Huifeng wrote:I don't know enough about Japanese Buddhism, but the majority of Buddhism in China comes from a wide range of so called traditions.
Some would argue that this is going from pure traditions to ecumenialism or whatever, but I would argue that these traditions have always been like this.
Which means that in a sense there were never really pure traditions at all in China to begin with, at least in the way in which some portray them.
eg. take San Lun, it is based on madhyamaka texts, but these texts themselves have material from various sutras, sastras, etc.; or Tiantai, which includes madhyamaka and tathagatagarbha, etc.; and if we take a further step back, all these traditions themselves take from a number of pre-Mahayana traditions, etc. etc..
I think the notion of "tradition" (宗派), as it were, is more rigid in definition in Japan. The Japanese Buddhists of old were quite keen on drawing out distinct lineages and traditions, attempting at times to envision a historical reality for them on the mainland. As the late John McRae pointed out in his work, Zen was a number of strictly defined sects in Japan; many self-identified with them and moreover whole monasteries fell under their banners, yet in China Chan was not so. Chan was not an institutionalized sect in China, but it was in Japan.
Ecumenailism may imply the joining together of traditions, but whether or not such traditions themselves are really so cut and dry is something we can also look into.
I think though traditions in the present day tend to be coloured and largely identified with cultural backgrounds (for example "Tibetan Buddhism" is regarded as a tradition apart from everything else in the Buddhist world and people's behaviour reflect this perceived reality as well).
That's what I'm wondering about specifically... will the cultural barriers melt away? Most Tibetan Buddhists I know take zero interest in things outside TB. They might be Gelug-pa and while Nyingma or Kagyu practices and teachings might be absorbed, they'd never think to go study under a Chan teacher. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, and I believe people should do what they feel appropriate given their karmic circumstances. Still, Buddhism underwent a massive holocaust in the last century (in the 19th century Buddhism was probably the largest religion in the world), and unity and fellowship is, in my mind, important to cultivate.
I suppose, though, it depends not so much on institutions, but people's karmic propensities and relations. Some feel great connection to Theravada and nothing else, others feel a connection only to TB and little else.