The Scripture of the Fo...


The Scripture of the Founding Master

Chapter Six: Doubts Clarified


Yi Ch’unp’ung, who abandoned his Confucian norms in order to be ordained, met the Founding Master and said, “Seeing you, oh Great Master, I am as enchanted as if I were meeting Confucius, who had three thousand disciples under him. However, it has always bothered me that there were certain aspects of Buddhism that the past sages of Confucianism did not accept.” The Founding Master asked, “Which aspects?” Ch’unp’ung replied, “Since Buddhism advocates emptiness and calm extinction, it abnegates the obligations one has to father and sovereign.” The Founding Master said, “The Buddha’s original intent was to open the gate of deliverance for countless parents and children throughout an infinite number of kalpas and over many lifetimes, but there may have been some of his subsequent disciples who deviated from that intent. But in the future, Buddhism will try to make all dharmas appropriate to the times, so that believing in Buddhism will improve matters at home, and in the society and the nation as well. Thus, do not worry about abnegating one’s obligations to father and sovereign. Furthermore, the ‘ultimate nothingness’ (wuji) and the ‘grand ultimate’ (taiji) in the Book of Changes (Zhouyi) are the true realm of emptiness and calm extinction. Confucius’s ‘benevolence’ is the state of emptiness and calm extinction, which is free from selfish desires. The state of equilibrium that Zisi taught in the Doctrine of the Mean (Zhongyong) cannot be a the tranquil and unmoving state without there being emptiness and calm extinction. As for the Great Learning’s (Daxue) ‘clarifying illustrious virtue,’ illustrious virtue cannot be clarified without there being emptiness and calm extinction. Therefore, each religion and each lineage may offer different explanations and use different terms, but the original source of those truths is the same. However, if you linger only in the state of emptiness and calm extinction, you will not be able to become a great person of the Way. Therefore, take emptiness and calm extinction as the essence of the Way, and benevolence, righteousness, propriety and knowledge as its function. It will be the perfect, great Way only if you apply these appropriately amid the myriad affairs of human beings.”