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The great calming and contemplation of Chih-I, chapter one: the synopsis (translated, annotated and with an introduction) Donner, Neal Arvid


This thesis consists of an annotated translation, with introduction, of the first two of the ten rolls of the Mo-ho-chih-kuan The Mo-ho-chih-kuan is no. 1911 of the works contained in the Taisho edition of the Chinese Buddhist canon (Taisho-shinshu-daizokyo in Vol. 46 from page 1 to page 140. The first two rolls, Chapter One of the whole work, run from page 1 to page 21. The Mo-ho-chih-kuan derives from a series of lectures given over the summer months of the year 594 A.D. by the founder of the T'ien-t'ai school of Chinese Buddhism, Chih-I (538-597). Kuan-ting, a disciple of Chih-i, took notes on these lectures and subsequently revised and edited them until they reached approximately the form in which the text is now available. The Mo-ho-chih-kuan is devoted to the elucidation of meditation techniques and their philosophical underpinnings. This is apparent from the title alone, which I have rendered "The Great Calming and Contemplation," and which represents the Sanskrit maha-samatha-vipasyana. Chih and kuan are the two aspects of meditation for Chih-I and the T'ien-t'ai school, signifying the negative and the positive approaches to religious practise: on the one hand the mental defilements, illusions and errors must be calmed, halted and eradicated (chih), and on the other hand the practitioner views, contemplates and has insight into (kuan ) the nature of Ultimate Reality. "Calming" (ohih) is quieting the mind, contemplation (kuan) is making it work properly. What I have undertaken to translate is the first chapter of the whole work, the Synopsis. This chapter may be considered a reduced-size version of the whole, though it also contains much material that is either not in the other chapters or is there presented in a different way. It is best known for its exposition of the "Four Kinds of Samadhi" or programs of religious practise: the constantly-sitting samadhi, the constantly-walking samadhi, the half-walking/half-sitting samadhi, and the neither-walking-nor-sitting samadhi. These involve respectively sitting quietly in the lotus posture, walking while reciting the name of the Buddha Amitabha, pronouncing dhavanls while alternating between sitting and walking, and using one's every thought and every act for contemplation. The author Chih-i classifies meditation (calming-and-contemplation) into three types: the gradual, the variable and the sudden. The Mo-ho- chih-kuan deals with the "sudden" variety, in which the practitioner's identity with Ultimate Reality is recognized from the very beginning of his religious practise. This form of meditation is consistent with the Mahayana Buddhist position that there is no ontological difference between the defilements of mind and enlightenment: there is nothing that does not enter into the nature of the Real. This chapter may be considered

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