A Reply to Hu Shih
By Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki
Philosophy East and
V. 3 No. 1 (1953)
Copyright 2000 by University
of Hawaii Press
One of my first impressions after reading Dr. Hu Shih's learned
and instructive paper on Zen Buddhism in China is that he may know a
great deal about history but nothing about the actor behind it. History
is a kind of public property accessible to everybody who is at liberty
to handle it according to his judgment. To this extent history is
something objective, and its materials or facts, though these are quite
an indefinite element in the make-up of history, are like scientific
objects ready to be examined by the students. They are not, of course,
subject to planned experiments. On the other hand, the actor or the
creator or the man who is behind history eludes the historian's
objective handling. What constitutes his individuality or subjectivity
cannot be made the object of historical investigation, because it
refuses to manifest itself objectively. It can be appreciated only by
himself. He is a unique existence which can never be duplicated, and
this uniqueness in its metaphysical sense, or in its deepest sense, I
would say, can be intuited only by the man himself. It is not the
historian's business to peer into it. In fact, however much he may try,
he will always be frustrated in his attempt. Hu Shih fails to understand
A further impression is that vis-a-vis Zen, there are at least
two types of mentality: the one which can understand Zen and, therefore,
has the right to say something about' it, and another which is utterly
unable to grasp what Zen is. The difference between the two types is one
of quality and is beyond the possibility of mutual reconciliation; By
this I mean that, from the point of view of the second type, Zen belongs
in a realm altogether transcending this type of mind and, therefore, is
not a worthwhile subject on which to waste much time. Men of the first
type know very well where this second type is entrenched, because they
were there themselves prior to their attainment to Zen.
The first impression that I get from Hu Shih's paper is that
history relates Zen to a general thought-movement in the development of
Chinese Buddhism in its contact with Taoism and Confucianism and
especially with the Chinese way of handling life. The second impression
reflects my conviction that Hu Shih, who represents the second type of
mentality, is not properly qualified and equipped to discuss Zen as Zen
apart from its various historical settings.
Zen must be understood from the inside, not from the outside. One
must first attain what I call praj~naa-intuition and then proceed to the
study of all its objectified expressions. To try to get into Zen by
collecting the so-called historical materials and to come to a
conclusion which will definitely characterize Zen as Zen, Zen in itself,
or Zen as each of us lives it in his innermost being, is not the right
Hu Shih, as a historian, knows Zen in its historical setting, but
not Zen in itself. It is likely that he does not recognize that Zen has
its own life independent of history. After he has exhausted Zen in its
historical setting, he is not at all aware of the fact that Zen is still
fully alive, demanding Hu Shih's attention and, if possible, his
"unhistorical" treatment. For instance, he kills Fu Ta-shih together
with his "gaathaa" which, however, remains quite eloquent even to this
day. It is a pity that he is still haunted by the ghost of his victim,
for his "bridge" is flowing as ever before, and, with all his historical
insight, Hu Shih finds himself drowning while walking over it. Does
this sound "anti-historical"?
Hu Shih seems to be very much upset by my statement that
Zen is irrational and beyond our intellectual comprehension, and he
tries to show that Zen can be understood easily when it is placed in its
historical setting. He thinks that when Zen is so placed, it is found
that the Zen movement in the history of Chinese Buddhism was "only a
part of a larger movement which may be correctly characterized as
internal reformation or revolution in Buddhism."  Let me see if he is
My contention is twofold: (1) Zen is not explainable by mere
intellectual analysis. As long as the intellect is concerned with words
and ideas, it can never reach Zen. (2) Even when Zen is treated
historically, Hu Shih's way of setting it in a historical frame is not
correct, because he fails to understand what Zen is. I must strongly
insist that Zen must first be comprehended as it is in it self and then
it is that one can proceed to the study of its historical
objectifications as Hu Shih does.
I will now briefly set my views down, discussing the second point
Hu Shih does not seem to understand the real significance of
"sudden awakening or enlightenment" in its historical setting. He makes a
great deal of Tao-sheng's allusion to this term and thinks here is the
beginning of Zen thought. But as far as "sudden enlightenment" is
concerned, this is the very essence of Buddhist teaching, and all the
schools of Buddhism, Hiinayaana and
See Hu Shih, "Ch'an (Zen) Buddhism in China: Its History and Method,"
in this issue, p. 12.
Mahaayaana, Yogaacaara and Maadhyamika, even, in my opinion, the Pure
Land sect, owe their origin to Buddha's enlightenment-experience, which
he had under the Bodhi tree by the River Naira~njanaa so many centuries
ago. Buddha's enlightenment was no other than a "sudden enlightenment."
Among the Suutras in which this experience is emphasized, I may mention
the Vimalakiirti 維摩經 the La^nkaavataara 楞伽經, and the Suutra of Perfect
Enlightenment 圓覺經. Though the last-mentioned is a disputed Suutra, it is
one of the most important works on Zen.
In the history of Zen, Yenoo (Hui-neng or Wei-lang in Chinese)
comes foremost, and it may be better in more than one sense to consider
him the first patriarch of Zen in China. His message was really
revolutionary. Though he is described as an illiterate son of a farmer,
living in the Lingnan district far away from the center of T'ang culture
and civilization, he was a great pioneer spirit and opened up a new
field in the study of Buddhism, upsetting all the traditions which
preceded him. His message was: dhyaana and praj~naa are one; where
dhyaana is, there is praj~naa, and where praj~naa is, there is dhyaana;
they are not to be separated one from the other. Before Hui-neng the two
were regarded as separate; otherwise, their identity was not clearly
affirmed, which resulted in the practice of more or less emphasizing
dhyaana at the expense of praj~naa. Buddha's all-important
enlightenment-experience came to be interpreted statically and not
dynamically, and the doctrine of `suunyataa (emptiness), which is really
the cornerstone of Buddhist thought-structure, became a dead thing.
Hui-neng revived the enlightenment-experience.
According to The Records of the La^nkaa Teachers and Disciples
楞伽師資記 , Tao-hsin 道信 (Doshin) , popularly known as the fourth patriarch
of Zen in China, seems to have been a great master of Zen, and under his
successor, Hung-jen 弘忍 ( Gunin ), the fifth patriarch, there were ten
or eleven great masters, one of whom was Hui-neng 慧能 (Yenoo). Tao-hsin
and Hung-jen, however, did not make the distinction and the identity of
dhyaana and praj~naa quite clear. Perhaps there were yet no impelling
circumstances to do so. But under Hung-jen this changed, for among the
rivals of Hui-neng there was Shen-hsiu (Jinshu), who was an outstanding
figure almost overshadowing Hui-neng. Shen-hsiu was a contrast to
Hui-neng in every way -- in learning, monkish training, and personality.
Hui-neng stayed in the south, while Shen-hsiu went to the capital under
imperial patronage. It was natural that Shen-hsiu and his teaching were
more esteemed. Hui-neng, however, did not make any special effort to
compete with Shen-hsiu, doing his own preaching in his own way in the
remote provincial towns. It was due to Shen-hui, one of the youngest
disciples of Hui-neng, that the differences
between Hui-neng's school and Shen-hsiu's were brought to the surface
and the great struggle started for ascendance and supremacy, as
described so well by Hu Shih.
Shen-hui's emphasis, however, on the doctrine of sudden
enlightenment does not exactly reflect the true spirit of Hui-neng. It
is rather a side-issue from the doctrine of the identity of dhyaana and
praj~naa. According to my "historical understanding," the
identity-doctrine comes first and when this is grasped sudden
enlightenment naturally follows. Shen-hui probably had to emphasize
sudden enlightenment because of strong opposition from Shen-hsiu's
followers. Shen-hui's position is better understood from Tsung-mi's
comment on Shen-hui in which Tsung-mi characterizes Shen-hui's teaching
as "The one character chih 知 is the gateway to all secrets." Here chih
means praj~naa-intuition and not "knowledge" in its ordinary sense. When
chih is rendered -- as it is by Hu Shih -- as "knowledge," all is lost,
not only Shen-hui and Hui-neng but also Zen itself. Chih here is the
key-term which unlocks all the secrets of Zen. I will return to this
That dhyaana is no other than praj~naa was Hui-neng's intuition,
which was really revolutionary in the history of Buddhist thought in
China. Chih-i was a great Buddhist philosopher, and Fa-tsang was a still
greater one. The latter marks the climax of Buddhist thought as it
developed in China. Fa-tsang's systematization of ideas expounded in the
Buddhist suutra-group known as the Ga.n.davyuuha or Avata^msaka 華嚴
(Kegon in Japanese and Hua-yen in Chinese) is one of the wonderful
intellectual achievements performed by the Chinese mind and is of the
highest importance to the history of world thought. Hui-neng's
accomplishment in the way of Zen intuition equals, indeed, in its
cultural value that of Chih-i 智顗 and Fa-tsang 法藏, both of whom are minds
of the highest order, not only in China, but in the whole world.
What, then, is the identity-doctrine of Hui-neng? How did it
contribute to the later development of the various schools of Zen
Buddhism? To answer these is more than I can manage in this paper. 
Let me just refer to Shen-hui. While Shen-hui was engaged in discussion
with Ch'eng, the Zen master, on the subject of identity, Shen-hui
remarked to Wang Wei 王維 , who was the host, "When I am thus talking with
you I am the identity of dhyaana and praj~naa."  This gives the
doctrine in a nutshell, or it may be better to say that Shen-hui himself
stands here as the practical demonstrator of it. From this identity
naturally follows Ma-tsu's famous dictum, "My everyday thought is the
Tao" (heijoo-shin kore michi; in Chinese, p'ing ch'ang hsin shih tao 平常
I have treated these problems in the third volume of my "History of Zen
Thought." The book is in Japanese and is still in MS.
edition of Shen-Hui Sayings [or Discourses], pp. 31-32.
心是道). This is explained by him thus: "Everyday thought means to be
doing nothing special; it means to be free from right and wrong, to be
free from taking and giving up, to be free from nihilism as well as
externalism, to be neither a saintly nor an ordinary man, neither a wise
man nor a bodhisattva. My going-about, standing, sitting, or
lying-down; my meeting situations as they rise; my dealing with things
as they come and go -- all this is the Tao." 
To give a few more examples of the identity-doctrine as it
A monk asked Kei-shin of Choosha 長沙景岑 (Changsha Ching-ts'en), who
was a disciple of Nansen Fugwan 南泉普願 (Nanch'uan Pu-yuan, died 834),
"What is meant by 'everyday thought'?" Kei-shin answered, "If you want
to sleep, sleep; if you want to sit, sit." The monk said, "I do not
understand." Kei-shin answered, "When hot, we try to get cool; when
cold, we turn toward a fire."
A monk asked Kei-shin, "According to Nansen, the cat and the ox
have a better knowledge of it than all the Buddhas of the past, the
present, and the future. How is it that all the Buddhas do not know it?"
Kei-shin answered, "They knew a little better before they entered the
The monk: "How is it that the cat and the ox have a
knowledge of it?"
Kei-shin: "You cannot suspect them."
This mondoo 問答 will be understood better when I try later to
distinguish two kinds of knowledge, relative and transcendental. Hu Shih
may think this is a "crazy" kind of Zen methodology to make the monk
realize the truth by himself in a most straightforward way.
In one sense, this way of looking at life may be judged to be a
kind of naturalism, even of animalistic libertinism. But we must
remember that man is human, and the animal is animal. There must be a
distinction between human naturalism and animal naturalism. We ask
questions and wait and decide and act, but animals do not ask questions,
they just act. This is where they have one advantage over us and, yet,
this is where they are animals. Human naturalism is not quite the same
as animal naturalism. We are hungry. Sometimes we decide not to eat;
sometimes we even decide to starve to death, and here is human
naturalism, too. It may be called unnaturalism.
There is, however, through all these naturalistic affirmations or
unnaturalistic negations, something that is in every one of us which
leads to what I call a transcendental "yes" attitude or frame of mind.
This can be seen in the Zen master when he asserts, "Just so," or "So it
is," or "You are right," or "Thus things go," or "Such is the way,"
etc. In the Chinese the assertion runs: shih mo 是麼, or chih mo 只麼, or ju
shih 如是, or ju tz'u 如此, or chih che
Tao Yuan 道原, Ching Te Ch'uan Teng Lu 景德傳燈錄 (The Record of the
Transmission of the Lamp), fasc. 28.
5. Ibid., fasc. 10.
shih 只遮是. These do not exhaust all the statements a Zen master makes
in the expression of his "yes" frame of mind or in his acceptance of the
Buddhist doctrine of suchness or thusness (tathataa) or of emptiness
Strictly speaking, there cannot be a philosophy of suchness,
because suchness defies a clear-cut definition as an idea. When it is
presented as an idea, it is lost; it turns into a shadow, and any
philosophy built on it will be a castle on the sand. Suchness or chih
che shih is something one has to experience in oneself. Therefore, we
might say that it is only by those who have this experience that any
provisional system of thought can be produced on the basis of it. In
many cases such minds prefer silence to verbalism or what we may call
symbolism to intellectualization. They do not like to risk any form of
misunderstanding, for they know that the finger is quite liable to be
taken for the moon. The Zen master, generally speaking, despises those
who indulge in word- or idea-mongering, and in this respect Hu Shih and
myself are great sinners, murderers of Buddhas and patriarchs; we both
are destined for hell.
But it is not a bad thing to go to hell, if it does some good to
somebody. So, let us go on our way and I, for my part, quote the
following from The Transmission of the Lamp 傳燈錄 (fasc. 14) under Yakusan
Igen 藥山惟儼 (Yaoshan Wei-yen, 751-834), and hope to help readers
understand what I mean by the experience of suchness, or the chih che
shih frame of mind:
One day Yakusan was found quietly sitting in meditation. Sekito
石頭希遷 (Shih-t'ou, 669-790), seeing this, asked, "What are you doing
Yakusan answered, "I am not doing anything at all."
Sekito said, "In that case you are just sitting idly."
"If I am sitting idly, I am then doing something."
say you are not doing anything. What is this 'anything' you are not
Yakusan: "You may get a thousand wise men together and
even they cannot tell."
Sekito: then composed a stanza:
Since of old we have been living together without knowing the
Hand in hand, as the wheel turns, we thus go. 
Since ancient times even wise men of the highest grade failed to know
what it is:
How then can ordinary people expect to have a clear
understanding of it in a casual way?
Sometime later, Sekito remarked, "Words and actions are of no
To this Yakusan said, "Even when there are no words, no
actions, they are of no avail."
Sekito said, "Here is no room
even for a pinhead."
Yakusan then said, "Here it is like planting
a flower on the rock."
And Sekito expressed his full approval.
"Thus" in the original Chinese is chih mo (shimo in Japanese). This
term coupled with jen-yun is the essence of this gaathaa, "Jen-yun" 任運,
here translated "as the wheel turns" or "as the wind blows," has nothing
to do with fatalism. "Jen-yun" frequently goes with "t'eng-t'eng" 騰騰
(sometimes teng-teng). This combination, "jen-yun t'eng-t'eng", is full
of significance, but it is very difficult to give the idea in a few
English words. In short, it is "Let thy will be done" without the
accompaniment of "My God, my God, why haste thou forsaken me?"
"T'eng-t'eng" is going around almost jubilantly, at least in a fully
relaxed state of mind, with no fear, no anxiety, no anguish. It
indicates the state of mind Confucius had when he, with his disciples,
visited the spa near River I.
When Beirei Osho (Mi-ling 米嶺, the teacher)  was about to pass
away, he left this in part for his disciples: "O my pupils, carefully
think of the matter. Ultimately, it is 'just this and nothing more,'
chih che shih!"
A monk asked Risan Osho  (Li-shan, the teacher), "What is the
idea or Daruma 達摩 (tamo) coming from the West?"
"I do not see any 'What'?"
The monk: "Why so?"
"Just so and nothing more" (只惟如此 chih wei ju tz'u).
Chih ju tz'u, shih mo, and chih che shih -- all these are the Zen
masters' attempts to express what goes beyond words or what cannot be
mediated by ideas. When they wish to be more expressive, they say, "It
is like planting a flower on the rock," or "A silly old man is filling
the well with snow," or "It is like piling vegetables into a bottomless
basket." The more they try to express themselves, the more enigmatic
they become. They are not doing this with any special pedagogic purpose.
They are just trying to give expression to what they have in mind. They
are far from being exponents of agnosticism, too. They are just plain
Zen masters who have something to say to the rest of their fellow
Whatever historical setting Zen may fit in and in whatever way
the historian may deal with it as revolutionary or iconoclastic or
anti-traditional, we must remember that this kind of treatment of Zen
never does clarify the self-nature (svabhaava or svalak.sa.na) of Zen.
The historical handling of Zen cannot go any further than the objective
relationships with other so-called historical factors. When this is
done, however skillfully and ingeniously, the historian cannot expect to
have done with Zen in every possible way. The fact is that Zen is to be
grasped from within, if one is really to understand what Zen is in
itself. Unfortunately, Hu shih seems to neglect this side of the study
This neglect on the part of Hu Shih is shown in his
dealing with Tsung-mi's characterization of Shen-hui. Tsung-mi 宗密
(Shuu-mitsu) sums up Shen-hui's teaching as being centered in one
Chinese character "chih," which is regarded as "the gateway to all
mysteries (or secrets)." Hu Shih translates
The Transmission of the Lamp, fasc. 8, under Beirei.
8. Ibid, under
chih 知 as "knowledge" and takes it as best characterizing Shen-hui's
intellectualistic approach.  This statement most decidedly proves
that Hu Shih does not understand Zen as it is in itself, apart from its
Shen-hui's chih does not mean intellectual knowledge, but is
rather what I have called "praj~naa-intuition."  It may take many
pages to explain my position in regard to chih, but I have to do it
because it is the central notion constituting Zen. And when one knows
what chih is, one knows something of Zen.
When Buddhist philosophers talk so much about suchness or
thusness, and when the Zen master raises his eyebrows, or swings his
stick, or coughs, or rubs his hands, or utters the "Ho!" cry (喝 kwatz in
Japanese), or just says "Yes, yes," or "ju shih," or "We thus go,"
almost ad infinitum, we must remember that they all point to something
in us which may be called pure self-consciousness, or pure experience,
or pure awakening, or intuition (rather praj~naa-intuition). This is the
very foundation of all our experiences, all our knowledge, and defies
being defined, for definition means ideation and objectification. The
"something" is the ultimate reality or "subjectum'' or "emptiness"
(`suunyataa). And what is most important here is that it is
self-conscious, though not at all in the relative sense. This
self-consciousness is chih, and Tsung-mi and Shen-hui quite rightly make
it the gateway to all Zen secrets.
I should like to have Hu Shih remember that knowledge, as the
term is generally used, is the relationship between subject and object.
Where there is no such dichotomous distinction, knowledge is impossible.
If we have something of noetic quality here, we must not designate that
as knowledge, for by doing so we get into a confusion and find
ourselves inextricably involved in contradictions. When the self becomes
conscious of itself at the end of an ever-receding process of
consciousness, this last is what we must call self-consciousness in its
deepest sense. This is truly the consciousness of the self, where there
is no subject-object separation, but where subject is object and object
is subject. If we still find here the bifurcation of subject and object,
that will not yet be the limit of consciousness. We have now gone
beyond that limit and are conscious of this fact of transcendence. Here
can be no trace of selfhood, only unconscious consciousness of no-self,
because we are now beyond the realm of the subject-object relationship.
Shen-hui calls this chih, which is no other than
praj~naa-intuition, or simply praj~naa in contradistinction to
vij~naana, "discriminatory knowledge." Here is the irrationality of Zen
beyond the comprehension of human understanding.
Refer to Hu Shih, in this issue, p. 15.
10. See my paper on this in
Essays in East-West Philosophy: An Attempt at World Philosophical
Synthesis, Charles A. Moore, ed. (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press,
1951), pp. 17-48.
Chih is the absolute object of praj~naa and at the same time is
praj~naa itself. The Chinese Buddhist philosophers frequently call it,
tautologically, pan-ju chih chih-hui 般若之智慧 (hannya no chiye in
Japanese), for they want to have chih-hui as it is ordinarily
understood, sharply distinguished from praj~naa (pan-ju).
The professional philosopher or historian may reject the
existence and reality of chih as we have it here, because he, especially
the historian, finds it rather disturbing in his objective and
"historical" treatment of Zen. The historian here performs a strange
tactic. He summarily puts aside as fabrication or fiction or invention
everything that does not conveniently fit into his scheme of historical
setting. I would not call this kind of history objective but most
strongly colored with subjectivism.
I think I am now ready to present a bit of Zen epistemology.
There are two kinds of information we can have of reality: one is
knowledge about it and the other is that which comes out of reality
itself. Using "knowledge" in its broadest and commonest sense, the first
is what I would describe as knowledge and the second as unknowable
Knowledge is knowable when it is the relationship between subject
and object. Here are the subject as knower, and the object as the
known. As long as this dichotomy holds, all knowledge based on it is
knowable because it is public property and accessible to everybody. On
the contrary, knowledge becomes unknown or unknowable when it is not
public but strictly private in the sense that it is not sharable by
others. Unknown knowledge is the result of an inner experience;
therefore, it is wholly individual and subjective. But the strange thing
about this kind of knowledge is that the one who has it is absolutely
convinced of its universality in spite of its privacy. He knows that
everybody has it, but everybody is not conscious of it.
Knowable knowledge is relative, while unknown knowledge is
absolute and transcendental and is not communicative through the medium
of ideas. Absolute knowledge is the knowledge the subject has of himself
directly without any medium between him and his knowledge. He does not
divide himself into factors such as subject and object in order to know
himself. We may say that it is a state of inner awareness. And this
awareness is singularly contributive to keeping one's mind free of fears
Unknown knowledge is intuitive knowledge. We must remember,
however, that praj~naa-intuition is altogether different from perceptual
intuitions. In the latter case there is, for instance, the seer and the
object he sees, and they are separable and separate, one standing over
against the other. They belong to the realm of relativity and
discrimination. Praj~naa-intuition goes on where
there is oneness and sameness. It is also different from ethical
intuitions and from mathematical intuitions.
For a general characterization of praj~naa-intuition we can state
something like this: Praj~naa-intuition is not derivative but
primitive; not inferential, not rationalistic, nor mediational, but
direct, immediate; not analytical but synthetic; not cognitive, but
symbolical; not intending but merely expressive; not abstract, but
concrete; not processional, not purposive, but factual and ultimate,
final and irreducible; not eternally receding, but infinitely inclusive;
etc. If we go on like this, there may be many more predicates which
could be ascribed to praj~naa-intuition as its characteristics. But
there is one quality we must not forget to mention in this connection:
the uniqueness of praj~naa intuition consists in its authoritativeness,
utterly convincing and contributive to the feeling that "I am the
ultimate reality itself," that "I am absolute knower," that "I am free
and know no fear of any kind."  In one sense praj~naa-intuition may
be said to correspond to Spinoza's scientia intuitiva. According to him,
this kind of intuition is absolutely certain and infallible and, in
contrast to ratio, produces the highest peace and virtue of the mind.
Let us see how these characterizations of praj~naa-intuition,
which is no other than the Zen experience, fit the masters' way of
handling Zen questions. I will give just a few examples, enough to
illustrate my point.
Doogo 道吾  asked Sekito,  "What is the ultimate Buddhist
Sekito answered, "Unless you have it you cannot tell."
"Is there anything further which may give me a clue?"
vastness of the sky does not hinder the white cloud flying anywhere it
Another time, Doogo asked, "Who has attained the teaching of the
Sekito: "One who has understood Buddhism has it."
"Do you have it?"
Sekito: "No, I do not understand Buddhism."
Superficially, this mondoo ("question and answer") may sound strange;
because Sekito is the very one who was under Hui-neng 慧能, the sixth
patriarch, when Sekito was still very young, and who later came to
understand Zen under one of Hui-neng's principal disciples, Seigen
Gyoshi 青原行思.  What makes him say, then, that he does not understand
Hui-neng's teaching, that is, Zen? In the first mondoo Sekito declares
that unless one really understands what Buddhism is one cannot tell what
it is. Quite a natural thing.
Cf. Dhammapada, 153-154, 179.
12. Tao-wu Yen-chih, 779-835, The
Transmission of the Lamp, fasc. 14, under Sekito.
13. Shih-tou Hsi-ch'ien, 742-755, The Transmission of the Lamp, fasc.
14. Ch'ing-yuan Hang-ssu, died 740, The Transmission of the Lamp,
What, then, does he mean when he says that he does not know
Hui-neng's teaching? His knowledge is evidently his not-knowing. This is
A monk once asked Dai-ten (Ta-tien 大顛), "When the inside men see each
other what happens?"
Dai-ten answered, "They are already outside."
"How about those who are right inside?"
Dai-ten: "They do not ask
such questions." 
One can readily see that this kind of chih is not knowledge that is
transmissible to others, that it is subjective in the sense that it
grows within oneself and is exclusively the possession of this
particular person. We may call it "inside knowledge." But as soon as we
say it is inside, it gets outside and ceases to be itself. You can
neither affirm nor negate it. It is above both, but can be either if you
Therefore, Yakusan 藥山惟儼  announced, "I have a word (i chu tzu 一句子
) of which I have never told anybody."
Doogo said, "You are already
giving yourself to it."
Later a monk asked Yakusan, "What is the one
word you do not tell anybody?"
Yakusan replied, "It is beyond
Doogo remarked again, "You are already talking."
Yakusan's i chu tzu is no other than chih, "unknown and
unknowable" It is the ultimate reality, the Godhead, in which there are
no distinctions whatever and to which, therefore, the intellect cannot
give any predicate, this or that, good or bad, right or wrong. To talk
about it is to negate it. When Yakusan begins to talk about it either
negatively or positively, his i chu tzu is no longer present. Doogo is
right, therefore, in accusing his master of contradicting himself. But
we can also say that Doogo has to share the same accusation he is
throwing against the other. As far as human intellect is concerned, we
can never escape this contradiction. Yakusan fully realizes this, but he
cannot help himself inasmuch as he is also a human individual. The
following records we have of him in The Transmission of the Lamp (fasc.
14) show clearly where he stands:
A monk once asked him, "I have yet no clear knowledge of my self
and may I ask you to indicate the way to it?"
Yakusan remained silent for a while and then said, "It is not
difficult for me to give you a word (i chu) about it. But what is needed
of you is to see it instantly as the word is uttered. Then you may have
something of it. But when you are given up to reflection
The Transmission of the Lamp, fasc. 14, under Ta-tien.
Wei-yen, 754-834, The Transmission of the Lamp, fasc. 14.
or intellection (ssu liang 思量 ) to any degree I shall be committing a
fault myself and shall be blamed for it. It is better, therefore, to
keep one's mouth tightly closed and let no trouble come out that way."
His is an honest confession.
The i chu tzu is an inner experience and defies expression in
words, for words are mere symbols and cannot be the thing in itself. But
as words are such a convenient medium, one we have invented for mutual
communication, we are apt to take them for realities. Money represents a
good which is of real value, but we are so used to money that we
manipulate it as if it were the value itself. Words are like money. The
Zen masters know that, hence their persistent and often violent
opposition to words and then to the intellect which deals exclusively in
words. This is the reason they appeal to the stick, the hossu (fu-tzu
拂子 ), the "Ho!" and to various forms of gesture. Even these are far from
being the ultimate itself; the masters have faced a very difficult task
in trying to convey what they have within themselves. Strictly
speaking, however, there is no conveying at all. It is the awakening of
the same experience in others by means of words, gestures, and anything
the master finds suitable at the moment. There are no prescribed
methods; there is no methodology already set down in formulas.
To get further acquainted with the nature of chih, or
praj~naa-intuition, let me quote more from The Transmission of the Lamp,
which is the mine of the mondo and other Zen materials necessary for
understanding Zen as far as such records are concerned.
A monk came to Doogo Yenchi (Tao-wu Yen-chih, 779-835) and asked,
"How is it that the Bodhisattva of No-miracles leaves no traceable
"Leaving no footsteps" has a technical meaning in Zen. This is
what is expected of a highly trained Zen master. We ordinary people
leave all kinds of footmarks by which our inner life can be detected and
assessed. And this inner life is always found to be tainted with
selfishness and motives arising from it and also with intellectual
calculations designed for their execution. To leave no traces thus means
to be above creaturely mindedness in Christian terms. It is,
metaphysically speaking, to transcend both affirmation and negation, to
be moving in the realm of oneness and sameness, and, therefore, to be
leading a life of purposelessness (anaabhogacaarya) or of
unattainability (anupalabdha). This is one of the most important notions
in the philosophy of Zen. To trace the tracelessness of the Zen
master's life is to have an "unknown knowledge" of the ultimate reality.
Now let us see what answer was given by Doogo Yenchi (Tao-wu Yen-chih
道吾圓智 ). It was simply this:
"One who goes with him knows it." ("Him" means the "Bodhisattva of
The monk asked, "Do you know, O master?"
said, "I do not know."
The monk wanted to know the reason for his
ignorance. "Why do you not, master?"
The master gave up the case.
"You do not understand what I mean."
Now Doogo is no agnostic. He knows everything. He knows the monk
through and through. His no-knowledge (pu-chih) is not to be "approached
intellectually." It is of the same category as his pu shih when he
answered Gohoo's (Wu-feng) question: "Do you know Yakusan, the old
master?" Gohoo wanted to know the reason, asking, "Why do you not know
him?" Doogo said, "I do not, I do not." His answer was quite emphatic,
as we see from his repetition of negation. This is a most flagrant
repudiation of the "historical" fact, because Doogo was one of the chief
disciples of Yakusan. This was well known among his contemporaries.
Therefore, Gohoo's asking was not at all an ordinary question which
called for information regarding human relationship. Doogo knew this
full well, hence his "I do not know" (pu shih pu shih 不識不識 ).
If I go on like this there will really be no ending. Let me hope
that one more illustration will sufficiently clarify my position in
regard to the meaning of the term "chih" as was used by Shen-hui and
Tsung-mi and by Zen people generally.
Ungan Donjoo (Yun-yen T'an-sh'eng, died 841 ), disciple of Yakusan
and the teacher of Tozan Ryokai,  once made this remark to the
congregation: "There is a man for whom there is nothing he cannot answer
if he is asked."
Tozan questioned, "How large is his library?"
master said, "Not a book in his house."
Tozan: "How could he be so
The master: "Not a wink he sleeps day and night."
"May I ask him some special question?"
The master: "His answer will
be no answer." 
When the gist of these Zen mondoo is replaced more or less by
modern phraseology, we may have something like the following:
We generally reason: "A" is "A" because "A" is "A"; or "A" is
"A," therefore, "A" is "A." Zen agrees or accepts this way of reasoning,
but Zen has its own way which is ordinarily not at all acceptable. Zen
would say: "A" is "A" because "A" is not "A"; or "A" is not "A,"
therefore, "A" is "A."
Tung-shan Liang-chieh 洞山良價 , 809-869. See Ueda's Daijeten 上田一大字典, 205.
The founder of the Zen school partly bearing his name.
Transmission of the Lamp, fasc. 14, under Ungan Donjoo (Yun-yen
Our thinking on the worldly level is: Everything has its cause;
nothing is without its cause; the causation works on and in all things.
But Zen will agree with some Christians when they declare that God
created the world out of nothing, or that God willed and the world came
into existence, or that "To say that God created the world yesterday or
to-morrow would be foolishness for God created the world and everything
in it in the one present Now." 
Mathematics has this: 0=0, l=l, l+l=2, and so on. Zen has these
too, but it has no objection to the following either: 0=l, 0=2, 1+1=3,
etc. Why? Because zero is infinity and infinity is zero. Is this not
irrational and beyond our comprehension?
A geometrical circle has a circumference and just one center, and
no more or less. But Zen admits the existence of a circle that has no
circumference nor center and, therefore, has an infinite number of
centers. As this circle has no center and, therefore, a center
everywhere, every radius from such a center is of equal length, that is,
all are equally infinitely long. According to the Zen point of view,
the universe is a circle without a circumference, and every one of us is
the center of the universe. To put it more concretely: I am the center,
I am the universe, I am the creator. I raise the hand and lo! there is
space, there is time, there is causation. Every logical law and every
metaphysical principle rush in to confirm the reality of my hand.
According to Hu Shih, here is Fu Tai-shih (497-569) of the Liang
Dynasty a historical non-existent, a fabricated figure out of some
fertile Chinese Buddhist or Zen imagination. This phantom bodhisattva
(tai-shih) has a gaathaa recorded in The Transmission of the Lamp on the
spade which he has and has not in his hands and on the bridge which
flows underneath Hu Shih's historically firm-set feet. In spite of Hu
Shih's ingenious manipulation of the pen or brush, I see Fu the
Bodhisattva working on his farm with a spade which must be fictitious,
because the holder himself is fictitious. Is it not really wonderful and
irrational that Fu the Bodhisattva, ghostly looking to Hu Shih's keen
historical sight, does not vanish even when thickly enveloped in the
heavy fogs over New York these winter mornings?
History deals with time and Zen does too, but with this
difference: While history knows nothing of timelessness, perhaps
disposing of it as "fabrication," Zen takes time along with
timelessness, that is to say, time in timelessness and timelessness in
time. Zen lives in this contradiction. I say, "Zen
Meister Eckhart: A Modern Translation. Raymond Bernard Blakney (New
York and London: Harper & Brothers, 1941), p. 214.
lives." History shuns anything living, for the living does not like
to be grouped with the past, with the dead. And then he is altogether
too much alive for the historian, who is used to digging up old, decayed
things from the grave. It is different with Zen. Zen makes the dead
live once more and talk their life anew. To be exact, there is no
resurrection in Zen, because there is no birth, no death; we all live in
timelessness. Chih means to become aware of this grand fact, which,
however, does not seem to concern the historians.
Science teaches us abstraction, generalization, and
specialization. This has warped our view of human beings to the extent
that we put aside the living concrete and for it substitute something
dead, universal, abstract, and, for that reason, the existentially
non-being. Economists have the "economic man," and politicians the
"political man," and historians perhaps the "historical man." These are
all abstractions and fabrications. Zen has nothing to do with the dead,
with abstractions, logic, and the past. I wonder if Hu Shih agrees with
me in this statement?
By this time, I hope my meaning is clear when I say that Zen is
not exhausted by being cozily placed in a historical corner, for Zen is
far more than history. History may tell much about Zen in its relation
to other things or events, but it is all about Zen and not Zen in itself
as every one of us lives it. Zen is, in a way, iconoclastic,
revolutionary, as Hu Shih justly remarks, but we must insist that Zen is
not that alone; indeed, Zen still stands outside the frame.
For instance, what is it that makes Zen iconoclastic and
revolutionary? Why does Zen apparently like to indulge in the use of
abusive terms, often highly sacrilegious, and also to resort to
unconventionalities, or to "the most profane language," even when they
do not seem absolutely necessary? We cannot say that Zen followers
wanted to be merely destructive and to go against everything that had
been traditionally established. To state that Zen is revolutionary is
not enough; we must probe into the reason that makes Zen act as it does.
What is it, then, that incited Zen to be iconoclastic, revolutionary,
unconventional, "profane," and, I say, irrational? Zen is not merely a
negativistic movement. There is something very positive and affirmative
about it. To find this, I have to be a kind of historian myself, I am
Zen is really a great revolutionary movement in the world history
of thought. It originated in China and, in my opinion, could not arise
anywhere else. China has many things she can well be proud of. This I
mean not in the sense, of cultural nationalism but on the world level of
ment of human consciousness. Until about the time of Hui-neng (died
713) Buddhism was still highly colored with the Indian tint of abstract
thinking. The Chinese achievements along this line were remarkable
indeed, and I think such Buddhist philosophers as Chih-i and Fa-tsang
are some of the greatest thinkers of the world. They were Chinese
products, no doubt, but we may say that their way of thinking was
stimulated by their Indian predecessors and that they were the direct
descendants of A`svagho.sa, Naagaarjuna, and Asa^nga, and others. But it
was in Zen that the Chinese mind completely asserted itself, in a
sense, in opposition to the Indian mind. Zen could nor rise and flourish
in any other land or among any other people. See how it swept all over
the Middle Kingdom throughout the T'ang and the Sung Dynasties. This was
quite a noteworthy phenomenon in the history of Chinese thought. What
made Zen wield such a powerful moral, intellectual, and spiritual
influence in China?
If any people or race is to be characterized in a word, I would
say that the Chinese mind is eminently practical in contrast to the
Indian mind, which is speculative and tending toward abstraction and
unworldliness and nonhistorical-mindedness. When the Buddhist monks
first came to China, the people objected to their not working and to
their being celibates. The Chinese people reasoned: If those monks do
not work, who will feed them? No other than those who are not monks or
priests. The laymen will naturally have to work for non-working
parasites. If the monks do not marry, who are going to look after their
ancestral spirits? Indians took it for granted that the spiritual
teachers would not engage in manual labor, and it was most natural for
them to be dependent upon laymen for their food, clothing, and housing.
It was beneath their dignity to work on the farm, to chop wood, to wash
dishes. Under these social conditions Zen could not arise in India, for
it is one of the most typical traits of Zen life that the masters and
disciples work together in all kinds of manual activity and that, while
thus working, they exchange their mondoo on highly metaphysical
subjects. They, however, carefully avoid using abstract terms. They
utilize any concrete objects they find about them in order to be
convinced of the universality of truth. If they are picking tea leaves,
the plants themselves become the subject of discourse. If they are
walking and notice some objects such as birds or animals, the birds or
animals are immediately taken up for a lively mondoo. Not only things
living or not living but also the activities they are manifesting are
appropriate matter for serious inquiry. For Zen masters, life itself
with all its dynamism is eloquent expression of the Tao.
Therefore, if the master is found making his own straw-sandals,
or plastering the wall, or reading the suutras, or drinking tea, a monk
will approach and ask questions. Likewise, when the master catches his
disciples engaged in cutting grass, gathering wheat, carrying wood,
pounding rice, or pushing the wheelbarrow, he presses them for answers
by asking questions which are apparently innocent but are inwardly full
of deep metaphysical or spiritual meaning. Joshu's  treating all
equally with a cup of tea regardless of the monk's status is one of the
most noted examples. The master may ask casually whence a monk comes
and, according to the answer he proposes, the master deals with the monk
variously. Such may be called the practical lessons of Zen.
If Zen had developed along the intellectual line of speculation,
this would never have happened. But Zen moves on praj~naa-intuition and
is concerned with an absolute present in which the work goes on and life
is lived. Around this absolute present Zen study is carried on. The
moral value of anything or any work comes afterward and is the later
development when the work already accomplished comes out as an object of
study detached from the worker himself. The evaluation is secondary and
not essential to the work itself while it is going on. Zen's daily life
is to live and not to look at life from the outside -- which would
necessarily result in alienating life from the actual living of it. Then
there will be words, ideas, concepts, etc., which do not belong in
Zen's sphere of interest.
The question of profanity or sacredness, of decorum or indecency,
was the result of abstraction and alienation. When a question comes up,
Zen is no longer there but ten thousand miles away. The masters are not
to be detained with such idle discussions as to whether a thing is
conventionally tabooed or not. Their objective is not iconoclasm, but
their way of judging values comes out automatically as such from their
inner life. The judgment we, as outsiders, give them is concerned only
with the bygone traces of the Zen life, with the corpse whose life has
departed a long time ago. Zen thus keeps up its intimate contact with
life. I would not say that the Indian mind is not like this, but rather
that the Chinese mind is more earth-conscious and hates to be lifted up
too high from the ground. The Chinese people are practical in this
sense, and Zen is deeply infused with this spirit. Hui-neng never
stopped pounding rice and chopping wood. Pai-chang (Hyakujoo)  was
really a great genius in organizing the Zen monastery on this principle
The Transmission of the Lamp, fasc. 10, under Chao-chou Ts'ung-shen.
The Transmission of the Lamp, fasc. 6, under Pai-chang Hui-hai.
Hu Shih is no doubt a brilliant writer and an astute
thinker, but his logic of deducing the Zen methodology of irrationalism
and "seeming craziness" out of the economic necessity of getting support
from the powerful patrons is, to say the least, illogical and does not
add to his rationalistic historicism. While referring to "these new
situations and probably many others," Hu Shih does not specify what
those "probably many others" were. Probably he did not have time to go
over the "historical setting" of those days when "many others" came up
and forced the Zen masters to resort to their "mad technique" instead of
carrying on the old method of "plain speaking." 
But can we imagine that the Zen masters who really thought that
there were no Buddhas and no bodhisattvas, or that, if there were any,
they were no better than "murderers who would seduce innocent people to
the pitfalls of the Devil," could not be free to refuse any form of
patronage by the civil authorities? What logical connection could there
be between the Zen masters courting the patronage of the powers and
their invention of "some other subtle but equally thought-provoking way
of expressing what the earlier masters had said outspokenly"?
Is the stick-swinging or the "Ho!" any subtler than the earlier
masters' outspokenness? I wonder what makes Hu Shih think that the "Ho!"
or "the stick" is not so "outspoken" but "seemingly crazy." To my mind,
they -- "Ho!" and "the stick" -- are quite as outspoken, plain
speaking, as saying "No Buddhas!" "No clinging to anything!" etc. Yes,
if anything, they are more expressive, more efficient, more to the point
than so-called "plain and unmistakable language." There is nothing
"crazy" about them, seemingly or not seemingly. They are, indeed, one of
the sanest methodologies one can use for either demonstrating or
instructing the students. Is it not silly to ask what a Buddha is when
the questioner himself is one? What can an impatient master do to make
the questioner realize the fact? An argument leads to a series of
arguments. There is nothing more effective and short cut than giving the
questioner the "thirty blows" or a hearty "Ho!" Though much may depend
on the questioner and the situation which brings him to the master, the
master does very well in appealing to this "seemingly crazy" method. It
goes without saying that the "Ho!" and "the stick" do not always mean
the same thing. They have a variety of uses, and it will take a deep Zen
insight to comprehend what they mean in different situations. Rinzai
(Linchi I-hsuan) distinguishes four kinds of "Ho!"
See "Ch'an (Zen) Buddhism in China," this issue, p. 21.
Now let me ask who are the "earlier masters"? Rinzai spoke
outspokenly, and so did Tokusan (Te-shan Hsuan-chien), as is confirmed
by Hu Shih himself. And it was they who used the stick and uttered "Ho!"
Historically, in this they are preceded by Baso (Ma-tsu), who used the
fist too. The history of the "crazy" pedagogic methodology of Zen may be
said to start with Baso. Sekito (Shih-t'ou), his contemporary, also
noted for his Zen insight and understanding, was not as "mad" as Baso,
but the spread of Zen all over China, especially in the South, dates
from Baso "in the west of the River" and Sekito "in the south of the
Lake." Hu Shih's "earlier masters" must be those earlier than Baso and
Sekito, which means Jinne (Shen-hui) and Yenoo (Hui-neng), Nangaku Yejoo
(Nan-yueh Hui-jang), Seigen Gyooshi (Ch'ing-yuan), etc. But Hu Shih
evidently classes Rinzai, Tokusan, and Baso among those Zen masters who
expounded Zen in plain outspoken language.
Hu Shih does not understand what pu shuo po 不說破 (habitually, "do
not tell outwardly" ) really means. It is not just not to speak plainly.
I wish he would remember that there is something in the nature of
praj~naa-intuition which eludes every attempt at intellectualization and
rejects all plain speaking so called. It is not purposely shunning this
way of expression. As praj~naa-intuition goes beyond the two horns of a
dilemma, it begrudges committing itself to either side. This is what I
mean when I say that Zen is beyond the ken of human understanding; by
understanding, I mean conceptualization. When the Zen experience -- or
praj~naa-intuition, which is the same thing -- is brought to
conceptualization, it is no more the experience itself; it turns into
something else. Pu shuo po is not a pedagogical method; it is inherent
in the constitution of the experience, and even the Zen master cannot do
anything with it.
To illustrate my point, I will quote two mondoo. The subject of
both is the ancient mirror, but one appears to be diametrically opposed
to the other in its statement.
A monk asked, "When the ancient mirror is not yet polished, what
statement can we make about it?"
The master answered, "The
The monk: "What do we have after it is
The master: "The ancient mirror."
When the same question was brought to another master, he answered
to the first: "Heaven and earth are universally illumined." To the
second, "Pitch dark" was given as the answer.
The ancient mirror is the ultimate reality, the Godhead, the
mind, the undifferentiated totality. "When it is polished" means the
world created by God, the universe of the ten thousand things. In the
first mondoo the mirror remains the same whether it is polished or not.
In the second mondoo, when it is not polished or differentiated, it
illumines the whole universe, but when it is polished it loses its
ancient brilliancy and the light is altogether hidden behind the
multitudinousness of things. We may say that the second mondoo directly
contradicts the first, or that the first ignores the fact of
differentiation, which is not rational. We can raise some more questions
concerning each singly and the two in their relationship. But pu shuo
po, it takes too long to discuss the point fully in order to satisfy our
understanding. But when all is done, the original intuition from which
we started is lost sight of; in fact, we do not know exactly where we
are, so thickly covered up are we with the dust of argumentation. The
use of "plain language" we aimed at in the beginning puts us now in the
maze of intellection and gives us nothing solid; we are all vaporized.
Chu Hsi was a great Confucian thinker -- there is no doubt about
this. But he had no praj~naa-intuition into the constitution of the
ancient mirror. Therefore, what he says about pu shuo po and also about
"the golden needle" working underneath the embroidery  is off the
track. There is nothing pedagogical here. As to pu shuo po
(inexplainable) I have shuo po liao (explained away) as above.
Now as regards the golden needle. It is not that the needle is
designedly held back from the sight of the outsider. It cannot be
delivered to him even when you want that done. It is something each of
us has to get by himself. It is not that "I'll not pass it on to you,"
but "I can't pass it on to you." For we are all in possession of a
golden needle which, however, becomes our own only when we discover it
in the unconscious. What can be passed on from one person to another is
not native to him who gets it.
Hsing-yen's (Kyoogen) story may be illuminating in this
connection.  Though I think I have translated it elsewhere in one of
my books on Zen, I will reproduce it here for the convenience of the
Hsing-yen Chih-hsian was a disciple of I-san (Kweishan Ling-yu
溈山靈祐, 771-834). Recognizing his aptitude for Zen, I-san once asked
Kyoogen (Hsing-yen): "I am not going to find out how much you know from
book-learning and other sources. What I want you to tell me is this: Can
you let me have a word (i chu 一句 ) from you before you came out of your
mother's body, before you came to discriminate things?
"A word" (i chu) is something one cannot shuo po (explain fully)
however much one may try; nor is it a thing which one can pass on to
See "Ch'an (Zen) Buddhism in China," this issue, p. 21.
Transmission of the Lamp, fasc. 11.
wants us to grasp this, each in his own way, out of the depths of
consciousness, even before this became psychologically or biologically
possible for us. It therefore, is beyond the scope of our relative
understanding. How can we do it? But this was what I-san, as a good Zen
master, demanded of his disciple.
Kyoogen did not know how to answer or what to say. After being
absorbed in deep meditation for some time, he presented his views. But
they were all rejected by the master. He then asked I-san to let him
have the right answer. I-san said, "What I can tell you is my
understanding and is of no profit to you." Kyoogen returned to his room
and went over all his notes, in which he had many entries, but he could
not find anything suitable for his answer. He was in a state of utter
despondence. "A painted piece of cake does not appease the hungry man."
So saying, he committed all his notebooks to a fire. He decided not to
do anything with Zen, which he now thought to be above his abilities. He
left I-san and settled down at a temple where there was the tomb of
Chuu Kokushi (Chung, the National Teacher). One day while sweeping the
ground, a stone happened to strike one of the bamboos, which made a
noise; and this awoke his unconscious consciousness, which he had even
before he was born. He was delighted and grateful to his teacher I-san
for not having shuo chueh 說卻 what the i chu was. The first lines of the
gaathaa he then composed run as follows:
"One strike has made me forget all my learning;
There was no need
for specific training and cultivation."
When I-san did not explain the i chu away for Kyogen, he had no
idea about educating Kyogen by any specific device. He could not do
anything, even if he wished, for his favorite disciple. As he then told
him, whatever he would say was his own and not anybody else's. Knowledge
could be transmitted from one person to another, for it is a common
possession of the human community. Zen does not deal in such wares. In
this respect Zen is absolutely individualistic.
There is one thing I would like to add which will help to clarify
Hu Shih's idea of Chinese Zen.
Hu Shih must have noticed in his historical study of Zen in China
that Zen has almost nothing to do with the Indian Buddhist practice of
dhyaana, though the term Zen or Ch'an is originally derived from the
Sanskrit. The meaning of Zen as meditation or quiet thinking or
contemplation no longer holds good after Hui-neng (Yenoo), the sixth
patriarch. As I have said, it was Hui-neng's revolutionary movement that
achieved this severance.
Hui-neng's message to Chinese Buddhism was the identity of
praj~naa and dhyaana. Shen-hui (Jinne) was most expressive in giving
voice to this theme. He was more intellectual in his understanding of
Zen than Baso, Sekito, and others. That was one of the reasons
Shen-hui's school lost its hold on the Chinese mind. The Chinese mind
does not tend to be intellectual or, rather,
metaphysical, and Zen, as the native product of the Chinese
mentality, abhors this strain of intellectuality in its study. The
Rinzai way of handling Zen is in better accord with the spirit of Zen
and goes well with the Chinese liking for practicality and going more
directly to the objective. At all events, the essential character of
Zen, which is based on the identity of praj~naa and dhyaana, is pointed
out in quite an intelligible manner by Shen-hui. This has already been
touched on in the preceding pages.
Before Hui-neng, this problem of the relationship between dhyaana
and praj~naa was not so sharply brought to a focus in China. The Indian
mind naturally tended to emphasize dhyaana more than praj~naa, and
Chinese Buddhists followed their Indian predecessors without paying much
attention to the subject. But when Hui-heng came to the scene, he at
once perceived that praj~naa was the most essential thing in the study
of Buddhism and that, as long as dhyaana practice was always brought
forward at the expense of praj~naa, the real issue was likely to be
neglected. And then dhyaana came to be confused and mixed up with
`samatha and vipa`syanaa, tranquilization and contemplation, which were a
great concern of followers of the Tendai (T'ien-t'ai) school. I do not
think Hui-neng was historically conscious of these things; he simply
wanted to proclaim his praj~naa-intuition. The situation was accentuated
when Shen-hsiu, or, rather his followers, loudly protested against the
Hui-neng movement, which was headed by Shen-hui (Jinne). There are still
many Buddhist scholars who are confused about Chinese Zen and the
Indian Buddhist practice of dhyaana.
There are some more points I should like to take up for
discussion here, but they will have to wait for another occasion, for I
think I have pretty well gone over the main issue. Let me hope that the
foregoing pages have dispelled whatever misunderstanding Hu Shih holds
in regard to what Zen is in itself apart from its historical setting