Taoism in general, specifically it's connections with Ch'an

Frank
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Taoism in general, specifically it's connections with Ch'an

Postby Frank » Tue May 15, 2012 11:55 pm

Taoism is very cool, lots of amazing teachings and works. It almost seems like it's the last pieces of Buddha Kassapa's teachings from long ago, it's got such a vague underlying similarity to Buddhism (Obviously I know this is not the case, just a fun thought). Not that that's all that's great about it! There is so much rich philosophy and wonderful mythology surrounding it!

Anyway, anyone know about it? Similarities to Buddhism? Differences?

Interface, overlap and and combining with Ch'an/Zen?

I have read, own, and love the Tao Te Ching and Chuang Tzu. The latter contains what some believe is the kernel for the development of Shikantaza meditation in the Ch'an school, called, in chapter six "sitting forgetfulness". There are many other similarities in writings and teachings and some over laps, like some Ch'an schools practice qigong alongside Buddhism, etc.

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Huifeng
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Re: Taoism in general, specifically it's connections with Ch'an

Postby Huifeng » Wed May 16, 2012 2:41 am

In general, the influence of the Lao-Zhuang* teachings on Buddhism in China was not that deep. It hit a few earlier Buddhist exegetes rather heavily, but it was largely shaken off in later generations.

However, the influence of Buddhism on Daojia* was much, much heavier. For example, even during the Tang when the ruling Li family supported Daojia as their personal and state religion, Buddhism was still more popular and more powerful. The Daojia group rather shamelessly copied Buddhist scriptures just changing key words and so forth, while the whole approach and structure remained the same. (eg. Laozi hua Hu jing "Classic of Laozi converting the Barbarians".)

For example, despite claiming the Daojia influence on Chan, one cannot find a single reference by an classic Chan teacher to common phrases from, say, the Laozi or Zhuangzi. References to Buddhist scriptures, however, abound everywhere.

The term "Shikantaza" is from Dogen's Soto Zen school in Japan. This derives from the Chan Caodong school, but Chan doesn't really use the phrase itself. Moreover, it is partly from the Japanese Tendai (Ch: Tiantai) school that influenced Dogen before he went Zen. The influence is obvious.

Daojia "qigong" is quite a later invention. Buddhism had forms of breath meditation right from it's earliest times in India (ie. anapana, etc.) These forms became standard in Chinese Buddhist meditation systems, including Tiantai and Chan in particular. So, the roots can be found elsewhere.

* I use the Chinese terms Lao-Zhuang and Daojia, rather than the confusing English neologism "Taoism" or "Daoism". Laozi and Zhuangzi were only adopted as the founders of Daojia at a rather later date, partly influenced by Buddhism having a clear founder. The term "Dao" is a pan-Chinese culture term, and not confined to any given philosophy or school of thought. But, in the Tang, the Daojia brought in Lao-Zhuang thought, trying to formalize and systematize things in the light of every increasing Buddhist presence and influence.

~~ Huifeng


Frank
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Re: Taoism in general, specifically it's connections with Ch'an

Postby Frank » Wed May 16, 2012 3:17 am


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Huifeng
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Re: Taoism in general, specifically it's connections with Ch'an

Postby Huifeng » Wed May 16, 2012 12:12 pm

"However outright denying any influence of Taoism on Buddhism in China is a little to far out there in my opinion..."

Okay, but I never "outright den[ied] any influence...", I said "influence ... not that deep", so please don't quote my post and then argue against things I never said.

When you say "The Shikantaza-like meditation is from a book written long before the Caodong school existed", may I inquire as to what book you are referring to?

~~ Huifeng


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Re: Taoism in general, specifically it's connections with Ch'an

Postby White Lotus » Wed May 16, 2012 4:12 pm

i have studied the tao teh ching, and once had half of it memorized. i have also read chuang tze.

''the name that can be named is not the eternal name''. ''all things return to the tao/one''; when looked into have quite profound buddhist implications. nonetheless im not sure whether any taoist ever saw the true nature of things. personally i would be surprised if they hadnt done so.

the tao has its uses, especially when it comes to speaking about paradox.

the tao takes the approach that all coming is all going, or that no coming is no going. this is only half of the eqation. it can also be said that all coming is no going, or that no going is all coming.

no winning is no losing (tao), or no winning is all losing. (conventional wisdom).

lao Tse says that he who speaks does not know, one of my teachers freed my mind from attachment to views when he said that ''he who speaks knows.'' (in response to my ''he who speaks does not know - either approach can be taken).

the opening chapter of the tao is i would say worthy of buddhism, but the rest is just ordinary paradox taken from an oppositional point of view. oppositional in the sense that everything is said to be nothing; this occurs throughout the tao teh ching and is an over used formula.

so yes, respect for taoisms classisc books and realisation; with the question,.. does it go far enough?

best wishes, Tom.
in any matters of importance. dont rely on me. i may not know what i am talking about. take what i say as mere speculation. i am not ordained. nor do i have a formal training. i do believe though that if i am wrong on any point. there are those on this site who i hope will quickly point out my mistakes.

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Re: Taoism in general, specifically it's connections with Ch'an

Postby Seishin » Wed May 16, 2012 5:37 pm

Ven Huifeng;
Am I right in thinking that "Daoism" wasn't ever formalised as a religion until Buddhism was brought to the country? I think I read it somewhere but really can't remember. :emb:

Frank: Ven Huifeng is right when he said that the term shikantaza came from Tendai. We call it "makashikan" which was a term that came from the Tientai monk Zhiyi (538-597 CE) "mo-ho-chi-kuan" (摩訶止観) which was also a meditation instruction manual by Zhiyi (Chi-i in Japanese). Altough I'm not any kind of historian, I doubt that Ven Zhiyi was the guy who coined the phrase, I believe it's much older, but I don't have anything to back me up there.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhiyi
http://www.tientai.net/lit/mksk/MKSKintro.htm

Gassho,
Seishin.

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Re: Taoism in general, specifically it's connections with Ch'an

Postby LastLegend » Wed May 16, 2012 6:07 pm

I think Lao Tzu was an enlightened being. However, Taoism does not really emphasize liberation from suffering or any clear cut teachings to liberate sentient beings from suffering. And from what I heard, many Taoist practitioners end up in heavenly realms for that reason. But still Taoism is big moral teaching which is no difference than Buddhist teachings of moral conducts. In that respect, there is overlapping. But in terms of liberation from suffering, it is quite illusive.

Similarly with Confucianism, Confucius was probably an enlightened being. And Confucianism is a moral teaching also. If people really follow and practice Confucianism, they will become saint like no difference from Arahants. Out of all the 3, Buddhism is most comprehensive in terms of teachings and practice.

And my conclusion is Lao Tzu and Confucius were probably manifestations of Bodhisattvas.
NAMO AMITABHA
NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (VIETNAMESE)
NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)

Bodhidharma [my translation]
―I come to the East to transmit this clear knowing mind without constructing any dharma―

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Re: Taoism in general, specifically it's connections with Ch'an

Postby kirtu » Wed May 16, 2012 9:16 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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Re: Taoism in general, specifically it's connections with Ch'an

Postby Frank » Wed May 16, 2012 10:06 pm


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Huifeng
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Re: Taoism in general, specifically it's connections with Ch'an

Postby Huifeng » Thu May 17, 2012 1:56 am

Okay, gotcha.

First, however, I think it highly pertinent to clarify the issue of this term "Taoism".
In general, it is now recognized by most scholars in the field, that "Taoism" is something of a Western creation.
I'd much rather stick with (at least) two indigenous phrases in Chinese, namely "Lao-Zhuang" (老莊) and "Daojia" (道家) / "Daojiao" (道教).
Some comments on the relationship between these two is given above. A critical one being that it was really only by the Tang that Lao-Zhuang was brought under the so-called Daojiao fold. Now, Chan was already there before this time. So, if the influence you see is from Lao-Zhuang, then we can almost abandon the Daojiao references, and just stick to Lao-Zhuang.

~~ Huifeng


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Re: Taoism in general, specifically it's connections with Ch'an

Postby Frank » Thu May 17, 2012 2:35 am

white lotus, :applause: thanks for the great post! I feel the same. ''does it go far enough?'' maybe, but it seems to be just on the edge of leading one to a realization, just the right kind of attitude but without the specifics and extremely focused practice techniques found in buddhism. although its possible i just don't know enough about it. being just on the edge is what makes me feel like it, more than most other traditions, is a distant relative of buddhism. even though it's not, it still is an intriguing thought, perhaps an important note on the shared mental and spiritual development of man.

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Re: Taoism in general, specifically it's connections with Ch'an

Postby Frank » Thu May 17, 2012 2:38 am


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Re: Taoism in general, specifically it's connections with Ch'an

Postby Frank » Thu May 17, 2012 2:48 am

Last edited by Frank on Thu May 17, 2012 2:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Taoism in general, specifically it's connections with Ch'an

Postby Frank » Thu May 17, 2012 2:52 am

kirt, :twothumbsup: thank so much! wonderful information and comparisons! expanded my thinking some! if you wnt to share more that would be great.

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Huifeng
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Re: Taoism in general, specifically it's connections with Ch'an

Postby Huifeng » Thu May 17, 2012 3:07 am

Confucianism is originally more concerned with secular human relations.
Daojiao originally with longevity.

It is only in neo-Confucianism (Lixue) and post-Tang Daojiao that they start to have anything much like the Buddhist systems of ethics or idea of liberation. And that is simply because of the enormous pressure that Buddhism put on these two indigenous systems to either make massive changes to their own systems to stay in the game, or be totally overtaken.

~~ Huifeng


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Re: Taoism in general, specifically it's connections with Ch'an

Postby Indrajala » Thu May 17, 2012 6:15 am

tad etat sarvajñānaṃ karuṇāmūlaṃ bodhicittahetukam upāyaparyavasānam iti |

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Re: Taoism in general, specifically it's connections with Ch'an

Postby Frank » Thu May 17, 2012 7:08 am

Huseng, very interesting! thanks for taking the time! :smile: the thing i find very similar between chan and taoism is the literary techniques. speaking in paradoxes, talking very vaguely about reality while framing it in very starkly contrasting tones, speakung in riddles, and just the way some of the writings sound and are put together. there is much more similarity between chan and taoist writings than between, just for contrast, the pali canon commentaries or other sri lankan writings from around the same era. this is true about every non chan influenced school of buddhism and the opposite true for ones that are influenced by chan such as many japanese schools or even some vajrayana works. almost all chan influenced schools have very close literary similarities to what is written in the tao te ching and chuang tzu. the same cannot be said about many other writings from china around that era. it's not like everybody wrote the same style across the whole country.

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Re: Taoism in general, specifically it's connections with Ch'an

Postby Frank » Thu May 17, 2012 7:29 am

so it seems some group or specific pilosophy/spiritual tradition directly influenced, at the very lest, chan literature. whether or not we can call them taoist or assume it was a few different groups later lumped together and called taoist doesn't change that.

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Huifeng
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Re: Taoism in general, specifically it's connections with Ch'an

Postby Huifeng » Thu May 17, 2012 8:25 am

In the literary sense, pointing to Rujia (= "Confucian") style yulu (= "analects" / "records of sayings") literature, would probably have a greater influence on Chan literature. But again, this is just common Chinese heritage when it boils down to it.

Other ideas, paradoxes, riddles, etc. can already be found in Indian Buddhism, particularly some early Mahayana works. Similarity does not necessitate influence.

~~ Huifeng


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Re: Taoism in general, specifically it's connections with Ch'an

Postby Frank » Thu May 17, 2012 8:38 am



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