Jinul’s View of Practice
- Author: Chun Jung-kwon
- Publish: International Journal of Buddhist Thought and Culture Volume 18, Issue0, p113~133, Feb 2012
Bojo Guksa Jinul has been known in the modern Korean Buddhist community as the ‘revival patriarch’ of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism and one of the most respected eminent monks of history. Especially, Jinul’s Jeonghye Ssangsu and Dono Jeomsu are very important doctrinal works and represent the characteristic Korean Buddhism practice-method. But since Master Seongcheol criticized in the late 20th century that Jinul’s Dono Jeomsu was a wrong method and emphasized that Dono Donsu was the only true enlightenment, the controversy over the practice-method has been continuing until now. This treatise describes the life of Jinul and his enlightenments and explains that many people do not fully understand Jinul’s thought; in particular that his Dono Jeomsu is an embracing methodology which is so flexible that it is not interrupted by Donmun and Jeommun, so that Dono Jeomsu is the practice method for many sentient beings with various faculties, in other words, superior faculties or lesser faculties.
Jinul , Dono Jeomsu , Dono Donsu , Jeonghye Gyeolsa , Jeonghye Ssangsu , Methodology of Seon practice
During the lifetime of Jinul (知訥, 1158‑1210) who has been better known as
Bojo Guksa(普照國師, National Master Bojo), Korean Buddhism was influenced by overly-close associations with political power struggles and divided into the SeonSchool (禪宗) and the Scholastic School (敎宗). These two federations of sects were locked in ideological confrontation and had ceaseless conflicts with each other over the true nature and proper practice of Buddhism.
Looking at the distorted reality of the Buddhism of the
Goryeo(高麗, 918‑1392) Dynasty, Jinul intended to reform Korean Buddhism by establishment of the Jeonghye Gyeolsa(定慧結社, the Society for the Practice of Meditation [ samādhi] and Wisdom [ prajñā]) early in his monastic life. He devoted his remaining years to the accomplishment of this purpose (Gang 2001, 15‑16).
The characteristics of Jinul’s thought on
Seonare Dono Jeomsu(頓悟漸修, sudden enlightenment and gradual cultivation), Seongyo Ilchi(禪敎一致, the fundamental unity of Seonand the scholastic approaches), Ganwha Seon(看話禪, meditational practice of observing the hwadu[話頭, meditation topic]); and also the “Three Gates” which are the Seongjeok Deungji Mun(惺寂等持門, Gate of Equal Maintenance of Quiescence and Alertness), the Wondon Sinhae Mun(圓頓信解門, Gate of Daith in and Understanding of the Perfect and Sudden Teaching) and the Gyeongjeol Mun(徑截門, Gate of Direct Cutting).
Dono Jeomsuis the representative characteristic of Jinul’s thought on Seon. Dono(頓悟) means sudden enlightenment and Jeomsu(漸修) means gradual cultivation, and he advocated achieving them in harmonious sequential combination. This kind of practice needs to begin with and maintain the confidence that our own mind equals Buddha’s mind and we can become a Buddha in this lifetime. Following the correct methods of awakening and cultivation is its most necessary basic point. In his essay Susim gyeol(修心訣, Secrets on Cultivating the Mind), Jinul described our own mind as Gongjeok Yeongjisim(空寂靈知心, a void and tranquil mind with inconceivable wisdom). He depicted our own mind as follows:
Jinul thought that every Buddhist should cultivate his mind thoroughly for the full expression of true dharma (正法). In order to do so, it is most important that prior and subsequent is distinguished because the right paths of enlightenment and cultivation are the compass of Buddhist practitioners. Only in that case can the confrontation between the
SeonSchool and the Scholastic School get naturally resolved. Jinul’s Dono Jeomsuwas constructed in these circumstances. Now, I will investigate Jinul’s view of practice on these bases.
His secular family name (俗姓) was Jeong and his dharma-name (法名) was Jinul. He called himself Moguja (牧牛子, ox-herder) in his later days. He was born in Hwanghae Province, Korea, in 1158 CE, the twelfth year of the reign of King Uijong (毅宗, 1146‑70), the eighteenth king of the Goryeo Dynasty. He had no specific and permanent teacher. Whoever taught him a truth that he did not already know was considered by him to be his teacher. He learned all kinds of Buddhism unrespective of his native Seon School.
Jinul turned his back on worldly affairs after he passed the Monastic Examination in 1182. He was not satisfied with seeking fame and profit in the religious or secular worlds, as many monks who passed the exam did in those days (becoming Abbots of temples even taking government posts), but wandered from temple to temple and rose above the secular world by remaining absorbed in cultivation of his mind towards truth.
After passing the Examination, Jinul attended the
Damseon Beophoe(談禪法會, a Dharma gathering of Seon discussion)1 and there proposed to establish a new association he called the Jeonghye Gyeolsawith other companions on the path of enlightenment. Jinul and his fellow-minded monks vowed that they would keep away from fame and profit and they would be dedicated to the development of both meditation and wisdom. Gwonsu Jeonghye Gyeolsa Mun(勸修定慧結社文, Exhortation to Join the Society for the Practice of Meditation and Wisdom) is the remaining record of the discussions of Jinul and his companions for the establishment of the society. This record informs us about the situation of the Buddhist community at that time. Keeping away from vain discussions, Jinul and his companions resolved to concentrate on developing both meditation and wisdom based upon the idea that everything is impermanent excluding only mind-nature (心性) (Yong-woo Lee 1990, 15‑16).
Jinul experienced three enlightenment-experiences during his practice over the entire course of his life. I will now recount these enlightenmentexperiences in detail.
After the Dharma gathering at Bojesa Temple (普濟寺) of Pyeongyang City in 1182, Jinul travelled down to Cheongwonsa Temple (淸源寺) in Damyang County of South Jeolla Province. There, he incidentally read the
Dangyeong(壇經, Platform Sūtra of the Sixth Patriarch [六祖] Huineng(慧能, 638‑713)) which brought him to his first enlightenment and profoundly affected his attitude toward Buddhist cultivation. The Platform Sūtra said,
Considering that Jinul stated afterward that the
Platform Sūtrawas his original teacher, it is clear that he based his spiritual origin on Huineng’steachings due to this paragraph.
At the age of 28, Jinul experienced his second enlightenment at Mt. Hagasan (下柯山) Bomunsa Temple (普門寺) of Yecheon County in North Gyeongsang Province in 1185. At that time, Jinul had long been concerned with the continued split between
Seonand scholastic schools. Reading the tripiṭaka(大藏經, entire Buddhist canon), Jinul was examining the validity of both Seonand scriptured study, and confirmed the validity of both. Then he was profoundly moved by the “Appearance of the Tathāgatas” chapter (如來出現品) of the Hwaeomgyeong(華嚴經, Avataṃsaka-sūtra) and as he read Li Tongxian’s (李通賢, 635‑730) commentary on that sutra (華嚴經論) he had a flash of enlightenment as he realized that the words of the Buddha and the minds of the patriarchs could not be contradictory, and therefore found the fundamental unity of Seonand the scriptures (Jong-ik Lee 1972, 79).
Jinul then gathered his fellow-minded monks together at Mt. Palgongsan (八公山) Eunhaesa Temple’s (銀海寺) Geojoam Hermitage (居祖庵) (now entitled Geojosa Temple 居祖寺) in 1188, and there they finally founded the
Jeonghye Gyeolsa(定慧結社, Retreat-Community for the Practice of Meditation and Wisdom) that they had proposed years before.
In the spring of 1198, wishing to retreat from the inconveniences of administration and religious politics as his reputation grew, Jinul traveled alone to spend some time in intensive meditation at Sangmujuam Hermitage (上無住庵)2. He experienced his third, deepest and final enlightenment there, as he was reading
Daehye Bogak Seonsa Eorok(大慧普覺禪師語錄, the Records of SeonMaster Dahui大慧 (1089‑1163)).
A passage of the
Daehye Bogak Seonsa Eoroksays, “ Seondoes not consist in quietude, it does not consist in bustle. It is of the first importance not to practice Seonwhile rejecting the activities of daily life or logical discrimination.” Finding this passage, Jinul settled all his questions and always thereafter felt that nothing blocked his heart. The heart of this experience means that the principle of truth is everywhere.
By this experience, common divisions such as world and monastery, secularity and saintliness, quiet place and noisy place disappeared (Jong-ik Lee 1972, 17). Through it, Jinul returned to the world and people that he had turned his back on and distinguished himself from; instead, he now endeavored to carry out the active practice of the Bodhisattva and criticized people’s egocentric prejudices.
In the third year of the reign of King Sinjong (神宗, 1197‑1204) Jinul led his fellow association-members to move to Gilsangsa Temple (吉祥寺)3. There, he led a Buddhist retreat for a large
saṇgha(僧伽, an assembly of Buddhist monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen) concentrating on Seon meditation and submission to ascetic practices on the basis of the rules and disciplines of Buddha for the next 11 years. Jinul also gave them an example of the true Buddha-dharma (佛法) and suggested a fresh leading idea for Korean Buddhism which fulfilled faith and practice, cultivation and realization.
In addition, Jinul put his thoughts into action and devoted his remaining years to the training of successors. On March 20th, the sixth year of the reign of King Huijong (熙宗, 1204‑11), Jinul was sick abed and exposed the Dharma as his last teaching in the Seonbeopdang (善法堂) Hall on March 26th and quietly breathed his last as he was sitting in a correct lecturing posture, in 1210 at only 53 years old (Jong-ik Lee 1972, 17‑18). He was then entitled a Guksa (National Teacher) by King Huijong so that his teachings would be regarded as orthodox and facilitated the unification of the contending schools of Korean Buddhism.
The general Korean Buddhist community in Jinul’s times was in danger of financial bankruptcy because of complicated formalities of protocol, and the clergy of the Buddhist order was becoming corrupt in ways that became known to the public. Besides, many religious schools were constantly striving after fame and profit and they were far away from enhancement of Buddhism’s real worth, which is seeking enlightenment above and rescuing sentient beings below. Moreover, they competitively exhorted the study of
tri-yāna(三乘, the three conveyances)4 in ways that made it seemed as if they were in an arena of competition.
Seonand scholastic schools were especially in serious confrontation with each other. Gyo(敎, the scholastic approach) could not understand Seonand Seonkept away from Gyo, so that this problem had become a serious issue. This conflict seems to have originated from the fact that Seonwas regarded as a mistaken path, resulting in Seonbeing under negative pressure ever since its introduction to the Buddhist community of Silla(新羅, 57 BCE‑935 CE, one of the three ancient kingdoms of Korea), and it responded to this by asserting its independent superiority.
Within this rampant confrontational context within the Goryeo Dynasty Buddhist community of the
SeonSchool only asserting its thoroughly independent superiority and the Scholastic School in-turn looking down on the SeonSchool, Jinul’s basic thoughts could grow as important instructions because they were magnanimous and vitalized the basic meaning of Seon.
Even though Jinul was a monk of the
Seonsects and he stressed that Seonwas the basis of practice, he also insisted that the philosophical foundation of practice could be discovered in the Hwaeom(華嚴) doctrine. In this way, Jinul exhibited an attitude embracing both Seonand Gyo. Eventually, Korean Buddhists could posses their own thought and dignity which was commensurate with the Korean people’s basic religious capacity due to this philosophy of Jinul. Through his own distinctive method, Jinul’s study of Seonintended to combine Seonand Gyoagainst the contemporary Chinese master’s thoroughly pro- Seontendency, and he also arranged the way that Hwaeomthought and Seoncould understand each other (In-suk Kim 1964, 9).
1The Dharma gathering was usually held at the Bojesa temple with the name of Damseonje. At that time the Dharma gathering was extremely important. Owing to the Dharma gathering in 1182, Boje-sa temple became the representative temple of Seon school. 2This is a high remote hermitage on a northern spur of Mt. Jirisan (智異山), now on the border between Hamyang County of South Gyeongsang Province and Namwon City of South Jeolla Province. 3This is located south of Mt. Jirisan, at a mountain that was called Mt. Songgwangsan (松廣山), and both temple and mountain had their names changed by the time of Jinul’s death; it is now a famous monastery named Jogyesan Songgwangsa Temple (曹溪山 松廣寺) found in the Mt. Jogyesan Provincial Park on the northern edge of Suncheon City (順天市) of South Jeolla Province. 4The passage of “exhorted to study tri-yāna (三乘, the three conveyances)” represents Buddhist doctrines which describe the “Skillful means” (方便) for the people who study the creeds of śrāvaka (聲聞, a voice-hearer) and pratyeka-buddha (緣覺, one who is enlightened by contemplation on dependent arising) and the bodhisattva (菩薩).
Zongmi (宗密, 780‑841) and Shenhui (神會, 670‑762) were ostracized by Chinese Seon members because they were regarded as masters with mere discursive knowledge and unenlightened understandings (知解宗師). Nevertheless, Jinul accepted their practice methodology.
Seonmembers thought that Dono(頓悟, sudden enlightenment) and Jeomsu(漸修, gradual cultivation) were as incompatible as oil and water, and so Zongmi was not accepted by them because he had inherited both a Hwaeom dharma-lineage (法脈) and a Seondharma-lineage. But Jinul trusted the teachings of both Zongmi and Shenhui .
Jinul admired Zongmi’s usage of
Dono Jeomsuas the most suitable methodology of Seonpractice and he adopted that concept completely (Shim 1994, 19). When Jinul developed his own thought for the harmonization of Seonand Gyo, he integrated Zongmi’s idea nearly exactly as it was (Park 1983, 105). Actually, Zongmi’s Chanyuan zhuguanji Douxu (禪源諸詮集都序, Prefaces of Seon Origin Explanations) was a book intended for the reconciliation and fundamental unity of Seonand Gyo. Jinul fully consented to Zongmi’s idea for the mission of his times. He found the fundamental unity of Seonand Gyoin Zsung-mi’s thought and Li Tongxian’s Commentary on the Avatamsaka Sutra, and he also discovered similar thoughts in Chengguan’s (澄觀, 738‑840) Huayan thought (Jong-ik Lee 1972, 85).
Outwardly, Goryeo Buddhism at the time of Jinul seemed to be in a period of revival; internally, however, the members of the Buddhist order were striving after fame and profit and fighting covert wars for the victory of their own schools. The
Seonand scholastic schools also slandered one-another so that Buddhism community was in a state of confusion (Bong-sik Kim 1984, 35).
Because Jinul realized these circumstances, he said in his
Ganhwa Gyeoruiron(看話決疑論, Treatise to Eliminate Doubts on the Examination of Hwadu), “ Seonis the mind of the Buddha and Gyois the words of the Buddha” and “ Gyois the beginning of Seonand Seonis the purpose of Gyo.” He sighed in Jeoryo(節要, Essentials), “...I have observed practices of Seonand I have learned that they only know the methodology for superior faculties, so that they want to reach the level of Buddhahood directly and they do not realize the stages of Ten Faiths (十信) that they should follow after their enlightenments” (Bong-sik Kim 1984, 39). Seonmasters at the time of Jinul contended that the pureness of dharma-lineage between Master and disciple was the only standard of truth. In contrast, Jinul emphasized dharma itself and wrote his Gye Chosim Hagin Mun(誡初心學人文, Admonition for the Beginners) and put it into effect for himself. Because of this, Jinul was qualified to be designated as “a master religious philosopher” beyond a mere religious person or mere philosopher.
Jinul’s philosophy of
Seoncould be expressed as Hwaeom Seon(華嚴禪). He often cited former Korean masters Wonhyo (元曉, 617‑86) and Uisang (義湘, 625‑702) and demonstrated that his meaning of Seon(禪旨) was quite the same with “the realm of non-obstruction between phenomena” (事事無碍法界) as taught by the HwaeomSchool.
Meanwhile, Jinul’s magnanimity not only sublated the confrontation between the
Seonand scholastic schools but also supplemented the faults of both sides, and thus they could find solutions. In a way similar to how Great Master Wonhyo attempted to overcome the conflicts of sectarian denominations through his Simmun Hwajaengnon(十門和諍論, Reconciliation of Disputes in Ten Aspects), Jinul made an effort to embrace both Seonand Gyowithout partiality (Shim 1990, 21‑23).
Jinul also tried to reconcile the confrontation between sudden and gradual approaches to enlightenment. According to the
Dangyeong, Huineng divided sudden and gradual approaches to enlightenment and he said that his teaching was suitable for superior faculties and the teaching of Shenxiu (神秀, 606?‑706) was suitable for lesser faculties (Gang 1994, 161‑62). But Jinul basically practiced the sudden approaches and did not discard gradual approaches, resulting in his establishment of Dono Jeomsuas a completely interpenetrated practice method with very important significance. This fusion of sudden and gradual approaches was attempted by other Seonmasters such as Zsung-mi, but it came to naught even in China.
Jinul said that all sentient beings have a Buddha-nature (佛性) and a True-mind (眞心) from the beginning, so that they are originally Buddhas. Jinul said in the first part of his work
Susim gyeol“If you look for enlightenment and want to become Buddha, then Buddha is, that is to say our minds are it. We do not need to search for our minds far away from here. Buddha does not exist outside of this body. Because we have already borrowed our body, therefore this body was born and will pass away. But the True-mind is like the empty space, it does not come to a pause or change” (Jinul 1984b, 402).
People didn’t know that they originally were Buddha, and therefore they frequently looked for and wanted to become a Buddha. Jinul considered that this situation was pitiful. He moaned in his
Susim gyeol, as follows:
Mind is a Buddha and sentient beings are exactly Buddha. This fact forms the basis of Jinul’s thought. The one who clearly realizes this fact is a Buddha and the one who couldn’t realize this fact is a confused and ignorant person. For Jinul, if we vividly know that mind is a Buddha and expose it in our daily life, it means the fulfillment of mind-cultivation. Therefore it may be the whole course of the self-realization and the self fulfillment. Thus, we are not able to find the right direction of mind-cultivation outside of ourselves but we are able to find it in the origins of sentient beings. If we look for mind and Buddha outside of ourselves, it isn’t a mind-cultivation but a serious illness, in Jinul’s view (Gang 1988, 189).
So, according to Jinul, first of all we have to achieve the enlightenment that we are already Buddha and then gradually cultivate ourselves. This is the right practice method, and he proclaimed it as follows:
According to this passage Jinul described two aspects: firstly, Dono and Jeomsu are hurdles for perfect enlightenment, and secondly, the procedure of enlightenment first and cultivation afterward (先悟後修) is the correct procedure. For a more exact explanation, he made a clear distinction between the understanding-enlightenment (解悟) and the full-enlightenment (證俉).5
Jinul explained that the understanding-enlightenment is the first experience of True mind’s original nature, whereas the full-enlightenment is the ultimate fulfillment or realization of it. When Jinul used the word
Dono, that did not represent the full-enlightenment as ultimate completion which is possible through the procedure of Jeomsu. Donojust represents the understanding-enlightenment as the first experience. Consequently, from his point of view, Jeomsuis the practice that is necessary after the first enlightenment, and we can achieve the full-enlightenment through the procedure of Jeomsu(Han 1980, 374). And in that sense, practice cannot be separated from Dono.
1. Jeonghye Ssangsu (定慧雙修, Cultivation of Meditation and Wisdom)
In his treatise
Gwonsu Jeonghye Gyeolsa Mun, Jinul said, “Times have changed but mind-nature (心性) has not changed” (Jinul 1984a, 374). In this context, Jinul criticized the confrontation between the Seonand scholastic schools of the Buddhist community at that time. Jinul also insisted that Seonwas the mind of the Buddha and Gyowas the words of the Buddha, so that Gyoand Seoncould be the net for each other to catch and save sentient beings so that he heavily criticized the members of the Buddhist order for their confrontation and corruption. Jinul mentioned that Seonand Gyo, and meditation and wisdom are never separated.
Meditation is basic essence (本體) and wisdom is function (用) and because function arises from basic essence, wisdom does not leave meditation and meditation does not leave wisdom. Because meditation exactly equals wisdom, meditation is tranquil and always awake. Because wisdom equals meditation, wisdom is awake and always tranquil (Jinul 1984b, 410).
By the way, there are two basic meanings for us to cultivate meditation and wisdom together. One is
Jaseong Jeonghye(自性定慧, the meditation and wisdom of self-nature) and another is Susang Jeonghye(隨相定慧, the meditation and wisdom of conditioned phenomena). Jaseong Jeonghyenaturally corresponds to everything so that it is originally an unconditioned state (無爲) and it does not need to make any conflict. Any idea that is deluded by discriminations or feelings (情識) doesn’t come into one’s mind. Thus, the help of deluded conditioning and environments (妄緣) is not necessary. This is Jaseong Jeonghye.
Susang Jeonghyerealizes the truth widely and embraces disturbance and meditates emptiness, so that it subdues gloominess and mental affliction and reaches the level of an unconditioned state. This special practice method was Jinul’s conviction, and it has remained the exemplary practice method for many Buddhist practitioners until now.
2. Dono Jeomsu (頓悟漸修)
Dono Jeomsusystematized enlightenment and cultivation. Generally speaking, Donomeans the realization of one’s own mind, and as a result we can find our basis and we can understand the entirety, and if our first thinking is right, then the last thinking will become right; in this manner, the enlightened mind has the ability of prompt awakening. Jeomsumeans the cultivation of one’s own mind; even if we have realized our basis, the tendency of a sentient being’s mind doesn’t disappear in a single day, and so we need to cultivate gradually. Dono Jeomsuwas formed by the combination of Donoand Jeomsu. Jinul put a higher valuation on the understanding-enlightenment, i.e. enlighten first and cultivate afterward, than the full-enlightenment, i.e., cultivate first and enlighten afterward. Jinul believed that religious practitioners should find enlightenment first and cultivate endlessly afterward, therefore he selected Dono Jeomsu, and it was also his conviction of proper practice.
Jinul also mentioned that true-mind always exists along with us but we are deluded and didn’t know it; however,
Donomeans that we discern true-mind (our original nature) at once. The sudden discovery of true-mind is made up of double discoveries even though they are originally a single and inseparable substance. One discovery is the knowledge that mental disturbances originally don’t exist and another discovery is the awakening that our own-natures have been Buddha from the beginning. This Donoexpressed in the Jinul’s opinions is not the full-enlightenment but the understanding-enlightenment, and not the end of enlightenment but the start of enlightenment, and not the simple intellectual understanding but the distinct experience of oneself.
Working hard alone can’t remove our confused delusions completely. Empty mind and thought is necessary. Unless we discern the original nature of true mind, perfect enlightenment is impossible. For these reasons, cultivation has to be continued after the first enlightenment. Jinul calls this cultivation which is continuing after the first enlightenment as
Jeomsu. Because cultivation should be performed endlessly, Jinul put a higher valuation on the understanding-enlightenment rather than the full-enlightenment, and thus he selected the term Dono Jeomsu.
Without the understanding-enlightenment, only making effort to cultivate is unable to be a true practice. It is a foolish behavior similar to that of a man’s attempt to make rice by steaming sand (Ho-sung Kim 1994, 227). Because sentient beings didn’t find enlightenment and wandered around for a long time and at last they were enlightened to the original self-nature, but it was difficult for them to remove the habits of the past so that they unavoidably have nothing to do but cultivate gradually. Therefore, Jinul regarded
Dono Jeomsuas the only one right practice. In other words, Jinul acknowledged mental disturbances as habit-energies (習氣) after enlightenment that make it necessary to cultivate gradually. In theory, we are enlightened that the substance of mental disturbances is empty, but in practical terms, we must control mental disturbances as ever. He described this as follows:
In this respect Jinul regarded
Dono Jeomsuas the best practice method. However, the great 20th century master Seongcheol (性徹), in the first part of his treatise Seonmun Jeongno(禪門正路, Correct Path of the SeonApproach), criticized that Jinul’s Dono Jeomsuwas a wrong method, and therefore Buddhist practitioners should not follow this false method (Seongcheol 1981, 1996). On this basis Seongcheol severely attacked Jinul, the mainstream-thinker of Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, and remarked that Jinul was a master with mere discursive knowledge and unenlightened understandings.
In summary, the basic reason of this controversy is the difference of viewpoint between advocates of sudden cultivation (頓修) and advocates of gradual cultivation (漸修). Enlightenment is possible within a short time but cultivation is not possible within a short time. Accordingly, the key point of
Dono Jeomsuis that Buddhist practitioners must achieve enlightenment first and cultivate gradually afterwards.
Advocates of sudden cultivation emphasize that the sudden enlightenment of
Dono Jeomsu(頓悟漸修) was not the true enlightenment, and the full-enlightenment of Dono Donsu(頓悟頓修, sudden enlightenment and sudden cultivation) was the only true enlightenment, and therefore they took Dono Jeomsulightly (Ho-sung Kim 1994, 220).
But the present writer professes that both sides are consistent in making personal attacks and that is the seriousness of this controversy. The difference of practice method may be allowable but there is no great difference between both side’s purpose in reaching the spiritual realm of true enlightenment; that is to say, methodologies may be different but ultimate purposes are not different. There is merely a difference of viewpoint whether all sentient beings are objects of attention or superior faculties are qualified objects of teaching. Consequently, this controversy is merely connected with methodologies and formalities and it should not be a source of personal attacks or passing judgment on truth itself.
5The understanding-enlightenment (解悟) means the first enlightenment in the procedure of practice and the enlightenment by knowledge. The full-enlightenment (證俉) refers to the ultimate enlightenment we can obtain through sight and cultivation and abandonment.
As seen above, the key thought of Jinul’s view of practice is
Dono Jeomsu. His basis of cultivation is enlightenment. Therefore, Jinul’s cultivation is the practice grounded on enlightenment and Jinul’s cultivation is supposed to follow enlightenment. And then, what is the principal of cultivation? In short, it is Jeonghye Ssangsu or Jeonghye Deungji(定慧等持, even cultivation of Meditation and Wisdom) which practices meditation and wisdom at the same time.
Meditation and wisdom have been items of the “Three Practices” (三學), i.e.,
śīla(戒, learning through moral discipline), samādhi(定, meditative concentration) and prajñā(慧, wisdom—the study of Buddhist doctrine), and they have been generally cultivated and have been understood as gradational practice methods. And, śīlarepresents the protection of three activities (三業) of word (口業), thought (意業), and deed (身業), whereupon it is to ward off negative phenomena and stopping evil actions (防非止惡). Samādhialso keeps scattered mind (散亂心) on one perceptual object (境界) and tranquilizes mind, and prajñāis to observe a thing or phenomenon just as it is.
These three practices are gradational, so that
samādhiis obtained by śīlaand prajñāis obtained by samādhi. This understanding is ordinary understanding, and according to the Record of the Platform Sūtra, Shenxiu’snorthern school (北宗) taught these gradual enlightenments. Three practices highlight the need for doing no evil and the effort to do good behavior and most of all, purifying one’s own mind is important.
Jinul called these three practices
Susang Samhak(隨相三學, three practices of conditioned phenomena) or Susang Jeonghye. They were named Susang Samhakand Susang Jeonghyebecause they were the practices in conformity with conditioned phenomena. In contrast, Jinul said that another three practices called Jaseong Jeonghyeor Jaseong Samhak(自性三學, three practices of self-nature) belonged to a far different level. He explained Jaseong Jeonghyeor Jaseong Samhaklike this: “If there is no mistake in mind, it is the precepts of self nature (自性戒), and if there is no distractedness in mind, it is the meditation of self nature (自性定), and if there is no foolishness in mind, it is the wisdom of self nature (自性慧).”
From all these considerations, Jinul’s
Dono Jeomsuisn’t a merely Buddhist doctrine but an embracing methodology for both of lesser and superior faculties. The combination of Dono Jeomsuand Jaseong Jeonghyeis the instruction-system for superior faculties and it is practically nothing but the Dono Donsuwhich Huinengemphasized. Jinul’s Dono Jeomsuis the most excellent method among Donmun(頓門, sudden approaches), thus Donoin this case is not simply the state of understanding-enlightenment but is sublimated into the state of full-enlightenment. The combination of Dono Jeomsuand Susang Jeonghye, on the other hand, is the instruction-system for leading lesser faculties and in this case, Jeomsuborrows the practice method of Jeommun(漸門, gradual approaches) so that Donoinevitably receives an appraisal that it is similar to understanding- enlightenment.
Consequently, the appraisal that
Donoof Jinul’s Dono Jeomsuis indiscriminately equal to understanding-enlightenment disregards the detailed substance, and so it is an unreasonable appraisal. When we want to understand Jinul’s thought of Dono Jeomsucorrectly, this passage is an important consideration. Accordingly, it is very desirable for us to have the ability to appreciate the profound meaning that Jinul, after his consideration of Zongmi and Chengguan’s Donjeommun(頓漸門, Sudden and Gradual Approach) expressed clearly in Jeoryo:
Dono Jeomsuis an embracing methodology which is so flexible that it is not interrupted by Donmunand Jeommun. We can understand that this was the result of grappling with the guidance method for many sentient beings with various faculties to set them upon the correct pathway.
1. Gang Gun-gi 1988 “Gidowa Susim: Thomas Merton-gwya Bojoguksa Jinul-ui Sasang-eul Jungshimeuro” 마스 머튼과 祈禱와 修心: 토 普照國師 知訥의 思想을 中心으로 Prayer and Cultivation of Mind: On the Thoughts of Thomas Merton and National Master Bojo Jinul]. [Jonggyo Shinhak Yeongu: The Research on Religion and Theology] Vol.1