'The Truth of Ch'an'

'Sudden (instantaneous) Enlightenment' is the essential teaching of the Supreme Vehicle, chiefly represented by Ch'an, and in this Intemporality is necessarily implied, since it is nowise dependent on duration. But it is not generally realised that this implication must also necessarily include the negation of the validity of the notion of 'time' as the sine qua non of phenomenal manifestation.

It follows that even Ch'an (and, of course, Zen) must make nonsense as long as the concept of 'time' is retained as the basic element of conceptualisation therein. It follows also that the implied notion of 'space', whose duration it measures, must be apperceived as being part of the mechanism of objectivisation, and rejected.

'Time' may then be re-cognised as being a further direction of measurement beyond those by which we constitute our phenomenal universe in 'space', interpreted - since our psychic apparatus is only equipped to cognise via three - as the duration of tri-dimensional volume.

The basic doctrine of Ch'an, and of Zen, being the im-mediate or timeless character of awakening to what-we-are, the comprehension of 'space-time' must necessarily be integral in its apprehension. Such instantaneity being the essential teaching, 'intemporality' must be that also - for each is an aspect of the other.

As long as we continue to remain oblivious of this essential and primordial factor, accepting it as not only actual but factual, is it reasonable to suppose that we shall awaken to what Huang Po called 'the Truth of Ch'an'?

Note: The phrase 'The Truth of Ch'an' is translated for us by John Blofeld in his profound and brilliant translation of Huang Po as 'The Truth of Zen', but poor Huang Po had not the good fortune ever to have heard of Zen or of what his Japanese neighbours were to make of the teaching of his masters and of his own, however important and valuable that may be. Do we refer to the Old Masters of Italian painting by the name of a subsequent school in another land?

(© T.J. Gray, 1968)

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