From an aporetic point of view

[I]t belongs much more to the sense of philosophical concepts that they always remain uncertain.—Martin Heidegger116

Hongzhou Chan—the variety of Chan that shaped the formation of the encounter dialogue and subsequent gongan practice—maintains that “ordinary mind is the

Way” and that “this mind is the Buddha” (shixin shi fo ^L'^'W).117 Awakening is not detached from but found in the ordinary activities of life, “seeing, listening, sensing, and knowing are fundamentally your original nature”118 Mazu Daoyi described this ordinary mind as meaning “no intentional creation or action, no right or wrong, no grasping or rejecting, no terminable or permanent, no profane or holy ... Now all these are just the Way: walking, abiding, sitting, lying, responding to conditions, and handling matters”119 Mazu portrays a holistic world of connectedness without absorption: “Though the dharma is not attached to anything, every phenomenon one has contact with is thusness”120

Layman Pang (Pang Yun ШЖ) is said to have stated: “My supernatural power and marvelous activity—Drawing water and carrying firewood”121 Instead of some sense of the supernatural as extraordinary, he remarked: “My daily activities are not unusual. I’m just naturally in harmony with them. Grasping nothing, discarding nothing, in every place there is no hindrance, no conflict”122 For Dahui, the marvelous and others’ marvels misleads, as the great issue (dashi ^^) is not supernatural or sacred but “this mind” (cixin ^bL').123 To achieve “silent accord with your own fundamental mind; you don’t have to seek special excellence or extraordinary wonders besides”124 Dahui asked “What is there outside this lump of flesh? What can you hold to be wonderful, mysterious, or marvelous?” All this is already empty; there is no ground to fear emptiness or falling into absolute nothingness (xuwu Ж^).125

Heidegger examines in Being and Time human existence from the perspective of everydayness, what it does and how it lives usually and for the most part. One interpretation of authenticity is that it is a transformation of one’s disposition or comportment toward everydayness. Both emphasize everyday practice in this sense, and the transformative shocks or breakthroughs that potentially modifies them. In Heidegger, it is not sacred enchantment but uncanniness—the anxious dread in the face of one’s inescapable death that cannot be mastered or appropriated. In Chan, it can be a sequence of physical jolts and verbal twists directed at a conversion or modification of the everyday self, since one is already in each case awakened. This turn to the self through the lack of self, the “no-self” (Skt. anatman; wuwo ^®,) or the destructuring of ordinary self-conceptions, is provoked through speaking otherwise through the “living words” (shengyu li) of the abusive, paradoxical, poetic, shocking, and tautological strategies unfolded in Chan Buddhism. These strategies are not efforts to block or forbid doubt through a belief but—akin to Heidegger’s emphasis on lingering in the question and the uncanniness of the nothing— to intensify it into the “great doubt” that through focus and commitment is the occasion of self-awakening.126 Instead of emphasizing its ease, the Korean Seon master Hyujeong -f^ff known as Seosan Taesa (1520-1604)

compares it to a mosquito biting an impenetrable iron statue. Dahui—a figure who is closely associated with the development of kanhua ШШ or gongan introspection meditation on the crucial phase or punch line (huatou МШ) that creates doubt—describes the one suchness of mind and things as requiring “an abrupt, complete break"127

Without fearing or fixating emptiness, or creating new entities via it as early analytic philosophy dreaded of Heidegger’s nothing, “this very lack of anywhere to get a grip is the time for you to let go of your body and life"128 Dahui advocates intensifying and radicalizing one’s doubt: “Take your own constant point of doubt and stick it on your forehead"129 In the worst of moments, when your mind “seems bewildering and stifling and flavorless, as if you are gnawing on an iron spike, this is just the time to apply effort ...”130 Dahui portrayed this as “a sudden leap within the fires of birth and death," in which one leaps out “without moving a hairsbreadth”131 As in Zhuangzi, an important source for Chan Buddhist strategies and rhetoric, death is neither mastered nor anxiously feared for Dahui. Death is another moment to be traversed in the transformation of things: “[N]ot knowing where we come from at birth and not knowing where we go at death," there is no escape and nothing to be found.132

The interruptive force of uncanniness, the abyssal, and the remaining within and inability to escape from the question and one’s own fundamental questionability, is an essential trope for Heidegger during this period. He employs the language of horror, the sublime, or the uncanny as an experience which discloses something fundamentally different about ourselves. Wright maintains that the strangeness and disruption of the conventional and ordinary are two forms of Chan rhetoric.133 One sees the uncanny and shocking in Chan when Linji speaks of murdering Buddha and parents, Huangbo describes the terrors of “being suspended over an infinite void, groundless, with nothing to hold on to,” or in Chan depictions of the “great death” that destructures ordinary understandings of life and death.134

Chan employs its own dramatic and paradoxical language and use of physical surprises like shouting and hitting during the encounter between master and student. There is in each case the disruption of the ordinary flow of experience, a “cutting off” of the habitual and customary succession of thought and practice in order to make, according to Huineng (638-713), “non-abiding the basis or fundamental” (wuzhu wei ben ^ft^^).135

In a passage attributed to Mazu, it is claimed: “Responding to things, [the dharma-body] manifests itself in [many] shapes like the reflection of the moon in water. It functions constantly without establishing a root.”136 Rootlessness is responsiveness, as one can “function responsively without losing balance.”137 It is by cutting off the flow of habits that ordinary persons perceive their own sagehood.138 That is, as in the Xinming of Niutou Farong

(594-657) in the Jingde chuandenglu “just now non-abiding, just

now original mind” (jian zai wu zhu jian zai ben xin M^^ftM^^'t).139 The root mind (benxin ^t) is not an isolated essence, substance, or foundation, as the Chinese word ben ^ implies the rooted or interconnected ground from which things sprout, i.e., a ground that is already plural while being dynamically one in being mutually and non-dually interrelated.140

The denial of habitually lingering in dwelling and abiding, including dwelling in non-dwelling, is challenged by the spontaneous and responsive yet nonhabitual practice of undermining one’s habitual practices. In this sense it is “sudden.” It is breaking through one’s attachments in order to achieve what is not an achievement, namely what Huineng calls no-thought, no-form, no-abiding. It is seeing without being disturbed and a letting occur.141 Dahui describes Chan as an immanent looking and observing: “Just look right here, don’t seek transcendent enlightenment. Just observe and observe.”142

This basic letting is a fundamental responsiveness that is only possible based on the recognition of the emptiness and immanent self-manifestation of the suchness of things. Huineng is said to state: “From the outset the dharma has been in the world; being in the world, it transcends the world. Hence do not seek the transcendent world outside, by discarding the present world itself.”143 Chan Buddhism indirectly through various strategies from the anecdotal to the shocking enacts a reorientation of human “dwelling.” Beyond Heidegger’s language of being at home and homelessness, dwelling is found to be nonabiding or a free and easy dwelling without support. In non-abiding, empty illumination manifests itself (wu chu anxin xu ming zi lu Й®).144 There is a recurring reminder against reification not to abide and cling here either. Non-abiding signifies letting the Way or Dharma circulate freely, without reifying the dharma itself through attachment and calculation, and what indeed should impede it?145 Heidegger challenges reification in articulating the fundamental lack of ground of human existence and of a dwelling or abiding appropriate to this groundlessness and conditionality of each ground and condition.

 
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