The Huffington Post continues to bring nonduality to the
mainstream. Here is another article.
Before There Was Stress Reduction, There Was No-Thought
by Wendi L. Adamek (Author, "The Teachings of Master
Wuzhu: Zen and Religion of No-Religion")
Master Wuzhu is your typical Zen Master: he reads minds, hides himself away
in inaccessible mountains and tells earthy stories. Most importantly, he
jettisons all conventional religious practices, and he did this about twelve
hundred years before Alan Watts, Esalen or MBSR. What makes him unique in the
annals of Chan/Zen is that his followers compiled a book about his antecedents,
anecdotes and aphorisms at a time (roughly 780 C.E.) when Zen was not yet a
powerful religious network evolving its way into the heart of the cultures of
China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam. Captured in an earnest and quirky manner in the
Lidai fabao ji (Record of the Dharma-Jewel Through the Ages), Master Wuzhu's
teachings were not part of a known "brand." Some of the features of the Lidai
fabao ji would show up in later, mainstream works, but it was literally lost in
the sands of time, walled up in a cave-temple in an oasis town in the Gobi
desert, waiting to be fortuitously rediscovered in 1900.
Chan/Zen formed itself around a contentious issue: how do you teach
Buddhist practice if you reject all forms of practice as misleading? Forms of
practice are misleading because they make something concrete out of something
that is not even abstract. As Master Wuzhu puts it: "When there is true
no-thought, no-thought itself is not." This "formless practice" immediately
makes the everyday challenge of making distinctions and choices even more
challenging. Or does it?
If non-dual enlightenment is neither good nor evil, is this a dangerous
thing to teach? How do you encourage people to get a move on in their practice
while telling them there's nowhere to go? Should you be paid for doing this? Did
Wuzhu's female disciple Liaojianxing compile the Lidai fabao ji? And, finally,
what kind of sound does a paddy-crab make?
In the Lidai fabao ji these issues -- antinomianism, formless practice,
support of monastics, the role of women and out-of-the-box teaching -- are
presented through accessible dialogues and stories. Yet they have roots in
complex Buddhist philosophical scriptures and treatises. Many of Wuzhu's
teachings echo a style used in the Prajña-pa-ramita (Perfection of Wisdom)
literature, which often links antithetical characteristics to express what is
meant by "emptiness." Thus, one line of the Heart Su-tra reads: "no old age and
death, and also no extinction of them." This in turn generated the Ma-dhaymaka
(Middle Way) contemplative analysis of the codependent arising of phenomena.
Through use of a neither/nor, both/and dialectic, the Ma-dhaymaka practitioner
becomes accustomed to seeing that things neither exist nor not-exist, both exist
So, when I find myself wondering whether it would have mattered to Wuzhu
that we are still interested in reading about him, I suspect he would have
not-cared -- and he would have cared, very much.
Order The Teachings of Master Wuzhu: Zen and
Religion of No-Religion (Translations from the Asian Classics), by Wendi
Adamek from Amazon.com: