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Thread: Zen lineage chart: Indian ancestors

  1. #1
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Zen lineage chart: Indian ancestors

    Reading The Transmission of the Lamp got me interested in examining the Indian ancestors listed as historic masters in the Zen lineage. My curiosity was how much of this was mythical, and how much based on historical individuals.

    I found some interesting information... first, here the list I compiled based on the names traditionally chanted in lineage chants in Zen, with notes:

    1. Bibashi Butsu (Vipashyin Buddha) - Buddha of the previous eon
    2. Shiki Butsu (Shikhin Buddha) - Buddha of the previous eon
    3. Bishafu Butsu (Vishvabhu Buddha) - Buddha of the previous eon
    4. Kuruson Butsu (Krakucchanda Buddha) - First Buddha of the current eon
    5. Kunagonmuni Butso (Kanakamuni Buddha) - Second Buddha of the current eon
    6. Kasho Butsu (Kashyapa Buddha) - Third Buddha of the current eon
    7. Shakyamuni Butsu (Shakyamuni Buddha, 563 BCE - 483 BCE)
    8. Makakasho (Mahakasyapa, d. ca. 452 BCE, 20 years after 1st Buddhist Council)
    9. Ananda (Ananda, d. ca. 430 BCE, 20 years after Mahakasyapa)
    10. Shonawashu (Shanavasa)
    11. Ubakikuta (Upagupta, ca. 3rd century BCE, ca. 250 BCE, contemporary of Ashoka)
    12. Daitaka (Dhritaka)
    13. Mishaka (Miccaka)
    14. Bashumitsu (Vasumitra, ca. 2nd century CE, linked with Kanishka)
    15. Butsudanandai (Buddhanandi)
    16. Fudamitta (Buddhamitra)
    17. Barishiba (Parshva, ca. 2nd century CE, linked with Kanishka)
    18. Funayasha (Punyayashas)
    19. Anabotei (Ashvaghosha, ca. 80-150 CE, linked with Kanishka)
    20. Kabimora (Kapimala)
    21. Nagyaharajuna (Nagarjuna, ca. 150-250 CE)
    22. Kanadaiba (Kanadeva)
    23. Ragarata (Rahulata)
    24. Sogyanandai (Sanghanandi)
    25. Kayashata (Gayashata)
    26. Kumorata (Kumarata)
    27. Shayata (Jayata)
    28. Bashubanzu (Vasubandhu, 4th century CE)
    29. Manura (Manorhita)
    30. Kakurokuna (Haklenayashas)
    31. Shishibodai (Simha Bhikshu)
    32. Bashashita (Basiasita)
    33. Funyomitta (Punyamitra)
    34. Hannyatara (Prajnatara)
    35. Bodaidaruma (Bodhidharma, d. 532)

    The first six Buddhas listed are purely symbolic, noting that the capacity to awaken did not begin with Shakyamuni.

    Shakyamuni Buddha's birth and death dates are somewhat contested, but 563-483 BCE seem to be the most generally accepted dates.

    Some biographical material I found on Buddhanet stated that Mahakasyapa and Ananda, both contemporaries of the Buddha, lived to be 100 (of course this is likely mythical). Mahakasyapa is said to have died 20 years after the First Buddhist Council, which was convened a year after the Buddha's death in an effort to preserve the Buddha's teachings. Ananda was said to have died 20 years after Mahakasyapa. I'm not sure what Buddhanet's sources are.

    The next ancestor I could put a date on was Upagupta, who is recorded as a contemporary of King Ashoka and who acted as Ashoka's Buddhist teacher. This places him in the third century BCE.

    The next ancestors on the list that can be dated are Vasumitra, Parshva, and Ashvaghosha, who have been placed in the court of King Kanishka, a king who ruled over a wide area spanning modern day Northern India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan in the second century CE. Nagarjuna was also contemporary to Kanishka's court, but dates given for him place him a bit later than the previous three, with a death date circa 250 CE.

    The next dated ancestor is Vasubandhu, who wrote texts that have survived and who scholars have been able to place as contemporary to King Chandragupta I, thus active through the first half of the fourth century BCE.

    The next ancestor with a date is Bodhidharma, who was active in the sixth century BCE.

    Birth and death dates for the majority of the Chinese Zen ancestors appear to have been meticulously recorded.

    Doing this research made me realize that there is likely more historical truth to the people in the lineage being "real" Buddhist practitioners than I would have thought. But there are also gaps that point to inaccurate or missing information.

    There is only one ancestor listed between Ananda and Upagupta, and yet there is a 200 year gap between the periods when they were living. The most noteworthy gap, however, falls between Upagupta and Vasumitra--a 400 year span, but with only two ancestors listed between them! And then to bounce to the other extreme, Ancestors #14-21 are all contemporaries living alongside one another within the same 100 year period. Then there are six ancestors between Nagarjuna and Vasubandhu, who yet only have a hundred years between them. There are six ancestors listed for the 200 year gap between Vasubandhu and Bodhidharma, a plausible number.

    So it seems there are likely some "missing ancestors" between Ananda and Upagupta and most certainly between Upagupta and Vasumitra. And it also seems unlikely to me, given Ancestors #14-21 all living contemporaneously to one another, that awakening was transmitted one-to-one-to-one as the myth goes. In a way it is as if there are "extra ancestors" for certain historical periods. It seems more likely that Chinese and/or Japanese Zen practitioners looking back to history created a lineage using individuals who were noted in historical accounts and/or were authors of significant Buddhist texts, and took a bit of creative license with the formation of a linear lineage.

    It makes me very curious about those ancestors for whom I could find no information. Were they real people? Made up? I also have a similar curiosity for Soto Zen ancestors in the lineage after Keizan, who do not seem to have been recorded with the care and detail of the Chinese lineage before them or the Rinzai Zen lineage teachers living contemporaneously to them. I researched the lineages of Shunryu Suzuki, Dainin Katagiri, and Gudo Nishijima, and there are significant gaps in all of them in terms of birth and death dates and biographical information for any teachers between 1350 to 1900. I will make another post to cover this period...

  2. #2
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Zen lineage chart: Indian ancestors

    CONSTRUCTING A HISTORY OF BUDDHISM USING THE ZEN LINEAGE CHART

    1. The first successors of the Buddha, Ananda and Mahakasyapa, convene the First Buddhist Council in 482 BC to preserve the Buddha's teachings. Buddhism is established but remains sequestered regionally until...

    2. Two hundred years later, in the 3rd century BC, Upagupta becomes the teacher of King Ashoka. Upagupta is known for how many people he has converted to Buddhism and his zeal for spreading the religion throughout the local region. Upagupta goes on to influence Ashoka's efforts to spread Buddhism throughout his empire in modern day India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nepal. Ashoka convenes the Third Buddhist Council to address and purge corruption in the sangha. One of the results of this Council is the sending forth of Buddhist missionaries across the Indian continent and to modern day Sri Lanka, Syria, Egypt, Greece, Italy, Turkey, Nepal, Bhutan, China, Mongolia, Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Thailand, and Vietnam. Ashoka's influence leads to the establishment of strong Buddhist cultures in Kashmir (North India, Nepal), Gandhara (Pakistan, Afghanistan), and Sri Lanka.

    3. Four hundred years later, Buddhism finds another prominent royal patron in King Kanishka, ruler of the Kushan Empire in modern day Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Northern India, Pakistan, and parts of modern day China. At the time of Kanishka's rule, Mahayana Buddhism has just begun to develop, and early Mahayana sutras such as the Surangama and some of the Prajnaparamita sutras have appeared. Under the patronage of King Kanishka, the monk Lokaksema translates some of these early Mahayana sutras into Chinese. Parshva, a Buddhist scholar under the patronage of Kanishka, defeats Ashvaghosha in religious debate, and Ashvaghosha converts to Buddhism. Later, Ashvaghosha becomes King Kanishka's spiritual advisor. Kanishka convenes the Fourth Buddhist Council to compile and systematize Buddhist teaching and doctrine, with a focus on Abhidharma. Vasumitra is the head of the Council and Parshva and Ashvaghosha are also involved.

    4. As the end of the period in which Vasumitra, Parshva, and Ashvaghosha were active draws to a close, Nagarjuna is born and begins his career as a Buddhist philosopher. Correspondence between Nagarjuna and Yajna Sri Satakarni, a ruler of the Satavahana Empire south of the Kushan Empire, places his life in the second and third centuries CE. Nagarjuna is born in the Satavahana Empire but leaves for Nalanda University in Northern India in his youth and establishes a career there; he later returns to this part of India. Nagarjuna studies Mahayana thought and founds the Madhyamaka philosophical school. The focus of this school is the refinement of teachings on emptiness. His Mulamadhyamakakarika is a major text that is still widely studied in Mahayana Buddhism to this day.

    5. The next ancestor for which there is historical information available is Vasubandhu, a contemporary of King Chandragupta I in the 4th century CE. Vasubandhu is born and lives in Gandhara, in the Kaushambi district (modern day Uttar Pradesh). He trains in the Sarvastivada school but later founds the Yogacara school, whose "mind only" doctrine later becomes highly influential in the development of Buddhism, Zen in particular. Vasubandhu leaves many writings behind, most of which focus on Mahayana and Yogacara teachings, and some of which are focused on the development of Buddhist logic in a similar vein to Nagarjuna'a Mulamadhyamakakarika.

    Vasubandhu's Yogacara school and Nagarjuna's Madhyamaka school develop their ideas over a long period of philosophical debate with one another, with Madhyamaka arguing nothing should be identified as real and Yogacara arguing that only the mind could be identified as real (though some Yogacarins do not differ much from Madhyamakins in that, though asserting the supremacy of the mind as the basis of reality, they agree that mind is ultimately empty). Both of these schools would prove to be the most influential early Indian Buddhist schools in the development of Zen, Yogacara with its focus on the act of meditation and Madhyamaka with its teachings on emptiness.

    6. So now we have the issue of Bodhidharma, said to have been active in the fifth or sixth century CE. Bodhidharma is contested as possibly not being a historical personage, and instead being a mix of mythic character and amalgamation of multiple Buddhist teachers. But this is possibly true of any historical Buddhist figure, including Shakyamuni himself. There is some evidence of Bodhidharma's being a historical figure, including contemporary historical accounts of him and written works attributed to him.

    Bodhidharma is heavily influenced by and teaches from the Lankavatara Sutra, a major sutra from the Yogacara school. Bodhidharma's emphasis on meditation is also highly reflective of the influence of the Yogacara school, which emphasizes meditation and other yogic practices focused on direct exploration and experience of the mind and consciousness to develop insight into its true nature.

    OVERVIEW

    So the history of the development of Buddhism as traced through those ancestors in the lineage chart that have biographical material available tells a coherent story of significant developments in early Buddhism as it developed into what would later become Zen. First, we have Shakyamuni, whose insights and teachings radically challenged prevailing religious beliefs and attitudes. He challenged the extreme boundary between spiritual practice and secular culture. He established a system that elevated monastic renunciation of family life and accumulation of wealth, yet a system where monks and laypeople constantly interacted. The elegant community that he established created a strong foundation for the preservation of the Buddha's teachings and their continuous interaction with secular culture and politics.

    Mahakasyapa and Ananda were instrumental in further assuring the preservation and passing on of Buddhist teaching. Without their efforts at the First Buddhist Council, it is unlikely Buddhism would have survived.

    Upagupta's work with King Ashoka and involvement in the Third Buddhist Council and subsequent missionary expeditions spread Buddhism beyond India and throughout Asia and parts of the Middle East. As Buddhism later died out in India, without this spread of Buddhism outward from its place of origin, there is also a good chance it would have only survived as a historical novelty. This was where the transmission of Buddhism to China really began.

    The transmission to China continued with the Buddhist monks who worked under the patronage of King Kanishka, whose sponsorship can also be credited with the development and spread of the then-nascent Mahayana school and its ideas.

    The Madhyamaka school founded by Nagarjuna and the Yogacara school founded by Vasubandhu are the most influential Buddhist schools in the formation of the unique focus, style, and philosophy of Zen. Much has been made on the influence of Taoism on the development of Zen, and it was indeed influential, but the very same ideas that run through Taoism--the constant flux and flow of phenomena (emptiness) and the direct experience of true nature through spiritual practice--were already present in Buddhism before Bodhidharma ever crossed the border.

    So despite all of the gaps of knowledge in the lineage, I think our Indian teaching lineage tells a very coherent story of the path Buddhism took between the Buddha's turning of the wheel of Dharma and Bodhidharma's arrival in China.

    REFERENCES

    Wikipedia pages


    History of Buddhism

    History of Buddhism
    Buddhist Councils
    First Buddhist Council
    Third Buddhist Council
    Fourth Buddhist Council
    Greco-Buddhism
    Nalanda

    Buddhist Schools

    Early Buddhist Schools
    Sarvastivada
    Madhyamaka
    Yogacara
    Mahayana

    Ancestors

    Mahakasyapa
    Ananda
    Vasumitra
    Ashvaghosha
    Lokaksema
    Nagarjuna
    Vasubandhu
    Bodhidharma

    Royal Patrons

    Ashoka
    Kanishka
    Satavahana Dynasty

    Other Websites

    Buddhanet: Disciples of the Buddha: Maha Kassapa
    Buddhanet: Disciples of the Buddha: Ananda

    Access to Insight: Theragatha: Verses of the Elder Monks
    Ananda: Guardian of the Dhamma by Hellmuth Hecker at Access to Insight
    Maha Kassapa: Father of the Sangha by Hellmuth Hecker at Access to Insight

    Satavanahas

    Dharma Talk by Geoffrey Shugen Arnold: Not Dwelling Anywhere

    Journal Article

    Waddell, L. A. (1987). Upagupta, the Fourth Buddhist Patriarch, and High priest of Acoka. Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1151(1), 76-84. Retrieved from http://ccbs.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-JASB/waddell.htm .

    Books (Retrieved through Google Books)

    Strong, J. S. (1994). The legend and cult of Upagupta. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.

    Strong, J. S. (1989). The legend of King Asoka: A study and translation of the Asokavadana. Delhi: Motilial Banarsidass.

    Varadpande, M. L. (2005). History of Indian Theatre, Volume 3. New Delhi: Abhinav Publications.

  3. #3

    Re: Zen lineage chart: Indian ancestors

    This is incredibly interesting. Do you think, once you have found everyone you can possibly find, that you might consider publishing this? I'd love to have a book of all the ancestors down to my teachers.

  4. #4
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Zen lineage chart: Indian ancestors

    Thanks, Chris.

    I don't think I could come up with a book's worth of material on the Indian ancestors without years of additional exhaustive research and study I'm not prepared to do :wink:

    Further, I'd have to "re-research" a lot of the material as Wikipedia is hardly respected as a source of scholarship. I think this is a bit elitist, as I have found Wikipedia very useful as a legitimate knowledge source which is very easy to cross-check to test the veracity of material in it.

    My initial motivation was just to see who in the lineage chart could be identified as historical persons and given birth and death dates. What emerged from this was very interesting, as I started to see the surprising connections between these scattered "dots." I wanted to write down and present my findings in a coherent manner and am glad to present it as a possibly useful source for others... one to take with a grain of salt, given the uncertainty about a lot of these figures, but one that gives a sense of Zen history before the formal establishment of the Chan school in China. I'm surprised that the lineage chart could be the basis for any kind of coherent historical narrative of Buddhism at all, and am quite pleased and inspired with this discovery!

    Next I plan to do an overview of significant Chinese Chan masters... This work has already been done formally and scholastically by Andy Ferguson in his book Zen's Chinese Heritage, which I have not read but now plan to! Still, I think it would be useful to present an abbreviated history of some of the significant Zen teachers in China for quick reference and a starting-off point. As for Japanese ancestors, unfortunately, except for already well-known teachers around the time of Dogen, it seems there is little historical material for about five hundred years of Soto Zen lineage.

  5. #5

    Re: Zen lineage chart: Indian ancestors

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    CONSTRUCTING A HISTORY OF BUDDHISM USING THE ZEN LINEAGE CHART

    1. The first successors of the Buddha, Ananda and Mahakasyapa, convene the First Buddhist Council in 482 BC to preserve the Buddha's teachings. Buddhism is established but remains sequestered regionally until...

    2. Two hundred years later, in the 3rd century BC, Upagupta becomes the teacher of King Ashoka. Upagupta is known for how many people he has converted to Buddhism and his zeal for spreading the religion throughout the local region. Upagupta goes on to influence Ashoka's efforts to spread Buddhism throughout his empire in modern day India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nepal. Ashoka convenes the Third Buddhist Council to address and purge corruption in the sangha. One of the results of this Council is the sending forth of Buddhist missionaries across the Indian continent and to modern day Sri Lanka, Syria, Egypt, Greece, Italy, Turkey, Nepal, Bhutan, China, Mongolia, Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Thailand, and Vietnam. Ashoka's influence leads to the establishment of strong Buddhist cultures in Kashmir (North India, Nepal), Gandhara (Pakistan, Afghanistan), and Sri Lanka.
    I believe it was during 2. that the sutras and commentaries started to be written in what is called the Pali Canon. So if you want to understand the Buddha and his culture and close to his original teachings, the Pali Canon and stories based on it is a good place to start.

    /Rich

  6. #6
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Zen lineage chart: Indian ancestors

    Yes, I'm familiar with the Pali Canon, but it did not play a major role in the history reflected in the Zen lineage chart, other than the extent to which Ananda and Mahakasyapa's efforts foreshadowed its creation.

    My purpose here was not to do an exhaustive history of Buddhism, but a very focused history of developments in early Indian Buddhism that led to the establishment of the Chan tradition in China, and, later, the Zen tradition in Japan. And this purpose was actually secondary; the first was simply to see what kind of history was told by the lineage chart and the ancestors contained therein.

  7. #7

    Re: Zen lineage chart: Indian ancestors

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    Yes, I'm familiar with the Pali Canon, but it did not play a major role in the history reflected in the Zen lineage chart, other than the extent to which Ananda and Mahakasyapa's efforts foreshadowed its creation.

    My purpose here was not to do an exhaustive history of Buddhism, but a very focused history of developments in early Indian Buddhism that led to the establishment of the Chan tradition in China, and, later, the Zen tradition in Japan. And this purpose was actually secondary; the first was simply to see what kind of history was told by the lineage chart and the ancestors contained therein.
    I'm not an expert in Buddhist history but I believe (and someone can correct me if I'm wrong) that the only complete written translation of the Pali Canon (Nikaya) is the Chinese Agamas. Even the Theravadans use the Chinese Agamas as source material. What is interesting is that the Agama translations predate Bodhidharma. The story goes that the Chinese didn't understand true Buddhism until Bodhidharma came and set them straight But wasn't Huineng the first official zen guy?

  8. #8

    Re: Zen lineage chart: Indian ancestors

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich
    I'm not an expert in Buddhist history but I believe (and someone can correct me if I'm wrong) that the only complete written translation of the Pali Canon (Nikaya) is the Chinese Agamas. Even the Theravadans use the Chinese Agamas as source material. What is interesting is that the Agama translations predate Bodhidharma. The story goes that the Chinese didn't understand true Buddhism until Bodhidharma came and set them straight But wasn't Huineng the first official zen guy?
    A complicated subject, and I am no expert in Pali history ... but, in my understanding, yes, many ancient Sutta only exist in Chinese translation. I do not know if one would call them together a "complete" translation, but many works only remain in the Chinese, and sometimes Tibetan, translation.

    Hui neng, as best known through the famous "Platform Sutra" of the 6th Patriarch, is really a creation of later writers who wrote (and rewrote) that text. An excellent discussion of its history, the development of the tradition, and a still respected translation of its simpler earlier version (before later writers added to and embellished significantly the earlier versions, sometime improving sometimes not) is ...

    The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch by Hui-neng and Philip Yampolsky (The earlier, simpler 'Dun Huang' Version, recommended by Jundo, also available online: http://www.thezensite.com/ZenTeachings/ ... polsky.pdf. As well, a later, more elaborate version from the 13th century, in which many more writers had a hand, is available online: here http://www.thezensite.com/ZenTeachings/ ... lation.pdf )
    Now, the one question I can answer decisively ...

    But wasn't Huineng the first official zen guy?

    No. YOU are!

    Gassho, J

  9. #9

    Re: Zen lineage chart: Indian ancestors

    Hello folks,

    if you go to http://www.zenriver.nl/ and click on the "lineage" navigation bar on the left hand side, you can look at a photograph of a lineage tree that includes a whole load of modern dharma heirs as well as going back to Bodhidharma. It'd be nice to have all the different versions next to one another (with all the Dunhuang material included)

    Btw. Andy Ferguson's book is a great treasure chest.

    Gassho,

    Hans

  10. #10
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Zen lineage chart: Indian ancestors

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Hui neng, as best known through the famous "Platform Sutra" of the 6th Patriarch, is really a creation of later writers who wrote (and rewrote) that text. An excellent discussion of its history, the development of the tradition, and a still respected translation of its simpler earlier version (before later writers added to and embellished significantly the earlier versions, sometime improving sometimes not) is ...

    The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch by Hui-neng and Philip Yampolsky (The earlier, simpler 'Dun Huang' Version, recommended by Jundo, also available online: http://www.thezensite.com/ZenTeachings/ ... polsky.pdf. As well, a later, more elaborate version from the 13th century, in which many more writers had a hand, is available online: here http://www.thezensite.com/ZenTeachings/ ... lation.pdf )
    I will need to read this to see exactly what it says... but I'm skeptical of our modern tendency to be extremely skeptical of everything, to the point that we're willing to throw out truth because it doesn't seem enough like what we imagine truth looks like. People will look at a photograph of an extraordinary event that actually happened and insist it was Photoshopped, for example.

    I found that article on deconstructing Bodhidharma that you linked to in the other lineage thread to be quite telling. The theories of Bodhidharma not being a real person or not having done certain things aren't that much different from the theories of him being a real person and doing certain things--it's all based on a certain amount of conjecture. The author of that article had no proof for his position other than a theory. But we're more convinced by his position because it reflects our modern sensibility that remarkable, dedicated, and accomplished people can't exist. We're only two steps above worms and any person who acts in a way that is too much removed from wormness must not really be that way... it must be Photoshopped :roll:

    The only truth I can sign up for is, we don't really know. We don't really know exactly who these ancestors were, if their stories were based on one person or more than one person, if certain things attributed to them actually came later... I mean, sometimes there is decisive evidence one way or the other, usually there isn't.

    When I read the stories of the ancestors in the lineage, I am inspired because I recognize parts of my own struggle, my own yearning to awaken, taken up by those before me who had greater zeal and focus. I think it does a disservice to the spirit of our Zen ancestors to try to deconstruct all these stories to the point we conclude "this person didn't really exist, at least not like it says in this sutra."

    We all know that stories get embellished over time, and conflated with other stories... I might one day see a child running across the street and grab her out of the way of a car, and hundreds of years later the story might be told that some great person leaped her motorcycle off a burning building, did three mid air flips, then jumped backwards off the motorcycle, landed perfectly, and sprinted across the street just in time to save the girl. Well, just because I didn't jump a motorcycle off a flaming building doesn't mean the girl didn't get grabbed off the street. But some of these modern deconstructionists seem to do just that... "Well, this part about the motorcycle and flaming building is obviously implausible, so it's clear the whole story is made up; it seems unlikely the child was anywhere near the street." :roll:

    I mean, when I read about Bodhidharma, what grabs me about his story is his fire, his determination to practice, wake up, and pass that on to others. I don't believe he sat in a cave nonstop for nine years or that one of his students chopped an arm off... though who knows, maybe those things did happen. But I do believe that there was a person or persons who got fed up with the stifling religious status quo of where they were from, and set out to establish a religious community focused on the truth... or perhaps simply wanted to focus on his own efforts to awaken and responded to those who were drawn to him. I believe that, as is the case with Huineng as we know him through the stories we have, it is possible to wake up without any formal practice at all. I believe that some people experience and taste awakening and that the power of that electrifies the air around them... and I don't mean that literally :lol: ...nor does my "belief" come from blind belief, but from the parallel with my own personal experiences.

    The scholars who pick apart these things are dealing with, what to them is dead words on a page... a historical artifact... a cultural novelty. The truth, the aliveness that spring forth from those pages are completely lost to them. So why should we privilege their conclusions, when they are based not on decisive evidence, but their own hunches and predilections and applications of theories? I went to a college where I got exposed to a lot of this kind of work and did some of my own... it's amazing how, if you're smart enough, you can make a completely convincing argument by applying a theory to a text. That doesn't mean, because of your flashy intellect and correct application of theory, that your conclusions are "true" in any deep sense.

    The truth of our Zen ancestors' stories leaps off the page to me. The miraculous events, the whitewashed and idealized traits... none of this is what makes these stories compelling. It is the moments when truth is recognized. There is truth to Bodhidharma sitting facing the wall for nine years and telling the emperor "nothing holy," even if these events never actually happened.

  11. #11

    Re: Zen lineage chart: Indian ancestors

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    rect application of theory, that your conclusions are "true" in any deep sense.

    The truth of our Zen ancestors' stories leaps off the page to me. The miraculous events, the whitewashed and idealized traits... none of this is what makes these stories compelling. It is the moments when truth is recognized. There is truth to Bodhidharma sitting facing the wall for nine years and telling the emperor "nothing holy," even if these events never actually happened.
    We are on the same page! I did not want to imply differently.

    The "Platform Sutra of the 6th Patriarch" is a treasure of Wisdom ... both in the earlier and later versions, both with the historical background and standing on their own. Wonderful!

  12. #12
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: Zen lineage chart: Indian ancestors

    Stephanie writes: There is truth to Bodhidharma sitting facing the wall for nine years and telling the emperor "nothing holy," even if these events never actually happened.
    So true, Stephanie. I have never thought of this meeting outside here and now. If we listen we may hear both voices, the anxious and eager voice of the Emperor Wu, Who? And the detached whispering-shout of the old barbarian, both uttered in the same life, through the same gob and mouth.
    Studying the lineage is studying the happening of Buddha-Dharma in this very moment.Not and archeology, or history, but a display of and DNA which bears a signature both unique and shared althrough the universe.
    In the same good old way, I view Boddhisatvas and Buddhas as countless aspects of One mind. Not in Heaven. Not even in Hell (even if more likely so).


    There is truth to the fact we are caught up in ego's games, even if the self never actually happened.
    The truth is we are originally awake, even if the self tells us a very different story.

    gassho


    Taigu

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