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Enlightenment in DisputeThe Reinvention of Chan Buddhism in Seventeenth-Century China$

Jiang Wu

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195333572

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195333572.001.0001

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(p.297) Appendix 2: Major Controversies in the Seventeenth Century

(p.297) Appendix 2: Major Controversies in the Seventeenth Century

Enlightenment in Dispute
Oxford University Press

In addition to the two controversies I examined in the main text, there are many similar disputes that were equally important. To some extent, a history of seventeenth-century Chan Buddhism is a history of these controversies. In this appendix, I will turn to the Caodong school and introduce the debate over the “five superfluous generations” (wudai diechu) of Caodong masters in the Song, which some monks believed should be eliminated from Chan genealogy because of a newly discovered inscription. Then, I focus on the debate over Haizhou Ci, a crucial Linji figure in the early Ming from whom Miyun Yuanwu's lineage derived. Finally, I will give brief accounts of various other minor controversies in which the Linji monks played the dominant role. These disputes reveal how divided and contentious the Buddhist world had become.

A. The Debate over the “Five Superfluous Generations” in the Song Caodong Lineage

Within the Caodong lineage, the need to redefine dharma transmission and to legitimize the existing dharma masters was also keenly felt. The genealogical sources about the Caodong school were often inconsistent in listing the generations of the Caodong masters. In some sources, Zhanran Yuancheng was recorded as belonging to the twenty-sixth generation and in others as belonging to the thirty-first (p.298) generation of the Caodong lineage. Comparing these two versions, there is a five-generation difference. This inconsistency resulted from a seventeenth-century debate about the elimination of five generations of Caodong transmission in the Song.

Like the two-Daowu dispute, which was discussed in part III, the Caodong dispute about dharma transmission was related to two monks with the same name. In 1672, Weizhong Jingfu compiled his version of the genealogy, Zudeng datong, in ninety-eight fascicles.1 In this work, he intentionally eliminated five generations of Caodong masters in the Song, including Dōgen's master, Tiantong Rujing, from the accepted transmission lines. Weizhong Jingfu argued that, according to traditional Chan histories, there were two different monks who had the same name, Zijue, but lived in different monasteries, Jingyin and Lumen. However, according to Jingfu, they were actually the same person. The result was that the five generations before Zijue were eliminated, and all Caodong masters who accepted this version of dharma transmission would be five generations closer to the founder of the lineage.

The accepted Caodong lineage in the Song begins with Furong Daokai (1043–1118), followed by Danxia Zichun (1064–1117), Zhenxie Qingliao (1089–1152), Tiantong Zongjue (1091–1162), Xuedou Zhijian (1105–1192), and Tiantong Rujing (1163–1228). After Rujing, the lineage derives from Dōgen (1200–1253), who brought the Caodong transmission to Japan, and from Rujing's other dharma heir, Lumen Zijue.2 However, Weizhong Jingfu noted that one of Furong Daokai's dharma heirs, who was often called Jingyin Zijue, also lived in Lumen monastery.3 For this reason, he speculated that these two monks, Jingyin Zijue and Lumen Zijue, were the same person. (Readers might want to refer to chart 1.1 to see how Weizhong Jingfu revised the traditional transmission lines.) He considered the five generations on the right side as superfluous and the two masters, Jingyin Zijue and Lumen Zijue, as one person. As a result, all Caodong masters after the Song could be moved back five generations after the elimination of the misidentified Caodong masters.

Weizhong Jingfu claimed that the following inscription of Zijue's dharma heir Qingzhou Yibian (1081–1149) validated his speculation:

During the Zhenghe reign (1111–1118), [Qingzhou Yibian] studied with Lumen Zijue at Xiangzhou prefecture. [Lumen Zijue] asked him to see Furong Daokai. Passing Dengzhou prefecture, he had a chance to meet Danxia [Zi]chun. During the Xuanhe reign (1119–1126), he lived in Tianning monastery in Qingzhou prefecture and afterwards filled the vacancy in Huayan monastery. In his later years, he moved to Yangshan monastery. In the Gengshen year of the Tianjuan reign (p.299) [of the Jin or Jurchen dynasty] (1140), he again presided over Wanshou monastery. In the eighth day of the twelfth month of the ninth year of the Huangtong reign (1149), he wrote the inscription himself and on the twelfth day, he died in the watch of Hai (9–11 p.m.) at night.4

According to the traditional Caodong genealogy, if Lumen Zijue were Tiantong Rujing's disciple, his dharma heir Qingzhou Yibian should have been active in the mid- and late thirteenth century. However, according to Qingzhou Yibian's inscription cited above, he was active in the first half of the twelfth century in the north. In the beginning of this inscription, his teacher Lumen Zijue even suggested that he study with Furong Daokai, indicating Daokai was still alive. This shows that Furong Daokai, Lumen Zijue, and his disciple Qingzhou Yibian all lived around the same time. Based on this inscription, Weizhong Jingfu assumed that Lumen Zijue was Furong Daokai's dharma heir because they were contemporaries. Thus, Lumen Zijue must actually be the same person as Jingyin Zijue and not Tiantong Rujing's disciple, as he was erroneously assumed to be. Accordingly, the later Caodong transmission should leap over the five generations after Furong Daokai and go back directly to Furong Daokai himself.

Weizhong Jingfu's alteration of the Caodong transmission line sparked new angst in the Chan world. Some Caodong masters, such as Juelang Daosheng and his dharma heirs, promoted Weizhong Jingfu's view on dharma transmission. But some, such as Yongjue Yuanxian and his disciple Weilin Daopei (1615–1702), opposed it. They doubted Qingzhou Yibian's epitaph discovered by Weizhong Jingfu and thought it was simply a forgery.5 Influenced by Jingfu's new theory, however, some writers of Chan genealogical works adopted his version of the Caodong genealogy. However, more influential Chan histories, such as the Wudeng quanshu, still adhered to the original version of the Caodong dharma transmission. As a result, the generation numbers of the Caodong masters in the seventeenth century became very confusing.

Jingfu's capable disciple Weizhi Zhikai made efforts to defend his teacher. In his Zhengming lu, he marshaled all kinds of evidence to prove that the two Zijues were actually one person. He also repudiated skeptical authors who wrote essays against his teacher. He advanced the following arguments in his writing:6

1. Weizhi Zhikai assured his readers that the inscriptions that he and his teacher presented were genuine and credible. As he related, his teacher first dispatched his disciple Huaiyi to north China. After two years, Huaiyi brought back Qingzhou Yibian's epitaph. Then, his teacher asked Weizhi Zhikai to start a new search. He departed from Zhejiang and Jiangsu, heading toward Hunan and Hubei. After touring historically important monasteries there, he turned north to Henan. From there, he crossed the Yellow River. However, (p.300) because of a severe illness, Weizhi Zhikai had to turn back to Nanjing. In the spring of 1693, Weizhi Zhikai traveled again to the north, passing through Shandong, Hebei, Beijing, Shanxi, and other northern provinces. It took him two years to finish the second tour. During his extensive travels, he gathered much inscriptional evidence that had been previously unavailable to writers of Chan genealogies.7

2. Regarding the dispute of the two Zijues, Weizhi Zhikai identified many anachronisms in the conventional version of the Caodong dharma transmission. If the old version were correct about Zijue being Tiantong Rujing's dharma heir, then all dharma heirs after Zijue, including Qingzhou Yibian, Zizhou Bao (1114–1173), Wangshan Ti, Xueyan Man (?–1206), and Wansong Xingxiu (1166–1246) would have received their dharma transmissions much later. However, according to the newly discovered epitaph of Qingzhou Yibian, he and his master, Zijue, were contemporaries of Furong Daokai and were active during the end of the Northern Song. In contrast, Tiantong Rujing was active during the time close to the end of the Southern Song. It was impossible for Zijue to have received Rujing's transmission. In addition, Weizhi Zhikai examined the biographies of Caodong patriarchs after Zijue down to Wansong Xingxiu and found that most of them became renowned Chan teachers before Tiantong Rujing received his dharma transmission. Among them, Wansong Xingxiu, active in north China, which was controlled by the Jurchen state, was Tiantong Rujing's contemporary. If the conventional Caodong transmission line were correct, it would be absurd to see a patriarch and his sixth-generation dharma heir become prominent at the same time but under two regimes hostile to each other. Weizhi Zhikai surmised that the mistake occurred because most Chan histories were compiled in the south and thus collected more detailed information of Chan masters who lived in the south. Due to the lack of communication between the north and the south in the Southern Song, Chan historiographers erroneously inserted five generations of Caodong patriarchs into the actual transmission line.

3. The third kind of evidence Weizhi Zhikai used was the numerous inscriptions concerning the dharma transmission of Caodong masters in the Ming. In most of these inscriptions, the Caodong patriarchs often made clear to which generation they belonged. If the generation they claimed was five generations earlier than they should be in the conventional transmission line, this shows that in the actual process of transmission, Caodong patriarchs were never aware of these five generations. Weizhi Zhikai collected more than a hundred pieces of such epigraphic evidence: All of them counted their generations without the five generations. He thus demonstrated that there must have been five superfluous generations in the conventional transmission chart.

(p.301) Weizhi Zhikai showed convincingly that, in some of the most influential compilations of Chan genealogies, the transmission lines of the Caodong lineage were not documented correctly. More important, his evidential research brought to light many epigraphic materials that had never been examined before. Further research following Weizhi Zhikai's work on this issue might illuminate the Caodong history after the Tang.

B. The Debate over the Two Linji Monks Named Haizhou Ci in the Early Ming

Linji monks' involvement in the numerous controversies shows clearly their exclusive positions toward their rivals, especially the Caodong lineage. Feiyin Tongrong's Wudeng yantong is one such work that challenged the Caodong lineages by critically examining Caodong masters' dharma transmissions. Those who failed his strict standards should be expelled from established genealogies and relegated to the category “lineage unknown.” Although Feiyin described his method as strict, as the title of his book suggests, he was lenient toward his fellow Linji patriarchs, especially those in the previous generations from whom he inherited the dharma. If the strict standard were to be applied to the Linji dharma transmissions, even Feiyin's ancestors could not be spared from the charges of remote succession (yaosi) and transmission by proxy (daifu).

The Linji transmission at issue concerns one of the crucial Chan figures in the early Ming from whom Miyun Yuanwu's lineage derived. According to Miyun, his lineage came from the Song Chan master Yuanwu Keqin's leading dharma heir, Huqiu Shaolong (Nanyue 16). (Because the Linji monks customarily counted their generations from Nanyue Huairang, I provide generation numbers for the figures in dispute. Readers might want to refer to chart 1.2 for a visual presentation of the dispute.) There was little dispute about this line of transmission in the Southern Song and Yuan, which includes famous teachers such as Mi'an Xianjie (1118–1186, Nanyue 19), Wuzhun Shifan (1178–1249, Nanyue 20), Gaofeng Yuanmiao (1238–1295, Nanyue 22), and Zhongfeng Mingben (1263–1323, Nanyue 23). This line of transmission was brought into the Ming by Wanfeng Shiwei (1313–1381, Nanyue 25), followed by Baozang Puchi (Nanyue 26), Dongming Huichan (1372–1441, Nanyue 27), Haizhou Ci (Nanyue 28), Baofeng Xuan (Nanyue 29), Tianqi Benrui (?–1503, Nanyue 30), Wuwen Cong (Nanyue 31), Xiaoyan Debao (1512–1581, Nanyue 32), and Huanyou Zhengchuan (1549–1614, Nanyue 33). From Huanyou Zhengchuan, Miyun received his dharma transmission and thus became the patriarch in the thirty-fourth generation after Nanyue Huairang.

(p.302) Here, I must call attention to the identities of three monks in the line. First, in the 1630s, Haizhou Ci (Nanyue 28) was commonly regarded by Miyun's lineage as referring to Haizhou Puci. But decades later, a newly discovered inscription showed that there was another Haizhou Ci, named Haizhou Yongci. Second, the patriarch after Haizhou Ci was Baofeng Xuan (Nanyue 29), who was often referred to as Baofeng Mingxuan but was later changed to Baofeng Zhixuan and then to Yufeng Zhixuan because of the discovery of new evidence. Third, Wuwen Cong (Nanyue 31) was commonly regarded as referring to Wuwen Zhengcong. However, after further investigation, there were at least six other monks named Wuwen Cong who lived about the same time, and three of them received dharma transmission from Tianqi Benrui (Nanyue 30). As I will explain below, these similar names became the source of confusion in many Chan genealogies.

The transmission line I just described is the actual lineage chart delineated in the transmission certificates (yuanliu) used in Miyun Yuanwu's lineage. However, problems occurred when Chan monks looked at other sources to examine this line in the early Ming. People found that two names in the line, Baozang Puchi (Nanyue 26) and Dongming Huichan (Nanyue 27), were not mentioned at all in some Linji monks' dharma transmissions. These sources suggest that Haizhou Ci (Nanyue 28) was actually Wanfeng Shiwei's (Nanyue 25) dharma heir. This means that, in Miyun's official lineage chart, two generations were mistakenly added by his teacher Huanyou Zhengchuan. If this theory were true, it would have been a great embarrassment for Miyun Yuanwu and his dharma heirs because all of their transmission certificates were wrong, and as claimants of the orthodox Linji transmission, they could not even clarify their own dharma transmissions. We can imagine that Miyun's followers would do whatever they could to defend their dharma transmissions even they were proven wrong. Below, I reconstruct this controversy from Weizhi Zhikai's Zhengming lu, which detailed the provenance and evolution of this controversy.8

Basically, the controversy escalated through several stages. In the first stage, the controversy was started within Miyun Yuanwu's lineage by his dharma heir and rival, Hanyue Fazang, in the late Ming, who first cast a suspicious look at the transmission of Haizhou Ci. After receiving dharma transmission from Miyun Yuanwu, Hanyue did careful research on every patriarch in the transmission line in order to write his eulogy of the transmission (Yuanliu song). He noticed that in Wanfeng Shiwei's (Nanyue 25) recorded sayings, Haizhou Ci (Nanyue 28) was actually listed as his leading dharma heir. This means that the transmission certificate Hanyue had received from Miyun was wrong about this. However, he did not dare to challenge the version of dharma transmission he had received. He simply suspected that there might be two (p.303) Haizhou Cis who had different transmissions and thus caused the problem. He hoped that a future discovery of Haizhou Ci's epitaph and recorded sayings would solve the mystery.

Hanyue's disciple Tanji Hongren, more than echoing his teacher's view in the Wuzong jiu published in 1637, was so audacious as to point out straightforwardly that the version of dharma transmission that Miyun had handed down was wrong about Hanzhou Ci and had erroneously inserted two unrelated Chan masters into the line of transmission. The new evidence upon which he relied was Wuwen Zhengcong's (Miyun believed that he and Wuwen Cong were the same person) recorded sayings, which were newly discovered by a literati family and reprinted by Miyun himself. In this work, the line of transmission was clearly delineated from Wanfeng Shiwei to Haizhou Ci, meaning that all patriarchs after Haizhou Ci would move ahead two generations. Tanji Hongren also strongly suggested that there must be a second Haizhou Ci, who had formed a different line of transmission, which was confused with Miyun's lineage. This was a significant change that Miyun simply could not accept.

The controversy entered into the second stage when Miyun responded to Tanji Hongren in his Pi wangjiu lueshuo, published in 1638, in which he defended the version of transmission he had offered by citing a new discovery in Dongming monastery in Hangzhou, where both Dongming Huichan and Haizhou Ci had lived. This new evidence was presented by one of Tianyin Yuanxiu's dharma heirs, Shanci Tongji (1608–1645), who became abbot of Dongming monastery in 1635. Shanci Tongji claimed that he accidentally discovered in a pile of waste paper Dongming Huichan's and Haizhou Puci's epitaphs and encounter dialogues. Together with other sources, he published this alleged new discovery in the Dongming yilu.9(For the first page of this rare source, see figure 1.1.)

In the Dongming yilu, many biographical details of the two masters were supplied. In particular, in Haizhou Puci's epitaph, he was described as first studying with Wanfeng Shiwei and then after about thirty years of living as a hermit, he accepted Dongming Huichan's dharma transmission. This important piece of evidence gave Miyun much-needed relief because now he could explain away the discrepancy between his version of the transmission and alternative versions in other sources. He claimed that because Haizhou Puci first studied with Wanfeng Shiwei, he was mistaken as Wangfeng Shiwei's dharma heir. However, as his epitaph showed, Haizhou Puci actually received the dharma transmission from Dongming Huichan, which corresponded to the transmission certificates Miyun had issued. Following Miyun Yuanwu, in newly compiled Chan genealogies such as Chandeng shipu (1632), Wudeng huiyuan xulue (1648), and Wudeng yantong (1654), Miyun's theory about Haizhou Puci was adopted.

(p.304) The controversy could have been put to rest if an inscription about another Haizhou Ci were not discovered in Yishan monastery in Nanjing in 1657 by one of Muchen Daomin's disciples. This new discovery thus moved the controversy into the third stage. On the front side of a stone stele, which was erected in 1461, the epitaph of a monk called Haizhou Yongci was carved. On the back, a decree appointing Haizhou Yongci as abbot of Yishan monastery, issued by the Ministry of Rites in 1445, could be seen. According to this new inscriptional evidence, this Haizhou Yongci was a completely different person from Haizhou Puci. He was born in 1394 and studied with Dongming Huichan in his youth. Later, sponsored by a eunuch, he was appointed as the founding abbot of Yishan monastery in 1437. He received Dongming Huichan's dharma transmission ten years after his teacher died in 1440. Haizhou Yongci died in 1466.

The discovery of this inscription was sensational because it proved that Hanyue Fazang's and his disciple Tanji Hongren's conjecture of a second Haizhou Ci was correct. It was at the same time another embarrassment for Miyun Yuanwu and his followers because Haizhou Puci's alleged epitaph in the Dongming yilu, upon which he had relied to explain away the doubts about his transmission line, was clearly a forgery. Since the discovery of this new inscription, Miyun's surviving followers unanimously changed their position about Haizhou Ci: Now they endorsed the theory that this Haizhou Yongci was actually the monk commonly referred to as Haizhou Ci in their transmission certificates, and the Haizhou Puci they used to accept became an insignificant figure in a collateral lineage. By so doing, the integrity of their transmissions was maintained.

This sudden change of position, however, left many holes that needed to be mended. If this Haizhou Yongci were to be the Hanzhou Ci in the official transmission line, he ought to be the teacher of the next patriarch in line, who was Baofeng Xuan, commonly believed to be Baofeng Mingxuan. However, in Haizhou Yongci's epitaph, Baofeng Mingxuan's name was not clearly mentioned. Yet, his epitaph did mention that his leading dharma heir was named Baofeng and his twenty-fifth dharma heir Zhixuan. This gave Miyun's followers a new hope to concoct a theory about this Baofeng Xuan. They believed that Haizhou Yongci's leading dharma heir Baofeng actually referred to Baofeng Mingxuan, whose real name should be Zhixuan and who should be listed as Haizhou Yongci's twenty-fifth dharma heir. Then, it became logical to assume that Miyun's transmission line passed from this Haizhou Yongci rather than from Haizhou Puci.

Miyun's opponents, such as Weizhong Jingfu and his disciple Weizhi Zhikai, soon found discrepancies in this theory because, after examining the actual stone inscription carefully, it became clear that the leading dharma heir Baofeng mentioned in the stele referred to Haizhou Yongci's first disciple, (p.305) Zhiren, and according to other sources, the Zhixuan mentioned as Yongci's twenty-fifth dharma heir was actually referred to as “Yufeng” instead of “Baofeng.” This showed that Haizhou Yongci's lineage, though derived from Dongming Huichan, actually passed through this Baofeng Zhiren and then became obscure in the seventeenth century.

However, despite protests about their manipulation of Haizhou Yongci's inscription, some of Miyun's followers adopted this new theory of the transmission from Haizhou Yongci to Baofeng Zhixuan. Subsequently, all new compilations of Chan genealogies, such as the Wudeng quanshu, simply replaced Haizhou Puci's biography with Haizhou Yongci's and grafted the accounts of Baofeng Mingxuan's life almost verbatim under Baofeng Zhixuan's name because they believed that Baofeng Mingxuan and Baofeng Zhixuan were actually the same person.

Some Caodong monks could not tolerate this conspicuous cover-up of a serious mistake about dharma transmission. As Weizhi Zhikai's Zhengming lu shows, the critical examination of the two Haizhou Cis was soon expanded to other patriarchs in the line. In addition to Haizhou Ci, the next patriarch singled out for public debate was Wuwen Cong (Nanyue 31), whose teacher was Tianqi Benrui (Nanyue 30) and whose dharma heir was Xiaoyan Debao (Nanyue 32). Careful readers found in Tianqi Benrui's recorded sayings that, among a list of more than three hundred dharma heirs, there were three named Wuwen Cong, whose differences were clearly marked by the original places from which they hailed. However, the current account of Wuwen Zhengcong, who was undoubtedly Xiaoyan Debao's dharma master, did not match any of those three. This shows that this Wuwen Zhengcong was not Tianqi Benrui's official dharma heir, and he must have claimed to be Tianqi Benrui's dharma heir by remote succession without a personal encounter with the master. However, as Weizhi Zhikai pointed out, almost all authors of recent Chan genealogies were confused about these four Wuwen Congs and combined their life stories haphazardly into the biography of one person.

The third patriarch who became a target was Miyun's immediate dharma teacher, Huanyou Zhengchuan, who was widely acclaimed as the leading dharma heir of Xiaoyan Debao. When readers checked Xiaoyan Debao's recorded sayings, however, Huanyou Zhengchuan's name could not be found in the list of Xiaoyan Debao's six official dharma heirs.

Critics also cast doubts toward earlier patriarchs in the Linji's transmission lines. The most problematic, according to Weizhi Zhikai, was the patriarch Xinghua Cunjiang (830–888, Nanyue 6), who was after Linji Yixuan (Nanyue 5). According to his biography in the Jingde chuandeng lu, he was actually enlightened (p.306) by Sansheng Huiran and Weifu Dajue, not by Linji Yixuan. Only reluctantly, he chose to continue the Linji dharma transmission. In addition, Xueyan Zuqin's (1215–1287, Nanyue 21) dharma transmission from Wuzhun Shifan (1178–1249, Nanyue 20) also became problematic because of a lack of evidence.

These critical investigations of Miyun Yuanwu's line of transmission were largely instigated by his followers' aggressive attitudes toward other lineages as evidenced in Feiyin's Wudeng yantong. The results of these controversies demonstrate that when the strict standards of dharma transmission advocated by Miyun's followers were applied to themselves, no one could stand the test of evidential examination. This is exactly what John McRae said in the third rule of Zen studies: “Precision implies inaccuracy. ”10 Chan monks intended their genealogy to be as precise as possible. However, their efforts only revealed how problematic their transmissions were as historical facts.

C. Other Controversies Related to the Linji Monks

As Chen Yuan's work has shown, most of the controversies were related to Miyun Yuanwu and his lineage. Miyun was a highly controversial figure even in his lifetime. His simple understanding of Chan often involved him in various disputes with his fellow monks and lay patrons. This can be seen from a rare source, Tiantong zhishuo, which collects all of his polemical works. Another rare manuscript entitled Feiyin chanshi bieji preserves almost all of Feiyin's notorious polemical works. This valuable source, unlike his recorded sayings, is straightforward, sharp in language, and revealing about clerical strife. It tells us that Feiyin had willingly involved himself in various disputes with his fellow monks within and outside his lineage.11

Based on these sources, it is now clear that Linji monks initiated most of the controversies in the seventeenth century. Some notable controversies are summarized as follows.

Miyun's Debate with Daoheng concerning Sengzhao's Things Do Not Shift

This debate was an extension of the lively discussion of Sengzhao's Things Do Not Shift initiated by the Huayan master Kongyin Zhencheng. Miyun Yuanwu's teacher Huanyou Zhenchuan participated in this debate and refuted Kongyin Zhencheng's claim that Sengzhao did not employ Buddhist logic correctly.12 Following his master's suit, Miyun's polemical essay, entitled (p.307) “Jupingshuo” (Essay commenting on [Sengzhao's work]),” was primarily targeted at a monk named Daoheng, who wrote Wubuqian zhengliang zheng (Validation of [Zhencheng's] “Inference of Things Do Not Shift”) to support Kongyin Zhencheng.13 Miyun wrote this rebuttal to defend his teacher. His polemical essay, probably written in 1629, and some letters about the dispute were reprinted in the fifth fascicle of the Tiantong zhishuo.

Miyun's Debate with Ruibai Mingxue about the Meaning of “the Master”

This debate concerns how to understand Gaofeng Yuanmiao's enlightenment experience. Gaofeng Yuanmiao's recorded sayings became popular after Yunqi Zhuhong reprinted them in 1599. According to this work, Yuanmiao's enlightenment was triggered by a conversation with his teacher Xueyan Zuqin about the meaning of the phrase “the master” (zhurengong).14 Concerning this episode, both Zhanran Yuancheng and Miyun Yuanwu wrote verses to praise Gaofeng Yuanmiao. However, the crucial difference between the two was whether Gaofeng Yuanmiao had had one or two enlightenment experiences. Zhanran Yuancheng tended to interpret Yuanmiao's experience as two separate events involving a gradual progression to ultimate enlightenment while Miyun Yuanwu insisted that Yuanmiao had only one sudden enlightenment experience. Both sides exchanged polemical essays from 1636 to 1638. Zhanran's dharma heir Ruibai Mingxue defended his teacher, and Miyun Yuanwu thus had a debate with him.15 Tianyin Yuanxiu's disciple Yulin Tongxiu also joined the debate, writing the Bianmo shuo (Discourse on refuting the demon) to refute Ruibai Mingxue.16

Miyun's Debate with the Jesuits

In the late Ming, Jesuit missionaries, led by Matteo Ricci, were actively propagating Christianity in China. Adopting the policy of “uniting with Confucianism and resisting Buddhism,” the growing Christian movement posed serious threats to Buddhism. Famous monks, such as Zhuhong in 1615 and Ouyi Zhixu (1599–1655) in 1643, responded to the challenge.17 Miyun Yuanwu also participated in the anti-Christian movement. In 1635, at the request of a literatus, Huang Zhen, Miyun wrote three essays on the meaning of heaven (Biantian sanshuo) to challenge the Christian church at Hangzhou. These essays were collected in fascicle 6 of the Tiantong zhishuo and reprinted in the Shengchao poxie ji (Collected essays for destroying heterodoxy in the holy dynasties).18

(p.308) Feiyin Tongrong's Dispute with Muchen Daomin concerning the Legitimacy of Miyun's Dharma Heirs and the Succession of Abbots at Tiantong Monastery

After Miyun Yuanwu's death in 1642, Feiyin Tongrong became a central figure among Miyun's dharma heirs. He had been influential and controversial because he was always critical of his contemporaries and acted as a censor within his master's lineage. He would evaluate other monks' understanding of Chan according to their recorded sayings, which publicized their enlightenment experiences. His dharma brother Muchen Daomin, later prominent in the Qing court, was Feiyin Tongrong's enemy. Feiyin's Separate Collection (Feiyin chanshi bieji) reveals that strong personal conflicts between the two centered on the issues of abbot succession in Tiantong monastery and the abuse of dharma transmission that occurred in 1643.19

According to Feiyin, this dispute started when all of Miyun Yuanwu's dharma heirs gathered in Tiantong monastery to attend their master's funeral. Making use of this opportunity, Muchen Daomin declared himself to be the successor of Miyun Yuanwu as abbot of Tiantong. In addition, Muchen Daomin distributed Miyun Yuanwu's remaining personal belongings, such as robes and whisks, to several dozen monks who had studied with Miyun but never received dharma transmission. Muchen claimed that these monks had received secret transmissions and that he only acted on behalf of his master to acknowledge these monks after Miyun's death. Feiyin then accused Muchen Daomin of manipulating his fellow monks to elect him as abbot of Tiantong rather than following the usual practice of lot drawing. Feiyin also criticized Muchen for conferring dharma transmission to other monks by his master's proxy, a practice that Feiyin viewed as a threat to the legitimately established dharma heirs personally certified by Miyun. To avoid any future confusion, Feiyin insisted on writing the names of all twelve legitimate dharma heirs into Miyun's epitaph.

Feiyin Tongrong's Dispute with Ruibai Mingxue concerning the Principles of Caodong and Linji

Feiyin Tongrong was particularly belligerent toward the Caodong monks who had formerly been his study mates. For example, when he found that the Caodong master Ruibai Mingxue also used shouts and blows to teach students, he felt threatened because he believed that the shouts and blows were derived from the Linji school rather than from the Caodong. For him, the principles of Linji and Caodong were separate and distinctive. He thus picked a fight with (p.309) this Caodong monk in 1634 and accused him of “plagiarizing” the Linji method of shouts and blows.20

Feiyin Tongrong's Dispute with the Jesuits

Following his master closely, Feiyin Tongrong also joined the anti-Christian movement in northwest Fujian. At the request of the local gentry, he wrote four essays under the title Yuandao pixie shuo (Treatise on the origins of the Way and the refutation of heresies). He also compiled an anthology in 1636 with the same title and collected polemical essays written by him and his disciples. In 1639, at the request of Miyun Yuanwu and Feiyin Tongrong, Feiyin Tongrong's lay disciple Xu Changzhi (1582–1672) compiled the most comprehensive anti-Christian anthology, which is known today from its Japanese reprint, Shengchao poxie ji.21

Feiyin's Disputes with Other Chan Masters

Feiyin had conflicts with many Chan masters. In addition to the disputes already mentioned, in 1642 and 1643, he wrote several essays to criticize other Chan masters whose Chan understandings were deemed by him as “crazy.” For example, he joined his teacher, Miyun Yuanwu, in the debate about Gaofeng Yuanmiao's enlightenment experience; he also argued with his dharma brother Yulin Tongxiu about the meaning of beating and shouting; and he criticized the Caodong master Yongjue Yuanxian's remark about his simple Chan style.22

Controversy over Xuejiao Yuanxin's Stūpa at Yunmen Monastery

Xuejiao Yuanxin was popular among the literati and his two literati followers, Huang Duanbo23 and Xu Qirui, were listed as,his only dharma heirs. (Both men became martyrs in the anti-Manchu resistance movement.) However, having been enlightened by reading Yunmen Wenyan's recorded sayings, Xuejiao Yuanxin considered himself a dharma heir of the Yunmen school. For this reason, Muchen Daomin eliminated him from the Linji lineage in his Chandeng shipu. Yet, the new Manchu ruler, Shunzhi, was extremely interested in Xuejiao Yuanxin and even questioned his omission from Chan genealogies during an interview with Muchen Daomin in 1659. Thus, in the current edition of the Chandeng shipu, Xuejiao was added as a Linji heir. Later, the emperor allotted money to repair Xuejiao Yuanxin's memorial pagoda in Yunmen monastery. Muchen Daomin was assigned the job and used it as an opportunity to attack Hanyue Fazang's disciple Jude Hongli.

(p.310) Muchen Daomin accused Jude Hongli and his disciple Sanmu Zhiyuan of neglecting the emperor's edict and destroying Yunmen monastery, where Xuejiao's pagoda was located. As Chen Yuan correctly points out, this dispute was simply Muchen Daomin's latest attempt to increase his influence in the Buddhist community.24

Controversy over the “Tower of Emperor's Handwriting” at Pingyang Monastery

After Muchen Daomin was called to Beijing, he became the new national preceptor of the Manchu regime. To increase his influence in the Buddhist world, he frequently engaged in disputes and competed with his rivals, such as Tianyin Yuanxiu's dharma heir Yulin Tongxiu, who was also summoned to Beijing to receive honorary titles. After Muchen returned to the south, he built a new monastery called Pingyang in Kuaiji to store the emperor's calligraphic works that had been given to him. However, Yulin Tongxiu did not do the same with the emperor's writings that he received. Thus, Muchen wrote “Baokui shuo” (Essay on the precious royal writings) in 1670 to criticize Yulin Tongxiu. He argued that Tongxiu should have erected a similar building to house the emperor's writings as he did. But by not doing so, Yulin Tongxiu had obtained fame as transcending worldly interests. According to Muchen Daomin, this was one of Yulin Tongxiu's faults.25

Controversy over Monastic Property at Shanquan Monastery

Shanquan monastery was located in Yixing county and was revived by Zhanran Yuancheng's heir Baiyu Jingsi (1610–1665) in the early Qing. In 1671, Baiyu's disciple Hansong Zhicao (1626–1686) became abbot. However, the newly appointed national preceptor, Yulin Tongxiu, intended to usurp this property because the memorial pagoda of his patriarch Huanyou Zhengchuang's tonsure master was located there. In the name of protecting this pagoda, Tongxiu expelled Hansong Zhicao and gained control of the property in 1673. Yulin Tongxiu appointed his heir Baisong Xingfeng (1612–1674) as the new abbot. Hansong Zhicao wrote the Zhimi pushuo (General discourse on pointing to the deluded) to criticize Yulin Tongxiu.26 The dispute became bloody when Baisong Xingfeng wanted to expand the property by incorporating the neighboring lineage shrine of the Chen family. The Chen lineage could not endure the oppression and set fire to the monastery in 1674. Baisong Xingfeng was killed in the fire. As Chen Yuan laments, the disputes in the seventeenth century had degenerated into a struggle for secular interests.27


(1.)  Zijue's record appeared in Zudeng datong, fasc. 53. Weizhong Jingfu noted that this Zijue was also Lumen Zijue, but he did not highlight the significance of his change in the Zudeng datong. Instead, he explained in detail about his change in his Zudeng bian'e, fasc. 2, pp. 100–102.

(2.)  The earliest reference to Lumen Zijue is a funerary inscription dated 1165 for Xingtong (1097–1165). This inscription is reproduced in Ishii, Sōdai Zenshūshi no kenkyū, pp. 536–37.

(3.)  See Schlütter, “Chan Buddhism in Song-Dynasty China (960–1279),” pp. 156–61. See also Nukariya, Zengaku shisōshi, pp. 426–27; and Hasebe, “Tōmon no dōkō to sono keifu.”

(4.)  See Weizhong Jingfu, Zudeng bian'e, fasc. 2, pp. 100–101.

(5.)  Weizhong Jingfu's claim was charged with containing serious historical errors. Weilin Daopei wrote two essays to criticize him. Both of them were entitled “Bianmiu” (discerning the errors) and were preserved in Pan Lei's Jiukuang bianyu, pp. 79–103. See also Weilin Daopei's reply to Dashan Tongqiu in ibid., p. 87.

(6.)  To save space, in the following summary, I will not provide detailed documentation of all evidence. For details, consult Weizhi Zhikai, Zhengming lu, fascs. 5–7, pp. 52–101.

(7.)  Weizhi Zhikai, Zhengming lu, p. 73.

(8.)  For the sake of saving space, I will not provide documentation for each piece of evidence. Weizhi Zhikai excerpted most of them from the original work and commented on each one in his Zhengming lu, fascs. 8–14, pp. 102–227. Readers can also consult Hasebe Yūkei's relevant works listed in the bibliography.

(9.)  See Shanci Tongji (comp.), Dongming yilu. In Weizhi Zhikai's Zhengming lu, this work was referred to as the Tongming zudeng lu. I came across this rare source in the Shanghai Library.

(10.)  See McRae's four rules of Chan studies in his Seeing through Zen, pp. xix–xx.

(11.)  For a catalog of and a brief introduction to the essays contained in this work, see Noguchi, “Minmatsu Shinsho sōsō kenkyū shiryō ni tsuite,” p. 790.

(12.)  Huanyou Zhengchuan's essays are collected in Longchi Huanyou chanshi yulu, fascs. 11 and 12, JXZ 25: 439–50. For a brief study, see Jiang Canteng's analysis of this debate in his Wan Ming Fojiao conglin gaige yu Foxue zhengbian zhi yanjiu, pp. 271–75.

(13.)  For a brief study of his work, see ibid., pp. 265–71.

(14.)  See Gaofeng Yuanmiao, Gaofeng chanshi yulu, XZJ 122: 678b–80a.

(15.)  See Tiantong zhishuo, fasc. 7, pp. 7–32. See also Noguchi, “Minmatsu ni okeru shūjinko ronsō,” p. 164.

(16.)  This essay has been reprinted in Zhongguo Fojiao sixiang ziliao xuanbian, ser. 3, vol. 3, pp. 5–13.

(17.)  For a brief study of Zhuhong's response, see Chün-fang Yü, The Renewal of Buddhism in China, pp. 87–90. For a brief study of Ouyi Zhixu's response, see Shengyan, Minmatsu Chūgoku Bukkyō no kenkyū, p. 144. For a German translation of Buddhist responses to Christianity in the seventeenth century, see Kern, Buddhistische Kritik am Christentum im China.

(18.)  For Miyun's involvement in the anti-Christian campaign, see my dissertation, “Orthodoxy, Controversy, and the Transformation of Chan Buddhism in Seventeenth-century China,” chapter 4, especially pp. 197–204.

(19.)  See Feiyin's essays in fasc. 15 of the Feiyin chanshi bieji.

(20.)  See Feiyin's essay in Feiyin chanshi bieji, fascs. 11–14. For a brief study of this debate, see Noguchi, Yoshitaka “Hiin Tsūyō no Rinzai-zen to sono zasetsu,” pp. 70–74.

(21.)  Feiyin Tongrong's four essays were collected in the following anthologies: Feiyin chanshi bieji, fasc. 16; Honkoku byakujashū, fasc. 2, reprinted in 1860 by the Fukuenji in Japan; and Shengchao poxie ji, reprinted in Japan in 1855. These editions differ from each other and from the early editions. For a brief study of Feiyin's essays, see my dissertation, “Orthodoxy, Controversy, and the Transformation of Chan Buddhism,” chapter 4, especially pp. 204–18; see also my article “Buddhist Logic and Apologetics in Seventeenth-century China.”

(22.)  For Feiyin Tongrong's essays, see Feiyin chanshi bieji, fascs. 8–11.

(23.)  See Huang Duanbo's preface to Wuming Huijing's recorded sayings, in Wuming Huijing, Shouchang Wuming heshang yulu, JXZ 25: 667c.

(24.)  Chen Yuan, Qingchu sengzheng ji, pp. 63–70. According to Chen Yuan, Muchen Daomin's letter was written in 1667 and can be found in his Baicheng ji, fasc. 6. This rare book is preserved in the National Library in Beijing.

(25.)  According to Chen Yuan, this essay is preserved in Muchen Daomin's Baicheng ji, fasc. 20. I have not seen this source. My account is based on Chen Yuan's study. See his Qingchu sengzheng ji, pp. 70–79.

(26.)  See Hansong Zhicao, Hansong Cao chanshi yulu, fasc. 11, JXZ no. 392, 37: 601b–3c, especially 603b–c. In this edition, the title is written as Pushuo, and the work is dated the twelfth day of the eleventh month of 1673.

(27.)  See Chen Yuan, Qingchu sengzheng ji, pp. 79–86. Because of Yulin Tongxiu's influence, the head of the Chen lineage was sentenced to death at the end of this dispute.