“Admonition of Filiality”:
Written by Zhongfeng Mingben(1263-1323). Even since Buddhism was
introduced into China, Buddhist monks have had to defend themselves against the charge
of unfiliality because they had to leave the life of the householder and observe the precept
of celibacy. Mingben at first plays on the homophones of xiao, which can mean either
filiality or imitation. Filiality is essentially imitation. Since our parents nurture and love
us, we in turn should nurture and love them. But to nurture one’s parents’ physical body
and to practice “love with form” is the filiality appropriate for a householder, while a
monk shows his filal piety by nurturing the parents’ dharma-nature and by practice of
“formless love.” The former, mundane type of filiality has a time limit, for we can love
and serve our parents this way only when they are alive, whereas by leading a pure and
disciplined life, by serious and sustained effort at meditation, and finally by achieving
enlightenment, a monk can fulfill the requirements of filiality on the basis of the Buddhist
principle of the “transference of merit,” by which a son applies the merits of a sanctified
life to benefit his parents spiritually, whether they are alive or dead.
Pure Land, derived its name from the paradise in the West presided over by
Amitabha, Buddha of infinite Light. Drawing on a long Mahayana tradition, this school
emphasized faith as the means for gaining rebirth in the land of bliss. The teaching of
salvation by faith was often coupled with the idea that this was the appropriate means for
a decadent age. A special practice of Pure land Buddhism was the invocation of
Amitabha’s name. this, if done with wholehearted sincerity, would gain anyone rebirth in
the Pure Land. The popular appeal of this sect was immense, and its spiritual dimensions
probably received their furthest development in the teachings of Japanese master Shinran.
Chan was also very influential in Japan, so much so that in the West it is generally
known by its Japanese name, Zen, but it originated in China and has affinities with
Daoism. Chan masters thought meditation as the way for one to pierce through the world
of illusion, recognize the Buddha nature within oneself, and obtain enlightenment.
Whereas for other schools meditation was only one of many techniques, Chan rejected all
other practices, such as the performance of meritorious deeds or the study of scriptures.
Chan, like some other varieties of Buddhism, was esoteric in that its teachings were fully
accessible only to select lifelong practitioners, but like the Greater Vehicle, Buddhist
festivals were for everyone.
An Lushan is known as the rebellion that the emperor into flight to Sichuan an
created havoc in the country revealed the underlying weakness in the Tang system.
Afterwards China was never the same again. The Dang dynasty adopted the “equal field