Stylistic Means of Conveying Prajñā in Seng-zhao’s Zhao Lun ─ Focusing on Concepts of “Self Empty”, “Investigating Mystery”, “Depolarization and Benevolence” and “Self and All Things Arising from Conditioned Causation”
僧肇《肇論》文字般若化 ──以「自虛」、「參玄」、「寂用」、 「會萬物以成己者」為焦點
蘇美文 (Mei-wen Su)

  The composition of Seng-zhao's Zhao Lun (The Treatises of Seng-zhao) marked the end of Geyi (格義) Buddhism. The Dharma transmitted from India and the Western Regions could be fully expressed in Chinese, facilitating its propagation in the Chinese speaking world. The philosophy contained in the texts could be conveyed without error, and the texts could be used in a lively manner, inspiring the development of Chinese Buddhism. Seng-zhao was a master of using the metaphysical Taoist concepts of the Lao-Zhuang, which people at that time were familiar with. He could immerse himself in it, but also come out of it, and was praised by his teacher Kumārajīva who said: "Your understanding is superior to mine, and it is close to the true meaning." His words were precise, elegant and closely linked with one another. When the words are interpreted, their significance is often extraordinary. Not only does his text break away from the Lao-Zhuang, according itself with the Buddhist prajnā philosophy; its style is in accordance with its contents, displaying a remarkably flexible use of the Chinese language. It is imbued with the power of practice. This model set by Seng-zhao's unique literary style, which I refer to as the "prajnā-ification" of speech, had a far ranging influence on the subsequent development of Chinese Buddhism. Especially, words with strength of practice are often used by the Chan schools, inspiring the teaching style of Chan masters, Buddhist poetry, stories of encounters between masters and disciples, and words bringing about the harmony of wisdom and state. The reason why Seng-zhao could freely discuss Dharma in Chinese is related to the Dharma's understanding of language. This paper first explores the Dharma and Seng-zhao's concept of realism, before giving specific examples of representative words in Seng-zhao's Zhao Lun to discuss how they were used by Seng Zhao in relation to this notion of prajnā-ification, and how they were accepted by later generations of practitioners. In this way, the status and value of Seng-zhao's Zhao Lun can be understood more accurately. This paper selects four related words and one topic dealing with the issue of stylistic principles. They are as follows: 1. Casting away the polarization of things: zixu (自虛) and ji (即); 2. Transforming the context of Taoist concepts: canxuan (參玄); 3. Choosing new words: xuzhao (虛照), jiyong (寂用), ji (寂), zhao (照), mozhao (默照); 4. Truth is found in contact with the object: "to realize that self and all things arise from conditioned causation; only saints are capable of this"; 5. Perfect correspondence between style and message.


Seng-zhao, Zhao Lun, Geyi Buddhism, Shitou Xiqian, Silent Illumination