Ikkyu wrote:In any case, and getting back to the point at hand, the use of Taoist rhetoric in many Ch'an and Zen commentaries by numerous patriarchs isn't coincidental.
I think it is, at least in the sense that you seem to be attributing to it.
Don't get me wrong, I have a lot of admiration for Zhuang Zi, and to some extent the DDJ (although it does go too much overboard on political anarchism for my tastes), and I can believe they were even awakened beings. Some great masters in Chinese Buddhism have ventured to say they were Pratyeka Buddhas. So the idea that Daoism and Buddhism are related streams is not that alien.
And of course there is traces of Daoist influence in Chan. Just not in the way it has been presented by some western authors. The Daoist influence is really more accurate to represent as "Chinese cultural influence." When you source indigenous references in Chan texts, I don't see Daoism given preference over the five classics, confucianism etc. It all forms part of the wider cultural heritage and referencing them is simply to employ literary language when you are Chinese.
And this influence is by no means confined to Chan Buddhism. Tiantai, Huayen and so forth, is probably even more ripe with such allusions because they appealed to a high literary audience.
But what I don't think we can take from this is to assume that any of Chan, Tiantai or Huayen professed to a special significance to Daoism above its own scriptures. Or for that matter, anything approaching any kind of equal spiritual stature. And a bit of context is merited. The citations of sutras from Chan masters vastly
outnumber the odd reference to Lao Zi or Zhuang Zi. It's a drop in the ocean in comparison. And for all the supposed syncretism of Chan, why is it so hard to find a Chan master openly talking about the DDJ or CZ? Most of the times they get addressed, and not used as a mere cultural reference, it is to state how it is not
the equal of Buddhism.
But what really drives the point home for me is that you can
actually find examples of syncretist Daoist-Buddhism in Chinese Buddhism. And the impression these texts leave in regards to their hermeneutical priorities and agendas are totally different from what the Chan texts leave you with. But to find these things you have to look to a period of Buddhism pre-dating the Chan school's arrival from India, before Kumarajiva established a Buddhism less reliant on matching Buddhism to indigenous concepts. Buddhists in this period loved to compare the two and often came out with a view wherein Daoist was a very harmonious addition to Buddhism that suited the Chinese so much better than plain Indian Buddhism. They weren't shy about it. If you're Buddhist with Daoist leanings, this is the stuff you want.
Even someone like Sengzhao, a student of Kumarajiva and one of the foremost proponents of Madhyamika in Chinese Buddhism, show more Daoist leanings than the classical Chan masters.
In comparison, Chan texts read like straight up Mahayana Buddhism. A Chinese version of it no doubt, but one whose hermeneutical concerns and platform was a strictly Buddhist one. You have to go forward to the Ming dynasty when syncretism across the board really comes in vogue, to find examples of a Chan that bothers itself with its doctrinal relationship to Daoism and Confucianism.
All this is not to say there are not a great many parallel similarities between Daoism and [Chan] Buddhism. Or that people today can not make the marriage between Buddhism and Daoist (Chinese religion in general is such a giant melting pot, I am sure it happens. Though their Daoism is probably a far cry from what most westerners imagine), or that it shouldn't be done. Bottomline is, we're looking for truth and we should accept it where we find it.
But looking for significant Daoist influence on Chan Buddhism, or looking to Chan as a symbiosis of the two, is simply barking up the wrong tree. Not that the tree doesn't exist. You just have to look elsewhere for your Daoist-Buddhism symbiosis. Chan is simply Chinese Mahayana. Equal emphasis on 'Chinese' and 'Mahayana'.