Chan and Pure Land Practices in ChinaOne thing that should be kept in mind when considering the Zen style of the ºbaku monks is that they were steeped in the Buddhist culture of the Ming period, replete with conspicuous Pure Land aspects. (Hirakubo 1962: 197) What appeared to the Japanese Zen community of the mid-seventeenth century as the incongruous marriage of Pure Land devotional elements within more traditional forms of Chan practice had already undergone a long courtship in China that had resulted in what seemed to the Chinese monks as a natural and legitimate union. Recitation of Amitåbha’s (C. Amituo, J. Amida) name has an established place in some of the Chan school’s most fundamental practices and institutions. Already in the Chanyuan qinggui 禅苑清規,1regarded as the earliest Chan monastic code still in existence, the chanting of the Buddha’s name was already a standard practice at the funeral of a Japanese Religions Vol. 33 (1 & 2): 19-34* Project Researcher, International Research Center for Japanese Studies (Kyoto).1. While this monastic code is the earliest one still in existence, it is not thought to be the first monastic code. The Baizhang qinggui 百丈清規is posited as the first example of a monastic code, although it is not extant, and even doubted by some to have existed at all. For an annotated translation of the Chanyuan qinggui with extensive commentary, see Yifa (1996). 20 JapaneseReligions33 (1 & 2)2. Yifa 1996: 333, 338. Throughout the funerary ceremony, there are several occasions upon which ten recitations of the Buddha’s name are performed. The number ten is also a significant Pure Land influence since in the Wuliangshou jing (J. MuryØjukyØ) 無量寿経, one of the three foundational scriptures of the Pure Land school, Amida’s eighteenth vow also puts forth “ten recitations” or “ten contemplations” shinian 十念as the prescription for birth in his Pure Land. There is also the question as to the interpretation of nian 念which early on meant to visualize and only later came to be used in the context of an oral recitation. For more on the early history of mixed practice in China, see KØchi 1972 and Hattori 1971.3. ZGDJ I:111d, s.v. Enju.4. Shih 1987: 118. Even if this attribution is spurious, it nonetheless demonstrates the position that Yongming is perceived to have held in this Chan/Pure Land dialectic. Shih quotes the “fourfold summary” as: “With Ch’an but no Pure Land, nine out of ten people will go astray. When death comes suddenly, they must accept it in an instant. With Pure Land but no Ch’an, ten thousand out of ten thousand people will achieve birth [in the Pure Land].If one can see Amitåbha face to face, why worry about not attaining awakening?With both Ch’an and Pure Land, it is like a tiger who has grown horns. One will be a teacher for mankind in this life, and a Buddhist patriarch in the next.With neither Ch’an nor Pure Land, it is like falling on an iron bed with bronze posters [i.e., one of the hells]. For endless kalpas one will find nothing to rely on.” (Shih 1987: 118) Shih borrows this translation, with minor changes, from Yü (1981: 52).5. Zhongfeng is in a pivotal position in the history of combined practice, standing between the late Song masters who engaged in mixed practice, and Yunchi, the Ming-period champion of incorporating Pure Land within Zen. (SatØ 1981: 233-34) It is also monk.2This work became the basis of later monastic codes, and thus stands in a solidly unassailable position from the perspective of standard monastic practice. Yongming Yanshou永明延寿(J. YØmei Enju, 904-975),3a Chan monk of the Fayanzong 法眼宗(J. HØgensh¨), made prominent use of the nianfo within Chan training. (Baroni 2000: 109) He also asserted that the Pure Land is to be sought in the mind only (yuishin jØdo唯心浄土), a theme that had appeared well before his own lifetime. (Sharf 2002: 313) Yongming could perhaps be considered the first to self-consciously formulate the compatibility of the two practices, evidenced in the attribution of the “fourfold summary” [of Chan and Pure Land] to him, a concise formula that relates the harmony of the two practices.4Another conspicuous figure who inherited and elaborated upon this practice is Zhiche 智徹(J. Chitetsu, ?-1310) whose own awakening was said to have been spurred by the conundrum “Who is it calling the name of [meditating upon] the Buddha” nianfo shi shei念仏是誰, which thereby provided the start for the formal practice of nianfo gongan念仏公案(J. nenbutsu kØan). (Zhang 1975: 386) In China, the two practices of Chan meditation and the calling of the Buddha’s name were natural parts of any monks’ Buddhist practice, such to the extent that Zhongfeng Mingben 中峰明本(J. Ch¨hØ MyØhon, 1263-1323)5would comment “Chan Baskind: ThenianfoinºBakuZen21Zhongfeng’s dharma line that flourished and would come to include the ºbaku monks. While Yunchi contributed in good measure to the popularity of the nianfo among Chan practitioners, the codification owes much to Zhongfeng. (Nishio 1985: 52)6. Yü translates a passage from Yunqi’s four-volume work Foshuo Amituojing shuchao 仏説阿弥陀経疏鈔(J. Bussetsu Amida kyØsho in which he expounds on his belief that through is the Chan of the Pure Land and the Pure Land is the Pure Land of Chan” (chanzhe jingtu zhi chan, jingtu zhe chan zhi jingtu 禅者浄土之禅、浄土者禅之浄土). (Zhang 1975: 386) Mingben was a prominent Yuan-period monk who contributed in large measure to the Chan/Pure Land synthesis. (SatØ 1981: 233) Regarding this combined practice, Konggu Jinglong 空谷景隆(J. K¨koku Keiry¨, 1392-?) described the nianfo as “the most important shortcut method of training” (nianfo yimen jiejing xiuxing zhi yao 念仏一門捷径修行之要), and Hanshan Deqing憨山徳清(J. Kanzan Tokusei, 1546-1623), considered one of the great masters of the Ming period, expounded on the nianfo saying, “The single practice of the nianfo is the true huatou 話頭(J. watØ, “head word”), the supremely easy [method] of gaining succor in [this world] of dust” (weidu nianfo shenshi de huatou, chenlao zhongjiyi de li 唯独念仏審実的話頭、塵労中極易得力). (Furuta 1960: 23) Chinese Buddhism has changed little in this regard, as Holmes Welch noted in his study of early twentieth-century Chinese Buddhism. He reports that monks in the monasteries he visited jointly practiced meditation and recitation of the Buddha’s name. (Welch 1967: 399-400) Certain monks echoed Mingben’s words above by asserting that Chan and Pure Land practice not only complement each other, but even more so cannot be practiced apart from one another. (Welch 1967: 400)One of the most conspicuous figures in Ming Buddhism is Yunqi Zhuhong 雲棲株宏(J. Unsei ShukØ, 1535-1615). This Chan monk of the late Ming is foremost known for his joint practice of meditation and nianfo, but he also promoted the compatibility of the Three Teachings (of Buddhism, Daoism, and Confucianism) and produced morality books (shanshu善書) for his disciples as well as a more general audience for the purpose of inculcating moral values in the readership. (Yü 1981: 102) Yunqi was the object of considerable scorn from the Japanese monk Hakuin Ekaku白隠慧鶴(1685-1768), who in his Oradegama遠羅天釜described Yunqi as having “abandoned the ‘steepness’ technique of the founders of Zen … advocated strongly the teachings relating to the calling of the Buddha’s name, and displayed an incredibly shallow understanding of Zen.” (Yampolsky 1971: 147-148) Yunqi played a defining role in the formation and final codification that crystallized in the joint practice of Chan and Pure Land teachings during the late Ming period. Yunqi was not the only monk of the late Ming period to promote this style of practice, but he was perhaps the most emphatic when it came to asserting that the practice of the nianfo was the most suitable and efficacious method in the era of Degenerate Law (mofa 末法) for both attaining awakening in this life, for those so able, or for achieving birth in the Pure Land. (Yü 1981: 57) He interpreted the invocation of the Buddha’s name in Chan terms in the sense that when one concentrates on the recitation of the name in a single-minded manner, one is simultaneously cultivating the bodhisattva path as well as achieving the mindfulness necessary to shatter illusion and break through to awakening.6
So Chan and Pureland practices are interrelated. Interestingly, I attended a temple attended by Shaolin monks/nuns and they all chant "Amidafuo"