Chinese Buddhism, by Joseph Edkins, , at sacred-texts.com
The growth of esoteric sects in India—The Jains—Their series of twenty-four patriarchs—Bodhidharma headed a new school in Southern India, and was heretical as viewed from the Jains’ standpoint—He founded the contemplative school in China—Nagarjuna, the author of the most revered books of this school—Tsung-men—Kiau-men—Divisions of Tsung-men—The Tsung-men sects are heretical in the view of the old orthodoxy—Specimen of the teaching of the Tsung-men—Lin-tsi school—Professes strict discipline—Its founder died A.D. 868—His monument on the bank of the Hu-to river in Chi-li—Resemblance to European speculation on the absolute—Is Buddhism pantheistic?—Exoteric sects—Lü-men, (Vinaya)—Yogachara—Fa-siang—Madhyamika—Fa-sing—Tsing-tu, or sect of the "Pure land" or "Western heaven"—T‘ien-t‘ai—Poetry of the Tsing-tu school.
BUDDHISM, as a religion of books and images, with the vow of celibacy and the monastic system, had entered China, and been widely propagated for several centuries, before anything was heard of schools. Gradually the Chinese Buddhists came to know of patriarchs, of the contemplative school, and of its many subdivisions.
We are told that when the use of books was carried to excess, and the true nature of humanity veiled from view, Bodhidharma arrived with a tradition of his own teaching, that men by becoming conscious of their own nature would attain the state of Buddha. He became the chief founder of the esoteric schools, which were divided into five principal branches. The common word for the esoteric schools is dan, the
[paragraph continues] Sanscrit Dhyana, now called in the modern sound given to the character, ch‘an.
Dr. Hamilton says, speaking of the Swaracs or Jains, a still existing Buddhist sect in India, that they worship twenty-four great teachers, who are called either Avatars or Tirthancaras. Tirtha is an incarnation or an heretical teacher or non-Buddhist ascetic of any sect. 1 Rhode supposed the Jains to be descendants of the Asuras and Rakshas, races hostile to the early Hindoos. 2 But they were rather a school.
The Chinese have the series of twenty-four patriarchs. They may be assumed to be the same with the Jaina twenty-four patriarchs. Bodhidharma will then be a heretic and continuator of an offshoot from the Jaina list of patriarchs, commencing with Basiasita. The location of this offshoot of the patriarchs, embracing the twenty-fifth, twenty-sixth, twenty-seventh, and twenty-eighth, was Southern India, for these four patriarchs were either natives of Southern India or were at least engaged in active labours there. Perhaps it will be better to say that the Jains and the school of Bodhidharma are both of them offshoots from a common stock, which recognised patriarchs from the time of Kashiapa, and maintained esoteric doctrine from that time.
The author of Fo-tsu-t‘ung-ki, after describing the life of Buddha in four chapters, gives an account of the twenty-four patriarchs in his fifth chapter, and of nine selected patriarchs in his sixth and seventh chapters. Among the nine, Nagarjuna is the only foreigner, and the eight natives are not any of them among the five regular successors of Bodhidharma. Among them were (r.) Kau Hwei-wen, A.D. 550; (2.) Li Hwei-sï, founder of the Nan-ngo school; (3.) Chen Chï-k‘ai of T‘ien-t‘ai and founder of that school. The five others I shall not mention.
Then he selects eight others. After this he gives the
history of the succession in each case till he has related the lives of an immense number of teachers of schools, large and small, important and unimportant. After this he finds room for the school of Bodhidharma, on which, however, he is rather brief.
The author of San-kiau-yi-su places Bodhidharma in a much more important and elevated position. If Chi-p‘an's view is a better representation of the old and orthodox Buddhist opinion, that of this later book is a better indication of the most prevalent opinions of modern Chinese monks.
Orthodox Buddhism has in China slowly but steadily become heterodox. The Buddhism of books and ancient traditions has become the Buddhism of mystic contemplation. The followers of Bodhidharma have extended themselves on every hand, and gained an almost complete victory over steady orthodoxy.
The history of ancient schools springing up long ago in the Buddhist communities of India, can now be only very partially recovered. Possibly some light may be thrown back by China upon the religious history of the country from which Buddhism came. In no part of the story is aid to the recovery of this lost knowledge more likely to be found than in the accounts of the patriarchs, the line of whom was completed by Bodhidharma. In seeking the best explanation of the Chinese and Japanese narrative of the patriarchs, and the seven Buddhas terminating in Gautama or Shakyamuni, it is important to know the Jain traditions as they were early in the sixth century of our era, when the patriarch Bodhidharma removed to China.
If it occur as an objection to this hypothesis that the discrepancies now existing between the school of Bodhidharma and of the Hindoo Jains are very great, the latter having temples and an external worship, and that their chronology also differs, in reply, it may be observed that the fame and influence of Bodhidharma in China mark
him out as himself a great sect founder. In this character he would preserve only as much as he pleased of the traditions and observances of his fellow religionists, and in their view he was probably in many points a heretic. The absence of the esoteric element (at least that distinct and highly-developed form of it which belongs to China) from modern Jainism would follow the departure of the last patriarch. Further, his school keep images, and never think of dispensing with them, though they hold that they may be dispensed with. Their ritual also is most elaborate.
The second native writer, already quoted, thus compares Buddha and Bodhidharma. The former, "Julai" (Tathâgata), taught great truths and the causes of things. He became the instructor of men and Devas. He saved multitudes, and spoke the contents of more than five hundred works. Hence arose the Kiau-men, or exoteric branch of the system, and it was believed to be the tradition of the words of Buddha. Bodhidharma brought from the Western heaven "the seal of truth" (true seal), and opened the fountain of contemplation in the East. He pointed directly to Buddha's heart and nature, swept away the parasitic and alien growth of book instruction, and thus established the Tsung-men, or esoteric branch of the system, containing the tradition of the heart of Buddha. Yet, he adds, the two branches, while presenting of necessity a different aspect, form but one whole.
Though the two systems have worked harmoniously together, a line is readily drawn in their literature. Thus in the Fa-yuen-chu-lin, a large collection of miscellaneous Buddhist information coming down from the T‘ang dynasty, nothing is said of Bodhidharma or his system. To separate the productions of these two great schools is then an important step in the classification of the Buddhist books in China. Among the traditions preserved in the history of the patriarchs are notices of some of the disciples of Buddha and other eminent persons, fabulous
or real. They are given in an extended form in the work Chï-yue-luh. Manjusiri is the first. The others are T‘ien-ts‘in p‘u-sa (Vasubandu Bodhisattwa), Wei-ma, Shan-ts‘ai (good ability), Subhûti, Wu-yeu-tso-wang (the perfect king without any dissatisfaction), Shariputra, Yangimara, Pindulo, Chang-pi-mo-wang (the king who resists Mara), the prince Na-t‘o, Kwang-ngo-to-rï, and Dzin-ba-da.
In tracing the rise of the various schools of esoteric Buddhism it must be kept in mind that a principle somewhat similar to the dogma of apostolical succession belongs to them all. They all profess to derive their doctrines through a succession of teachers, each instructed personally by his predecessor, till the time of Bodhidharma, and so further up in the series to Shakyamuni himself and the earlier Buddhas.
The sixth Chinese patriarch did not appoint a successor. The monastic habit and rice bowl that had descended to him were in accordance with what Bodhidharma had said, not communicated to a new patriarch. In the five petals the flower, as he had expressed it, would be complete, he himself, the first of the six, being the stem on which the others grew. The last of the patriarchs resided at Ts‘au-k‘i, in Kiang-si. Two schools were formed by his disciples, denominated Nan-ngo (South Mountain) and Ts’ing-yuen, from the spots where the teachers resided. The former is near Heng-cheu, in Hu-nan, the latter near Ts‘iuen-cheu, in Fu-kieu. In these schools there was no very real difference in sentiment from the doctrine of the parent stem.
Heng-shan is the old Confucianist mountain known by that name, and also as Nan-ngo. The tablet of Yü was said to be discovered there, and we can see the reason of this. It was the southern limit of the Chinese empire of that time. He was the traditional civiliser, the canal maker and embankment engineer of the Hia dynasty, and of his work the geographical section in the "Book of History" is the record.
Though Bodhidharma was nominal founder of the esoteric
schools in China, the real philosophic thinker, who gave them the impulse to reflection, was Nagarjuna, the most important founder of the Mahayana school. He specially originated the Madhyamika system, which reduces everything to bald abstractions and then denies them. The soul has neither existence nor non-existence. It is neither permanent nor non-permanent. Such was his teaching.—(See in Eitel). His system influenced Kau Hweiwen, who studied the Shastra Ta-chï-tu-lun, and mastered the idea of "central gazing," chung-kwan, and also that of three branches of wisdom—viz. matter is nothing; the mind's annoyances are nothing; the temptations through the senses are nothing.
Li Hwei-sï, of the Nan-ngo school, built up his ideas on those of Hwei-wen, and transmitted to Chï-k‘ai the "triple gaze," the empty, the hypothetical, and the medial.
Such is the statement of Chï-p‘an, the orthodox authority. But, according to San-kiau-yi-su, the chief influence in the formation of the Nan-ngo and of the Ts‘ing-yuen was that of the sixth patriarch upon the mind of Tu Hwai-jang and Lieu Hing-sï.
The founders of these two schools, the first of the Tsung-men, were Hwai-jang and Hing-sï. Their successors were Ma-tsu in Kiang-si, and Hi-k‘iau or Shï-t‘eu, who, while they changed their residences and became themselves teachers of the esoteric doctrine, retained the names, Nan-ngo and Ts’ing-yuen, of the schools where they had been taught.
The biographical record of the Tsung-men teachers in the Chï-yue-luh contains notices of priests trained by the predecessors of the sixth patriarch, and sent out to teach the doctrine of Bodhidharma. Two were instructed by the successor of Bodhidharma, eight by the fourth patriarch, and six by the fifth. One of the latter, Shin-sieu, was styled the sixth patriarch for North China, while Hwai-neng, the legitimate successor of Bodhidharma, from residing in the southern provinces, was called the sixth patriarch
for the South. Nothing is said of the schools originated in various provinces by these teachers. It is only the successors of Hwai-neng, the last-mentioned hierarch, that are regarded as deserving a memorial. From him a series of disciples, all becoming "teachers" (ch‘an-sï) in their turn, are counted to the sixteenth generation. This mode of expression is used instead of mentioning, according to custom, the years of imperial reigns and dynasties. The biography in the Chï-yue-luh, a book of the Ming dynasty, ceases at the sixteenth descent. This was at the beginning of the twelfth century, and the whole series embraces about four hundred years. Modern monks of these schools trace their succession in a similar manner, according to a more recent arrangement, in twelve divisions. The reason for this careful record of ecclesiastical ancestry is to be sought in the principle of unbroken lineal descent, which is indispensable to the maintenance of esoteric tradition. Yet it does not appear that there was any secret doctrine which those who knew it would not divulge. What they held was simply a protest against the neglect of the heart, and dependence on book knowledge and the performance of outward rites. Since their object was to draw neophytes away from the inordinate study of the books of the religion, instruction was given orally. An extensive series of works containing records of the instructions of these teachers has been the result. They are called Yü-luh, "Records of the sayings" of celebrated teachers.
Several branch schools were originated by the successors of the sixth patriarch. In the fourth generation from him the Hwei-niang school was formed. In the fifth appears that of Lin-tsi and Ts‘au-tung. The Yün-men belongs to the eighth generation. That called Fa-yen belongs to the ninth. These names are taken from the places where the founders of the respective schools resided. They are denominated collectively the Wu-tsung, or "Five schools," to distinguish them from those which preceded them, and adhered more closely to the tradition of the patriarchs.
The differences that existed between these schools and the parent doctrine were not great. But it is not essential that differences should be great to make them the subject of controversy and the cause of division. An example of the mode in which the contemplative Buddhists carried on their discussions will here be given. Shin-sieu taught his doctrine in the following verses:—
His teacher, the fifth patriarch, was pleased with this mode of representing the importance of watching over the heart. But Hwai-neng, the sixth patriarch, opposed it with vehemence. He also wrote his view in verses:—
In the former appears very distinctly the practical part of the esoteric system, attention to the heart. In the latter its speculative tendency—denying everything external to the mind—is brought to view.
According to the system held in common by these schools, the heart is Buddha. There is no mode of attaining to the state called Buddha but by the mind itself. This mind has neither beginning nor end, colour nor form. To look outward is to be a common man. To look in ward is to be Buddha. In reality man is the same thing as Buddha. To rely on the performance of particular acts is not true knowledge. To make offerings to all the past Buddhas is not to be compared with offering to one man who has become superior to mental passions and sensational influences.
All that the great Bodhisattwas have taught, men have in themselves. The pure vacancy of Manjusiri, the withdrawal
of the thoughts from the world of sensations recommended by P‘u-hien, the mercy of Kwan-yin, the knowledge of Shï-chi, the purity of "Vimakita" (Wei-mo)—all these various principles are in the heart. To know it, is all that is needful. To become Buddha the mind only needs to be freed from every one of its affections, not to love or hate, covet, rejoice, or fear. To do, or aim at doing, what is virtuous or what is vicious is to leave the heart and go out into the visible tangible world. It is to become entangled in the metempsychosis in the one case, and much trouble and vexation in the other. The right method is in the mind; it is the mind itself. The fountain of knowledge is the pure, bright, self-enlightening mind. The method taught by all the Buddhas is no other than this. Let the mind do nothing, observe nothing, aim at nothing, hold fast to nothing; that is Buddha. Then there will be no difference between living in the world and entering the Nirvâna. Then human nature, the mind, Buddha, and the doctrine he taught, all become identical. 1
While revising these papers, and adding to them, so that they may form a distinct book on Chinese Buddhism (August 11, 1899), I here insert a brief account of the Lin-tsi school.
The Lin-tsi school has been very successful. It has pushed out the other sects, and spread over the north and south of China to an enormous extent. Beginning in Shantung, it has been accepted throughout the eighteen provinces, and in Japan, as the most popular exponent of the teaching of the contemplative school.
They say, "Within the body which admits sensations, acquires knowledge, thinks, and acts, there is the 'True man without a position,' Wu-wei-chen-jen. He makes himself clearly visible; not the thinnest separating film hides him. Why do you not recognise him? The invisible power of the
mind permeates every part. In the eye it is called seeing, in the ear it is hearing. It is a single intelligent agent, divided out in its activity in every part of the body. If the mind does not come to conscious existence, there is deliverance everywhere. What is the difference between you and the sages of antiquity? Do you come short in anything? What is Buddha? Ans. A mind pure, and at rest. What is the law? Ans. A mind clear and enlightened. What is Tau? Ans. In every place absence of impediments and pure enlightenment. These three are one." The object of the Lin-tsi has been to teach Buddhism, so that each monk should feel that there is difficulty in the paths of self-improvement, and that he has in himself the power to conquer that difficulty.
The "true man without a position," Wu-wei-chen-jen, is wrapped in a prickly shell like the chestnut. He cannot be approached. This is Buddha, the Buddha within you.
The sharp reproof of discipline is symbolised by slaps on the cheek with the palm of the hand, and blows with the fists under the ribs. This treatment gives an improved tone to the mind and feelings.
An infant cannot understand the seven enigmas.
These enigmas are given in dark language difficult even for adepts to explain. Thus: "Is it to search in the grass where there is the shadow of the stick that you have already come here?" "To kill a man, to strike with the sword a dividing blow, and the body should not enter the water."
The explanations of these enigmas are not given in the book I have consulted. Doubtless they mean something quite in harmony with the fundamental principles of Buddhism, otherwise the Lin-tsi school would not be so popular as it is.
They have the "Three 'dark,' hiuen, principles," the "real," shï, the "formal," t‘i, and the "practical," yung. They have also the "Three 'important,' yau, principles." These are, "illumination," chau, "utility or use," yung, and the combination of the two.
In their discipline they have three blows with the cane, three successive reproofs, and the alternation of speech and silence. They have a play on the words "guest" and "host." The guest may learn from the host by seeing how he meets circumstances, and imitating him. The host may learn from the guest, as when those who are already profound in wisdom make constant inquiries from their visitors, and seize ardently on what they approve. The host may learn from another host, as when those who are already wise discuss points, and such as are learning throw away what they had been grasping firmly. The guest may learn from another guest, as when the learner is laden with the heavy wooden neck collar and iron lock, and all discussion ceases.
Where the meaning of such mysterious teaching is not clear, there will be an oral explanation by the tutor; and so step by step the pupils will acquire a knowledge of the Lin-tsi school doctrines and discipline, and of the enigmatical language in which they are couched.
The founder of the Lin-tsi school died A.D. 868. A dagoba was erected over his ashes in the south part of the province of Chi-li, near Ta-ming fu, on the north-west angle not far from the city.
He resided for some years on the banks of the river Hu-t‘o, which rushes with great force of current out of Shan-si into Chi-li, at the distance of a mule's journey of five days from Peking on the south-west. This river flows through the prefecture of Chen-ting fu to the Grand Canal. On the banks of this river to the south-east of the city of Chen-cheu, as Chen-ting fu was then called, the founder of the Lin-tsi school spent much of his life in a small monastery. Here he was in a quiet spot surrounded by the objects of a well-cultivated plain, where wheat and millet have been sown from time immemorial; and here he acquired a reputation for magical powers. He could stroke the beard of a fierce tiger, split rocks, burst open precipices, walk upon ice, and move along the edge of a
sword. The main features in the landscape on which he looked were the blue mountains of Shan-si, forming a broad and continuous chain on the west, with the swift river which flowed by his monastery with a full and foaming stream in the summer months, and sinking to a much smaller one in the winter, when it is frozen hard enough to be passed by loaded waggons. It was this river that gave a name to the school, for Lin-tsi means "Coming to the ford."
To the kind of philosophy springing up in India, and further developed by the Chinese in the esoteric schools above described, there is much that is similar in recent European speculation. We see here the Finite going back into the Absolute, the denial of the existence of everything but self, the identity of self and God, and of the subject and object. That abstraction which is the pantheist's God, may, without violence to the meaning of words, be considered as the corresponding term to Buddha in this system. For God, as the Absolute, is the state towards which nature and man are returning, a description which answers to the notion here alluded to of the state called Buddha. When, however, in the manner of the older schools, Buddha is looked upon as having historical personality, it becomes at once incorrect to say that he is God; his personality being strictly human, and not divine. There is, however, a difference. The Asiatic speculator undertakes to realise his system, and employs the monastic institute or other aids for the purpose, hoping thus to escape from the chains of sense and passion into the freedom of pure abstraction. The European theoriser, on the other hand, even if he attempts to show how a practical religion may be based on a system of abstractions—as was done by Fichte—never seriously thinks of carrying it into execution.
Neander, following Schmidt and Baur, represents Buddhism as one form of pantheism, on the ground that the doctrine of metempsychosis makes all nature instinct with
life, and that that life is the Deity assuming different forms of personality, that Deity not being a self-conscious free acting First cause, but an all-pervading spirit. The esoteric Buddhists of China, keeping rigidly to their one doctrine, say nothing of the metempsychosis, the paradise of the Western heaven, or any other of the more material parts of the Buddhist system. The Indian Buddhists were professed atheists; but those of China, instead of denying the existence of God, usually content themselves with saying nothing about Him. To deny or affirm any special existence, fact or dogma, would in their view be equally inconsistent. Their aim is to keep the mind from any distinct action or movement of any kind. They look, therefore, with pity on worshippers of every class as necessarily missing what they aim at, and that because they aim at it; and as having no prospect of escaping from the misery of life until they abandon all special dependencies and doctrines, look within instead of without, and attend to the voiceless teaching of the mind itself.
This system also exists in Japan, and the same subdivisions into schools occur there among its followers. (See Burger's account of religious sects in Japan, Chin. Rep., vol. ii. pp. 318-324.)
It is in high estimation among the reflecting class of Chinese, who look with contempt on the image worship of the multitude.
An account of the "Exoteric sects," the Kiau-min of Chinese Buddhism, will now be presented to the reader.
Shakyamuni is said to have foretold that, for five centuries after his death, the true doctrine would be followed. After that, for a thousand years, a system of forms or "Image worship," Siang-kiaou, would prevail. This would subsequently give place to another called the "final system," which would terminate the present kalpa. The popular Buddhism of China belongs to the second of these developments. It was this form that it first assumed
on entering China. Buddha is said to have taught the doctrines of this system in early life, while the more abstruse and mystical parts of his teaching were delivered when he was become an old man. After his entrance into the Nirvâna, Ananda compiled the "Sutras" (King). In the council that was then held, these Sutras were adopted as an authentic account of the Buddhist doctrine, and they are the first of the Three collections that constitute the standard books of Buddhism.
The biographical notices of the principal translators of the Sutras, and founders of the Kiau-men, are by the author of the San-kiau-yi-su placed before the five schools into which he divides the exoteric Buddhists. The first of the eight who are thus distinguished is Kashiapmadanga. When he came to Lo-yang in the first century of our era, he lodged in the Pe-ma sï (White horse temple). Hence the residences of Buddhist priests were called sï (ga-lam, "monasteries;" for the Sanscrit, sangarama). Associated with his countryman Chu-fa-lan, he translated five Sutras. The latter afterwards translated five more, consisting of thirteen "chapters" (kiuen). "Kumarajiva's" (Kieu-mo-to-shï) name is the third, and the fourth that of "Buddojanga" (Fo-t‘u-cheng), who is better known as a wonder worker and a founder of monasteries (he erected 893) than a translator. A commentary on the Tau-te-king of Lau-tsi came from his pen. The remaining four names most noted in the early history of Chinese Buddhism are Chï-tun, Tau-an, Pau-chï, and Shan-hwei. They were all natives of China, noted for their writings and public discussions in explanation and defence of the Buddhist system.
The five subdivisions of exoteric Buddhism will now be considered. (1.) That named from the Vinaya or second division of the sacred books, is the first. The writer of the "Vinaya" (Lü) and founder of this school was "Upáli" (Yeu po-li; in old Chinese, U-pa-li), one of the ten chief disciples of Shakyamuni. He wrote the Si pu-lit, which
was admitted into the "Three pitaka" (San-tsang) at the council held after Buddha's death (vide Hardy's Eastern Monachism). Among the nine leaders of this school, two other Hindoos are mentioned. The first Chinese among them is in the fifth century. He taught the system of the work called "Discipline of Four Divisions." The name of this school is Hing-sï-fang-fei-chï-ngo, indicating that its aim is in action to guard against error and check vice. It is also called the Nan-shan (Southern hill) school. Priests of this school at the present time dress in black. There was at Nanking, before the T‘ai-ping rebellion, a monastery where this system was in operation.
(2.) Yo-ga-mi-kiau, "The secret teaching of Yoga." The founder of this system is called Kin-kang-sat-wa (Vajrasattwa). It was brought to China about A.D. 720 by Kin-kang-chï (Vajramati), who was succeeded by Pu-k‘ung. Seventy-two works came from the pen of the latter, and were placed in the national collection of Buddhist books. His numerous disciples learned to repeat charms with great effect, and this seems to be the proper business of the school. The word Yoga is explained as "Correspondence" and, it is added, is employed as a general term for books "containing secret doctrines" (referring to magic). To this school belongs the very popular festival of the hungry ghosts, held in the seventh month.
The Yoga or Yogachara school is also called the Tantra school, because it taught the use of magic formulæ or unintelligible charms used for rain, for protection in storms, &c. They are written in Sanscrit or Thibetan letters.—(See in Eitel, under the word "Yogatchara.")
(3.) Wei-shi-siang-kiau. This school occupied itself with the study of the Shastra Wei-shï-lun, and similar works. These books were written by the two Bodhisattwas Wu-cho 1 and T‘ien-ts‘in. Kiai-hien, a Hindoo residing
at the monastery Nalanda, was their most distinguished disciple, and was principally concerned in establishing this school, and arranging those forms of Buddhist instruction called the Three "Developments" (Yana). Next to him was the traveller Hiuen-tsang, who received the Shastra mentioned above from Kiai-hien, and originated the school in his native country. He was succeeded by his pupil Kwei-ki. This school is called Fa-siang-tsung, or the "School that exhibits the nature" and meaning of the Buddhist written doctrines.
(4.) Another of these schools derives its name from the Shastra called Chung-lun. That work was written by the Hindoo Lung-shu, "Nagarjuna" (Dragon tree). The founder of the school based on the doctrines of that book was a Chinese of the Northern T‘si kingdom in the sixth century. His successor was a monk of one of the sects that followed the teaching of Bodhidharma, Hwei-sï of Nan-ngo. He was succeeded by Chï-k‘ai of T‘ien-t‘ai shan, who developed the system to a much greater extent, and divided it into four subordinate schools, named from their subjects, those of the written doctrine, true human nature, the use of the senses, and action.
(5.) The last exoteric school is that which was founded by Fa-shun, a native of Tun-hwang, an ancient kingdom in what is now Thibet. He gave his chief attention to the "Hwa-yen Sutra." The third leader of the school was Hien-sheu, the best known of them all. His name is often given to the system that he with his predecessors and successors recommended. It is called usually Fa-sing-tsung, the "School of the true nature" of the written doctrine.
Another exoteric school parallel with these, but placed separately in the classification, is that called Lien-tsung (Lotus school), or Tsing-tu (Pure land). To it belongs the popular legend of the Western heaven, the abode of
[paragraph continues] "Amida Buddha" (A-mi-to Fo), a fabulous personage worshipped assiduously—like Kwan-yin—by the Northern Buddhists, but unknown in Siam, Birmah, and Ceylon. The founder of this school in China was a native of Shan-si, Hwei-yuen, of the Tsin dynasty (fourth century). The second "patriarch" (tsu) of this school was Kwang-ming of the seventh century. For more than thirty years he taught the doctrine of the "Pure land," persuading multitudes to adopt it. Pan-cheu, his successor, was honoured with the title Kwo-shï (National instructor) in the reign of T‘ai-tsung (760 A.D.). The sixth in order was Chï-kio. His views differed little from those of T‘ien-t‘ai, Hiuen-tsang, and Hien-sheu. He was very fond of saving fish and crabs from being killed and eaten. Seven chiefs of this sect are enumerated. To the same school belongs Chu-hung, the priest who opposed Matteo Ricci. in works and letters still extant, and founded the Yün-tsi monastery near Hang-cheu.
The Western paradise promised to the worshippers of Amida Buddha is, as has been pointed out by Schott in his work on the Buddhism of High Asia and China, inconsistent with the doctrine of Nirvâna. It promises immortality instead of annihilation. The great antiquity of this school is evident from the early date of the translation of the Amida Sutra, which came from the hands of Kumarajiva, and of the Wu-liang-sheu-king, dating from the Han dynasty. Its extent of influence is seen in the attachment of the Thibetans and Mongols to the worship of this Buddha, and in the fact that the name of this fictitious personage is more commonly heard in the daily conversation of the Chinese people than that of the historical Buddha Shakyamuni.
The only remaining school is that of T‘ien-t‘ai, already partially described. In the latter part of the sixth century Hwei-wen, a native of "Northern China" (Pe-ts‘i), studied the Chung-lun (Central Shastra), written by the Hindoo called "Conqueror of the Dragon" (Lung-sheng or
[paragraph continues] Lung-shu), the fourteenth patriarch. Convinced of its excellence, he instituted "three sorts of meditation" (san-kwan), viewing the world as (1.) empty, (2.) false, or (3.) central. This he regarded as the limit of religious meditation on the surrounding universe, and therefore called his system Chï-kwan, "Reflection carried to its limiting point." He also founded his doctrine partly on the Fa-hwa-king, and was followed by Hwei-sï and Chï-che of T‘ien-t‘ai, who gave his name to the school.
The following verses translated from the poetry of the Tsing-tu sect will serve to illustrate the doctrine of that school. It is not much of the Buddhist system that easily admits of being put into this form of composition. There is nothing akin to the spirit of poetry in the turgid splendour and wearisome reiteration of the legends that abound in the books of this religion. Chinese versifiers have, however, found some materials more to their taste in the Western heaven of Amida Buddha. If the reader should think the conceptions are poor, they are at least a genuine description, so far as they go, of the heaven of the Northern Buddhists.
“THE WESTERN HEAVEN.
The word "diamond" is used in the sense of "unconquered and unconquerable," and may refer either to Buddha's power as a teacher, or to the divinities that support his throne and act as his protectors.
These descriptions are taken from a collection of poems called Tsing-tu-shï. The measure in the original is the usual one of seven words in a line. The Chinese words are monosyllables, and the diction consequently very terse. Our English tongue is different. A metre like that here adopted has more room in it than others for unaccented syllables. This circumstance renders it convenient. It has often been used by translators.
In these descriptions there is a prominent materialism in the expressions. Buddha in the Western heavens is thought of as like the monstrous gilt image seen by the worshippers as they go to a temple on a gala day. Idolatry loves to borrow from nature. Here there are flowers, and singing-birds, and the favourite jade-stone. Buddha is here made popular; there is no abstruse speculation. The boasted Nirvâna is abandoned, and a paradise gratifying to the senses takes its place. Many a simple-minded dreamer spends his days in meditating on this picture, and indulging his imagination with the hope that he will one day be born from a lotus flower, in the very joyful world of Amida, and live there for ever gazing on his sacred form.
156:1 Transactions of the Royal Asiatic Society, vol. i p. 538.
156:2 Rhode, Réligiose Bildung u. s. w. der Hindus.
163:1 This description is taken from a little work of the T‘ang dynasty, called Twan-tsi-sin-yau.
169:1 Asengha, "Without attachment," was originally a follower of the Mahashasaka school. He first taught the Mahayana system, and wrote the books which contain the Wei-shi doctrines. Then he because the founder p. 170 of the Yoga school, and wrote a book which he said was dictated to him by Maitreya in the Tushita paradise.—(See in Eitel.)
172:1 Devas, the "gods" of the Hindoos (in Chinese, t‘ien). They are inferior in power and splendour to human nature when elevated to the rank of the Buddhas and Bodhisattwas.
172:2 Tathâgata, a title of Buddha; in Chinese, Julai. "The law," is the doctrine proclaimed by Buddha.
172:3 Also spelt Utampatala.
173:1 "Genii." In Sanscrit, Rishi; in Chinese, Sien-jen.