The Direct and Gradual Approaches of Zen Master Mahāyāna: Fragments of the Teachings of Mo-ho-yen

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LibraryArticlesThe Direct and Gradual Approaches of Zen Master Mahāyāna: Fragments of the Teachings of Mo-ho-yen

The Direct and Gradual Approaches of Zen Master Mahāyāna: Fragments of the Teachings of Mo-ho-yen
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Citation: Gómez, Luis. "The Direct and Gradual Approaches of Zen Master Mahāyāna: Fragments of the Teachings of Mo-ho-yen." In Studies in Ch’an and Hua-yen, edited by Robert M. Gimello and Peter N. Gregory, 69–167. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 1983.

Article Summary

Luis O. Gomez, in "The Direct and the Gradual Approaches of Zen Master Mahayana: Fragments of the Teachings of Mo-ho-yen," edits and translates the sayings and works preserved in Tibetan in scattered fragments of the Ch'an master Mo-ho-yen, who took part in a dispute between Chinese Ch'an teachers and Indian Madhyamika teachers in Tibet in the last half of the eighth century. An attempt is made to reconstruct the original texts and sort them into five genres. Not all the fragments attributed to Mo-ho-yen are included, but this is the most comprehensive work to date.
     In the analysis of the texts, the author suggests that Mo-ho-yen's doctrinal position was that of an extreme non-dualist who thought practice came after enlightenment. Consequently Mo-ho-yen denied the value of means to that enlightenment, yet he still had to allow for a means for people of lesser abilities. This admission probably gave his opponents grounds for criticism.
      There is a glossary of Tibetan terms and their Chinese equivalents based on a comparison of the fragments in Tibetan with the Chinese of the Tun-wu Ta-sheng cheng-li chüeh which depicts Mo-ho-yen's side of the dispute (for which it may have been profitable to consult Hasebe Koichi's edition from the Pelliot and Stein Chinese manuscripts, the "Toban Bukkyō to Zen", Aichigakuin Daigaku bungakubu kiyō no. 1). Gomez in fact suggests that terminological ambiguity was one source of misunderstanding between the Chinese and Indian parties. Recently R.A. Stein has begun work on the Tibetan translations of Chinese and Indian vocabulary ("Tibetica Antiqua", BEFEO 72, 1983) which sheds more light on the subject. For example, lun and mdo (Gomez p. 87, notes 23 and 39), or gzhung and gzhun (Gomez p. 140) are interpreted slightly differently by Stein (pp. 175-6 and p. 179 respectively). (John Jorgensen, "Review of Studies in Ch'an and Hua-yan," JIABS 9, no. 2 (1986): 177–78).