This paper explores Renshan Jizhen’s (1631-1697) meditation teachings as presented in the Canchan Diyibu Yaojue (參禪第一步要訣 “Essence of the First Step in Chan Practice”). In Renshan Jizhen’s epitaph, Sung-Ling Chin (1637-1714) stated that Renshan Jizhen wrote the 4000 word-long “Essence of the First Step in Chan Practice” as a manual to instruct his students. Although this work seems to have disappeared, this paper identifies 3800 of its words in the recently discovered Renshan Heshang Baohua Yulu (仁山和尚寶華語錄) and Huading Heshang Yuyao (華頂和尚語要). Disputes over justifiability of using principles and essentials of Chan in late Ming dynasty have drawn scholars’ attention to the Sanfeng lineage’s teachings regarding Chan practice, including Hanyue Fazang’s (1573-1635) Yumi Shen Canchan Zhuji (於密滲參禪諸偈) and Huishan Jiexian’s (1610-1672) Chanmen Duanlianshuo (禪門鍛鍊說). This paper examines the contents and historical context of the “Essence of the First Step in Chan Practice” to explore Renshan Jizhen’s meditation teachings. By comparing it to the aforementioned works of Hanyue Fazang and Huishan Jiexian, this article tries to clarify the Sanfeng lineage’s attitudes toward the employment of different teaching skills in Chan practice.
Renshan Jizhen, Sanfeng lineage, Hanyue Fazang, Huishan Jiexian, Chan practice