Emptiness in pre buddhist China

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Emptiness in pre buddhist China

Postby White Lotus » Sun Apr 25, 2010 3:38 pm

:namaste: Is it significant that Confucius/Kong Fu Zi has the name Emptiness/Kong, and also that the chinese name Wu (No) points towards emptiness. I think im right in saying that Kong can mean emptiness, but im not a chinese scholar.

Kong Fu Zi (traditionally September 28, 551 BCE – 479 BCE)
Buddha (most early 20th-century historians dated his lifetime as c. 563 BCE to 483 BCE; more recently, however, at a specialist symposium on this question, the majority of those scholars who presented definite opinions gave dates within 20 years either side of 400 BCE for the Buddha's death)

there is very little time between the lives of Kong Fu Zi and the Buddha. what is the significance that the name 'emptiness' was an ancient chinese family name. infact my ex-wife is a Kong and related to the wise old master himself.

i also find the name Wu (No) very significant, since it points towards emptiness. Wu is a cool hwa dao if anyone wants to practice it.

anyway just a thought, but perhaps it points towards something significant.

best wishes, White Lotus.
in any matters of importance. dont rely on me. i may not know what i am talking about. take what i say as mere speculation. i am not ordained. nor do i have a formal training. i do believe though that if i am wrong on any point. there are those on this site who i hope will quickly point out my mistakes.
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Re: Emptiness in pre buddhist China

Postby Indrajala » Sun Apr 25, 2010 10:25 pm

The characters for Confucius in Chinese are kong3 zi3 孔子.

The "kong" here has nothing to do with the character kong1 which is one way in Chinese for writing what corresponds to "emptiness" in English or sunyata in Sanskrit.
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Re: Emptiness in pre buddhist China

Postby Huifeng » Mon Apr 26, 2010 4:06 am

(And here was I, thinking that we were going to have a thread on 本無 from the Daode Jing.)

Also, the surname "Wu" is 吳 (or maybe 伍 which is much less common) in Mandarin, (but "Ng" in southern dialects), which is a name which I think comes from the area which is nowadays Suzhou 蘇州, just SW of Shanghai, as there is still an area there by this name.

Or 胡 in Cantonese (which is pronounced "Hu" in Mandarin), which is originally one of the names for the peoples of the "western lands" back in ancient China, equivalent to modern day Xinjiang.

The term "no" / "nothing", etc. is 無. These are completely different characters, related only by being homophones (same sound) in modern Mandarin, but not in classical Chinese, even, where their pronunciation is quite different.

Okay, this question seems to have been dealt with post haste.

Better luck next time, White Lotus. (Maybe it was practicing the wrong huatou, that of 孔 instead of 空 that landed you your ex-wife in the first place! Maybe you can find Miss Wu 吳小姐 next time! :tongue: )

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Re: Emptiness in pre buddhist China

Postby White Lotus » Mon Apr 26, 2010 7:08 pm

thanks lads, interesting how knowledge works isnt it. something can appear on the surface to be obvious or likely, but with knowledge it is proven otherwise.

best wishes, White Lotus.

(ps. still love the old battle axe!)

things arent always as they seem.
in any matters of importance. dont rely on me. i may not know what i am talking about. take what i say as mere speculation. i am not ordained. nor do i have a formal training. i do believe though that if i am wrong on any point. there are those on this site who i hope will quickly point out my mistakes.
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Re: Emptiness in pre buddhist China

Postby catmoon » Tue Apr 27, 2010 1:14 am

This thread made me wonder; Just how far back do written Chinese records go? Is it possible that we will one day come across a treatise on emptiness written centuries before Buddha?
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Re: Emptiness in pre buddhist China

Postby some1 » Tue Apr 27, 2010 8:04 am

catmoon wrote:This thread made me wonder; Just how far back do written Chinese records go? Is it possible that we will one day come across a treatise on emptiness written centuries before Buddha?
Probably the earliest Chinese philosophy about emptiness is in Tao Te Ching or Daode Jing (as mentioned by Ven Huifeng above) dated around 6th century BC.

Some info at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tao_Te_Ching#Emptiness

[Note: please be reminded that information from wikipedia will need to be re-examine for the correctness, it is not authoritative and sometimes unreliable]
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Re: Emptiness in pre buddhist China

Postby some1 » Tue Apr 27, 2010 8:45 am

Also found an interesting articel at about.com
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Re: Emptiness in pre buddhist China

Postby Huifeng » Tue Apr 27, 2010 10:46 am

Why do you think that 本無 benwu is the same as emptiness?
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Re: Emptiness in pre buddhist China

Postby some1 » Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:32 am

Huifeng wrote:Why do you think that 本無 benwu is the same as emptiness?
I don't think they are the same, it is just similar in some aspects, and some have translated that using the same English word. Anyway, I am still very much a novice in Buddhism.

As a person from the oversea Chinese community, we generally perceive both the teachings are not conflicting. There are a lot of times, Buddhism concepts are explained by quoting examples used in Taoism, vice versa.
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Re: Emptiness in pre buddhist China

Postby Indrajala » Tue Apr 27, 2010 1:48 pm

some1 wrote:
catmoon wrote:This thread made me wonder; Just how far back do written Chinese records go? Is it possible that we will one day come across a treatise on emptiness written centuries before Buddha?
Probably the earliest Chinese philosophy about emptiness is in Tao Te Ching or Daode Jing (as mentioned by Ven Huifeng above) dated around 6th century BC.

Some info at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tao_Te_Ching#Emptiness

[Note: please be reminded that information from wikipedia will need to be re-examine for the correctness, it is not authoritative and sometimes unreliable]


Keep in mind the standard versions of the Daodejing from the Han Dynasty onward are different in many ways from the older versions we have.

Check out the Guodian text under the excavated texts section:

http://chinese.dsturgeon.net/text.pl?node=82945&if=en

What's also fun about that text is that it uses a lot of different characters from the later period versions as it was written before the standardization of the script in the Qin.
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Re: Emptiness in pre buddhist China

Postby Indrajala » Tue Apr 27, 2010 1:54 pm

catmoon wrote:This thread made me wonder; Just how far back do written Chinese records go? Is it possible that we will one day come across a treatise on emptiness written centuries before Buddha?


I don't think so. The oldest records are inscriptions on divination bones and bronze vessels. What we know of the Shang Dynasty religion is that it was a cult of ancestor worship and there was at the top of their pantheon a divinity called Shang Di 上帝 who had all the characteristics of a divine sovereign like much of the rest of the world. When the Shang Dynasty fell to the Zhou, Shang Di was replaced by a more nebulous notion of Tian 天 which was interpreted in numerous ways over the centuries by various thinkers. Some thought of it as aware, calculating and factored in notions of providence, while others took it as an impersonal cosmic force that was essentially not something you could appease.

None of that sounds to me like a teaching the former Kasypa Buddha would have taught. :buddha1:
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