Suggest Ch'an Reading

Suggest Ch'an Reading

Postby Infinite » Tue Apr 24, 2012 4:33 am

I figured I would continue my expansion of learning about different traditions and was wondering what one would suggest as a good introduction to Ch'an. I was thinking of picking up Hoofprints of the Ox and The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma. Would these two be a good introduction? Any suggestions would be quite welcome.
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Re: Suggest Ch'an Reading

Postby Will » Tue Apr 24, 2012 6:05 am

The Sixth Patriarch Hui-neng gave a seminal teaching here:

http://www.bdkamerica.org/digital/dBET_ ... a_2000.pdf

Another translation, with Bodhisattva Hsuan Hua's comments:

http://www.cttbusa.org/6patriarch/6patr ... ntents.asp
One should refrain from biased judgments and doubting in fathoming the Buddha and the Dharma of the Buddhas. Even though a dharma may be extremely difficult to believe, one should nonetheless maintain faith in it. Nagarjuna
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Re: Suggest Ch'an Reading

Postby Huifeng » Tue Apr 24, 2012 8:03 am

Infinite wrote:I figured I would continue my expansion of learning about different traditions and was wondering what one would suggest as a good introduction to Ch'an. I was thinking of picking up Hoofprints of the Ox and The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma. Would these two be a good introduction? Any suggestions would be quite welcome.


Since you are specifically referring to "Ch'an", thus the Chinese tradition, my first advice for a "good introduction" would be to keep very clearly in mind that Chan is seldom if ever seen as a separate "school", and that the best "introduction" would be to first of all immerse yourself in (Chinese) Mahayana Buddhism as a whole. Specifically "Ch'an" books, without this background or a very strong connection to a living tradition, eg. a monastery or what not, will tend to result in something that often Ch'an practitioners can't really recognize. I've seen it on more than a few occasions. :)

~~ Huifeng
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Re: Suggest Ch'an Reading

Postby Huifeng » Tue Apr 24, 2012 8:04 am

Will wrote:The Sixth Patriarch Hui-neng gave a seminal teaching here:

http://www.bdkamerica.org/digital/dBET_ ... a_2000.pdf

Another translation, with Bodhisattva Hsuan Hua's comments:

http://www.cttbusa.org/6patriarch/6patr ... ntents.asp


Having given my earlier approach, I can still say that the above suggestions from Will are very good. Reading them one will hopefully see the point I am trying to make. Though, one could take any teaching from Master Hua, and it will be fully authentic Chan. :)

~~ Huifeng
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Re: Suggest Ch'an Reading

Postby Astus » Tue Apr 24, 2012 9:33 am

As mentioned before and can't be emphasised enough, it's important to have an understanding of Mahayana first to see the appropriate context for Chan teachings. "Mahayana Buddhism: The Doctorial Fuondations" by Paul Williams should cover the basics. But there is a distinct teaching called Chan, although this becomes very confusing since in China (and Korea, and Vietnam) almost everyone is a Chan monk/teacher in a Chan temple/monastery. It's become a common name for anything Buddhism there. So, to find out what Chan actually stands for, can be tricky, as different teachers say different things. Hsuan-hua's Chan is not exactly like Sheng-yen's Chan, and the Chan of Hsing-yun (Fo Guang Shan) and Wei-chueh (Chung Tai Shan) are also different.

For an introduction to Chan, however strange it may sound, is Robert Buswell's translation of the works of Bojo Jinul (a Korean master), who combined the teachings of Zongmi (in English on his teachings of Chan see "Zongmi on Chan), Yongming ("Yongming Yanshou's Conception of Chan in the Zongjing Lu"), Dahui ("Swampland Flowers: The Letters And Lectures of Zen Master Ta Hui"), and the teachings of the Huayan school (Entry Into the Inconceivable: An Introduction to Hua-Yen Buddhism) in the book "Tracing back the radiance: Chinul's Korean way of Zen".

Or, if you are not yet up for intensive studying, and want to go to the essential things, there is this online book Chan (Chinese Zen) (PDF) by Ven. Jian Liao. Another highly recommended and short reading are the few works translated from Ven. Hsu Yun, especially his Prerequisites of the Ch'an Training and The Ch'an Training.
"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)

“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; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Suggest Ch'an Reading

Postby Anders » Tue Apr 24, 2012 9:51 am

Infinite wrote:I figured I would continue my expansion of learning about different traditions and was wondering what one would suggest as a good introduction to Ch'an. I was thinking of picking up Hoofprints of the Ox and The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma. Would these two be a good introduction? Any suggestions would be quite welcome.


Yes. The Hoofprints of the Ox is imo the best introduction to Chan you can find. And it gives you a decent introduction to the Mahayana framework other posters have talked about too.

And Bodhidharma is a fine place to start when it comes to the classical teachings.
"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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Re: Suggest Ch'an Reading

Postby Infinite » Tue Apr 24, 2012 7:46 pm

Thanks for all the responses and that clears up a lot of confusion I had about Ch'an when doing research. I found most places I looked people had no clue what Ch'an was or wasn't though it makes sense that it considers itself part of the Mahayana and that the various differences are because of lineage. This site has definitely been a boon for my studies.
:namaste:
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Re: Suggest Ch'an Reading

Postby Huifeng » Wed Apr 25, 2012 2:11 am

The best thing you could do would be to find a living Chan tradition and spend some time there. That will teach you much more than what you can read in some books.

~~ Huifeng
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Re: Suggest Ch'an Reading

Postby Infinite » Wed Apr 25, 2012 2:43 am

Huifeng wrote:The best thing you could do would be to find a living Chan tradition and spend some time there. That will teach you much more than what you can read in some books.

~~ Huifeng

Thank you for the advice. The Dharma Drum Center has someone in my State so it has peaked my curiosity about the teachings.
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