Exploring the Introduction to Venerable Pings Xiao in the Book of Chinese Buddhism in the 20th Century

Comments on Venerable Pings Xiao found on the Internet can go to two extremes, causing many to be confused. “How to understand Pings Xiao in a truly objective and correct way” is a question on many people’s minds. Only an entity with high credibility can make a truly objective comment. However, most of the Internet websites either strongly criticize or greatly praise him, each from its own standpoint, neither achieving neutrality nor independence.

This article starts its discussion on Venerable Pings Xiao by referring to the comments made in one of the most neutral and independent books, Chinese Buddhism in the 20th Century, co-written by Chinese Professors Chen Bing and Deng Zimei. Professor Chen Bing was born in Wushan, Gansu Province, in 1945. He graduated from the Department of Chinese of Lanzhou University, then from the Graduate School of the Department of Religions, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. He is currently professor in the Graduate School of Religious Studies, Sichuan University, and Director of the Buddhist Culture Research Center of Sichuan University. Professor Deng Zimei was born in Wuxi of Jiangsu in 1951, and graduated from the Chinese Profession of Jiangnan Insitute, and then from the Graduate School of History Department, Huadong Normal University. He is currently associate professor in the Institute of Law and Politics of Jiangnan University, specializing in modern history of Buddhism in China. Moreover, Taiwanese professors, Lan Jifu and Jiang Chanteng, have published articles to recommend Chinese Buddhism in the 20th Century. This book was published by Modern Chan Publishing Co. in 2003 (ISBN 957-9622-37-X). In Chapter 7, “Invigoration of the Chan School”, p. 357, it is stated:

In Taiwan, there is a home-staying Buddhist practitioner named Pings Xiao, who has thoroughly mastered the Chan School teachings through “Buddha-remembrance Without Appearance” and founded the “Buddhist True Enlightenment Practitioners Association” in 1990. He frequently presides over seven-day intensive Chan retreat and personally guides many participants in their Chan practice. Reportedly, well over a hundred practitioners have reached enlightenment thanks to him. Through his publications, including The Dharma Eye of Chan School, An Easy Way to Identify the True or False Enlightenment, Mastery of School Tenets and Eloquence, etc., Pings Xiao has been promoting both the Chan and the Consciousness-only schools, with his arguments firmly based on classical Buddhist texts and on the insight gained from his Chan practice. He champions the theory of Tathagatagarbha and has criticized the Prasangika Madhyamika Sect of the Tibetan Secret School. In fact, he has built up a very unique insight into the whole Buddha dharma and a practice system that directly leads towards the Buddhahood way through Buddha-remembrance Without Appearance. He has sharply criticized the views of Yuexi, Yinshun and many of the Tibetan Secret School patriarchs and has been particularly severe towards the Tibetan Secret School, clearly pointing out all kinds of misstatements it made regarding the nature of the true mind and all kinds of eternalism and nihilism it advocated. His practice system can be viewed as a further development of the Chan and Pure Land Practice Ways since the Ming and Song Dynasties. Nevertheless, he has inevitably been the target of controversies given the number of enemies he has made.

The above passage commented that Venerable Pings Xiao has “a very unique insight into the whole Buddha dharma” and has formed “a practice system that directly leads to the Buddhahood way through Buddha-remembrance Without Appearance.” It also described his system as being “a further development of the Chan and Pure Land Practice Ways since the Ming and Song Dynasties.” Lastly, it stated he “has inevitably been the target of controversies given the number of enemies he has made”.

 

探討《二十世紀中國佛教》一書中對 平實導師的介紹

網路上面對 平實導師的評論非常兩極,導致許多人非常困惑。「如何才能真正客觀而正確地瞭解蕭平實這個人」,一直是許多人想要解答的問題。要能真正客觀地評論,必須是一個非常有公信力的單位。然而網路上多數網站的立場,要不然就是嚴厲指責,要不然就是極力推崇,都各有立場,無法做到中立且獨立。

本文將從引證最中立而且獨立的一本書之評論,來探討 平實導師。《二十世紀中國佛教》這本書,由大陸的兩位教授,陳兵及鄧子美合著。陳兵教授 1945 年生於甘肅武山,先後畢業於蘭州大學中文系、中國社科院研究生院宗教系。現任四川大學宗教學研究所教授、四川大學佛教文化研究中心主任。鄧子美教授 1951 年生於江蘇無錫,先後畢業於江南學院中文專業、華東師範大學歷史學研究所。現任江南大學法政學院副教授,專攻中國近現代佛教史。《二十世紀中國佛教》另有兩位台灣教授藍吉富、江燦騰著作專文推薦,由現代禪出版社於 2003 出版 (ISBN 957-9622-37-X)。在該書的第七章:「禪宗的振作」,第 357 頁中,對 平實導師的介紹如下:

台灣另有蕭平實居士,由「無相念佛」透徹禪宗,於1990年創立「佛教正覺同修會」,經常舉辦禪七,親自指導多人參修,據稱開悟者已達百餘人。蕭氏撰有《宗門法眼》、《真假開悟之簡易辯正法》、《宗通說通》等,引經據典,根據修證經驗,發揚禪宗、唯識,力護如來藏學,批判應成中觀,形成了對整體佛法的獨特見地和由無相念佛直驅佛道的修證體系,並對月溪、印順乃至眾多密教祖師的見解進行了激烈的抨擊,抨擊密教尤力,對錯認心性的各種說法及各種常見、斷見作了詳悉指陳。其修學體系可謂自宋明以來禪淨雙修之道的進一步發展。然樹敵過多,難免遭致諍論。

以上的評論中,認為蕭平實有「對整體佛法的獨特見地」,而且形成一套「由無相念佛直驅佛道的修證體系」。又評論他的體系,是「自宋明以來禪淨雙修之道的進一步發展」。最後則又評論他「樹敵過多,難免遭致諍論」。