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Park Jin Young - BOOKREVIEW on Charles Mullers the Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment

Park Jin Young - BOOKREVIEW on Charles Mullers the Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment

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BOOK REVIEWS Charles Muer, trans.
The Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment: Korean Bddhism's Gide to Meditation (with Commenta by the Sn Monk Kihwa).
Abany: ae Universiy ofNew York Press,
1999. JI
Reading Chaes Muller's new book is an nteesting experence of hearing an ochestation of tiple voices of an Aercan Buddhst schoa, a Koean commen tator and a Chinese Buddhst textSimpy put the book s Muers transation of Khwas
(1376-1433) commentary on the
 f Pf Eghm
Y hh hg :* [PE]
The end esut howeve far exceeds a mee sum
Some Disputed Texs in he Nichiren Corpus: eal, Hemeneucal and Histoical Poblems.
(Ann Arbo ) 207
of these tee. One reason ies in the way that Kihwa and Muller stcred their commentaries (and ranslator's notes) By puttng the origna
Khwas com mentay and aslators notes pus Chnese text of the
(fo those who ead Chinese) in the man tet, Muller has successy ceated a unique book wch provides a ving hstoy of he reigion The book evdences the dissemnation of Buddhist tets which has taken moe than wo housand yeas and which is st going on in the process of heir Amercaization The tee diffeent voces in e tet show diffeent conces of Buddhsm n dierent time periods provdng he eade wt a dacoc appoach to e deveopment of Buddst adton Frst recorded around the begining of the 8th centry the
 has been one of the most nuentia texts in East Asi Buddhism It addesses he main conce of an East Asian Buddst namey the nae of Enigtenment. Fom the st chapter to he ast he
painstakngy investgates such ssues as Buddhahood gnoance sklfu means, medtatons, sudden and gadua appoaches to enightenment These ae aso the main conce of e coentato Kihwa (Hamh Ttong
b J,
a pominent Korean  monk dung the eary Chosn peod (392-190) Khwa however has othe missions he fet obliged to undertake in he context of Koean Buddhism in his time one of which was the integation ofKyo �(docna school) ad Sn
(medtationa schoo). By provdng eouent comenaies on each paragraph of the
wih detaled expanation about the ow of the text at the begining of each section Kwa seems to have wanted to prove to hs contemporares he possbiity of both heoretical approach to meditation and integration of  medtation within Buddhst doctrine Mue rher epains this siaton by saying that Kihwa in this commena ntegates the Sn meditation epeence into Kyo schoary activity" (p 3) while in other works he assets that Kyo is incuded in Sn The main conce of the transator is again diffeent from those of the
itsef and its 4th cenry commentator n a brief section The Fuure the West the Pactitone Mue suggests the possbe ole of ths
(and Khwas com mentary and his translation) in he contepoary Weste eigious and schoarly scene as he states: the
 has potential vaue in mode Weste Buddhism as an instructiona tool (p 39). Critciing the Weste approach to Zen with ts ahistoia aphilosophca and ainguistic emphasis as a somewhat imbaaced mode tansfomation of ceain naow aspects of Japanese Zen (p 39) Mue asserts that a ong period of phosophca and scriptua tainng is a preeuiste for the effectve nctioning of such a well own Zen method as
To argue that Zen enightenment s conditioned by scipal stdy without st distinguishng between the ationae of Zen Buddhsm and its hstorca deveopment can be miseadng However Mules citicism of of he blnd emphass on a pure experience outsde hstoy phiosophy and nguage found n
Weste Zen is well taken, and his waing against the danger of pacticing
without poper undestanding of Buddhist doctrine is timely. Lke Kihwa who wanted to ovide a docinl guideline of SOn meditation though his comentay on the
  PE
Muller wishes his tanslaion to ll te gap between mode Weste en  pactitiones and Buddhist docine -a entieth century vesion of the integation of meditational and docnal schools. Te boo conssts o ee secions: Inoducon Tansation o the
wth Khwa's Commenta and e Appendix whch oes a complete anslation of the PEas coected by Kihwa I the Inoduction Mulle exploes th meaning ad position o the
within e ast Asian Buddhst tadition. Lie ote "indgeous xts created duing the  peod o
t' Ea
aan of Buddism such as e
Treat on Awkig
hn n)
and the
 of  Hoc
shows distnctively a >an aph ad soeiological conces Two of s major themes ae he seeming conict beteen the
(eceptacle consciousness) and he
(embyonc tathgaa) theories regarding human natre and that beteen subitism and gadualism with egad to enlightement The
doctrne claims that the ndamental huma mind is deled/ioant while the
docte teaches the iae buddanatre of sentient beings I sentient beings e oiginally deled how is enlightenment possible? Ad if sentient beings are oiginally budas, why is pactice necessay? actitiones constantly ask these questions unable o resolve e conradctoy clams made by dieent Buddhist teachings. The subitistgadualist conict rthe adds to the consion The fome claims that enlightenment is sudden (this position is well aiculated in the
 Pam a f the xth Patah
among othe texts) while te late empasizes unceasing practice as a pecondition fo enlightement. To the subitist the gradual approach is dangerous fo it enhances dualistic views while the gadualist citicies subitism for its lack of conce fo those without the capaciy to realie enlightenment instanta neously Mulle introduces the "essencencn stcure h
t ng
h e ng),
a mao heeneutic tool employed by the authos of the ast Asian Buddhist texts and applies the idea to his intepetation of the way the
resolves the above  mentioned conicts Sentient beings ae pue (empty enlightened) at the level of "essence, while individual diffeences occu accoding to the different nctioning of "essence Since all sentient beings are oiginally perfect Buddha enlightenment is sudden in ts "essece but because in eality the essence is not poperly manifested in te ctions enlightement is gadual Having esablished he posion of he
in the conext o ast Asian Buddhism Muller surveys its inuence on Korean Budhism beoe and aer Kihwa Though te text is st ecorded in the hnese
Kaan atage f

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