Niutou Farong 牛頭法融 is the founder of the Niutou sect of Chan, and the third master Sengcan 僧璨 is the legitimate successor to his lineage. They were imagined to have been active in almost the same period, but actually, both of them were fictional characters. They are ascribed “inscriptions,” the Xin ming 心銘 and the Xinxin ming 信心銘. These inscriptions explain the mutual disappearance of the mind and the world 心境双滅, and the state beyond contemplation and observation 絶観忘守 which emerges from such a disappearance. It is interesting that they are similar not only in thought, but also in literal style.
These inscriptions stand in a clear line of the tradition which focus on the mind as an object of contemplation. In the eighth century, to which these works plausibly belong, many texts discussed “no mind” (無心) and no mentation (無念), and this was a crucial period for the development of Chan thought.
This paper compares the Xin ming and Xinxin ming, and thereby explores Chan thought in this early period.