Holmes Welch the Chan Transmitter

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Astus
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Holmes Welch the Chan Transmitter

Postby Astus » Mon Nov 19, 2012 12:47 pm

The Order of Pragmatic Buddhists and the Cloud Water Zendo, practically the same lineage, claims that Holmes Welch transmitted the Linji Chan lineage of the Jiangtian Chan Temple. Holmes Welch had Ven. T'ai-ts'ang in his book "The Practice of Chinese Buddhism, 1900-1950" as an important source of information on Chan history. In the same book Welch describes how Dharma transmission was a common practice of ensuring the succession of abbots in a monastery. He quotes from an account of the practice in the Kiangsu area: "In actuality this kind of "dharma transmission" has become a formality in the Ch'an sect. It is a million miles away from the dharma transmission by the direct imprint of mind on mind. This kind of dharma transmission is simply a traditional formality of genealogical succession." (p. 165) Stuart Lachs (PDF) quotes from another work of Welch: "Dharma transmission is only an institutional sanctioning of a teacher bestowing membership in a teaching lineage and may be no more than, as Buddhist scholar Holmes Welch said “like [getting] a Flash Gordon pin.""

While Welch was interested in both Chinese Buddhism and Taoism, I can see no sign that he was also a Dharma teacher. And compared to his scholarly reports it appears to me strange to give him the position of a Chan master. Any other information on the subject is welcome.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

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

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

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


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

zenkarma
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Re: Holmes Welch the Chan Transmitter

Postby zenkarma » Mon Nov 19, 2012 8:06 pm

Thank you for this thread. I have been attending at Cloudwater on and off for some years, since Rev. Ogui would occasionally come to speak or was present at functions, I guess that would make it almost 20 years ago, and have been positively impressed by the teaching and the students there. I'm interested to see what kind of response this draws from other dharmawheel members :)
The substance of the Absolute is inwardly like wood or stone, in that it is motionless, and outwardly like the void, in that it is without bounds or obstructions. It is neither subjective nor objective, has no specific location, is formless, and cannot vanish. ~Huang Po

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cj39
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Re: Holmes Welch the Chan Transmitter

Postby cj39 » Tue Mar 22, 2016 6:34 pm

I did find this after some digging:

http://journals.cambridge.org/action/di ... id=7003544

Make of it what you will.

Caodemarte
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Re: Holmes Welch the Chan Transmitter

Postby Caodemarte » Tue Mar 22, 2016 9:46 pm

I would be very surprised to lean that Welch was a Buddhist teacher. I studied (academically) with people who knew him and I assume they would have mentioned it. The controversies over Reverend Soyu Matsuoka, the other "transmitter," are well known. The Soto organization, despite the website's implications, does not recognise his "transmissions" in any case.

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Re: Holmes Welch the Chan Transmitter

Postby jundo cohen » Wed Mar 23, 2016 5:25 am

Caodemarte wrote:The controversies over Reverend Soyu Matsuoka, the other "transmitter," are well known. The Soto organization, despite the website's implications, does not recognise his "transmissions" in any case.


Oh, that is not true. There is a big political story there which I am presently writing something on. Let me summarize by saying that he was one of the first Japanese priests sent by the Soto-shu to America in 1939 as Abbot of several Soto-shu temples, then broke away from the Soto-shu in the late 60s and 70s. This largely consistent of his not paying his annual dues and fees to Soto-shu, partly because he did not have the money, and partly as he no longer saw the point, and was a critic of Soto-shu as a big churchy institution. The Soto-shu was not willing to see one of its Japanese priests go independent in those days (leaving the fold is a big deal) ... and the story gets even more complicated ... with rumors passed around about his mental health and "sale" of Ordinations (I can find no basis for that whatsoever, and only that some of his Dharma Heirs needed to support him with donations when he was quite old and sick) and too easily handing out Dharma Transmission in his final years (depends on the case, how near to his death, not true for all his Heirs by any means, and also depends on what one thinks about Dharma Transmission) ... and a lot of "I heard it said" rumors second and third hand ...

...frankly like someone saying in a Buddhist forum with no first hand information, "The controversies over Reverend Soyu Matsuoka ... are well known." It is a bit like saying "The controversies over Hillary and White Water are well known", where the mere repeating of such statements is the very source making the controversy! Be cautious!

Anyway, the Soto-shu does not "recognize" any Soto Zen priest's Dharma Transmission anywhere unless they wish to administer a Soto-shu temple in Japan or overseas. Since most Rinzai and Soto Zen priests are not interested in such things, the vast majority do not bother to register their students with any organizations back in the "old country."

Please look for my article in the coming weeks.

Gassho, Jundo
Priest/Teacher at Treeleaf Zendo, a Soto Zen Sangha. Treeleaf Zendo was designed as an online practice place for Zen practitioners who cannot easily commute to a Zen Center due to health concerns, living in remote areas, or work, childcare and family needs, and seeks to provide Zazen sittings, retreats, discussion, interaction with a teacher, and all other activities of a Zen Buddhist Sangha, all fully online. The focus is Shikantaza "Just Sitting" Zazen as instructed by the 13th Century Japanese Master, Eihei Dogen. http://www.treeleaf.org

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jundo cohen
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Re: Holmes Welch the Chan Transmitter

Postby jundo cohen » Wed Mar 23, 2016 8:41 am

Let me add that, in the case of this particular Lineage, I have no information about their actual connection to Matsuoka (even other Matsuoka Heirs I once asked don't seem to know these folks). It could be the same as with Holmes Welch, and for example some questionable claim to both. There have been cases of people who only received Jukai Lay Precepts, for example, and claimed to be authorized priests with Dharma Transmission based on just that informal Ceremony. I am not sure about this situation. However, Matsuoka roshi himself is beyond any doubt regarding who he was.

Gassho, Jundo
Priest/Teacher at Treeleaf Zendo, a Soto Zen Sangha. Treeleaf Zendo was designed as an online practice place for Zen practitioners who cannot easily commute to a Zen Center due to health concerns, living in remote areas, or work, childcare and family needs, and seeks to provide Zazen sittings, retreats, discussion, interaction with a teacher, and all other activities of a Zen Buddhist Sangha, all fully online. The focus is Shikantaza "Just Sitting" Zazen as instructed by the 13th Century Japanese Master, Eihei Dogen. http://www.treeleaf.org

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jundo cohen
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Re: Holmes Welch the Chan Transmitter

Postby jundo cohen » Wed Mar 23, 2016 1:52 pm

Sorry, one more ... (probably this will be interesting to nobody unless you have some special interest in the Matsuoka Roshi story)

If I am reading there pages correctly, they --do not-- claim to be Dharma heirs of Matsuoka Roshi, only that Matsuoka first gave one of them (is it the same fellow?) the Precepts in some original Ordination.

The Reverend Soyu Matsuoka was a Japanese Soto Zen Master who studied at Sojiji Monastery in Japan before being assigned to temples in the United States. Matsuoka was Ryugen Fisher's root teacher who first gave him the precepts.
http://www.pragmaticbuddhism.org/node/12


A practicing Buddhist monk since 1972, Ven. Shen-Lung was originally ordained in the Japanese Soto Zen tradition by Rev. Soyu Matsuoka Roshi. He received Dharma Transmission from Dharma Master Shih Mo-Hua in 1980.
http://www.cloudwater.org/index.php/ch- ... ur-lineage


So, that is rather a different ball of wax. It is not even clear what kind of "Ordination" it was, because they still could be confusing Jukai, Zaike Tokudo or the like.

http://global.sotozen-net.or.jp/pdf/dha ... e13_03.htm



Gassho, J
Priest/Teacher at Treeleaf Zendo, a Soto Zen Sangha. Treeleaf Zendo was designed as an online practice place for Zen practitioners who cannot easily commute to a Zen Center due to health concerns, living in remote areas, or work, childcare and family needs, and seeks to provide Zazen sittings, retreats, discussion, interaction with a teacher, and all other activities of a Zen Buddhist Sangha, all fully online. The focus is Shikantaza "Just Sitting" Zazen as instructed by the 13th Century Japanese Master, Eihei Dogen. http://www.treeleaf.org

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Re: Holmes Welch the Chan Transmitter

Postby DGA » Wed Mar 23, 2016 2:03 pm

Astus wrote:The Order of Pragmatic Buddhists and the Cloud Water Zendo, practically the same lineage, claims that Holmes Welch transmitted the Linji Chan lineage of the Jiangtian Chan Temple. Holmes Welch had Ven. T'ai-ts'ang in his book "The Practice of Chinese Buddhism, 1900-1950" as an important source of information on Chan history. In the same book Welch describes how Dharma transmission was a common practice of ensuring the succession of abbots in a monastery. He quotes from an account of the practice in the Kiangsu area: "In actuality this kind of "dharma transmission" has become a formality in the Ch'an sect. It is a million miles away from the dharma transmission by the direct imprint of mind on mind. This kind of dharma transmission is simply a traditional formality of genealogical succession." (p. 165) Stuart Lachs (PDF) quotes from another work of Welch: "Dharma transmission is only an institutional sanctioning of a teacher bestowing membership in a teaching lineage and may be no more than, as Buddhist scholar Holmes Welch said “like [getting] a Flash Gordon pin.""

While Welch was interested in both Chinese Buddhism and Taoism, I can see no sign that he was also a Dharma teacher. And compared to his scholarly reports it appears to me strange to give him the position of a Chan master. Any other information on the subject is welcome.


The discussion around Rev Matsumoto seems worthy of its own topic. At least to me it does; I'm deeply interested in the early-twentieth-century history of Buddhist practice in the US, and he seems an important and perhaps underappreciated figure in that history.

I'd like to know if anyone has any information regarding the claim of transmission Astus points out of Welch and from the Jiangtian Chan temple.
DGA's PhD dissertation, a history of "mindfulness," is available here:

https://www.academia.edu/25482900/WHAT_ ... _OF_STRESS

Caodemarte
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Re: Holmes Welch the Chan Transmitter

Postby Caodemarte » Wed Mar 23, 2016 3:56 pm

Jundo: "Anyway, the Soto-shu does not "recognize" any Soto Zen priest's Dharma Transmission anywhere unless they wish to administer a Soto-shu temple in Japan or overseas."

That is my point. I read the website to strongly imply that Matsuoka Roshi was giving "transmissions" to this group's founding figures on behalf of, and as part of, and recognized by, the Soto-shu. This is not something that Matsuoka claimed, in fact he stressesed that he had administratively broken with Soto-shu. This is one reason it is a well known controversy. BTW, I use quotes around "transmission" because I question how the site is using the term.

I have no dog, with or without Buddha nature, in any administrative fight within Soto. I have not commented on, and have no ability or desire to judge, Matsuoka Roshi or his teachings or actual disciples.

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Re: Holmes Welch the Chan Transmitter

Postby Meido » Wed Mar 23, 2016 5:34 pm

Caodemarte wrote:I use quotes around "transmission" because I question how the site is using the term.


In general we should question. The English words "dharma transmission" are thrown about a lot in Zen circles, but it's good to remember that what the term refers to can vary depending on where you. For example, on the Soto side it is often used for shiho, on the Rinzai side for inka shomei. In the Kwan Um school, I understand that inga preceds dharma transmission. Etc.

Since these different usages can confer different (or even no) permissions from one's teacher in terms of teaching activity, transmission of practice methods, taking on students of one's own, etc. it can be important to look into.

~ Meido
Nowadays there is much talk about the sublime and the profound, or conversely criticism of the Two Vehicles, belittling their authority. [Proponents of] the partial, the round, the exoteric and the esoteric schools contend with each other, yet they have not even accomplished the confirmation of the Two Vehicles, let alone that of the Bodhisattva Vehicle. And as for the One Buddha Vehicle, how could they conceive of it even in their dreams? What use to them are the partial, round, exoteric and esoteric teachings? - Torei

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