Samch’ŏ chŏnsim (Three places of the mind-transmission 三處傳心) is one of the best-known terms in the Korean Buddhist tradition. It refers to three different events in which the Buddha Śākyamuni transmitted the mind to his successor, Mahākāśyapa. These events include the Buddha sharing his seat, holding up a flower, and sticking his feet out of his coffin. Despite its popularity, the term has hardly attracted serious academic attention. Scholars have assumed that it originated from China to refer to those “historical” episodes that happened in India. However, textual evidence shows (a) that many mind-transmission episodes developed in medieval China to substantiate the Chan separation from the scriptural tradition and (b) that the term Samch’ŏ chŏnsim was first introduced in Korea to treat the three episodes of Samch’ŏ chŏnsim collectively and to attempt a new interpretation of the mind-transmission. The term first appears in the Koryŏ Sŏn master Kagun’s Sŏnmun yŏmsong sŏrhwa 禪門拈頌說話 to present the idea that the Buddha transmitted to Kāśyapa different minds or different aspects of the mind in different times and places.


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pp. 145-174
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