Opponents' position in Lam Rim Chen Mo

In Lam Rim Chen Mo, there is always a character of Chinese monk 'Ha-shang' which hold the opposite view compare to Lam Rim Chen Mo.As I understand this monk was from Chan school that believe in "no-view,no-thought, no-stay". The differences of these two system always confuse me and how to perceive Tatagatha meditation and Patriach meditation is another big issue for me.I am writing the essay on Zen Buddhism for Buddhism in Japan, it is difficult to fully understand the basic teaching of Zen Buddhism campare to other systems of Buddhism. Anybody can sum up for me the main criticises of "Ha-shang" view in Lam Rim and what it mean in Chan Buddhism?

The Debate at Samye and the Monk Hva Shang (pinyin 'Mo He Yan')

The debate at Samye refers to the debate that was held at the request of the Tibetan King Trisong Detsen during the 8th century at Samye to decide whether Tibet should adopt the school of Indian buddhism represented by Kamalashila or the school of Chan buddhism represented by the Chinese monk Ha Shang.

Ha Shang is said to regard any sort of conceptualization whatsoever to be a distorting reification that bound one to cyclic existence. He is said to believe that in order to gain liberation, one has to meditate without any discursive thinking and not bring anything to mind.

In TKP's Lam Rim, Ha Shang represents the extreme view that since nirvana is a state of non-dualistic perception, meditation with discerning wisdom to understand emptiness is still conceptual and dualistic and therefore does not lead to liberation from cyclic existence. He is also representative of the doctrinal position of the Chan school (usually attributed to the Southern Chan school of Hui Neng, '明心见性'法门) that enlightenment is instantaneous, sudden and direct; and not the result of gradual practice and realisation over a period of time. It is therefore implied in the Lam Rim that according to such a position, enlightenment could not be attained by the practice of the Six Paramitas of the Bodhisattva path.

TKP opposes this position many times in his Lam Rim. His argues that liberation through the realisation of emptiness is not a "spacing out" or "emptying of the mind"; but a rigorous meditative analysis that sees through false appearances. He cites the following response from Kamalashila to Ha Shang:
"If you say that you should not think about anything, you abandon the wisdom which has the nature of correct analytical discrimination. The root of sublime wisdom is correct analytical discrimination."

TKP argues that when a meditator empties his mind, he believes that his mind is being aligned with ultimate reality because it is not apprehending any object at all. However, TKP points out that the meditator is in fact adopting the philosophical view that everything is non-existent. It is not the case that he is doing no analysis.

Somewhere else (I forget whether it is in the Lam Rim), this emptying of the mind has been likened to the mind of a sleeping person in which state the mind is not engaged in any analysis but is not anywhere near enlightenment.

I hope this helps a little toward your understanding.

Please look up Guy Newland's book on emptiness. He has done a very good job summarizing the insight meditation part of TKP's Lam Rim.

The Two Path

Thank you very much.
When I read through the texts of Chan Buddhism, "The Two Path" attributed to Bodhidharma work said to enter the Way; the first through principle, and the second is through practice.
To enter through principle means using teachings to awaken the essence and understanding that all beings have the same true nature, which does not shine clearly because it is covered with the dust of delision.When you abandon the false to cherish the real and meditate in front of a wall, you will discover that there is no separation between self and other; ordinary people and sages are the same. Not bound by words, free from concepts and discrimination, you will be completely in accord with the inner truth. This is called entering through principle.
To enter through practice means the four practices that include all others. They are making amends for injustices,accepting worldly conditions, not craving and practicing the Dharma.

Can we say that Chan Buddhism emphasize more on entering through principle and Tibetan Buddhism or TKP stress on entering through practice?

The Two Paths

Hi Kok Kiong,

I suppose you can make that generalisation but do note that they are but two different methods to reach the same objective and although I have not read the work by Bodhidharma you cited, I do not think he has indicated anywhere that he prefers one over the other.

Hui Neng has himself on several occasions in his Platform Sutra stressed that whether it is by gradual practice or sudden awakening (渐修 or 顿悟), the objective is the same - to realise one's true nature (识心见性). This difference in method or approach comes about because of the difference in our capabilities to realise our true nature. People of weaker capabilities can only realise through gradual practice while those of stronger capabilities are able to realise through sudden awakening. For example, he says “何以渐顿? 法即一种, 人见有迟疾。见迟即渐, 见疾即顿。法无顿渐, 人有利顿, 故名渐顿” (Why is there gradual and sudden enlightenment? There is only one Dharma, but the capability to realise can either be slow or fast. Those who are slow realise their true nature gradually, those who are fast realise instantaneously. The Dharma is neither gradual nor instantaneous, but people are either fast or slow and hence realise their true nature either instantaneously or gradually.)

It is also worth noting that during the time of Hui Neng, Chan buddhism went through a phenomenom known as '南能北秀' or 'the Southern school of Hui Neng and the Northern school of Shen Xiu' during which the former is said to advocate sudden enlightenment while the latter gradual practice. This way of classifying Chan buddhism is still being widely adopted by many people. In view of this, the generalisation that Chan emphasizes more on realisation through sudden awakening is not really valid.

Then again, I would like to think that the distinction made above between the Southern and Northern schools would not have won approval from the Sixth Patriarch himself because as mentioned earlier, he stresses many times that the two methods are just different ways to reach the same objective and '自識本心,自見本性,即無差別' (to know one's true mind, to see one's true nature, there is no distinction).

Kindest regards,