Pre-Buddhist Chan

Re: Pre-Buddhist Chan

Postby Dharmakara » Wed Jan 12, 2011 9:47 pm

And yet when Buddhism first entered China it struggled... it was only after the establishment of Ch'an as an institutionalized form of Buddhism that this seemed to change.
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Re: Pre-Buddhist Chan

Postby Astus » Wed Jan 12, 2011 10:39 pm

Do you mean that 1000 years of Chinese Buddhism was struggling? Not to mention that Chan did not bring about any new institution in the monastic system except for the spread of "house rules" as an extra for the Pratimoksha and bodhisattva precepts and the "patriarchal lineage" as a metaphoric family organisation tool.
"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 11:09 pm

Please read over my comment again because I certainly did not say that. In the early phases of its entry, Buddhism did not find many adherents in China, but Ch'an succeeded to do just that, agreeing with you in regard to the prestige and honor it commanded.
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Re: Pre-Buddhist Chan

Postby Huifeng » Thu Jan 13, 2011 3:03 am

Dharmakara, that is just plain incorrect, as are most of the other assertions about Chan that you have made in this thread. I'd recommend checking out some of the texts that Astus has pointed out earlier, as well as getting a good background in Chinese Buddhism to set all that in.
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Re: Pre-Buddhist Chan

Postby Huifeng » Thu Jan 13, 2011 4:15 am

Dharmakara wrote: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.


Well, these are general principles upheld by some Buddhist schools, at least.

The main Chinese variations within Chan Buddhism are as follows:


"Chinese variations"?

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.


The theory of two truths heralds from Indian Buddhism, around the time of the Abhidharmikas, as hinted at in the early sutras.

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 ".


Chan does not make such a claim. Note in particular the "fox spirit" story, which clearly affirms the validity of cause and effect. Once the mind is purified, then karma is not created. Standard Buddhism, and no need to refer to Daoism at all.

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.


Rather a vague statement, but most Buddhist schools have the idea of "kriya", actions which are not karmic, ie. act without intention. No need to refer to Daoism again.

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.


Well, the gradual sudden dispute is rather complex, and split caused by Shenhui and others really polarizes things excessively.

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.


As described also by the Yogacarins, the Madhyamakas, a number of other early Indian schools, too. (See for instance, Nanananda's Concept and Reality.) So, nothing particularly Chinese about all this.

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.


Depending on what interpretation of Buddha Nature one takes, this is also accepted by a number of Indian systems. Buddha nature aside, a number of Indian systems also posited that reality, as nirvana, is also not another distinct dharma apart from the conditioned. Nothing specifically Chinese here.
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Re: Pre-Buddhist Chan

Postby Dharmakara » Thu Jan 13, 2011 4:26 am

The monumental task of communicating Indian ideas to a Chinese audience was in inevitably informed by indigenous social, political, philosophical, and religious beliefs. Henry Maspero showed long ago that the earliest Chinese translations of Buddhist text were so heavily laden with Taoist terminology and preconceptions as to make Buddhism and Taoism during the Han dynasty virtually an organic tradition.

Henri Maspero, Taoism and Chinese Religion, Frank A. Kierman, Jr., trans. (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1981), esp. 37-53, 249-262, and 400-412.

Chinese Buddhist Apocrypha
Robert E. Buswell
University of Hawaii Press, 1990


Ven. Huifeng, thank you for kindly pointing out that I am wrong in regard to absorbtion of indigenous beliefs into Chinese Buddhism. In your opinion I'm wrong and need to study the subject, apparently just as Robert Buswell is wrong, just as Henri Maspero was wrong, just as Nakamura Hajime was wrong when he spoke of the indigenous infuence in his article entitled "The Influence of Confucious Ethics on the Chinese Translations of Buddhist Sutras", just as Peter Hershock and Wing-tsit Chan were wrong, just as the research of Early Buddhist Manuscript Project is wrong and their translations of Gandhara manuscripts is in no way changing how scholars are now approaching the development of the Buddhist tradition as it spread.

In closing and taking leave of this thread, I wish all of you the best, with metta and warm regards.

:namaste:
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Re: Pre-Buddhist Chan

Postby tobes » Thu Jan 13, 2011 4:33 am

I'm sorry to be so :offtopic: but what do people on this thread think of Bernard Faure? He does Foucauldian type genealogies of Chinese Buddhism.

My understanding of Chinese Buddhisms is very poor, so whilst I find his work interesting, I'm not sure either way about his scholarship (which is always the problem with genealogies).

Thumbs up or thumbs down?

:namaste:
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Re: Pre-Buddhist Chan

Postby pueraeternus » Thu Jan 13, 2011 5:51 am

This has nothing to do with Chinese Buddhism "absorbing indigenous beliefs", but rather in the early stages of transmission of Buddhism into China, indigenous terminology (that were familiar to Chinese readers) were used in translations of texts (Geyi). It created a rather confusing climate in the understanding of Buddhism, but all that changed with the arrival of Kumarajiva. So early Chinese Buddhism might be laden with native terminology, but it didn't really absorb these beliefs. In any case, Kumarajiva changed all that and brought about a new age of scriptural transmission and understanding.

Note that all these preceded the advent of Chan Buddhism.



Dharmakara wrote:
The monumental task of communicating Indian ideas to a Chinese audience was in inevitably informed by indigenous social, political, philosophical, and religious beliefs. Henry Maspero showed long ago that the earliest Chinese translations of Buddhist text were so heavily laden with Taoist terminology and preconceptions as to make Buddhism and Taoism during the Han dynasty virtually an organic tradition.

Henri Maspero, Taoism and Chinese Religion, Frank A. Kierman, Jr., trans. (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1981), esp. 37-53, 249-262, and 400-412.

Chinese Buddhist Apocrypha
Robert E. Buswell
University of Hawaii Press, 1990


Ven. Huifeng, thank you for kindly pointing out that I am wrong in regard to absorbtion of indigenous beliefs into Chinese Buddhism. In your opinion I'm wrong and need to study the subject, apparently just as Robert Buswell is wrong, just as Henri Maspero was wrong, just as Nakamura Hajime was wrong when he spoke of the indigenous infuence in his article entitled "The Influence of Confucious Ethics on the Chinese Translations of Buddhist Sutras", just as Peter Hershock and Wing-tsit Chan were wrong, just as the research of Early Buddhist Manuscript Project is wrong and their translations of Gandhara manuscripts is in no way changing how scholars are now approaching the development of the Buddhist tradition as it spread.

In closing and taking leave of this thread, I wish all of you the best, with metta and warm regards.

:namaste:
If you believe certain words, you believe their hidden arguments. When you believe something is right or wrong, true of false, you believe the assumptions in the words which express the arguments. Such assumptions are often full of holes, but remain most precious to the convinced.

- The Open-Ended Proof from The Panoplia Prophetica
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Re: Pre-Buddhist Chan

Postby Huifeng » Thu Jan 13, 2011 8:32 am

I think the problem here is in the claim of some sort of pre-Buddhist Chan, which was somehow Chan first and only became Buddhist later, and not in the issue of Chinese forms of Buddhism having non-Buddhist influence or elements, which nobody here seems to be disagreeing with.
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Re: Pre-Buddhist Chan

Postby Dharmakara » Thu Jan 13, 2011 9:45 am

As mentioned earlier, I should have chosen a better statement at the time, like "pre-existing elements that distinguish Ch'an from other schools of Buddhism", as this was what I was actually referring to.

Certainly need to be more diligent when it comes to my choice words, especially when I've been burning the midnight oil, so to speak :thanks:
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Re: Pre-Buddhist Chan

Postby Huifeng » Thu Jan 13, 2011 10:12 am

Okay. The online medium for discussion is indeed rather different from regular conversation. A few spoken words quickly pass the ear, but the digital words on the page seem to linger for oh so long!
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Re: Pre-Buddhist Chan

Postby Astus » Thu Jan 13, 2011 10:36 am

As elements distinguishing Chan, a good comparison could be with Tiantai as it was its rival school for a couple of centuries. Tiantai has methods of both gradual and sudden type and has a patriarchal lineage - both from the time before the emergence of Chan. In fact, Chan has profited from teachings found in Tiantai, including its meditation techniques.
"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 » Thu Jan 13, 2011 10:44 am

Ven. Huifeng: Very true, not only different, but sometimes more difficult than regular conversation.... like the saying goes, once a bell is rung it can't be unrung, so care should always be taken.

Astus: The T'ien T'ai tradition has always resonated with me, especially the commentary on the ten practices of the Bodhisattva Mahasattva attributed to Chih-I (538-597 CE)... it's great inspiration for reflection and application in practice.
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Re: Pre-Buddhist Chan

Postby LastLegend » Tue Apr 12, 2011 9:24 pm

Chan or Chana derived from Dhyana which means meditation. So Pure Land, Tantra, Chan, and others are all meditations. Why? Because all lead to Concentration if cultivate properly as in Conduct/Concentration/Wisdom.

If you still are deluded about reaching enlightenment through hearing a few words like Hui Neng did, you might want to take a look at where you stand in your capacity.
NAMO AMITABHA
NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (VIETNAMESE)
NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)

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―Listen! Those of you who devote yourselves to the Dharma
must not be afraid of losing your bodies and your lives―
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Re: Pre-Buddhist Chan

Postby Jikan » Wed Apr 13, 2011 1:33 am

Astus wrote:As elements distinguishing Chan, a good comparison could be with Tiantai as it was its rival school for a couple of centuries. Tiantai has methods of both gradual and sudden type and has a patriarchal lineage - both from the time before the emergence of Chan. In fact, Chan has profited from teachings found in Tiantai, including its meditation techniques.


This is something I'd like to know more about--the back-and-forth between TienTai and Ch'an in this period. I haven't studied it systematically. Any pointers?
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Re: Pre-Buddhist Chan

Postby Astus » Wed Apr 13, 2011 8:31 am

Jikan wrote:This is something I'd like to know more about--the back-and-forth between TienTai and Ch'an in this period. I haven't studied it systematically. Any pointers?


I don't know of any study analysing this relationship. There are pieces and bits in different Zen studies, like in "Seeing through Zen" on p. 142ff "Intersubjectivity in Song-Dynasty Tiantai Practice" and in "The Will to Orthodoxy" on p. 38-39 "The Tiantai Influence". You may find other similar chapters in different works.
"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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