Purifying Gold: The Metaphor of Effort and Intuition in Buddhist Thought and Practice

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Purifying Gold: The Metaphor of Effort and Intuition in Buddhist Thought and Practice
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Citation: Gómez, Luis. "Purifying Gold: The Metaphor of Effort and Intuition in Buddhist Thought and Practice." In Sudden and Gradual: Approaches to Enlightenment in Chinese Thought, edited by Peter N. Gregory, 67–165. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1991. First published 1987 by University of Hawai'i Press.

Article Summary

One of the particularly significant points implicitly made by the volume as a whole and explicitly developed in the chapter by Luis O. Gómez is that the sudden-gradual polarity is “soft” at its edges. As we have noted, the polarity enfolds a host of complexly interrelated issues. With insight and erudition, Gómez demonstrates that, when the specific historical instances of the sudden-gradual controversy are examined, it is clear that there is no necessary or even predictable way in which the positions taken by the actual participants can be correlated with the complex of issues contained within the sudden-gradual rubric. Hence the subitist on one occasion may well espouse a number of doctrinal positions held by the gradualist on another. Subitists and gradualists, moreover, often appealed to the same doctrine in support of their position. For example, in the most famous instance of the controversy, the exchange of poems that the Platform Sutra alleges were composed by Shen-hsiu and Hui-neng, both parties based their positions on the notion of an intrinsically enlightened Buddha-nature. (Gregory, introduction, 6)