Ta-hui Tsung-kao and Kung-an Ch'an
By Chun-Fang Yu

Journal of Chinese Philosophy
V. 6 (1979)
pp. 211-235

Copyright 1979 by D. Reidel Publishing Co.

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Ta-hui Tsung-kao[a] (1089-1163) was a monk belonging to the Lin-chi school of Ch'an Buddhism. He was the 12th generation heir of the Lin-chi line. He emphasized, like all true Ch'an masters before him, the primacy of the enlightenment experience. However, unlike many other Ch'an masters, he insisted upon the exclusive use of the so-called "public cases" (Ch. kung-an,[b] J. koan) in Ch'an meditation and opposed the practice of quiet-sitting, for he believed that the latter was conducive to lifeless emptiness and passive escapism. He called the teachers of quiet-sitting heretical and referred to their Ch'an practice as the "heretical Ch'an of silent illumination" (mo-chao hsieh-ch'an)[c] and his own school came to be known as the "Ch'an of kung-an introspection" (k'an-hua ch'an).[d]

    Several scholars[1] have suggested that Ta-hui was a seminal figure in the development of Ch'an Buddhism, a view also shared by Chinese Buddhists since Ta-hui's time. His importance undoubtedly lies mainly in his successful creation of an "orthodox" teaching on the use of kung-an in Ch'an meditation, which held sway during the succeeding centuries in China and to some extent in Japan as well through the activities of the Tokugawa Zen master Hakuin, who also belonged to the same Lin-chi tradition.

    By the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the time of Ta-hui, Ch'an Buddhism had come a long way from its obscure beginnings as one among many groups of meditation teachers who taught ways to achieve spiritual awakening. We can quickly summarize its early development. After Ch'an Buddhism was first introduced into China by the Indian monk, Bodhidharma, in the early part of the 6th century, it gained increasing influence during the next two hundred years until it split into two main schools, the Northern and Southern schools, after the Fifth Patriarch Hung-jen.

    By the middle of the ninth century, the Southern School of Ch'an had won the day. This school regarded Hui-neng (638-713) as the Sixth Patriarch and the legitimate heir to the Ch'an teachings brought to China by Bodhidharma.




The Northern School, which claimed the famous priest Shen-hsiu as its leader, came to prominence before the Southern School, but it was unable to hold out against the latter.[2] It was from the Southern School that all later Ch'an sects were to trace their line of descent. The exact date when the five Ch'an sects or the "Five Houses'' (wu-chia)[e] came to be generally recognized cannot be ascertained. The term, however, appears to have been in use during the later period of the Five Dynasties (907-960), not long after the death of Fa-yen (885-985), the founder of the last of the "Five Houses".[3] While all of them traced their lineages directly to Hui-neng, it was really Hui-neng's disciples, Nan-yu Huai-jang (677-744) and Ch'ing-yuan Hsing-ssu (d. 740), and especially their famous heirs, Ma-tsu Tao-i (709-788) and Shih-t'ou Hsi-ch'ien (700-790), who were the real founders of the later sects.[4]

Many legends grew up around Ma-tsu and Shih-t'ou. Both produced many disciples, and their schools developed into flourishing establishments; indeed, all the famous masters of the late T'ang dynasty derived from them. An often quoted passage describes their fame: "in Kiangsi, the master was Tao-chi [Ma-tsu]; in Hunan the master was Shih-t'ou. People went back and forth between them all the time, and those who never met these two great masters were completely ignorant." Their connection with the Sixth Patriarch is obscure. but there is no doubt that they adopted him as their Patriarch.[5]

The Lin-chi and Kuei-yang sects were traced to Ma-tsu, while the Ts'ao-tung, Yun-men and Fa-yen sects were traced to Shih-t'ou. Although these five sects were all still active by the beginning of the twelfth century, the Lin-chi and Yun-men occupied a dominant position. Emperor Hui-tsung of the Northern Sung, who, reigned from 1101 to 1125, summarized the situation of the Ch'an sects in his time in a preface he wrote for Hsu ch'uan-teng-lu, a sequel to the Transmission of the lamp (Ching-te ch'uan-teng-lu).[f]

After Nan-yu and Ch'ing-yuan [Ch'an Buddhism] has been divided into five sects (wu-tsung). Each developed its own tradition and taught according to the differences in the learners' talents. Although they differ in particular emphases, their goal is still the same.... These sects have benefited sentient beings and enabled many people to reach enlightenment. Each has spread wide in its influence and put forth luxuriant foliage, but the two sects of Yun-men and Lin-chi now dominate the whole world.[6]

The Lin-chi sect continued to play a dominant role during the Southern Sung, but the Yun-men sect was supplanted by Ts'ao-tung which first emerged in importance during the Southern Sung and achieved a position of prominence by the end of the dynasty.[7] However, within Lin-chi itself, there was a split at the end of the tenth century. The direct heir of Lin-chi in the seventh




generation left two distinguished disciples, each of whom established his own line of transmission: Yang-ch'i Fang-hui (992-1049) established the Yang-Ch'i[g] line and Huang-lung Hui-nan (1002-1069) established the Huang-lung[h] line. The Huang-lung line never produced any master of great stature and died out soon after the twelfth century. The Yang-ch'i line continued to rise in influence and came to combine all the previously separate schools of Ch'an teaching that had arisen after the Sixth Patriarch, with the exception of the Ts'ao-tung school.

    Although there were such divisions, students of Ch'an could apparently work under masters of different schools, transfer from one monastery to another, and had access to recorded sayings of former masters of all the five sects. Ta-hui, in his training, served as a good example of the students' freedom of choice and the cooperation between rival schools of Ch'an. According to his biographers,[8] Ta-hui was a native of Hsuan-chou in modern Anhwei province. The family fortune was already in decline when he was born and a fire wiped out everything when Ta-hui was ten years old. At thirteen he entered the local school and already felt the attraction of Buddhism ("How much better to study the transcendental Dharma than to read secular books".)[9] He received the precepts for a monk at the age of seventeen and started to read the recorded sayings of earlier Ch'an masters. He was particularly fond of the sayings of Yun-men. At first he studied under a teacher of the Ts'ao-tung school and mastered the essentials of the "Five Ranks (wu-wei p'ien-cheng)"[i] [10] in two years. However, believing that there was more to Ch'an than dialectical subtleties, at twenty-one he went over to Chan-t'ang Wen-chun, a master belonging to the Huang-lung branch of the Lin-chi School. In the next few years he became very knowledgeable about Ch'an Buddhism in an intellectual manner, but failed to have any personal experience of enlightenment. When Ta-hui was twenty-six years old, Chan-t'ang called him over one day and said to him, "You can talk about Ch'an very well; you can quote the sayings of former masters and write commentaries on them. You are eloquent in giving sermons and quick with the exchanges during interviews. But there is one thing which you still do not know". When Ta-hui asked what it was, the master answered,"What you do not have is the awakening. Thus, when I talk with you in my room, you have Ch'an. But as soon as you leave the room, you lose it. When you are awake and attentive, you have Ch'an. But as soon as you fall asleep, you lose it. If you continue like this, how can you ever conquer life and death?" Ta-hui




agreed, saying that he himself had been agonized over this for a long time.[11] Only the enlightenment experience can solve the riddle of life and death. Unless one confronts one's mortality, a person will not have the necessary determination to achieve enlightenment. As we shall see later, this was to be a central theme in Ta-hui's sermons and letters.

    Before Chan-t'ang's death, the master told Ta-hui that the only person who could help him to reach his goal was Yuan-wu K'o-ch'in[j] (1063-1135), a master belonging to the Yang-ch'i branch of the Lin-chi School - the same Yuan-wu whose commentaries on the sayings of former masters were to be compiled into the Pi-yen lu[k] (The Record of the Blue Cliff) one of the most celebrated Ch'an classics. Various things intervened, and it was not until ten years later, when Ta-hui was thirty-six years old, that he finally had an opportunity to become a student of Yuan-wu, who was then the abbot of a great monastery, the T'ien-ning Wan-shou-ssu in the northern Sung capital of Pien-liang. According to Ta-hui's testimony, he had by then become almost despaired of ever attaining awakening, and vowed to himself that this was to be his last experiment with Ch'an meditation.

I will give this master nine summers as the limit. If his teaching does not differ from other masters and if he gives me his approval easily. I will then write a treatise denouncing Ch'an Buddhism. Instead of taxing my spirit and wasting precious time on it. I will devote myself to a suutra or a treatise and cultivate virtue so that I can be reborn again as a Buddhist.[12]

Having made up his mind, he threw himself into intense struggle. He was told to work on the koan "The East Mountain walks over the water''. He made forty-nine attempts to answer it, but was rebuked each time. Finally on the thirteenth day of the fifth month in the year 1125, he experienced a break-through. He recalled the great event this way.

Master Yuan-wu ascended the high seat in the lecture hall at the request of Madame Chang K'ang-kuo. He said, "Once a monk asked Yun-men this question, 'where do all the Buddhas come from?' Yun-men answered. 'The East Mountain walks over the water' (Tung-shan shuei sheng hsing).[l] But if I were he, I would have given a different answer. 'Where do all the Buddhas come from?' 'As the fragrant breeze comes from the south, a slight coolness naturally stirs in the palace pavilion.' When I heard this, all of a sudden there was no more before and after. Time stopped. I ceased to feel any disturbance in my mind, and remained in a state of utter calmness.[13]

While the first answer still implied a dichotomy between motion and rest, Yu-wu stressed the unity of the two. Apparently, this remark had enough




suggestive power to enable Ta-hui to achieve a new state of consciousness. However, the master regarded Ta-hui's realization as still imperfect. He said to Ta-hui, "It is indeed not easy to arrive at your present state of mind. But unfortunately, you have only died but are not yet reborn. Your greatest problem is that you do not doubt words enough (pu-i yu-chu shih-wei ta-ping).[m] Don't you remember this saying? 'When you let go your hold on the precipice, you become the master of your own fate; to die and afterward come to life again, no one can then deceive you." Ta-hui was then assigned the koan, "To be and not to be - it is like a wisteria leaning on a tree''(yu-chu wei-chu ju t'eng i chu)[n] and told to work on it. He had to see the master three or four times a day to report on his understanding. But as soon as he started to say something, the master would at once say it was wrong. This continued for half a year. Eventually, Ta-hui had another enlightenment experience upon hearing Yuan-wu's discussion of this koan. Let Ta-hui tell the story in his own words.

One day while I was having supper in the abbot's quarters, I [was so absorbed in the koan that I] just held the chopsticks and forgot to eat. The master remarked to a bystander that my progress in Ch'an was as slow as the growth of the Huang-yang plant [Buxus mycrophylla, a plant which allegedly grows only one inch every year]. I then told him by a simile what position I was in. "I am like a dog who stands by a pot of boiling fat: he cannot lick it however badly he wants to, nor can he go away from it though he may wish to quit." The master said, "This is exactly the case. [The koan] is really a vajra cage and a seat of thorns to you." I then said to him. "When you were with your teacher, Wu-tsu, you asked him about the same koan, and what was his answer?" The master at first refused to say anything. But I insisted, saying, "When you asked him about it, you were not alone, but with an assembly. I am sure that there are people who know all about it." The master then said; "I ask him, 'To be and not to be - it is like a wisteria leaning on a tree. What is the meaning of it?' Wu-tsu replied, 'You cannot paint it, you cannot sketch it, however much you try.' I further said, 'What if the tree suddenly breaks down and the wisteria dies?' Wu-tsu said, 'You are following the words'."[14]

Ta-hui claimed that as soon as he heard this, he saw the whole point of the koan most clearly. His master tested him further with a few other koans all of which Ta-hui successfully answered one by one. Yuan-wu recognized him as a true heir to the Lin-chi tradition. Many years later, when he gave a sermon to his disciples, he would recall the years of spiritual struggle in this way:

There is no language to describe Ch'an. One must achieve his understanding through an enlightenment experience. Since I was seventeen years old I had been seized with doubt concerning this matter. After I struggled for seventeen years I finally could rest. Before




I achieved enlightenment I often thought to myself: I am now already of such and such an age. Before I was born on this earth, where was I? My mind was pitch-black and had no idea where I came from. Since I did not know my origin, this was what Buddhism called, "Life is a great matter" (sheng ta).[o] When I die in the future, where shall I go? When I thought about this, my mind was also totally dark and had no idea where I would go from here. Since I did not know my destiny, this was what Buddhism called, "Death is a great matter" (ssu ta)[p] "Existence is impermanent and life ends quickly. Life and Death is a Great Matter".[15]

Again, we find the crucial factors in Ta-hui's spiritual struggle were the existential confrontation with his mortality and the burning need to solve the great mystery of samsara.

    After his enlightenment, his fame spread far and wide. Gentry officials vied for the opportunity to study under him. The Minister of the Right, Lu Shun, presented him with a purple robe and the honorific title, Fo-jih, ''The Sun of Buddhism". However, this was a very troublesome time for the nation. The very next year, 1126, the Nu-chen Tartars captured both Emperors Hui-tsung and Chin-tsung together with some three thousand members of the royal family. The capital was moved to the South, and the Southern Sung dynasty began.

    Ta-hui spent the next several years travelling widely in southern China. He continued to carry out the work of training both monks and laymen. He also started the severe criticism of the "Ch'an of silent illumination", a preoccupation which lasted throughout his life.

    In the year 1137, when Ta-hui was forty-nine years old, upon the recommendation of the Prime Minister. Chang Chun, one of his most intimate disciples. Ta-hui was appointed the abbot of Ching-shan monastery in Lin-an, (present day Hangchow), the Southern Sung capital. This was the first time that he headed a monastery, having refused other offers previously. He now became the acknowledged leader of Buddhism. Within two years, the sangha grew to two thousand in number. Meditation semesters often drew crowds of over seventeen hundred. Among his lay followers, there were many officials holding high positions. However, his very fame and reputation apparently sowed the seeds for a fall he was to suffer later on. According to the analysis of one follower,

Since his teaching is broad, he attracts multitudes of people. However, very few people can live up to his strict standards. Since his instruction is to the point, those who become enlightened love him dearly. But, there are also people who become frightened and disconcerted by his lofty talk. I know that there is gossip, defamation and suspicion circulating about the master and cannot feel but enraged about this.[16]




The immediate cause of Ta-hui's downfall was that one of his followers, Chang Chiu-cheng, a vice-president belonging to a party of courtiers advocating war, offended Ch'in Hui, the leader of the peace party.[17] Because of Chang's relationship to Ta-hui, Ta-hui was punished along with his disciple for the latter's advocacies. He was deprived of his ordination certificate and monk's robe and was exiled to Heng-chou (present day Hunan) in the year 1141. Ten years later, at the age of sixty-two, he was transferred to Mei-chou (present day Kuangtung), a place famous for plagues and other hostile elements. All these years, despite deprivation and physical danger, he was followed by faithful disciples. He also won new converts from among the gentry and the common people wherever he went. Pardon finally came in 1155 when Ta-hui was sixty-seven years old. He was given back his monk's robe and, at seventy, returned to his former monastery at Ching-shan where he continued to train people in Ch'an meditation until his death five years later. Over the course of his long life, Ta-hui had experienced public adulation as well as official condemnation, he was befriended by famous courtiers, but he also spent fifteen years beyond the pale of civilization. However, Ta-hui appeared to have accepted both fame and disfavor with equanimity. More significantly, he never gave up his active involvement with the lives of his followers. Chang Chun, the same disciple who recommended Ta-hui to head Ching-shan monastery, once characterized the master in the following way, and I think it was not far from the mark. "He has the will of a loyal subject and the heart of a compassionate bodhisattva. Unlike the Hinayana `sraavakas and pratyeka-buddhas. he is not tired of samsara and he does not selfishly desire nirvana".[18]

    Ta-hui wrote only one work, a collection of koans of former Ch'an masters, entitled: Cheng-fa yen-tsang[q] (True Dharma Eye). He also compiled with a fellow monk named Ta-kuei, a work entitled, Ch'an-lin pao-hsun[r] (Treasured Teachings of the Ch 'an Monastic Tradition) in which he collected the instructions of former abbots of Ch'an monasteries on the virtues and ideals of monastic life. His sermons and letters were collected by his disciples into thirty chuan with the title: Ta-hui P'u-chueh Ch'an-shih yu-lu (T. 1998).

    As Ta-hui's enlightenment account made clear, the use of koan as a meditation device played a central role in his achieving enlightenment. He was first given Yun-men's "East mountain walks over the water" and later, "To be or not to be - it is like the wisteria leaning on a tree". Even though Ta-hui achieved a new insight each time only after hearing his own master's response




to the koans, it was understood that he himself had already spent a long time struggling to make sense out of these puzzling phrases. We can also assume that when Ta-hui said that he understood the koan, he did not mean an intellectual understanding. The use of koan as a meditation device started rather late in Ch'an history. The first two hundred years, from the time of Bodhidharma to Hui-neng, the Sixth Patriarch, there were no koan exercises, no shouting, kicking or beating as ways to induce enlightenment. During the eighth and ninth centuries koan was likewise not used consciously or systematically. Ch'an masters would use everyday events, homely examples or non-verbal ''body language'' such as a slap, a blow, a kick, a shout or a roaring laughter to answer disciples' questions about "the meaning of Ch'an," or "the purpose of Bodhidharma's coming to the east'' - typical questions about the ultimate reality. Sometimes they might quote an anecdote or a saying of an earlier master to help them bring home a point. However, there was no compilation of recorded koans in existence, nor did they use such koans regularly. These masters created many koans unselfconsciously, but they themselves did not give any specific koan to their disciples as a meditation assignment.

    But by the eleventh century, koans of earlier masters were eagerly collected and some masters started to create their own as well. The most famous example of compilations of the first type is The Transmission of the Lamp[19] compiled by Tao-yuan in 1004 and consists of more than a thousand koans ranging from the ancient patriarchs and masters to the disciples of Fa-yen in the tenth century. An early example of the second type koan collection is the recorded sayings of the Lin-chi master Fen-yang (947- 1024). There are three hundred koans found in three collections. The first collection consists of old koans, for each of which Fen-yang wrote a verse summarizing the general meaning of the koan in poetical language. The second consists of koans he himself had made and for which he supplied his own answer; the third is made up of old koans, together with his alternate answers to them. These three collections became the models for later literary production of a similar kind.[20] The reason for this new emphasis on koan collections was due to an internal crisis. After the persecution of Buddhism in 845, within fifty years a most illustrious generation of Ch'an masters died one by one. (Kuei-shan, 853; Huang-po, 855; Te-shan, 865; Lin-chi, 866; Tung-shan, 869; Yang-shan, 891; Ts'ao-shan, 900). The golden age of Ch'an now passed away. Ch'an Buddhism, unlike T'ien-t'ai and Hua-yen which prized scriptural knowledge,




or Pure Land which emphasized piety, had always placed the most important stress on personal religious experience: namely, the experience of enlightenment. Enlightenment could not be taught by words or concepts. On the contrary, words and concepts would involve a person in discrimination and intellectualization which would lead him farther away from the realization. The ideal condition for enlightenment was to work under a master who was already enlightened. Through his skillful hints and merciless prodding, one could be forced to break through his customary mode of thinking and acting to a new mode of being. By the tenth century, with the death of great masters, a keen need was felt to find a new way of training disciples. If true masters could not always be found to serve as "mid-wives" in the miracle of self-transformation called the "enlightenment," was there perhaps a substitute, an alternative? The alternative was the koan. It was hoped that through the collection of earlier koans, and through the concentrated meditation on these koans. the original experience of enlightenment could be re-enacted. Suzuki thought this development indispensable for the survival of Ch'an after the passing of those charismatic leaders of T'ang.[21] However, as we shall see, this emphasis on koan exercise was indeed a double-edged sword. It could grant more life to Ch'an, but if handled wrongly, it could also kill its very life.

    Now what is a koan? A good definition of this very important term was given by Chung-feng Ming-pen[s] ( 1263-1323), a Yuan monk following Ta-hui's tradition. He said,

Kung-an may be compared to the case records of the public law court. Kung, or "public", is the single track followed by all sages and worthy men alike, the highest principle which serves as a road for the whole world. An, or "records", are the orthodox writings which record what the sages and worthy men regard as principles... The koans do not represent the private opinion of a single man, but rather, the highest principle received alike by us and by the hundreds and thousands of bodhisattvas of the three realms and the ten directions. This principle accords with the spiritual source, tallies with the mysterious meaning, destroys birth-and-death, and transcends the passions. It cannot be understood by logic; it cannot be transmitted in words; it cannot be explained in writing; it cannot be measured by reason. It is like a poisoned drum that kills all who hear it, or like a great fire that consumes all who come near it.... the koans are something that can be used only by men with enlightened minds who wish to prove their understanding. They are certainly not intended to be used merely to increase one's lore and provide topics for idle discussion. The so-called venerable masters of Zen are the chief officials of the public law courts of the monastic community, as it were, and their collections of sayings are the case records of points that have been vigorously advocated. Occasionally men of former times, in the intervals when they were not




teaching, in spare moments when their doors were closed, would take up these case records and arrange them, give their judgment on them, compose verses of praise on them and write their own answers to them. Surely they did not do this just to show off their erudition and contradict the worthy men of old. Rather, they did it because they could not bear to think that the great Dharma might become corrupt. Therefore they stooped to using expedient means in order to open up the wisdom eye of the men of later generations, hoping thereby to make it possible for them to attain the understanding of the great Dharma for themselves in the same way.[22]

As used by Ch'an Buddhists, a koan always refers to a dialogue or an event that took place between a Ch'an master and his student. In a sense, all the stories about Ch.an masters, both short and long, are koans. As a modem student of Ch'an defined it, "In short, koan means a Zen story, a Zen situation, or a Zen problem".[23] In Sung China, however, Ch'an monks seldom employed the term koan; instead, they liked to use "hua-t'ou"[t] and referred the meditation on a koan as "ts'an hua-t'ou " or "k'an hua-t'ou ''.[u] There are various ways to interpret this very rich Ch'an terminology. Taken literally, "hua''means ''speech", "a remark" or "a sentence", and "t'ou " means either the beginning or the ending of something. Combined together, hua-t'ou thus means, "the end or the beginning of a sentence". While koan refers to the whole situation or event, hua-t'ou means specifically, the critical words or points of the situation.[24] The distinction between a koan and a hua-t'ou may be illustrated by the following famous exchange between the T'ang master Chao-chou and a monk, one of the favorite koans of Ta-hui.

A monk asked master Chao-chou. "Does a dog have the Buddha-nature?" Chao-chou answered, "wu'" (meaning "No!")

The entire dialogue is called a koan, but a Ch'an practitioner who meditates on this should not think of both the question and answer. Instead, he should concentrate whole-heatedly on the cryptic word "Wu" - this is his hua-t'ou.

    A hua-t'ou may also be regarded as an incipient thought which, when subjected to proper scrutinization will reveal the nature of human consciousness. Nan Huai-chin explains it this way:

In the contemporary idiomatic Shanghai dialect, if you want to ask someone, "What is your problem?" or "What do you want?", you say, "What is your hua-t'ou?" Whenever a thought starts to form, this is the beginning of a sentence. But what are the origin and whereabouts of an incipient thought? This is indeed a great problem. To find out the source of this thought - this is hua-t'ou. It is the beginning of a phrase, a problem. To work on a hua-t'ou is the method of dwelling upon the origin and root source of this phrase. This "dwelling upon" includes the combined effort of studying, guessing, experiencing, observation, contemplation and quiet deliberation of the hua-t'ou[25]




Ideally, a hua-t'ou leads the meditator back to the base of his consciousness and enables him to discover the real nature of this consciousness through a thorough examination of an idea. The key word here is "dwelling" (ti, chu).[v] One must dwell upon his koan, as Ta-hui had to do, with intense concentration and absorption to the exclusion of all other interests, pursuits and preoccupations. In this respect, a koan serves a function similar to that of a mantra, a mandala, or other devices used in what Naranjo calls "concentrative or absorptive meditation".[26] Here the meditator actively focuses his entire attention on a single object, sound, or idea and reaches a new level of consciousness as a result of this concentration and restriction of his awareness. It is very different both in approach and technique from the type of meditation Naranjo calls "the negative way"[27] of which the exercise in mindfulness of the Theravada tradition and the quiet-sitting of the Ts'ao-tung Ch'an are good examples. In this case, the meditator relinquishes any active control but remains aware of everything in a state of passivity and receptivity. He relaxes his concentration and expands the domain of his attention.

    This "dwelling upon", however, is not the same as "thinking about". In fact, the dwelling upon of a koan is the exact opposite of our ordinary discursive, ratiocinative thinking processes. For how is one seriously to think about Chao-chou's "Wu"? Surely it makes no "sense". The entire exchange between the disciple and Chao-chou, just as the other exchanges Ta-hui mentions, is unintelligible and cannot be thought about or understood rationally no matter how hard one tries. Actually, the very opaqueness to reason and the stubborn refusal to be "figured out'' are intrinsic features of koans and constitute their effectiveness as meditative devices.

    I think one useful way to understand a koan or hua-t'ou is to regard it as an opening wedge for the sudden and intuitive apprehension of a new reality. Its effectiveness is tied in with its ability to create in the meditator a sense of "doubt" (i-ching)[w] and the accompanying feelings of bewilderment, frustration, anxiety, and anger. If the meditator takes his koan seriously, we can expect that he will be impelled to "solve" his koan by the strong sense of urgency this painfully disquieting "doubt" produces. In actual practice there were probably few monks who could sustain their effort without constant prodding from their teachers. Thus Ta-hui was chastised by his master that he did not "doubt words [his hua-t'ou] enough". Ch'an masters have always recognized the crucial role this sense of doubt plays in the mechanics of enlightenment. Some six hundred years after Ta-hui, the




Japanese Rinzai master Hakuin regarded the "Great Doubt" as the indispensable driving force behind every enlightenment experience. "Once the Great Doubt arises, out of a hundred who practice, one hundred will achieve breakthrough''.[28]

    But how does a hua-t'ou generate doubt? I think a hua-t'ou can do so because it works as a shock, a surprise, which breaches the meditator's taken-for-granted expectancies. It is in this sense that I call a hua-t'ou an opening wedge. To begin with, we know that hua-t'ou was used in traditional vernacular novels and plays to mean an "opening statement" (equivalent to the modem expression "kai-ch'ang-pai".[x] [29] The speaker delivers a short opening speech, sets up the proper dramatic situation and provides the occasion for the unfolding of the succeeding events. In the case of a koan, however, what follows is not a rational sequence of statements or events, as one would ordinarily expect, but by a totally unrelated and sometimes illogical statement, such as "The East Mountain walks over the water". The meditator is thus made a stranger. He is estranged from the familiar world of reasonableness and becomes vulnerable to transformation.

    My understanding of this function of hua-t'ou is partly inspired by the works of phenomenological sociologists and ethnomethodologists, particularly those of Schutz and Garfinkel.[30] Schutz wrote about the various "finite provinces of meaning" which are constituted by different sets of experiences. However, it is the ''reality of our everyday life'', that which William James called the "subuniverse" of senses, of physical things, that is the "paramount reality" for Schutz and other thinkers of this school.

Familiar scenes of everyday activities, treated by members as the ''natural facts of life" are massive facts of the member's daily existence both as a real world and as the product of activities in a real world. They furnish the "fix", the "this is it" to which the waking state returns one, and are the points of departure and return for every modification of the world of daily life that is achieved in play, dreaming, trance, theatre, scientific theorizing, or high ceremony.[31]

The reality of this common sense world is socially constructed and not something "out there".[32] Members of a society routinely construct and maintain the reality of everyday life by drawing upon their "background expectancies" as they interact with each other. But these background expectancies are always so taken for granted by members that their very existence is not recognized. One of the main interest of ethnomethodological school is to reveal them and to rediscover the common sense world of




everyday life. In order to make this rediscovery, a person must become "either a stranger to the 'life as usual' character of everyday scenes, or become estranged from them".[33] Garfinkel tells us that procedurally he would start with familiar scenes and ask what could be done to "make trouble". He devised various "nasty surprises" to facilitate this rediscovery. They functioned, as stated by Garfinkel, "to produce and sustain bewilderment, consternation and confusion, to produce the socially structured effects of anxiety, shame, guilt and indignation; and to produce disorganized interaction".[34] One celebrated experiment sounds almost like a koan in reverse: A student was greeted by "Hi, how are you?" Instead of giving the customary, "Fine", he was instructed to take the question literally and answer, "How am I in regard to what? My health, my finances, my school-work, my peace of mind, my ?"[35] The extreme rationality of this answer is uncalled for, and it defies the rules of conversation.[36] The other's assumptions are rudely and unceremoniously pushed aside. Since this exchange took place in an ordinary setting (not in a meditation hall) where the subject was inadequately prepared, it is no wonder that the cheerful greeter walked away in a huff.[37]

    A Ch'an master is, of course, not an ethnomethodologist. An ethnomethodologist is primarily interested in rediscovering how the sense of the reality of everyday life is socially constructed. A Ch'an master has a far more ambitious and radical task to perform. He has realized that the true nature of things is sunya and out of compassion he now helps his disciples to attain the same realization. Yet how is this total and fundamental transformation possible? Man is a creature of habit. He is used to seeing the world, others and himself in a certain way. His world view is shaped by symbols (language, concepts, beliefs - what Buddhism calls "views", trsti). He thinks this is the only right way to see the world and tenaciously clings to it. In this view, everything in the world is "real": permanent, substantive, and, by and large, pleasant. Yet Buddhism believes otherwise. An enlightened Ch'an master sees the world as sunya: things arise out of dependent co-origination, there is no difference between self and others, nirvana is telescoped into samsara.

    One does not give up his habitual view easily or willingly. For "this reality seems to us to be the natural one, and we are not ready to abandon our attitude toward it without having experienced a specific shock which compels us to break through the limits of this 'finite province of meaning' and to shift the accent of reality to another one".[38] I Would Suggest then




that a hua-t'ou produces the ''shock" which enables the meditator to "leap'' into enlightenment. Given the setting in which it is used and the "background expectancies" of the masters and disciples who use it, the hua-t'ou generates shock by a skillful manipulation of language and creates a clearing or an opening for the onrush of a new reality. Ch'an Buddhism regards conceptualization, discrimination and ratiocination as the greatest problem barring man from true wisdom and regards their non-production as enlightenment. The most crucial step, then, is to change the habitual, sequential, linear way of thinking to its opposite: a non-habitual. non-sequential, and non-linear way of thinking. Like all mystical experiences, the Ch'an enlightenment experience is difficult to describe in words. But it may help if we look at Ch'an enlightenment as a "vertical organization of concepts''[39] i.e..

An enhanced capacity for simultaneous perceptions or understandings, as opposed to the normal mode of sequential (i.e. horizontal) organization of cognition. Thus whole sets of relationships may be simultaneously grasped - an experience not translatable into language which deals in the orderly succession of single concepts".[40]

One is here reminded of the simultaneous establishment of the double truth or the non-obstruction of li[y] and shih[z] or shih and shih - expressions often found in Ch'an literature. To use traditional Buddhist terms, the enlightenment experience involves the transformation of the subject-object dichotomous consciousness into the non-dual wisdom of sunyata. Now since logical and rational language is already inextricably bound up with the process of` conceptual thinking, language itself must be abused in order to be disabused of its associations. Koan or hua-t'ou is the answer. It is a new language, a language which is really non-language. It refuses to be understood, and, as Ta-hui would put it, is totally devoid of taste and flavor. No wonder Ming-pen called it the poison drum and the great fire which kills whoever comes in contact with it. The koan becomes an opening wedge in a person as soon as it makes him stop in his tracks and creates in him doubt, anger and frustration. The practitioner can no longer remain complacent and live his life matter-of-fact. The process of erosion and destruction of his habituated view of the world will end only with the enlightenment experience. He will then be able to look at the world with a new perspective. The Ch'an metaphor of death and rebirth is an apt description of this rite of passage.

    Ta-hui called the enlightenment the realization of the deep yet luminous (chan-jan)[aa] Mind.




When you stabilize the activities of the discursive mind and consciousness, when not even one thought stirs, this is the true enlightenment. With this correct state of mind, you can function freely during the twenty-four hours of the day. Smelling flowers, tasting food, sitting still or walking around - whether you are engaged in activity or not, your mind is always bright and undisturbed. You are naturally free from distorted views. Thus your mind is always pure whether you have thought or not. Therefore, when you act, this is the function (yung)[ab] of this deep and luminous Mind, and when you rest, this is then the essence (t'i)[ac] of the same Mind. Even though there is a difference between essence and function, 'the Mind is still the one and the same.[41]

Ta-hui is here stressing the fundamental importance of achieving the state of no-mind in the Ch'an tradition, the only way to reveal the true nature of the Mind. For fear of being misunderstood, he constantly warned people against equating no-mind with passivity and insentiency. He says:

No-mind does not mean the unconsciousness of wood or tile. It means that when you come into contact with external objects, your mind is immovable and does not get attached to anything. There is total freedom and non-obstruction. You are not defiled by anything. On the other hand, you should not abide in non-defilement either. While you view the body and the mind as a dream and an illusion, you nevertheless do not abide in the emptiness of dreams and illusions. When you reach this state, you have then really achieved no-mind.[42]

It is in this connection that he criticized mercilessly the emphasis on quiet sitting put forward by some Ch'an teachers, for it would breed passivity and delusion. This passage is fairly representative of his views on quiet sitting:

In recent years, heretical teachers sprang up within the sangha like wild weeds, and blinded the eyes of numerous sentient beings. When one does not use the koans of the ancients in meditation, he will be like a blind man without a walking stick and cannot advance even one step .... [Some people] think that Buddha Dharma and Ch'an cultivation are not dependent upon written words. Therefore they denigrated all koans as ready-made. They just sit in a ghostly cave on a dark mountain after their meals. They call this practice "silent illumination", "dying the great death", "the state before the birth of one's parents." They sit there until calluses appear on their bottoms, yet they still do not dare to move. On the contrary, they regard this as the gradual maturation of their effort.[43]

On the other hand, there were also other types of heretical teachers who only had an intellectual understanding of koans.

Nowadays there are people who have never personally experienced enlightenment, but only know how to play intellectual tricks. Before they ascend the high seat in the morning, they would stay up all night, memorizing two phrases from this pamphlet [koan collection] and two phrases from that one. After pasting them together they




present the end product like a bouquet. They can talk with great fluency, but people with clear eyesight know this is a ridiculous parody.[44]

The passivity bred by quiet sitting would lead to drowsiness (hun-ch'en)[ad] and the intellectual grasping after the "meaning'' of a koan intensifies the tendency toward conceptualization (tiao-chu)[ae] - two foes equally deadly in the life of a Ch'an practitioner.[45] How is one to proceed then in Ch'an meditation? According to Ta-hui, the only effective way to avoid these two dangers and to realize one's true mind was by intensive concentration upon a koan. As he put it, if one failed to use koan, then he would be like a blind man without a walking stick: unable to take even one step.

    A few psychological conditions must be met before a person can successfully take up koan meditation. Ta-hui stressed that one should have faith in the method, should existentially feel the urgency of the task. "In one's daily activities, one should [mentally] paste the words 'life' and 'death' on one's forehead and feel as if one owes someone a million strings of cash and the debtor is right outside the door asking for payment".[46]

    One must stick to one's commitment and, moreover, must always be one's own master. Ta-hui sometimes would use the hyperbolical imagery of "someone's head on fire" to underline the sense of urgency. On the other hand, he also cautioned against overeagerness. "If you hurry, you will only be delayed. Nor should you be too lax, for then you will become lazy. The work should be carried out as a musician adjusts the strings of his harp - neither too tightly nor too loosely.[47] Elsewhere, he compared the managing of the mind to the art of herding a cow: one should not neglect it nor should one perpetually hover it.[48] This resembles what Mencius says concerning the work of accumulating righteousness: one should neither forget about it nor help it to grow. It is interesting that Ta-hui should choose musicians and cowherds as exemplars for Ch'an monks. They are, of course, reminiscent of those artisans in Chuang Tzu who are naturally in tune with the rhythm of Tao.

    Even though hundreds of koans were available in his time, Ta-hui seemed to use only a few in his instruction. In this respect he was in perfect agreement with his own teacher, Yuan-wu, as well as other Ch'an masters who insisted that it was through the thorough penetration into a few koans or even into only one that enlightenment was to be attained. Ta-hui always carried a bamboo comb when he taught his students. He would say to them:




If you call this a bamboo comb, you are wrong. If you don't call this a bamboo comb, you are wrong also (huan-tso chu-pi tse ch'u, pu-huan-tso chu-pi tse pei).[af] Don't say anything, but also don't remain silent. You must not think, you must not guess. You are not allowed to get up and leave the room. Nothing you do is appropriate. If you want to grab the bamboo comb, go ahead, grab it. I will then use my fist and demand you to make a statement. If you want me to put down my fist, that is all right too. But then I ask you to make a statement about the whole world. Now, can you also take that away? Once a monk compared me to an official who asked for more things after he had confiscated someone's entire property. I like this comparison very much. Indeed I want you to hand over everything. When you have nowhere to go, you will simply have to die. Throwing yourself into the river or jumping into fire, you will die when you are ready to die. Only after you have truly died will you gradually come to life again.[49]

The bamboo comb, like the stick used by Te-shan, is a visual hau-t'ou which serves to cut off conceptual thinking and verbal definition. It stops all mental activities from evolution and development. It reveals the original Mind of non-discrimination and non-duality.

    In his letters and talks addressed to lay followers, Ta-hui tends more toward using ready-made koans of famous T'ang masters. One of the most frequently recommended koan is Chao-chou's "Wu". Ta-hui told his followers to concentrate on this "Wu" all the time. They did not have to go to a quiet place. On the contrary, they should concentrate on this "Wu" in the midst of daily activities: while eating and drinking, when carrying out official duties or fulfilling social obligations, in the privacy of their houses or in the public eye of friends and acquaintances, in serving their parents or studying Confucian classics - all these activities could be treated as the proper occasions for the concentration on "Wu". All of these tasks offer the best opportunities to work on the hua-t'ou, to dwell constantly on it and finally to gain an awakening from it.[50] Ta-hui compared this ''Wu" to a deadly weapon which could solve the enigma of life and death. But in order to benefit from it, a person must be willing to make a sincere commitment and let it penetrate into every part of his life. In his letter to Ch'en Li-jen, a lay follower, he says,

Please concentrate on the feeling of doubt and do not give it up whether walking, standing, sitting or lying down. This one word "Wu" is no other than the knife which can clear away this great doubt of life and death. The handle of this knife is right in your own hand. No one else can take hold of it for you, but you must do it yourself. If you are willing to lay down your life, you will be able to begin the task. However, if you are not willing to lay down your life, you should concentrate on the feeling of doubt and do not let it slip by.[51]

Ta-hui warned his disciples against making mistakes in carrying out the work




of "k'an hua-t'ou "(i.e., koan meditation). Two most commonly committed mistakes are either to try to intellectually understand the koan or to fall into a state of apathy.

When you meditate on "Wu", you must not guess at its meaning nor try to interpret it. You must not fall into emptiness and tranquility (k'ung-chi)[ag], but you also should not consciously hope for enlightenment. Do not speculate about what patriarchs and teachers had said concerning it. Do not fall into laziness and become negligent. On the contrary, you should always dwell on this hua-t'ou whether walking, staying, sitting or lying down. When you become really proficient in your effort, you will be unable to talk about it or think about it. Your mind becomes restless and you will feel as if you were chewing an iron stick (ju chiao sheng-t'ieh-chueh),[ah] totally tasteless. But do not become discouraged, for this is exactly the time for the good news.[52]

It is very clear that Ta-hui valued highly the effectiveness of traditional koans as a tool in Ch'an meditation. However, there is some evidence that he also felt that enlightenment could be brought about even without the use of koans. There may be at least two reasons why he felt this way. A koan is basically an expedient device for the inducement of enlightenment, but it should never be confused with enlightenment. A device, any device, is always potentially subject to reification. The danger is especially great in a religious tradition. The finger pointing to the moon can be so easily mistaken for the moon itself, be the finger scriptures, images, rituals, or koans. Since the feeling of doubt is the crucial transitional point in one's transformation, it is perceivable that one can seize whatever one is deeply involved with at the moment and create an occasion for the generation of "doubt". Thus, daily tasks and ordinary experiences sometimes work the same way as a hua-t'ou. Extreme emotions and unusual experiences will, of course, have more effectiveness. Wang Ts'ao, a member of the Han-lin Academy, told Ta-hui about the sad news of the death of` his young son. Ta-hui wrote to the bereaved father this reply:

Just now in the midst of your suffering, please carefully examine and investigate the real origin of this feeling of pain. When you cannot find it then ask yourself where it comes from. Ask yourself if it is existent or non-existent, real or illusory. After persistent investigation, your mind will find nowhere to rest. If you feel like remembering your son, go ahead and do so; if you feel like crying, then cry. When you have done with remembrance and tears, when the lingering traces of love and affection in your alaya consciousness have completely disappeared, then just like ice turns into water, you will return to your original self: no suffering, no remembrance, neither grief nor joy. You can enter the world but remain transcendent to it. [You will realize that] the worldly teaching is no different from the Buddha Dharma, and the Buddha Dharma is




no different from the worldly teaching. The tie between the father and the child is a natural one. How can a father stop feeling pain and longing when his son dies? If you try to stop yourself by force, if you don't dare to cry when you want to cry and don't dare to think about him when you want to think about him, you are trying to disobey the heavenly principle (t'ien-li)[ai] and to destroy your heavenly nature (t'ien-hsing[aj]). It is like someone who tries to stop a noise by raising his voice or extinguish the fire by pouring oil over it. When you are troubled by feelings, you should not regard them as external things, nor should you ignore them. Master Yung-chia said, "Buddha nature is no other than the real nature of ignorance, Dharmakaya is no other than the empty body of illusory transformation". When you achieve this realization, even if you try to think about your son or want to feel sorrow over his death, you would not be able to. To view things this way is correct. Otherwise, it is heretical. [53]

It is significant that this letter was addressed to a lay disciple for it was to his lay followers that Ta-hui felt particularly the need to justify Buddhist meditation. Ta-hui believed firmly in the compatibility of Buddhism and Confucianism. He believed that lay people could realize the true nature of things (shih-hsiang)[ak] without destroying the validity of this world (shih-chien-hsiang).[al] This is the case because according to Ta-hui, both Confucianism and Buddhist teachings are based on the same luminous Mind, and all sages, Confucius, Lao Tzu or Buddha, want men to achieve recognition and realization of the "correct mind" (cheng-hsin).[am] As he put it, "the mind of bodhi (p'u-ti-hsin)[an] is just another name for the mind of loyalty and righteousness (chung-yi-hsin).[ao] [54] As soon as one achieves enlightenment, according to Ta-hui, the non-dual nature of reality will flood one's consciousness. This insight both equalizes and eliminates all mundane distinctions and grants total freedom and autonomy to the person who so experiences it. Ta-hui described this state to a Confucian scholar:

If one achieves a genuine breakthrough, then [one realizes that ] a Confucian is no different from a Buddhist, and a Buddhist is no different from a Confucian; a monk is no different from a layman, and a layman is no different from a monk; an ordinary man is no different from a sage, and a sage is no different from an ordinary man. [In fact] I am you and you are I; Heaven is earth and earth is Heaven; waves are the same as water, and water is no different from waves. Kumis and rich butter are but one taste; bracelets and hairpins are all melted from gold ...When you reach this state, you are in control of everything.[55]

The basis for Ta-hui's synthesis of all teachings, as can be seen from this representative passage, clearly lies in the primacy of spiritual realization. His vision of the mutual freedom and mutual penetration of all teachings derives




from his understanding of the Ch'an life as a way of dynamic action and is a result of his own life experiences. Ta-hui's emphasis on the experience of enlightenment, his stress on koan meditation and finally, his view of the compatibility of the three teachings continued to influence Ch'an monks of later generations. Chung-feng Ming-pen of the Yuan, Ch'u-shih Fan-ch'i,[ap] K'ung-ku Ching-lung,"[aq] and Han-shan Te-ch'ing[ar] of the Ming are but some outstanding examples.[56]







1.    D. T. Suzuki, Essays in Zen Buddhism, Second Series (London, Rider and Company, 1970), pp. 18-145; Miura & Sasaki, Zen Dust (N.Y.; Harcourt, Brace and World, Inc. 1966), p. 13; Heinrich Dumoulin S. J. A History of Zen Buddhism (Boston, Beacon Press. 1963), pp. 123 -- 136; Garma C. C. Chang, The Practice of Zen (N. Y. Harper & Row. 1959), pp. 62-118. Ta-hui's letters in three chuan have been translated into Japanese by Araki Kengo, Daie sho (Tokyo, 1969). Biography and study of Ta-hui appear in pp. 245-268.

2.     Concerning the early history of Ch'an Buddhism, see Philip B. Yampolsky, The platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch (N.Y. Columbia University Press, 1967), pp. 1-57.

3.    Dumoulin, A History Of Zen Buddhism, p. 106.

4.    For a discussion of these Ch'an masters, see Yampolsky, The Platform Sutra, pp. 53 55 and Dumoulin, pp. 96- 99.

5.    Yampolsky, The Platform Sutra, pp. 54-55.

6.     Hui-ts'ung's preface to Chu-ting's Hsu ch'uan-teng-lu, cited by Iwai Hirosato, Nisshi Bukkyoshi ronko (Tokyo. The Toyo Bunko, 1957), p. 460.

7.    Ibid., p.461.

8.    The basic source for Ta-hui's life is Ta-hui Pu-chueh Ch'an-shih nien-pu (chronological biography of Ta-hui), compiled by Ta-hui's disciple, Tsu-yung. There is also an inscription written by Chang Chun, "Ta-hui P'u-chueh Ch'an-shih t'a-ming", included in Ta-hui P'u-chueh Ch'an-shih yu-lu T47, pp. 836-837. Chih-yueh lu, compiled by Chu Ju-chi of the Ming, also contains some additional information not found in the above, chuan 31 (Vol. 4, pp. 2097-2106 of the Taipei reprint edition).

9.    Nien-p'u, under Ch'ing-kuo 1st year, p. 36.

10.    The doctrine of the Five Ranks, "the dialectic of enlightenment" is a characteristic feature of the Ts'ao-tung school. For a brief discussion, see Dumoulin, pp. 112-118. For a detailed discussion, see Ui Hakujo, Zenshushi kenkyu, Vol. II (Tokyo, 1943), pp.253-320.

11.     Nien-pu, under Cheng-ho 4th year, p. 8a-b.

12.    Ibid., under Hsuan-ho 6th year, p. 17b.

13.    Ibid., under Hsuan-ho 7th year, p. 18a.

14.    Ibid., p. 18a- b. cf. Suzuki, Essays in Zen Buddhism, Second Series, pp. 29-31.

15.    Ta-hui P'u-Chueh Ch'an-shih yu-lu, chuan 16, T47, p. 878c.




16.     Nien-p'u, under Shao-hsing 11th year, pp. 39b-40a.

17.     According to another story, Ta-hui himself was the direct cause for this catastrophe. In order to celebrate Chang Chiu-ch'eng's deep understanding of Buddhism, Ta-hui gave a special lecture at his monastery on Ching-shan during which he made reference to the "Bow of Divine Arm" (shen-pi-kung)[as] as a figure of speech. However, at that time there was unrest at the borders and this very weapon was under discussion for possible adoption in the campaign. Ch'in Hui thought that Ta-hui was purposely ridiculing the court and therefore laicized him and banished him to Heng-chou. Shih-shih chi-ku-lueh, chuan 4. T49 p. 889. Nien-p'u , under Shao-hsing 11th year, pp. 40b-41a.

18.     Nien-p'u, under Shao-hsing 26th year, p. 52b.

19.     Selections from this work have been translated by Chang Chung-yuan, Original Teachings of Ch'an Buddhism (New York, Random House, 1969).

20.    Miura & Sasaki, Zen Dust, pp. 355-356.

21.     Suzuki, Essays in Zen Buddhism, Second Series, pp. 90-93.

22.     Chung-feng Ho-shang kuang-lu, quoted in translation by Miura & Sasaki. Zen Dust, pp. 4-6.

23.    Garma C. C. Chang, The Practice of Zen (N.Y. Perennial Library, 1959), p. 71.

24.    Ibid.

25.    Nan Huai-chin, Ch'an yu tao kai-lun. (Taipei, 1968) pp. 77 -78.

26.     Claudio Naranjo and Robert Ornstein, On the Psychology of Meditation (New York, The Viking Press, 1971). pp. 19-74.

27.    Ibid., pp.75-89.

28.     Dumoulin, A History of Zen Buddhism, p. 258.

29.    Lu Ch'an-an, Hsiao-shuo tz'u-yu hui-shih (Shanghai, Chung-hua Bookstore, 1964), p. 650. Lu quotes a passage from the Shih-t'ou chi (Dream of the Red Chamber) in which the term occurs.

30.    I am indebted to Sidney L. Greenblatt for first introducing me to the literature of ethnomethodology and then discussing with me the various issues involved. The classical theoretical formulation about "multiple realities" and the process of transition from one reality to another through "shock" and "leap" is given by Alfred Schutz in Alfred Schutz, Collected Papers, Vol. I: The Problem of Social Reality (The Hague: Maritinus Nijhoff, 1962), pp. 207-259. Alfred Schutz, On Phenomenology and Social Relations, edited with an introduction by Helmut R. Wagner (Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1970), pp. 245-262. Harold Garfinkel, Studies in Ethnomethodology (N. J. Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1967), Chapter 2 "Studies of the Routine Grounds of Every-day Activities", pp. 35-75. I recognize that there are basic philosophical differences between Ch'an Buddhism and phenomenology and ethnomethodology. My aim in bringing in these materials is to focus on the similarity of the "techniques" used by a Ch'an monk and an ethnomethodologist to effect some sort of transformation, be it enlightenment or a new awareness of the "reality of everyday life". It goes without saying that I am not here comparing the contents or the consequences of these transformations.

31.     Garfinkel, p. 35.

32.    This view is most eloquently articulated by Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann in The Social Construction of Reality, A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge (New York, Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1967).

33.     Garfinkel,p.37.

34.    Ibid., pp. 37-38.




35.    Ibid., p. 44.

36.    One central rule of conversation, whether it is the summons-answer sequence or a question-answer pair, is what Schegloff calls, "conditional relevance". Both koans and exchanges like this one fail to fulfill this requirement, for the answer in either case is in one way or another not relevant to the question. Emmanuel A. Schegloff, "Notes on a Conversational Practice: Formulating Place", in David Sudnow, ed. Studies in Social Interaction (N.Y. The Free Press, 1972), pp. 75-119. See also "Sequencing in Conversational Openings", in American Anthropologist, LXX, 6, December, 1968, pp. 1075-95.

37.    A face-to-face interaction, just as a conversation, exhibits certain features and operates according to certain necessary rules. George Psathas and Frances Waksler detailed these in their study and then conclude, "For face to face interaction to continue, all the required features must remain present and be continually validated. . . One may deliberately act to disturb the other, as in the case of Garfinkel's 'nasty surprises', which calls into question the other's taken-for-granted assumptions. If the other is unable or not permitted to reestablish those features that are necessary to interact, then the relationship may be terminated". George Psathas and Frances Waksler, "Essential Features of Face-to-Face Interaction", in Phenomenological Sociology: Issues and Applications, edited by George Psathas (New York, John Wiley & Sons, 1973), p. 173.

38.    Alfred Schutz, On Phenomenology and Social Relations. p. 254. Schutz mentions different types of "shock" which vary in intensity and nature, the discussion of which occurs on pp. 254-255.

39.    Arthur Deikman, "Deautomatization of the Mystical Experience", Psychiatry 29 (1966), p. 324.

40.    Julian M. Davidson, 'The Physiology of Meditation and Mystical States of Consciousness", Perspective in Biology and Medicine, Vol. 19, No. 3, Spring 1976, p. 370.

41.    Daie sho, p. 80.

42.    Ta-hui yu-lu, chuan 19, T47, pp. 890c-891a.

43.    Ibid., p. 890a.

44.    Ibid., chuan 13, T47, p. 863b-c.

45.    Daie sho, p. 57.

46.    Ta-hui yu-lu, chuan 24, p. 47, p. 910c.

47.    Daie sho, p. 207; cf. Chang, The Practice of Zen, pp. 91 -92.

48.    Ta-hui yu-lu, chuan 19, T47, p. 890a-b.

49.    Ibid., chuan 16, T47, p. 879c.

50.    Ibid., chuan 21, T47, pp. 849c-900a.

51.    Daie sho, p. 65.

52.    Ta-hui yu-lu, chuan 20, T47, pp. 901c-902a.

53.    Daie sho, p. 122.

54.    Ta-hui yu-lu, chuan 22, T47, p. 912a.

55.    Daie sho, p. 145.

56.    The instructions on koan meditation by Chung-feng, Fan-ch'i and K'ung-ku can be found in Ch'an-kuan ts'e-chin,[at] edited by Chu-hung. This book has been translated into Japanese by Fujiyoshi Jikai and published as Vol. 19 in the Zen no goroku series (Tokyo, 1970).





a 大慧宗杲
b 公案
c 默照邪禪
d 看話禪
e 五家
f 景德傳燈錄
g 楊歧
h 黃龍
i 五位偏正
j 圓悟克勤
k 碧巖錄
l 東山水上行
m 不疑語句,是為大病
n 有句無句,如籐依樹
o 生大
p 死大
q 正法眼藏
r 禪林寶訓
s 中峰明本




t 話頭
u 參話頭,看話頭
v 舉、提
w 疑情
x 開埸白
aa 湛然
ad 昏沈
ae 掉舉
af 喚作竹篦則觸,不喚作竹篦則背
ag 空寂
ah 如咬生鐵橛
ai 天理
aj 天性
ak 實相
al 世間相




am 正心
an 菩提心
ao 忠義心
ap 楚石梵琦
aq 空谷景隆
ar 憨山德清
as 神臂弓
at 禪關策進