Advertisement

Character Is the Way: The Path to Spiritual Freedom in the Linji Lu

  • Tao JiangEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Dao Companions to Chinese Philosophy book series (DCCP, volume 9)

Abstract

This article hopes to accomplish two goals: first, it proposes a more effective framework for philosophers who engage in philosophical interpretations and constructions of Chan Buddhist texts, like the Linji Lu, to deal with challenges from historians when the integrity of those Chan texts as well as their authorship is called into question, so that a more robust intellectual space for the philosophical discourse on Chan classics can be carved out from the dominant historicist discourse. Accordingly, I argue that philosophical and historical approaches to Chan classics have divergent scholarly objectives and follow different disciplinary norms. To clarify such divergence, I propose a hermeneutical model to distinguish two sets of scholarly objects operative in history and philosophy respectively, namely original versus inherited text, historical versus textual author, and authorial versus textual intent. These scholarly objects are related, at times even overlapped but often irreducibly distinct, with the former in the pairs belonging to historians and the latter to philosophers. Second, the article puts forward an alternative interpretation of Linji’s signature teaching of sudden enlightenment by connecting Linji’s demand for immediacy in his training of disciples with the nurturing of a particular set of character traits conducive to Chan enlightenment. It argues that only those practitioners with a strong character can weather the grueling demand of the arduous spiritual journey prescribed in Chan teachings. Therefore, I describe Linji’s teaching as advocating that “character is the Way,” wherein the Way (dao 道) refers to the Chan path of enlightenment.

Keywords

Sudden enlightenment Immediacy Character Original/inherited text Historical/textual author Authorial/textual intent 

References

  1. Blum, Mark, trans. 2013. The Nirvana Sutra (Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra). Vol. 1. Berkeley, CA: Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai America.Google Scholar
  2. Broughton, Jeffrey and Elise Yoko Watanabe, trans. 2013. The Record of Linji: A New Translation of the Linjilu in the Light of Ten Japanese Zen Commentaries. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Hubbard, Jamie, and Paul Swanson, eds. 1997. Pruning the Bodhi Tree: The Storm over Critical Buddhism. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press.Google Scholar
  4. Jiang, Tao. 2016. “The Problem of Authorship and the Project of Chinese Philosophy: ZHUANG Zhou and the Zhuangzi between Sinology and Philosophy in the Western Academy.” Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 15.1: 35-55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. ___. 2011. “Linji and William James on Mortality: Two Visions of Pragmatism.” In Mortality in Traditional Chinese Thought. Eds. by Amy Olberding and Philip J. Ivanhoe. Albany, NY: SUNY, 249-270.Google Scholar
  6. ___. 2004. “The Role of History in Chan/Zen Enlightenment.” Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 4.1: 1-14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. King, Richard. 1995. “Is ‘Buddha-Nature’ Buddhist? Doctrinal Tensions in the Śrīmālā Sūtra: An Early Tathāgatagarbha Text.” Numen 42.1: 1-20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Sasaki, Ruth Fuller, trans. 2009. The Record of Linji. Edited by Thomas Yūhō Kirchner. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.Google Scholar
  9. Wang, Youru. 2012. “Paradoxicality of Institution, De-Institutionalization and the Counter-Institutional: A Case Study in Classical Chinese Chan Buddhist Thought.” Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 11.1: 21-37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Watson, Burton, trans. 1999. The Zen Teachings of Master Lin-Chi: A Translation of the Lin-chi lu. NY: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Welter, Albert. 2008. The Linji lu and the Creation of Chan Orthodoxy: The Development of Chan’s Records of Sayings Literature. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Wright, Dale. 2009. The Six Perfections: Buddhism and the Cultivation of Character. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. ___. 1998. Philosophical Meditations on Zen Buddhism. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Yamada Mumon 山田無文. 2009. “Foreword.” In Ruth Fuller Sasaki, trans., The Record of Linji. Edited by Thomas Yūhō Kirchner. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, vii–viii.Google Scholar
  15. Yanagida Seizan 柳田聖山. 1961. Rinzai Roku 臨済録. Kyoto: Kichūdō.Google Scholar
  16. Zürcher, E. 2007. The Buddhist Conquest of China: The Spread and Adaptation of Buddhism in Early Medieval China. Third edition. Leiden: Brill.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Rutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA

Personalised recommendations