Discussions of Zen Buddhism in all shapes and sizes.
I need to ask HOW to interpret that translation to English of Shifu's from Dahui. This should be easy for you.
How to interpret what Dahui and Shifu calls, "the place of saving power".
( 1. ) Is "saving" an adjective, and "power" a noun? So that, "saving power" -- or hyphenated, "saving-power" -- would be "Salvific Ability", or "Salvific Energy"?;
( 2. ) is "saving" a verb, and "power" a noun?, as in "Conserving Energy", or even "Conserving One's Strength"?
In English, I think both meanings that I ask about are relevant and reasonable to the context. But in Dahui's Chinese, I bet only one meaning is explicitly intended. Please!, which is it?
BTW, I'm enjoying your book on the Wumen Guan: "Passing Through the Gateless Barrier."
The bits I've read of Dahui always confirm that he was never criticizing Hongshi personally, or even correctly taught silent illumination method, but only those who were mis-teaching silent illumination.
Likewise, Dahui had criticism for people who were mis-teaching and mis-using koan and hua dou method.
Dahui Zonggao and Guifeng Zongmi are favorites of mine. Both made much bigger impressions with greater influence in Korean Seon than in Japanese Zen.
Why you do not understand is because the three carts were provisional for former times, and because the One Vehicle is true for the present time. ~ Zen Master 6th Ancestor Huineng
The longer Guo Gu is absent, the more work he seems to be commissioned to perform.
"Lotus leaves, perfect discs, rounder than mirrors;
Water chestnuts, needle spikes, sharper than gimlets."
was mentioned in the "Wild Ivy: The Spiritual Autobiography of Zen Master Hakuin"
The first two lines of the verse are:
"The wind blows, willow flowers roll like balls;
The rain beats down, plum flowers flutter like butterflies."
Guo Gu, have you ever attempted at translating this verse by Dahui, that was like "suddenly seeing a bright sun blazing out in the dead of night" for Hakuin?
If so, I very much want to hear it. Possibly it would be saving some power.
Oh ... thanks, Joe- Appreciate that-
syntactically, dahui's "saving" acts like a verb.
i have not come across this passage. to be frank, dahui's got so much writings that they amount to probably 200-400 volumes of books if they were all translated! however, if you have the taisho passage (canonical citation) of that passage from norman waddell, i can look it up and provide a new translation.
from waddell's rendering however, it seems dahui's first two lines were describing awakening; the next two lines, drawing an allusion to the fact that this awakening is not yet there. but, i'll have to see the whole context to know.
I don't have that.
I have a footnote to the book saying, "These are lines from a verse comment on the Mu koan by Ta-hui Tsung-kao (1089-1163), found in his discourses, Ta-hui P'u-sho, Chapter 3."
My concern is that, "perfect discs, rounder than mirrors;" reads way too different from another one that is something like "round, round, brighter than mirror" or "round, round, clearer than mirror".
Is the "roundness" of the "mirror" what could be important here?
Is the "sharpness" what is important -- together with "mirror-like" quality?
And does the "sharpness" and "mirror-like-ness" relate to two different things?
Last edited by flutemaker on Sat Apr 15, 2017 8:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
yes, my understanding that dahui was not targeting hongzhi. however, there is evidence that he targeted three ppl, all around 1134ish:
zhenxie qingliao 真歇清了: hongzhi's elder dharma brother
tanyi 曇懿: yuanwi keqin's student. yuanwu was, of course, dahui's own teacher.
zunpu 遵璞: yuanwu keqin's student
i know you like history, so you may find the following interesting.
i think that current zen scholarship on the "dahui-hongzhi controversy" is just blown out of proportion, and is very much influenced by japanese sectarian scholarship (which is in turn influenced by 18th-century rinzai-soto debates). for example, scholarly narratives about dahui criticism of hongzhi’s silent illumination chan resembles the criticism that the japanese orthodox rinzai zen master mujaku dochu 無著萄忠 (1653-1745) leveled against dōgen’s 永平道元 (1200-1253), calling the latter's teaching as "pitiable." it also resembles hakuin ekaku’s 白隠慧鶴 (1685-1768) attack on “the dead-sitting of silent illumination” of his day. hakuin’s hero, of course, was dahui. there are several versions of such correlation in japanese scholarship, and unfortunately this framework has shaped the very questions and approaches that western scholars bring to song dynasty chan buddhism.
hongzhi regularly invited dahui to his monastery to talk and vice versa after 1156! and there's concrete evidence. they were close friends. after dahui's 14 year exile from 1141-1155 (and being forced to return to lay life) for being politically entangled in the pro-war faction of literati-officials (many of them his students), it was hongzhi who got him a job as an abbot at ayuwang monastery in 1156 when dahui was reinstated as a monk. 1127 the northern song dynasty fell into the control of the jurchens, and the song court relocated to the south to hangzhou. it was a devastating time. dahui encouraged his lay official students at court to fight back and regain the land.
if we see when dahui was criticizing silent illumination, it had a political valence tide to the passivity among the literati-officials during the fall of northern song dynasty in 1127. of course the southern song dynasty never regained the land.... also, his criticism happened mostly during his exile years (less the 1134 incident). one can only image how he must have felt living in malaria ridden area of guangdong province down south in his banishment. some of his official friends were persecuted. he himself was stripped of his monastic identity and exiled. dahui continued to write letters to those among his lay followers who survived. all of the "dahui letters" (translated in swampland flowers) were written during this time.
when dahui was exiled, qingliao (whom dahui criticized several years earlier) was appointed to take over his monastery at jingshan. this installment as the abbot of the same monastery right after dahui could be perceived as an act of spite by the responsible pacifist officials. basically i think dahui was resentful, and so his criticism became more and more exaggerated. but as he got elderly, as what happen to ppl when they become older , he gave up his criticisms... after all, 28 yrs had passed after the fall of the norther song. qingliao had died. hongzhi welcomed him back to the chan community. when hongzhi died, dahui called him his soulmate, or someone who truly “knows his heart” (zhixin 知心).
all these details must be taken into context. we have to also humanize these chan masters...
just for the fun of it, guess who's instruction this is:
"directly, your mind should resemble withered log and rotten tree stump (kumu xiuzhu 枯木朽株)—like a person who has gone through a great death (dasiren 大死人) without breath. mind without knowing (xinxin wuzhi 心心無知); thoughts not abiding (niannian wuzhu 念念無住). even a thousand sages cannot call you out [of this state]. then you would be liken to the blossoming of flowers on a withered tree, bringing forth boundless responses and exhibiting great functions of vibrant kindness and compassion/" (my tentative translation).
you would be surprised because this is exactly the kind of meditation that dahui criticized!
the above quote is from yuanwu keqin, dahui's own teacher! citation: taisho no. 1997, 47:787b21-22.
the implications of this sort of teaching by yuanwu, and it's not the only occurrence in his and other linji masters' teachings, completely debunks scholarly portrayal of silent illumination with its "passive" metaphorical language as the distinctive characterization of caodong (jp. soto) practice. this sort of metaphor to still the discursive, discriminative mind was simply advocated by all masters because this is part of what practice is about, so we don't let our prapana, proliferation of projections, narratives, constructs, and discursive mind run free without restraint.
the fact that tanyi and zunpu was advocating this, which aroused dahui's criticism, simply attest to the fact that it was what their teacher yuanwu taught! and it had little to do with the caodong tradition.
someday i'll write about this in detail and publish it....
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