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The Zen Didactics: A View from the book of Zen steeling

Author:Bing Chen       2014-04-11 Font:S M L


The Zen Didactics: A View from the book of Zen steeling

Bing Chen

The Zen declared their didactic principle as “A special transmissionoutside the scriptures; Depending not on words and letters.” This heart toheart transmission between the master and the apprentice is different from manyreligion factions that practice in accordance of the context of their classicscriptures. The goal that the all schools of the Buddhism, especially the Lotus Sūtra are trying to achieve is the immutable mind-corpus, or the mind-nature.This mind-nature is in itself indescribable, it is completely a personalpsychic experience that could only be achieved through a form ofLinian. This is as the Zen said: it is like the water that the fish drink,the fish is the only one who knows the cold or warm of the water. And it has noway to tell it to others. The general way of obtaining this experience isdifferent from the way most religion faction do, as they try to obtain the thoroughinsight and perception (vipaśyanā) through the rational thinking. In the Zen cultivate, the masterwho already open up the intelligence and bring enlightenment will use a specialdidactics to help the apprentice to bring about the enlightenment. This is theway that the Zen didactic mainly depends on. Two aspects of this principleunderlying the teachings, the master of a junior monk, as well as the capableof enlightenment from within, are similar to the Tibetan Buddhism. That’s waythe contemporary Tibetan Buddhism masters would even take the Zen as the Damizong.

The beginning of Zen could be trackedback to a case-record----- 'Buddha held up a flower and Kāśyapa smiled'.Although this may be just a story, but the Zen didactics is clearly revealed inthis case. HuiKe once asked the master dharma a question : “my heart is not peace. I beg you, my master, to give me the peace.”. Dharma responded his question by an retort. He said:“sure, if you can bring your heart to me”. Here Dharma  used a heuristicdidactic.[1] The didactic The six patriarchs of the Zen school, Huineng mainly employthe spontaneous “remove of the stickiness and relievethe restrict”. And on this basis, hisapprentices later developed many interesting method such as the “bang and bawl”,“the enlightenment riddles”. This is what thesect called as “jiyong”,the essence of the five generations of the Zen masters during theTang dynasty. The 机用 that five fictions of the Zenschool used to teach are different. Among them, the jiyong of the Linjizong whois famous for by its harsh has the most flexibility. It is because of the flourishingof the jiyong,that this faction could last longwithout decline, that it by the end could almost represent the Zen school ofthe Song dynasty, and won the title of “the ruler under the heaven”. In hisbook, Zen Steeling, Jie Xian hadsummarized the didactics of the Lin Ji sect, especially the didactics of theSan Feng sect at the late Ming dynasty. This book could be seen as the onlybook that focused on didactics of the Zen among many other Zen books. But ithad not attracted many attentions from the previous people as well the researchfield. So, here in this article, we want to explore the didactics of the Zen onthe foundation of this book.

The prosperous Zen duringthe Ming and Qing dynasty and an introduction of the person Jie Xian

After the middle page of the Nan Song dynasty, the Zen schoolstarted to decline. The Yun Men faction that had been prosperous even at theBei Song turn out to be lack of inheritor. Only two factions are left among thefive, they are theLin Ji and the Cao Dong. Although this two faction still has their inheritor,they kept on decline and were very quiet during the middle page of the Mingdynasty. Until the end of the Ming dynasty and around the beginning of the Qingdynasty, because the resurgence of the Buddhism, the Zen school started to showa sign of revive. The four great Zen masters at the end of the Ming dynasty,among them the Lian Chi、Zi Bo、Han Shanobtain the highest achievement. The four masters all contribute a lot to theZen school, but they refuse to take any position.  [2]One of the descendant of Lin Ji faction,the Yin Yuan Long Qi, had been invited to Japan and then founded theHuang Bi faction their. The orthodox school of the Huang You faction hadtrained many great Zen masters, among them the Mi Yun Yuan Wu, Tian Yin YuanXiu, Xue, Xue Qiao Yuan Xin. This faction had large gathering of men of talents,including the Mu Chen Dao Min, Han Yue Fa Zang, Po Shan Hai Ming, Tian Tai TongXuan, Lin Ye Tong Ke, Ruo An Tong Wen, Xing Shan Hui Guang, Fei Yin Tong Rongand so on,all thosedescendants made their great influence. The master Yu LinTong Xiu and his apprenticeMao Xi Xing Sen from Tian Yin Yuan Xiu had been honored as the master of theemperor by the emperor Sun Zhi at the beginning of the Qing dynasty. Dao Minand the third generation of apprentice of the Yuan Wu, Han Pu Xing Cong hadalso been given the honor of meet with the emperor and be consulted by theemperor. During the dominate of the emperor Shun Zhi and Kang Xi, the factionof the Han Yue Fa Cang start to prosperous, and the school of “San Feng” was founded at the time. Themaster Fa Cang and his apprentice Ling Yin Hong Li、Ling Yan Hong Chu together weregiven the title of ‘three treasure of the Buddhism’ by the people at the time. There arealso a lot of great Zen masters trained by the Cao Dong Zeng, including ZhanRan Yuan Cheng, Wu Ming Hui Jing, Bo Shan Yuan Lai、Yong Jue Yuan Xian, Wei Lin DaoPei, Jue Lang Dao Sheng, Tain Ran Han Gang, Zu Xin Han, and so on. According tothe “The collection of the Gu Shan Yong Jue Monk ”, the 18 chapter, there had beenmore than a hundred Zen masters during the Ming and Qing dynasty who hold aclass to teach the Buddhism. There had been more than a thousand people whogained qualifications of being a Zen master and are given the Zen master whiskand clothes as a rite. Even the scholar-bureaucrat took the Zen meditate as a fashionand had been criticized for being too ‘crazy’ about Zen.

The prosperousof the Zen and the joint of the Ming and Qing dynasty could be seen from thecontext. A lot of books about the Zen are written during this period of time.Despite many books of quotation of the many great Zen masters, the summary workof Zen such as the Wuzongyuan, Zuting Qiancuilu, Wujia Zongzhi Zuanyao, there’s also practical books about thedetailed methods of Zen meditation such as the Zen Steeling of Jie Xian、the Zong Fan of Qian YiAn, and so on. Those books are all very practical especially the Zen Steeling of Jie Xian。

Jie Xian (1610-1672) the person was briefly recorded in the bookssuch as Zongtong Bannian, Zhengyuan Lueji, Wudeng Quanshu, etc., and so on. But the exact date of his birthand death are unknown. In the content of XuzangChingit was vaguely recorded that he is aman from the Ming dynasty. The inscription on the tower founded in Yun Jumountain in JiangXi province recorded a biography of Jie Xian. The title is《The old monk Xian ,the 30generation of the orthodox school of Lin Ji, spread the Buddhist ideas in YunJun and then live in the Ling Yin Hui mountain》. This inscription is made by his 28 apprentices including YuanPeng. The biography is written by Wen De Yi. And the date written down is year1673, which is at the 14th year of the Kang Xi emperors’ dominate in Qingdynasty. This is the most detailed biography of Jie Xian. A modern man calledLin Yua Bai once wrote an article titled by 《the biography of the Hui Shan monk as well as his Zen steeling》. The article were published on thejounal《Modern studyof Buddhism》vol6,1960.This had been the most complete introduction and research of the books thatwere written by Jie Xian.

Jie Xian is also styled of Hui Shan, Yuan Yun. And before he leavehome and become a monk, his name was Wang Han, and was styled of Yuan Da. Hewas born in a scholar’s family in Su Zhou, Tai Cang, who believe the Buddhism.Jie Xian wrote a beautiful article since very young age. His article had beentaken for as good as his classmate Wu Mei Cun who later became a great writer.Jie Xian got a job as a teacher at the age of 28 in a school. He believed Buddhismsince very young age, and followed the master Yuan Wu from Mi Yun School hereceived his ceremony that makes him the recipient of a disciple, and weregiven the name in the religion of Buddhism, Tong Xiao. He once heard the Jiu’sTian Tai doctrine,understoodthe Buddhism well at a young age. After his wife died, he would not get marriedagain. At the time when the Ming dynasty died out, he went to the temple, crybitterly and burn all the poems. Then he went to Bao Hua mountain at Nan Jingat the time he was 35 years old. Jie Xian is a very morale man。After he left home and became amonk, he had visited the Zen masters including Yuan Xin, Hong Ch. After that heencountered master Jude Hong Li at the Gao Ting mountain Xian Ning temple atHang Zhou and start to meditate under this master’s supervision. Later, he gaineda great enlightenment and had a great apprehension of the concise but criticalphrase from the case-record of the “hold the stick at Yun Men”. Thus he gained his enlightenment. He is then became the 36thpatriarchs of the Nan Yue school. His teacher Ju De Hong Li had been taught bythe same master of Tan Ji Hong Ren. They both are the heir of the San Feng HanYue sect. Thus, Jie Xian actually comes from the San Feng sect. In the prefaceof his bookZen Steeling, he highlypraised the method put forward by the old man Tian Tong Yuan Wu. And Jie Xianbelieved that this method of practice must be inherit from the Fa Zang and HongLi sects.

After Jie Xian gained the great apprehension of the truth, he first livedin seclusion at the Lu Shan. Later he was invited to Yun Ju Mountain to found ateaching. There, he taught both abstain and Zen. And he leaded the crowd topractice both faming and Zen meditates. During the time, the monastery seemedto get to its resurgence. Later he had been the abbot of many monasteries, suchas the monastery of Dong Hu Jian Fu, Huang Mei Si Zu, Jin Zhou Hu Guo, Wu ChangHan Xi, Huang Zhou An Guo, Fu Zhou Shu Shan, Hua Xing Jiang Chu, Dao Wang DaZhu.In year 1667, the 5th year of the Kang Xi emperor’s domination,he inherit his teacher Kong Li’s position in Ling Yin monastery as the abbot.In year1672, he started to live in seclusion at the Fo Ri monastery because ofhis illness. But only ten days later,he pass away. He lived for 63 years. Followed his order beforedeath, a tower is built at the Yun Ju Bo Yu mountain. His whole body is settledin this tower. He had 26 apprentices who succeed his method, and 2 apprenticeswho succeed his principle. Among them, 7 person are recorded in the Wudeng Quanshu.Jie Xian is good at both the inner learning and the outside study. He writegreat poems and articles. Also , his calligraphy is very famous and are wantedby a big crowd. Beside the Zen Steeling ,he had also wrote books such as Xianguo Suilu, Fofa Bencao, etc.. Among them, the quotations, the collected works and Fufa Bencaoare all lost today.

Jie Xian puthis signature on the Zen Steeling as “wrote by Hui Shan Jie Xian wholives in Zhen Ru monastery in Yun Ju mountain at Jiang Xi”. This indicate the book waswritten during the time when he was the abbot of the monastery in Yun Jumountain. By the end of the preface he wrote by himself, he put his signatureas “written byJie Xian at the year Xin Chou at the season of Meng spring on the date of ShangYuan, who lives at the Yun Ju mountain”,The year Xin Chou is about the year 1661, the 18th yearof the domination of the emperor Shun Zhi. The signature of the epilog is “abbot Huang Mei the forth patriarch”. This indicate the epilog iswritten at the same year of the whole book.

Although Jie Xian had been the best erudite Zen master who knowsboth the inner learning and the outside study, during his life of the Ming andQing dynasty, he had never been given any honor by the imperial government.Also his works are also not included to the library and be published. Thus,because of the political reasons, his work did not make a big influence to thelater ages. Jie Xian was the inheritor of the Han Yue sect. His sect belongs tothe San Feng sect of the Lin Ji school, which were forbidden by Yong Zheng timeof the Qing dynasty. Emperor Yong Zheng wrote the Jianmo Bianyiluto criticizedthe Fa Zang and his apprentice Hong Reng as the “evil thoughts”. He blamed them for their contact with the scholar-bureaucrats. Heordered the apprentices from this sect to eliminate all the branches of thissect. The books written by Fa Zang and Hong Ren were all destroyed. It is agreat luck for Jie Xian who came from this sect that he was not demote and someof his books had been still saved.


Zen Steeling could is a representation for all of Jie Xian’s works that we couldfind now. The book summarized the experience of their school especially the LinJi sect of leading the Zen group. This brief and practical book had great valueto not only the Zen didactic, but also to education, and management. This bookis praise highly by the Da De of the modern time. Also, the great master Tai Xulist it as one of the reference books that all Zen practitioners should read.The master Sheng Yan include this book into the abstract of his Chanzong Lizhuji,and give it a high praise. Thisbook is also printed and published inside the religious group by the modern XuYun doctrine publisher of the Buddhism association in He Bei. The serial numberis 109 in Fa Xi seious. The inscription on the tower where body of the Jie Xianmonk buried , as well as the article of the Lin Yuan Bai are also included inthis version.


The positive effectof the steeling is emphasized

The meaning ofcultivate of the Zen Steeling isdifferent from the modern Chinese as the self- cultivate. It point to thesignificant of the cultivation to others. The cultivation in ancient Chinesemay indicate the metallurgy, the mature, the steel someone. Here the book usethe metallurgy of the mineral into gold as a metaphor of the brilliantdidactics the Zen teacher used to direct his apprentices in their practice ofZen study and finally to become the talent of the Zen school. It is equal tothe cultivation, education and foster. The book has 40 thousand words. It is dividedinto 13 chapters in accordance of the rank of the Zen masters it recorded.

As the abbot of one of the most important monastery at the southof the lower reaches of the Changjiang River, Jie Xian succeeded the traditionof the Zen school. He emphasized that the abbots and the Seniors of the monastery should not only take themselves as the manager,but also they should gain their own great apprehension of the truth and be ableto direct the Zen followers. In the first chapter Shi Ren Ku it said: Since thesenior dominates the orthotopic position of Buddha, he should then continue thework of the Buddha and work as the teacher of the Zen followers. They shouldhelp them to open their eyes of the heaven, and lead them to their own greatapprehension of the truth. He emphasized:


If the senior can not truly help the followers to gain their great apprehensionof the truth of the Buddha, then he is kind of stealing the title of theSenior. Those on the throne who could not help to cultivate the talent is kindof stealing the orthotopic position of the Buddha.

To help the followers to gain the great apprehension of the truth,the method of cultivation or to say the strategy to steel the person make bewell utilized. At the beginning of the preface, Jie Xian described thecultivation of the Zen school as the military tactics. Why he use such a metaphor? 

Because he believed that the one who areon the throne should manage the monastery as the emperor a country. They shoulduse some method and strategy to steel the followers. Just as Sun Zi describedin the art of war of the principle: the direct and the indirect lead on to each other in turn, The principle of the Zen cultivation is just the same as the art of themanaging the military force..

He also believed that the Buddha who heldup a flower to cultivate the Zen followers was the first one who used the militarytactics in Zen cultivation. He also believed that the twenty-eight Buddhistpatriarchs from the western heavens of Amitābha, the six patriarchs from theeastern land were all using the method of cultivation similar to the militarytactics used by Sun and Wu. Ma Dao Zu became well-known to the world because hewas managing the monastery as Li Guang Bi managing the military force. Later,great masters such as Huang Pi Xi Yun, Lin Ji Yi Xuan, 、Mu Zhou Chen Zun Su, Yun Men Wen Yan, FenYang Shan Zhao,Ci Ming ChuYuan, Dong Shan Fa Yan, Yuan Wu Ke Qin all considered to be using the militarytactics principle of  “weak points and strong”,all of had been using the military tactics. Among them, the Da Hui Zong Gaowere considered to be especially good at use the strategy of the “indirect”,and that lead to a flourishing of their sect that many of them gain their greatapprehension of the truth. The five sects of the Zen school ad set up their ownoutlines respectively. All of those outlines are precise and restrict and suchthey formulated a whole system of military tactics of the Zen cultivation. Butafter Yuan dynasty, Zen school started to decline. Those steeling methods arecast aside. The only method left is the traditional method of sitting stillwith the heart died away. This method almost turned the Zen practice into aplace where lives are ruined. By the end of Ming dynasty, the master of SanFeng Han Yue tart to reform the outlines. And the method of steelingreturned.  His apprentice Hong Li, theteacher of Jie Xian ,add more flexibility later. The methods then turn out tobe manifold. Thus the military tactics in Zen cultivation is in abundance. JieXian once lead a class under the direct of Hong Li. Thus, he had an great opportunityto study the method of steeling. Later as he live in Lu Shan and start toteach, he tried to practice the methods and it turned out to be extremelyeffective. Thus, through his experienced, he come to realized the importance ofthe method of steeling. So he emphasized:

Whether the person is talent or not, as long as the right methodis used, every one could gain their great apprehension of the truth. But if weonly follow the rigid method, even the great talent could hardly gain theirenlightenment.

If the student was unable to meet the good teacher, no matter howmuch suffering they went through, how hard they try, with their endeavor for awhole life, they still could not gain their enlightenment. Thus, the Zen masterwho only follow the old rigid steeling style and made no change would cultivateno talent even they set a teaching for decades. In the fifth chapter ofSteeling Chui Shou, it said:

With the right method, even the student is not talent enough, hecan still turn into a great talent and thus dozens of people could be inspired.

For example, the Gao sect of the Da Huischool once steel 53 person at the same time, and turn out to have 30 mastersgain their enlightenment. Also, Yuan Wu Ke Qin onceinspired 18 person to gain their great apprehension of the truth within one dayat the Jin Shang. It may sounds unbelievable. But it is really the truth. It isdescribed as:  “there’s no ground that has no water underneath.They only need the dig in order to let the water come out. There’s no wood thatcould not be light up, They only need a knock in order to let out the spark.This metaphor indicate that all people born with their Buddha-nature,they only need the right method of steeling in order to let them out. In the 13thchapter of Jin Yan Teaching the book criticized the past people for theirbelief of  “only those who has the talentcould practice the Zen”. The ground of this criticize is :

All stove could do the work of ironsmelting. And a good doctor could cure all patients. With out the right methodof steeling, even the talent could be ruin, not to mention those who are nottalent. But with the right method, even the worst iron the most sick patientcould turn out to be a talent, not to mention the already talent . With theheart of the Buddha-nature, every one could learn the Buddhism, gain theirgreat apprehension of the truth. With the right method of polishing, allmirrors are able to shine.

Jie Xian is very confident in his experienceof steeling the Zen followers. He called himself as “The Sun Zi of the Zenschool”. In order to assist the Zen school, he edited all his experience intothis book. Although he knew that traditional masters in Zen school might not followwhat he said, and he may even get a lot of sneer, he still write the book.Because he believed that if the Zen masters of the new generation follow the strategyof this book and works hard, more Zen followers would come to their own greatapprehension of truth and more talent would be cultivated. He emphasized againand again that he does not afraid of the sneer. He write the book to assist thedevelopment of the Zen school. He believed that people had been too much stickto conventions, and had no strategy of cultivation, and this lead to a lot ofdrawback of the Zen school. In his book he criticized many of the drawbacks andattribute the fault to the lack of strategy of cultivating.

Jie Xian may be the only one whoemphasized the practical experience, the important effect of the steel of Zenfollowers in their enlightenment, among all the other Zen masters in thehistory.


The principle of teachstudents in accordance with their aptitude

All Zen practitioners look forward the flexible Zen styleof at the tang dynasty. In the second chapter of theteach students in accordance with their aptitude, it praised: The Zen teachingat the Tang dynasty is at the height of power and splendor. All thepractitioners are talent. And the Zen masters taught the apprentice in all theflexible ways. They taught in accordant of the apprentices’ nature character.The methods they used are not rigid and bland at all. After the Song dynasty,the Kanhua Chan becamepopular. Most of Zen practitioners cross the threshold from this point. Everyone meditated on the same phase and disregard of their different nature talent.When it went to the Ming and Qing dynasty, the only phase that the Zenpractitioners meditate on is “who is the one chanting the Buddha?” This becamea rigid and blank method of Zen practice. The flexibility of the Zen teachingduring the Tang Dynasty was lost. This is caused by the trend of the time.Because as the longer the Buddhism started to decay, the less talent thepractitioners were. The more ingenious the people are the more helter-skelterthey became, and the less wisdom arising from their meditation. Thus, inorder to help the apprentices to gain their enlightenment, the master may haveto use some rigid and blank method. But the key of the flexibility of a methodis about whether the person is good at using a method in a flexible way. If heis good at it, then even the rigid and bland method could turn out to beflexible. If he is not, then even the most flexible method could turn out to bebland. Jie Xian emphasized: the teaching must be inaccordant of talent of the student. The phase must be flexibly used. Thus, oneshould first judge the talent and character of the apprentice and then choosethe phase that is most appropriate for him to meditate on. This became one ofthe first and the most important work to do when a apprentice is across thethrone of the Zen school. Linji Yixuan haddistinguished the Zen apprentices into three categories: Those who are good at studythe domain, the people, and the principle. Also, there are those who are notgood at all the method or are good at all. This the main principle of theassessment of the nature character and talent. Before the person across the throne, they should first go through thescreening interview. Their talent will be first judged. Then they will betested by a serious of questions and answers in order to reveal their level oftheir study. Then through another round of questioning, they will be judged forwhether they have already gained their first stage of enlightenment. If theperson is judged as with great talent, then they will be test through thepasses such as the claw and teeth of the lion, the power of the elephant king,the throw of the golden circle, the fling of the hairy chestnut, in order toknow whether they can go through the grave barriers to meditation andenlightenment and the firm barrier. Thus, the teacher could gain theirmastering power of the teaching.

After the assessmentof the talent, the person may be asked to go into the Zen room. A phase will begiven to him for his further meditation. Or may be, you might ask, why they aregiven a phase? Why not let them receive the bang andbawl directly? The answer for this question is: Of course this is a simple anddirect way. If it is used at the ancient time when people were still wise andhave great talent, then it is alright. But today, people are less talent. I don’tmean that the bang and bawl should be avoid, but, you can’t apply it to everyone. People today are very ingenious and helter-skelter,So we have to use the phase to lock up their ingenious helter-skelter, to bitand stab them deeply in order to dry up their emotions and ingenious, theycould not be completely transformed. The single use of bang and bowl may somehow help them,butit may be just a momentary illusion, and the person still can’t gain hiscomplete apprehension of the truth.

Some may also ask:how about let all the Zen practitioners meditate on the same phase regardlessof their talent and the amount of people? Jie Xian answered: This may neglectthe complexity and the difference of the talent of different people. In thisway of practice, although one works very hard, little could be gained by them.The level of talent of different people is not the same. The belief one hold tothe Buddha is also different. Also, the experience one had about the Zenmeditation is different. This is just like you should buy a heat in accordancewith the size of the head, and you should make a wedge in accordance with thehole. The Zen practice should be in accordance with theoccasion. According to the record, at the time of theBuddha, once there is a oldest apprentice called She Li Fu who ranked as havethe greatest wisdom. He tried to reverse the method of teaching. He taughtthose who should practice the Shu Xi the Bai Gu Guan, and taught those whoshould practice the Bai Gu Guan the Shuxi. No fruit came out after a long time.The wrong method won’t work even it is applied by the most wise monk at theancient time. Not to mention the effect of the wrong way at decay time of the Buddhism.  The great principle is to steel in accordancewith the occasion and the different talent of the student. To teach with onlyone phase may restrict the students’ activities to a designated area. It spheresthe students by drawing a circle on the ground as a prison. In this way the flexibleprinciple is applied inflexibly.

Jie Xianponit out: The teaching of the meditation of thephases must be in accordance with the three category of talent. And give differentperson the appropriate phases. If the student had once meditated on some kindof phases, then they must first tell all those phases. Those phases should beeither replaced or be corrected. Interesting phases should be given to thosewho just begin the Zen practice. So they can ponder it and thus their talentcould be generated. If the phases given to them are too difficult, then theymay unable to across the throne.  Forthose who are very talent, should not be given the simple phases, otherwisetheir pride would grow. They should be given the difficult phases, make themfeel difficult and cut off all their wish of climbing high. Although phasessuch as “theunited of all the principle”,“the time before the parents born”,“die and burn” as well as the  subjective and theobjective at present, could be applied to both the talent or not talentstudents, but it is better to apply them only to those who just start theirpractice. The “three not ”of Nan Quan”, the “bamboo comb ” of Da Hui , as well as the“thirty bang and bowls are given, regardless of the principlegained or not.”,“what and what is not are all not”, all those phases are better to be applied to the talent.For those who are strong, smart or strange, the methods the master used areeven more diabolic. They may apply different respond of laugh or anger to thosepeople in order to sweep away their strong character. Or they may use sarcasmto sweep away their secret store. The phases such as “whole body half body” andthe “lion and the king of the elephant ” of Lin Ji are all prepared for thosekind of persons.

Some people maybenefit from the meditation on the question and answers. Such as “three kilosof Chinese grass”, “the dry shit”, “dog has no Buddhist-nature”. Some are easilybenefit from the special designed activities. Such as the bang and bowl at theacross of the throne, the method Mu Zhou used to lead Yun Men and the methodsShan Zho used to lead Ci Ming. Whether the methods could be effective dependson how the master apply them to his teaching. If the Zen master s not good at usingthe strategy in teaching, and only asked the student to meditate on“what is the means of the original”,“what is theBuddha-nature”,thenthe students can only make prayers. If the Zen master can’t do the preciseteaching, then the students may lack of power, start to doubt, sink in the dullwater and could not gain their enlightenment even when they grow old. The worstmislead that harm the students, are those who give the case-records such as the“Nan Quan kill the cat”, “the hundreds meters tall wild fox”, “Dan Xia burn theBuddha ”, “the woman named Liyi ” to the beginners who got no idea of Zen to meditate. This is like thesituation where the square wood can’t fit in the circle hole. It is a waster oftime.

After the phases aregiven, the method of meditation should be taught. In the third chapter of RuShi Sou Gua, it recorded that there are two kinds of meditation, the peacemeditation and the violent meditation. The peace meditation is slow and smooth.This meditation can help to hold down the floating emotions, to eliminate thefalse reorganization. The maturity need a very long time. Also, thepractitioner may only be able to stay in an quite and peace realm. It isdifficult for them to attain the enlightenment in such a realm. Even they arelucky enough to burst into a enlightenment out of this monotony meditation,they are still a inflexible and wooden man. Once they encounter a diabolicmaster, they will lost all their courage and confident like the ice meltedunder the high temperature. Those practitioners could not be appointed to leadthe crowd and to lead some big events. But those who practice the violentmeditation are easier to attain their great enlightenment. And the talent trainedin this style may turn out to be strong and with great courage. The only way toattain a true great enlightenment is the violent meditation. This is thetraditional style of the Lin Ji sect. And the Han Yue doctrine also emphasizesthis method. There’s also some flaw of the violent meditation. When thestudents are too weak, then they can’t persist to this meditation long. “If you want to success quickly, the only way youcan so is to go through a Seven Day intensive meditation”. There was no “Sevenday intensive meditation” in Tang and Song dynasty. It only occurred during theYuan and Ming dynasty. And the Han Yue doctrine takes that as especiallyimportant.

As the leading masterof this “Seven day intensive meditation”, he should first be able to recognizeall the apprentices, know their names and the phases they are meditation on.During those seven days, the master should often go into the meditation hall tosteel the apprentices. It is better that the master could just stay with theapprentices all the time in the hall. He should also sleep and work at the sometime as the apprentices do. And he should go into the meditation hall at least3-5 times a day. He should also know that the veteran apprentices are oftenvery cunning that they even have the countermeasure prepared for the masterbefore his arriving. So the master should be careful for not to be deceived bythem. And should use the strategy of ‘arrest’ and ‘kill’ in the art of war byasking them questions until they are unable to answer. But the beginners act differently.They are often afraid and try to hide in the crowd. They should ask them somesimple questions such as the phases they are meditating on rather than torturethem by asking about the case-record. Otherwise it would be just like asking afarmer the issues about the government policy. Often, after the master leave,the Zen crowd may again fall into their false thought. They might be just likedrown in the death water. They might either fall off or sink. The situation islike this even at the ancient time. Today, it is more serious. Thus, Jie Xianin his book believed that if this happened then it is not helping the peoplebut harming the people. This is cause by the disability of understand thenature of the students, the neglect of the original phases the apprentices aremeditating on. In the book, he listed the categories of the students


Those are given the phases buthave no tendency to meditate on it;thosehas the will but lack of the curiosity; Those who practice for many years withthe wrong idea of what is the effort; In brief, without a good master who cancorrect them, and without the true curiosity of themselves, the sickness mayresult in.

The only way to cureall the Zen sickness is to “go into the hall to have a check” often. Thus, themaster could help the apprentices to remove the stickinessand relieve the restrict, to bawl out the slack and to eliminate the confuse, to cure their serious illness, to teach the true method ofmeditation and to lead them to the right way. The Zen meditation is like sailagainst the current, without the master’s push and lead, it is very easy forthe apprentices to move back other than move forward. It is also like standingnear the river thinking about jump in. with out the encouragement from themaster, the apprentice would be very easy to withdraw. Thus, the master shouldguide the apprentices with concrete attention. He should be aware of theoccasion, watch on the slash, adjust the pace. There are four issues about thisguidance:

First, make up amind. This encourages the students to make up a firm mind. To make an agelongpromise that they won’t stop practice if they can’t attain the enlightenment,even they may be deeply hurt or be killed. This promise could provide themotive for the violent meditation

Second, show themethod of medication. The Zen practice allowed neither random select of thephases nor obstinately cling to a single phases. To cling to a phase is likesharpening the backside of the knife. If one is not truly questioning, theneven when he keep on meditate until the year of donkey he still can’t attainthe enlightenment. Thus, when the master teaches the Zen practitioners tomeditate, he should teach them to put down all their externalbonds. This is the everlasting principle of the Zenmeditation. 

Third, keep a shapeawareness of the slack. The peace meditation is slow and smooth. It is as slowas the penetration of the water into the stone. Thus the practitioners may feelvery difficult to gain improvement. They may suffer a lot during themeditation, but the effort is still not enough for the enlightenment. Even theeffort is enough, but without urge and inspiration, the enlightenment is stilldifficult to be attained. The violent meditation is also difficult if the practitioneris not talent enough. They may unable to avoid slack. The improvements are easilygained easily lost. Thus, those practitioners need more urge from theirmasters. And this urge should be restrict. It is better to be diabolic, resolute and decisive than to be looseand sloop. The master should urge the students with bitter words in time tostimulate their anger which could lead them to move on.

Forth, prevent theillness of obsession. If the phases the apprentices attained could not help tocut off all the false thoughts, then the beginners would easily fall into theillusions and false thoughts, and without the wisdom that could put light onthis false thoughts that eliminated them, without the power to control them,the apprentices would be infatuated. If their masters are lack of skills tocure them after they are infatuated, and they are only treated by the “tie fivelocations” or “knock and beat for hundreds of times”, then the apprenticeswould be more likely to lose their lives. There are many reasons for the Zenillness. There are two main reasons. The former may lead to a pain in the heart and a bloody sputum. Thelater may lead to a stagnation of blood, the dropsy and the excessive internalheat. All those illness are difficult to cure. Jie Xian point out:

To eliminate allillness, the key is the appropriate use of the knowledge, the hard labor, theday to day direct of the master. Those direct may include: encourage the firmmind, to show the true method of meditation, to warn the slack. Also, themaster should help to sweep away the apprentices’ emotion and cognition,to eliminate their knowledge, toclean the wrong way, to clear off the root of the illness. Thus, all illness ofthe obsession could not attack.   

Theskill of steeling

In the fifth chapterof steeling, it pointed out that the tool of the steeling is the bamboo stick.This tradition is originated from the Shou Shan Xing Nian, spread at the timeof Da Hui Zong Gao, become popular again at the time of San Feng Han Yue. Thestick is 1and 2/3 meters long, 1/30meters wide. It is polished a little bit andis used to knock. When the apprentices are meditating, the master may hold thisstick to perambulate. It is also held as a sharp tool for Xingchan. Once theapprentices go into the hall for meditation, the master first knock it threetimes to make people quite. As every one take a seat, the master will start togive enlightenment. After half incense time for meditation, the master may knock thechime stone. Then every one stands up and starts to chant and walk in a circle.The speed accelerates slowly. At this time, the master may hold the stick andwalk with the apprentices. When the speed is fast, the master start to applythe art of war to steel the apprentice in the way they can’t prepared well or unpredictably. 

They may either hold them to stopwalking and forced them to tell the next sentence, or knock them on the headand ask them the phase they originally meditated on. The master may wait therespond so to capture their weapon and kill them.

Many methods areapplied to cut off all the ties to the knowledge, emotion. They must be forcedto jump off the cliff. As the occasion came, the master would apply the beat, thus it may easily lead them to attain a immediate enlightenment.This skill is very similar to the strategy recorded in the art of the war: Place your army in deadly peril, and it willsurvive; plunge it into desperate straits, and it will come off in safety. This skill of steeling is as difficult as to shoot an arrow to acrossthrough the sofe willow branch, as to steal a bell from the neck of the tiger,as to deprive the pearl from the head of the dragon, asto catch the leader of the thieves. But, all events under the heaven are eitherdifficult and excellent or simple and not excellent. How could the wisdom ofthe Buddha be passed on if the apprentices are not to be well steeled justbecause we can’t break the traditional didactics?  

The more excellentthree skills for steeling are the “Stimulate the wake up to reality through thethrash”, the “Return and change”, the “ Pass a barrier”, recorded in theseventh chapter. 

Stimulate the wake upto reality through the thrash. The application of this method requires thepower of the master. It is a method utilizes the power of the ferocity. This issimilar to the breeding virtue of the heaven that utilized the power of theferocity of the snow, ice and thunder.

The management of the world and the behavior of the single individualshould utilize the power of the virtue, but to steel the people, it is betterto use the power of the ferocity. When the ferocity go extreme, is becomes thegreat virtue.

The seven dayintensive meditation of Zen school could easily lead people to a slash after along time sitting. Thus it is better to combine the sit and walk. It is betternot to just sit or walk for too long. The sit or walk should be used in turn.If the apprentices still feel tire and slash at midnight after the softpersuading, the only way left is to “use the great power, apply the great diabolic,and be extremely angry. The master could either vituperate loudly or bitehardly. Words that hated by many people, can’t bare to hear, burn the heart,crack the stone are all throw to the apprentices. Thus the sleepy and slashwill be sweep away.”

Return and change.This skill is also called as to change at the occasion. It means to help theapprentices to switch the heart of require and attain a flash of lucidity. Alsothis is to transfer the false thought. There are four types of return andchange:

Return and change in the art of war style.First force the apprentices to talk about their understanding. Then, as theyrespond, the master attacks their leak of the understanding. If the apprenticeis able to retort, then it is more important to chase after them and keep onasking. “There must be no point for the apprentice to stand. Then they may beclose to the break of their basis for life.”

Return and change in the master's study for examination and instruction. The studentsmay know a lot, but not a complete. The arrow of the enlightenment is about toshoot out but still need one more push. The spring of the great understandingis just about to gush, but still need a dredge. Thus, the master can ask again,replace or add one word of the apprentices’ account, and the apprentices maythen gain their enlightenment. This is the most marvelous part of the skill.

The return and changeof the return and change. For example, every one knows that the nature ofBuddha is in every one’s heart. But the master may ask: ”It is in who’s heart?”Thus the apprentice is leaded to the enlightenment. Also, there’s an saying “meetthe Maitreya when enter the door, and encounter the Bodhidharmawhen leave the door”. The master can ask “who youmeet? And who you encounter?” This may also lead to the enlightenment. Thereare many similar examples such as the Hu Zhang San, Hei Li Si, Yesterday istoday, and so on.

The return and changewith no return and change. For example, the apprentices may ask:”What is the adrop of water of the Cao Yuan?” The master can respond :”it is a drop of waterof the Cao yuan.” Similar examples including the “Bing and Ding children cometo ask for firs”, ”No cloud on the hill, a moon drop to the center of the wave.” 

Jie Xian pointed out: There are many reasons for the failure of attainingthe great enlightenment.

Those who are blockfrom the improvement; those who are tied and can not cut off ; those whomeditate on the phases rigidly but has no true curiosity; those who meditate ina dull and dry way holding the false belief for this is the only right way; thosewho thought that they attain the complete enlightenment but actually has onlysome smattering understanding. All those illness are caused by the misleading of the master.Those people can not gain the true enlightenment, and can not understand thedoctrine thoroughly.


The master should begood at return and change. They should give medicine in accordance with thesituation of the illness. Like the Ying’s transportation, like the Pao Ding’sbreak down of the cow, with one sentence at the right occasion, the lock on theapprentices’ mind could be released, and their eyes for the heaven opened.

The students may beleaded by the master who use the methods of return and change and thus attaintheir enlightenment. Also they could attain the enlightenment through their ownmeditation in the dull and dry style. But the results of these two situationsare different. The dull meditation could stop their false thought but are notgood at the flexibly use of the knowledge. Often, after more than one or twodecade, they still can’t gain the enlightenment. Even they finally attain the enlightenment,when the object meet a war with the subject, they are to loose. But those whoattain the enlightenment through master’s application of the steeling skills,the steal heart, the doubt heart, and the way to escape are all died. Theywould be able to handle the war in a ease way. Thus, the enlightenment at theoccasion had been emphasized since the ancient time. Cao Shan once said: ‘the fast way is to follow the occasion, whilethe slow way to attain the enlightenment is to sit in the dull and dry.’

Pass a barrier. Thisskill means that the master should help the apprentices to pass their barriersof the enlightenment, so the apprentices could open their eyes for wisdom and seethe truth. In the eighth chapter of pass barrier and open eyes, it recorded:

The keys of the skillof “pass a barrier” are to force, to return and change. And the power came fromthe guidance and the urge forward.

Without the guidance,the apprentice is easy to fall into the wrong way. With out the urge, thecenter fire could not be excessive. Without the force, the false thought couldnot be cut off. Without the return and change, the false emotion could not besweep away. Those who are good at the steeling should maintain a patient andcareful heart. The pass a barrier is the most difficult skill. Only those withthe eyes of the dragon, with the hands and feet for the management of the bigflat, could apply this perfectly. The master should be good at observing the occasion.Without the arrival of the occasion, the violent urge should not be used. Thisis just like the attack of the hide army. The key is the narrow pass. When theenemy has not arrive the narrow pass, the arrow should not be shoot out.

After a long timeforce, return and change, the false emotion of the apprentices may has all beencut off. Then, the “kill life knife ” and the “save life sword” skills shouldbe applied to the steeling. The “kill life knife ” indicate the ravish and thenot allowed. The “save life sword” indicate the give, contain and allowed. Forthose who are young and lack of experience, for those who had not experiencethe die out, the “kill life knife” should be used. Those who had a lot socalled experience of meditation, who because of the cold and dull meditation,had result in the sickness, should be given the “save life sword”. For thosewho had not attain their enlightenment, there’s 80-90 percent rate of using the“kill life knife”, and only one percent of the use of the “save life sword”.  Those who show the obvious nature and talentof the Buddha, who shows a sign of dragon and emperor, both the knife of killand save should be applied. The snare for them should be wide, the arrest ofthem should be great, the trap for them should be deep, and the hook and conefor them should be diabolic. Their bone should be knocked, their marrow shouldbe beat. Force them to their limited, beat and knock them diabolically, andforce them to loose their hands at the cliff. This is like the arrow is readyon the bow, the only thing left is to loose the hand and shoot. This is likeencounter the thief at the narrow place, you can’t turn back  At those moment, there’s no need to urge,return or change, the only method needed is to use the save or kill life sword,and to attack all of a sudden.The root of life would be cut off, like the bottom of the tub dropitself. This is like push the person to the high cliff; you can’t stop at thehalf way. It is also like to move the round stone to the high hill, it can’tstay at the half way. The master Gao Feng Yuan Miao said:“the accumulation of the effort is like move theround stone to a ten thousand high cliff, when it drop down the cliff, there’swon’t be any hinder. If one accumulate the effort in this way in hismeditation, it is impossible for him to not attain the enlightenment. If so,even the head master should be send to the hall.”It is not necessary to restrict a person in thedull and dry meditation for decades.

The research of the doctrine, thecontinue learning after the great enlightenment, and the steeling of talent.

Jie Xian believesthat, the key for a master who is good at steeling, is that flexibly use of thedoctrine. The doctrine indicates the theory and method of the Zen school.Although they can’t be separated from the wordage,they are still the summary of the ancient experience and virtue. It is basicfor the Zen practitioners to explore and do research about it. If one false tostudy the basic, then it is easy for them gain the false knowledge, and theirgate to great enlightenment would be blocked. If the doctrine is abolished justbecause the truth has been gained through enlightenment, then it would become auntrue shadow.“Thus, the doctrine is not necessary if the enlightenmentis not attained. But it is necessary if the enlightenment is attained.” In the ninth chapter of explore the doctrine, Jie Xian criticized theidea of abolish the doctrine. It point out that those who already attain the enlightenment,should follow the doctrine and learn the expand knowledge. They should keep onstudy the doctrine and try to understand the ancient ideas thoroughly. Themaster should belabor them, and make them study the doctrine thoroughly.


Should the apprentice keep on meditation? Itis a important question. Jie Xian believe that even after the attain of thegreat enlightenment, the person is still not the Buddha. Hard working onmeditation is still necessary. In the tenth chapter, Jie Xian quoted the ancestor’swords to emphasize its importance. For example, master dharmaonce said: “the ancestor is those who both attain the enlightenment andpractice the meditation.” Also, Yun Ju Dao Tang master said: “when you already know this way, youstart to walk on that way.”. Yong Quan said: “there’s many who attain their enlightenment,but few practice their enlightenment.” Hui Tang said: when I first attain my enlightenment,I though every thing is simple, but as I turn back to reflect again, I realizedthat there’s still a lot conflict. Thus, I keep on meditation for another 3years. Only after this every thing is back to their order.” Zhao Zhou keep thefalse though out of the mind for 40years. Xiang Lin used 40years to gain athorough understanding. Yong Quan still keep on meditation and the chant andwalk for 40years after the enlightenment. None of the past ancestors didn’tkeep a continue practice of Zen after the enlightenment. Without the continuepractice, it would be just like a man who have the eyes ut lack of the feet,this is a crazy wisdom. To steel a person, it is necessary to carry thepractice through to the end and keep them continue the practice.    

Even when you think that you already attainthe true enlightenment, if the enlightenment is not as truly as you thought,then you are easily to get into the evil way. Although this is the studentsfault, it is still the mistake of the master. The masters’ mistake is thefailure of using the doctrine of steeling people. Thus, the master must act inthe right way. What does this mean?

The wise eyes should be able to see thoroughly,and the practice should be kept on. Even a senior should make no different inlife and practice from all the practitioners. The master should preserve theirpurity, keep a  painstaking efforts ofthe heart, get up early and sleep late, follow the ancient virtue of diligent.With this hard working and the abundance of spiritual character, they couldgain the respect from all the practitioners. This is the right way for themaster.

In contrary,if the wise eyes are crazy; the heart and practice are impetuous; if one feelstoo pride once he is at the position of a master, and start to eat well andwear the silk, get up late and sleep early, drink the wine, and teach in a crudeway, then this is the wrong way for a master. The seniors are the key for therise and decline of the monastery. When the senior act in the right way, thenthe whole monastery would be protected by the heaven, the Zen followers wouldbe piety, and then the Buddhism would rise. If the senior stop practice andabolish the virtue, then both the human and the spirit would blame them and theBuddhism would decline. Jie Xian hate those seniors who pretend to be a sagebut act in the way that debauch the Zen school. He hate those people, andbelieve that it is those people’s masters fault for not steel them well enoughwhich lead them to the failure of understand the truth thoroughly and exploredeep enough to the doctrine. 

To attain a true enlightenment,one still need the expand knowledge. In the 11 chapter, it said: To obtain theknowledge of the great virtue, one should understand the religion thoroughly,be clear of the history and present knowledge, understand the doctrine well,gain the skill of the catch the occasion, keep continue study. The choice ismade by both the heaven and the people, but none of the situation could be lackof the hard learning.  There are theinner learning and the exterior learning. The inner learning avoids all thebooks. The exterior learning should focus on all the doctrines such as the poem,art, the exponents of the various schools of thought, and so on. “Without theinner learning, the originate school could not be understood well. Thus theperson could not live well in the world. Without the exterior learning, theperson would know nothing about the Confucius, and thus can respond in theright way in the society. ” Thus, the hard study of both the doctrine and thehistory are necessary. All the ancestors emphasize both the meditation and thestudy. This two parts should keep a balance with each other. The ancient peoplesaid: “The Buddhist nature is easy to understand,but the difference of knowledge is difficult to be figure out.” In the Buddhist nature, there’s still a lot nuance. In the different knowledgethere’s many error. All those ideas are like a chain of lock. The doctrines ofthe five sects are complicated. The only way to understand them thoroughly isto study hard. In the book of Rites, it recorded: “If the literature is not iridescent, the way could not be long”. Thus, to steel the talent, the iridescent literature is necessary. Somepeople detract the iridescent of the literature because the Hui Neng master didnot recognize a word. Jie Xian criticized this idea. He emphasized that the mastershould be good at apply the knowledge and should teach in accordance with thenature of the talent. The apprentices should be first steeled to attain theenlightenment of the doctrine of their own school. And then let them to studythe literature and the virtue. Only those people could be selected to carry onthe religion.


In the 12th chapter, it pointout: Only those who are both talent and virtue could be selected as the leadingmaster who carry the responsibility of the flourish of the Buddhism. Those whoare too pride of their talent could not be selected as the leader. They maybring great disaster if they manage the monastery. The divine force create afew people talented in all field, and a lot people talented in a certain field,fewer people both talented and virtue, lots people either talented or virtue.Those who are sincere; can act in a regular way; has the virtue that admired byevery one; but is not talent enough may not be able to manage the monastery ifthey are selected as the leader master. People who are smart, brave, be wellversed in both polite letters and martial arts, has the flexible ability, butis lack of virtue, then once they get the power they will get envy of the othertalent people, and disturb the practitioners. The seniors who are in charge of selectingthe successors should be careful. Also they should be good at steel thecandidate of the successors. The management of the monastery needs manyfunctions. All of those functions are necessary. The seniors should give the functionin accordance with the different characters of the talents. The talents shouldbe designate to the functions in a regular way. This is just like theassignment of the function in the government. It is complicated. All functionsare linked to each other like a system. The monastery is a container thatsteels the root of a person; that transforms the character of a person. Thus,it is not right to let things take their own course. A lot steeling is needed.And the punishment and encouragement should be clear. “Those who made a mistake should be punished so to warn the others. Theslash should be eliminated so to warn the others.” This is the discipline ofmanaging the monastery that could not be changed. For those who are hopeful tobe the seed of great talent, the steeling should be even more careful.


The steeling of talent could also be donethrough the handle of affairs. The ancestors often assign different functionsto the apprentices in order to steel their talent. For example, the Bai Zhang RenWei Shan had once been assigned as the library manager; the De Shan Ren XueFeng had once been assigned as the cooker leader; Yang Qi once been a materialmanand so on. The aim is to steel them into auseful man, to make them a mature talent, through the hard and ground workingbefore they are assigned the functions to leader the monastery and carry thegreat responsibility. The apprentice who is going to be assigned the headsenior is often first assigned the seat of honor of Xi Tang. So he can learn theskill of steeling. 

For those who had just start the practice, you hope them to opentheir eyes for wisdom. In this case, the best virtue is to knock them. For theexperienced mediators, you hope them become a useful person. In this case, thebest virtue is to keep the practice simple. If you don’t follow this way andhope talent could come out, then it is irresponsible to the school. Even whensometimes because of the luck, some talents come out. The way is still not apractical way that everyone should follow.

Those choose as the talents to be the Seniors should be more careful. To end up the whole book, Jie Xiandiscussed this in the 13th chapter of ‘the restrict pass on’. Everyone could be inspired to attain their enlightenment, but not every one could beselected as the inheritor. The inheritor must be able to closely observe the ancestors’discipline, act as a model for all people, be erudite enough to pass onknowledge to the students, be powerful enough to mange the Zen apprentices.During the decay stage of the Buddhism, the perfect talent is difficult toobtain. But even when we are short of candidate of the inheritor, it is stillimportant that we should live with the candidate in order to have deep assessmentof their nature and behavior. Even the disciples are not to be selected as theinheritor, it is still necessary for them to able to closely observe the ancestors’discipline, to have a good character, to have the nature of the Buddha, to havethe well self-discipline, and to have good morality. This is big issue thatshould be taken for as careful as possible. But, today’s leading masters oftenpay no attention to this pass on. They may able to steel a talent by themselvesand at the same time afraid of the break off of the pass on. Thus, they may perfunctorilypass on to someone who are not talent enough. This is the worst thing happenedto the sect that lead to its decay. On the contrary, there are some otherleading masters who are too careful that they would not pass on even when theyare dieing. This is also incorrect. Whose who destroy the pass on are irresponsible,whose who don’t pass on the sect are at the risk of the break off of the sect.To educate talent for the Buddha, to open the eye of the heaven for the people,we would rather go without an inheritor than be contented with one lesssatisfactory.

In the context of the book, Jie Xian advisedin earnest words and with good intention. After Jie Xian finished the context,he declared in the epilogue: I was talking about burn the doctrines, but at thesame time, I myself is writing a doctrine with so many words about steeling.This may sound like a superfluous action.”If peopletake this as the unchangeable principle and can’t use it flexibly, then itwould became another strict and blank principle that take the practitionersinto the hell. Jie Xian hoped that the later generations could imitate YangShan who burn the perfect doctrine passed by Shen Yuan.And hope them learn in the flexibly style of managing the military force as SunZi, not the restrict style of Zhao Kuo.

The length of theZen Steeling is short. But, on the basis of the writer’s ownexperience of directing the Zen practitioners, it summarized the essence of theZen didactics since the Tang Dynasty. The book could be regard as a book on theart of the war for the Zen school. It maintained a use value till today. Fromthis book on the art of war for Zen practice, we can grasp the nature of theZen didactics. We may find out that the Zen didactics is basic on the mental steelingor the potential explorer in accordance with the knowledge about the heart.This makes it different from many of the other schools of religion. The startpoint and the foundation of this didactics is the belief that everyone hastheir Buddhist nature. This nature could also be regard as the manifestation of the Buddha which is the real nature of all things ,the original nirvanas, that it contains all the merits and powers of the Buddha-fruitionwithout barrier. The only matter is that this light of the Buddhist nature ofall the people is covered by the confusion that resulted in the distinguish ofthe names, the false thought of one sidedness. The so called steeling is nomore than helping the Buddhist nature of the students to emerge by its nature,by means of the use of strategy, the sweep away of the false thought and  the in accordance with the psychic situationof the students, the occasion, and the cling to things as real. It is better tostudy this didactics from the psychology point of view, in order to reallyunderstand it. This didactics may be very different from the modern teachingwhich is mainly focused on the pass on of knowledge and technique. But theideas of teaching in accordance with the nature of the students, and the eruditelearning after the great enlightenment are similar to the modern education.Also, the method exploitation of the Buddhist nature may inspired the moderneducation, management, as well as psychology deeply. Thus, we can make aconclusion, that the book ‘Zen steeling’ has its modernvalues.





[1] 《高僧传菩提达摩传》

[2] 道盛《憨山大师全集序》