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 ??
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?