March 16, 2006 at 6:57 pm #11580
Before I go travelling for next four days, want to drop a few thoughts.
The discussion in round 4 seems to be getting divorced a bit from history and traditional meaning of what “chan” describes.
I agree with Bagua that its ultimately unimportant what school or path one pursues – that is free will choice.
My goal is not to promote Tao-ISM, but to extract the essence of its alchemical process and make that process available under any name that people want to call it.
However, I also agree with Fajin that all paths are NOT the same, and that distinctions exist for useful reasons. In fact, no path is the same, there are only individual cultivators deepening their life experience.
Bagua plays a bit free in blurring the distinctions between time zones/dimensions and stages of cultivation (jing-chii-shen-wu). I certainly agree with him that these all exist in a single continuum, simultaneously.
But accepting that conceptually and experiencing that are TOTALLY different.
Let’s not ignore that we are in the physical plane, in physical bodies, experiencing limitations – that it is not an accident, that the limitation has some function. That is why you cannot skip phases of growth, anymore than babies leap to adulthood and ignore the decades of maturation in between.
If you accept that your consciousness is dominated by the physical plane, then it behooves you to first and foremost integrate the physical plane with all other levels of consciousness. If we were in the formless planes having this discussioin, it would be the other way around – gee, how do we integrate fomless with the form world…?
So no progress in my opinion is made by denying that “we” -whatever you believe that is – have stepped ourselves into a physical body. And that the perspective of that body must be included in whatever other levels of process you believe exist beyond the body/mind.
I think its fine if modern Chan practitioners find their historical predecessors’s ideas too limiting and want to include new ideas or processes in their practice. But I fail to find any emphasis in Chan Buddhism on yin-yang theory or its processual implications on the nature of Tao. The references to Pure Land below are a sect that is clearly otherworldly, and believes in sudden enlightenment rather than gradual process.
Just to keep a grounded perspective, here is the Wikipedia’s survey of Chan Buddhism – suggesting that it historically had specific doctrines and beliefs. Its my read that Bagua is not really interested in those doctrines, just the freedom he finds in his practice.
Chán is a major school of Chinese Mah?y?na Buddhism. In Japan and the west, the school is known as Zen.
Stories of the origins of Chan (? in Chinese) are varied. It is often said to be a Chinese adaptation of Indian dhyana meditation practices, influenced by indigenous Chinese Taoism.
According to tradition, the school was founded by the semi-legendary Indian or Persian monk Bodhidharma who, according to the Anthology of the Patriarchal Hall (952 CE), arrived in China c. 527 CE and taught at the Shaolin Monastery. Bodhidharma was believed in some versions of his legend to be the twenty-eighth patriarch in a lineage that extended all the way back to Shakyamuni Buddha by way of Mahakasyapa. Bodhidharma is recorded as having come to China to teach a “separate transmission outside of the texts” which “did not rely upon textuality.” His insight was then transmitted through a series of Chinese patriarchs, the most famous of whom was the Sixth Patriarch, Hui Neng.
Due to the conflicting stories of Bodhidharma that were recorded over the centuries, and the fact that none of the extant writings of the Shaolin temple from the time of the 6th-7th century CE mention him, modern theory suggests that Chan began to develop gradually in different regions of China as a grass-roots movement. According this view, Chan was a reaction to a perceived imbalance in Chinese Buddhism toward the blind pursuit of textual scholarship with a concomitant neglect of the original essence of Buddhist practice: meditation and the cultivation of right view.
Another view is that Chan bears the influence of Theravada Buddhism, based on their shared emphasis on meditation and the similarity of their meditation practices.
After the time of Hui Neng (circa 700 CE), Chan began to branch off into numerous different schools, each with their own special emphasis, but all of which kept the same basic focus on meditational practice, personal instruction and grounded personal experience. During the late Tang and the Song periods, the tradition truly flowered, as a wide number of eminent teachers, such as Mazu, Baizhang, Yunmen and Linji developed specialized teaching methods, which would become characteristic of each of the “five houses” of mature Chinese Chan.
Later on, the teaching styles and words of these classical masters were recorded in such important Chan texts as the Biyan Lu; (Blue Cliff Record) and the Wumenguan; (Gateless Passage) which would be studied by later generations of students down to the present.
The Japanese Zen scholar D.T. Suzuki maintained that a Chan satori (Japanese for “understanding”) has always been the goal of the training, but that what distinguished the Chan tradition as it developed in China, and as it then spread to Korea and Japan, was a way of life radically different from that of Indian Buddhists. In India, the tradition of the mendicant (holy beggar) prevailed, but in China social circumstances led to the development of a temple and training-center system in which the abbot and the monks all performed mundane tasks. These included food gardening or farming, carpentry, architecture, housekeeping, administration, and the practice of folk medicine. Consequently, the enlightenment sought in Chan had to stand up well to the demands and potential frustrations of everyday life and self-support.
Chan continued to be influential as a religious force in China, although some energy was lost with the syncretist Neo-Confucian revival of Confucianism starting in the Song period. While traditionally distinct, Chan was taught alongside Pure Land in many Chinese Buddhist monasteries. In time, much of this distinction was lost, and many recent masters teach both Chan and Pure Land. Chan was severely repressed in China during the recent modern era with the appearance of the People’s Republic, but has more recently been re-asserting itself on the mainland, and has a significant following in Taiwan and Hong Kong and among Overseas Chinese.
In the 20th and 21st centuries, Chan practice has been adopted by many westerners, particularly in Europe and the USA. Several lay practitioners there have received Dharma transmission from Chan Master Sheng-yen, and are now teaching in their own centres.March 17, 2006 at 7:07 pm #11581
Very nice history of Chan. Thanks for posting it.
There is a difference bewteen the experience of Chan and the structures, schools and politics of it, as emperors and politcs got involved in it the things that go with thise formal structures manifested. I think people should be clear about this. The history of Taoism is the same, I dont think you would support some practices of many of the schools of taoism, especially those done by Zhang Dao Ling, the founder of religious taoism, often he is called the Pope of Taoism.
I have said I beleive most spiritual traditions have the same goal, not that the path is the same, this is the reason for much of the discussions lately. In my experience, most arguing comes from the in betweens, the the distination.
In a macro sense, I view life as the simultaneous unity of physical/mental/spiritual, and that it is impossible to separate them, influence one and you influence the others.
I dont promote a fragmented cultivation system, focus on physical first, then this and then that. My experience is when you do physical movements or work on emotions, they influence all three spheres, this is the inseparable unity Lao Zi talks about.
I dont think we should define Chan by schools, structures and isolated people, it should only be evalauted by the experience, and this is true of Tao too.
Smiling in the Tao,
baguaMarch 17, 2006 at 8:37 pm #11583
I don’t want to start another discussion, just want to ask you though, what is the final goal that all paths have in common? Thanks for your time.
FajinMarch 17, 2006 at 8:49 pm #11585
Realization of and Unity with the wholeMarch 17, 2006 at 8:56 pm #11587
One more thing, to be able to live it in daily life.March 17, 2006 at 9:13 pm #11589
One more question if you don’t mind. Can this be done through Chan Buddhism, Daoism, or both? Aren’t these paths complete in their intented effect?March 17, 2006 at 9:18 pm #11591
Yes, both have the possibilty.March 17, 2006 at 9:20 pm #11593
What I meant was that you say Chan and Daoism get you to the final destination, unity and realization of the whole and carrying it out in daily life, in every moment. But can you attain this destination with only Chan or with only Daoism? Or do you NEED both in order to attain this wholeness and unity in every moment of our concsiousness.
FajinMarch 17, 2006 at 9:25 pm #11595
Each can accomplish it. The actual realization is within each method. From my specific statement, they both get there, thats why at a certain level, they are the same.
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