggests that the introduction of this heretical notion in the text of the Platform Sutra results from tampering. We are told that this self-nature "produces" all dharmas, that it "encompasses" or contains them like space, and that it animates them and sustains and ensures their existence and integrity: its disappearance would mean their destruction. The relationship between this self-nature and the empirical body and mind is compared to that between a king and his territory; when the king departs, the territory falls apart.


"... the claim that insentient beings also have Buddha-Nature was nothing new or startling in Chinese Buddhism. Quite the contrary, it is a common Mahayana doctrine, openly declared by Jizang of the Sanlun school, and present in dozen sutra texts. Moreover, contrary to Chan claims, early Chan doctrines of mind and the Buddha-nature can arguably be read not as a new advance on general Mahayana thought, but more nearly a careless and "heretical" bit of backsliding. It was the new Chan movements, especially the Southern school, in both its Heze and Hongzhou forms, that almost alone among sinitic Buddhist schools denied the Buddha-nature of insentient beings, a notion that went hand i nhand with the new radicalization of the role of the mind in its ordinary function as already "pure":

Linji Yixuan is quotes as calling it the "true man" who "on the lump of red flesh" goes in and out of the physical body ... it is still that innermost something we experience as the doer of our deeds, the perceiver of our perceptions, and so on ..."

For more of this critiuqe of Chan grab Brook Ziporyn's Omnicentrism ... fascinating stuff in there! the critique goes on to criticize Linji's reduction of all trikayas to Dharmakaya.

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