Are there any precedents that allow for 'developments' of Buddhism after the Buddha?

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Aemilius
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Re: Are there any precedents that allow for 'developments' of Buddhism after the Buddha?

Post by Aemilius »

Padmist wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 12:05 pm so what would be the lesson from this prophesies?
Nichiren Buddhists interpret the prophecy of three time periods to justify that their teaching is a proper practice for the last period of the Law:

"Three periods [三時] ( san-ji): (1) The Former Day, Middle Day, and Latter Day of the Law. Three consecutive periods or stages into which the time following a Buddha’s death is divided. These are also referred to as the periods of the Correct Law, the Counterfeit Law, and the Decadent Law (or the Final Law). During the Former Day of the Law, the spirit of Buddhism prevails, and people can attain enlightenment through its practice. During the Middle Day of the Law, although Buddhism becomes firmly established in society, it grows increasingly formalized, and fewer people benefit from it. In the Latter Day of the Law, people are tainted by the three poisons of greed, anger, and foolishness, and lose their aspiration for enlightenment; Buddhism itself loses the power to lead them to Buddhahood. There are several explanations of the lengths of the three periods following the death of Shakyamuni Buddha. One describes the Former Day and the Middle Day as each lasting one thousand years, and another, five hundred years. A third account has the Former Day lasting for one thousand years, and the Middle Day for five hundred years; and a fourth states that the Former Day lasts for five hundred years, and the Middle Day for one thousand years. All accounts agree that the Latter Day will continue for ten thousand years. In China, Shakyamuni Buddha’s death was placed in the fifty-second year of the reign of King Mu (949 b.c.e.) of the Chou dynasty, and the period of the Former Day was defined as five hundred years and that of the Middle Day as one thousand years. Accordingly, it was believed that the Latter Day had begun in the mid-sixth century. In Japan, Shakyamuni Buddha’s death was placed in the same year as in China, but an account that defines each period of the Former Day and the Middle Day as one thousand years was accepted, and it was believed that the Latter Day had begun in 1052. Usually these three periods refer to the time after Shakyamuni Buddha’s death, but they also pertain to other Buddhas who appear in the sutras. For example, according to the Lotus Sutra, Bodhisattva Never Disparaging lived toward the end of the Middle Day of the Law of the Buddha Awesome Sound King. See also Former Day of the Law; Latter Day of the Law; Middle Day of the Law.
(2) A reference to the teachings of the three periods. See three periods, teachings of the."
https://www.nichirenlibrary.org/en/dic/Content/T/158
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avatamsaka3
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Re: Are there any precedents that allow for 'developments' of Buddhism after the Buddha?

Post by avatamsaka3 »

It's also possible to find other cases where while Mahayana rejects teachings found in Abhidharma and commentarial works what is proposed instead is more in line with the early scriptures.
That's interesting. Examples?
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Re: Are there any precedents that allow for 'developments' of Buddhism after the Buddha?

Post by Malcolm »

Aemilius wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 3:10 pm

Nichiren Buddhists interpret the prophecy of three time periods to justify that their teaching is a proper practice for the last period of the Law:

As does the Cakrasamvara Tantra. That, and 5 bucks, will get you coffee.
"Nonduality is merely a name;
that name does not exist."
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Re: Are there any precedents that allow for 'developments' of Buddhism after the Buddha?

Post by Queequeg »

Astus wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 3:03 pm
Queequeg wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 1:16 pmThat's well and good, but if you take that too strictly, commentary is technically barred, and all you can have is the Pali texts. Not even sure you could have Abhidhamma. You might find yourself going down the originalist rabbit hole. The question is, what is elaboration and explanation and what is just fabricated. How much latitude is permitted in commentary?
It depends on the type of commentary, how far it diverges from what are found in the discourses. Presumably a commentator's intent is not to add something to the Buddha's teaching but rather to make it clearer to the readers. And that's what all Buddhist teachings are supposed to be, just relaying what the Buddha himself taught. It is another thing that during the process it can change in may ways, like in the Āṇisutta eventually nothing remains of the drum. Look at this passage from Dogen:

'In the lesser vehicle, people used counting to regulate their breath. However, the buddha ancestors’ engaging of the way always differed from the lesser vehicle.
A buddha ancestor said, “Even if you arouse the mind of a leprous wild fox, never practice the self-regulation of the two vehicles.” The two vehicles refer to such as the school of the four-part vinaya, and the [Abhidharma] Kosa school, which have spread in the world these days. In the Mahayana there is also a method for regulating breath, which is knowing that one breath is long, another breath is short. The breath reaches the tanden and comes up from the tanden. Although exhale and inhale differ, both of them occur depending on the tanden. Impermanence is easy to clarify, and regulating the mind is easy to accomplish.'

(Eihei Koroku 5.390, p 348-349)

The interesting thing is of course that the method of counting (following, fixing, etc.) is not a method taught in the discourses, but what is taught as the 16 steps breath mindfulness in teachings like the Anapanasati Sutta is what Dogen suggests. It's also possible to find other cases where while Mahayana rejects teachings found in Abhidharma and commentarial works what is proposed instead is more in line with the early scriptures.
Isn't this tension interesting? In a sense, this uncertainty, and vacillation between source and commentary, meandering back, etc. could be seen, as a whole, as the process by which the tradition keeps to the Buddha's teaching - keeping the teaching vital as a living discourse. I'm wary when I see attempts to limit the teaching too strictly and literally. The discussion and argument itself is both a practice and a means of establishing authority.

That's probably not quite acceptable if one demands absolute certainty.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Upaya Chapter

純一実相。実相外。更無別法。法性寂然名止。寂而常渉照名観。
There is only reality; there is nothing separate from reality. The naturally tranquil nature of dharmas is shamatha. The abiding luminosity of tranquility is vipashyana.

-From Guanding's Introduction to Zhiyi's Great Shamatha and Vipashyana
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Re: Are there any precedents that allow for 'developments' of Buddhism after the Buddha?

Post by Queequeg »

Malcolm wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 3:56 pm
Aemilius wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 3:10 pm

Nichiren Buddhists interpret the prophecy of three time periods to justify that their teaching is a proper practice for the last period of the Law:

As does the Cakrasamvara Tantra. That, and 5 bucks, will get you coffee.
I know a guy who thought he would die relatively young because everyone in previous generations of his family died relatively young. He had an outside date and from what he says, he planned his whole life on that timeline. Well, it was kind of a shock to him when he lived beyond that timeline and found himself in pretty good health. At a subtle level, he said he kind of had to rethink his life.

As someone who considered one such time line as true only to have to spend a lot of time and energy trying to reconcile that with what I actually observed, I'll say, its a lot of wasted energy.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Upaya Chapter

純一実相。実相外。更無別法。法性寂然名止。寂而常渉照名観。
There is only reality; there is nothing separate from reality. The naturally tranquil nature of dharmas is shamatha. The abiding luminosity of tranquility is vipashyana.

-From Guanding's Introduction to Zhiyi's Great Shamatha and Vipashyana
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Re: Are there any precedents that allow for 'developments' of Buddhism after the Buddha?

Post by Malcolm »

Queequeg wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 4:40 pm I'll say, its a lot of wasted energy.
Fortunately, Dzogchen teachings assert they will be the last ones standing, so I don't worry at all.
"Nonduality is merely a name;
that name does not exist."
—Kotalipa
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Re: Are there any precedents that allow for 'developments' of Buddhism after the Buddha?

Post by Astus »

avatamsaka3 wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 3:44 pmThat's interesting. Examples?
The general refutation of svabhava is one. Related to that, the practice of prajnaparamita as non-abiding is another.

'All conditioned phenomena
Are like a dream, an illusion, a bubble, a shadow
Like the dew, or like lightning
You should discern them like this'

(Diamond Sutra, ch 32)

'Form is like a lump of foam,
Feeling like a water bubble;
Perception is like a mirage,
Volitions like a plantain trunk,
And consciousness like an illusion,
So explained the Kinsman of the Sun.
However one may ponder it
And carefully investigate it,
It appears but hollow and void
When one views it carefully.'

(Pheṇapiṇḍūpamasutta SN 22.95)
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"
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Re: Are there any precedents that allow for 'developments' of Buddhism after the Buddha?

Post by LastLegend »

Astus wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 7:29 pm
avatamsaka3 wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 3:44 pmThat's interesting. Examples?
The general refutation of svabhava is one. Related to that, the practice of prajnaparamita as non-abiding is another.

'All conditioned phenomena
Are like a dream, an illusion, a bubble, a shadow
Like the dew, or like lightning
You should discern them like this'

(Diamond Sutra, ch 32)

'Form is like a lump of foam,
Feeling like a water bubble;
Perception is like a mirage,
Volitions like a plantain trunk,
And consciousness like an illusion,
So explained the Kinsman of the Sun.
However one may ponder it
And carefully investigate it,
It appears but hollow and void
When one views it carefully.'

(Pheṇapiṇḍūpamasutta SN 22.95)
Maybe you’ll like this:

The prince Great Medicine said to the Buddha, "Affirmatively I accept your teachings. World-Honored One, what is the appearance of consciousness? I pray that you will grant me an explanation."

The Buddha told Great Medicine, "It is like a person's reflection in the water. It cannot be grasped because it is neither existent nor nonexistent. It is like the shape of a cloud, like the imagery of thirsty love."


From Mahayana Sutra is Consciousness Revealed.

Language use, definition, etc are not all uniform from translation of languages to English.
It’s eye blinking.
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Kim O'Hara
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Re: Are there any precedents that allow for 'developments' of Buddhism after the Buddha?

Post by Kim O'Hara »

Queequeg wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 4:31 pm
Astus wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 3:03 pm
Queequeg wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 1:16 pmThat's well and good, but if you take that too strictly, commentary is technically barred, and all you can have is the Pali texts. Not even sure you could have Abhidhamma. You might find yourself going down the originalist rabbit hole. The question is, what is elaboration and explanation and what is just fabricated. How much latitude is permitted in commentary?
It depends on the type of commentary, how far it diverges from what are found in the discourses. ...
The interesting thing is of course that the method of counting (following, fixing, etc.) is not a method taught in the discourses, but what is taught as the 16 steps breath mindfulness in teachings like the Anapanasati Sutta is what Dogen suggests. It's also possible to find other cases where while Mahayana rejects teachings found in Abhidharma and commentarial works what is proposed instead is more in line with the early scriptures.
Isn't this tension interesting? In a sense, this uncertainty, and vacillation between source and commentary, meandering back, etc. could be seen, as a whole, as the process by which the tradition keeps to the Buddha's teaching - keeping the teaching vital as a living discourse. I'm wary when I see attempts to limit the teaching too strictly and literally. The discussion and argument itself is both a practice and a means of establishing authority.

That's probably not quite acceptable if one demands absolute certainty.
:good:

At one extreme you have the practitioner who says, in effect, "I have my Book. Every word in it is True. Every word not in it is Heresy," and at the other (nearer my location, in case you haven't all worked that out :smile: ) you have the practitioner who says, "I like this and I find it useful so why don't you try it, regardless of its history?"
I find the most useful framework for approaching the dharma is to consider it as a field of study, comparable to Western philosophy and psychology, rather than as a revealed religion, comparable to Islam or Christianity. Of course we respect - even revere - the founder and other great teachers, but if it is a closed book then we can't adapt it to our own circumstances as we need to (e.g. gender equality).

:namaste:
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Re: Are there any precedents that allow for 'developments' of Buddhism after the Buddha?

Post by Astus »

Queequeg wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 4:31 pmIsn't this tension interesting? In a sense, this uncertainty, and vacillation between source and commentary, meandering back, etc. could be seen, as a whole, as the process by which the tradition keeps to the Buddha's teaching - keeping the teaching vital as a living discourse. I'm wary when I see attempts to limit the teaching too strictly and literally. The discussion and argument itself is both a practice and a means of establishing authority.
A sutra can and should be read with the other sutras. Commentaries and treatises can help with understanding. However, what makes the teachings alive is going through all three stages of learning (sruti), understanding (cinta), and applying (bhavana), or sometimes they talk of it in Zen as using live words instead of (or after) dead ones. As Jinul wrote:

'In the Sŏn school, all these true teachings deriving from the faith and understanding of the complete and sudden school, which are as numerous as the sands of the Ganges, are called dead words (sagu 死句) because they induce people to generate the obstacle of understanding. But they also may help neophytes who are not yet able to investigate the live word (hwalgu 活句) of the shortcut approach by instructing them in complete descriptions that accord with the nature in order to ensure that their faith and understanding will not retrogress.'
(Treatise on Resolving Doubts about Observing the Keyword, in Collected Works of Korean Buddhism, vol 2, p 319)
That's probably not quite acceptable if one demands absolute certainty.
One arrives at certainty at the stage of insight, where there is direct seeing into the validity of the Dharma. Until then one can have faith and understanding, but that's still not an unshakeable ground.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"
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Re: Are there any precedents that allow for 'developments' of Buddhism after the Buddha?

Post by Queequeg »

Kim O'Hara wrote: Thu Apr 08, 2021 6:02 am I find the most useful framework for approaching the dharma is to consider it as a field of study, comparable to Western philosophy and psychology, rather than as a revealed religion, comparable to Islam or Christianity. Of course we respect - even revere - the founder and other great teachers, but if it is a closed book then we can't adapt it to our own circumstances as we need to (e.g. gender equality).
Yes, Agree. I very much view it as a movement, which is why, informed by the history of the Buddhist movement, I feel fortunate to practice Buddhism now. All these traditions that have been developing in parallel for centuries have been thrust together, and add to this that this meeting is taking place in non-Buddhist cultures. The contrasts in views and perspectives are casting everything in new lights. Practitioners are able to compare notes, and argue, about matters that were perhaps taken for granted in their places of origin. The elements are there for a robust flowering. I anticipate that some truly outstanding scholars and practitioners with levels of fluency in and capacities to synthesize different traditions will emerge, including integration of contemporary progressive Western notions of diversity and equality - values that I think are present in traditional Buddhist teachings but with less than actual realization.

A little soap boxy at the end there.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Upaya Chapter

純一実相。実相外。更無別法。法性寂然名止。寂而常渉照名観。
There is only reality; there is nothing separate from reality. The naturally tranquil nature of dharmas is shamatha. The abiding luminosity of tranquility is vipashyana.

-From Guanding's Introduction to Zhiyi's Great Shamatha and Vipashyana
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Queequeg
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Re: Are there any precedents that allow for 'developments' of Buddhism after the Buddha?

Post by Queequeg »

Astus wrote: Thu Apr 08, 2021 9:04 am
Queequeg wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 4:31 pmIsn't this tension interesting? In a sense, this uncertainty, and vacillation between source and commentary, meandering back, etc. could be seen, as a whole, as the process by which the tradition keeps to the Buddha's teaching - keeping the teaching vital as a living discourse. I'm wary when I see attempts to limit the teaching too strictly and literally. The discussion and argument itself is both a practice and a means of establishing authority.
A sutra can and should be read with the other sutras. Commentaries and treatises can help with understanding. However, what makes the teachings alive is going through all three stages of learning (sruti), understanding (cinta), and applying (bhavana), or sometimes they talk of it in Zen as using live words instead of (or after) dead ones. As Jinul wrote:

'In the Sŏn school, all these true teachings deriving from the faith and understanding of the complete and sudden school, which are as numerous as the sands of the Ganges, are called dead words (sagu 死句) because they induce people to generate the obstacle of understanding. But they also may help neophytes who are not yet able to investigate the live word (hwalgu 活句) of the shortcut approach by instructing them in complete descriptions that accord with the nature in order to ensure that their faith and understanding will not retrogress.'
(Treatise on Resolving Doubts about Observing the Keyword, in Collected Works of Korean Buddhism, vol 2, p 319)
That's probably not quite acceptable if one demands absolute certainty.
One arrives at certainty at the stage of insight, where there is direct seeing into the validity of the Dharma. Until then one can have faith and understanding, but that's still not an unshakeable ground.
Being honest, I have to admit I don't understand Zen discourse. Its tropes, ideas, and terminology just present a wall that resists my penetration.

That said, I wonder if the term translated here as "faith and understanding" is 信解.

I'm not quite sure that passage lines up with the process I'm talking about. This passage seems to be comparing methods, not quite an active dialogue between sutras and commentary and the tension that results.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Upaya Chapter

純一実相。実相外。更無別法。法性寂然名止。寂而常渉照名観。
There is only reality; there is nothing separate from reality. The naturally tranquil nature of dharmas is shamatha. The abiding luminosity of tranquility is vipashyana.

-From Guanding's Introduction to Zhiyi's Great Shamatha and Vipashyana
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Re: Are there any precedents that allow for 'developments' of Buddhism after the Buddha?

Post by Astus »

Queequeg wrote: Thu Apr 08, 2021 10:28 amI wonder if the term translated here as "faith and understanding" is 信解.
Yes.
I'm not quite sure that passage lines up with the process I'm talking about. This passage seems to be comparing methods, not quite an active dialogue between sutras and commentary and the tension that results.
True, it's about living the Dharma, having direct insight of the meaning gained from learning. The way I take it is that commentaries and treatises are meant to express the understanding of the sutras in order to allow an easier comprehension of them. But in a few decades and centuries those explanations can sound as foreign as the sutras themselves, so there appear sub-commentaries. And the process goes on (e.g. for Theravada: sutta -> abhidhamma (dhammasanga -> vibhanga -> dhatukatha) -> atthakatha -> tika), then summaries are produced, then commentaries on the summaries. Or there is another route, at some point returning to the sutras, or some treatise, and writing new commentaries/treatises (or even new sutras), especially if one wants to diverge from the accepted interpretations.
Being honest, I have to admit I don't understand Zen discourse. Its tropes, ideas, and terminology just present a wall that resists my penetration.
This points quite well to the matter at hand. Zongmi wrote:

'The teachings are the sutras and treatises left behind by the buddhas and bodhisattvas. Chan is the lines of verse related by the various good friends [on the path]. The buddha sutras open outward, catching the thousands of the beings of the eight classes, while Chan verses scoop up an abridgment, being oriented to one type of disposition found in this land [of China]. [The teachings,] which catch [the thousands of] beings [of the eight classes], are broad and vast, and hence it is difficult to rely upon them. [Chan,] which is oriented to dispositions, points to the bull's-eye and hence is easy to use.'
(Chan Prolegomenon, in Zongmi on Chan, p 105)

For Zongmi - who was a well respected "scholar-practitioner" monk in 9th century China - Chan teachings meant the simple, direct, easy to understand presentation of the Dharma. Naturally Chan over the centuries developed into something quite complex (e.g. Blue Cliff Record), and at the same time what was once ordinary talk for us now is an obscure ancient dialect filled with references that take dozens of footnotes to explain.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"
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Re: Are there any precedents that allow for 'developments' of Buddhism after the Buddha?

Post by Queequeg »

Astus wrote: Thu Apr 08, 2021 12:53 pm
Queequeg wrote: Thu Apr 08, 2021 10:28 amI wonder if the term translated here as "faith and understanding" is 信解.
Yes.
I'm not quite sure that passage lines up with the process I'm talking about. This passage seems to be comparing methods, not quite an active dialogue between sutras and commentary and the tension that results.
True, it's about living the Dharma, having direct insight of the meaning gained from learning. The way I take it is that commentaries and treatises are meant to express the understanding of the sutras in order to allow an easier comprehension of them. But in a few decades and centuries those explanations can sound as foreign as the sutras themselves, so there appear sub-commentaries. And the process goes on (e.g. for Theravada: sutta -> abhidhamma (dhammasanga -> vibhanga -> dhatukatha) -> atthakatha -> tika), then summaries are produced, then commentaries on the summaries. Or there is another route, at some point returning to the sutras, or some treatise, and writing new commentaries/treatises (or even new sutras), especially if one wants to diverge from the accepted interpretations.
Being honest, I have to admit I don't understand Zen discourse. Its tropes, ideas, and terminology just present a wall that resists my penetration.
This points quite well to the matter at hand. Zongmi wrote:

'The teachings are the sutras and treatises left behind by the buddhas and bodhisattvas. Chan is the lines of verse related by the various good friends [on the path]. The buddha sutras open outward, catching the thousands of the beings of the eight classes, while Chan verses scoop up an abridgment, being oriented to one type of disposition found in this land [of China]. [The teachings,] which catch [the thousands of] beings [of the eight classes], are broad and vast, and hence it is difficult to rely upon them. [Chan,] which is oriented to dispositions, points to the bull's-eye and hence is easy to use.'
(Chan Prolegomenon, in Zongmi on Chan, p 105)

For Zongmi - who was a well respected "scholar-practitioner" monk in 9th century China - Chan teachings meant the simple, direct, easy to understand presentation of the Dharma. Naturally Chan over the centuries developed into something quite complex (e.g. Blue Cliff Record), and at the same time what was once ordinary talk for us now is an obscure ancient dialect filled with references that take dozens of footnotes to explain.
Nice. You tied it all together.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Upaya Chapter

純一実相。実相外。更無別法。法性寂然名止。寂而常渉照名観。
There is only reality; there is nothing separate from reality. The naturally tranquil nature of dharmas is shamatha. The abiding luminosity of tranquility is vipashyana.

-From Guanding's Introduction to Zhiyi's Great Shamatha and Vipashyana
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