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Chan Buddhism


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#1 Guest_Li Feng_*

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Posted 31 May 2005 - 03:16 PM

Chan is traditionally held to be a Chinese adaptation of Indian dhyana meditation practices, and is also often said to be influenced by indigenous Chinese Taoism. According to traditional accounts, the school was founded by an Indian monk, Bodhidharma, who arrived in China in about 440 and taught at Shaolin Monastery. Bodhidharma was ostensibly the twenty-eighth patriarch in a lineage that extended all the way back to Shakyamuni Buddha.

Bodhidharma is recorded as having come to China to teach a "separate transmission outside of the texts" which "did not rely upon textuality." His insight was then transmitted through a series of Chinese patriarchs, the most famous of whom was the possibly invented Sixth Patriarch, Hui Neng. A modern revisionist theory, however, suggests that Chan began to develop gradually in different regions of China as a grass-roots movement. According this view, Chan was a reaction to a perceived imbalance in Chinese Buddhism toward the blind pursuit of textual scholarship with a concomitant neglect of the original essence of Buddhist practice: meditation and the cultivation of right view.

After the time of Hui Neng (circa 700 CE), Chan began to branch off into numerous different schools, each with their own special emphasis, but all of which kept the same basic focus on meditational practice, personal instruction and grounded personal experience. During the late Tang and the Song periods, the tradition truly flowered, as a wide number of eminent teachers, such as Mazu, Baizhang, Yunmen and Linji developed specialized teaching methods, which would become characteristic of each of the "five houses" of mature Chinese Chan. Later on, the teaching styles and words of these classical masters were recorded in such important Chan texts as the Biyan Lu; (Blue Cliff Record) and the Wumenguan; (Gateless Passage) which would be studied by later generations of students down to the present.

The Japanese Zen scholar D.T. Suzuki maintained that a Chan satori (Japanese for "understanding") has always been the goal of the training, but that what distinguished the Chan tradition as it developed in China, and as it then spread to Korea and Japan, was a way of life radically different from that of Indian Buddhists. In India, the tradition of the mendicant (holy beggar) prevailed, but in China social circumstances led to the development of a temple and training-center system in which the abbot and the monks all performed mundane tasks. These included food gardening or farming, carpentry, architecture, housekeeping, administration, and the practice of folk medicine. Consequently, the enlightenment sought in Chan had to stand up well to the demands and potential frustrations of everyday life and self-support.

Chan continued to be influential as a religious force in China, although some energy was lost with the syncretist Neo-Confucian revival of Confucianism starting in the Song period. While traditionally distinct, Chan was taught alongside Pure Land in many Chinese Buddhist monasteries. In time, much of this distinction was lost, and many recent masters teach both Chan and Pure Land. Chan was severely repressed in China during the recent modern era with the appearance of the People's Republic, but has more recently been re-asserting itself on the mainland, and has a significant following in Taiwan and Hong Kong and among Overseas Chinese.

In the 20th and 21st Centuries Chan practice has been adopted by Westerners, particularly in Europe and the USA where several lay practitioners have received Dharma transmission from Chan Master Sheng-yen and are now teaching in their own centres.(retrieved from Wikipedia)

Chan lessons contains wisdom that was practicable as it was written nearly a thousand years ago. The force of its logic lucidity transcends not only the boundaries of time but those of learning as well. Its commonsense approach makes it immediately ascessible and virtually indispensile even to those who are not adherents of Asian philosophies. So what is your opinion on the ancient teachings of Chan? Any comments or gestures would be much appreciated.

#2 hansioux

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Posted 31 May 2005 - 04:42 PM

great ariticle.

Coming from being able to meet Shengyan and Dali Lama serveral times, I'd say the Tibetan Buddhism is actually a lot closer to 大乘, which is working towards the enlightenment of every being than the 小乘 Buddhism in Indian and South East Asia, where each monk strives for their own enlightenment.

Zen is definately in a very odd place. The sad thing is, it is now almost impossible to trace back to how the Indian monks practised Zen... I guess there's something to be said against "non-textuality" XD
Begging plea of the weak can only receive disrespect, violence and oppression as bestowments. Blood and sweat of the weak can only receive insult, blame and abuse as rewards.

Lai Ho, Formosan Poet

#3 Guest_Li Feng_*

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Posted 31 May 2005 - 04:54 PM

Thanks

What can you concur about the different types of Buddhism hansioux? Zen Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism. It sounds like there are many differences between these two types of Buddhism. :g:

#4 hansioux

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Posted 31 May 2005 - 05:04 PM

Thanks

What can you concur about the different types of Buddhism hansioux? Zen Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism. It sounds like there are many differences between these two types of Buddhism. :g:

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Actually there's a common mis-understanding from the Han Buddhist side towards the Tibetan Buddhism. I actually find both more a like than anything else. I think the mis-understanding came from Han Buddhist only saw the ritual part of Tibetan Buddhism and tend dismiss it completely.

However there's more to Tibetan Buddhism than rituals. There's a lot of fandamental theories and methods of study that is truely "Buddhism" and that's the part the two are similar.

There's a growing number of Taiwanese starting to learn Tibetan text "The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment" (菩提道次第廣論) by the great Tibetan monk Tsong kha pa.

That books makes a lot of sense, but I am just not very spiritual.
Begging plea of the weak can only receive disrespect, violence and oppression as bestowments. Blood and sweat of the weak can only receive insult, blame and abuse as rewards.

Lai Ho, Formosan Poet

#5 jwrevak

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Posted 31 May 2005 - 07:37 PM

In India, the tradition of the mendicant (holy beggar) prevailed, but in China social circumstances led to the development of a temple and training-center system in which the abbot and the monks all performed mundane tasks. These included food gardening or farming, carpentry, architecture, housekeeping, administration, and the practice of folk medicine. Consequently, the enlightenment sought in Chan had to stand up well to the demands and potential frustrations of everyday life and self-support.

Chan also came to be associated with a school of painting. Subject matter included famous Chan masters, simple scenes from nature, etc. done in a style that was often straightforward, clear, minimalist, and apparently done "in the moment". One such "Chan" artist was Lian Kai (Southern Song dynasty) who painted one of my favorite Chinese paintings, a portrait of the poet Li Po.

Here it a copy:
JAMES W. REVAK
子張曰君子尊賢而容眾嘉善而矜不能
Zizhang said, The superior man honors the wise and tolerates the
common man, praises the virtuous and has compassion for the incapable.

#6 hansioux

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Posted 31 May 2005 - 07:40 PM

Chan also came to be associated with a school of painting.  Subject matter included famous Chan masters, simple scenes from nature, etc. done in a style that was often straightforward, clear, minimalist, and apparently done "in the moment".  One such "Chan" artist was Lian Kai (Southern Song dynasty) who painted one of my favorite Chinese paintings, a portrait of the poet Li Po.

Here it a copy:

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The idea of Zen is definately incorperated into many things. The art of tea is another good example.
Begging plea of the weak can only receive disrespect, violence and oppression as bestowments. Blood and sweat of the weak can only receive insult, blame and abuse as rewards.

Lai Ho, Formosan Poet

#7 General_Zhaoyun

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Posted 16 June 2005 - 12:11 AM

"Zen" is in fact a Japanese word for the chinese word "Chan 禅", which in terms originated from the sanskrit term in buddhism as "Dhyana" or "Chan-na 禅那 ". Dhyana is a term that means "deep meditation".

Because it was the Japanese monks that brought Zen buddhism to America and the west, this sect of buddhism is more popularly known in the west as "Zen Buddhism" and is the same as chinese Chan buddhism.

I haven't studied indepth into Zen buddhism, but I do know that Zen buddhism focuses on some aspects towards achieving enlightenment, one of which is known as instantaneous awakening . A Zen practitionist will go through a rigorous of questioning called Ko'an which poses them certain unconventional question (eg. is your life blue or read color?). These ko'an are designed to crack your brain and through which achieve the wisdom and 'awakening' of achieving enlightenment.

The Zen buddhist also practise lots of meditation to reach certain states of consiousness and through which allows wisdom realisation.
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"夫君子之行:靜以修身,儉以養德;非淡泊無以明志,非寧靜無以致遠。" - 諸葛亮

One should seek serenity to cultivate the body, thriftiness to cultivate the morals. If you are not simple and frugal, your ambition will not sparkle. If you are not calm and cool, you will not reach far. - Zhugeliang

#8 General_Zhaoyun

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Posted 16 June 2005 - 12:46 AM

Here are some verses from Seng-T'san's on Faith Mind- some Zen (Ch'an) words.

Verses on the Faith Mind
Hsin Hsin Ming by Seng-T'san
The Third Patriarch of Zen


The Great Way is not difficult
for those who have no preferences.
When love and hate are both absent
everything becomes clear and undisguised.
Make the smallest distinction, however,
and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart.

If you wish to see the truth
then hold no opinions for or against anything.
To set up what you like against what you dislike
is the disease of the mind.

When the deep meaning of things is not understood,
the mindís essential peace is disturbed to no avail.

The Way is perfect like vast space
where nothing is lacking and nothing in excess.
Indeed, it is due to our choosing to accept or reject
that we do not see the true nature of things.

Live neither in the entanglements of outer things,
nor in inner feelings of emptiness.
Be serene in the oneness of things and such
erroneous views will disappear by themselves.

When you try to stop activity by passivity
your very effort fills you with activity.
As long as you remain in one extreme or the other
you will never know Oneness.

Those who do not live in the single Way
fail in both activity and passivity,
assertion and denial.

To deny the reality of things
is to miss their reality;
To assert the emptiness of things
is to miss their reality.

The more you talk and think about it,
the further astray you wander from the truth.
Stop talking and thinking,
and there is nothing you will not be able to know.

To return to the root is to find meaning,
but to pursue appearances is to miss the source.
At the moment of inner enlightenment
there is a going beyond appearance and emptiness.

The changes that appear to occur in the empty world
we call real only because of our ignorance.
Do not search for the truth;
only cease to cherish opinions.
do not remain in the dualistic state.
Avoid such pursuits carefully.

If there is even a trace of this and that,
of right and wrong,
the mind-essence ewill be lost in confusion.
Although all dualities come from the One,
do not be attached even to this One.

When the mind exists undisturbed in the Way,
nothing in the world can offend.
And when a thing can no longer offend,
it ceases to exist in the old way.

When no discriminating thoughts arise,
the old mind ceases to exist.
When thought objects vanish,
the thinking-subject vanishes:
As when the mind vanishes, objects vanish.

Things are objects because of the subject (mind):
the mind (subject) is such because of things (object).
Understand the relativity of these two
and the basic reality: the unity of emptiness.

In this Emptiness the two are indistinguishable
and each contains in itself the whole world.
If you do not discriminate between coarse and fine
you will not be tempted to prejudice and opinion.

To live in the Great Way is neither easy nor difficult.
But those with limited views are fearful and irresolute:
the faster they hurry, the slower they go.

And clinging (attachment) cannot be limited:
Even to be attached to the idea of enlightenment
is to go astray.
Just let things be in their own way
and there will be neither coming not going.

Obey the nature of things (your own nature)
and you will walk freely and undisturbed.
When the thought is in bondage the truth is hidden
for everything is murky and unclear.
And the burdensome practice of judging
brings annoyance and weariness.

What benefit can be derived
from distinctions and separations?
If you wish to move in the One Way
do not dislike even the world of senses and ideas.
Indeed, to accept them fully
is identical with enlightenment.

The wise man strives to no goals
but the foolish man fetters himself.
There is one Dharma, not many.
Distinctions arise
from the clinging needs of the ignorant.

To seek Mind with the (discriminating) mind
is the greatest of all mistakes.
Rest and unrest derive from illusion;
with enlightenment
there is no liking and disliking.

All dualities come from ignorant inference.
They are like dreams or flowers in air -
foolish to try to grasp them.
Gain and loss, right and wrong,
such thoughts must
finally be abolished at once.

If the eye never sleeps,
all dreams will naturally cease.
If the mind makes no discriminations,
the ten thousand things are as they are,
of single essence.

To understand the mystery of this One-essence
is to be released from all entanglements.
When all things are seen equally
the timeless Self-essence is reached,

No comparisons or analogies are possible
in this causeless, relationless state.
Consider movement stationary
and the stationary in motion,
both movement and rest disappear.
When such dualities cease to exist

Oneness itself cannot exist.
To this ultimate finality
no law or description applies.
For the unified mind in accord with the way
all self-centered striving ceases.

Doubts and irresolutions vanish
and life in true faith is possible.
With a single stroke we are freed from bondage:
Nothing clings to us and we hold to nothing.

All is empty, clear, self-illuminating,
with no exertion of the mindís power.
Here thought, feeling,
knowledge and imagination are of no value.
In this world of suchness
there is neither self nor other-than-self.

To come directly into harmony with this reality
just say when doubt rises "not two".
In this "not two" nothing is separate,
nothing is excluded.

No matter when or where,
enlightenment means entering this truth.
And this truth is beyond extension
or diminution in time and space:

In it a single thought is ten thousand years.
Emptiness here, emptiness there,
but the infinite universe
stands always before your eyes.
Infinitely large and infinitely small;
no difference, for definitions have vanished
and no boundaries are seen.

So too with Being and non-Being.
Donít waste time in doubts and arguments
That have nothing to do with this.

One thing, all things,
move among and intermingle without distinction.
To live in this realization
is to be without anxiety about non-perfection.

To live in this faith is the road to non-duality,
because the non-dual is one with the trusting mind.

Words!

The Way is beyond language,
for in it there is
no yesterday
no tomorrow
no today.
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"夫君子之行:靜以修身,儉以養德;非淡泊無以明志,非寧靜無以致遠。" - 諸葛亮

One should seek serenity to cultivate the body, thriftiness to cultivate the morals. If you are not simple and frugal, your ambition will not sparkle. If you are not calm and cool, you will not reach far. - Zhugeliang

#9 General_Zhaoyun

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Posted 16 June 2005 - 12:54 AM

Here is a very good article about Chan buddhist schools in China and Japan, including some Chan buddhist doctrines..

http://www.meditatio...tericSchool.htm
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"夫君子之行:靜以修身,儉以養德;非淡泊無以明志,非寧靜無以致遠。" - 諸葛亮

One should seek serenity to cultivate the body, thriftiness to cultivate the morals. If you are not simple and frugal, your ambition will not sparkle. If you are not calm and cool, you will not reach far. - Zhugeliang

#10 Borjigin Ayurbarwada

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Posted 08 February 2009 - 02:30 AM

Chan is traditionally held to be a Chinese adaptation of Indian dhyana meditation practices, and is also often said to be influenced by indigenous Chinese Taoism. According to traditional accounts, the school was founded by an Indian monk, Bodhidharma, who arrived in China in about 440 and taught at Shaolin Monastery. Bodhidharma was ostensibly the twenty-eighth patriarch in a lineage that extended all the way back to Shakyamuni Buddha.


That tradition is a total myth. We must separate religious origins with actual facts based on textual criticism. Only the theories in Zen have Buddhist origins(and not completely), most of Zen meditation has no Indian precedence and can not be found in any Indian records. Only some basic lower level meditations such as the kasiṇa might have had yogic precedences, but most notable and emphasized aspect of Zen meditation such as shinkantaza, 只管打坐, koans, and living with the moment have more influence from Zhuang Zi and other meditational practices prevalent in China at the time than from any Buddhist traditions. Of course, Buddhist theories must have influenced Zen meditation, but many of these are brand new innovations rather than been based on preexisting Buddhist practices. In another word, Claiming Zen coming from India is almost as baseless as claiming Chinese MA came from India. Chan meditation is a native Chinese creation with only limited Indian origin, anyone who actually practiced and studied Theravada meditation(the closest to original buddhism) and compared it with Zen can tell you this. Indian meditational practices focuses on Jhanic concentrations, both the Buddhist and Hindu meditations revolves around these; Buddhist meditation added the vippassana practice and philosophical insights into it as well. Zen has none of these, much of the Zen practices of koan, open eye gaze, and living with the moment either derived from original Chinese meditation prior to introduction of Buddhism or newly created meditational practices based on Buddhist and Daoist theories. So only the basic philosophy of Zen is Buddhist, the entire applicational aspect of Zen is native to China.

We can even make an analogy between comparing zen and original buddhism to modern Chinese medicine and western medical science. Science is a western approach in explaining matters, the PRC instituted modern TCM research adopted the scientific approach, such as the existence of microogranisms called bacteria(a new concept), to explain Chinese medicines(which originally had a different philosophy behind it), but the approach is still based on traditional Chinese medicine. Similarily, Zen is based on preexisting Chinese meditational practices from texts like the Zhuangzi and older traditions with certain innovations, only it used a Buddhist approach of emptiness and dependent origination to explain it. Because it has religious elements, lineage is more important in Zen than Chinese medicine, so they attributed it to Buddha when it actually have virtually nothing to do with Buddhist meditation.

Edited by Borjigin Ayurbarwada, 09 February 2009 - 10:06 PM.





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