Dogen's Critiques of Koan / Kung-an Contemplation Chan (Kan'na zen)
As I mentioned above, Koan Contemplation Chan emerged during the Southern Sung dynasty along with Silent Illumination Chan. It was established by Ta-hui Tsung-kao (Daie Soko 1089-1163) ... Dogen strongly objected to Ta-hui's views.
Now, I would like to talk about a prominent feature of Koan Contemplation Chan, to clarify the nature of Dogen's critiques.
First, Koan Contemplation Chan rejected the non-practical inclination of Silent Illumination Chan. In this sense, Ta-hui had the same criticism of Silent Illumination Chan as Dogen. However, Ta-hui and Dogen adopted quite different methods to overcome this tendency.
Ta-hui dared to assert that all people were in a deluded state in the present, though all could attain Buddhahood eventually. For this purpose, he required trainees to contemplate koan/kung-an in their daily activities. He also insisted that they have an experience of awareness as a result of gradual practice. That is, he aimed to re-emphasize the necessity of practice, both mental and physical, and the motivation to attain enlightenment by relying on the notion of 'shikaku' (entering into the enlightened state). This view is the opposite of traditional Chan thought, which focuses on 'hongaku' (original enlightenment).
Because it was so easy to understand, Ta-hui's Koan Contemplation Chan was accepted not only by the clergy but also by the laypeople, and prospered greatly, nearly sweeping over the whole Chan scene in Southern Sung China.
Why, then, did Dogen disagree so strongly with Ta-hui's style of practice?
Now, I would like to show you one passage in the Shobogenzo Jisho-zanmai [by Dogen]:
Ta-hui did not understand 'self-attainment, self-awakening,' much less did he completely understand other koans in his lifetime. Moreover, all Ta-hui's disciples were even less educated than he, so who knew the real meaning of 'self-attainment'?
In this passage, Dogen criticizes Ta-hui for changing the definition of enlightenment from 'original Enlightenment' to 'entering into the enlightened state'. Dogen insists, therefore, that all monks in Ta-hui's lineage did not understand 'real' attainment. Dogen saw Ta-hui's view as a departure from the true transmission of Buddha dharma. Dogen, like Ta-hiu, attempted to re-construct the practice of Zen/Chan, but he never changed the basic doctrine of 'original pure nature'. Hence, Dogen felt a need to criticize Ta-hui.
http://www.sotozen-net.or.jp/kokusai/jo ... n08_02.htm