What has Chinese Buddhism lost?

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Indrajala
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Re: What has Chinese Buddhism lost?

Postby Indrajala » Mon Jun 17, 2013 8:23 am

Last edited by Indrajala on Mon Jun 17, 2013 9:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
tad etat sarvajñānaṃ karuṇāmūlaṃ bodhicittahetukam upāyaparyavasānam iti |

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Dodatsu
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Re: What has Chinese Buddhism lost?

Postby Dodatsu » Mon Jun 17, 2013 8:48 am

Contemplating the power of Tathagata's Primal Vow,
One sees that no foolish being who encounters it passes by in vain.
When a person single-heartedly practices the saying of the Name alone,
It brings quickly to fullness and perfection [in that person] the great treasure ocean of true and real virtues.
- Shinran Shonin

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Dodatsu
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Re: What has Chinese Buddhism lost?

Postby Dodatsu » Mon Jun 17, 2013 8:51 am

Contemplating the power of Tathagata's Primal Vow,
One sees that no foolish being who encounters it passes by in vain.
When a person single-heartedly practices the saying of the Name alone,
It brings quickly to fullness and perfection [in that person] the great treasure ocean of true and real virtues.
- Shinran Shonin

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Indrajala
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Re: What has Chinese Buddhism lost?

Postby Indrajala » Mon Jun 17, 2013 9:08 am

tad etat sarvajñānaṃ karuṇāmūlaṃ bodhicittahetukam upāyaparyavasānam iti |

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Dodatsu
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Re: What has Chinese Buddhism lost?

Postby Dodatsu » Mon Jun 17, 2013 10:03 am

Contemplating the power of Tathagata's Primal Vow,
One sees that no foolish being who encounters it passes by in vain.
When a person single-heartedly practices the saying of the Name alone,
It brings quickly to fullness and perfection [in that person] the great treasure ocean of true and real virtues.
- Shinran Shonin

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Astus
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Re: What has Chinese Buddhism lost?

Postby Astus » Mon Jun 17, 2013 10:43 am

Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.



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rory
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Re: What has Chinese Buddhism lost?

Postby rory » Mon Jun 17, 2013 9:32 pm

Actually I think you could have statues of the entire Assembly at Vulture peak as an orthodox Nichiren altarpiece, which would have the 4 Maharajas, nagas, Kannon, Fudo Myo, Aizen, everyone. But you'd need a giant room and lots of money to commission it. Paper mandalas come from the Shingon influence and also are portable and cheap (to this day) so economics has some play. But I certainly visualize Fudo, Aizen and the 4 Maharajas and ask for their protection. I don't pray to them individually, but plenty of Nichiren sects have these statues as altars and people do.

I grew up in New York City where there were plenty of Chinese temples, Japanese temples and Euro-american temples usually Zen. I had plenty of visuals and aesthetics, even the Shin church which I visited and was rather run down at the time (since refurbished) with tatty linoleum, had a beautiful altar, inspiring aesthetic statue of Amida and Lotus hangings and flowers and incense. Compare that with the humanistic temple statue of maitreya that was huge white marble, gold robe with red lips..I know China has better to offer. I wish they'd embrace their fantastic rich legacy.

I've been to a Tendai temple and the Tendai priests' robes are T'ang, they're not kimono style at all. I love it,
gassho
rory
Namu Kanzeon Bosatsu
Chih-I:
The Tai-ching states "the women in the realms of Mara, Sakra and Brahma all neither abandoned ( their old) bodies nor received (new) bodies. They all received buddhahood with their current bodies (genshin)" Thus these verses state that the dharma nature is like a great ocean. No right or wrong is preached (within it) Ordinary people and sages are equal, without superiority or inferiority
Paul, Groner "The Lotus Sutra in Japanese Culture"eds. Tanabe p. 58
https://www.tendai-usa.org/

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Re: What has Chinese Buddhism lost?

Postby kirtu » Mon Jun 17, 2013 10:38 pm



"Even if you practice only for an hour a day with faith and inspiration, good qualities will steadily increase. Regular practice makes it easy to transform your mind. From seeing only relative truth, you will eventually reach a profound certainty in the meaning of absolute truth."
Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche

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rory
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Re: What has Chinese Buddhism lost?

Postby rory » Tue Jun 18, 2013 2:02 am

Gosh I'd forgotten the famous taizokai and kongokai mandalas of Tendai and Shingon, they're not just aesthetic' but essential to esoteric practice, as well as a lot of esoteric equipment incense burners all kinds of stuff; material culture. Buddhism isn't just 'texts' though people in the West may feel so as that's how they were introduced to it. In days before literacy, story-telling scrolls, scrolls of the Pure Land and Lotus Sutra were essential in spreading the Dharma.

Rev. Dodatsu, it's so good to see you here :namaste:
gassho
Rory
Namu Kanzeon Bosatsu
Chih-I:
The Tai-ching states "the women in the realms of Mara, Sakra and Brahma all neither abandoned ( their old) bodies nor received (new) bodies. They all received buddhahood with their current bodies (genshin)" Thus these verses state that the dharma nature is like a great ocean. No right or wrong is preached (within it) Ordinary people and sages are equal, without superiority or inferiority
Paul, Groner "The Lotus Sutra in Japanese Culture"eds. Tanabe p. 58
https://www.tendai-usa.org/

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Indrajala
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Re: What has Chinese Buddhism lost?

Postby Indrajala » Tue Jun 18, 2013 3:18 am

tad etat sarvajñānaṃ karuṇāmūlaṃ bodhicittahetukam upāyaparyavasānam iti |

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rory
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Re: What has Chinese Buddhism lost?

Postby rory » Tue Jun 18, 2013 3:37 am

Namu Kanzeon Bosatsu
Chih-I:
The Tai-ching states "the women in the realms of Mara, Sakra and Brahma all neither abandoned ( their old) bodies nor received (new) bodies. They all received buddhahood with their current bodies (genshin)" Thus these verses state that the dharma nature is like a great ocean. No right or wrong is preached (within it) Ordinary people and sages are equal, without superiority or inferiority
Paul, Groner "The Lotus Sutra in Japanese Culture"eds. Tanabe p. 58
https://www.tendai-usa.org/

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Indrajala
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Re: What has Chinese Buddhism lost?

Postby Indrajala » Tue Jun 18, 2013 4:59 am

tad etat sarvajñānaṃ karuṇāmūlaṃ bodhicittahetukam upāyaparyavasānam iti |

JKhedrup
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Re: What has Chinese Buddhism lost?

Postby JKhedrup » Tue Jun 18, 2013 7:33 am

I remember from my time in Taiwan enjoying the mixed Taoist and Buddhist temples far more than the large Buddhist ones. There was a real energy associated with the places and the artwork was usually far richer, while some of the big Buddhist temples tended to be a little bit utilitarian (but not all). I remember one temple to Guan Yin that I often visited where people would throw some sort of wood sticks to tell fortunes.

The most impressive Chinese Buddhist artwork in my opinion is that connected with the Amitabha and Avatamsaka sutras. Since the assemblies connected with those teachings encompassed such a wide variety of being from Indo-Buddhist mythology, it is interesting to see how they were adapted to the Chinese aesthetic. Similarly, the Tibetan thangkha work that I appreciate the most incorporates elements from Chinese landscapes, such as the Karma Gadri style as it was expressed at Palpung monastery http://www.himalayanart.org/search/set.cfm?setID=251.

An interesting trend in Chinese Buddhist temples across the board seems to be a liking of white jade Burmese style figures of Buddha Shakyamuni.

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Re: What has Chinese Buddhism lost?

Postby Croweboat91 » Mon Sep 30, 2013 12:40 pm

Venerable Indrajala,

I appreciate your comments, especially as someone who is easily enamored with modern Taiwanese Buddhist institutions. I only have an undergraduate knowledge of Buddhist things, and know close to nothing about the art and history of the East Asian tradition. Your comments have produced some healthy disillusionment in me.

I first encountered institutionalized Buddhism through these modern organizations in Taiwan, and had nothing in my memory to compare them to. And maybe that's exactly why Taiwan's Buddhist organizations appear so different from what preceded them in the Chinese tradition -- this generation of Taiwanese Buddhists are for the most part unable to meet the tradition of the past, whether through its architecture, through the works of past authors, or through the stories that would place modern teachers within a broader context of practices, achievements, and goals. There's a disconnect.

However, as a historian, haven't you read about the different political and social upheavals that lead to the persecution of the Chinese Buddhist tradition in the past? Hasn't the Chinese tradition resurfaced again and again, despite repeated purges? I'm not asking rhetorically - I genuinely want to know.

Has the tradition become more fragmented and diluted with every upheaval? If so, doesn't that provide us with a good reason to study it, even within its modern contexts? Instead of lamenting about the chasm between the Buddhism of then and now, why not invigorate the present tradition with knowledge from the past? We can find much that is redeeming within the modern traditions, although they have departed in some fundamental ways with traditional forms.

While noticing the almost unrecognizable face of Chinese Buddhism in Taiwan, we can't forget the incredible odds that Chinese Buddhist escapees faced when they left empty-handed for the provincial island. As a result of this transplantation, and subsequent developments, there almost seems to be a new religion in Taiwan, which calls itself "Buddhism" and which refers back to the past for legitimization. But it is also possible to refer to the past in order to criticize the present, which seems to be what you are doing.

The potential for this type of critical reflection already exists in Taiwan -- masters like Yinshun and Sheng Yan both searched vigorously within fundamental texts and traditions to find out how to rebuild Chinese Buddhism (and sometimes they had no choice but to search for solutions to modern crises, which to me is both what allowed the tradition to survive and what allowed it to become diluted, for modern issues are indeed very different from the central issue which the Buddha defined: suffering). The form of Buddhism that is taking root in Taiwan could be helped along by people like you, who possess a broader historical perspective, who can refer the tradition back to its earlier days, when important founding precedents (in art, the pantheon, practices, architecture) had not been lost.

Imagine compiling information about Tang architecture, or Tang esoteric practices, from Japan, and then bringing them alive in Taiwan, where there is much faith, nostalgia, and funding.


As modern international Buddhists, we're able to "shop" for the tradition we prefer, and to pick up or drop certain practices here and there. We aren't necessarily affiliated with one nation, or one tradition, in this regard. This is good in some ways. But when the integrity of the Chinese Buddhist tradition is at stake, for example, we may feel that it's not our personal responsibility to resuscitate it. We can look for a Theravada meditation teacher, or a temple that contains a broader pantheon, or whatever we want, somewhere else.

This mentality of "shopping" for the dharma won't be helpful for those who are grounded in, say, the modern Taiwanese Buddhist environment, those who are bound to a tradition by language and habit. Such a tradition could benefit greatly from the suggestions of learned and devoted people who aren't limited by a commitment to one context. We should be aware of how our lack of strong national affiliations informs us -- we may feel somewhat immune to the political and ideological threats that endanger Buddhist traditions in their local contexts.

If that wasn't what you were expressing, then I've responded to a hypothetical speaker, but maybe my comments will still be useful. And I'd love to hear more about the persecutions the Chinese tradition faced in centuries past.

All the best
Chris

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Indrajala
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Re: What has Chinese Buddhism lost?

Postby Indrajala » Mon Sep 30, 2013 3:18 pm

tad etat sarvajñānaṃ karuṇāmūlaṃ bodhicittahetukam upāyaparyavasānam iti |

JKhedrup
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Re: What has Chinese Buddhism lost?

Postby JKhedrup » Mon Sep 30, 2013 6:08 pm

All the various forms of Buddhism have ethnocentric attitudes to some degree. But it was only in a Chinese monastery that I was told I should "Pray to be reborn Chinese, because then you'll finally understand."

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Re: What has Chinese Buddhism lost?

Postby dzogchungpa » Mon Sep 30, 2013 8:47 pm

Through Dzogchen we can really understand what God is and we don’t have to worry if there is a God or not. God always exists as our real nature, the base, for everybody. - Chögyal Namkhai Norbu

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Re: What has Chinese Buddhism lost?

Postby Matylda » Wed Oct 16, 2013 11:43 am

Well, nenbutsu or whatever name we call it, sanskrit etc. of course is general method of the mahayana sutra, but in China and specially Japan it got very particular importance forming independent schools, studyies and practices. Generally it generated a tradition on its own, the source might be Indian or any other, but if we look at far east, as far as Japan it got extreme accomplishment and history.

As for the buildings, wood etc. they are probably of less importance, however carelessness is something we cannot call light matter... for exemple I have a friend, Chinese monk, who has completed his training in China proper, and in Japan in soto school... he is a scholar, and wrote great book on zen calligraphy. According to his testimony Chinese did not preserve anything from famous masters... like inka scrolls, shiho documents etc. all were simply lost in China... but those of Chinese origin were preserved with great care in Japan.. so he, being a Chinese monk, when does research on those priceless pieces of writings of enlightened masters has to do it in ... Japan.

I wonder why Chinese did not care.. I asked him and his only answer was - nobody cared. it gives a lot of thoughts - What has Chinese Buddhism lost?

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Indrajala
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Re: What has Chinese Buddhism lost?

Postby Indrajala » Wed Oct 16, 2013 12:53 pm

tad etat sarvajñānaṃ karuṇāmūlaṃ bodhicittahetukam upāyaparyavasānam iti |

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Re: What has Chinese Buddhism lost?

Postby TheSpirit » Wed Oct 16, 2013 2:37 pm

There is definitely something very sacred about Japanese's temple and shrine. The architecture, the design, the color, the neatness and order, the richness in culture, the respectable-aspect of it that really put you into a competely different realm as if you left the mundane world behind and enter a sacred holy land....... I had been to a few Vietnamese temple and Chinese and I just don't get the same motivation. So definitely your surrounding is important as it can shift the mentality of an individual and can be an inspiration.

Most Chinese and Vietnamese temple are just so brightly colored, it makes me feel anxious and busy being in it. Like the following:

Vietnamese
Image
Looks like it was made from plastic........

Chinese
Image

Having that said. I do like Chinese/Vietnamese older temple/shrine.
“To be fully alive is to have an aesthetic perception of life because a major part of the world's goodness lies in its often unspeakable beauty.”
― Yukitaka Yamamoto


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