The Mind as the Buddha-Nature: The Concept of the Absolute in Ch'an Buddhism

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The Mind as the Buddha-Nature: The Concept of the Absolute in Ch'an Buddhism
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Citation: Jan, Yün-hua. "The Mind as the Buddha-Nature: The Concept of the Absolute in Ch'an Buddhism." Philosophy East and West 31, no. 4 (1981): 467–77.

Article Summary

Although Ch'an Buddhism has a long history, the name of the Ch'an School (ch'an-mena or ch'an-rsungb)[1] was a relatively late development. It was Tsung-mic (780-841),[2] the great Master of Kuei-fung who, for the first time, adopted the term in the ninth century A.D. It is interesting to note that it was the same monk-scholar who used the School of Mind (hsin-tsungd)[3] as a synonym of the Ch'an school. Tsung-mi was a scholar of buddhist thought who had personal experience in the broad-ranging knowledge of Ch'an traditions. He collected relevant materials and wrote extensively in an effort to analyze the doctrine and practices of the tradition. His identification of the Mind with the Ch'an indicates that, in his opinion, the Mind was the central focus of the school. Although Tsung-mi contributed a good deal to the understanding of Ch'an Buddhism, his contributions remained almost unknown for a thousand years; it is only during the last two decades that scholars have gradually come to recognize his contribution. with considerable astonishment and admiration. This article is an attempt to describe, analyze and assess Tsung-mi's thesis that the doctrine of Mind is the central focus of Ch'an Buddhism and that the Mind itself is the absolute. (Jan, "The Mind as the Buddha-Nature," 467)
  1. CYC pp. 13 and 17 for the term of ch'an-men; pp. 57, 86, 210 and 320 for ch'an-tsung. Compare Sekiguchi Shindaiaa, "Zenshū no hassei." Fukui sensei shōju ki'nen Tōyō shisō ronshü (Tokyo, 1960), pp. 321–338.
  2. Jan Yūn-hua, "Tsung-mi and his Analysis of Ch'an Buddhism", TP 58 (1972): 1–54; for a detailed study of Tsung-mi, see Shigeo Kamata, Shūmitsu kyōgaku no shisōshi teki kenkyū (Tokyo: Institute of Oriental Culture, University of Tokyo, 1975).
  3. CYC, pp. 30 and 254.