Tibetan Interest in EA Buddhism

Tibetan Interest in EA Buddhism

Postby Astus » Tue Apr 19, 2011 12:30 pm

Why is it that Tibetan Buddhists are hardly ever care about East Asian Buddhism? We can see that in China, Korea and Japan there are newer groups appearing in the name of a Tibetan school just like in Western countries. Even before the 50s there were Chinese and Japanese Buddhists and scholars studying Tibetan Buddhism, some of them becoming Vajra masters (e.g. Yogi Chen, Nan Huaijin). Also large number of Tibetan texts have been translated to Chinese and Japanese. And if we look at the Western situation, those who follow a Tibetan lineage show little interest in understanding East Asian Buddhism, perhaps because they simply identify it with Zen just as they did in Tibet a thousand years ago (and do today without considering time as in Namkhai Norbu's "Dzogchen and Zen" essay). In China the Mantrayana (both EA and Tibetan forms) are considered part of general Buddhism that one may study. On the other hand, it seems that within Tibetan Buddhism the existence of East Asian Buddhism is completely ignored. Why?
"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: Tibetan Interest in EA Buddhism

Postby Indrajala » Tue Apr 19, 2011 12:48 pm

Astus wrote:Why is it that Tibetan Buddhists are hardly ever care about East Asian Buddhism? We can see that in China, Korea and Japan there are newer groups appearing in the name of a Tibetan school just like in Western countries.


This is something I've wondered about.

The first thing to consider is perhaps the "Samye Debate" under Tri Songdetsen which purportedly resulted in the Chinese side, which supported the sudden-enlightenment theory, losing to the gradualist Indian side. Whether or not this actually occurred or not is unimportant because it exists in the Tibetan cultural memory. The sentiment that Chinese Buddhism is inferior to the Indian models Tibet adopted still seems to be there regardless of the fact that if this debate really even occurred it was just one stream of thought from the Chinese side.

There is of course also political considerations. There has been ongoing conflicts between Tibet and China for centuries. Still, even modern masters like Ven. Yinshun studied and read Tibetan. He cites Tibetan texts in some of his works.

But then East Asia is not just China. As you pointed out, in Japan many take an interest in Tibetan Buddhism. In particular Japanese Shingon, which practises yoga-tantra, sees Tibetan Vajrayāna as a long lost relative and takes great interest in studying it.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama has visited Koyasan before. The older gentleman in purple is Matsunaga Yukei who is the present head of Koyasan Shingon.

Image

Image

Nevertheless, I've never actually met a Tibetan monk or even a self-identifying Tibetan Buddhist who took an interest in anything outside of Tibetan Buddhism except for Indian texts which have relevance to Tibetan Buddhism in some way.



And if we look at the Western situation, those who follow a Tibetan lineage show little interest in understanding East Asian Buddhism, perhaps because they simply identify it with Zen just as they did in Tibet a thousand years ago (and do today without considering time as in Namkhai Norbu's "Dzogchen and Zen" essay).


I've heard this from one Tibetan Buddhist -- go across the street to the Zen temple if you want the simple stuff, come here to the Tibetan temple if you want to get serious.

That just strikes me as sheer hubris.

In China the Mantrayana (both EA and Tibetan forms) are considered part of general Buddhism that one may study. On the other hand, it seems that within Tibetan Buddhism the existence of East Asian Buddhism is completely ignored. Why?


It could also be because of the emphasis on lineage. If your lineage has produced enlightened individuals in the past, then such a method is tried, tested and true, so why bother with what other Buddhists, who don't possess anuttarayoga-tantra, have to say?
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Re: Tibetan Interest in EA Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Tue Apr 19, 2011 1:16 pm

Astus wrote:Why is it that Tibetan Buddhists are hardly ever care about East Asian Buddhism?


Because it does not come from India to Tibet directly. In the Tibetan point of view, Chinese Buddhism was a second-hand Buddhism. Buddhism, yes, but not as pure as Buddhism Tibetans were receiving directly from Indian Panditas.

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Re: Tibetan Interest in EA Buddhism

Postby Indrajala » Tue Apr 19, 2011 1:30 pm

Namdrol wrote:
Astus wrote:Why is it that Tibetan Buddhists are hardly ever care about East Asian Buddhism?


Because it does not come from India to Tibet directly. In the Tibetan point of view, Chinese Buddhism was a second-hand Buddhism. Buddhism, yes, but not as pure as Buddhism Tibetans were receiving directly from Indian Panditas.

N


I wonder, though, why is 8th century-onward Indian Buddhism perceived as more legitimate or pure than Chinese Buddhism?

Tian'tai, Huayan and Chan were all legitimate developments of Buddhadharma. They might not have been Indian, but then why would teachers from India be perceived as purer than their neighbours to the east? Why was nationality an issue?
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Re: Tibetan Interest in EA Buddhism

Postby Will » Tue Apr 19, 2011 1:43 pm

The Chinese never did have a practice lineage of Highest Yoga tantra, only lower types of tantra. So why bother with the "inferior" tantras, not to mention plain old Chinese sutrayana, think Tibetans. Some hubris is probably there. On the other hand Emperors of China often looked to Tibet for "superior" Buddhist teachers.

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Re: Tibetan Interest in EA Buddhism

Postby plwk » Tue Apr 19, 2011 1:53 pm

I think this a double sided issue.

Back last year when I joined one Ch'an org for the sitting sessions, there was a similar 'hostility' towards Tibetan Buddhism and during the Dharma discussion, when the topic somehow fell on the subject of HHDL and Tibetan Buddhism, the presiding master made a remark like 'We have Ch'an, why bother with Tibetan Buddhism?' with a concluding smirk on the face... I was silent since then and am sure that that remark was made in a personal capacity and does not represent the aspiration and attitude of their Founder nor the official policy of the org... remember how in the old days (and in selected circles today), Tibetan Buddhism is oft referred to as 'Lamaism' with negative connotations?

Equally, I have some Tibetan Buddhist friends who make similar disparaging remarks about the Ch'an and Pure Land and let's face it, it's even on this forum...
One even made comparison between Vajrayogini and Amitabha with the intention of disparaging the Pure Land Dharma Door and another started trumping up his Guru and started stating that he wasn't sure if the Chinese Pure Landers got it right or sure on the Sutra texts and practice...

Why is it that Tibetan Buddhists are hardly ever care about East Asian Buddhism?

I think that in real life and online, to be fair, this is a generalisation and perhaps not all of them are like that, even on this forum, one can find adherents of Tibetan Vajrayana posting into other EA Mahayana forums and vice versa...
Look at this thread... viewtopic.php?f=60&t=1552
Besides what Namdrol pointed out perhaps they have greater affinity with their own Trad as opposed to others or just plain curiosity for newbies?

At the end of the day, I guess regardless of which Trad one belongs to, perhaps it would be helpful and useful for both sides to get properly informed. Humans are humans, hence kammasaka!
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Re: Tibetan Interest in EA Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Tue Apr 19, 2011 2:04 pm

Huseng wrote:
Namdrol wrote:
Astus wrote:Why is it that Tibetan Buddhists are hardly ever care about East Asian Buddhism?


Because it does not come from India to Tibet directly. In the Tibetan point of view, Chinese Buddhism was a second-hand Buddhism. Buddhism, yes, but not as pure as Buddhism Tibetans were receiving directly from Indian Panditas.

N


I wonder, though, why is 8th century-onward Indian Buddhism perceived as more legitimate or pure than Chinese Buddhism?

Tian'tai, Huayan and Chan were all legitimate developments of Buddhadharma. They might not have been Indian, but then why would teachers from India be perceived as purer than their neighbours to the east? Why was nationality an issue?


Because India is the source of Buddhism. Not only that, Tibetan historical consciousness did not allow for an "eighth century Indian Buddhism". Of course they were aware that Mahayana and Vajrayana texts were not present from the beginning, but they still trace everything more or less back to the Buddha.
http://www.atikosha.org
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http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://www.sakyapa.net
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

How can you not practice the highest Dharma
at this time of obtaining a perfect human body?

-- Jetsun Dragpa Gyaltsen
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Re: Tibetan Interest in EA Buddhism

Postby Indrajala » Tue Apr 19, 2011 2:37 pm

Namdrol wrote:Because India is the source of Buddhism. Not only that, Tibetan historical consciousness did not allow for an "eighth century Indian Buddhism". Of course they were aware that Mahayana and Vajrayana texts were not present from the beginning, but they still trace everything more or less back to the Buddha.


Right. However, these sentiments still seem to largely exist in the Tibetan Buddhist community and have been transferred to non-Tibetan practitioners of TB.
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Re: Tibetan Interest in EA Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Tue Apr 19, 2011 3:07 pm

Huseng wrote:
Namdrol wrote:Because India is the source of Buddhism. Not only that, Tibetan historical consciousness did not allow for an "eighth century Indian Buddhism". Of course they were aware that Mahayana and Vajrayana texts were not present from the beginning, but they still trace everything more or less back to the Buddha.


Right. However, these sentiments still seem to largely exist in the Tibetan Buddhist community and have been transferred to non-Tibetan practitioners of TB.



Yup. Even if unwarranted. Then there is the other issue e.g. we are convinced that the highest Buddhist teachings exist in Tibetan Buddhism and nowhere else.

N
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

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at this time of obtaining a perfect human body?

-- Jetsun Dragpa Gyaltsen
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Re: Tibetan Interest in EA Buddhism

Postby Anders » Tue Apr 19, 2011 3:07 pm

Tibetan Buddhism strikes me as more doctrinally fixed/focused than east-Asian Buddhism. And thus, is probably more reluctant to absorb new input to its doctrinal outlook. And probably doubly so considering such input is informed by the lower sutrayana, itself a fixed lens for analysis that in many ways fails to capture the intricacies of east-Asian Mahayana. And in many cases, Indian Mahayana too, for that matter.

Chinese Mahayana is in many ways a more diffuse entity than Tibetan Buddhism and thus probably more receptive to new influences, of which Tibetan Buddhism present a wealth of to draw from.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

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Re: Tibetan Interest in EA Buddhism

Postby Kyosan » Tue Apr 19, 2011 4:28 pm

plwk wrote:I think this a double sided issue.

Back last year when I joined one Ch'an org for the sitting sessions, there was a similar 'hostility' towards Tibetan Buddhism and during the Dharma discussion, when the topic somehow fell on the subject of HHDL and Tibetan Buddhism, the presiding master made a remark like 'We have Ch'an, why bother with Tibetan Buddhism?' with a concluding smirk on the face...

I don't think that what you said here shows that the master thought that Tibetan Buddhism is inferior to Chan. Perhaps during the limited time allocated for the Dharma discussion, he wanted to focus on the Chan approach to Buddhism since that is what the people there are practicing. There is nothing wrong with that. There are many dharma doors, but you only need to go through one.
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Last edited by Kyosan on Tue Apr 19, 2011 4:58 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Tibetan Interest in EA Buddhism

Postby Kyosan » Tue Apr 19, 2011 4:52 pm

I think there are several reasons why most Tibetans would rather practise Tibetan Buddhism over other forms:

Like others have said, the belief that Tibetan Buddhism is better than other forms, whether it is true or not.

Tibetan Buddhism is what they are familiar with and is likely what their parents practiced.

It's easier for them to practice Tibetan Buddhism because they are living among others doing the same.

In Tibet they have access to teachers of Tibetan Buddhism, but maybe not teachers of other forms.

They might feel like outsiders practicing something different, even though it is still Buddhism.

They might feel that they are betraying their heritage.
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Re: Tibetan Interest in EA Buddhism

Postby Astus » Tue Apr 19, 2011 5:01 pm

Kyosan,

I don't think they should convert to any EA school, that's not really the question I think. But rather the interest in other forms of Buddhism. For instance I've heard about a plan that they translated the Pali Canon to Tibetan. That's great. However, I don't see Tibetan teachers addressing the issue of other Buddhist schools outside of the Tibetan ones. They are good to discuss Hinayana, Mahayana, Kagyu, Sakya, etc. but no mention of Pure Land, Chan, Tiantai or Shingon. Maybe they haven't heard about them? I doubt that, especially as many know English and even Chinese. To give an example, it is not expected at all from a Nyingma master to become a Gelug or Kagyu lama but definitely he should be somewhat familiar with their teachings, especially when they do some comparisons between the teachings.
"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: Tibetan Interest in EA Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Tue Apr 19, 2011 5:17 pm

Anders Honore wrote:Tibetan Buddhism strikes me as more doctrinally fixed/focused than east-Asian Buddhism. And thus, is probably more reluctant to absorb new input to its doctrinal outlook. And probably doubly so considering such input is informed by the lower sutrayana, itself a fixed lens for analysis that in many ways fails to capture the intricacies of east-Asian Mahayana. And in many cases, Indian Mahayana too, for that matter.

Chinese Mahayana is in many ways a more diffuse entity than Tibetan Buddhism and thus probably more receptive to new influences, of which Tibetan Buddhism present a wealth of to draw from.



Sutra is sutra. It only can carry one so far.

N
http://www.atikosha.org
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://www.sakyapa.net
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

How can you not practice the highest Dharma
at this time of obtaining a perfect human body?

-- Jetsun Dragpa Gyaltsen
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Re: Tibetan Interest in EA Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Tue Apr 19, 2011 5:18 pm

Astus wrote:Kyosan,

I don't think they should convert to any EA school, that's not really the question I think. But rather the interest in other forms of Buddhism. For instance I've heard about a plan that they translated the Pali Canon to Tibetan. That's great. However, I don't see Tibetan teachers addressing the issue of other Buddhist schools outside of the Tibetan ones. They are good to discuss Hinayana, Mahayana, Kagyu, Sakya, etc. but no mention of Pure Land, Chan, Tiantai or Shingon. Maybe they haven't heard about them? I doubt that, especially as many know English and even Chinese. To give an example, it is not expected at all from a Nyingma master to become a Gelug or Kagyu lama but definitely he should be somewhat familiar with their teachings, especially when they do some comparisons between the teachings.


Pure Land, Chan, and Tientai are sutrayana.

Shingon is Vajrayana up to yogatantra.
http://www.atikosha.org
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://www.sakyapa.net
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

How can you not practice the highest Dharma
at this time of obtaining a perfect human body?

-- Jetsun Dragpa Gyaltsen
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Re: Tibetan Interest in EA Buddhism

Postby Will » Tue Apr 19, 2011 5:42 pm

I have yet to find online Namkhai Norbu's "Dzogchen and Zen" booklet. If anyone knows where it (a PDF?) might be or can summarize his points about the differences or similarities, that would be helpful.
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Re: Tibetan Interest in EA Buddhism

Postby Enochian » Tue Apr 19, 2011 5:48 pm

Will wrote:I have yet to find online Namkhai Norbu's "Dzogchen and Zen" booklet. If anyone knows where it (a PDF?) might be or can summarize his points about the differences or similarities, that would be helpful.



I am sure someone can send it to you. I have it in a pdf.
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Re: Tibetan Interest in EA Buddhism

Postby Will » Tue Apr 19, 2011 5:49 pm

Enochian wrote:
Will wrote:I have yet to find online Namkhai Norbu's "Dzogchen and Zen" booklet. If anyone knows where it (a PDF?) might be or can summarize his points about the differences or similarities, that would be helpful.



I am sure someone can send it to you. I have it in a pdf.


Thanks, I will take you up on that if no one mentions an online source soon.
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Re: Tibetan Interest in EA Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Tue Apr 19, 2011 6:27 pm

Will wrote:I have yet to find online Namkhai Norbu's "Dzogchen and Zen" booklet. If anyone knows where it (a PDF?) might be or can summarize his points about the differences or similarities, that would be helpful.



It is a summary of Nubchen Sangye Yeshes position on the gradual path, Chan, Mahayoga and Dzogchen.

N
http://www.atikosha.org
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://www.sakyapa.net
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

How can you not practice the highest Dharma
at this time of obtaining a perfect human body?

-- Jetsun Dragpa Gyaltsen
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Re: Tibetan Interest in EA Buddhism

Postby Anders » Tue Apr 19, 2011 6:28 pm

Namdrol wrote:
Anders Honore wrote:Tibetan Buddhism strikes me as more doctrinally fixed/focused than east-Asian Buddhism. And thus, is probably more reluctant to absorb new input to its doctrinal outlook. And probably doubly so considering such input is informed by the lower sutrayana, itself a fixed lens for analysis that in many ways fails to capture the intricacies of east-Asian Mahayana. And in many cases, Indian Mahayana too, for that matter.

Chinese Mahayana is in many ways a more diffuse entity than Tibetan Buddhism and thus probably more receptive to new influences, of which Tibetan Buddhism present a wealth of to draw from.



Sutra is sutra. It only can carry one so far.

N


QED
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra
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