ZEN IN JAPAN
SEON IN KOREA
ZEN IN THE USA
* Ten Ox-Herding Pictures * Five ranks of Tozan * Three mysterious Gates * Four Ways of Knowing
East Mountain Teaching
* v * t * e
Part of a series on
* Councils * Later Buddhists
* Five Aggregates
* Suffering * Non-self
* Dependent Origination
* Rebirth * Saṃsāra * Cosmology
* Morality * Perfections * Meditation * Philosophical reasoning
* Mindfulness * Wisdom
* Aids to Enlightenment * Monasticism
* Four Stages
* Buddha * Bodhisattva
* Theravāda * Pāli * Mahāyāna
* Tibetan * Navayana * Newar
Buddhism by country
* India * China * Thailand * Japan * Myanmar * Sri Lanka * Laos * Cambodia * Korea * Taiwan * Tibet * Bhutan * Mongolia * Russia
* Outline * Buddhism portal
* v * t * e
The term SUBITISM points to sudden enlightenment , the idea that insight is attained all at once. The opposite approach, that enlightenment can be achieved only step by step, through an arduous practice, is called gradualism .
* 1 Etymology
* 2 Early Buddhism
* 2.1 Dhyana and insight * 2.2 Dhyana * 2.3 Insight
* 3 Theravada
* 4 Mahayana
* 4.1 Chinese Buddhism
* 4.1.1 Chan
* 4.1.2 Hua-yen
* 4.2 Korean Seon
* 5 Neo-Vedanta
* 5.1 Ramana maharshi - Akrama mukti
* 6 See also * 7 Notes * 8 References
* 9 Sources
* 9.1 Published sources * 9.2 Web-sources
* 10 External links * 11 Further reading
The application of the term to Buddhism is derived from the French illumination subite (sudden awakening), contrasting with 'illumination graduelle' (gradual awakening). It gained currency in this use in English from the work of sinologist Paul Demiéville . His 1947 work 'Mirror of the Mind' was widely read in the U.S. It inaugurated a series by him on subitism and gradualism.
DHYANA AND INSIGHT
A core problem in the study of early Buddhism is the relation between jhana/dhyana and insight. The Buddhist tradition has incorporated two traditions regarding the use of dhyana. There is a tradition that stresses attaining insight (bodhi , prajna , kensho ) as the means to awakening and liberation. But it has also incorporated the yogic tradition , as reflected in the use of jhana, which is rejected in other sutras as not resulting in the final result of liberation. The problem was famously voiced in 1936 by Louis de La Vallee Poussin, in his text Musila et Narada: Le Chemin de Nirvana.
Schmithausen, in his often-cited article On some Aspects of Descriptions or Theories of 'Liberating Insight' and 'Enlightenment' in Early Buddhism, notes that the mention of the four noble truths as constituting "liberating insight", which is attained after mastering the Rupa Jhanas, is a later addition to texts such as Majjhima Nikaya 36. Schmithausen discerns three possible roads to liberation as described in the suttas. Vetter adds a fourth possibility, which pre-dates these three:
* The four Rupa Jhanas themselves constituted the core liberating practice of early buddhism, c.q. the Buddha; * Mastering the four Rupa Jhanas, where-after "liberating insight" is attained; * Mastering the four Rupa Jhanas and the four Arupa Jhanas, where-after "liberating insight" is attained; * Liberating insight itself suffices.
This problem has been elaborated by several well-known scholars, including Tilman Vetter, Johannes Bronkhorst , and Richard Gombrich.
According to Tilmann Vetter, the core of earliest Buddhism is the practice of dhyāna . Vetter notes that "penetrating abstract truths and penetrating them successively does not seem possible in a state of mind which is without contemplation and reflection." Vetter further argues that the eightfold path constitutes a body of practices which prepare one, and lead up to, the practice of dhyana.
Bronkhorst agrees that dhyana was a Buddhist invention, whereas Norman notes that "the Buddha's way to release was by means of meditative practices." Gombrich also notes that a development took place in early Buddhism resulting in a change in doctrine, which considered prajna to be an alternative means to "enlightenment".
According to Johannes Bronkhorst, Tillman Vetter, and K.R. Norman, bodhi was at first not specified. K.R. Norman:
It is not at all clear what gaining bodhi means. We are accustomed to the translation "enlightenment" for bodhi, but this is misleading It is not clear what the buddha was awakened to, or at what particular point the awakening came.
According to Norman, bodhi may basically have meant the knowledge that nibbana was attained, due to the practice of dhyana.
Bronkhorst notes that the conception of what exactly this "liberating insight" was developed throughout time. Whereas originally it may not have been specified, later on the four truths served as such, to be superseded by pratityasamutpada, and still later, in the Hinayana schools, by the doctrine of the non-existence of a substantial self or person. And Schmithausen notices that still other descriptions of this "liberating insight" exist in the Buddhist canon:
"that the five Skandhas are impermanent, disagreeable, and neither the Self nor belonging to oneself"; "the contemplation of the arising and disappearance (udayabbaya) of the five Skandhas"; "the realisation of the Skandhas as empty (rittaka), vain (tucchaka) and without any pith or substance (asaraka).
Discriminating insight into transiency as a separate path to liberation was a later development. This may have been to due an over-literal interpretation by later scholastics of the terminology used by the Buddha, or to the problems involved with the practice of dhyana, and the need to develop an easier method. According to Vetter it may not have been as effective as dhyana, and methods were developed to deepen the effects of discriminating insight. It was also paired to dhyana, resulting in the well-known sila-samadhi-prajna scheme. According to Vetter this kind of preparatory "dhyana" must have been different from the practice introduced by the Buddha, using kasina -exercises to produce a "more artificially produced dhyana", resulting in the cessation of apperceptions and feelings. It also led to a different understanding of the eightfold path, since this path does not end with insight, but rather starts with insight. The path was no longer seen as a sequential development resulting in dhyana, but as a set of practices which had to be developed simultaneously to gain insight.
The distinction between sudden and gradual is also apparent in the differentiation between vipassana and samatha . According to Gombrich, the distinction between vipassana and samatha did not originate in the suttas , but in the interpretation of the suttas.
The emphasis on insight is also discernible in the Mahayana-tradition, which emphasises prajna :
he very title of a large corpus of early
Mahayana literature, the
The distinction between sudden and gradual awakening was first introduced in China in the beginning of the 5th century CE by Tao Sheng .
The term is used in
In the 8th century the distinction became part of a struggle for
influence at the Chinese court by
Shenhui , a student of
While the Patriarch was living in Bao Lin Monastery, the Grand Master Shen Xiu was preaching in Yu Quan Monastery of Jing Nan. At that time the two Schools, that of Hui Neng of the South and Shen Xiu of the North, flourished side by side. As the two Schools were distinguished from each other by the names "Sudden" (the South) and "Gradual" (the North), the question which sect they should follow baffled certain Buddhist scholars (of that time). (Seeing this), the Patriarch addressed the assembly as follows:
So far as the
Rivalry Between Schools
While Southern School placed emphasis on sudden enlightenment, it
also marked a shift in doctrinal basis from the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra
to the prajnaparamita tradition, especially the Diamond
Once this dichotomy was in place, it defined its own logic and
rhetorics, which are also recognizable in the distinction between
This is also the standpoint of the contemporary
This gradual cultivation is also recognized by
Ch'an expressions refer to enlightenment as "seeing your self-nature". But even this is not enough. After seeing your self-nature, you need to deepen your experience even further and bring it into maturation. You should have enlightenment experience again and again and support them with continuous practice. Even though Ch'an says that at the time of enlightenment, your outlook is the same as of the Buddha, you are not yet a full Buddha .
In the Fivefold Classification of the
Chinul , a 12th-century Korean Seon master, followed Zongmi, and also emphasized that insight into our true nature is sudden, but is to be followed by practice to ripen the insight and attain full Buddhahood.
In contemporary Korean Seon,
RAMANA MAHARSHI - AKRAMA MUKTI
‘Some people,’ he said, ‘start off by studying literature in their youth. Then they indulge in the pleasures of the world until they are fed up with them. Next, when they are at an advanced age, they turn to books on Vedanta. They go to a guru and get initiated by him and then start the process of sravana, manana and nididhyasana, which finally culminates in samadhi. This is the normal and standard way of approaching liberation. It is called krama mukti . But I was overtaken by akrama mukti before I passed through any of the above-mentioned stages.’
The teachings of Bhausaheb Maharaj, the founder of the Inchegeri Sampradaya , have been called "the Ant's way", the way of meditation, while the teachings of Siddharameshwar Maharaj and his disciples Nisargadatta Maharaj and Ranjit Maharaj have been called "the Bird's Way", the direct path to Self-discovery:
The way of meditation is a long arduous path while the Bird's Way is a clear direct path of Self investigation, Self exploration, and using thought or concepts as an aid to understanding and Self-Realization. Sometimes this approach is also called the Reverse Path. What Reverse Path indicates is the turning around of one's attention away from objectivity to the more subjective sense of one's Beingness. With the Bird's Way, first one's mind must be made subtle. This is generally done with some initial meditation on a mantra or phrase which helps the aspirant to step beyond the mental/conceptual body, using a concept to go beyond conceptualization.
The terms appear in the Varaha Upanishad, Chapter IV:
34. (The Rishi) Suka is a Mukta (emancipated person). (The Rishi)
35. While those who always follow the path of
* ^ McRae 1991 . * ^ A B Gregory 1991 . * ^ A B C D E F G Vetter 1988 . * ^ A B C D E Bronkhorst 1993 . * ^ A B C Gombrich 1997 . * ^ A B bronkhorst 1993 . * ^ Bronkhorst 1993 , p. 133-134. * ^ Schmithausen 1981 . * ^ Vetter 1988 , p. xxi-xxii. * ^ Vetter, 1988 & xxi-xxxvii . * ^ Vetter 1988 , p. xxvii. * ^ Vetter 1988 , p. xxx. * ^ A B C D Norman 1997 , p. 29. * ^ gombrich 1997 , p. 131. * ^ Norman 1997 , p. 30. * ^ Vetter 1988 , p. xxix, xxxi. * ^ Bronkhorst 1993 , p. 100-101. * ^ Bronkhorst 1993 , p. 101. * ^ Vetter 1988 , p. xxxiv-xxxvii. * ^ Gombrich 1997 , p. 131. * ^ Gombrich 1997 , p. 96-134. * ^ A B C Vetter 1988 , p. xxxv. * ^ Vetter 1988 , p. xxxvi. * ^ Vetter 1988 , p. xxxvi-xxxvii. * ^ Gombrich 1997 , p. 96-144. * ^ Gombrich 1997 , p. 133. * ^ Warder 2000 , p. 284. * ^ Lai 1991 , p. 169. * ^ McRae 2003 . * ^ Kasulis 2003 , pp. 26–28. * ^ McRae 2003 , p. 123. * ^ Buswell 1993 , p. 234. * ^ Gregory 1993 . * ^ Buswell 1991 , p. 240-241. * ^ Kapleau 1989 . * ^ Low 2006 . * ^ Yen 2006 , p. 54. * ^ Buswell 1989 , p. 21. * ^ 퇴옹 성철. (1976). 한국불교의 법맥. 해인사 백련암 (Korea): 장경각. (Toeng Seongcheol. (1976). Hanguk Bulgyo Ei Bupmaek. Haeinsa Baekryun'am (Korea): Jang'gyung'gak.) ISBN 89-85244-16-7 * ^ 퇴옹 성철. (1987). 자기를 바로 봅시다. 해인사 백련암 (Korea): 장경각. (Toeng Seongcheol. (1987). Jaghireul Baro Bopshida. Haeinsa Baekryun'am (Korea): Jang'gyung'gak.) ISBN 89-85244-11-6 * ^ 퇴옹 성철. (1988). 영원한 자유. 해인사 백련암 (Korea): 장경각. (Toeng Seongcheol. (1988). Yongwonhan Jayou. Haeinsa Baekryun'am (Korea): Jang'gyung'gak.) ISBN 89-85244-10-8 * ^ 퇴옹 성철. (1987). 선문정로. 해인사 백련암 (Korea): 장경각. (Toeng Seongcheol. (1987). Seon Mun Jung Ro. Haeinsa Baekryun'am (Korea): Jang'gyung'gak.) ISBN 89-85244-14-0 * ^ 퇴옹 성철. (1992). 백일법문. 해인사 백련암 (Korea): 장경각. (Toeng Seongcheol. (1992). Baek Il Bupmun. Haeinsa Baekryun'am (Korea): Jang'gyung'gak.) ISBN 89-85244-05-1 , ISBN 89-85244-06-X * ^ Coomaraswamy 2004 . * ^ A B Prasoon 2009 , p. 8.
* Bronkhorst, Johannes (1993), The Two Traditions Of Meditation In
Ancient India, Motilal Banarsidass Publ.
* Buswell, R. E. (1989). "Chinul\'s Ambivalent Critique of Radical
* Gombrich, Richard F. (1997), How
Buddhism Began. The Conditioned
Genesis of the Early Teachings, New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal
Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
* Kapleau, Philip (1989), The three pillars of
* McRae, John (2003), Seeing Through Zen. Encounter, Transformation,
and Genealogy in Chinese Chan Buddhism, The University Press Group
Ltd, ISBN 978-0-520-23798-8
* Norman, K.R. (1992), The Four Noble Truths. In: "Collected
Papers", vol 2:210-223,
* ^ Bernard Faure, Chan/
* Gary L. Ray, The Northern Ch\'an School And Sudden Versus Gradual Enlightenment Debates In China And Tibet * Wei Chueh, Gradual Cultivation And Sudden Enlightenment
* Vetter, Tilmann (1988), The Ideas and Meditative Practices of Early Buddhism, BRILL * Faure,