Pre-Buddhist Chan

Pre-Buddhist Chan

Postby Dexing » Wed Jan 12, 2011 1:26 am

Dharmakara wrote:it also discards the academic understanding of the history of the pre-Buddhist Ch'an tradition in ancient China, where Buddhist tenents were later merged with it.


This is what I was asking you to explain. Pre-Buddhist Chan? Buddhist tenets were added to it by or after Huineng, you say? This is the first I've heard of it.

:namaste:
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Re: Pre-Buddhist Chan

Postby Indrajala » Wed Jan 12, 2011 2:09 am

Dexing wrote:
Dharmakara wrote:it also discards the academic understanding of the history of the pre-Buddhist Ch'an tradition in ancient China, where Buddhist tenents were later merged with it.


This is what I was asking you to explain. Pre-Buddhist Chan? Buddhist tenets were added to it by or after Huineng, you say? This is the first I've heard of it.

:namaste:


What academic history are you referring to Dharmakara?

There was no Chan before Buddhism in China. There is no such thing as pre-Buddhist Chan.

The word "Chan" represented by the character chan 禪 is an abbreviation of the transliteration of dhyāna which is chan'na 禪那 in Chinese. The character chan 禪 itself in the archaic context refers either to the right to make sacrifices to heaven or to abdication from the throne. It has nothing to do with meditation.
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Re: Pre-Buddhist Chan

Postby Dharmakara » Wed Jan 12, 2011 3:25 am

The Early Development of the Ch'an Tradition:

Chih-kuan (502-557)
Fa-lang (507-581)
Chi-tsang (549-623)
Chih-kai (533-610)
Tao-hsin (580-651)
Hung-jen (601-674)
Cao-xi Hui-neng (638-713)

It is from Cao-xi Hui-neng foward that Ch'an can truly be considered Buddhist, as many of the tenets were pre-existing prior to Cao-xi Hui-neng, considered to be the 6th Patriarch of Chinese Buddhism in general, where you have the following lineage:

Bodhidharma (d.535)
Shen-guang Hui-ke (487-593)
Seng-can (d.606)
Dong-shan Dao-xin (580-651)
Huang-mei Hong-ren (602-675)
Cao-xi Hui-neng (638-713)
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Re: Pre-Buddhist Chan

Postby Dharmakara » Wed Jan 12, 2011 3:38 am

Okay, this includes the Dharma Treasury of the Golden Mouth of the Buddha with the patriarchal extentions for a clearer view.

(I) The Indian Patriarchs of the Golden Mouth of the Buddha:

Mahakasyapa
Ananda
Shanakavasa
Upagupta
Dhritaka
Micchaka
Vasumitra **
Buddhanandi
Buddhamitra
Parsva
Punyayasas
Asvaghosa
Kapimala
Nagarjuna
Kanadeva
Rahulata
Sanghanandi
Sanghayasas
Kumarata
Jayata
Vasubandhu
Manorhita (Manorhata)
Haklenayasas
Sinha (Simhabodhi)

** Note: Vasumitra received transmission of the Dharma Treasury at the same time as Micchaka and he's not always included as a patriarch within the Golden Mouth lineage.

(II) The Extention of the Indian Patriarchal Line:

Sinha (Simhabodhi)
Vasiastia (Vasi-Asita)
Punyamitra
Prajnatara
Bodhidharma (d.535)

(III) The Six Patriarchs of Chinese Buddhism:

Bodhidharma (d.535)
Shen-guang Hui-ke (487-593)
Seng-can (d.606)
Dong-shan Dao-xin (580-651)
Huang-mei Hong-ren (602-675)
Cao-xi Hui-neng (638-713)
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Re: Pre-Buddhist Chan

Postby Dharmakara » Wed Jan 12, 2011 3:58 am

Dexing wrote:
Dharmakara wrote:it also discards the academic understanding of the history of the pre-Buddhist Ch'an tradition in ancient China, where Buddhist tenents were later merged with it.


This is what I was asking you to explain. Pre-Buddhist Chan? Buddhist tenets were added to it by or after Huineng, you say? This is the first I've heard of it.

:namaste:


Sorry for the misunderstanding... I wasn't referring to the Ven. Huifeng, that he added anything one way or another, but was specifically referring to the developement of the Ch'an tradition at the time. What I was saying was that there was a pre-existing Chan prior to it's acuisition of Buddhism, tenents that pre-date it, tenents that merged through Chih-kuan forward.

In many ways it is reminicent of the debate of what came first, Bon or Tibet Buddhism... there are various opinions on this within academia as well.
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Re: Pre-Buddhist Chan

Postby Indrajala » Wed Jan 12, 2011 6:35 am

Dharmakara wrote:In many ways it is reminicent of the debate of what came first, Bon or Tibet Buddhism... there are various opinions on this within academia as well.


I'm in academia and this is the first I've heard of it.

Buddhism arrived in China for the first time in the Han Dynasty (around 1st century CE) and grew from there.

I don't see how your lineage chart proves your point. It doesn't.

There was no non-Buddhist Chan lineage or non-Buddhist Chan ever.
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Re: Pre-Buddhist Chan

Postby Dharmakara » Wed Jan 12, 2011 7:53 am

Let's try it this way:

You walk out of the door with just your coat and while walking down the street you find scarf that someone unrelated to you has dropped, a scarf that compliments the color of your coat, so you pick it up and wrap it around your neck.

You continue walking down the street, wearing your coat and new scarf, and then you come across a hat, a hat that not only compliments the color of your coat, but also the color of your newly acquired scarf, so you pick it up as well and continue walking down the street with the hat and a not so newly acquired scarf, all complimenting eachother.

And finally, by the time you reach your destination, for all intents and purposes they are now a complete set, all complimenting eachother, the equivalent of the lineage chart above and the various branches of Buddhism.

What I'm describing is the evolution of any spiritual tradition as it evolves, as it progresses and matures, fording the stream and returning to it in equal measure, collecting beliefs and practices that are appropriate and compliment the spiritual tradition, beliefs and practices that are pre-existing, beliefs and practices that are indigenous (dochaku) to its environment or location.

No spiritual tradition has ever evolved in any other fashion than as described above, with many scholars agreeing that even the sudden and gradual paradigm has caused as much ink to flow as it deserves.

In other words, if Buddhism had traveled to the Native Americans in days gone by, we might be having pow-wows in the US as part of our practice.
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Re: Pre-Buddhist Chan

Postby Indrajala » Wed Jan 12, 2011 8:09 am

Can you actually provide any sources for your argument?

I mean cite some scholars or show some texts that support your argument. If you can show me Chan practises from the Qin or Warring States period, you will prove your point. However, such things will not be found.

Otherwise what you're saying is entirely meaningless and just plain incorrect.
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Re: Pre-Buddhist Chan

Postby Dharmakara » Wed Jan 12, 2011 8:24 am

Let's see, we start with this at the beginning (the coat):

‘Just as the ocean slopes away gradually, tends down gradually without any abrupt precipice, even so this Dhamma and discipline is a gradual doing, a gradual training, a gradual practice. There is no sudden penetration of knowledge’ (Udana 54).

And centuries later we have this from Master Sheng Yen (the coat, scarf and hat passed on as a complete set for centuries):

Chan was first discovered by a prince named Siddhartha Gautama (called Shakyamuni after his enlightenment), who was born in India about 2500 years ago. After he became enlightened and was called a Buddha, he taught us the method to know Chan. Chan has universal and eternal existence. It has no need of any teacher to transmit it; what is transmitted by teachers is just the method by which one can personally experience this Chan. In India it was called dhyana, which is pronounced "Chan" in Chinese, and "Zen" in Japanese. Actually, all three are identical.

Then Hakamaya Noriaki comes along and throws a monkey wrench into it all:

I have said that "Zen is not Buddhism" but do not recall ever saying that "Chinese Ch'an is not Buddhism." This difference may appear minor, but it is an important distinction. The reason is that anything which shows no attempt at "critical philosophy" based on the intellect (prajna), but is merely an experimental "Zen" (dhyana, bsam gtan) whether it be in India or Tibet or wherever, cannot be Buddhism.


What scholar in his right mind, with the exception of one who is a practitioner of Buddhism in one form or another, think anything less?

PS: By no means am I questioning Buddhist doctrine in any tradition, but trying to show the inconsistancies when we place to much emphasis on something, failing to recognize that authenticity isn't an issue if we know from our practice that it's appropriate and will lead us to the end goal.

For example, when we cite Bodhidharma, are we meaning one historical person or a composite of several people... academia usually selects the latter.
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Re: Pre-Buddhist Chan

Postby Dharmakara » Wed Jan 12, 2011 8:43 am

Huseng wrote:Can you actually provide any sources for your argument?

I mean cite some scholars or show some texts that support your argument. If you can show me Chan practises from the Qin or Warring States period, you will prove your point. However, such things will not be found.

Otherwise what you're saying is entirely meaningless and just plain incorrect.


Well, the alternative would be that the Ch'an tradition materialized with a single teacher, pulled out of thin air long after the historical Buddha, totally unrelated to Buddhism, but that certainly wouldn't set well with many of us, now would it? LOL

Here, long before Bodhidharma, First Patriarch:

The sudden-gradual controversy is first attested in the debate visible between the Chinese Buddhists Tao-sheng (c.360-434) and Hui-kuan (363-443). The former promoted the theme of sudden enlightenment (tun-wu), whereas the latter defended gradual enlightenment (chien-wu). This was a pre-Chan occurrence. Tao-sheng has been credited with Neo-Taoist leanings which apparently influenced his “sudden” theme. Tao-sheng referred to gradual practice as a preparation for sudden enlightenment. See Whalen Lai, “Tao-sheng’s Theory of Sudden Enlightenment Re-examined” (169-200) in Peter N. Gregory, ed., Sudden and Gradual: Approaches to Enlightenment in Chinese Thought (Indian edn, Banarsidass 1991).

Also this from "Chan Buddhism" by Peter D. Hershock, University of Hawaii Press (2005). pp. 144-144:

Early Chinese meditative traditions explicitly concerned themselves with unblocking and balancing qi for the combined purpose of bringing about personal health and correct relationships. Meditative adepts were not, in general, reknowned for having mystical experiences or intensely altered states of consciousness. Rather, their primary mark of distinction was entirely public: an ability to induce harmony in others without saying a word. "Just standing alongside others," Zhuangzi claimed, "they can induce people to change until correct relationships....have found their way into every home."

In terms that would later resonate deeply with Buddhist teachings, Zhuangzi identified the key to this ability as not making the judgement "it is this or it is not." Meditative adepts or sages bring to an end the continual wounding that comes with the imposition of fixed distinctions.


and goes on to say

... if Chan can truly be referred to as a meditation school, it is in a decidedly Chinese sense of meditation. Making use of extensive common ground with early Daoist thought and practice, Chan Buddhist teachers explicitly and almost exlclusively focused on the transformative effect of meditation on our situation as a whole. Like their largely Daoist predecessors, they remained almost completely silent about its subjective or experiental dimension.

By the way, Zhuangzi lived 369-286 BC
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Re: Pre-Buddhist Chan

Postby Indrajala » Wed Jan 12, 2011 10:29 am

So how does any of that mean that Chan existed before Buddhism was in China?

There might have been people who meditated, but that wasn't Chan. Chan is Buddhist.

If you want to say meditation methods existed in China before Buddhism arrived, that's fine. I won't object. But saying that Chan was around is incorrect.

Look at the etymology of the word.
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Re: Pre-Buddhist Chan

Postby Astus » Wed Jan 12, 2011 11:11 am

Here is a list of works, just to show how the "legend of Chan" is not really the "history of Chan":

John R. McRae
The Northern School and the formation of early Chʻan Buddhism
Seeing through Zen: encounter, transformation, and genealogy in Chinese Chan Buddhism
Wendi Leigh Adamek
The mystique of transmission: on an early Chan history and its contexts
Jinhua Jia
The Hongzhou School of Chan Buddhism in Eighth- Through Tenth-Century China
Mario Poceski
Ordinary mind as the way: the Hongzhou school and the growth of Chan Buddhism
Albert Welter
The Linji lu and the creation of Chan orthodoxy: the development of Chan's records of sayings literature
Morten Schlutter
How Zen Became Zen: The Dispute Over Enlightenment and the Formation of Chan Buddhism in Song-Dynasty China
Jiang Wu
Enlightenment in dispute: the reinvention of Chan Buddhism in seventeenth-century China

There are other books, like the series edited by Steven Heine and Dale Stuart Wright, also a couple of works by Bernard Faure. But I think just reading McRae's "Seeing through Zen" is a very good introduction.

The point is, there is not just any pre-Buddhist Chan but there isn't even a clear cut Chan as represented by the tradition. Frankly, there isn't such Chan even now.
"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: Pre-Buddhist Chan

Postby Dharmakara » Wed Jan 12, 2011 11:40 am

The very foundations which set Ch'an apart from all other branches of Buddhism clearly existed prior to the establishment of the tradition, hence not originating with them, but grafted on in the same manner as one does with a tree in agriculture, where the tissues of one plant are encouraged to fuse with those of another:

The idea of teachings without words anticipated the Buddhist tradition of silent transmission of the mystic doctrine, especially in the Zen school. (A source book in Chinese philosophy; Wing-tsit Chan; Princeton University Press, 1969)

You asked for evidence from the time of the Warring States to prove that some of the tenets central to Ch'an were already already current:

Therefore the sage manages affairs without action (wu-wei)
and spreads doctrines without out words.


That's from The Lao Tzu, said to have been written around 500 BC, with the oldest known published around 200 BC in Hsuchouand and republished by Fu Yi in 574 CE.

If your definition of the Ch'an tradition is "without words and from mind to mind", then yes, the concept predates it's foundation, just as many concepts pre-date Buddhism in general, whether we're talking about Mahayana or Theravada.

I hate to say it, but as Buddhism spread it acted in some ways like a sponge, soaking up what it came into contact with. One might ask if there was a Mahayana tradition before the Mahayana became institutionalized... it was referred to as "Ari" and mercilessly wiped out by King Asoka.
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Re: Pre-Buddhist Chan

Postby Blue Garuda » Wed Jan 12, 2011 11:56 am

Being highly simplistic, surely proof of pre-existence is the issue here. Something surely existed before Buddhsim, but was it relevant?

If Ch'an comprised what was revealed, taught and practised by Buddha, with some later cultural accretions, then it is surely Buddhism.

If Ch'an comprised what was revealed, taught and practised in that culture, with later Buddhist accretions, then the case for the pre-existence of Ch'an as something other than Buddhism is surely proven.

So when was the 'Ch'an' label first attached, and was it to something substantive and coherent as opposed to a generic term for any spirituality around at the time?

I can see many references in this thread but I'm not sure if there is enough firm evidence here of a pre-Buddhist Ch'an which was a coherent system based on a common set of of beliefs and practices.
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Re: Pre-Buddhist Chan

Postby Dharmakara » Wed Jan 12, 2011 12:02 pm

Astus wrote:The point is, there is not just any pre-Buddhist Chan but there isn't even a clear cut Chan as represented by the tradition. Frankly, there isn't such Chan even now.


Yes, but let's not forget the circumstance from which this thread began, so it isn't taken out of context, that I was replying to a criticsm of another poster, in a different thread:

"Of course, later on, people could take the content of his teachings and put another name on it"

The point I was trying to make was that this also occured with the Ch'an tradition, that content of his teachings was taken, pre-existing tenents added (or merged), and a new school of Buddhism emerged.

In hindsight, I probably could have choosen a better statement, something like "pre-existing elements distinguishing Ch'an from other schools of Buddhism".
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Re: Pre-Buddhist Chan

Postby Astus » Wed Jan 12, 2011 12:48 pm

Dharmakara,

First of all, it'd be good to identify what kind of Chan one means as it has never been a single set of doctrines but rather diverse, especially in the early period (7-10th century). Saying that Chan is "without words and from mind to mind" sounds inappropriate for the me, the reasons being: (1) "wordlessness" is a concept found often in the Prajnaparamita teachings and thus in every Mahayana school; (2) the concept of a transmission lineage of patriarchs was gradually developed throughout the centuries starting with the disciples of Shenxiu and the so called Lankavatara school, their text found in Dunhuang and translated by JC Cleary in Zen Dawn as "Records of the Teachers and Students of the Lanka". The whole idea of Huineng and that he was the real 6th patriarch came a bit later, just like the many stories of Bodhidharma. The complete transmission lineage solidified in the 11th century with the publication of the first collection of such a record, the Jingde(-era 1004-8) Lamp Transmission Record (Jingde Chuandeng Lu 景德傳燈錄) in 1004 after which only minor changes occurred.

In my opinion there is hard to find any doctrine within Chan that is not from Buddhist teachings but other sources. Also, Chan teachers of the early period were keen on establishing their teachings on the different sutras to make clear it to others their authenticity.
"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: Pre-Buddhist Chan

Postby Dharmakara » Wed Jan 12, 2011 1:42 pm

True, though I've always been of the opinion that this was more related to the various teaching techniques, the influences that came to shape the understanding of particular teachers as they began over-shadowing doctrinal substance of the Ch'an tradition.

This is an excerpt from The Building Blocks of Chan Buddhism:

The general principles of Buddhism are evident in Chan Buddhism. That is to say that the world is an illusion conjured up by each individual's mind, that every thought has the power to produce a retributive future result (known as karma), and that it is this that decides what form we will appear in during our next life. Enlightenment occurs when we understand this, and nirvana is attained when we are emancipated from the endless cycle of life and death to join the Universal Mind. The main Chinese variations within Chan Buddhism are as follows:

1) The Theory of the double truth:

This defines two different kinds of truth, a common one and a higher one, on three different levels. At the heart of this complex theory is an examination of the inter-relationship between existence and non-existence. Truth is complicated by the fact that on the one hand there is physical form or existence and, on the other, everything is said to be illusory or non-existent. In which case, what and where is truth - within existence or non-existence? After considering this, the theory then considers the same question for enlightenment.

2) "A good deed entails no retribution". This idea stems from the Daoist belief in non-action, i.e. that action without effort, which is natural and spontaneous to the essence of the individual, does not entail any future retribution or " karma ".

3) The method of attaining enlightenment is to do things without deliberate effort and purpose and live naturally. This (again linked to Daoism ) prepares the mind for enlightenment.

4) That enlightenment occurs suddenly. Although non-action or living the life of non-cultivation diminishes distracting elements and facilitates contemplation, enlightenment itself is not a gradual process but a sudden revelation.

5) Although words can be a useful tool to explain a thought, they can only ever be an approximation to the idea. Thus, the state of enlightenment can never be described.

6) There is no other reality than this phenomenal world. Whereas the unenlightened only see the physical objects around them, the enlightened in addition to this see the Buddha nature within the phenomenal world.
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Re: Pre-Buddhist Chan

Postby Astus » Wed Jan 12, 2011 3:07 pm

Dharmakara,

Besides there being this page with the text you quoted, it shows no author or source. Also, it displays a few misunderstandings, like there being any kind of "Universal Mind" to return to, or that of a "philosophical Daoism" (which is itself non-existent but a creation of orientalists) confused with Buddhist teachings. So I doubt it has any relevance to this discussion.
"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: Pre-Buddhist Chan

Postby Dharmakara » Wed Jan 12, 2011 8:04 pm

Well, I'm quite certain the source for the Baisc Blocks is going to be well received (LOL) by anyone looking to punch at the opinion put forward , but it came from a website that specializes in travel:

http://www.imperialtours.net/chan_buddhism.htm

Give that as it way, it's also two-way street, as it would appear that neither position can be proven with any more certainty, other than as a practitioner it is assumed that we must... or example, the following statement borrowed from Wiki with good citations:

The historical records required for a complete, accurate account of early Chán history no longer exist.[1] Theories about the influence of other schools in the evolution of Chán are widely variable and rely heavily on speculative correlation rather than on written records or histories. Some scholars have argued that Chán developed from the interaction between Mahāyāna Buddhism and Taoism.[2][3]

[1] Broughton 1999:138
[2] Cleary, Thomas (2005). Classics of Buddhism and Zen: Volume One. Boston, MA: Shambhala publications. p. 250.
[3] Maspero, Henri (1981). Taoism and Chinese Religion. University of Massachusetts. p. 46.


There are plenty of red herrings, no argument, but is it really any different than clinging so tightly to what's handed down to us within Buddhism (or any tradition for that matter), that it's the god honest truth, a sacred cow above approach, where we not only fail to see the tree standing before us, but are more likely to be oblivious to the potential of it falling over and squashing us like a bug?

Also, I never inferred that there is some "Universal Mind" to return to, only that all spiritual traditions borrow from their predecessor, that no branch of Buddhism, or any other tradition, has ever been immune from such. For example, try to imagine a Buddhist tradition without having first passed through the pre-exisiting tenents of a Brahmic society and culture, sociocentric underpinnings, ect.

Now try imagining a Ch'an without having passed through the pre-exisiting tenents of a Chinese society and culture, sociocentric underpinnings, ect.

In other words, we talk the talk of interconnectedness, but in most cases it's a shell game when we fail to give credit where credit's due.... like the song goes, "moss can't grow on a rolling stone"
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Re: Pre-Buddhist Chan

Postby Astus » Wed Jan 12, 2011 9:19 pm

What you say, that Chan developed from the mixture of Chinese culture and Buddhism, presupposes that it was more of an unconscious, natural progress rather than the work of highly educated elite Buddhist monks. But as we can see from the historical sources - both internal and external to the tradition - Chan was the domain of high ranking monks, i.e. they were the primary authorities and transmitters of the teaching. Being a Chan master who is a member of the lineage (n.b. this is from the Song dynasty on when an actual Chan school was conceived) was a matter of prestige rather than a purely religious thing (meaning that it wasn't about "if you're enlightened you're a master"). By all this I want to say that Chan is not some inconceivable, mystical tradition but a product of outstanding Buddhist monks who were trained in both worldly and religious teachings who could tell very well the difference between Buddhism and other views. A good example is Guifeng Zongmi's Inquiry into the Origin of Humanity (translated by Peter N. Gregory) where he explains how Confucianism and Taoism are on one part equals of Buddhist moral teachings while on the other they are only provisional and mistaken doctrines that don't lead to liberation.
"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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