Bankei vs Hakuin

Bankei vs Hakuin

Postby Astus » Tue Aug 03, 2010 8:17 pm

To this day all of Rinzai Zen is an heir of Hakuin's understanding of the path to liberation, while the Zen of Bankei has ended with the master's death who left no descendants. In the West the image of Zen is substantially formed by Hakuin's teachings thanks to DT Suzuki, the Sanbo Kyodan teachers, and others. Even in the Kwan Um School of Zen, nominally a Korean lineage, they use a koan curriculum.

The teachings of Bankei and Hakuin look very much the opposite of each other. Bankei focused only on the Unborn Buddha Mind and regarded everything else secondary, including precepts and meditation. Hakuin set up a rigorous training program with many levels that requires extreme discipline and endurance. According to Bankei it is quite easy to realise the true nature and apply it to everyday life. Hakuin set up high standards where students are pushed deeper and deeper into investigating the stories of former masters. Bankei talks in an open way about the buddha-mind and its use while Hakuin practically avoids spelling it out and he uses "koan language".

While both Zen teachers experienced hardships in strenuous zazen they came up with contradictory solutions. In brief, for Bankei it is about remaining buddha, for Hakuin it is about becoming buddha again and again.

What do you think:
Is Bankei's "Fushou Zen" (不生禅 - Unborn Zen) too easy to be true?
Is Hakuin's "Koan Zen" too systematic to be called Zen?
Which one would you call traditional?
What could be the reason for Bankei's demise and Hakuin's success in terms of their teachings' spread?
Can these be viewed as complementary forms of Zen?
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Bankei vs Hakuin

Postby White Lotus » Fri Aug 06, 2010 7:56 pm

:namaste: Noble Astus. we are told in the Nirvana Sutra that Bodhisatvas of the ten stages are unable to see their own nature. it may seem simple, but to encounter the true simple teaching and attain it is very rare. you know its simple. so do i. perhaps the most zen thing i am able to say now (and this will probably change) is just drop it all. dont even practice the four holy truths. this is hard and may not be your path. kill attachement to the buddhas teaching and to ideals of enlightenment. vomit it all up. put it all down. i guess. easier said than done. by dropping enlightenment you master it. by refusing a teacher you better him and automatically master his teaching.

thats all. hop it all.

best wishes, white lotus.

so, you see your own nature, so your a buddha. so?
drop it all.
in any matters of importance. dont rely on me. i may not know what i am talking about. take what i say as mere speculation. i am not ordained. nor do i have a formal training. i do believe though that if i am wrong on any point. there are those on this site who i hope will quickly point out my mistakes.
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Re: Bankei vs Hakuin

Postby Aemilius » Fri Sep 03, 2010 1:04 pm

In 1970's I read "all" the Zen literature that was available in english (mainly) then. I remember the life of Hakuin somewhat differently than it is now adays for example in Thomas Cleary's collected translations book no 4. As I remember it Hakuin stayed a longer time with the hermit Hakuyushi, whose teachings cured Hakuin's meditation-sickness. In Thomas Cleary's story Hakuin stays there only one day ! Which is quite certainly untrue. Wikipedia version of Hakuin's life gives the impression that he studied a longer time with Hakuyushi. I'm afraid that Thomas Cleary has translated a later concoction of modern japanese views as a work of Hakuin, which it is not. Generally I admire Thomas Cleary's work, I am not part of the choire that signs against his unique talent and his vast productivity. The "Hakuin" in Thomas Cleary's text sounds like a european person who has no knowledge of buddhist history and who regards sutras from a european historical perspective. Did japanese really know at that time about european views on history at all ??



Astus wrote:To this day all of Rinzai Zen is an heir of Hakuin's understanding of the path to liberation, while the Zen of Bankei has ended with the master's death who left no descendants. In the West the image of Zen is substantially formed by Hakuin's teachings thanks to DT Suzuki, the Sanbo Kyodan teachers, and others. Even in the Kwan Um School of Zen, nominally a Korean lineage, they use a koan curriculum.

The teachings of Bankei and Hakuin look very much the opposite of each other. Bankei focused only on the Unborn Buddha Mind and regarded everything else secondary, including precepts and meditation. Hakuin set up a rigorous training program with many levels that requires extreme discipline and endurance. According to Bankei it is quite easy to realise the true nature and apply it to everyday life. Hakuin set up high standards where students are pushed deeper and deeper into investigating the stories of former masters. Bankei talks in an open way about the buddha-mind and its use while Hakuin practically avoids spelling it out and he uses "koan language".

While both Zen teachers experienced hardships in strenuous zazen they came up with contradictory solutions. In brief, for Bankei it is about remaining buddha, for Hakuin it is about becoming buddha again and again.

What do you think:
Is Bankei's "Fushou Zen" (不生禅 - Unborn Zen) too easy to be true?
Is Hakuin's "Koan Zen" too systematic to be called Zen?
Which one would you call traditional?
What could be the reason for Bankei's demise and Hakuin's success in terms of their teachings' spread?
Can these be viewed as complementary forms of Zen?
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