Rethinking Scripture Essays From A Comparative Perspective

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Rethinking Rewritten Scripture

Composition and Exegesis in the 4QReworked Pentateuch Manuscripts


The Qumran discoveries have demonstrated that much of the earliest interpretation of Hebrew Scripture was accomplished through rewriting: production of revised editions of biblical books, or composition of new works drawing heavily upon Scripture for their organization and content. This study advances our understanding of the nature and purpose of such rewriting of Scripture by examining the compositional methods and interpretive goals of the five Reworked Pentateuch manuscripts from Qumran Cave 4 (4Q158, 364–367). This analysis, along with a comparison of the 4QReworked Pentateuch manuscripts to the Samaritan Pentateuch and the Temple Scroll, provides a clearer picture of how early Jewish communities read, transmitted, and transformed their sacred textual traditions.
Publication Date:
14 February 2011

Biographical Note


Molly M. Zahn, Ph.D. (2009) in Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity, University of Notre Dame, is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Kansas. She specializes in early interpretation of Scripture, especially within the Qumran scrolls.
All those interested in early biblical interpretation, the development of the Hebrew Bible (especially the Pentateuch), the history of interpretation, the Qumran scrolls, or early Judaism.

Zen Inspirations: Essential Meditations and Texts
by Miriam Levering
published in London by Duncan Baird Publishing Co. in 2000,
published in German in Munich by Mosaik Verlag in 2000,
published in New York by Artisan in 2000. Republished in London in 2004.
Also published in French.

Zen Inspirations offers of the great Zen texts that bring insight and contemplation to busy, modern, 21st Century lives. From the complete koans of the Gateless Gate to a generous selection of haiku and other poems, they are not only thought-provoking and evocative but rich in beauty and paradox. The anthology includes work by the masters of the Golden Age of Zen as well as by contemporary Zen masters. Many of the translations are by Lucien Stryk, the esteemed poet and Zen practitioner, who has also contributed a foreword to the book. An illuminating and accessible introduction, written by Zen scholar Dr Miriam Levering, places the writings in context and explores key concepts. The photographs, carefully selected to go hand-in-hand with the texts, provide a magnificent visual backdrop. Embark on the path of Zen inspiration with this beautiful book.

Dahui Zonggao (1089–1163)
The Image Created by His Stories about Himself and by His Teaching Style

by Miriam Levering
In: Zen Masters, eds. Steven Heine and Dale Wright, Oxford University Press, New York, 2010, Chapter 4

This chapter focuses on the image of Zen (Chan) Master Dahui Zonggao (1089–1163) presented in the Dahui's Letters (Dahui shu) and the Recorded Sayings of Chan Master Dahui Pujue (Dahui Pujue Chanshi yulu) . Dahui Zonggao permanently transformed Chinese Chan Buddhism. First, he was strongly influential in blending Chan with Huayan Buddhist philosophy; second and most important, Dahui devised a meditation method that has been fundamental to Chan practice ever since, the kan huatou method. Dahui Zonggao's influence has been vast, and a considerable part of his lasting attraction and popularity can be attributed to the image of his forceful, fearless and caring personality and teaching style found in his records. It is high time that we examined these texts in terms of the image of Dahui, his insights and ideas, his personality, and his teaching methods, for it is through this image that his influence has been felt.

*[净居尼妙道 Jingju ni Miaodao (11th-12th c.)]

"Miao-tao and her Teacher Ta-hui," Chapter 6 in Buddhism in the Sung Dynasty, edited by
Peter N. Gregory and Daniel A. Getz, Jr. (Kuroda Institute Studies in East Asian
Buddhism 13, Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press), 1999, pp. 188-219.

During the Sung, Chan flourished as never before. Students from Japan and Korea flocked to its monasteries. Monks belonging to Chan lineages headed many of China's most prestigious Buddhist monasteries, and Chan practice and literature attracted interest and support from the educated elite. Chan monks and their lay supporters created comprehensive genealogical histories of their lineages, and large collections of the words and doings of earlier masters were compiled to aid Chan study. Chan teachers preached sermons, engaged in dialogue, and composed endless streams of Buddhist verse. After their death, and sometimes during their lifetimes, students gathered together these sermons, dialogues, and verses into discourse records (yu-lu), which circulated widely among literati and Chan students alike. Chu Hsi (1130-1200) is even said to have carried Ta-hui Tsung-kao's (1089-1163) discourse record in his satched on his way to the government examinations.
There were a significant number of Buddhist nuns in China during the Sung. A census in 1021 reported 61,240 nuns and 397,615 monks, [1] which would mean that nuns comprised silghtly over 13 percent of the monastic community in the early decades of the thirteenth century. Epigraphic and other evidence shows that many of these nuns were from elite families, although there are no statistics on their number. Yet for a long time in the Sung the official Chan genealogies show little trace of nuns or laywomen within the ranks of the various Chan lineages. There are no "matriarchs" in Chan's highly mythologized history from its origins in India down to the Sixth Patriarch in the beginning of the eight century in China. The first and most influential Sung genealogical history, the Ching-te Record of the Transmission of the Flame (Ching-te chuan-teng lu), which was completed in 1004 and presented to the emperor in 1009, contains only one full biographical record of an enlightened woman teacher and lineage member, a nun named Mo-shan Liao-jan, who was a contemporary of Lin-chi I-hsuan (d.866) during the latter part of Tang dynasty (618-907).[2] One woman and 950 men have biographies in this text delineating the Chan lineages that were politically and institutionally relevant in the Sung. Thus, at the beginning of the Northern Sung (960-1127), Chan represented itself as an almost exclusively masculine preserve.
Throughout the Northern Sung a series of Chan genealogical histories were written, presented to the emperor, and included in the Buddhist canon. In the Southern Sung (1127-1279) the representation of the reality of men's and women's participation in Chan in the official genealogical histories began to change. In 1183 the compiler of the Outline of the Linked Flames (Lien-teng hui-yao) added for the first time the biographies of two Sung women to his imperially sanctioned lineage text. Both were abbesses of nunneries, and both were dharma heirs of Ta-hui Tsung-kao. Their names were recorded as Ping-chiang Fu Tzu-shou ni Miao-tsung chan-shih (1095-1170), "(资寿尼妙总禅师) the Chan teacher Miao-tsung of Tzu-shou Nunnery in Ping-chiang perfecture," and Wen-chou Ching-chu ni Miao-tao chan-shih, "(净居尼妙道禅师) the Chan master Miao-tao of the Ching-chu Nunnery in Wen-chou."[3] For the first time in an official, imperially sanctioned Chan genealogical history, two Sung women were recognized as masters of Chan, and what they were doing, teaching, and writing was recognized as Chan activity, Chan teaching, and Chan writing.
In the next genealogical history to appear, the Chia-tai Universal Record of the Flame (Chia-tai pu-teng lu) of 1204, the number of Chan women treated as full lineage members jumped from three to sixteen. The preface to this text made it clear that it was compiled to broaden its account of the lineage to include women and lay people whom previous compilers had left out.[4] The entries for the Chan teachers Miao-tao and Miao-tsung remained the most substantial, but now biographical entries containing awakening narratives, dialogues, and sermons appeared for a number of other abbesses of nunneries and laywomen. Some of those women had been active in the Northern Sung period and thus very likely were born before Miao-tao and Miao-tsung. The Chia-tai Universal Record ratified what a number of other less official texts by Chan lineage members in the Southern Sung also recognized, namely, that women had received and transmitted the flame of awakening.
This chapter will examine the life and teachings of the Miao-tao, one of the first two Sung nuns to be recognized as a Chan teacher and full lineage member. She was also known to her contemporaries and in subsequent genealogical histories as Ting-kuang ta shih (Great Teacher Light of Concentration). She was the firt person of either sex to experience a great awakening using a hua-tou under the guidance of the leading shaper of kan-hua (kung-an introspection) practice in the Lin-chi Chan lineage, Ta-hui Tsung-kao. As a result of her experience, she became Ta-hui's first dharma heir; an important teacher of women, and a participant in the early Southern Sung revival of Lin-chi Chan. She and her teacher Ta-hui blazed the way toward a more widespread acceptance of women teachers as a lineage members within Chan.
Miao-tao's story also sheds considerable light on a crucial turning point in Ta-hui's career, a moment in which he both formed his own distinctive teaching method and began to criticize those of others. Miao-tao's awakening thus played a central role in Ta-hui's life, as shown by the fact that he repeatedly told his listeners about it. Her awakening cnofirmed his belief that the examination of the hua-tou---the critical phrase of a kung-an---was the most effective way of precipitating an experience of enlightenment, and it thereby helped him consolidate his teaching method that came to be known as kan-hua chan. Later in his life Ta-hui said that Miao-tao's awakening in 1134 and the subsequent awakenings of thirteen others the following year shaped his approach to teaching from then on. The fact that Miao-tao awakened using Ta-hui's method after studying fruitlessly with one of the leading proponents of what Ta-hui called "silent illumination" (mo-chao) also contributed to Ta-hui's conviction that it was important to speak out against such "heretical" approaches to Chan practice.
Miao-tao's awakening was also important to women from Southern Sung society who wanted to study Chan. In addition to serving as an inspirational model, Miao-tao taught and possibly transmitted the dharma to women students.[5] As abbess and chief teacher in a series of nunneries, she helped to make monastic training under Chan tutelage available to women.

Miao-tao's Family and Childhood
There are two main sets of sources for Miao-tao's life and teachings.[6] The first comprises the biographical entries for her that appear in the Outline of Linked Flames, the Chia-tai Universal Record, and subsequent genealogical histories;[7] the second comprises the various accounts of her that appear in Ta-hui's writings.[8] While the sermons and dialogues collected in the genealogical histories display her character as a Chan teacher, the materials by Ta-hui reveal her spiritual struggle and experience of awakening. Even though scholars today are fortunate to have as much if not more information for Miao-tao as for most Chan teachers in the Sung dynasty, the nature of the sources only allow us to gimpse limited aspects of her life.
Miao-tao was a native of Yen-ping, a city to the west-northwest of Fu-chou in present-day Fukien province. She was the daughter of Huang Shang (1044-1130). Huang passed his chin-shih exam in 1082, taking first place among 1428 successful candidates that year.[9] Most of his official career was spent in different ministries at the capital. His highest post was at the head of the Ministry of Rites, to which he was appointed shortly after Hui-tsung's accession to the throne in 1101.[10] This post involved him in current debates about education and examinations, in which he seems to have been a reluctant supporter of the reformers's plan to promote schools as a means of choosing officials. He served as prefect of Fu-chou during the Cheng-ho period (1111-1118).
Huang lived during a time of heated political and intellectual controversy, when court life was dominated by factional disputes between the radical reformers led by Wang An-shih (1021-1086) and his followers and the conservative reformers led by Ssu-ma Kuang (1019-1086). Yet his career seems to have been little troubled by the turbulent events of his time, perhaps because his interests seems to have been more literary than political. Miao-tao's father's distinguished examination achievement and his successful career in the Nothern Sung must have been an important circumstance in which she formed her choices in life. Her access to training at Chan monasteries in the Fu-chou area under eminent male teachers in the Tsao-tung and Lin-chi lineages was probably not unconnnected to her father's career and social position.
Miao-tao's biography in the Chia-tai Universal Record begins: "When she was a child she lost interest in [worldly] pleasures. Every night she sat and forgot her self. Her father carefully observed her remarks and actions to see if there was even a slight weakness in them. When she reached the age of twenty, she received the robe of the sangha. She then went to visit various famous teachers."[11] This account suggests a child and adolescent girl with an usually strong religious calling. On the one hand, her father recognized her lack of interest in worldly pleasures and her deilght in meditation. On the other hand, daughters of prominent families were expected to devote themselves to marriage and family life. The passage implies that her father therefore did not want to let her pursue a career of monastic training unless he felt that her destiny clearly lay in that direction. He observed her words and behavior carefully and never found reason to doubt her calling. Thus she was allowed to become a nun at age twenty. This account of her youth also suggests that her father must have had some understanding of and sympathy for Buddhism.
Like many of his peers, Huang did not view Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism as demanding exlusive allegiance. A collection of his writings, Yen-shan chi (Mount Yen collection), includes poems in all the poetic genres as well as pieces in all of the other major genres required of the Sung literatus on various occasions. A large section is given over to essays on Confucian themes and explications of the classics, as befit a high official. A number of poems and other occasional writings are addressed to Buddhist monks or concern Buddhist institutions and thus yield glimpses of the ways in which Huang Shang's world and the world of Buddhists intersected. Huang's writings show an equal if not greater interest in Taoist themes. Indeed, it seems to be Taoist, rather than Buddhist, metaphysics that he tried to relate to themes from the classics.
Huang's writings on Buddhist subjects include a memorial biography for a highly accomplished Lin-chi abbot, who was also from Yen-ping, Tung-lin Chang-tsung (1025-1091).[12] Huang praised Chang-tsung for his conviction that Buddhism and Confucianism in no way conflict and told how highly respected officials and literati sought out conversation with the abbot on worldly matters. Two earlier pieces in the Yen-shan chi, one an "ancient style poem" (ku-shih) sending tea to the master and the other a letter in reply to one by Abbot Tsung, [13] show that Huang had enjoyed a cordial relationship with Chang-tsung.
Huang's "miscellaneous writings" (tsa-wen) contain a long invocation praising the arhats (Ching lo-han tasan wen).[14] He also wrote a series of poems on the six patriarchs of Chan [15] and a prayer on the occasion of a Buddhist nun named Chien taking up her duties as abbess of a nunnery.[16] Huang's interest in Buddhism is perhaps best revealed by some of the epitaphs he wrote for lay people, five of whom had strong Buddhist connections.[17] In the cases of three of the women (Miss Chen, Miss Lin, and Miss Yeh), their involvement with Buddhism is described at length. One man, Mr. Kuo, also had a very strong connection. The fifth case mentions that two daughters of a Mr. Chen became nuns. Both Miss Lin's daughter and a woman described in Miss Yeh's epitaph lived as celibate ascetics who did not marry and who served the Buddha. Miss Chen and Miss Lin are described as undertaking Buddhist practices diligently while they were wives and mothers.
The women and men whose involvement with Buddhism Huang describes in these epitaphs were from families with high social positions, largely with Yen-ping or Fu-chou connections. Their sons became chin-shih, and their daughters married chin-shih. The fact that they include women who became nuns and women who did not marry but pursued ascetic forms of life indicates that such options were socially acceptable in Huang Shang's world. Apparently at the highest levels of society in southeastern China during the Northern Sung a daughter's choice to become a nun could meet with a father's approval and support, even if that father maintained an outsider's stance toward Buddhism as a bureaucrat and a classically trained writer and scholar.

Miao-tao's Career as a Nun before Meeting Ta-hui
Both the Chia-tai Universal Record and Ta-hui note that Miao-tao visited various Chan teachers before meeting Ta-hui.[18] The only one of these who is named, however, is Chen-hsieh Ching-liao (1088-1151), with whom Miao-tao was studying at the large Chan monastery on Mount Hsueh-feng when Ta-hui began teaching in Fu-chou in 1134.[19]
At that time Ching-liao was already a highly successful teacher in the Tsao-tung lineage. A native of Szechwan, Ching-liao "left home" (chu-chia) in his eleventh year and received full ordination in his nineteenth. After studying Chan with different teachers, he experienced awakening under the Tsao-tung master Tan-hsia Tzu-chun (1064-1117),[20] an event that most likely occurred in his twenty-first year (1108). Ching-liao then continued his travels to study under other teachers. In 1113, he reached Chen-chou Chang-lu's monastery in Kiangsu, which was headed by the Yun-men Chan master Tsu-chao Tao-ho (1056-1123). In 1122, at the invitation of an official, he filled in for the ailing Tao-ho, and in the fifth month of 1123 Ching-liao officially became abbot of the monastery. In this inauguration ceremony he ritually honored Tan-hsia as his teacher, much to Tao-ho's chagrin.[21]
Once installed as abbot, Ching-liao invited his dharma brother Hung-chih Cheng-chueh (1091-1157), who likewise was to play a large role in the revival of Tsao-tung and the articulation of a distinctive Tsao-tung rhetoric, to serve as his head seat (shou-tso), which Huang-chih did for about a year. Ching-liao left Chang-lu Monastery in 1128 for a new post on Mount Pu-to, converting the monasterythere from a Vinaya to a Chan one. Hung-chih, who had become abbot at Chang-lu after Ching-liao departure, intended to follow him. Hung-chih was on his way to join Ching-liao in 1129, when he was asked to be abbot of the large Chan monastery on Mount Tien-tung. Ching-liao left Mount Pu-to in 1130 to spend the summer retreat with Hung-chih at Mount Tien-tung. At the end of that year, Ching-liao became the sixteenth abbot of Chung-sheng Monastery on Mount Hsueh-feng in Fu-chou, where he stayed until 1136.[22] As in Chang-lu, he had extraordinary success; he was said to have had seventeen hundred students.[23]
As discussed in Chapter 4 by Morten Schlutter, Ta-hui was vehement in his criticism of Ching-liao and other twelfth-century Tsao-tung masters for their "heretical" teaching of "silent illumination." Yet, apart from Ta-hui's one-sided and polemical testimony, the question of what Ching-liao was teaching on Mount Hsueh-feng is not easy to answer.[24] The case of Miao-tao does, however, give credence to Ta-hui's claim that Ching-liao did not emphasize the importance of an experience of enlightenment.

Miao-tao's Study under Ta-hui
In the spring of 1134, soon after his arrival in Fu-chou, Ta-hui was invited by Chen-hsieh Ching-liao to visit Mount Hsueh-feng, where Ching-liao was abbot, and to give a sermon there.[25] In the summer of that year, Miao-tao broke her commitment to the three-month intensive training period (an-chu) at Mount Hsueh-feng to enroll in the summer retreat at Kuang-yin Monastery, where Ta-hui was a guest instructor. Ta-hui's account of these events suggests that it was the sermon he gave at Mount Hsueh-feng that promoted Miao-tao to join his community.
Miao-tao's meeting with Ta-hui occurred just at the time when he was beginning to come into his own as a forceful Chan teacher.[26] Ta-hui had come from an undistinguished background. After becoming a monk in his eighteenth year, he visited a succession of Chan teachers belonging to different lineages. He had two periods of intense exposure to Tsao-tung teachings.[27] Ta-hui stayed the longest with the Lin-chi teacher Chan-tang Wen-chun (1061-1115) of Jewel Peak in Hunan province. Although he taught extensively under Chan-tang, he never received certification from him. Ta-hui seems to have devoted the decade after Chan-tang's death largely to literary work and sutra study within the Chan school, but in 1125 he took advantage of an opportunity to continue his search for enlightenment under the guidance of Yuan-wu Ko-chin (1063-1135). Yuan-wu, most famous as the compiler of the Blue Cliff Record (Pi-yen lu), had decided the use of kung-an as a exercises for the display of literary skill and advocated their use in Chan training as a means of precipitating awakening.[28] Ta-hui experienced enlightenment while working on kung-an under Yuan-wu's guidance.[29] Following Ta-hui's awakening, Yuan-wu divided the teaching duties at Tien-ning Monastery with Ta-hui. Ta-hui attained enough fame that one of the very highest ministers, Lu Hao-wen (1064-1131),[30] successfully petitioned the emperor to grant Ta-hui a special name, Fo-jih (Buddha-sun).
Both Yuan-wu and Ta-hui fled to the south in the eighth month of 1126 as a consequence of the Jurchen takeover of the north, and both were unsettled for a time. Beginning in 1128 Ta-hui served as head monk and chief teacher under Yuan-wu at Yun-chu in Kiangsi.[31] He was thus in a situation where he could well have become aware of the teaching methods and poetic instructions of two of the prominent Tsao-tung teachers, Chen-hsieh Ching-liao and Hung-chih Cheng-chueh.
In 1130 Ta-hui left to head a small retreat monastery (an) of his own in Kiangsi to polish his training, teach a few students, and write his own comments on the dharma expressions of earlier masters. He chose a spot where he found evidence that Yun-men, an earlier teacher whom he greatly admired, had lived and called it Yun-men Cloister. Ta-hui left Kiangsi in the second month of 1134, and he arrived at the Kuang-yin Monastery in the third month.[32]
Ta-hui discusses Miao-tao's motivation for leaving Ching-liao in several places. In a sermon Miao-tao sponsored at Kuang-yin Monastery in 1134, Ta-hui says: "Recently the senior (shang-tso)[33] [nun] Miao-tao came from [Mount] Hsueh-feng and asked three times to enter my chamber [for instruction], saying: "It is because "death follows life with terrible speed, and the samsaric cycle of birth and death is a matter of great urgency." [34] I am not yet clear about myself, and therefore I wish to beg for instruction.'" [35]
In a later sermon Ta-hui says that when Miao-tao arrived and began to practice under him, "[she truly did not know that the investigation of Chan (tsan-chan) requires awakening (wu), so that on the last day of your life, in the Nirvana Hall [where dying monks are cared for] your attainment is effective---without that it is not Chan."[36] As he says in another sermon, Miao-tao's motive for coming to study with him was a suspicion that there might after all be such a thing as "awakening" (wu), as Ta-hui taught, contrary to the belief on which her practice at Mount Hsueh-feng was based: "In the past when [Miao-tao] was at Abbot Chen-hsieh Ching-liao's place, she also did not believe that there is such a thing as awakening. After I had been to Mount Hsueh-feng, one night at the evening instruction (hsiao-tsan) she suddenly had doubts about [this conviction]. She broke the summer retreat and came to Kuang-yin [Monastery]."[37] Ta-hui's accounts thus suggest that Miao-tao's decision to study under him was based on a suspicion that there might be something more to Chan than was available under Ching-liao.
In the sermon that Miao-tao sponsored in 1134, after some discussion of Chan study, Ta-hui comes to the topic of Miao-tao herself, how he has instructed her so far, and her reason for sponsoring the sermon:
Today [the senior nun Miao-tao] came to me, lit incense, performed a prostration, and said: "When I study supreme wisdom (prajna), I encounter many demonic obstacles. I want to invite you to raise up supreme wisdom this evening before all the assemblies of humans and gods as an act of repentance. My vow is that [thereby] all sentient beings in the dharmadhatu may attain sudden awakening and the very deepest supreme wisdom, and together [with me] repay the grace of the Buddha."
I said to her: "A ancient sage had a saying: 'Giving rise to a mind that fears [doing wrong] is difficult; manifesting goodness in the heart is difficult. To ferry others [to the other shore of nirvana] before you yourself have been ferried---that is to be a bodhisattva giving rise to the aspiration for enlightenment (bodhicitta). Having the wisdom to fear doing wrong and redirecting one's mind back to the Way---these also are rarely found.'" So I agreed to do as she asked and perform an act of repentance for her.[36]

As part of his explication of supreme wisdom, Ta-hui then discusses the empty, insubstantial nature of wrong acts, adding that, as long as delusion persists, there is still a need for confession and repentance. He continues:

Today the senior nun Miao-tao has put forth a thought that she wants to obtain directly the peerless Buddha fruit, bodhi. As soon as one raises this aspiration, all the wrong acts that one has commiteed are like dry grasses piled as high as Mount Sumeru, and the aspiration itself is like a mustard seed sized spark---they all can be burned up completely without any remainder.
Do you believe this? When this one thought has arisen, at that moment becoming a Buddha is already complete. Throughout all future time you will never retreat from it or lose it.... This one thought is equal to all the Buddhas of the three worlds, nondual with them and not different from them.
The Sanskrit word "sanma" means to regret past faults. It means to cut them off in your mind so that they do not continue. If you once regret them, you will never commit them again. Once this mental intention has been formed, it never retreats nor gets lost....
But the merit of raising the aspiration for enlightenment (bodhicitta) is vastly, incalculably less than the merit of having no mind....Being equal to the Buddhas of the three worlds is vastly less meritorious than understanding that there are no Buddhas of the three worlds to be equal to...that there is no birth and no death, no sage and no ordinary person, no other person and no self, and no Buddha and no dharma. If you can see it in this way, that is the real repentance.[39]
Miao-tao's request to sponsor a sermon as an expression of repentance suggests that she felt her lack of progress may have been based on a karmic obstruction (probably from a previous life). She must therefore have hoped that the force of her vow coupled with the merit accruing from the event would enable her to overcome whatever "demonic obstacle" was standing in the way of her awakening.
Ta-hui's dharma instruction (fa-yu) to Miao-tao provides a further clue to her concerns at the beginning of her study with him.[40] Ta-hui begins by summarizing an earlier conversation he had had with her and then proceeds to address Miao-tao's questions.
You, Miao-tao, Great Master of the Light of Concentration, asked me "Please point out the key (sheng-yao) to this mind and this nature, to delusion and awakening, to facing toward [awakening] and turning away [from awakening]." I didn't answer for a long time. When you asked again, I laughed and said: "As for the key, it cannot be pointed out to people. If it could be pointed out, it would not be the key." You said: "How can it be that you have no expedient means (fang-pien; upaya) to enable me to make progress [toward the goal of awakening]?"[41]
Miao-tao is here asking for some expedient by which to grasp the mind and the nature, the difference between deluded and awakened mind, and the difference between facing toward one's awakened nature and turning away from it. According to Ta-hui's account in another sermon, when Miao-tao first came to see him she insisted that "there is no delusion and no awakening." and that only after he had scolded her sharply did she see that she was wrong.[42] If this dharma instruction belongs to the summer of 1134, it seems as though, having been convinced by Ta-hui of the error of her previous understanding, Miao-tao is here groping for some means to grasp Ta-hui's new teaching, the key for understanding the distinctions she previously had been certain one should not make.
Ta-hui's dharma instruction is a remarkably clear exposition of his fundamental teachings; it also explain why he recommends practice with a hua-tou. In his answer to Miao-tao, Ta-hui goes on to explain on what level it makes sense to say that there is a difference between delusion and awakening and on what level it makes sense to say that there is none. He points clearly to the nature of awakened mind and the difference between the viewpoint of awakened mind and that of discriminating mind. On the ultimate level, "the mind is without delusion and awakening" and "the nature is without turning toward or turning away [from awakening]." On the level of ordinary experience, however, people are deluded, and their minds flow into wrong paths. Part of their delusion consists in their setting up and clinging to dichotomies like "delusion and awakening." Because people are deluded, confused, and turned around, their pure awakened original mind and nature produce delusions instead of awakened awareness. People at this point live in a dualistic "reality" of their own construction without realizing that their constructions do not refer to anything that is real on the ultimate level. Only a mind that is not dualistic can grasp the ultimate. If deluded mind tries to grasp the ultimate, it only creates a new dualism between the ultimate and something else.[43]
In the next section of the dharma instruction, Ta-hui seems implicitly to tackle the subject of the truth of the "silent illumination" teaching that Miao-tao had practiced before joining him. He quotes a passage from the Surangama Sutra (Shou-leng-yen ching) that could be used to uphold the notion that correct practice involves allowing an inner light of subtle illumination, which is given in the nature and is neither destroyed nor born, to illuminate all aspects of the consciousness.
Again, Buddha told Purna: "You use the characteristics of form and emptiness to overturn each other in the tathagatagarbha, which accordingly becomes form or emptiness and extends through the dharmadhatu....I take subtle illumination undestroyed and unborn, and merge it with the tathagatagarbha, so the tathagatagarbha is nothing but the light of subtle awakening shining throughout the dharmadhatu." The tathagatagarbha is this mind, is this nature. So Buddha was provisionally indicating that using form and emptiness to overturn and eliminate each other is wrong and that considering that subtle illumination undestroyed and unborn is right.[44]
Ta-hui indicates his qualified approval of this passage from the Surangama Sutra by commenting that taking it as setting forth an ultimate doctrine or an ultimately correct form of practice is to mistake the nature of the Buddha's instruction. The Buddha gives provisional teachings and practice instructions as medicines to cure certain maladies of deluded mind, he does not set forth ultimate teachings. One must understand a teaching by discerning how it addresses a certain malady within deluded mind, not by setting it up as ultimate. This teaching functions within the constructions set up by deluded mind.
Ta-hui goes on to say that the mind and the nature are indeed luminous and empty:
If views of delusion and awakening are done away with and interpretations of turning toward and turning away are cut off, then this mind is as lucid and clear as the bright sun and this nature is as vast and open as empty space; right where the person stands, he emits light and moves the earth, shining throughout the ten directions. Those who see this light fully realize the absolute truth that all things are unborn (anutpattikadharmaksanti). When you arrive at such a time, naturally you are in tacit accord with this mind and this nature.[45]
Ta-hui here teaches that the real "silent illumination" is the light that illuminates everything once the perspective of awakened mind is gained and delusion, with its oppositions between delusion and enlightenment, has been put to an end.
He goes on to make this point very clearly:
Only then do you know that in the past there was basically no delusion and that in the present there is basically no awakening, that awakening is delusion and delusion is awakening, that facing toward and turning away are identical, that the nature is identical to mind and mind is identical to the nature, that Buddhas are delusive demons and delusive demons are Buddhas. The one pure equality without any opposition of equal and not equal---all this is the constant endowment of one's own mind, not dependent on the skills of another.[46]

Ta-hui then adds that an understanding such as he has just offered is of limited use and can even be dangerous; it is better to understand such things and then set them aside in order to turn one's attention to the examination of a hua-tou. Apprehending the truth intellectually will not lead to awakening; for that one needs an expedient means. Ta-hui says:

Even so, it's from lack of any other choice again that I explain this. Don't immediately consider this [explanation] as being really true. If you consider it as really true, then you're ignorant of expedient means, accepting dead words as fixed, multiplying empty falsehoods, producing even more confusion---there will be no end to it.
When you get here, where there's no way to use your mind, it's better to understand such things, but put them to one side, and turn to look at the Great Master Ma-tsu's "Mind itself is Buddha," and "Not mind, not Buddha," and "It's not mind, it's not Buddha, it's not things"[47], or Chao-chou's "The cypress tree in the garden",[48] or Yun-men's "Mount Sumeru";[49] or Ta-yu's "Sawing apart the scale beam"; [50] or Yen-yang's "A lump of earth"; [51] or Fen-yang Wu-yeh's "Don't think falsely";[52] or Chu-chih's raising a finger[53]---ultimately, what principle is it? This, then, is my expedient means. Think it over, Miao-tao.[54]

In this dharma instruction Ta-hui tries to clarify for Miao-tao his view that the teaching that the mind silently and naturally illumines is a useful expedient within deluded mind as a counter to particular forms of delusion, but that the real personal discovery of the all-pervading illumination inherent to the mind comes only after a full awakening to nonduality. It cannot be invoked by deluded mind from within deluded mind. Ta-hui is thus trying to clarify for Miao-tao how to understand "silent illumination" practice correctly. Ta-hui also reveals his rationale for claiming that Ching-liao's and Hung-chih's "silent illumination" teaching risks causing students to mistake an expedient for an ultimate teaching, trapping practitioners within delusion rather than freeing them from it.
Ta-hui's dharma instruction ends up presenting a series of hua-tou to Miao-tao as the most effective way for her to resolve her quandary. His sermon delivered on the occasion of the repentance Miao-tao sponsored in 1134 further clarifies his instructions to her on how to work with a hua-tou.
I raised [for her] Ma-tsu's "It is not mind, it is not Buddha, it is not a thing" and instructed her to look at it.[55] Moreover, I gave her an explanation: "(1) You must not take it as a statement of truth. (2) You must not take it to be something you do not need to do anything about. (3) Do not take it as a flint-struck spark or a lightning flash. (4) Do not try to divine the meaning of it. (5) Do not try to figure it out from the context in which I brought it up. 'It is not the mind, it is not the Buddha, it is not a thing; after all, what is it (ho tso-ma sheng)?'"[56]
This passage is the earliest example of explicit hua-tou practice instruction to be found in Ta-hui's records and the first instance of his giving of a list of cautions to prevent the student from falling into wrong ways of carrying out this practice. A set of cautions that includes these five became a standard feature of Ta-hui's instruction throughout his life; a set of ten including four of these became codified in the tradition.[57] The very earliest example of Ta-hui's hua-tou practice instruction in general and of his standard instructions in particular is thus this set of instructions to Miao-tao. Miao-tao's success with these instructions must have been significant in confirming what became Ta-hui's characteristic approach to teaching.
In laying out how he thinks awakening occurs, Ta-hui stresses the importance of the expedient means of being confronted with and stymied by a question to which the student does not know the answer---a kung-an or hua-tou. He brings up two stories as kung-an for his audience to puzzle over. The first is the case of Hsiang-yen, who was awakened when he heard the sound of a pebble striking a bamboo. He had been blocked for years by having too much knowledge and being too sharp. Hsiang-yen only attained a great awakening after he had been given a question he could not answer, had been told that his teacher Kuei-shan (771-834) was not going to help him understand, and had then completely given up all Chan study.
Next Ta-hui tells the story of how the monk Chu-chih obtained his "one-finger Chan." When Chu-chih was living in a retreat hut the nun Shih-chi came in wearing her traveling hat. She circumambulated his rope bed and said: "If you can say something, I will take off my hat." Since he could not respond, she swished her sleeve and left. He called out: "Why don't you stay the night?" She said: "If you can say something, I will stay the night." He still could not say anything. After she had left, he said to himself, "I am a man (chang-fu), but I am still not the equal of a woman." So then he decided to burn the hut and descend the mountain to look for a teacher.[58] Ta-hui continues with the rest of the story, relating how a teacher comes to him, how Chu-chih is awakened when confronted by his teacher lifting a single finger, and how he teaches for the rest of his life by simply holding up one finger as his teacher had done. Posing these stories as kung-an to his audience, Ta-hui concludes: "What Chu-chih attained is not in his raising one finger. What Hsiang-yen attained is not in his striking the side of a bamboo. So tell me---where is it?"[59]
Ta-hui's sermon further shows his emphasis on the need for a sudden awakening and his castigation of the error of thinking that one can make progress withou it.
But how does one study Chan? One has to awaken suddenly (huo-jan) and directly have no mind; only then can you be joyful and at peace. If you do not awaken, then all you will be doing is mouthing a few phrases about emptiness, nonbeing, and quoting a few places where the ancients talk about nonbeing. In a mitaken fashion on the basis of this you will say: "I have obtained rest." I want to ask you---can you succeed in resting or not? That is using the mind to make the mind not exist. If you use the mind to make the mind not exist, the mind exists all the more. How can you then make it not exist? The ancient sages scoffed at this as the heresy of falling into nihilistic emptiness. You become [like] a corpse whose soul has not left iit. Slandering the great wisdom (Mahaprajna) is [a sin] from which you cannot remove the effect by repentance and reform. Even though your intention [to have no mind and become a Buddha] is a good karmic cause, it invites an evil karmic effect.[60]
In this statement Ta-hui clarifies what he thinks Chan study is, how enlightenment occurs, and why a practice---such as "silent illumination"---that aims at "resting" does not work. Ta-hui's fundamental teaching that formed the basis of his public career, both in its advocacy of hua-tou practice and in its criticism of silent illumination, finds an early expression in his dharma instruction for Miao-tao. With the defection of Miao-tao (and no doubt some of the other seventy-odd students at Kuang-yin Monastery) from Ching-liao's circle at Mount Hsueh-feng, Ta-hui marks the beginning of this lifelong effort to expose the error of all those approaches to practice that discount the importance of reaching a moment of awakening.
In this sermon Ta-hui does not use what I have elsewhere called the Sung Chan "rhetoric of equality."[61] He does not say in this early sermon, as he does in later ones (including the sermon for the three nun teachers in which he tells the story of Miao-tao's awakening), "This matter does not depend on benig male or female, nor on being noble or a commoner. If you once break through, you are shoulder to shoulder with the Buddha."[62] But Ta-hui explicitly affirms that Miao-tao, a women with sufficient determination, like men with sufficient determination, can study Chan successfully. At the end of the sermon he says: "Now the senior nun Miao-tao already completely possesses the will and determination of a great man (ta-chang-fu).[63] She has decided that she will study Chan." [64] Since "great man" is thus marked with masculine gender in Chinese, the statement, while praising Miao-tao, raises in mild, unaccentuated way the question of whether and how often anyone of Miao-tao's gender can form this kind of firm determination to master Chan.[65]
Nonetheless, if this statement does not encourage Miao-tao as a woman, Ta-hui's storytelling in the sermon does. Ta-hui's recounting of the story of the nun Shih-chi, who from her awakened awareness challenges the monk Chu-chih, also encourages Miao-tao by making the point that women monastics can and do attain a level of insight that enables them to challenge less awakened men.
Ta-hui frequently told the story of Miao-tao's awakening in sermons that he gave in the latter part of his life. The first instance is in the sermon sponsored by the three nun teachers.
At that time [during the summer of 1134] it was as hot as a stove bellows, and there were just a few more than seventy monks. They entered my chamber [for private interviews] twice a day. As for [Miao-tao], I instructed her to look at "It is not mind, it is not Buddha, it is not a thing."[66]
One time when the monastery librarian Kuang entered my chamber [for individual instruction], she was outside.[67] She listened and experienced a moment of joy. Suddenly one day she said: "I just heard you raise for librarian Kuang 'It is not mind, it is not Buddha, it is not a thing.' I already understand." At that time I asked her:"'It is not mind, it is not Buddha, it is not a thing' ---how do you understand?" She answered: "I just understand this way." Before she had finished speaking, I shouted "Ho!" and said: "There is one too many 'I just understand this way.'" She then for the first time got a glimpse.[68]
Ta-hui gives further detailed of Miao-tao's awakening in another sermon:
I instructed her to look at "It is not mind, it is not the Buddha, it is not a thing" and told her: "If you penetrate (tou) this successfully, you can stop studying." Further, I told her that in Szechwan there was a [woman named] Chi-shou tao-jen who studied with the old monk [Yuan-wu] at Chao-chueh Monastery [in Cheng-tu].[69] He instructed her to look at "It is not mind, it is not Buddha, it is not a thing---what is it?" This went on for a number of years without [her finding] an entrance. One day she told the old monk [Yuan-wu]: "I have looked at this saying (hua) and have not yet [found] an entrance. Do you have another expedient means?" The old monk said: "When I ask you, 'What is it?' make a comment." He then picked up the whisk and showed it to her, saying: "It is not mind, it is not Buddha, it is not a thing," leaving off the clause "what is it?" She suddenly understood.
I brought this kind of thing up to [Miao-tao]. One day...she got a moment of joy. She soon wanted to come to spit out [her understanding]. I saw that she wanted to open her mouth and shouted "Ho!" and said: "Wrong! Get out!" Why? Because I saw that what she had was not the real thing. For her heels had not touched earth. In this kind of moment, even though she had a moment of joy, as it says in the [canonical] teachings, "in front there is no new realization, and if one goes back, one has lost the old residence." The old cave hole had already been torn down by me, but in front of her there was no dewelling to live in. When one reaches this point, for the first time there is no gate through which to advance or retreat.
After a while she came again, bowed, and said: "I really do have entrance." You could say that I coddled her like a beloved child.[70] I stopped blocking her path and opened up a path in front of her. I asked her: "It is not mind, it is not a Buddha, it is not a thing. How do you understand this?" [She] said: "I only understand this way." Before the sound of her words had died out, I said: "You added in an extra 'only understand this way.'" She suddenly understood. In the several years since I became a head seat and took up teaching, she was the first [of my students] to succeed in investigating Chan (tsan-te chan).[71]
It is interesting to note that Ta-hui used a hua-tou with Miao-tao that he knew worked for a woman in the past. Not only that, he tells Miao-tao all about how his former teacher Yuan-wu had worked with his female disciple Chi-shou Tao-jen on the same hua-tou.[72]
After the summer retreat of 1134 was over, Ta-hui accepted an invitation from a layman to live at a newly built Yun-men Cloister in Yang-yu, in Fu-chou, southern Min prefecture. In a later sermon in which he looks back on this period of his life, Ta-hui notes:
Later I stayed at Yang-yu Monastery. Between the fifth day of the third month and the twenty-first day of the third month [of 1135], I brought to awakening in succession thirteen people.[73] Further, I received an eighty-four-year-old monk, whose name was "Elder of Great Compassion."[74] I asked him, "The one who is not a companion of the myriad things, what person is that?" He said: "I can't tell him by name." So then I asked: "The one who can't call him, what person is that? Hurry and tell me, hurry and tell me." He suddenly understood completely. Sweat poured off his back. Someone who from the beginning had absolutely no faith in awakening suddenly all at once awakened.[75]
This account concludes with a significant remark: "From this time on I began the practice of teaching everyone with hua-tou."[76]
Ta-hui's great successes with Miao-tao and with others the following spring at Yang-Yu Monastery were formative experiences in the development of the teaching method that beame the trademark of his approach to Chan. In later years he often told the story of how his own teaching method took shape and bore astounding fruit during this time his stay in Fu-chou.

Miao-tao as a Teacher
Following her awakening, Miao-tao embarked on a career as abbess and Chan teacher. Although sources for this period of Miao-tao's life are not as extensive as one might wish, they do offer glimpses of what must have been a distinguished career. The genealogical histories give the names of the nunneries she headed and quote some of her sermons and dialogues. Some further details about one of her nunneries have been preserved in a local gazetteer. Records of other women Chan lineage members in the Sung make it clear that the nunnery where she ended her life as abbess was one with a long and successful tradition of women teaching Chan. Although the official Chan genealogical histories do not list any dharma heirs for Miao-tao,[77] Ta-hui mentions several women who had studied with Miao-tao.
After her awakening and certification by Ta-hui, Miao-tao was first invited by the prefect of Fukien's Chien-chou prefecture to be abbess of the Fu-hsing ssu, a nunnery in her hometown of Yen-ping. Later, according to the Chia-tai Universal Record, she headed two other nunneries of greater renown. She was abbess of the Tzu-sheng Nunnery in Chang-chou in the Western Circuit of Liang-che.[78] The Pi-ling chih, a local gazetteer published in 1268, notes that it was originally built in the Tang dynasty between 860 and 874, that it was newly repaired in the period between 1119 and 1125, and that the triple gate at its entrance was built between 1165 and 1174. Miao-tao later moved to become abbess of the Ching-chu Nunnery in Wen-chou on the coast of the Eastern Circuit of Liang-che in southern Chekiang. She is accordingly listed in Chan genealogies as Ching-chu Miao-tao. Thus the Ching-chu Nunnery, as the most important of the nunneries over which she presided, became a part of her name. According to the Collated Essentials of the Five Flame [Records] (Wu-teng hui-yuan), she died while abbess there. Three other Chan abbesses listed in the Chan genealogical histories and other Sung Chan sources also resided at the Ching-chu Nunnery.[79] Thus several abbesses were associated with the Chan lineage as dharma heirs and in one abbess had her own women dharma heir, who apparently succeeded her as abbess. The nunnery was recognized for its Chan lineage of women by the compilers of the Chia-tai Universal Record and subsequent genealogical histories.
The only information about women who studied with Miao-tao comes from Ta-hui. Miao-tao's activities as a teacher were probably far more extensive, and there were certainly more women who studied with her than the extant sources reveal. From clues gleaned from Ta-hui's sermons one can imagine a much larger network of women surrounding Miao-tao. In one sermon, Ta-hui tells his listeners that the sermon's sponsor, a woman surnamed Huang (whose dharma name was Tao-en) in the past had studied Chan at Miao-tao's nunnery. He explains that Tao-en's aunt on her father's side, the wife of her father's younger brother, was the daughter of Wu Yuan-chao, a scholar-official from Shao-wu in Fukien who had studied Chan. The aunt, who had married into a family of high officials, later became a nun and a disciple of Miao-tao. When she became a nun, she was called the Great Teacher Tse-wu. According to Ta-hui, Tao-en often visited her aunt Tse-wu and gained some understanding of Chan through studying with her.[80] In another sermon Ta-hui mentions that the sponsor, a nun named Great Teacher Yung, had studied with Miao-tao at two different nunneries and that Miao-tao valued her highly.[81]
Miao-tao's records in the genealogical histories contain a number of sermons and dialogues that reveal her style as a Chan teacher. I quote below three sermons as examples of her erudition, style, and concerns. The first one, which the Collated Essentials of the Five Flame [Records] notes was her inaugural sermon when she became abbess (probably at the Fu-hsing nunnery in Yen-ping), begins with a question from a monk and then continues with Miao-tao's more extended response:
A monk asked: "When words neither extend to the matter nor connect with the hearer, what then?" The teacher [i.e., Miao-tao] said: "Before you have defecated, you have fallen into the hole."
[Miao-tao] continued: "Do not ask too many questions. Even if it were true that you are very fluent at arguing and that you have wit enough to overturn mountains, within the gates of the sangha you will have no use for such [skills]. Before the Buddha appeared, there was originally nothing whatsoever to be done. When our patriarch came fromt the West, then there came to be many establishments. There were many monasteries facing one another, sperad out on the famous mountains as thickly as pieces in a board game (wei-chi).[83] This has continued to the present, generation after generation. Finally it causes me to stand in front of the great assembly of gods and humans and make waves when there is no wind, communicating some bits of information about second-level truths.
"What is not covered by speech or silence is everywhere. That which cannot be expressed in words and commentaries pervades all the worlds. There are eyes all over your body, you are face to face with the mechanism. Lightning and stars curl and run away---how can you grab them? Sometimes with a shout 'ho,' life and death are extinct. Sometimes with a shout 'ho,' you cannot distinguish the Buddhas and patriarchs. Sometimes with a shout 'ho,' you are attacked by enemies in all directions. Sometimes with a shout 'ho,' you can't save yourself. But tell me, in which 'ho' is the extinction of life and killing? In which 'ho' are Buddhas and patriarchs not distinguished? In which 'ho' are you being attacked by enemies on all sides? And in which 'ho' is it that you cannot rescue yourself? If you can understand this, then you can repay the unrepayable favor. If it is not so, then I am speaking of dreams I haven't even seen."
She picked up the whisk and said: "Do you see it? If you see it, then you are obstructed by the thorns of sight." She struck the platform and said: "Do you hear it? If you hear it, then you are confused by the objects of sound. But if you can distance yourself from seeing and hearing, then that truly is only the small fruit of the two lesser vehicles. Jump out of it one pace, and you will cover and ride form and sound, let everything go and gather everything in, and host and guest will change places [freely]. Therefore it is said, "If you want to know the meaning of the Buddha-nature, you should observe the causes and conditions of the moment.' I dare to ask all of you: what moment is it right now? The benevolent wind blows all over, helping good government. The harmonious atmosphere helps the peaceful world."
She threw down the whisk and descended from the seat.[83]
Miao-tao's second sermon is included under her entry in the Outline of the Linked Flames.
"If what we are talking about is a meeting between the original endowment (pen-fen) of two people, then there is no need [for me] to ascend this high seat. But dharmas do not arise singly; their arising depends on causes and conditions.[84] And since today the balance scale [of authority] is in hand, I respond to whatever changes occur in the moment, grasping tight and letting loose, rolling up and rolling out, doing this with great freedom.
"There are times when on top of the solitary peak I command the essential place [so that the student cannot get by]: This way won't do; the opposite, not this way, also won't do.
"There are times when in the crowded street I make a passageway [for the student]: this way will do, not this way will also do.
"Then I can churn the Yangtze river into curds and transform the great earth into gold, pluck a blade of grass and make it into the sixteen-foot golden body [of Sakyamuni], take the sixteen-foot golden body [of Sakyamuni] and make it into a blade of grass.
"When I hold on firmly, then the three mysteries [of Lin-chi], sword and armor, the five ranks of correct and one-sided [of Tung-shan], setting the whisk upright and taking up the cudgel, being silent for a long time, and [making quick response like] stone-struck sparks or lightning flashes---all these are not necessary.
"How even more unnecessary are words that like hooked sentences and barbed phrases disclose the point of a statement and [words that are refined and beautiful like] a gathering of flowers and elegant brocades---they are only of benefit to an impractical, useless theoretical discourse.
"Therefore it is said: 'if one could thoroughly investigate all explanations of the mystery, it would be [as useless as] a fine hair extended across the great void [in a feeble attempt to cover it]. If one were to exhaust all the deepest principles of the world, it would be [as useless as] hurling one drop into the great ocean."
"Moreover each person is complete in every way, each thing is perfect, and [that which is totally complete and perfect] covers the earth and reaches to heaven. Eyes are horizontal and noses are vertical. Spring courses among the ten thousand plants; the moon is reflected on a thousand waves. There is no lack and no excess.
"What is there to think about? What is there to deliberate about? Even if I sing such a tune (feng-chang),[85] I still can't avoid falling into irrelevancies and confusing statements.
"So I will lose no time in arriving with you at the very best, most appropriate, most opportune moment."
She set her staff upright and said: "Do you still understand? A thousand-foot whale spouts, and vast waves fly; one clap of thunder and the storm arises."[86]
The third sermon is also included in the Outline of the Linked Flames.
"Chan is not a matter of ideas to think about. To establish ideas is to pervert the central core. The Way cuts off beneficial results. To set up beneficial results [as a goal] is to lose the real point. When listening to pure sounds and other nonworldly phrases, do not seek [to apprehend the truth] in ideas. Turn the receiving and responding power of the teacher around and get it into your own hands, grab the cudgel and tongs away from the Buddhas and patriarchs and control them yourselves. Where there are Buddhas, there will be no distinction between the teacher and Buddhas as host and you as the guest. Where no Buddhas are, the wind will whistle and sough.
"Her mind is at peace, echoes and sounds are in harmony. As for someone like this, tell me, would you be able to handle such a person?"
After a long time, she said: "Putting on my raincoat and leaning my rainhat [up against something], beyond a thousand peaks, I draw water and sprinkle the vegetables in front of the Five Stars."[87]
These sermons are eloquent, polished, literary. They consist of carefully constructed parallel phrases and sentences. They compare with the Blue Cliff Record in the power of the metaphors and the literary sophistication of their style. In fact, many of Miao-tao's phrases can be found in the Blue Cliff Record. Her sermons display a mastery of the highly poetic discourse of the Sung Lin-chi Chan tradition. They communicate powerfully what the goal of Chan study is, what a Chan teacher does with words, and what a Chan student must do in "dharma-combat" with a teacher.
Miao-tao's dialogues are clever, direct, skewering, witty. Here are two of them:
A nun asked: "What is the Buddha?"
Miao-tao replied: "Not a Buddha."
The nun asked: "What is the great meaning of the Buddha dharma?"
The master [Miao-tao] said: "Ku-ti-ku-tung (antique)."[88]

The second dialogue runs as follows:
Someone asked: "An ancient said that, as for the fifty kinds of demonic states that trouble dhyana [meditation] enumerated in the Surangama Sutra, if today all the people on the earth studied Chan and [had] even higher [attainments], they would not be able to get out of their realm. Have you, reverend, been able to get out of it yet or not?"
[Miao-tao] said: "I don't consort with either group."[89]

Miao-tao's experience with her teacher Ta-hui shows that one well-known Sung dynasty Chan master was willing to welcome a nun into his inner circle of serious students and give her the same kind of instruction he was giving monks, including oral interviews and a long written dharma instruction. This act had important consequences for him; indeed, her success in reaching a moment of awakening using a hua-tou was his first success as a teacher and played a large role in setting the pattern for his subsequent teaching. Ta-hui went on from his encounter with Miao-tao to develop the themes that he first adumbrated in the summer of 1134: the necessity of an experience of awakening, the error of misunderstanding the meaning of "silent illumination," the value of using the powerful expedient means of inspecting a hua-tou to put a halt to intellectualization in order to break through to a new awareness. The efficacy of hua-tou practice having been demonstrated to Ta-hui by the success of Miao-tao and others in 1134 and 1135, Ta-hui proceeded to teach it to laymen and monks alike for the reast of his career. Miao-tao thus participated in and perhaps to some extent made possible this defining moment in Ta-hui's career as a Chan teacher. Ta-hui's instruction was useful for her, and her success benefited him.
On the level of Buddhist theory, the fact that Miao-tao was a woman may hold little significance. But within the context of Chinese society and the world of Sung Buddhism, it did matter that a prominent monk acknowledged and often publicly talked about the success of his woman dharma heir. Whether intentionally or not, by this act Ta-hui set himself on a path of encouraging women students and forming dharma relationships with them. Miao-tao's women students became his dharma relatives. When they had the opportunity, they sponsored sermons at his monastery, and he acknowledged their relationship to him and encouraged their Chan practice. Just as he told Miao-tao the story of Chi-shou Tao-jen, his teacher Yuan-wu's woman student, to instruct and encourage her, so he told Miao-tao's story to instruct and encourage other women students as well as to clarify for men students his reasons for insisting that a student must awaken, not just pursue "silent illumination." Miao-tao's many successful years as a teacher, during some of which Ta-hui was in exile, no doubt added to Ta-hui's fame among women students and others. A new kind of opportunity for Buddhist women in the Sung opened its doors wider as this moment in 1134 bore fruit.
Miao-tao's story also demonstrates that in the Southern Sung women could be eloquent teachers of Chan, a role that required not only a spontaneous meeting of students in the moment and a clear insight into "true emptiness and marvelous being" but also powers of poetic expression. Miao-tao's success as an inspiration. Miao-tao's success as an inspiration for Buddhist women in the Sung and later periods was due in large part to the high quality of her own expressions of the dharma in words. While Miao-tao taught in the manner of the Lin-chi school, nowhere in her teachings is found the kind of straightforward advocacy of the expedient of the inspection of a single hua-tou that is so striking in Ta-hui's sermons. Miao-tao was no mere epigone of her teacher. Instead, her sermons show a brilliant deployment of the vocabulary and poetic imagery of the Lin-chi tradition as captured in the Blue Cliff Record. She excelled as a poetic craftswoman of sermons and as an expositor of the essence of teaching and learning in Lin-chi Chan.
Miao-tao and Ta-hui lived in a Buddhist world in which women were beginning to be visible as students and patrons of Chan, accepted enough so that Chan teachers' "rhetoric of equality" expanded to include the equality of women and men in their ability to realize enlightenment. Yet the social reality of that Chan world, and even its "rhetoric or equality," remained largely androcentric. There seems to have been no rush to change social mores to permit more women to leave home and study Chan; likewise, there are no recorded instances of men in the Chan tradition working to establish Chan training retreats for women. And the androcentrism of the rhetoric is shown in the fact that women's success in Chan study seemed always to come as a surprise to men, was attributed to the exceptional ability of the woman to act like a man, and was sometimes taken by men as a challenge to demonstrate their own (superior) manhood. An example of such androcentric rhetoric of equality occurs in relation to Miao-tao's accomplishments. When Shui-an Shih-i (1101-1176), heir to Tan-hsia Tuan-yu (1085-1150), who was himself heir to Yuan-wu Ko-chin, was told Miao-tao's words, he clapped his forehead with his hand and said: "You can certainly say about this matter [of realizing enlightenment] that it has no male or female form. Lots of strapping men (chang-fu-han) search fruitlessly for their own heads in the assembly for five or ten years. Although she is a woman, she acts like a man (chang-fu). She is supeiror to any number of worthless abbots (tu-chuan chang-lao)." [90]
Yet Miao-tao's experience also suggests that in the Sung the "rhetoric of equality" was not merely rhetorical.[91] Miao-tao's story is one in which the possibility of women awakening and of awakened nuns teaching Chan (which had been entertained, though minimally, through old stories in Chan texts) took on a real substantiation, a flesh and blood embodiment in the world, and was recorded in the Chan texts as a social fact.[92] Sung Chan was unquestionably androcentric. But the Sung male masters' rhetoric of equality shows itself, if not fully realized in actuality, nonetheless not completely empty in the case of Ting-kuang Miao-tao.
One of Miao-tao's accomplishments---with the assistance of her teachers Chen-hsieh Ching-liao and Ta-hui Tsung-kao, the students who studied with her and compiled her sermons and dialogues, and the compilers of the Southern Sung genealogical histories---was to convince men like Shui-an Shih-i, still caught in an androcentric view of the world, that the power of awakening and the nature of universal human potential was indeed such that women could awaken and teach Chan. If they were able to accept that teaching, perhaps they were more fully awakened.


[1] Fo-tsu tung-chi, T 49.406c 15-16 and 465c. 19-20. Huang Min-chih, Sung-tai fo-chiao she-hui ching-chi shih lun-chi (Taipei: Taiwan huseh-sheng shu-chu, 1989), pp. 349-355.
[2] See T 51.289a1-13; Suzuki Tetsuo, To godai no zenshu-Konan Kosai hen (Tokyo: Daito shuppansha, 1984), pp.149-150.
[3] See HTC 136.362d-363c and 363c-364a respectively.
[4] See HTC 137.1a10-15, quoted in Chapter 5 by Ding-hwa Hsieh.
[5] The lineage chart compiled from a number of different sources found in vol. 3 of the Zengaku daijiten (Tokyo: Taishukan shoten, 1978) lists "the nun Fa-teng" as a dharma heir of Miao-tao (p.14, line 3-4).
[6] Unfortunately her funerary inscription has not been preserved.
[7] See Lien-teng hui-yao, HTC 136.363C-364a; Chia-tai pu-teng lu, HTC 137.136a-b; and Wu-teng hui-yuan, HTC 138.401a-b.
[8] The most important of which are the sermon by Ta-hui sponsored by Miao-tao in 1134 found in Ta-hui Pu-chueh chan-shih yu-lu, T 47.864b-866c; Ta-hui's dharma instruction (fa-yu) to Miao-tao (probably written in 1134) found in Ta-hui Pu-chueh chan-shih yu-lu, T 47.91b-c; and the sermon by Ta-hui found in Ta-hui Pu-chueh chan-shih pu-shuo, Dainihon kotei zokuzokyo 1/31/5.441c-443c (this source will be cited as "Pu-shuo" hereafter). See also Pu-shuo, pp. 433c, 436d, and 440b for other references to Miao-tao by Ta-hui.
[9] Huang was immediately notrious for the manner in which he received first place. Although the examiners had not placed his name high on the list of successful candidates, the emperor Shen-tsung did not like the essays on policy of those ranked at the top. Shen-tsung preferred the writing of Huang's that had reached the capital before Huang sat for the examinations, so he searched for his name on the list and personally awarded Huang Shang first place, an act that dispeased the examination officials (Sung-shih i). This incident happened at a time when neo-Classicists like Ou-yang Hsiu and Wang An-shih were stressing writing on policy, rather than poetic skill, as the principal criterion for examination success (see John W. Chaffee, The Thorny Gates of Learning in Sung China [London: Cambridge University Press, 1985]. pp.70-71). The examiners' displeasure thus must have stemmed in part from the fact that the emperor had picked a man whose conspicuous abilities were in writing, not policy.
[10] This appointment placed Huang at the head of one of the six principal administrative agencies of the central government. During this period the Ministry of Rites administered the government education and examination system as well as handling all court ceremonies and foreign guests and supervising Buddhist and Taoist monasteries. See Charles O. Hucker, A Dictionary of Official Titles in Imperial China (Stanford: Standford University Press, 1985), pp. 306-307.
[11] HTC 137.136A5-7
[12] Yen-shan chi (SKCS), 34.11b-14a. Ishii Shudo lists him as Chao-chueh Chang-tsung in his Sodai zenshushi no kenkyu (Tokyo: Daito shuppansha, 1988), p. 561.
[13] See Yen-shan chi 1.11a-b and 23.11a-12b respectively.
[14] See Yen-shan chi 36.1a-8b.
[15] See Yen-shan chi 36.8b-13a.
[16] Yen-shi chi 29.8b-9a.
[17] For Miss Chen, see Yen-shan chi 33.1b-13b; for Miss Lin, see 34.4b-6a; for Miss Yeh, see 34.2b-3b; for Mr. Kuo, see 34.1b-2b; and for Mr Chen, see 33.10a-11b.
[18] See HTC 137.136a7 and Pu-shuo, p. 433c.
[19] Pu-shuo, p.443a 19-b1.
[20] See Chen-hsieh Ching-liao chan-shih yu-lu, HTC 124.315b6-14; and Ishii, Sodai zenshushi no kenkyu, pp. 260-261.
[21] Ishii, Sodai zenshushi no kenkyu, p. 262.
[22] Ibid., pp. 263-264.
[23] Ibid., p. 267.
[24] What would be, if still extant, the principal source, the I-chang lu (One Slap of the Palm Record), which contained his sermons given between 1130 and 1134 at Mount Hsueh-feng, once circulated with a preface by the literatus Liu Tzu-hui (1101-1147) but is now lost. The Chieh-wai lu (Outside the Eons Record) predates his abbacy on Mount Hsueh-feng. It together with a commentary on the Hsin-hsin ming (Inscription on Believing in Mind) and a few other scattered teachings are gathered together in a text called Chen-hsieh Ching-liao chan-shih yu-lu in two fascicles, but none of these pieces can be dated conclusively to his Mount Hsueh-feng period. Only one other very short record of Ching-liao's sayings is preserved, under the title Chen-hsieh Liao chan-shih yu-lu, in the Hsu-kan ku-tsun yu-yao, HTC 118.454d-455d. For information on the Sung version of this text, see Nishitani Keiji and Yanadiga Seizan, eds., Zenke goroku, vol.2 (Tokyo: Chikuma shobo, 1974), p. 492. Ishii believes that it contains a selction of the best teachings from the I-chang lu (see Sodai zenshushi no kenkyu, pp. 271-272).
[25] This sermon is recorded in Ta-hui's Yu-lu, T 47.863a-864a.
[26] Accounts of Ta-hui's life can be found in Miriam Levering, "Chan Enlightenment for Laymen: Ta-hui and the New Religious Culture of the Sung" (Ph.D. dissertation, Harvard University, 1978); and Chun-fang Yu, "Ta-hui Tsung-kao and Kung-an Chan." Journal of Chinese Philosophy 6 (1979): 211-235. The annalistic biography of Ta-hui compiled sometime before 1183 by a disciple named Tsu-yung, Ta-hui Pu-chueh chan-shih nien-pu, has been edited, annotated, and translated into modern Japanese by Ishii Shudo; see "Daie Fukaku zenji nenpu no kenkyu," published in three parts in Komazawa daigaku bukkyo gakubu kenkyu kiyo 37 (1979), 38 (1980), and 40 (1982).
[27] The first was 1108-1109 with Tung-shan Tao-wei (dates unknown) at Tai-yang Monastery in Ying-chou in present-day Hupei, a major center for the Tsao-tung lineage (see Yu-lu, T 47.953b; Pu-shuo, p.428b). The second period (1109-1116) was at Jewel Peak in Hunan, where Ta-hui studied with a monk who had been an attendant of Fu-jung Tao-kai (see Ta-hui tsung-men wu-ku, T47.953b1-6); Pu-shuo, p.425d; pu-shuo, p.428d).
[28] A point argued by Ding-hwa Evelyn Hsieh in her "Yuan-wu Ko-chin's (1063-1135) Teaching of Chan Kung-an Practice: A Transition from the Literary Study of Chan Kung-an to the Practical Kan-hua Chan," Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 17.1 (1994): 96-110.
[29] See, for example, T 47.883a12-b22, one of the many places in Ta-hui's record where he tells this story at length. See my unpublished essay, "Ta-hui's Awakening and His Telling of It."
[30] Lu Hao-wen's biography can be found in Sung shih, chuan 362 (p.15a); see also in Herbert Franke, ed., Sung Biographies (Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1973), vol.2, pp.706-707.
[31] Ishii, "Nenpu (jo)," pp. 131-133b; Ishii, Sodai zenshushi no kenkyu, pp. 265-266. There are sermons and chamber instructions from this period in Ta-hui's Yu-lu.
[32] Ishii, "Nenpu (jo)," pp. 139b-144a.
[33] In a Chan context shang-tso usually is a synonym for "shou-tso," the position of occupant of the head seat in the training hall and thus leader and often teacher of the other monks, under the abbot. But ouside the Chan context the term "shang-tso" has a number of other possible meanings. In the Vinaya, a passage says that shang-tso is the title for a monk who has been in the sangha from twenty to forty-nine years. Another source gives it as a title for those who have been in the sangha ten years. In general, the other usages are as a term of respect for length of time in the sangha, for age, for monks in general, for wealth in the case of a lay person, or for wisdom in the case of a monk or nun (Zengaku daijiten 1.544d-545a). Here the term could refer to a position Miao-tao held somewhere or it could simply be a term of respect for a nun of many years' standing.
[34] A variation on a saying from Yung-chia Hsuan-chueh; see Ching-te chuan-teng lu, T 51.241b3-4. My translation of the first clause, which is not literal but captures the flavor, is taken from Chang Chung-yuan, Original Teachings of Chan Buddhism (New York: Vintage Books, 1971), p. 27. My translation of the second clause is taken from Sohaku Ogata, The Transmission of the Lamp: Early Masters (Wolfeboro, N.H.: Longwood Academic, 1990). p. 165. Ta-hui often used this saying, in accordance with his teaching that at the moment of one's death one will be sorry if one has not worked hard and attained full awakening.
[35] T 47.865c22-24.
[36] Pu-shuo, p.433c; cf. Ishii, p.472.
[37] Pu-shuo, p.443a. In Ta-hui's sermons he uses "tzu-chia" to refer to himself; see Iriya Yoshitaka and Koga Hidehiko, Zengo jiten (Kyoto: Shibunkaku shuppan, 1991), p. 179b.
[38] T 47.865c29-866a6.
[39] T47.866a12-16. b9-19
[40] T 47.914b-c; this letter has been translated by Christopher Cleary in Swampland Flowers: The Letters and Lectures of Zen Master Ta Hui (New York: Grove Press, 1977), pp. 95-98; for a modern Japanese translation, see Ishii Shudo, Zen goroku, Daijo Butten, vol. 12 (Tokyo: Chuo koronsha, 1992), pp. 230-233.
[41] T 47.91b11-15. The words I have translated as "key" (sheng-yao and sheng-yao-chu) might also be translated "the pivotal point" (see Zengo jiten, p. 245b. Cleary renders them as "concise essentials" (Swampland Flower, p.95).
[42] Pu-shuo, 443b1-2.
[43] T 47.914b15-21.
[44] T 47914b24-29. The quotation from the Surangama Sutra occurs at Shou-leng-yen ching, T 19.120c29-121a4; see the translation by Charles Luk, The Surangama Sutra (Leng Yen Ching) (London: Rider and Co., 1966), p.93.
[45] T 47.914c5-8.
[46] T 47.914c8-12.
[47] See Ching-te chuan-teng lu, T 51.253a-b.
[48] In answer to the question "What is the meaning of the First Patriarch's coming from the West?" See Akizuki Ryomin, ed. and trans., Joshu roku, Zen no goroku, vol. 11 (Tokyo: Chikuma shobo, 1972), pp. 35-36; and Yoel Hoffmann, trans., Radical Zen (Brookline, Mass.: Autumn Press, 1978), p. 19. This exchange is also appears as case 37 in the Wu-men kuan, T48.297c.
[49] In answer to the question "Is anything amiss when one does not even give rise to a single thought?" See Yun-men Kuang-lu, T.47.547c1-2, and Urs App, trans., Master Yunmen: From the Record of the Chan Master "Gate of the Clouds" (New York: Kodansha International, 1994), p. 111.
[50] Chun-chou Ta-yu Chih ho-shang yu-lu, in ku-tsun-su yu-lu, HTC 118.240a. Ta-yu died between 1056 and 1063.
[51] In answer to the question "What is Buddha?" Ching-te chuan-teng lu, T 51.287a. The Venerable Elder of Mount Yen-yang was a dharma heir of Chao-chou.
[52] Ching-te chuan-teng lu, T.51.257a.25. Wu-yeh of Fen-yang or Fen-chou (762-824) was a dharma heir of Ma-tsu Tao-i (709-788).
[53] "Chu-chih" is very odd as a Chinese name; it seems instead to be a Chinese transliteration of a Sanskrit term, "koti," that stands for a very large number. Chu-chih's method of teaching by lifting a finger is described in case 19 of the Pi-yen lu (Blue Cliff Record). The story of how Chu-chih acquired the "one finger teaching" appears in the Ching-te chuan-teng lu, T 51.288b, which also relates how he continued to teach by raising one finger for the rest of his life and how the boy who stands in for him tries to teach with the same method.
[54] T47.914c12-20. My translation here and elsewhere has adapted that of Cleary in Swampland Flowers, pp. 95-98.
[55] Ma-tsu Tao-i. Although the sentence quoted is found in Nan-chuan's record in the Ching-te chuan-teng lu (see note 66 below), a closely related passage appears in Ma-tsu's record. It reads: "A monk asked why the Master maintained,"The mind is the Buddha." The master said, "Because I want to stop the crying of a baby." The monk persisted, "When the crying has stopped, what is it then?" "Not mind, not Buddha," was the answer. "How do you teach a person who does not uphold either of these?" The Master said, "I would tell him, 'Not things.'" The monk again questioned, "If you met a person free from attachment to all things, what would you tell him?" The Master replied, "I would let him experience the great Tao." Ching-te chuan-teng lu, T 51.246a, 21-25; for an English translation, see Chang, Original Teachings of Chan Buddhism, p. 150.
[56] T 47.865c24-28. The "ho" in the phrase "ho tso-ma sheng" is a question strengthener meaning "in the end, ultimately, finally." On tso-ma sheng as meaning ju-ho, see Zengo jiten, p. 263b.
[57] See Robert E. Buswell, Jr., The Collected Works of Chinul (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1983), p. 373, n.273; see also p. 338, where a passage from Ta-hui's letters in his Yu-lu (T 47.921c) that has eight instructions is quoted by Chinul; see also p. 253,n.1.
[58] This story appears in the Tsu-tang chi. See Yanagida Seizan, ed., Sodoshu, Zengaku soho 4 (Kyoto: Chubun shuppansha, 1984), p.383; see also Ching-te chuan-teng lu, T 51.288b29-289a13. This story is discussed in Chapter 5 by Ding-hwa Hsieh.
[59] T 47.865b11-c7
[60] T 47.866b20-29.
[61] See my chapter "Lin-chi Chan and Gender: The Rhetoric of Equality and the Rhetoric of Heroism," in Jose Ignacio Cabezon, ed., Buddhism, Sexuality and Gender (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992), pp. 137-156.
[62] Pu-shuo, p. 433c.
[63] On the meaning of ta-chang-fu and its use in Sung Chan, see my "Lin-chi Chan and Gender." pp. 141-146; for its use in funeral sermons for women in Japanese Zen, see William M. Bodiford, Soto Zen in Medieval Japan (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1993), pp. 205-206.
[64] T 47.866b19-20.
[65] It could be heard as implying that only unusual or "manly" women are likely to have sufficient commitment and thus, while encouraging one special woman, runs the risk of discouraging women in general.
[66] See Ching-te chuan-teng lu, T 51.257c14; for an English translation, see Chang, Original Teachings of Chan Buddhism, p. 155.
[67] Kuang Tsang-chu, Librarian Kuang, is the first listed in the Nien-pu's list of Ta-hui's dharma heirs. See Ishii, "Nenpu (jo)." p.140a, line 8, and Ishii, "Nenpu (ge)," p. 143a, line 4, and p. 163b. His full name is Chiao-chung Mi-kuang (d.1155). He was from Chang-le in Fukien. He had been to study with Yuan-wu at Mount Yun-chu, and with other teachers. He visited Ta-hui at Kuang-yin Retreat and was greatly enlightened at Ta-hui's Yun-men Retreat at Hsiao-chin in Chuan-chou. In the entry in the Nien-pu under Ta-hui's forty-sixth year he is called the first to obtain the dharma at Yang-yu Retreat.
[68] Pushuo, p. 433 c.
[69] The Chia-tai pu-teng lu has a brief entry for Chi-shou Tao-jen, as a dharama heir of Yuan-wu (see HTC 137.118b5-9), but Yuan-wu's records contain no mention of her. Ta-hui tells this story about her more than once, and his story seems to be the source of the Chia-tai pu-teng lu's record. Another reference to this story is at Pu-shuo, p. 439d.
[70] Lit., "praised and petted a beloved child."
[71] Pu-shuo, p. 443a-b. A possible interpretation: her sentence was "Miao-tao only understands this way." He says: you put in an extra "only understands this way." If you take that away, it only leaves "Miao-tao."
[72] One might be tempted to guess that Ta-hui associates using this hua-tou with teaching women students. But at Kuang-yin Retreat he was using this old saying with men as well, for the story explains that he was using it with the monastic Librarian Kuang. To those who wonder to what degree Ta-hui's emphasis on and interpretation of the hua-tou method was an innovation, the difference between Yuan-wu's method of instructing Chi-shou Tao-jen and Ta-hui's method of instructing Miao-tao seems to be that Ta-hui did not, like Yuan-wu, ask for a comment. This may be a crucial difference---see his set of instructions given to Miao-tao and adopted in the tradition discussed above.
[73] The sermon does not say in what year this occured. If Miao-tao arrived during the rainy season retreat that probably began in the fourth month of the same year that Ta-hui arrived at Kuang-yin temple in the spring, and if Ta-hui is correct in saying that she was the first of his students to attain what he believed to be Chan goal, then it makes sense to place his success at his next temple, Yang-yu, as occuring during the following year.
[74] Chang-lao (elder) can be used to refer to abbots and monks of high rank or as a term of respect by a younger monk in addressing an older monk. Ta-hui's Yu-lu includes a peom given to "Elder of Great Compassion" (see T 47.857c).
[75] Pu-shuo, p. 443b18-c2. This passage is translated into modern Japanese in Ishii, Sodai zenshushi no kenkyu, p. 331. The eighth fascilcle of Ta-hui's Yu-lu contains seven "Instructions to the Assembly" recorded at this retreat.
[76] Pu-shuo, p. 443c2.
[77] With the possible exception of the nun Fa-teng---see note 5 above.
[78] The place was also known as Pi-ling (Adjacent to [tomb?] mounds), which is what it was called in the Chan genealogical history entries for Miao-tao.
[79] The first is the Tang nun Yuan-chi (also known as Husan-chi) (see Chia-tai pu-teng lu, HTC 137.170c; Wu-teng hui-yuan, HTC 138.32a). The second is Hui-wen. Although there are no details about her life, her biographical entries include a sermon, showing that she was in fact an abbess and teacher. She is listed as a dharma heir of Fo-yen Ching-yuan (1076-1120), Yuan-wu's dharma brother, so she probably preceded Miao-tao as abbess of Ching-chu (see Chia-tai pu-teng lu, HTC. 137.126a; Wu-teng hui-yuan, HTC 138.392a-b; and Hsu Chuang-teng lu, T 51.671b). The third is Wu-hsiang Fa-teng, a dharma heir of Hui-wen. Her biographical entries give no details about her life but include a short "ascending the hall" sermon, showing that she was an abbess and teacher (see Chia-tai pu-teng lu, HTC 137.148d; Wu-teng hui-yuan, HTC 138.41b; and Hsu chuan-teng lu, T51.697c).
[80] Pu-shuo, p. 436d.
[81] Pu-shuo, p.440b.
[82] Wei-chi is the board game more popularly known in the West in its Japanese pronunciation as go. The Chia-tai pu-teng lu and Wu-teng hui-yuan versions of this sermon have "and more sects than stars in the sky" in place of the simile of wei-chi.
[83] Lien-teng hui-yao, HTC 136.363c15-d13; cf. Wu-teng hui-yuan, HTC 138.401a10-b9 and Chia-tai pu-teng lu, HTC137.136a10-b8. I am translating the Lien-teng hui-yao version published in 1183. Only the Lien-teng hui-yao version of this sermon begins with a question and answer from a monk (seng). The same question and answer apears among other dialogues (wen-ta) in the Chia-tai pu-teng lu and Wu-teng hui-yuan.
[84] I.e., in this case, the dharma of your awakening does not come about without things that cause it to come about. As the teacher, it is my job to be a cause.
[85] Lit., "lauch into song."
[86] Lien-teng hui-yuan, HTC 136.363b14-364a8.
[87] Lien-teng hui-yuan, HTC 136.364a9-13.
[88] Chia-tai pu-teng lu, HTC. 136b12-13; Wu-teng hui-yao, HTC.401b7-8. One close translation of "ku-ti-kutung" might be "curi-curio." This term may be a dialect expression similar to "hu-li-hu-tu," with some added expressiveness; my guess is that "ku-ti-ku-tung" simply means "ku-tung," "old object or instrument that deserves to be valued," with some added expressiveness through sound. As in the case of the "li" in "hu-li-hu-tu," the "li" in "ku-li-ku-tung" does not add to or alter the lexical meaning.
[89] Chia-tai pu-teng lu, HTC 137.136b14-16.
[90] Tsung-lin sheng-shih, HTC 148.39b14-16. Shui-an does not take Miao-tao's accomplishments as a challenge to men to demonstrate their own (superior) manhood. He just comments that she is better than many men.
[91] In the Sung dynasty, as I have written elsewhere, some Chan masters practiced a rhetoric of equality. They told their audiences that all could attain awakening: "This matter does not depend on your being noble or base, old or young, rich or poor." And certain Chan masters in the Sung extended this thetoric to include a new phrase: man or woman (see Levering, "The Dragon Girl and the Abbess of Mo-shan: Gender and Status in Chan Buddhist Tradition," Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 5.1 [1982]: 19; and Levering. "Lin-chi Chan and Gender," pp. 137-140). In his book The Thetoric of Immediacy (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1991), Bernard Faure picked up on this observation and went on to say that in the history of the Chan and Zen tradition taken as a whole, it was never more than a rhetoric. Faure writes: "Despite---or because of ---the theoretical equality it posits between the sexes, Chan was an essentially masculine discourse, defined by its patriarchal tradition: for all the talk about robes, there are no women, no matriarchs, there. To be sure, in Chan rhetoric, distinctions such as that between men and women were denied 'not only any ultimate importance in themselves, but also any relevance to enlightenment.' But precisely such a statement is essentially rhetorical: just like the equality between passions and awakening, it is denied in practice or in discourse as soon as it seems to threaten the established order" (p. 242; quoting Levering, "The Dragon Girl," p.19). Faure's thought-provoking suggestion is well worth pondering, as historians of Chan, Zen, and Son Buddhism begin to uncover the history of women and gender in their subtraditions. But Miao-tao's story offers some counterevidence in regard to the Southern Sung.


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