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Colleagues: Jimmy Yu notes: Just a side note, modern scholarship's characterization of huatou as coming from koan is actually an assumption influenced by Japanese Zen. (Bradley, please don't teach this to your students!) Sure, some were derived from gong'an collections. But as you see in the above huatous (of which they are only a small sampling of others), they do not necessarily stem from gong'ans at all (if one understands gong'an/koan as cases in the sense of gong'an/koan collections), but could derive from any number of sources such as scriptures, discourse records, or just a new spin on a common buddhist practices. In attempting to problematize the meaning of huatou, Professor Yu perhaps veers too far toward a later Chinese understanding of the term. This characterization of huatou as deriving (originally) from gong'an has a clear pedigree in both Song- and Yuan-period Chinese materials, as well as in contemporaneous Korean sources; it is not just a Japanese Zen notion. Dahui Zonggao specifically describes kanhua (observing the huatou) as a type of practice that focuses on the principal "topic" (the fundamental denotation of the term huatou) of gong'ans, most typically referring to Zhaozhou's wu; he intends this approach to be distinguished from the more literary analysis of gong'ans found in the gong'an collections, such as the Biyan lu, compiled by his own teacher Yuanwu Keqin. Due to this shift toward "observing the keyword Chan" (kanhua Chan) away from "literary Chan" (wenzi Chan), the use of gong'ans fades in favor of huatou, and huatou in turn broadens to refer to any number of "phrases" or "topics" that can generate doubt. In some of his discourses and letters, Dahui also adumbrates this eventual broadening of huatou, as in passages where he says that the "doubt" that is so central to kanhua meditation need not derive just from classical Chan material, but can even be generated from reading sūtra literature: e.g., "When you are reading the sūtras or the stories surrounding the access to the path of ancient masters and you do not understand them clearly, your mind will become puzzled, frustrated, and “tasteless”—just as if you were gnawing on an iron rod....Do not then let go of your perplexity, for that is where the intellect cannot operate and thought cannot reach; it is the road through which discrimination is eradicated and theorizing ended." (Dahui yulu, T 1998:47.891a22 ff). These topics then no longer need be tied to the classical gong'an collections and new huatou are created that are not connected to gong'an, as Jimmy rightly points out. In a reductionist move, the Korean tradition even goes so far as to derive all hwadu from the generic hwadu "what is it?" (imwŏtko, the vernacular Korean equivalent of the Chinese shi shenmma是甚麼) and some strands use imwŏtko as the question fundamental to all kanhwa Sŏn practice. Best, Robert Robert Buswell Distinguished Professor of Buddhist Studies Director, Center for Buddhist Studies, UCLA Director, Academy of Buddhist Studies (Pulgyo haksurwon), Dongguk University, Seoul -- H-Buddhism (Buddhist Scholars Information Network) Web Site: http://www.h-net.org/~buddhism Posting Guidelines: http://www.h-net.org/~buddhism/posting_guidelines.html Account Handling: http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/wa?SUBED1=h-buddhism