Zen, Buddhism, and Taoism

Re: Zen, Buddhism, and Taoism

Postby Huifeng » Thu Sep 12, 2013 7:18 am

The original post asked a historical question, therefore history is the correct domain from which to answer.

How can "personal experience" tell us which influenced which over the course of centuries? It can't -- unless maybe you are claiming that you can recall past lives from China for a few hundred years...

~~ Huifeng
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Re: Zen, Buddhism, and Taoism

Postby LastLegend » Thu Sep 12, 2013 7:26 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:If words from texts are about things that happened a long time ago, they are history, aren't they? And then you have to decide between useful, reliable, accurate history and the rest.


How do you verify that something is reliable or accurate?

If words from texts are not about things that happened a long time ago, they can't tell us anything about things that happened a long time ago, can they? And then you can't know anything about things that happened a long time ago.
Kim


I don't understand the relationship between this statement and your previous statement above.
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Re: Zen, Buddhism, and Taoism

Postby LastLegend » Thu Sep 12, 2013 7:31 am

Huifeng wrote:The original post asked a historical question, therefore history is the correct domain from which to answer.

How can "personal experience" tell us which influenced which over the course of centuries? It can't -- unless maybe you are claiming that you can recall past lives from China for a few hundred years...

~~ Huifeng


It is true that the original question asked for a historical question. Therefore, we are answering in the context of that. But how much do we know to pass on such information as something accurate or who influenced who?
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Re: Zen, Buddhism, and Taoism

Postby Huifeng » Thu Sep 12, 2013 8:15 am

Going for a pyrrhic victory, are you?
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Re: Zen, Buddhism, and Taoism

Postby Astus » Thu Sep 12, 2013 11:05 am

jeeprs wrote:The ground of existence is not the object of negation, and is not what is being negated. The idea that beings exist 'in themselves' is what is being negated. But the dharmadhātu cannot be negated, because without it nothing would exist.


If by dharmadhatu you mean a universal substance upholding all existence, it is negated by the same arguments that refute a creator god or the similar Taoist ideas. If dharmadhatu stands for emptiness and therefore dependent origination, it is not a shared substratum but simply interdependence of all phenomena.
"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)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“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; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Zen, Buddhism, and Taoism

Postby Wayfarer » Thu Sep 12, 2013 11:09 am

The meaning of 'substance' is not at all the same in philosophy as it is in science.
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Re: Zen, Buddhism, and Taoism

Postby Astus » Thu Sep 12, 2013 11:09 am

LastLegend wrote:It is true that the original question asked for a historical question. Therefore, we are answering in the context of that. But how much do we know to pass on such information as something accurate or who influenced who?


If knowledge of the subject is denied it cannot be asserted whether any tradition borrowed from any other, and the validity of the question is removed. If historical knowledge is possible, then there are various methods to investigate past events.
"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)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“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; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Zen, Buddhism, and Taoism

Postby LastLegend » Thu Sep 12, 2013 4:57 pm

Astus wrote:
If knowledge of the subject is denied it cannot be asserted whether any tradition borrowed from any other, and the validity of the question is removed. If historical knowledge is possible, then there are various methods to investigate past events.


I am not denying historical knowledge. It is just not something I take seriously.

Huifeng wrote:Going for a pyrrhic victory, are you?


:tongue:
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Re: Zen, Buddhism, and Taoism

Postby Vidyaraja » Thu Sep 12, 2013 5:42 pm

Huifeng wrote:Similar situation with Brahmanism, Buddhism and Hinduism. Brahmanism borrows heavily from Buddhism and we end up with so-called Hinduism. People conflate Brahmanism and Hinduism, see that Hinduism is like Buddhism, and assume Buddhism borrows from Hinduism / Brahmanism.


Certain Upanishads predate Buddhism and the Vedic rishis who lived ascetic lifestyles meditating in forests looking for direct insight into the nature of reality through pure intuition is even older (according to certain theories thousands of years older.) Later Buddhism incorporated fire rituals, Vedic and Hindu gods, and Buddhist tantra borrowed heavily from Shaivist techniques, imagery, etc. As Ananda Coomaraswamy points out in his work Hinduism and Buddhism

“I have seen,” the Buddha says, “the ancient Way, the Old Road that was taken by the formerly All-Awakened, and that is the path I follow”; and since he elsewhere praises the Brāhmaṇs of old who remembered the Ancient Way that leads to Brahma, there can be no doubt that the Buddha is alluding to “the ancient narrow path that stretches far away, whereby the contemplatives, knowers of Brahma, ascend, set free” (vimuktāḥ), mentioned in verses that were already old when Yajñavalkya cites them in the earliest Upaniṣad.


So I think it is questionable to say that Hinduism is a product of Brahmanism borrowing from Buddhism or to say that Buddhism hasn't borrowed from Hinduism. Likely they have both mutually influenced each other throughout their history.

Pertaining to the original topic, interestingly enough I was reading more of his Straightforward Explanation of the True Mind last night and in it he references Zhuangzi twice. As I mentioned earlier as well, Takuan Soho wrote a commentary on the Tao Te Ching. So while it may be the case that Zen isn't heavily influenced by Taoism or Taoism in disguise, to say there hasn't been some influence or mutual appreciation I think can be questioned.
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Re: Zen, Buddhism, and Taoism

Postby Huifeng » Fri Sep 13, 2013 1:40 am

Of course I accept mutual influence in both cases -- Buddhism / Hinduism, and Chan / Daojia. But I also certainly disagree with the notion that Chan is somehow just Daojia in Buddhist disguise, or that Buddhism is just a development of the orthodox Vedic (/ Upanisadic / etc.) traditions.

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Re: Zen, Buddhism, and Taoism

Postby Wayfarer » Fri Sep 13, 2013 2:10 am

It could be another example of 'conditioned origination' - but note that this particular idea, which is central to Buddhism, is unique to it, and remains the major innovation of the Buddha.
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Re: Zen, Buddhism, and Taoism

Postby Kobayashi Maru » Fri Sep 13, 2013 2:59 am

jeeprs wrote:The meaning of 'substance' is not at all the same in philosophy as it is in science.


If I can jump in here - I don't believe Astus or anyone else is claiming that it is.

Emptiness, or dependent origination of phenomena (Nagarjuna equates the two in the Fundamental Verse of the Middle Way), means preciely that there is no substantia - i.e. no independent identity or own-being which "stands under" things.

It does not mean that all things are of one substance (which would be monism) or depend upon one substance (this is theism if said substance is a personal entity), which is what you seem to be saying. On the contrary, emptiness rules out precisely this possibility. If all phenomena are empty (and conversely, emptiness is all phenomena), than the world is neither a plurality of seperate substances, nor a single substance with many modes; nor is it a relative set of conditions dependent upon an absolute substance.

With respect, I think you are reading Buddhism through a Neo-Platonic lens and in the process you are missing precisely what you describe as the "major innovation of the Buddha".
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Re: Zen, Buddhism, and Taoism

Postby Wayfarer » Fri Sep 13, 2013 3:44 am

Well, with respect, I disagree. I did a Master's thesis on the topic of self, no-self and not self, which was generally well-received, and the comment from one of the supervisors, who is a lecturer in the topic, was that it 'would make good reading for the students in the undergraduate unit "Buddhist Philosophy".'

As for the remark about 'substance' - the reason that I made the distinction is that the word is nowadays interpreted to mean 'something extended in space', literally a kind of 'stuff'. But I think 'substance' in philosophy actually has a meaning much nearer to 'being'. And I don't think we can say that 'being' is non-existent'. What we can say is that beings don't exist 'in their own right' or 'from their own side'. That is the meaning of emptiness, in my view. So in Western philosophical terminology, beings are contingent and dependent, but this doesn't mean they don't exist. To say they don't exist, or that there really are no beings, is nihilistic in my opinion.

I think such notions as 'the true nature' or 'the Buddha nature' signify something beyond conditioned reality. But I know that is controversial - that is the subject of the 'Critical Buddhism' controversy, and much ink has been spilled on it, and will continue to be, no doubt.

Anyway that is off topic for this thread, perhaps we could discuss it in another thread that I have posted about this very topic not everything is impermanent.
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Re: Zen, Buddhism, and Taoism

Postby LastLegend » Fri Sep 13, 2013 6:07 am

jeeprs wrote: To say they don't exist, or that there really are no beings, is nihilistic in my opinion.


Why do they have to exist?
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Re: Zen, Buddhism, and Taoism

Postby Wayfarer » Fri Sep 13, 2013 6:34 am

"From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications. From fabrications as a requisite condition comes consciousness....'


And so on.
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Re: Zen, Buddhism, and Taoism

Postby LastLegend » Fri Sep 13, 2013 6:39 am

jeeprs wrote:"From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications. From fabrications as a requisite condition comes consciousness....'


And so on.


Do they exist prior to existence or do they always exist?
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Re: Zen, Buddhism, and Taoism

Postby Matt J » Fri Sep 13, 2013 3:11 pm

Jeeprs (and others),

I wonder what you would make of this quote from Garma C.C. Chang from the Buddhist Teaching of Totality:

[A]lthough the obstructions are innumerable, they are all derived from one basic, obstructing block, that is, the idea of being. Once this bedrock of being is crushed, all the constructions built upon it will also be demolished. The idea of being, that primordial root from which all other ideas sprout is, therefore, the source of all obstructions. This inveterate, stubborn, and all-pervasive idea of being is the prime obstruction that stands in the way of Totality and our liberation. Instead of glorifying it and deifying it as many philosophers and theologians of both the Eastern and Western traditions have done, Buddhism stresses the unsatisfactory and illusory aspects of being and the importance of destroying it. A Zen proverb has made this point very clear: “All things return to the One; but to what is this One reducible?” The greatest breakthrough that can ever be achieved by man is the pulverizing of the block of “being” and of “one,” which, psychologically speaking, is a deep-rooted tendency to grasp things, a form of clinging manifested as an arbitrary assertion. Totality is inaccessible without a through annihilation of this basic clinging, and Non-Obstruction cannot be realized without an understanding of the truth of “Non-being,” which is sunyata (Voidness) --- the core and essence of Buddhism.
The Great Way is not difficult
If only there is no picking or choosing
--- Xin Xin Ming

http://nondualism.org/
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Re: Zen, Buddhism, and Taoism

Postby Wayfarer » Sat Sep 14, 2013 10:01 am

I think I understand what he is getting at, but I wouldn't express it that way. I don't really like his opposition between 'being and non-being' - I think in Madhyamika philosophy generally, the assertions 'it is' and 'it is not' are both avoided. 'The importance of destroying being'...also sounds a bit extreme. Where he uses 'being' I would prefer 'existence' - I see a distinction between those terms, but that is my personal philosophy, I don't think it is a distinction which is usually made.
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