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    Pojo Chinul (1158–1210) is considered a great harmonizer of the conflicting Buddhist trends in the late Koryŏ period. Although diverse philosophical and soteriological aspects of his texts have been examined, the Hwaŏmnon chŏryo, a seminal text that demonstrates his effort to mitigate the tension between the Sŏn and Kyo schools, has not been given due scholarly attention.

    By revealing the drawbacks in previous scholarship on Chinul, this article emphasizes the importance of a correct understanding of Li Tongxuan’s (635–730) Xin huayan jing lun, the primary text that exerted an enormous influence on the formation of Chinul’s thought. Chinul’s text, however, sometimes omits the rich symbolism as represented in Li’s text. Moreover, the Hwaŏmnon chŏryo does not adopt indigenous philosophical frameworks for the explication of the Flower Garland Sūtra as introduced in its source text Xin huayan jing lun. Chinul, instead, faithfully accommodates Li’s fundamental philosophical and soteriological theses in this abridged text.

    Although Chinul does not accept every detail of Li’s exegesis and his text shows the characteristics of selective abridgement, he has a critical attitude toward the contemporary Buddhists just as Li does. This attitude may explain his adoption of this “unorthodox” text which was written by a layman and disregarded by both of the mainstream Sŏn and Kyo schools.


    Pojo Chinul , Hwa?mnon ch?ryo , Li Tongxuan , Xin huayan jing lun , selective abridgement


    In the East Asian Buddhist tradition, the issue of subitism and gradualism has stimulated many thinkers and practitioners since its first appearance in the domain of Buddhist debates during the early fifth century.1 Of the sudden-gradual polarity, most Sŏn 禪 (Ch. Chan) practitioners tended to adopt the sudden approach, whereas some modest masters sought to present a more harmonized vision between the two soteriological options.

    Evaluated as a great systematizer of Korean Buddhism, Pojo Chinul 普照知訥 (1158–1210), a great Sŏn master during the late Koryŏ period, endeavored to mitigate the tension between the abovementioned soteriological polarity which was then embodied into the conflict between the Sŏn (meditative) and Kyo 敎 (scholastic) schools.2 As is well known, his experience of enlightenment was intimately related to his encounter with diverse Buddhist scriptures and treatises, which had been despised by most of the Sŏn monks of his times.3 His practice-oriented soteriology distinguishes him also from other Kyo adepts of his times, who would only delve into abstruse metaphysical speculations introduced in the scholastic treatises, such as the doctrine of unobstructed interpenetration between phenomenal objects (sasa muae 事事無礙), without realizing the identity between a sentient being’s mind with the Buddha’s.

    With regard to Chinul’s career, his 1211 epigraphy written by Kim Kun-su (d.u.) tells us that his experience of enlightenment inspired by diverse Buddhist texts led him to establish the three soteriological gates or approaches (mun 門) (K. Kim 1478; Buswell 2012, 367–85). The epigraph implies that Huineng’s 慧能 (638–713) Liuzu tan jing 六祖檀經 (Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch) influenced Chinul’s adoption of the first gate of equal maintenance of alertness and calmness (sŏngjŏk tŭngji mun 惺寂等持門), which recommends balanced cultivation of samādhi and prajñā (chŏnghye ssangsu 定慧雙修). Later on, on the basis of Li Tongxuan’s 李通玄 (635–730) Xin huayan jing lun 新華嚴經論 (A treatise on the newly translated Avataṃsaka-sūtra; hereafter Xin lun), he is said to have introduced the second gate of faith and understanding of the perfect and sudden teaching (wŏndon sinhae mun 圓頓信解門), by which he intended to harmonize the Sŏn and Kyo schools. Finally, his reading of Dahui Zonggao’s 大慧宗杲 (1089–1163) Shuzhang 書狀 (Letters) is said to have led to his appreciation of the third gate of a short-cut approach through observing the hwadu 話頭 (kanhwa kyŏngjŏl mun 看話徑截門), in which he acknowledged the ultimate validity of the kanhwa Sŏn 看話禪 approach.

    Of these three soteriological regimens attributed to Chinul, most studies on the abovementioned second gate have centered around the analysis of the Wŏndon sŏngbullon 圓頓成佛論 (A treatise on the perfect and sudden attainment of buddhahood). Although this work provides a useful and comprehensive template for examining his overall thought, it should be remembered that it was “discovered” along with the Kanhwa kyŏrŭiron 看話決疑論 (Resolving doubts about observing the hwadu) in 1215, five years after Chinul’s demise, by his disciple Chin’gak Hyesim 眞覺慧諶 (1178–1234).4 For this reason, Kwŏn Ki-jong (2009) casts doubt on the authorship of the Wŏndon sŏngbullon and the Kanhwa kyŏrŭiron, which have been associated with Chinul’s second and third gates respectively, thereby requesting a careful re-evaluation of Chinul’s thought.5 With regard to this issue, Pak Kŏn-ju (2011, 2012) even goes so far as to say that some passages of the Kanhwa kyŏrŭiron and the Pŏpchip pyŏrhaengnok chŏryo pyŏngip sagi 法集別行錄節要幷入私記 (Excerpts from the Faji biexing lu with personal notes) were forged by Hyesim in order to elevate the status of kanhwa Sŏn. In their arguments both Kwŏn and Kim presuppose that since Kim Kun-su was a Confucian scholar who was unfamiliar with Buddhism, his presentation of the three gates was manipulated by Hyesim, and the thesis of three gates is therefore not reliable.

    But In’gyŏng (2002, 182–195) opposes discarding Chinul’s third gate of kanhwa Sŏn and proposes an examination of Chinul’s system of “hermeneutics of mind” (maŭm ŭi haesŏkhak). He then argues that the third gate serves as a substance (ch’e 體) in that system, while the second and first gates illustrate the aspects of characteristics (sang 相) and function (yong 用) respectively on the basis of the doctrinal framework of the Dasheng qixin lun 大乘起信論 (Awakening of faith in the Mahāyāna). Although In’gyŏng’s structural analysis of Chinul’s thought seems to be insightful, it does not take into account the serious philological or bibliographical issues involved in understanding Chinul’s philosophy. Unless a definite answer to the question of the authorship of Chinul’s works, especially those texts related to the so-called third gate, is given, we cannot say that the hwadu of kanhwa Sŏn is to be identified as a substance of mind in his philosophy.

    Yet, even if we do not attribute the third gate of kanhwa Sŏn to Chinul, we can still say that one of his major goals was to achieve harmony between the two conflicting schools of Sŏn and Kyo, which is intended by the second gate. In this respect, another important work of Chinul, Hwaŏmnon chŏryo 華嚴論節要 (An essential abridgement of the Xin huayan jing lun), which is also associated with the second gate and will be dealt with in this article, merits our special attention. Compared to the one-fascicle Wŏndon sŏngbullon whose authorship has been doubted, this three-fascicle text published during Chinul’s lifetime contains much richer doctrinal perspectives and informs us of his concern of the times through the preface written in 1207. Moreover, since a number of passages in the Wŏndon sŏngbullon are verbatim citations from Li’sXin lun, a precise understanding of the former text is contingent upon an in-depth and comparative analysis of the latter. As the Hwaŏmnon chŏryo is a compendium of Li’s massive work Xin lun, which runs to forty fascicles, access to the former text could save scholars from presenting erroneous interpretations of the Wŏndon sŏngbullon and Chinul’s thought in general.

    Unfortunately, the Hwaŏmnon chŏryo has been disregarded and only its preface and some parts in which Chinul’s own voice is clearly discernible have been given due scholarly attention. This lack of attention may be attributed to its title chŏryo which gives an impression that the work is just Chinul’s summary of Li’s philosophy, not his own presentation of Hwaŏm and Sŏn thought (C. Pak 2002, 6;Shim 2000, 130). But a similar pattern of citations from earlier exegeses was not uncommon to East Asian exegetes. Rather, it would be more reasonable to consider their way of rearrangement and abridgement of the previous com-mentary works to be an indicator of their erudition and scholarship.

    The following pages will investigate how Chinul epitomized Li’s philosophy in his Hwaŏmnon chŏryo and how his summary differs from the source text of the Xin lun. But my analysis will be more concerned with revealing Chinul’s philosophical orientation than with unveiling the structural differences of the two texts. Before we go into the details, a review of previous scholarship on the Hwaŏmnon chŏryo is in order.

    1Daosheng 道生 (ca. 360–434) is considered the first thinker who proposed the thesis of sudden enlightenment along with that of universal buddha-nature (Lai 1987, 169). In this respect it can be said that the sudden-gradual debate in Chinese Buddhism originated within the scholastic tradition. Later on, application of the designation “sudden” became a serious issue again within the Huayan school as the meditative (Ch. Chan) school emerged. Whereas Chengguan 澄觀 (737–838) explicitly applied the term “sudden teaching” to the Chan school, Zongmi 宗密 (780–841) noticed the subtle differences in the branches of the Chan school and presented a different system of doctrinal classification (Gregory 1983, 41–44).  2Edward J. Schultz appraises Chinul as “one of the great harmonizers of Korean Buddhism” and claims that Chinul’s “syncretism” was welcomed by the military rulers of the Ch’oe house (2000, 134–41).  3Concerning Chinul’s bibliophilistic attitude, Robert E. Buswell, Jr. has pointed out that he did not form an “orthodox” dharma lineage either by receiving instructions from a Korean master or by securing recognition from a Chinese patriarch (1983, 201).  4Kanhwa kyŏrŭiron, HPC 4.737b18–20.  5In this paper Kwŏn attributes to Chinul the following works: the Kwŏnsu chŏnghye kyŏlsa mun 勸修定慧結社文, the Moguja susim kyŏl 牧牛子修心訣, the Kye ch’osim hagin mun 誡初心學人文, the Hwaŏmnon chŏryo, and the Pŏpchip pyŏrhaengnok chŏryo pyŏngip sagi (2009, 16–17). In his earlier paper, too, he locates Hyesim’s voice in the two texts in question (1993, 25).


    The Hwaŏmnon chŏryo first came to light through the effort of Songgokhŏn Pŏpchŏng, or the late professor Yi Chong-ik (1912–1991). According to his report, the manuscript of the text had originally been held by the Japanese scholar-monk Tan’ei 湛睿 (1271–1347) and was later slightly modified by his disciple Enshu 圓種 (1254–1377) (Songgokhŏn 1942). When Yi discovered this handwritten version housed at the Kanazawa Bunko 金澤文庫, it was in poor condition and a number of pages were missing. Thus a revised version was required (28). According to Kin Chiken, namely Kim Chi-gyŏn (1931–2001), who collated the manuscript with the Xin lun and published its revised edition in 1968, we have no idea of what occurred between its 1207 publication in Korea and its 1295 transcription by Enshu in Japan (Kin 1968, furoku [appendix] 76). But Enshu’s manuscript does not seem to have exerted much influence on the later doctrinal developments in Japan, for no major canonical catalog published in Japan refers to the Hwaŏmnon chŏryo. Thus he maintains that this work had fallen into complete oblivion for almost seven hundred years in Japan (82). The same can be said of the situation in Korea where the text had been almost forgotten for several centuries. Although it came to be available through the efforts of the abovementioned Korean scholars and became more easily accessible by its 1989 publication in volume 4 of the Han’guk Pulgyo chŏnsŏ series,6 the previous scholarship of the text is still limited in its scope and content.

    For instance, Ch’oe Sŏng-nyŏl’s (1996a, 1996b) studies just provide some background knowledge of the discovery, publication, and outlines of the text without offering a concrete and detailed analysis of the doctrines discussed therein. In the case of the studies of Chinul’s thought conducted by Kim Ch’ŏn-hak (2010, 155–158) and Shim Jae-ryong (Sim Chae-ryong) (2000, 128–133), their presentation primarily focuses on the Wŏndon sŏngbullon, while making occasional references to the Hwaŏmnon chŏryo.

    Of the two studies mentioned above that concern the doctrinal aspects of Chinul’s thought, the former’s rather bold theses merit some comments. According to Kim Ch’ŏn-hak (2010, 167–169), Chinul puts more emphasis on the ten faiths (Ch. shixin 十信) than on the ten abidings (Ch. shizhu 十住) and in this respect he is clearly distinguished from Li Tongxuan who entertains the idea of the attainment of buddhahood in the stage of the ten abidings. Here Kim Ch’ŏn-hak makes a comparative study between the Wŏndon sŏngbullon and the Xin lun,thereby demonstrating that former text makes more frequent references to the ten faiths than the latter text does. As he does not conduct a similar statistical analysis of the Hwaŏmnon chŏryo, it would be unfair to say that he completely misrepresents Chinul’s thought. But his overriding assumption that Chinul is more concerned with the perfectibility of ordinary practitioners than Li is problematic. Indeed, Li sometimes criticizes the crude nature of practitioners in the lower stage of the ten faiths who are bound by material forms (Ch. se 色, Skt.rūpa).7 But he does not make an explicit statement that they are essentially inferior to those in the higher stage of the ten abidings. On the contrary, Li stresses the supreme status of the ten faiths by quoting a passage from the Nirvāṇa Sūtra (Da banniepan jing 大般涅槃經, Mahāparinirvāṇa-sūtra). According to him, although ordinary people come to ascertain their attainability of buddhahood in the stage of the ten faiths, their self-abandonment prevents their entry into the faith.8

    Kim Ch’ŏn-hak’s forced explication of Chinul’s thought is also discernible from his statement that Li Tongxuan, due to his notion of nature origination (Ch. xingqi 性起), tends to neglect the progressive approach (Ch. hangbu men 行布門), which can be identified as gradual cultivation (chŏmsu 漸修) in Chinul’s soteriology (178). In this way Kim Ch’ŏn-hak describes Li as an exegete who just esteems the consummate interfusion approach (Ch. yuanrong men 圓融門), which can be associated with sudden enlightenment (tono 頓悟) in Chinul’s system.

    But such a one-sided appraisal of Li Tongxuan’s soteriology does not take note of his strong practical orientation or his deep concern for altruistic activities in the mundane realm. Li’s practice-oriented Huayan exegesis can be seen from his analysis of the Samantabhadra practice (Ch. Puxian xing 普賢行, Skt. Samantabhadra-caryā), the ultimate form of practice in the Flower Garland Sūtra (Da-fangguang fo huayan jing 大方廣佛華嚴經, Avataṃsaka-sūtra). According to him, the Samantabhadra practice has two aspects: benefiting both self and others (Ch. zili lita 自利利他) and benefiting others only (Ch. shun shi lita 純是利他). He then correlates the first type of Samantabhadra practice, which is typical of the Mahāyana ideal of bodhisattvas, with the chapter “Samantabhadra Practice” (Puxian xing pin 普賢行品) and the second type of purely altruistic practice, which means the Buddha’s salvific activities, with the chapter “Detaching from the World” (Li shijie pin 離世間品).9 He judges, however, that the chapter title “Detaching from the World” does not seem to fully represent the purport of the scripture as it describes the mundane realm as something detestable. Assuming that the translator made errors in rendering the title, Li suggests renaming the chapter as “Benefiting the World” (Li shijie pin 利世間品) by replacing the character li 離 in the original chapter title with a different character with a similar pronunciation.10

    It is true that Li Tongxuan regards the Flower Garland Sūtra as a scripture that assures ordinary human beings of their perfectibility on the basis of the thesis of non-duality between sentient beings’ fundamental ignorance (Ch. genben wuming 根本無明) and the Buddha’s fundamental, non-discriminating wisdom (Ch. genben wufenbie zhi 根本無分別智), which is often identified as the immovable wisdom (Ch. budong zhi 不動智).11 As this identification constitutes Li’s notion of faith, one of the key concepts in his philosophy, one may expect that his soteriology would uphold the consummate interfusion approach only. But as examined above, his emphasis on the Samantabhadra practice, which encourages purely altruistic engagement in the mundane realm, implies that he is also intent on the realization of the progressive approach. In the Xin lun Li explicitly uses the term “progressive approach” only once within a context of explicating the expansion of the realms the Buddha edifies (Ch. shehua jingjie 攝化境界), and this usage may seem irrelevant to the abovementioned qualitative change in the Samantabhadra practice.12 But if we examine the context closely, we see that he intends the practitioners in the Flower Garland Sūtra, who contemplate the growing scale of the Buddha worlds, to realize the Buddha’s unlimited salvific activities and arouse in their minds an aspiration to act like the Buddha. Therefore, it is clear that his explication of the Buddha worlds also concerns the radical expansion of the Samantabhadra practice and the progressive approach, which demands more than acquiring a profound insight into one’s buddha-nature.

    Along with Li’s demand for the practitioners to broaden their minds, his repeated condemnation of those who see the sacred as something beyond the profane is a natural consequence of his concept of the one true dharma realm (Ch. yi zhen fajie 一眞法界) (for a detailed explanation of the concept, see Koh 2013, 118–119). As this concept presupposes a unitary realm of truth in which there is nothing unsacred, the practitioners, especially those in the stage of the ten faiths, are requested not to seek buddhahood outside their present physical and mental conditions.13 Although the Flower Garland Sūtra often refers to the pervasiveness of buddha-nature and underscores the non-duality between the sacred and the mundane, it is Li Tognxuan’s commentary on the scripture that emphatically defines gaining a profound insight into this unitary, continuous realm of truth as an initial and essential step of practice.

    Here it is to be noted that Li’s emphasis on the one true dharma realm does not mean that practitioners just need to gain such an insight and remain content with it. As he puts it, practitioners in the lower stages ranging from the ten faiths to the ten grounds (Ch. shidi 十地, Skt. daśa-bhūmi) endeavor to attain such an insight or the fundamental wisdom through their Samantabhadra practice, which may be labeled as the process of “subordinating function to substance” (Ch. yi yong cong ti 以用從體). According to his presentation, the Flower Garland Sūtra’s first chapter “Wondrous Adornment of the Worldly Leaders” (Shizhu miaoyan pin 世主妙嚴品) preceding the chapters dealing with the abovementioned stages of bodhisattva practice and the chapter “The Tathāgata’s Manifestation” (Rulai chuxian pin 如來出現品) following those chapters are, to the contrary, concerned with the perfected buddhahood that arouses sincere faith in the practitioners’ minds. Li thus regards the purport of the two chapters as the fundamental wisdom’s practical application to the mundane realm, which can be dubbed the process of “subordinating substance to function” (Ch. yi ti cong yong 以體從用). Moreover, the fact that Samantabhadra appears in these two chapters as an answerer to Mañjuśrī, who represents the fundamental wisdom or the aspect of substance, shows that functional application of wisdom, or practice is given a more dominant status than the mere wisdom itself.14

    Although Li Tongxuan’s explication of the chapter “Entering the Dharma Realm” (Ru fajie pin 入法界品, Skt. Gandavyūha) pays little attention to the prominence of Samantabhadra in the text and underscores the role of Mañjuśrī as a deputy of ancient buddhas,15 the above analysis reveals that he does not necessarily place the utmost importance on attaining the fundamental wisdom only. Therefore, we cannot say that his philosophy just concerns the consummate interfusion approach.

    As mentioned above, Kim Ch’ŏn-hak ascribes Li Tongxuan’s “disregard of the progressive approach,” which he distinguishes from Chinul’s endorsement of both the consummate interfusion approach and the progressive approach, to Li’s notion of nature origination. But most of the previous studies have pointed out that this concept is also salient in Chinul’s thought. In this way they locate the continuity between Li Tongxuan and Chinul. For instance, Buswell (1986, 210–13) and Shim (1979, 148, 154–55)maintain that Chinul’s distinction between nature origination and conditioned origination (Ch. yanqi 緣起) in the Wŏndon sŏngbullon attests to Li’s influence upon him. According to their presentation, as the soteriology provided by “orthodox” Huayan thinkers such as Fazang is imbued with “intermediary, conceptual apparatus” or “metaphysical orientation,” Chinul finds their system to be an obstacle to the practitioners’ real authentication. Indeed, the author of the Wŏndon sŏngbullon explicitly contrasts the doctrine of nature origination with that of conditioned origination and reveals the superiority of the former.16 But In’gyŏng (2003) suggests that what the author actually criticizes in the text is the theory proposed by the later Chinese or contemporary Korean masters (17–28).

    Nevertheless, many Korean scholars still have a propensity to accept the Wŏndon sŏngbullon’s critique of the doctrine of conditioned origination as Chinul’s own words and contrast his philosophy with Fazang’s as presented in this text. Yi Tŏk-chin (2000), for instance, argues that unlike Fazang who regards buddha-nature or tathāgatagarbha as a substance of the whole universe and applies the notion of buddha-nature even to insentient beings (Ch.wuqing 無情), Chinul just denotes the self-nature of sentient beings’ minds by the term “nature” (395, 402–405). While Sŏk Kir-am (2008) puts it in a slightly different fashion, he also identifies Chinul’s notion of sudden enlightenment with the immediate awakening to the realm of nature origination in which perfected buddhahood is pervasively realized (403). Here it is important to note that Li Tongxuan presents a severe critique of the doctrine that ascribes buddha-nature only to sentient beings, for he regards such a dualistic view, which is predicated on the discrimination of insentient beings, as a form of provisional teachings (Ch. quanjiao 權敎).17 Therefore, Yi Tŏk-chin’s thesis that Chinul’s concept of buddha-nature is an antithesis to Fazang’s theory should be revised. It would be better to say that Chinul or the purported author of the Wŏndon sŏngbullon made some modifications to the contemporary theories, Li Tongxuan’s theory included, in accordance with the tenets of Sŏn Buddhism.18

    The abovementioned drawbacks in the previous scholarship on Chinul can be summarized into three points. First, the studies conducted by those scholars have taken for granted an unwarranted assumption that Chinul’s thought consists of the so-called “three gates” without doing in-depth text-critical research. Secondly, as shown above, some of their arguments are contingent upon a hasty comparison between Li Tongxuan and Chinul, which is again predicated upon incorrect understanding of Li’s texts. Thirdly, they tend to overestimate the concept of nature origination. Although this concept occupies a prime position in the Wondon sŏngbullon and the Kanhwa kyŏrŭiron, Chinul’s other earlier works seldom refer to it. Yet, those scholars trace the origins of Chinul’s thought back to Li’s philosophy and link the two thinkers on the basis of that concept. Just as those scholars follow the “three gates” system uncritically, so they tend to indulge in speculations about the concept “nature origination” without paying attention to the fact that it is not as prominent in Li’s philosophy as it appears to be. In relation to the understanding of Chinul’s thought, the above second and third problems in particular disclose the importance of a correct appreciation of Li’s philosophy. In this respect a close reading of the Hwaŏmnon chŏryo would redress those drawbacks in the current scholarship, for this text delivers Li’s ideas, as understood by Chinul, more faithfully than the other later texts.

    6A partial English translation of the text was published by Buswell (2012, 355–66).  7Xin lun, fasc. 14, T 36.813b6–9; fasc. 22, T 36.872c9–14. In the Hwaŏmnon chŏryo the first passage is fully quoted but the second one is shortened with a stock expression “unun” 云云. See Hwaŏmnon chŏryo, fasc. 2, HPC 4.825a2–6; fasc. 3, HPC 4.851a7–9.  As Kim Ch’ŏn-hak (2010) points out, this critique of the ten faiths is also found in the Wŏndon sŏngbullon. But he argues that Chinul’s negative depiction of the ten faiths as a stage with hindrance in understanding (haeae ch’ŏ 解礙處) was influenced by Zongmi and that Chinul, unlike Li Tongxuan, paid attention to the aspect of hindrance in the stage of the ten faiths (168, 176–178). See Wŏndon sŏngbullon, HPC 4.730a19–21.  8Xin lun, fasc. 15, T 36.819a26–b2; Da banniepan jing, fasc. 38, T 12.590a21–23. Compare the passage in Xin lun with the one in Hwaŏmnon chŏryo, fasc. 2, HPC 4.825a17–20.  9Xin lun, fasc. 7, T 36.765b14–20, c1–4; fasc. 8, T 36.771a24–27; fasc. 10, T 36.782a12–14; fasc. 29, T 36.924b6–7, b11–21.  10Xin lun, fasc. 29, T 36.922a15–18.  11Xin lun, fasc. 4, T 36.745c16–23; fasc. 14, T 36.808c27–29; fasc. 17, T 36.834b15–17; fasc. 18, T 36.838b4–14; fasc. 22, T 36.871a18–20, etc.  12Xin lun, fasc. 7, T 36.760b24–761a2. Here Li Tongxuan regards the scripture’s reference to the expanding realms of the Buddha worlds as the Buddha’s expedient means (Ch.fangbian 方便, Skt.upāya) to broaden the practitioners’ minds.  13Li Tongxuan repeatedly states that the true faith cannot be obtained with an attitude that seeks it outside one’s mind (Ch. xinwai jianfa 心外見法). See Xin lun, fasc. 8, T 36.768b16–17; fasc. 10, T 36.782b4; fasc. 14, T 36.808c29–809a1, 809b12, 809c22–24, etc. In a similar vein, Chinul criticizes the incorrect faith that postulates the existence of the Buddha outside one’s mind (simoe yubul 心外有佛). Here it is noteworthy that he quotes two passages from Fazang’s 法藏 (643–712) Huayan jing tanxuan ji 華嚴經探玄記 (fasc. 4, T 35.168b25–c4, 170a12–b22) and one passage from Zhiyan’s 智儼 (602–668) Huayan jing nei zhangmen dengza kongmu zhang 華嚴經內章門等雜孔目章 (fasc. 1, T 45.541a7–23), thereby giving a negative appraisal of Fazang. See Hwaŏmnon chŏryo, fasc. 2, HPC 4.822b19–823c3. Concerning Chinul’s critique of the traditional Huayan soteriology, Pak Chae-hyŏn (2002, 15–17) provides a suggestive overview.  14Xin lun, fasc. 32, T 36.942c1–7.  15Xin lun, fasc. 31, T 36.938b19–23. The chapter “Entering the Dharma Realm” of the Flower Garland Sūtra reaches its culmination when Sudhana’s body is united with Samantabhadra’s. But Li Tongxuan’s explication of the chapter does not give due attention to this dramatic scene and just emphasizes Mañjuśrī’s reappearance before Sudhana as a messenger to awaken him to the pervasive and time-transcending nature of the fundamental wisdom.  16Wŏndon sŏngbullon, HPC 4.725c9–726a4.  17Xin lun, fasc. 6, T 36.755a1–19.  18In the Hwaŏmnon chŏryo, however, Chinul quotes Li Tongxuan’s above critique of the dualism verbatim from theXin lun. See Hwaŏmnon chŏryo, fasc. 1, HPC 4.804b20–c15.


    As examined above, although the status of Chinul’s “third” gate is dubious, we can still ascribe the first and second gates to him. Considering the Hwaŏmnon chŏryo’s definite publication year (1207) and the controversy regarding the Wŏndon sŏngbullon’s authorship, we can attribute more authenticity to the former text and say that his second gate was formed through this text.

    It is a widely accepted view that the Xin lun exerted an enormous impact on the formation of Chinul’s second gate so that he was able to harmonize the scholastic and meditative traditions. Although the Xin lun was the “source text” of the Hwaŏmnon chŏryo, the authors of the two texts had different orientations and some modifications made in the latter text reflect such distinct characters. Since Li Tongxuan, the author of the Xin lun, was a layman, his exegesis of the Flower Garland Sūtra is distinct from previous commentary works written by scholar-monks in terms of its style and content.19

    For instance, he regards the number ten as a perfect one and presents a unique view that the Flower Garland Sūtra is to be construed in terms of ten places and ten assemblies (Ch. shichu shihui 十處十會).20 This schema is quite distinct from the views of other “orthodox” Huayan masters such as Fazang and Chengguan. In the case of Fazang, he pays attention to the fact that the Palace of Universal Illumination (Ch. Pu guangmin dian 普光明殿) is referred to as the place for the Buddha’s first attainment of enlightenment twice through the entire scripture. He then takes the second reference to the place as indicating the “double assembly” (Ch. chonghui 重會), thereby assigning it both to the second and seventh assemblies and establishes the theory of seven places and eight assemblies (Ch. qichu bahui 七處八會).21 If Fazang consults the sixty-fascicle version of the Flower Garland Sūtra, Chengguan comments on the newly translated eighty-fascicle version and takes note of one more case in which the same place is referred to. Thus he establishes the schema of seven places and nine assemblies (Ch. qichu jiuhui 七處九會).22 Unlike these two masters who take the scripture’s references literally, Li Tongxuan defines the Buddha’s wisdom and activities as something that transcends our spatiotemporal distinction and opposes such literal interpretations.23 While he does not acknowledge the second or third assembly at the Palace of Universal Illumination as a separate one, he divides the final chapter “Entering the Dharma Realm” into two parts and assigns two places and two assemblies to them. In this way he constructs the system of eight places and eight assemblies. He then adds to them one symbolic place that explicates the entire theme of the scripture and another place of the Third Dhyāna Heaven on the basis of the Sūtra of the Original Acts that Adorn the Bodhisattvas (Pusa yingluo benye jing 菩薩瓔珞本業經), thereby establishing the thesis of the ten places and ten assemblies.24

    Moreover, on the basis of his notion of the one true dharma realm, he adopts indigenous Chinese philosophies, as represented in the Book of Changes (Zhouyi 周易) and the yin-yang and five phases (Ch. wuxing 五行) theory, without any reserve. As his concept of the one true dharma realm does not allow one to distinguish the sacred from the profane, his unique exegetical strategy that adopts a secular text can be justified in so far as it serves to reveal the symbolic religious meaning of the Flower Garland Sūtra.

    In the case of his schemata of doctrinal classification (Ch. jiaopan 敎判), his unique appreciation of Buddhist scriptures sometimes results in forced interpretations. This is evidenced by his citations of some passages from the Saṃdhinirmocana-sūtra and the Vimalakīrti-nirdeśa, which are intended to highlight their provisional character. He thinks that these “provisional scriptures” are distinct from the scripture of the true teaching (Ch.shijiao 實敎), namely theFlower Garland Sūtra in that the latter makes an absolute affirmation of the present human condition, whether it is a sentient being’s consciousness or material form. His explication of those passages is, however, often based on an arbitrary reading in disregard of the whole context. For instance, he finds the Saṃdhinirmocana-sūtra’s implication of the ninth immaculate consciousness (Skt. amala-vijñāna) as a foundation of the other eight types of consciousness to be more advanced than the Prajñāpāramitā-sūtra’s transcendental language of emptiness (Skt. śūnyatā) and negative depiction of a sentient being’s body and mind. But he judges the Saṃdhinirmocana-sūtra’s establishment of the ninth consciousness as a separate realm from the eight types of deluded consciousness to be indicative of its provisional character. He thus considers the Laṅkâvatāra-sūtra’s straightforward identification of the pure consciousness or tathāgata-garbha with sentient beings’ eighth storehouse consciousness (Skt. ālaya-vijñāna) and the Vimalakīrti-nirdeśa’s affirmative attitude toward sentient beings’ feelings (Skt. vedanā) to be more excellent than the Saṃdhinirmocana-sūtra’s distinction of the pure from the impure.25 However, a critical reading of the Saṃdhinirmocana-sūtra and the Vimalakīrti-nirdeśa would reveal that his understanding of these texts cannot be warranted. As the former scripture does not explicitly establish the ninth realm of consciousness and the latter does not provide a unilateral affirmation of a sentient being’s physical and cognitive foundations, it is evident that Li’s interpretation of those passages is a forced one (Koh 2011, 239–40, 245–47).

    The abovementioned idiosyncratic features in Li Tongxuan’s exegesis may account for one of the reasons why he was ousted from the “orthodox” Huayan lineage. While his exegesis is insightful and intuitive, it sometimes lacks philo-logical precision and consistency.26

    But his idea of the human mind as being devoid of fixed nature should be considered genuinely Buddhist. His concept of “no nature” (Ch. wuxing 無性) or “no self-nature” (Ch. wu zixing 無自性, Skt. asvabhāva) has a close affinity with the Mādhyamika notion of emptiness (Sk. śūnyatā). There exists, however, a subtle difference between them in the use of the term “no nature.” Whereas Mādhyamika texts adopt the concept to explain sentient beings’ capability of transforming their current state of ignorance (Ch. wuming 無明, Skt. avidyā) or the interdependency of the realm of ignorance and that of enlightenment, Li’s text uses the notion of no nature to illustrate why they are unaware of their own immense potential. As he puts it, the immovable wisdom, which is a common existential foundation of sentient beings and the Buddha,27 has no discernible nature. Sentient beings thus do not know that they are endowed with the Buddha’s wisdom and tend to give rise to attachment, thereby experiencing immeasurable suffering. While the immovable wisdom’s elusiveness or lack of self-nature is responsible for the arising of delusion and suffering on the one hand, its flexibility accounts for the wisdom’s spontaneous response to the environment on the other hand. Once it encounters a certain condition such as suffering, it arouses aversion in the minds of sentient beings and leads them to seek a way to return to its original state, that is, the fundamental wisdom.28 Since the immovable wisdom has such a dual aspect of causing suffering and leading to enlightenment, Li compares it to a situation in which a person tumbles down because of the ground but again rises up relying on it (Ch.yin di er dao yin di er qi 因地而倒因地而起),29 which is also cited in Chinul’s works.30

    19Robert M. Gimmello (1983) provides a brief overview of Li Tongxuan’s background as a layman and his exegetical characteristics (327, 340, 379).  20Xin lun, fasc. 7, T 36.762b29–c1.  21Huayan jing tanxuan ji, fasc. 2, T 35.127c15–17, 125a18–20.  22Xinyu Huayan jing qichu jiuhui songshi zhang 新譯華嚴經七處九會頌釋章, T 36.710a10–23.  23Xin lun, fasc. 7, T 36.762a25–27.  24Xin lun, fasc. 4, T 36.743b10–19; fasc. 5, T 36.750c11–14; fasc. 7, T 36.761c23–762a12, 764c18–765a9; Pusa yingluo benye jing, fasc. 1, T 24.1015b24–c8.  25Xin lun, fasc. 1, T 36.722b11–c11. 722c23–723a15.  26It is said that a certain monk named Huiming 惠明 considered the Xin lun to be apocryphal and requested it to be burned. This episode illustrates that Li Tongxuan’s thought faced opposition from the established scholastic tradition (Kimura 2001, 371). See Song gaoseng zhuan 宋高僧傳, fasc. 22, T 50.854b3–4.  27Xin lun, fasc. 14, T 36.812c26–813a3. Here it is noteworthy that Li Tongxuan establishes the qualitative equality between sentient beings and the Buddha on the basis of the simile of a mote containing scriptures as vast as the trichiliocosm that appears in the chapter “The Tathāgata’s Manifestation” of the Flower Garland Sūtra. See Dafangguang fo huayan jing (hereafter Huayan jing), fasc. 51, T 10.272c7–273a3; Xin lun, fasc. 16, T 36.829b12–14; fasc. 32, T 36.941a22–24. Chinul is said to have been deeply moved by the same simile. See Hwaŏmnon chŏryo, “Sŏ,” HPC 4.767c14–17.  28Xin lun, fasc. 24, T 36.883b3–12; Hwaŏmnon chŏryo, fasc. 3, HPC 4.855a6–17.  29Xin lun, fasc. 14, T 36. 812b29–c1, 813a17–18 (for the scriptural origin of this passage, see Buswell 1983, 127n1).  30Kwŏnsu chŏnghye kyŏlsa mun, HPC 4.698a4–5; Hwaŏmnon chŏryo, fasc. 2, HPC 4.824a8–10.


    Most of the abovementioned doctrines discussed in the Xin lun are faithfully rendered in the Hwaŏmnon chŏryo. Since almost half of the entire volume of the Hwaŏmnon chŏryo is devoted to summarizing the “Doctrinal Essentials” (yogan 料簡) of the Xin lun, which consists of ten gates and runs to seven fascicles, it is evident that Chinul holds in high esteem Li Tongxuan’s overall understanding of the Flower Garland Sūtra. Some of Li’s unique interpretations of the Flower Garland Sūtra and other scriptures in the Xin lun are, however, curtailed to a large extent.

    At this point, it is difficult to determine whether Chinul omitted all of those passages in the Hwaŏmnon chŏryo due to his deliberate selection of theXin lun’s doctrines or just for brevity’s sake. But the Hwaŏmnon chŏryo contains one suggestive paragraph in which Chinul articulates his purpose of writing it. At the end of the “Doctrinal Essentials” portion in the text, he states that the essentials of contemplation for a neophyte (ch’osimin kwanhaeng yoryak 初心人觀行要略) will be revealed in the remaining part.31

    That he has such an aim is also implicit in the preface in which he recalls his 1185 experience of being challenged by a monk from the Hwaŏm school who asserted the superiority of the contemplation of the unobstructed interpenetration between phenomenal objects.32 As stated in the preface, Chinul has a strong conviction that one’s own mind is identical with the Buddha’s and intends to defend his Sŏn perspective against possible criticisms from the Kyo school. His efforts to secure a firm theoretical foundation for the Sŏn school’s tenets come to fruition with his encounter with the chapter “The Tathāgata’s Manifestation” of the Flower Garland Sūtra. The scripture’s message that every minute particle is endowed with the Buddha’s immeasurable qualities indeed conforms to the doctrines of the mind school (simjong 心宗, i.e., the Sŏn school). But he finds Li’s Xin lun more apt for arousing initial faith in an ordinary practitioner’s mind because it straightforwardly identifies a sentient being’s seemingly deluded mind with the Buddha’s wisdom and even with the dharma realm itself.33 Thus, Chinul comes to evaluate the Xin lun as the most useful guide for educating his disciples belonging to the same “mind school.”

    Yet, it might be pointed out that such a strong self-awareness as a Sŏn monk is not germane to Li’s thought. Although Li’s soteriology and schemata of doctrinal classification have an element of sudden enlightenment and he is known to have inspired some of the Chinese Linji Chan 臨濟禪 masters,34 there is no evidence that he was affiliated with the established Buddhist denominations. Moreover, readers of the Xin lun often come across his critical comments on those practitioners who indulge in the contemplation of emptiness (Ch. kongguan 空觀), meditative concentration (Ch. ding 定, Skt. samādhi), and its concomitant tranquility (Ch.ji 寂, Skt. śānti). Here Li identifies these meditation-oriented practitioners as those who just seek the fundamental, non-discriminating wisdom, thereby contrasting them with another type of practitioners who arouse the discerning wisdom (Ch. chabie zhi 差別智) and vows (Ch. yuanli 願力, Skt. praṇidhāna) to liberate sentient beings.35

    We may attribute such a negative depiction of meditative practice to Li’s background as a layman. But a closer reading of the Xin lun would reveal that Li directs his criticisms only toward the practitioners of the three vehicles who lack the great compassion and salvific wisdom (Ch. zhi 智, Skt. jñāna) and gives a high appraisal of samādhi of the one vehicle which generates the Buddha’s wisdom without involving any artifice (Ch. wuzuo 無作).36 Therefore, it is clear that Li’s apparent low appraisal of meditative practice does not apply to Chan practitioners in general.

    In the case of the Hwaŏmnon chŏryo, Chinul omits some of Li’s negative descriptions of meditative practice.37 At first glance, this may appear to reflect Chinul’s deliberate selection of the Xin lun’s passages. In other words, Chinul as a Sŏn monk seems to be hard-pressed to accept the passages in which Li appears to hold the Sŏn practice in low esteem. But most of Li’s critiques of the meditative practice are just a repetition of that appearing in the previous part of the Xin lun and his remarks of the similar purport are only omitted in the latter half of the Hwaŏmnon chŏryo. Therefore, we should attribute this omission to Chinul’s editing strategies such as “avoidance of repetition,” which are implicit in the structure of the text.

    Here it is intriguing to see that while Chinul omits some of Li’s critiques of meditative practice, he faithfully quotes Li’s discourses on the one true dharma realm.38 As in the case of Li’s negative comments on those practitioners who seek buddhahood outside their minds, his critiques of those who indulge in the contemplation of emptiness and tranquility are based on the concept of the one true dharma. From the fact that Chinul makes frequent references to this notion, it is evident that he finds this concept to be palatable to Sŏn soteriology. He also finds Li’s notion of wisdom of no nature to be a plausible explanation of the origins of delusion and process of liberation, which can be seen from his verbatim citations from the Xin lun’s passages.39 Thus, we may state that although Chinul sometimes leaves out Li’s critiques of meditative practice, he accommodates the fundamental theoretical framework of Li’s philosophy and soteriology in the Hwaŏmnon chŏryo.

    As examined above, Chinul’s removal of some of the negative comments on meditative practice appearing in the Xin lun cannot be considered an example of his deliberate selection of Li’s thought. The same can be said of Chinul’s deletion of some of Li’s problematic interpretations of the scriptures appraised as “provisional teachings.” When Chinul introduces Li’s schemata of doctrinal classification, for instance, he quotes Li’s presentation of the Saṃdhinirmocana-sūtra’s as a scripture that upholds “ninth immaculate consciousness.” At the same time, he does not include Li’s unique interpretation of the scripture in which he erroneously divides the term “dharma-abiding wisdom” (Ch. fazhu zhi 法住智, Skt. dharma-sthiti-jñāna) into two parts and identifies “wisdom” (Ch. zhi 智) as a support (Ch. yizhi 依止) of a sentient being’s consciousness.40 This one example is, however, still insufficient to corroborate that Chinul is aware of the flaws in Li’s exegesis. As stated above, the Hwaŏmnon chŏryo’s portion of “Doctrinal Essentials,” in which Li’s schemata of doctrinal classification are included, occupies about a half of the entire text and some omitted parts of the Xin lun do not necessarily indicate the author’s selective abridgement.

    Concerning Chinul’s appraisal of the Saṃdhinirmocana-sūtra, however, Kimura Kiyotaka (1988) has conducted a detailed philological comparison of the Xin lun text with its redacted or shortened editions and presented a different opinion. According to his comparison of the text in question with the corresponding passages appearing in its revised version Dafangguang fo huayan jing helun 大方廣佛華嚴經合論 and its abridged versions such as Chinul’s Hwaŏmnon chŏryo, Fangze’s 方澤 (d.u.) Huayan jing helun zuanyao 華嚴經合論纂要, and Li Zhi’s 李贄 (1527–1602) Huayan jing helun jianyao 華嚴經合論簡要, Chinul’s text adheres most faithfully to Li Tongxuan’s original. At the same time, it reveals, Kimura maintains, Chinul’s own concern for the existential condition of ordinary people, for the author omits Li’s criticism of the spiritual limits of a higher bodhisattva mentioned in the Saṃdhinirmocana-sūtra (226–230). But this omission cannot be counted as a case that exemplifies Chinul’s unique soteriological vision, for the same concern for ordinary people is also discernible in Li Tongxuan’s text.

    Should we then say that the Hwaŏmnon chŏryo does not contain any unique element of Chinul’s thought? Or does Chinul just epitomize Li’s philosophy as expressed in the Xin lun without being aware of his errors and forced interpretations? With regard to this issue, it is intriguing to find Chinul’s remark on the Xin lun in which he ascribes one of the text’s evident errors to a certain Chinese monk named Guangchao 廣超 who is said to have first transcribed the draft of the Xin lun.41 Since Chinul’s comment on Guangchao concerns Li’s problematic explication of the chapter “Eulogies in the Palace of the Tuṣita Heaven” (Dushuaitiangong jizan pin 兜率天宮偈讚品), it is necessary to go over the Xin lun’s context.

    As mentioned in the previous section of this paper, Li aims at explicating the profound religious symbolism underlying the Flower Garland Sūtra’s literary trope.42 Thus, his exegesis is extremely keen on the directional and numeric implications of certain words. Concerning the scripture’s symbolism, he induces the reader to ponder over the textual structure in which a group of bodhisattvas and buddhas share a specific word in their titles. In the chapter “Names of the Tathāgata” (Rulai minghao pin 如來名號品), for instance, ten bodhisattvas with the common word “chief” (Ch. shou 首) in their titles come from the ten worlds that share the word “color” (Ch. se 色). These bodhisattvas are also accompanied by ten buddhas whose titles share the word “wisdom” (Ch. zhi 智). Since Li correlates the Buddha Immovable Wisdom (Ch. Budong zhi fo 不動智佛)—the first of the ten Wisdom Buddhas—with the stage of the initial faith and assigns the utmost soteriological significance to this stage, he provides a detailed exposition of why this specific Wisdom Buddha is associated with a specific direction and color (see Table 1).43

    When he explicates the chapter “Eulogies in the Palace of the Tuṣita Heaven” in which ten Banner (Ch. chuang 幢) Buddhas represent the buddhahood acquired through the practice of the ten dedications (Ch.huixiang 廻向, Skt. parinamana), however, he erroneously identifies this common word for those buddhas as “Wondrous” (Ch. miao 妙) and correlates it with the buddhahood of wondrous use (Ch. miaoyong 妙用) which is realized in the next stage of the ten grounds.44 Although he intends to emphasize the axial status of the ten dedications and the stage’s substantial identity with the next stage of the ten grounds in this context, it is obvious that his explication is based on an incorrect reading of the scripture. But as mentioned above, Chinul attributes this error to the transcriber Guangchao and reproaches him for confusing the worlds (i.e., those buddhas’ abodes) with their titles. Here it is noteworthy that Chinul reconciles the Xin lun’s discrepancy with the Flower Garland Sūtra by quoting from Li’s own remark, “A wise man identifies the wondrous use, which is the quality of wisdom (i.e., the Buddha), as the world (i.e., the abode)” (Ch. zhiren yi zhide miaoyong wei shijie 智人以智德妙用爲世界).45

    The above defensive statement on behalf of Li Tongxuan, however, does not mean that Chinul approves every detail of Li’s exegesis. Unlike Li who frequently resorts to the yin-yang and five phases theory and the Book of Changes, Chinul rarely adopts the indigenous framework for the interpretation of the Flower Garland Sūtra’s directional references. When he explains the symbolism of Mañjuśrī and Samantabhadra, for instance, he accepts Li’s interpretation of the lion and the elephant, the two emblematic animals these bodhisattvas ride on.46 But he leaves out Li’s detailed explanation of the directions, colors, and trigrams (Ch.bagua 八卦) associated with them. Furthermore, he also omits Li’s lengthy presentation of such mythic animals as the black tortoise (Ch. xuanwu 玄武) of the north.47

    Moreover, when Chinul accepts Li’s notion of perfect interfusion between the three Buddhist saints (Ch. sansheng 三聖, i.e., the abovementioned two bodhisattvas and the Buddha Vairocana), he neither provides the rationale why the common appellations “youth” (Ch.tongzi 童子, xiaonan 小男) and “elder” (Ch. zhangzhe 長子) are applied to the two bodhisattvas nor resorts to the symbolic meanings of the trigrams as Li does in his exegesis.48 In the Hwaŏmnon chŏryo these common appellations are introduced five times. But Chinul refers to the trigram gen 艮 (☶)and associates it with Mañjuśrī’s abode in the northeast and his appellation “youth” only once in the third fascicle of the entire text where Li’s exposition of the chapter “Eulogies in the Palace of the Tuṣita Heaven” is summarized.49

    Unlike Li Tongxuan who introduces diverse symbolic meanings of the eight directions and their associated trigrams and offers a detailed analysis of their implications in Buddhist soteriology,50 Chinul seems to be reluctant to accom-modate such heterogeneous elements into his Buddhist exegesis. Even in the abovementioned passage in which Chinul quotes from theXin lun and refers to the trigram gen and identifies Mañjuśrī with a youth, we see his discreet attitude concerning the adoption of indigenous philosophy. At first reading of the passage, it may appear that he is simply conjuring the traditional associations attached to the bodhisattva, such as the northeast, Mt. Qingliang 淸凉, the trigram gen, etc. It is important to note, however, that Chinul concludes the passage by quoting Li’s significant statement that just as this sacred abode of the bodhisattva belongs to the human realm (Ch. yanfuti 閻浮提, Skt. Jambudvīpa), so the Buddha’s wisdom is not separate from sentient beings’ present afflictions (Ch. xianxing 現行, Skt. samudācāra) and discrimination (Ch. fenbie 分別, Skt. vikalpa).51 Thus, it is evident that Chinul is more interested in Li’s vision of the one true dharma realm than in his intuitive exegesis which is based on non-Buddhist texts. Chinul’s disregard of indigenous philosophy can also be seen from his omission of Li’s exposition of the second through fifth Banner Buddhas in which the symbolic meanings of such trigrams as gan 坎 (☵), xun 巽 (☴), anddui 兌 (☱) are illustrated.52

    In addition to Chinul’s omission of the indigenous references, the Hwaŏmnon chŏryo’s deletion of negative descriptions of monks appearing in the Xin lun is noteworthy. When Li Tongxuan explicates the Flower Garland Sūtra, he pays meticulous attention to Sudhana’s spiritual mentors (Skt. kalyānamitra) appearing in the final chapter “Entry into the Dharma Realm.” He then links their social background and sex with their soteriological status.

    According to Li, ten of the fifty-three spiritual mentors representing the stage of the ten grounds are goddesses, whereas ten symbolizing the stage of the ten dedications are of two sexes and diverse social backgrounds.53 Concerning the relationship between the two stages, he maintains that while practitioners in the latter stage endeavor to harmonize wisdom with compassion, those in the former stage deeply expand and perfectly accomplish wisdom and compassion.54 In other words, while Li assigns a pivotal role to the stage of the ten dedications, he entrusts the realization of the stage’s ultimate purport to the next stages of the ten grounds and the eleventh ground (i.e., the equal enlightenment, Ch. dengjue等覺). Moreover, as he reads the scripture’s soteriological import of great compassion from its reference to the female characters, he gives a relatively low appraisal of the stage represented by male characters. Thus, when he explicates the chapter “The Ten Dedications” (Shi huixiang pin 十廻向品), Li points out that practitioners in the previous stage of the ten practices (Ch. shixing 十行) tend to have an intention to transcend the mundane realm and lack great compassion. He then states that this lack of compassion is symbolized by the monks in the stages of the first abiding and the first practice.55 In a similar vein, he maintains that although the practitioners in the stage of the ten dedications are emblematic of great compassion, they have yet to expand their minds. He thus contrasts the “incompleteness” of the ten dedications with the pure devotion and great compassion of the next stage of the ten grounds, which is symbolized by Sudhana’s ten female spiritual mentors, namely the nine goddesses and Gopā (i.e., Yaśodharā).

    In Chinul’s summary of the Xin lun, however, such deprecation of male priests is deliberately deleted and only Li Tongxuan’s comment on the previous stage and his definition of dedication as benefiting worldly beings are briefly quoted.56 When Chinul summarizes Li’s explication of the stage of the fourth dedication, he indeed makes verbatim citation from the Xin lun. Here a nun (Skt. bhikṣuṇī) is said to denote the compassionate mind which constantly follows those in suffering without losing the purity of wisdom.57 But from the fact that he omits the negative symbolism of a monk (Skt. bhikṣu) in another context where the chapter “The Ten Grounds” (Shidi pin 十地品) is explicated,58 we may guess that he is hard-pressed to follow Li’s low appraisal of male practitioners.

    Chinul’s omission of the negative depictions of a monk is also reflected in his restricted references to the female characters in the Flower Garland Sūtra. For instance, in the explication of the first ground (i.e., huanxi di 歡喜地, Skt. pramuditā-bhūmi), Chinul introduces Li’s definition of the goddess and highlights the female virtue of the middle way and compassion.59 In the summary ex-planation of the second ground (i.e., ligou di 離垢地, Skt. vimalā-bhūmi), however, he leaves out Li’s remark of the goddess as a symbol of compassion and just emphasizes the deity’s role as a night guardian and the location of her abode in the place of enlightenment (Ch. buti chang 菩提場, Skt. bodhimaṇḍa).60 Likewise, except for the two cases in which Gopā and Queen Māyā are mentioned as Sudhana’s spiritual mentors of the tenth and eleventh grounds,61 Chinul is silent about the scripture’s female symbolism.

    Besides Li’s unique interpretation of directional references and female symbolism, his intuitive explication of numerical references in the Flower Garland Sūtra is also accommodated in Chinul’s text to a restricted extent.

    In Li’s interpretation of the term sanmei 三昧 (i.e., the Chinese transliteration of the Sanskrit word samādhi), for instance, this word is divided into two parts of “three” (Ch. san) and “darkness” (Ch. mei); the two parts are then given the meanings of “correct” and “meditation” respectively. Here Li justifies the association of “three” and “correct” on the basis of the symbolism of the tidal hexagram tai 泰 (  ) which has three yang 陽 and denotes the first “correct” month (Ch. zhengyue 正月).62 But such an autochthonous interpretation of the Buddhist term is not contained in Chinul’s text. Instead, he introduces Li’s detailed explanation of such numbers as 110 and 70 which are charged with profound soteriological import. Here the number 110 in Li’s expression “dharma gates of 110 walled cities” (Ch. yibai yishi cheng zhi famen 一百一十城之法門) seems to have been inspired by the Flower Garland Sūtra’s passage that recounts Sudhana’s pilgrimage before his second encounter with Mañjuśrī. Thus, we may identify this number as symbolizing the entirety of Buddhist path as Li does in his exegesis.63 He also accepts Li’s rather forced analysis of the number 70 when he summarizes the Xin lun’s explication of the chapter “The Ten Concentrations” (Shiding pin 十定品). Here Li maintains that the number denotes the chapter’s message that the seventy advanced bodhisattvas after the stage of the ten grounds should practice the seven factors of enlightenment (Ch. qijue xinghua 七覺行華, Skt. sapta-bodhy-angāni) as well as perceptual recollection (Ch. xiangnian 想念) instead of meditative technique.64 This passage may be construed as implying that both Li Tongxuan and Chinul hold the down-to-earth application of wisdom in high esteem by underscoring the immense potential of the seemingly low-level practice such as perceptual recollection. In the case of the number 37, however, Chinul does not introduce Li’s interpretation of the number of the thirty-seven Storehouse (Ch. zang 藏, Skt. garbha) Bodhisattvas appearing in the chapter “The Ten Grounds” as symbolizing the thirty-seven aids to enlightenment (Ch. zhudao pin 助道品, Skt. saptatrimśad-bodhi-pakṣikādharmās).65

    From the above analysis, it becomes clear that Chinul accommodates Li Tongxuan’s exegesis of the Flower Garland Sūtra in a deliberate fashion. This selective abridgement of Li’s text is in most cases related to the issue of how to harmonize the indigenous or conventional wisdom with the Buddhist vision of practice. If Li freely adopts Chinese symbolism for the explication of non-Chinese Buddhist scripture, Chinul seems to be rather reluctant to follow Li’s leads. Such distinct exegetical orientations could be attributed to their different backgrounds as a layman and a professional practitioner.

    Besides Chinul’s reserved accommodation of the indigenous symbolism, his emphasis on particular chapters of the Flower Garland Sūtra merits a special attention. This rather broad issue on how to appraise the organization of the scripture could be better understood by examining the author’s intent as implied in the textual apparatus of the Hwaŏmnon chŏryo.

    As mentioned in the previous section of this paper, Kim Ch’ŏn-hak has conducted a statistical research on the Wŏndon songbullon and showed that the stage of the ten faiths is more emphasized than that of the ten abidings in that text. In the case of the Hwaŏmnon chŏryo, the author’s emphasis on the faith of ordinary practitioners is more readily discernible. In this text Chinul articulates his own views on Li Tongxuan and the Xin lun four times with the introductory phrase “Moguja wal” 牧牛子曰. In Chinul’s second comment he seems to acknowledge the incompleteness of an ordinary practitioner’s faith. On the basis of the fundamental equality between sentient beings’ ignorance and the Buddha’s wisdom, however, he concludes the passage by encouraging them not to be frustrated or conceited (pulgul pullam 不屈不濫).66 In addition to this one example, the Hwaŏmnon chŏryo’s organization clearly attests to Chinul’s deep concern for the stage of the ten faiths. In the Xin lun Li identifies the theme of the Flower Garland Sūtra’s second through sixth chapters as “Manifestation of the Effect and Recommendation of Practice” (Ch. shiguo quanxiu 示果勸修) and that of the seventh through twelfth chapters as “Accomplishing the Mind of Faith” (Ch. xinxin chengbei 信心成備).67 In the Hwaŏmnon chŏryo Li’s explications of the chapters related to the first of these two themes are considerably shortened as compared to those related to the second theme (see C. Pak 2002, 13).

    Another important point to be noted concerning the structure of the Hwaŏmnon chŏryo is Chinul’s relative disregard of the first chapter “Wondrous Adornment of the Worldly Leaders” of the Flower Garland Sūtra. As stated in the above section, Li Tongxuan associates this chapter with the perfected buddha-hood that gives rise to ardent faith or confidence in the practitioners’ minds. Since Li thinks that the chapter’s references to a number of bodhisattvas, gods, and kings have a profound religious significance, he establishes systematic correlations between those Buddhist deities and the stages of practice. In Chinul’s abridge-ment, however, this passage is entirely left out.68 This omission can be ascribed to Chinul’s emphasis on faith that is realized in actual practice. Therefore, Chinul’s seemingly unbalanced treatment of the topics of the Flower Garland Sūtra should be understood as denoting his deep concern for ordinary practitioners who just arouse initial faith and endeavor to attain final enlightenment. While Chinul’s relative emphasis on the stage of the ten faiths does not deviate much from the fundamental position of Li’s soteriology, his disregard of the rich symbolism of the Flower Garland Sūtra is clearly different from Li’s text.

    31Hwaŏmnon chŏryo, fasc. 2, HPC 4. 819a20–22.  32Here it is to be noted that although both Sŏn and Kyo practitioners use the same term “contemplation” (kwan 觀), their connotations are not identical. Practitioners of the Kyo school seek to contemplate the metaphysical principle of interrelatedness, whereas Sŏn masters like Chinul aim to discern the substance and function of one’s mind (pyŏn sim chi ch’eyong 辯心之體用).  33Hwaŏmnon chŏryo, “Sŏ” (Preface), HPC 4.767c4–768a14.  34Kojima Taizan’s (2001) study analyzes Li Tongxuan’s influence on the representative Linji Chan master Juefan Huihong 覺範慧洪 (1071–1128).  35Xin lun, fasc. 6, T 36.755c13–19; fasc. 18, T 36.838b4–14; fasc. 24, T 36.882c1–3, 888c25–889a1, etc.  36Xin lun, fasc. 17, T 36.834c3–23.  37Of the four passages listed in note 35, the Hwaŏmnon chŏryo quotes only the first passage appearing in the sixth fascicle of the Xin lun. See Hwaŏmnon chŏryo, fasc. 2, HPC 4.805c8–15.  38Xin lun, fasc. 1, T 36.722c7–11; fasc. 2, T 36.730b1–5; fasc. 4, T 36.740b3–10, c14–16; fasc. 7, T 36.762b23–26. Compare the five passages with Hwaŏmnon chŏryo, fasc. 1, HPC 4.771a21–b2, 780a7–12, 790b4–11, c8–10; fasc. 2, HPC 4.814a4–8.  39Hwaŏmnon chŏryo, fasc. 2, HPC 4.824a4–8; fasc. 3, HPC 4.856a6–17. Compare the two passages with Xin lun, fasc. 14, T 36.812b24–28; fasc. 24, T 36.883b3–12.  40Hwaŏmnon chŏryo, fasc. 1, 770c10–771a4. At the end of this quotation Chinul leaves out a line of citation from the Saṃdhinirmocana-sūtra which is included in the Xin lun. See Xin lun, fasc. 1, T 36.722b13–23; Jie shenmi jing 解深密經, fasc. 1, T 16.692c8–11.  41Hwaŏmnon chŏryo, fasc. 3, HPC 4.849a7–18. For Guangchao’s 774 discovery of the Xin lun, see “Li zhangzhe shiji” 李長者事跡 (A Record of Elder Li) attached to the Dafangguang fo huayan jing helun, fasc. 1, X 4.7c9–12.  42Li Tongxuan defines the purport of the Flower Garland Sūtra as “revealing the truth through phenomenal objects” (Ch. tuoshi biaofa 託事表法, jishi biaofa 即事表法,yishi biaofa 以事表法). See Xin lun, fasc. 5, T 36.748a19, 752a3; fasc. 11, T 36.790c14, etc.  43In Li Tongxuan’s explication of this chapter, the east (i.e., the abode of the Buddha Immovable Wisdom) is given the utmost significance. For Li’s correlative explanation of the east and the initial faith of a practitioner, see Xin lun, fasc. 14, T 36.813b6–20.  44Xin lun, fasc. 22, T 36.868b19–26.  45Hwaŏmnon chŏryo, fasc. 3, HPC 4.849a18–23; Xin lun, fasc. 20, T 36.855c18–19.  46Hwaŏmnon chŏryo, fasc. 1, HPC 4.794b3–7; Xin lun, fasc. 4, T 36.745a23–b25.  47In the Hwaŏmnon chŏryo the Xin lun’s rather extensive passage dealing with the two bodhisattvas’ abodes and the four legendary animals of the Chinese constellations (fasc. 4, T 36.745a25–b24) is completely left out. But in a different context that concerns the seventh dedication and the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara, Chinul adduces Li’s explanation of the white tiger (Ch. baihu 白虎), a mythic animal associated with the west, in order to emphasize the salvific value of compassion. See Hwaŏmnon chŏryo, fasc. 3, HPC 4.845b9–11; Xin lun, fasc. 21, T 36.863b10–12.  48For Li Tongxuan’s correlation of these appellations with the two bodhisattvas, see Xin lun, fasc. 14, T 36.814a17–25; fasc. 3, T 36.839b10–14.  49See Hwaŏmnon chŏryo, fasc. 1, HPC 4.768c15–17, 789b7–10, 794a23–b3; fasc. 2, HPC 4.824a17–b2; fasc. 3, HPC 4.839b4–10.  50For instance, Li Tongxuan associates the trigram kun 坤 (☷) of the southwest with the perfection of expedient means (Skt. upāya-pāramitā) and the trigram quan 乾 (☰) of the northwest with the perfection of vow (Skt. praṇidhāna-pāramitā). See Xin lun, fasc. 14, T 36.816a28–b7, b14–19. In addition to the trigrams, he sometimes resorts to the implication of hexagrams such as guan 觀 () and xun 巽 (). See Xin lun, fasc. 15, T 36.815c10–23.  51Hwaŏmnon chŏryo, fasc. 3, HPC 4.839b4–10; Xin lun, fasc. 20, T 36.856a18–24.  52Hwaŏmnon chŏryo, fasc. 3, HPC 4.839a15–22. Compare the Hwaŏmnon chŏryo’s succinct summary with the Xin lun’s extensive analysis of the other Banner Buddhas. See Xin lun, fasc. 20, T 36.855a20–856a13.  53Xin lun, fasc. 22, T 36.868b26–29.  54Xin lun, fasc. 19, T 36.850c2–4, 851b28; fasc. 22, T 36.868c1–3.  55Xin lun, fasc. 20, T 36.856c7–18.  56Hwaŏmnon chŏryo, fasc. 2, HPC 4.839c12–840a2.  57Hwaŏmnon chŏryo, fasc. 2, HPC 4.842b23–c14; Xin lun, fasc. 21, T 36.860b19–c2.  58Hwaŏmnon chŏryo, fasc. 3, HPC 4.856b15. Here the Xin lun passage that discusses the negative implications of male characters (fasc. 24, T 36.884b17–c5) is shortened with the phrase “unun.”  59Hwaŏmnon chŏryo, fasc. 3, HPC 4.850c2–851a1; Xin lun, fasc. 22, T 36.873b3–13. In this passage we find an exceptional case in which Chinul introduces the indigenous symbolic association of the yellow color with earth, one of the five phases.  60Hwaŏmnon chŏryo, fasc. 3, HPC 4.858a6–18. Compare the passage with Xin lun, fasc. 24, T 36.886b9–25.  61Hwaŏmnon chŏryo, fasc. 3, HPC 4.862b3–c3, c4–11; Xin lun, fasc. 28, T 36.913b22–c20, c20–26.  62Xin lun, fasc. 26, T 36.898c25-899a9.  63Hwaŏmnon chŏryo, fasc. 3, HPC 4.852c14–17; Xin lun, fasc. 23, T 36.879a27–29; Huayan jing, fasc. 80, T 10. 439b6–9.  64Hwaŏmnon chŏryo, fasc. 3, HPC 4.864a17–b19; Xin lun, fasc. 29, T 36.923b20–924a26; Huayan jing, fasc. 40, T 10.211c17–28.  65Xin lun, fasc. 5, T 36.750a12–21; fasc. 22, T 36.871b15–20; fasc. 23, T 36.878a10–12, c12–15.  66Hwaŏmnon chŏryo, fasc. 2, HPC 4.826a7–11.  67Xin lun, fasc. 7, T 36. 763b4–c15; fasc. 8, T 36.766b13–19.  68Here the Hwaŏmnon chŏryo introduces the Xin lun’s thesis that the Buddha’s manifestation in the world (Ch. chushi 出世, chuxing 出興) is not to be understood from sentient beings relative perspective bound by their spatiotemporal distinction (fasc. 2, HPC 4. 819c5–820a2). Although this part corresponds to the Xin lun passage (fasc. 9, T 36.773c9–23), Li’s systematic overview of the Buddhist deities and their association with the stages of practice in the Xin lun (fasc. 10, T 36.780c2–781a29) is not included.


    As we have seen above, the Hwaŏmnon chŏryo has some peculiar elements that distinguish the text from its source text Xin lun. These distinctive characteristics inform us of Chinul’s concern predicated by his own times.

    We have seen that Chinul omits some of Li Tongxuan’s negative depictions of meditative practice and male practitioners in his text. We may ascribe this omission to the different social status of the two exegetes. It may seem that Li Tongxuan’s social status as a layman enabled him to direct open criticisms toward the professional meditative practitioners, most of whom are male and intent on meditative perfection, whereas Chinul’s position as a leading Sŏn monk prevented him from emphasizing the futility of meditation.

    As noted above, however, we do not have sufficient philological evidence that corroborates the assumption that Chinul intentionally omitted Li’s negative comments on meditative practice. But in the case of the rich symbolism of the Flower Garland Sūtra related to the directional references, female characters, and numeric references, we do have many cases that support the thesis that Chinul’s reluctance to accommodate Li’s autochthonous exegesis could be ascribed to his position as a professional Sŏn monk.

    Yet, our comparative analysis of the two texts has shown that they have more features in common than in opposition. Li’s thesis of the one true dharma realm and his emphasis on the faith of ordinary practitioners are faithfully integrated into Chinul’s summary of the Xin lun. Moreover, Li’s fundamental soteriological framework, which defines the human mind as being devoid of fixed nature and stresses salvific engagement in the mundane realm, is readily discernible in the Hwaŏmnon chŏryo.

    Moreover, although Li’s critiques of practitioners who have an escapist spirit and are intent on transcendental meditation are not fully accommodated in Chinul’s text, the former’s critical attitude toward the contemporary religious circle is also shared by the latter.69 In this respect, we may state that Chinul found Li’s text, which was disregarded by both of the mainstream Kyo and Sŏn schools, to be a useful catalyst for the “religious reform” movement of his times.

    69See Kwŏnsu chŏnghye kyŏlsa mun, HPC 4.698a19–22. We cannot rule out the possibility that Li Tongxuan’s text could have attracted Chinul’s attention simply because the same text was in vogue among his contemporary Chinese Chan masters. I would like to express gratitude to Robert E. Buswell, Jr. for his suggestion of this possibility.

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  • [Table 1.] List of Bodhisattvas and Buddhas Appearing in the Flower Garland S?tra
    List of Bodhisattvas and Buddhas Appearing in the Flower Garland S?tra