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The Hongzhou school (Chinese: 洪州宗; pinyin: Hóngzhōu Zōng) was a Chinese school of Chán of the Tang period, which started with Mazu Daoyi (709–788). It became the archetypal expression of Zen during the Song Dynasty.
- 1 History
- 2 Teachings
- 3 Texts
- 4 Influence
- 5 Criticism
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 Sources
- 9 Further reading
- 10 External links
The An Lu-shan Rebellion (755-763) led to a loss of control by the Tang dynasty, which changed the position of Chan. Metropolitan Chan began to lose its status, while...
...other schools were arising in outlying areas controlled by warlords. These are the forerunners of the Chan we know today. Their origins are obscure; the power of Shen-hui's preaching is shown by the fact that they all trace themselves to Hui-neng.
Traditionally, Mazu Daoyi (709–788) is depicted as a successor in the lineage of Hui-neng, since his teacher Nanyue Huairang is regarded as a student and successor of Huineng. This connection between Hui-neng and Nanyue Huairang is doubtful, being the product of later rewritings of Chán-history to place Mazu in the traditional lineages.
Baizhang Huaihai (Pai-chang)(720–814) was the dharma heir of Mazu. He is usually said to have established an early set of rules for Chan monastics, the Pure Rules of Baizhang (Chinese: 百丈清規; pinyin: Bǎizhàng qīngguī; Wade–Giles: Pai-chang ch'ing-kuei)., but there is no historical evidence that this text ever existed. Some version of the old Buddhist Vinaya code, modified to some extent for the Chinese situation, was practiced in Dazhi Shousheng Chan-si (Ta-chih shou-sheng ch'an-ssu; Jp. Daichijusho-zenji), founded by Baizhang. This monastery contained a monks hall for meditation and sleeping, an innovation which became typical for Chán:
During periods of ascetic practice the monks would sleep on the same straw mat on which they sat in meditation and on which, according to defined ritual, they took their meals. Both the lifestyle Pai-chang spelled out as well as the architectural form of his monastery became models for later Zen monasteries".
Very little is known of Huangbo Xiyun (died 850), who was a dharma heir of Baizhang Huaihai. He started his monastic career at Mount Huang-po. In 842 he took up residence at Lung-hsing Monastery ath the invitation of P'ei-hsiu (787 or 797–860). P'ei-hsiu was a lay-student of Guifeng Zongmi, fifth-generation heir of the Ho-tse line of the Southern school of Shenhui, and a great scholar. Zongmi was...
...critical of the Hung-chou style. For him, this excessively rural school of Buddhism lacked the comprehensive vision that he found in Ho-tse Zen and in the Hua-yen philosophical school of Buddhism.
Péi-hsiu, however, became interested, and in 842 invited huangbo to the Lung-hsing Monastery.
Linji Yìxuán ((died 866 CE)) became the archetypal representative of Chán, as expressed in his recorded sayings. He was a student of Huangbo, who also figures in the Recorded sayings of Linj. According to these records, Linji attained kensho while discussing Huángbò's teaching with the reclusive monk Dàyú (大愚). Linji then returned to Huángbò to continue his training. In 851 CE, Linji moved to the Linji temple in Hebei, where he took his name, which also became the name for the lineage of his form of Chán Buddhism.
According to Jinhua Jia, "the doctrinal foundation of the Hongzhou school was mainly a mixture of the tathagata-garbha thought and prajñaparamita theory, with a salient emphasis on the kataphasis of the former."
A well-known story depicts Mazu practicing dhyana, but being chided by his teacher Nanyue Huairang, comparing seated meditation with polishing a tile. According to Faure, the criticism is not about dhyana as such, but
... the idea of "becoming a Buddha" by means of any practice, lowered to the standing of a "means" to achieve an "end".
The criticism of seated dhyana reflects a change in the role and position of monks in Tang society, who "undertook only pious works, reciting sacred texts and remaining seated in dhyana". Nevertheless, seated dhyana remained an important part of the Chán tradition, also due to the influence of Guifeng Zongmi, who tried to balance dhyana and insight.
"This Mind is Buddha" and "Ordinary Mind is the Way"
Two related teachings which appear frequently in the works of Mazu and his disciplines are the statements "This Mind is Buddha" (jixin shi fo) and "Ordinary Mind is the Way." One source text of Mazu's teaching states:
If you want to know the Way directly, then ordinary mind is the Way. What is an ordinary mind? It means no intentional creation and action, no right or wrong, no grasping or rejecting, no terminable or permanent, no profane or holy. The sutra says, “Neither the practice of ordinary men, nor the practice of sages—that is the practice of the Bodhisattva.” Now all these are just the Way: walking, abiding, sitting, lying, responding to situations, and dealing with things.
Mazu also taught:
“Self-nature is originally perfectly complete. If only one is not hindered by either good or evil things, he is called a man who cultivates the Way. Grasping good and rejecting evil, contemplating emptiness and entering concentration—all these belong to intentional action. If one seeks further outside, he strays farther away.”
“The total essences of greed, hatred, and delusion, the performance of good and evil actions, and the corresponding retribution of happiness or suffering of bitterness are all Buddha-nature.
As noted by Jinhua Jia, this doctrine was attacked by various Chan figures, such as by Zongmi who stated that "They fail to distinguish between ignorance and enlightenment, the inverted and the upright," and Nanyang Huizhong, who argued: “the south[ern doctrine] wrongly taught deluded mind as true mind, taking thief as son, and regarding mundane wisdom as Buddha wisdom.”
"Original purity" and "No cultivation"
Mazu also stated that the Buddha-nature or the Original Mind is already pure, without the need for cultivation and hence he stated that “the Way needs no cultivation”. This was because according to Mazu:
This mind originally existed and exists at present, without depending on intentional creation and action; it was originally pure and is pure at present, without waiting for cleaning and wiping. Self-nature attains nirva¯n.a; self-nature is pure; self-nature is liberation; and selfnature departs [from delusions].
This view was also criticized by Zongmi because he believed it “betrayed the gate of gradual cultivation.” For Mazu, Buddha nature was actualized in everyday human life and its actions. As noted by Jinhua Jia "The ultimate realm of enlightenment manifests itself everywhere in human life, and Buddha-nature functions in every aspect of daily experiences". Thus, Mazu argued:
Since limitless kalpas, all sentient beings have never left the samadhi of dharma-nature, and they have always abided in the samadhi of dharma-nature. Wearing clothes, eating food, talking and responding, making use of the six senses—all these activities are dharmanature. If you now understand this reality, you will truly not create any karma. Following your destiny, passing your life, with one cloak or one robe, wherever sitting or standing, it is always with you.
From the "question-and-answer format that had been developed as a means of conveying Buddhist teachings" developed the "yü-lü" genre, the recorded sayings of the masters, and the encounter dialogues. The best-known example is the "Lin-ji yü-lü".[web 1] It is part of the Ssu-chia yü lu (Jp. Shike Goruku, The Collection of the Four Houses), which contains the recorded sayings of Mazu Daoyi, Baizhang Huaihai, Huangbo Xiyun and Linji Yixuan.
These recorded sayings are not verbatim recordings of the sayings of the masters, but well-edited texts, written down up to 160 years after the supposed sayings and meetings.
Mazu is perhaps the most influential teaching master in the formation of Chán Buddhism in China. When Chán became the dominant school of Buddhism during the Song Dynasty, in retrospect the later Tang Dynasty and Mazu's Hongzhou school became regarded as the "golden age" of Chan.
The shock techniques became part of the traditional and still popular image of Chan masters displaying irrational and strange behaviour to aid their students. Part of this image was due to later misinterpretations and translation errors, such as the loud belly shout known as katsu. In Chinese "katsu" means "to shout", which has traditionally been translated as "yelled 'katsu'" - which should mean "yelled a yell"[web 2]
The stories about the Hongzhou school are part of the Traditional Zen Narrative which developed in China during the Tang Dynasty and the beginning of the Song Dynasty, from the 7th to 11th century. It became dominant during the Song Dynasty, when Chán was the dominant form of Buddhism in China, due to support from the Emperial Court.
This period is seen as the "golden age" of Chan, a "romantic coloring" discarded by McRae:
...what is being referred to is not some collection of activities and events that actually happened in the 8th through 10th centuries, but instead the retrospective re-creation of those activities and events, the imagined identities of the magical figures of the Tang, within the minds of Song dynasty Chan devotees[...] This retrospective quality pervades the Chan tradition. Time and again we find we are dealing, not with what happened at any given point, but with what people thought happened previously
The Hung-chou school has been criticised for its radical subitism.
Guifeng Zongmi (圭峰 宗密) (780–841), an influential teacher-scholar and patriarch of both the Chán and the Huayan school claimed that the Hung-chou tradition believed "everything as altogether true".
According to Zongmi, the Hung-chou school teaching led to a radical nondualism that believed that all actions, good or bad, are expressing the essential Buddha-nature, but therefore denies the need for spiritual cultivation and moral discipline. This would be a dangerously antinomian view as it eliminated all moral distinctions and validated any actions as expressions of the essence of Buddha-nature.
While Zongmi acknowledged that the essence of Buddha-nature and its functioning in the day-to-day reality are but difference aspects of the same reality, he insisted that there is a difference. To avoid the dualism he saw in the Northern Line and the radical nondualism and antinomianism of the Hung-chou school, Zongmi’s paradigm preserved "an ethically critical duality within a larger ontological unity", an ontology which he claimed was lacking in Hung-chou Chan.
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