use of mala in zen/chan

use of mala in zen/chan

Postby upasaka_/\_ » Tue May 08, 2012 1:15 am

one can easily discern what malas are used for in vajrayana buddhism, chanting things like "om mani padme hum", etc. each time you chant it, you go to the next bead. or in pure land, "amituofo" next bead, "amituofo" next bead, "amituofo" next bead, X infinity.

what are they used for though in chan and zen buddhism? mostly what i found searching on line is just people saying that mainly chan and zen don't use them and that when they do it's only a small number of people in sects that have been influenced by vajrayana or pure land. but i see pictures everywhere of chan and zen monks and famous masters wearing or holding malas (modern in photographs and ancient in drawings, paintings and statues) so it seems a little more wide spread than just a few sects or monks influenced by vajrayana or pure land. i can't find anywhere that the practice is explained. all the zen/chan writings i have come accross detail morality, koans, mindfulness, sitting meditation, etc. but i have never come across any that detail or recommend mala practice. i'm puzzled.

could someone tell me how precisely they are used in zen/chan and what specifically is chanted. as much detail as possible please :), such as what schools do what chants, what teachers recommend what types, how to do the chants, etc. etc.


sorry to repost, i'm new to this forum and didn't see there was a zen forum and mistakenly posted this in the general mahayana section before.
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Re: use of mala in zen/chan

Postby Huifeng » Tue May 08, 2012 4:45 am

In Chinese Buddhism in general, Abbots and former Abbots usually wear a very heavy mala around the neck. In fact, that's how you identify the Abbot (heshang / fangzhang).

Other than this, which is purely worn, some Chan (and other Chinese Buddhist) practitioners use a mala for ... guess what ... reciting mantra or the name(s) of buddhas or bodhisattvas.

Some like to hold them when reciting, others will often wear it around the wrist, etc.

~~ Huifeng
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Re: use of mala in zen/chan

Postby upasaka_/\_ » Tue May 08, 2012 4:53 am

Huifeng wrote:In Chinese Buddhism in general, Abbots and former Abbots usually wear a very heavy mala around the neck. In fact, that's how you identify the Abbot (heshang / fangzhang).

Other than this, which is purely worn, some Chan (and other Chinese Buddhist) practitioners use a mala for ... guess what ... reciting mantra or the name(s) of buddhas or bodhisattvas.

Some like to hold them when reciting, others will often wear it around the wrist, etc.

~~ Huifeng



thanks, so is there anywhere this stuff is detailed? like instructions from a certain teacher or school on what buddhas to name or what mantras to say?
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Re: use of mala in zen/chan

Postby Huifeng » Tue May 08, 2012 4:57 am

upasaka_/\_ wrote:
Huifeng wrote:In Chinese Buddhism in general, Abbots and former Abbots usually wear a very heavy mala around the neck. In fact, that's how you identify the Abbot (heshang / fangzhang).

Other than this, which is purely worn, some Chan (and other Chinese Buddhist) practitioners use a mala for ... guess what ... reciting mantra or the name(s) of buddhas or bodhisattvas.

Some like to hold them when reciting, others will often wear it around the wrist, etc.

~~ Huifeng



thanks, so is there anywhere this stuff is detailed? like instructions from a certain teacher or school on what buddhas to name or what mantras to say?


At your friendly neighborhood Chinese Buddhist temple, and / or those who live there.

Otherwise it's like asking for the content of half of Chinese Buddhism... haha!

~~ Huifeng
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Re: use of mala in zen/chan

Postby upasaka_/\_ » Tue May 08, 2012 4:59 am



At your friendly neighborhood Chinese Buddhist temple, and / or those who live there.

Otherwise it's like asking for the content of half of Chinese Buddhism... haha!

~~ Huifeng



?

i get that i could ask people at a temple, but what does the second line mean?
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Re: use of mala in zen/chan

Postby Huifeng » Tue May 08, 2012 5:55 am

Well, the second part means that this "stuff" is "detailed" all over the place in Chinese Buddhism.
So, it's a bit like asking "Where are those practices that Buddhists do detailed?"

~~ Huifeng
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Re: use of mala in zen/chan

Postby upasaka_/\_ » Tue May 08, 2012 6:58 am

Huifeng wrote:Well, the second part means that this "stuff" is "detailed" all over the place in Chinese Buddhism.
So, it's a bit like asking "Where are those practices that Buddhists do detailed?"

~~ Huifeng



i just want one instruction manual or internet page or even a quote from any chan or zen master or school on how to do mala practice, i'm not asking for the whole of asian buddhism mala practice as, you're right, that would be an absurdly broad question. you don't seem to read my original posts very carefully and it makes your responses redundant as you keep re posting information from the original post. i am done here as well.
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Re: use of mala in zen/chan

Postby Infinite » Tue May 08, 2012 7:32 am

upasaka_/\_ wrote:
Huifeng wrote:Well, the second part means that this "stuff" is "detailed" all over the place in Chinese Buddhism.
So, it's a bit like asking "Where are those practices that Buddhists do detailed?"

~~ Huifeng



i just want one instruction manual or internet page or even a quote from any chan or zen master or school on how to do mala practice, i'm not asking for the whole of asian buddhism mala practice as, you're right, that would be an absurdly broad question. you don't seem to read my original posts very carefully and it makes your responses redundant as you keep re posting information from the original post. i am done here as well.

No his point is that what is known as Chan practice is really just Mahayana Practice the different schools becoming separate largely has to do with Japanese Law thus the reason he is saying it is a very large and vague question you are asking. Basically what you are asking is what is mala Practice for Mahayana and that is a rather large, sweeping question. I had similar confusion towards Chan until Huifeng explained it to me.
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Re: use of mala in zen/chan

Postby Astus » Tue May 08, 2012 8:21 am

A common practice with mala is nianfo, usually reciting the name of Amita Buddha.

Here is a book for you on that practice: Taming the Monkey MInd

But it's not very complicated at all, I mean, using a mala. You recite, you count, or just hold it in your hands, and that's it. You might find special practices taught by some teachers, but that's likely to be a larger area where differences are abundant.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: use of mala in zen/chan

Postby MuMun » Sat May 12, 2012 12:37 am

You will see some people in Kwan Um zen centers (soen, western style) using malas if they are doing mantra practice. A teacher may recommend use of a mala to a student who feels distracted by mental activity during formal meditation or during other activities. The prescription is to match a repeated phrase with the breath (inhalation and exhalation), moving a single bead with each repetition. (Examples of mantras that may be used is "kwan seum bosal," the Korean name for Avalokitesvara; or "Om Mani Padme Hum" or others at the discretion of the teacher.) The practice helps to unite breath, body, and attention, and can be dispensed with when it is no longer needed for meditation practice.
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