Political angle to the Chan Vs Dzogchen debate

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Political angle to the Chan Vs Dzogchen debate

Postby Tiger » Fri Sep 07, 2012 8:55 am

I am interested in looking at the Chan Vs Dzogchen debate from a political point of view in China as well as in Tibet instead of the metaphysical basis on which it is rather inconclusive.

Consider the two points:

1. In China the various dynastic kings and emperors of Yuan dynasty or Qing dynasty usually favoured Tibetan Buddhism over the Chan and Mahayana Buddhist sects of China. Even Amoghavajra, a Sri Lankan Tantric Buddhist, was a court magician for some Chinese emperor (confirm my information please). So it was natural for the native Han Chinese to perceive the system that their invaders favoured with a bit of hostility.

2. In Tibet, on the other hand, Tibetan Buddhism (or rather Indian Buddhism) was favoured and Chinese Buddhism was disliked. Could this also be because of their perceived suspicion of the Chinese with whom they have had a long history of political conflict?

Also, I believe, Tibetan Buddhism found favour in Tibet also because of their cultural appreciation of ritualism which they shared with the Indians in contrast to the Chinese who have always been less ritualistic comparatively since the beginning of their civilization. So it was natural for them to be attracted to sects like Chan, Vinaya etc which were more or less devoid of the colourful ritualism that characterizes Vajrayana.
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Re: Political angle to the Chan Vs Dzogchen debate

Postby Astus » Fri Sep 07, 2012 9:10 am

Good question. However, it's good to remember that the times when Chan was popular on a larger level - i.e. outside of monasteries - was primarily because of connections to the secular elite. Rituals and ceremonies are abundant in Chinese Buddhism, and Chinese culture, even without any Vajrayana ideology, so it doesn't sound the right argument here for the reasons of Tantric teachings not being popular.
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Re: Political angle to the Chan Vs Dzogchen debate

Postby Sherlock » Fri Sep 07, 2012 9:17 am

There are plenty of rituals in Chinese folk religion, Daoism, Confucianism and even in Chinese Buddhism.

I think it's difficult to point to any one factor. Geography certainly played a role; Buddhism first spread to China from the Silk Road and after it was conquered by Muslims the only routes available were through Southeast Asia. A few Chinese pilgrims went through that route but it seems most Chinese Buddhists did not feel much need to travel back to South Asia to translate more scriptures after Yi Jing. Indian and Kashmiri tantrikas and monks also probably found it easier to flee to Tibet rather than China.

Also, Wuzong's persecutions probably also played a large role in destroying many lineages of esoteric Buddhism in China.
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Re: Political angle to the Chan Vs Dzogchen debate

Postby Astus » Fri Sep 07, 2012 9:55 am

There are many esoteric texts translated to Chinese, including late tantras like Hevajra and Cakrasamvara. As Tiger mentioned, the imperial court had connection with Tibetan teachers from the 13th century on.
"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: Political angle to the Chan Vs Dzogchen debate

Postby Sherlock » Fri Sep 07, 2012 10:03 am

Yes but the post-Mongol transmissions came through Tibet. There might be some Chinese translations of tantras but any native lineage of transmission seems to have died out ling ago. Some of those tantras like the one associated with Cundi appear to have even been translated from Tibetan.
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Re: Political angle to the Chan Vs Dzogchen debate

Postby Jnana » Fri Sep 07, 2012 1:53 pm

Tiger wrote:I am interested in looking at the Chan Vs Dzogchen debate from a political point of view in China as well as in Tibet instead of the metaphysical basis on which it is rather inconclusive.

Consider the two points:

1. In China the various dynastic kings and emperors of Yuan dynasty or Qing dynasty usually favoured Tibetan Buddhism over the Chan and Mahayana Buddhist sects of China. Even Amoghavajra, a Sri Lankan Tantric Buddhist, was a court magician for some Chinese emperor (confirm my information please). So it was natural for the native Han Chinese to perceive the system that their invaders favoured with a bit of hostility.

2. In Tibet, on the other hand, Tibetan Buddhism (or rather Indian Buddhism) was favoured and Chinese Buddhism was disliked. Could this also be because of their perceived suspicion of the Chinese with whom they have had a long history of political conflict?

I think that one of the main factors is the historical development of Buddhist ideas: China already had a long history of Buddhadharma before the advent of vajrayāna and it's introduction into China. This is quite different from the historical situation with Tibet.
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Re: Political angle to the Chan Vs Dzogchen debate

Postby muni » Mon Sep 10, 2012 11:25 am

A political angle.......i don't know, but that can seems to be as long as there is the mistake to see/focus the tools as mine and not to 'see' the tools through bodhichitta, which is nothing others than the spontaneous wish that ALL may recognize nature like it is, in this way there is genuine respect for the tools.

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Re: Political angle to the Chan Vs Dzogchen debate

Postby greentreee » Wed Sep 19, 2012 10:37 pm

i'm not quite sure how or if this fits into the suggested thread, but since i don't not consider myself a buddhist or a political scientist, tho i've taken poli-sci in university and have spent much of my time studying buddism, i'll post some quotes that may help.

From
Nan Huai Chin's Basic Buddhism chapter on, Buddhism in the 20th Century

In more than two thousand years of continuous transmission of its teachings, Buddhism has made glorious contributions to learned thought, political life, and education in both India and China. After Buddhism came to China, over the period from the third to the ninth century, it became one of the major streams of Chinese learned thought. Buddhsim led and guided learning and contributed to philosophical thought. It upheld the moral orientation of the secular world and knit together the hearts of the people, helping to make up for the shortcomings of the political order. Its achievements can never be obliterated. If we pass over without comment the errors and abuses committed by the followers of Buddhism in later generations and just take the overall view, we can without error praise Buddhism as "the" philosophy among philosophies and "the" religion among religions. As for the range of its abuses, in many instances they can be blamed on society. These abuses were the peripheral streams of Buddhism that resulted from an accumulation of wrongs coming to be considered to be right, and they had nothing at all to do with true Buddhist principles or with the great spirit of Buddhism.

Nevertheless, if we observe the style of present-day Chinese Buddhism and the Buddhism of the various countries of Southeast Asia, we cannot be optimistic about the future. Rather, there is cause for worry and concern. Although all the worthy people in the Buddhist world would feel apprehensive about its future adaptations, it is still the case that accumulated momentum is hard to reverse, and there is no way to make a clean break with the past and start fresh. Thus I will try to make six concluding points about the present situation of Buddhism, and offer them for the consideration of present day Buddhists. I am just jotting down this conclusion and cannot say i have anything to propose. Even less am i offering a critique: I am merely writing to easy my feelings, and no more.

*my note, i'm only posting 3 of the six points*

Concerning the Unity of Buddhists: The teachings of all the worlds religions basically advocate individual freedom and true liberty. The Western religions also have an understanding of religious administration of politics and have concrete organizational guidelines. We can say that , in Buddhism, the principle of the liberty of the individual reaches its ultimate point. This can easily be transformed into absolute egotism, at least in form. If you say that the Chinese people are all lacking in the propensity to unite, I think that the disunity of Chinese Buddhists is a prime example of this. All through the history of Chinese Buddhism, and up through the present day, we see disputes over whether monks or laymen should teach, disputes for power and profit between the followers of various teachers, sectarian disputes, disputes over prestige and status within groups of lay Buddhists, disputes over whose lineage is better or worse, and disputes over such trivial matters as how to dress and so on, to mention just a few.

When Shakyamuni Buddha was in the world, he always taught that the Buddhist community should be united in harmony and mutual respect. With these disputes, the Chinese Buddhist community has destroyed and defeated itself, to the point where there is nothing left. If Chinese Buddhists do not reflect seriously on this and take action to remedy the situation, if we just want to walk on the high beyond the world, I'm afraid that we may no longer exist after the 20th century.

Concerning the lack of cultivating realization: Apart from the surpassing excellence of its philosophical thought, the most important thing about the principles of the Buddhist teachings is that they are not empty theoretical talk. They require each and every person really to put them into practice and test them body and mind and to work to carry them out. Only by this kind of personal practice can one experience realization of the complete answer. Because of this, from a modern point of view, Buddhist learning itself has a very scientific spirit. It has been able to stand the test of time. Moreover, besides its philosophical thought, it also is very rich in scientific principles. Indeed, Buddhism is a rich treasury that has not still been opened up on any large scale by the worlds people.

In present day Buddhism, there are many who talk theory, but few who cultivate realization. In the 20th Century, the scientific era, what proof can they show that will make people respect Buddhism? Moreover, due to the shortcomings of Buddhists in cultivating realization, even when they talk theory, they come out with many distorted theories. This is extremely frightening, dangerous situation, which threatens Buddhism with self destruction. We must adjust our ideas realistically and work hard on our realization and insight.

Concerning the tendency to mix in politics: In keeping with the prevailing democratic current of the 20th century, in all the enlightened nations of the world, the freedom of religious belief and the freedom of religious groups to participate in politics legally must be beyond question. But how should the Buddhist message of great compassion be applied to the various kinds of political ideologies and political systems in the world?

If there's no concrete way to settle on a Buddhist theory of political advocacy, then I'm afraid that Buddhist leaders will almost go wrong when they try to mount the political stage by simply relying on their zeal and there ardent desires. They attempt to show the fearless bravery of the founder of religion when they, themselves, have always been lacking the practiced habits of political cultivation. This point is worth careful consideration. We must first seek an excellent level of knowledge and also take our stand on invincible ground before we can participate in politics.

Let us try to analyze the future of Buddhism. From the point of view of religious belief, it seems that the farther we follow the old road, the narrower it gets. From the point of view of learned thought, the new realm of Buddhism is getting broader and broader. This is because Buddhism has an expansive message, profound principles, a well worked out thought system of surpassing wisdom, and a theory that is great, far reaching and perfectly synthesized. What's more, Buddhism has a long history and a multitude of faithful believers. There is no lack of committed, outstanding people of vision and insight within the Buddhist communities who are ready to express their views and do all they can do for Buddhism to protect the Dharma. They will base themselves on the will to act with true humanity, the stamina to endure, and the spirit to see their duty and boldly carry it out. They will take up the responsibility of the Tathagata's enterprise and reinvigorate the bold style of Buddhism in order to adapt to future currents and win glory in the future era. Indeed, the process of reinvigorating and reviving and enfeebled Buddhism begins with an act of will. This is the authors's sincere hope and prayer.


i'll consider this "still" relevant it was published in 1997.

not sure it helps your "dzogchen/chan" but i posted this out of the basic view of the reality buddhists all over, even though it was composed by a Chan master living in China.
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