Differences between Chan and Zen? If any?

Differences between Chan and Zen? If any?

Postby DaftChris » Fri Dec 06, 2013 9:17 pm

From what I understand, at the core, both schools are essentially the same. However, what are some distinct differences between Chan and Zen practice? If any?

All I know is that both have different countries of origin and that (from what I've read) Chan is fairly syncretic and can contain esoteric ritual.
User avatar
DaftChris
 
Posts: 15
Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2012 10:51 pm
Location: Augusta, GA

Re: Differences between Chan and Zen? If any?

Postby Astus » Fri Dec 06, 2013 10:05 pm

Re: chan/seon/rinzai/soto differences

Also: Differences in Zen and Ch'an

In short, both Chan and Zen are generic terms for various teachings and traditions. To find actual differences one better picks something from the Chinese side and something from the Japanese side. And there can be numerous differences between teachers even of the same lineage.
"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)
User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4248
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

Re: Differences between Chan and Zen? If any?

Postby Indrajala » Sat Dec 07, 2013 4:37 pm

One thing to bear in mind is that Japanese Zen has attempted to preserve much of Song dynasty Chan: the liturgy, rites, methods, practices, ideas, habits and so forth. Not entirely, but Song-era Chan is basically sacred to Japanese Zen schools, and there is thus an effort to preserve it, much as Tendai and Shingon attempted to preserve elements of Tang Buddhism.

Modern Chan went through three more dynasties and in general has embraced what it calls 'modernization', so there will be ideas like Humanistic Buddhism which would have been quite alien to the Chan masters of the Tang and Song. The outfits, dining habits, liturgies, ideas and so on will differ considerably from what you see in Japan. Chan as it is seen amongst diaspora Chinese in places like Taiwan is also heavily influenced by modern developments and western ideas. With Japanese Zen this is less so in my estimation.

Taiwanese Chan groups look to modern masters for inspiration. In Japan they look to the past masters of the Kamakura period.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
 
Posts: 5964
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Japan

Re: Differences between Chan and Zen? If any?

Postby shaunc » Sat Dec 07, 2013 6:20 pm

Please correct me if I'm wrong but zen has married clergy while chan does not. This however can also be said about most Japanese Buddhism vs almost any other type of Buddhism.
shaunc
 
Posts: 303
Joined: Fri Jan 11, 2013 8:10 am

Re: Differences between Chan and Zen? If any?

Postby Indrajala » Sat Dec 07, 2013 6:30 pm

shaunc wrote:Please correct me if I'm wrong but zen has married clergy while chan does not. This however can also be said about most Japanese Buddhism vs almost any other type of Buddhism.


This is correct. Japanese clergy are generally married. Chan adheres to the Vinaya proscription against clergy having any sort of romantic, sexual or marital engagements.

In Japan clerical marriages were decriminalized in 1872 when the Meiji government government issues proclamation 133 on April 25th:

    「自今僧侶肉食妻帯蓄髪等可為勝手事 但法用ノ外ハ人民一般ノ服ヲ着用不苦候事」

    Hereafter monks may freely eat meat, marry and keep hair. Furthermore, there will be no penalty if they wear ordinary clothing when not engaged in religious activities.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
 
Posts: 5964
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Japan

Re: Differences between Chan and Zen? If any?

Postby sukhamanveti » Sat Dec 07, 2013 10:16 pm

Ven. Indrajala,

I'm told that most Zen teachers in the West reject the doctrine of rebirth, as Jundo Cohen once said. I hear that in many parts of the West one finds that the Zen that was transmitted from Japan is now largely devoid of Buddhist content and the sutras that once shaped Chan and Zen are mostly neglected. (Someone please correct me if this is inaccurate.) For example, in the U.S., or at least among the students of Tetsugen Glassman Roshi, one might be a Catholic priest and a Zen teacher simultaneously (e.g., Father Robert Jinsen Kennedy Roshi) or a rabbi and zen teacher (e.g., Sensei Rabbi Don Singer). Sensei Rabbi Don Singer, who sounds like a caring human being, even has a group, Shir Hadash, for those who want to practice "Zen" Judaism. I mean no disrespect to any of these teachers. I just find it puzzling. One doesn't find Catholic priests who are also Jewish Rabbis. One might get the impression that many involved in Zen in the West (or at least in the U.S) have dispensed with Buddhism entirely, reducing Zen to little more than a meditation technique(s). If this is an accurate picture, is the apparent decay or transformation of Zen something exclusive to the West or did it originate in modern Japan? If the latter is the case, then this would further differentiate Zen from Chan. If this is an exaggeration, I hope that someone will give me a more accurate assessment.

Ed
namo bhagavate śākyamunaye tathāgatāyārhate samyaksaṁbuddhāya | namaḥ sarvabuddhabodhisattvebhyaḥ ||

"Bodhisattva-mahāsattvas love all beings in the world equally, as if each were their only child..." Buddhāvataṃsakamahāvaipulya Sūtra
User avatar
sukhamanveti
 
Posts: 108
Joined: Fri May 21, 2010 5:50 pm
Location: U.S.A.

Re: Differences between Chan and Zen? If any?

Postby Astus » Sun Dec 08, 2013 12:16 am

It should be noted that many American Zen teachers actually belong to a modern Zen movement called the Sanbo Kyodan. The founders of that organisation were open to foreigners and they accepted people of other religions as students, like the Jesuit priest Hugo Enomiya-Lassalle. Sanbo Kyodan is not representative of all the other Japanese Zen schools.

One should also be aware that while in Japan we can talk of independent Zen institutions, in Chinese Buddhism the name "Chan" is often synonymous with Buddhism for various reasons, and not restricted to a specific set of teachings and methods.
"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)
User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4248
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

Re: Differences between Chan and Zen? If any?

Postby Lindama » Sun Dec 08, 2013 12:37 am

I've heard people in both schools say that there is a difference in the shikantaza of zen and the silent illumination of chan. I would have to agree but I'm not qualified to explain.
Lindama
 
Posts: 471
Joined: Tue Sep 18, 2012 4:26 pm

Re: Differences between Chan and Zen? If any?

Postby Huifeng » Sun Dec 08, 2013 1:01 am

Chinese Chan is pretty straight up early and mid period Mahayana Buddhism:

It's got celibate monastics who take sramanera/ika, bhiksu/ni and bodhisattva precepts;
It's got the regular Buddhist world view, ie. cyclic existence and rebirth, karma and karmic result, etc.;
It's got a strong basis in Mahayana sutra, esp. the Diamond sutra, the Lotus sutra, the Surangama sutra, etc.;
It's got a well established institutional setting (though this has been in transition of late);
It's got its own Chinese texts which are heavily based on sutra, eg. the Platform;
It also uses a fair amount of other Chinese Buddhist material that wouldn't be considered "Zen" in Japan, eg. a number of Tiantai meditation manuals, stuff like the Treatise of Zhao, etc.
And so on.

Now, a lot of this hasn't really taken root in the West, with exceptions such as the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, and a very small corner of Dharma Drum and Chung Tai. So, relying on English language material is only going to show a tiny corner of Chan.

~~ Huifeng
User avatar
Huifeng
 
Posts: 1469
Joined: Tue Nov 17, 2009 4:51 am

Re: Differences between Chan and Zen? If any?

Postby LastLegend » Sun Dec 08, 2013 1:23 am

I will now claim Hui Neng Vietnamese since mentioned of platform sutra." Southerner" or "Barbarian" referred to Vietnam at the time which was under the rule of Chinese. Also, the style of Hui Neng's teaching was similar to characteristics of Vietnamese Zen as described by Master Thich Thanh Tu. Non-shouting or beating students with a stick like utilized by Lam Te or Linjii. Anyway, people today can be beaten to death with a stick, they will not be enlightened. :rolling:

Sorry to be slight off topic, just need to get off my chest. Most Vietnamese Buddhists believe that Hui Neng was Vietnamese. We know he was not Han. South at the time referred to Vietnam.
NAMO AMITABHA
NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (VIETNAMESE)
NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)
User avatar
LastLegend
 
Posts: 2192
Joined: Sat Mar 19, 2011 3:46 pm
Location: Washington DC

Re: Differences between Chan and Zen? If any?

Postby Astus » Sun Dec 08, 2013 1:30 am

Huifeng wrote:So, relying on English language material is only going to show a tiny corner of Chan.


Many of the important works are translated to English. Except that they are not necessarily titled as Chan, but simply as sutras and other works. It is also quite true for Korean and Vietnamese Buddhism that "Chan" is a general word and not really a school. So we can say that the way Japanese Buddhism is fragmented into various schools is an exception, a result of historical development and how the state controlled Buddhist institutions. Just as in China it was the Chan movement that gained imperial support and eventually became the organisational frame for the whole of Chinese Buddhism.
"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)
User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4248
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

Re: Differences between Chan and Zen? If any?

Postby Indrajala » Sun Dec 08, 2013 5:10 am

sukhamanveti wrote:Ven. Indrajala,

I'm told that most Zen teachers in the West reject the doctrine of rebirth, as Jundo Cohen once said. I hear that in many parts of the West one finds that the Zen that was transmitted from Japan is now largely devoid of Buddhist content and the sutras that once shaped Chan and Zen are mostly neglected. (Someone please correct me if this is inaccurate.)


You'll find plenty of Japanese Zen clerics in Japan who reject rebirth, too. Rebirth and karma are optional nowadays. Nevertheless, it is still recognized as inherently part of their tradition. Dogen believed in karma and rebirth for example. What people themselves believe is up to them.

There's a lot of popular misconceptions that spread around Japan, too. Like that the Buddha remained silent when asked about rebirth. I know of one professor who apparently even teaches this in his undergraduate courses.

That isn't to say everyone is like that. I just found a number of Soto Zen people are either agnostic about karma and rebirth, or just outright reject it.


For example, in the U.S., or at least among the students of Tetsugen Glassman Roshi, one might be a Catholic priest and a Zen teacher simultaneously (e.g., Father Robert Jinsen Kennedy Roshi) or a rabbi and zen teacher (e.g., Sensei Rabbi Don Singer).



In some ways Zen is becoming like yoga in the west, heavily divorced from its religious roots and appropriated as an exercise. You can do zazen without ever becoming Buddhist. The same thing can be seen with Vipassana.


If this is an accurate picture, is the apparent decay or transformation of Zen something exclusive to the West or did it originate in modern Japan?



Japan post-WW II became a very secular and disenchanted society. The clerics were all brought up in an education system which is decidedly rationalist and materialist.

I often wonder if it wasn't a reaction to pre-WW II values and ideas. Japanese Buddhism before the war was flourishing and even Chinese monks commented on how successful it seemed compared to Buddhism in China, which was in rapid decline. However, after the war the old values got tossed out.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
 
Posts: 5964
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Japan

Re: Differences between Chan and Zen? If any?

Postby Indrajala » Sun Dec 08, 2013 5:12 am

Huifeng wrote:Chinese Chan is pretty straight up early and mid period Mahayana Buddhism:


However, it is now often coupled with Humanistic Buddhism, which is an entirely modern creation.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
 
Posts: 5964
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Japan

Re: Differences between Chan and Zen? If any?

Postby greentara » Sun Dec 08, 2013 6:51 am

I like Tetsugen Bernie Glassman but if you remove Zen from the great sutras (the platform sutra for example) and apparently water down the teaching to all new comers, you basically neutralize its influence, its very roots.
greentara
 
Posts: 927
Joined: Tue Apr 03, 2012 4:03 am

Re: Differences between Chan and Zen? If any?

Postby Lindama » Sun Dec 08, 2013 6:55 am

Here's another active thread that is speaking about chan....

Differences between Chan and Zen? If any?

http://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=39&t=6597
Lindama
 
Posts: 471
Joined: Tue Sep 18, 2012 4:26 pm

Re: Differences between Chan and Zen? If any?

Postby tatpurusa » Sun Dec 08, 2013 11:23 am

sukhamanveti wrote:Ven. Indrajala,

I'm told that most Zen teachers in the West reject the doctrine of rebirth, as Jundo Cohen once said. I hear that in many parts of the West one finds that the Zen that was transmitted from Japan is now largely devoid of Buddhist content and the sutras that once shaped Chan and Zen are mostly neglected. (Someone please correct me if this is inaccurate.) For example, in the U.S., or at least among the students of Tetsugen Glassman Roshi, one might be a Catholic priest and a Zen teacher simultaneously (e.g., Father Robert Jinsen Kennedy Roshi) or a rabbi and zen teacher (e.g., Sensei Rabbi Don Singer). Sensei Rabbi Don Singer, who sounds like a caring human being, even has a group, Shir Hadash, for those who want to practice "Zen" Judaism.


What a wonderful meditation technique in order to realize the fundamental mystique duality between the two-way eternal - both beginningless and endless - omnipotently jealous God of Israel and the poor one-way eternal - created, but deathless - impotently jealous human soul. :pig:
tatpurusa
 
Posts: 171
Joined: Sat Oct 31, 2009 1:17 am

Re: Differences between Chan and Zen? If any?

Postby Jikan » Tue Dec 10, 2013 3:56 pm

sukhamanveti wrote:Ven. Indrajala,

I'm told that most Zen teachers in the West reject the doctrine of rebirth, as Jundo Cohen once said. I hear that in many parts of the West one finds that the Zen that was transmitted from Japan is now largely devoid of Buddhist content and the sutras that once shaped Chan and Zen are mostly neglected. (Someone please correct me if this is inaccurate.) For example, in the U.S., or at least among the students of Tetsugen Glassman Roshi, one might be a Catholic priest and a Zen teacher simultaneously (e.g., Father Robert Jinsen Kennedy Roshi) or a rabbi and zen teacher (e.g., Sensei Rabbi Don Singer). Sensei Rabbi Don Singer, who sounds like a caring human being, even has a group, Shir Hadash, for those who want to practice "Zen" Judaism. I mean no disrespect to any of these teachers. I just find it puzzling. One doesn't find Catholic priests who are also Jewish Rabbis. One might get the impression that many involved in Zen in the West (or at least in the U.S) have dispensed with Buddhism entirely, reducing Zen to little more than a meditation technique(s). If this is an accurate picture, is the apparent decay or transformation of Zen something exclusive to the West or did it originate in modern Japan? If the latter is the case, then this would further differentiate Zen from Chan. If this is an exaggeration, I hope that someone will give me a more accurate assessment.

Ed


Hi Ed,

I know your inquiry wasn't addressed to me, but since I've seen enough North American Zen groups to give some first-hand accounts of this, I thought I'd speak up in case it's helpful.

What you say is correct--this is true of many, maybe most, but not all the Zen groups in this category. There are others who take a very different tack, or who have some but not all the characteristics you describe. One example of a North American Zen situation that differs substantially from the picture you paint is Daiyuzenji Temple in Chicago, which is led by Ven. Meido, who occasionally posts here at DW. There are others.

It's very difficult to generalize about Zen as practiced in North America. It's a diverse field.
Jikan
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5369
Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:04 pm

Re: Differences between Chan and Zen? If any?

Postby longjie » Wed Dec 11, 2013 4:25 am

Huifeng wrote:Chinese Chan is pretty straight up early and mid period Mahayana Buddhism:

It's got celibate monastics who take sramanera/ika, bhiksu/ni and bodhisattva precepts;
It's got the regular Buddhist world view, ie. cyclic existence and rebirth, karma and karmic result, etc.;
It's got a strong basis in Mahayana sutra, esp. the Diamond sutra, the Lotus sutra, the Surangama sutra, etc.;
It's got a well established institutional setting (though this has been in transition of late);
It's got its own Chinese texts which are heavily based on sutra, eg. the Platform;
It also uses a fair amount of other Chinese Buddhist material that wouldn't be considered "Zen" in Japan, eg. a number of Tiantai meditation manuals, stuff like the Treatise of Zhao, etc.
And so on.

Now, a lot of this hasn't really taken root in the West, with exceptions such as the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, and a very small corner of Dharma Drum and Chung Tai. So, relying on English language material is only going to show a tiny corner of Chan.

~~ Huifeng

:popcorn: Well said.
longjie
 
Posts: 37
Joined: Sun Mar 27, 2011 4:39 pm

Re: Differences between Chan and Zen? If any?

Postby Astus » Wed Dec 11, 2013 10:20 am

I think the Surangama Sutra is the one text that is central in Chan but rarely used in other countries.
"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)
User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4248
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

Re: Differences between Chan and Zen? If any?

Postby Meido » Wed Dec 11, 2013 1:58 pm

DaftChris wrote:From what I understand, at the core, both schools are essentially the same. However, what are some distinct differences between Chan and Zen practice? If any?

All I know is that both have different countries of origin and that (from what I've read) Chan is fairly syncretic and can contain esoteric ritual.


Jikan is correct in saying that it's difficult to generalize about Zen in N. America. In terms of what is practiced, I would actually stretch this to include Zen in Japan. I wrote the following in another thread and it may be relevant here:

It's important to remember that "Zen" is not one standardized school, but rather a collection of many branching teaching lines. The actual practices stressed by these diverse lines, or even by individual teachers within the same line, can vary surprisingly. This is the case even with branches that share common connection to the larger "trees" of Soto-shu, Rinzai-shu, etc.


Some are these teaching lines are closely related like brothers/sisters, and so share something of the same "house style". Some only distantly so, like cousins you know are out there but will never meet. Depending on what is transmitted in the line you encounter, you may well find yourself doing all kinds of things. This will also be affected by the personal interests, experiences and research of the individual teachers who carry and transmit those lines.

As an example: it's true that the majority of Rinzai teachers will use wato/koan practice as one of their methods, and that there is a general approach to this since Hakuin that organizes koan into categories such as hosshin (dharmakaya), kikan (dynamic activity) and so on. But the actual shitsunai or curricula of koan practice vary widely from place to place according to what is handed down orally in each line...not just in terms of what koan are used, but also fundamental approach to the practice itself. These curricula and approaches are not static or unchanging even today, but could be added to with the experiences of each generation.

Esoteric practices are commonly found in various places (though I personally have not heard of Zen teachers giving kanjo, unless they have backgrounds also in Tendai or Shingon mikkyo...my experience is not broad in that regard, however.)

It is worth remembering that Zen's self-view is that it is a One Vehicle tradition pointing directly to the nature of mind, and as such is essentially without fixed method. From this standpoint, any practice that is useful for recognition of one's nature and its embodiment could be "Zen". Also from that standpoint, Zen is not much invested in classifications of "esoteric" vs. "exoteric" (though various lines will still have their own traditions of what may be revealed openly and what is only to be transmitted privately...the sort of omote/ura thing you also see in many Japanese cultural arts).

So, I think it's important to balance the fact that the Japanese attempted to preserve and organize very methodically the Song-era Ch'an they received, as Indrajala pointed out, with a recognition of the sort of built-in fluidity and lack of total organizational control of practice curricula that has been demonstrated by the sometimes great variations in teaching lines. These different flavors themselves can actually become objects of veneration and preservation within each line.

Astus wrote:I think the Surangama Sutra is the one text that is central in Chan but rarely used in other countries.


I can't speak for all of Zen (especially given what I wrote above). But the Surangama is recommended in Rinzai-shu writings (e.g. Torei) especially for recognizing delusory states that arise during practice. I have no idea how many Rinzai folks actually read it for that purpose. Of course the Surangama dharani, or its core mantra, are very commonly used for various purposes.

~ Meido
User avatar
Meido
 
Posts: 130
Joined: Mon Mar 21, 2011 2:50 am


Return to East Asian Buddhism

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests

>