STUDY HISTORY 2021.08.26

The History of Zen: Discovering the Roots of Sōtō Zen (16)

From Prof. KAGAMISHIMA Genryū’s Zengaku gairon kōgi nōto
(Introduction to Zen Studies Lecture Notes)

Chapter Six: The Branches of Chinese Zen

 The Sixth Patriarch Huineng was a seminal figure in Chinese Zen, and afterwards Chinese Zen developed and spread throughout China for two reasons.
 The first reason is that through Huineng, Zen completely escaped from the limitations of Indian Buddhism to become thoroughly Sinicized. The Zen of Bodhidharma was the most practical form of Buddhism, yet still had not evolved beyond an Indian character. Under Huineng it went beyond those Indian qualities to become completely Sinicized. So doing, Zen became readily acceptable to the Chinese people, and could display distinctive Chinese features.
 The second reason was that from the Tang Dynasty until the Five Dynasties, China was continuously at war, and many Buddhist scriptures were lost. For the forms of Buddhism that relied on scripture this was a fatal blow, but for Zen which did not base itself on scriptures this development proved to be instead advantageous.
 For the above two reasons, Zen became the leading influence in Chinese Buddhism from the time of the Sixth Patriarch Huineng, and many persons emerged from the Zen lineage.
 Among the disciples of Huineng, Nanyue Huairang (Jpn. Nangaku Ejō南岳懐譲, 677–744) and Qingyuan Xingsi (Jpn. Seigen Gyōshi青原行思, ?–740) were the most prominent. Following Nanyue was Mazu Daoyi (Jpn. Baso Dōitsu馬祖道一, 707–786) and after Qingyuan came Shitou Xiqian (Jpn. Sekitō Kisen石頭希遷, 700–790). Mazu taught Zen in Jiangxi江西, and Shitou taught in Hunan湖南.
 Practitioners from all over the country sought to study under them, and Zen came to dominate all of China.
 In later times, the five schools of Linji (Jpn. Rinzai臨済), Caodong (Jpn. Sōtō曹洞), Yunmen (Jpn. Unmon雲門), Guiyang (Jpn. Igyō潙仰), and Fayan (Jpn. Hōgen法眼) arose from the lineages of these two monks. These were also called the Five Houses (Jpn. Goke五家) of Zen.