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Thread: For Zen History Wonks Only: Paper on Origins of Early Chan (Zen) in Chinese Daoism

  1. #1

    For Zen History Wonks Only: Paper on Origins of Early Chan (Zen) in Chinese Daoism

    Hi,

    I am only going to recommend the following for real Zen history wonks who are interested in the story of how Buddhism came from India to China, blended with Chinese philosophy and sensibilities (particularly Daoist, and a particular flavor of Daoism called Lao-Chuang), thereby giving rise to much of the Chan/Zen perspective we practice even today.

    The paper itself is not that long. However, even just the first 2 or 3 pages are worth a glance. It is hard to miss the commonality with the way the Zen Teachings are presented even now (especially in Soto Zen, even right in this Sangha), although the way of putting things has come to be in a more Buddhist package ... The blend between Buddhist thought and what is described in the following paragraphs resulted in a lovely offspring which became Chan/Zen ...

    Chuang-Tzu And The Chinese Ancestry of Ch'an Buddhism
    Livia Knaul
    Journal of Chinese Philosophy
    Vol.13 (1986)



    In regarding the development of Ch'an Buddhism much emphasis has traditionally been placed on its Indian background. Of course, it has been recognized that the Indian sources passed through a process of translation and adaptation to the Chinese ... This tradition became the major vehicle for the translation of Buddhist concepts into Chinese thinking.

    ...

    Mysticism as found in the Chuang-Tzu is based on
    the assumption that the Tao, the Absolute, is always
    here and there and everywhere. Man became separated
    from the Tao as he developed consciousness, through
    which he came to hate death and love life, and
    constantly shifted between emotional and intellectual
    extremes. To remedy this situation, rather than
    making choices, he should identify with all, as all
    is the Tao, and "make all things equal," forgetting
    himself and the world by "sitting in oblivion".(3)
    Once freed from the 'fetters and handcuffs' of
    categorial thinking, he will mentally dissolve into
    Chaos (hun-tun(a)),(4) after which there will be no
    more right and wrong, no more death and life. Man
    will then become fully at-one with the Tao and able
    to enjoy everything just as it is. This is the true
    freedom of man, the 'free and easy wandering" of the
    first chapter of the Chuang-Tzu. The mind then can
    roam through the universe in cosmic excursion, but it
    is also perfectly suited to dealing with everyday
    realities.(5) The true man is always one in what he
    does, his mere presence benefits the age. He has a
    human face, but is actually filled with the emptiness
    of Heaven; acting like everyone else, he never gets
    entangled.(6)
    Systematized by Kuo Hsiang,the essential ideas of
    Chuang-Tzu mysticism are organized into a
    philosophical world-view. The Tao, the eternal
    Absolute, which is characterized as changing on and
    on without beginning or end, is called Self-so or
    nature. ... But
    consciousness causes him to love and hate and
    discriminate, spoiling the original purity. In
    realizing that he is bound by his perception, man can
    attain a state of utmost accordance with life: by
    emptying his mind and "sitting in oblivion" the state
    of realization of nature within himself. This is the
    interpretation Kuo Hsiang gives for the "free and
    easy wandering" of the Chuang-Tzu. Mystical union,
    the merging of one's mind with the Absolute in Chaos,
    he expresses through the word ming(d) as opposed to
    hsiang(e), to think in dualistic patterns. Both terms
    were later used by Buddhists.
    Furthermore, the Chuang-Tzu ideal of no-mind, wu-
    hsin(f), of "keeping a free self in the midst of any
    and all circumstances, to affirm the here and now
    actively as one's own"(7), is elaborated by Kuo
    Hsiang to encompass not only non-action, but also non-happiness,
    non-reliance, non-knowledge, etc. These are ideal
    states of mind developed through the complete denial
    of their imperfect and impure counterparts in the
    world. With no-mind, the true man, rather than
    withdrawing into the wilderness, will be able to find
    the place in society most appropriate for him.
    Precisely because "he stopped being aware of beings,
    he is able to enter the crowd". (Comm. ch. 6)
    Fulfilling his social responsibilities to the utmost,
    he realizes his given share of the universal truth.
    As everything is the Tao, no task is too low to grant
    fulfillment. An tasks are duties in the world and for
    the good of society, which itself is but a part of
    the cosmic process with which one should always be in
    tune. This notion which mirrors Confucian concepts as
    much as the ideal Taoist state of Great Peace is
    contradictory to the Buddhist postulation that one
    has to leave one's family and society in order to
    realize oneself as a monk and as a true man.

    Furthermore, the Chuang-Tzu ideal of no-mind, wu-
    hsin(f), of "keeping a free self in the midst of any
    and all circumstances, to affirm the here and now
    actively as one's own"(7), is elaborated by Kuo
    Hsiang to encompass not only non-action, but also non-happiness,
    non-reliance, non-knowledge, etc. These are ideal
    states of mind developed through the complete denial
    of their imperfect and impure counterparts in the
    world. With no-mind, the true man, rather than
    withdrawing into the wilderness, will be able to find
    the place in society most appropriate for him.
    Precisely because "he stopped being aware of beings,
    he is able to enter the crowd". (Comm. ch. 6)

    http://buddhism.lib.ntu.edu.tw/FULLT...JOCP/livia.htm
    While there are important differences in presentation, the freedom from categorical thinking such as love and hate, life and death. and the focus on "non-action, non-thinking" is part of the road leading here. The paper shows how these same views came to be found in some of the early Chan writings we still prize today, such as the Xin Xin Ming ..

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xinxin_Ming

    The Hsi-hsin-ming offers fervent advice to stop
    thinking and worrying:

    Don't think much, don't know muchl Much
    knowledge means deep involvement, it is much
    better to rest the will. A head full of worries
    means many failures; how much better to 'guard
    the One'?

    It promises tremendous results:

    When all mentation and thoughts cease,life and
    death (=samsara) will be cut off permanently.
    No more death, no more life, no Phenomena, no
    names. One Tao in emptiness and vastness, the
    myriad beings all made equal.

    Also interesting is the tug-o-war between the emphasis in these teachings of being active and out in the world, and the later Buddhist emphasis which tended toward a monastic lifestyle. This tug-o-war is still going on in modern Buddhism, as we seek to bring these teachings out into the world (as in our little corner of Buddhism).

    Some folks ask me from time to time if it matters that Buddhism changed over time as it encountered different cultures and times. Yes, Buddhism has evolved over the years, comes in many flavors, and many of the flavors and evolutions are good. I usually say this ...

    There is a wonderful history book which had a major impact a few years ago ... The Making of Buddhist Modernism ...

    Many of the modern interpretations of Buddhism so common in the West today are actually the product of Western and Asian moudernizers of the late 19th and 20th century ... such as the equality of women (unusual in traditional, class bound Asian societies), the ability of non-monastic lay folks to engage in Practices such as Zazen, the emphasis on Buddhism as a "scientific" system and the Buddha as a humanist or psychologist who did not emphasize religious aspects, and the emphasis on charity (other than the traditional emphasis on lay donations to monastics). The latter always existed, but has been greatly emphasized in response to competition from Christian missionaries, Judeo-Christian values in the West and such.

    But that does not mean that, just because something is relatively new or a reform, it is a bad thing at all. Further, I believe that all such changes are in total harmony with Traditional Buddhist Values and Teachings.

    I do not recommend the above book to anyone but Buddhist history geeks, but here is a further description and commentary by David Chapman for those interested ...

    http://meaningness.wordpress.com/201...ist-modernism/

    ====

    - "Zen" pretty much developed in China around the 6th Century when Indian Buddhism met Chinese culture and sensibilities, and then kept developing and evolving right to today. It moved on to Japan and Korea, changed a bit more, and now to the West. It is the same, but different, different but the same in many ways. It is not exactly what and how the historical Buddha taught. In fact, in some ways it is an improvement, with the Buddha something like our "Henry Ford" or the "Wright Brothers"! (At least we think so. That is one reason that Mahayana Buddhists, the "Great Vehicle", for thousands of years have been calling all that Indian stuff "the Lessor vehicle" ... although no longer PC to do ... and why Zen folks have implied that their way was a "Special Transmission" different from all that the historical Buddha taught other folks who needed their Buddhism in other packages.).

    - Zen is Ultimately Timeless. Truly, if one encounters Enlightenment right here, right now, on one's Zafu, then we might say all the Buddhas and Ancestors are "Real" beyond small human ideas of "true or false", and all the Buddhas and Ancestors are sitting on the Zafu as you are sitting. If one pierces the Wisdom manifested in a Koan story, it does not matter that the event depicted never actually took place, for one is manifesting the Wisdom in the Koan even if written by someone simply to depict that Wisdom.

    However, the Heart of the Buddha's teachings ... the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path, Non-Self, Non-Attachment, the Middle Way, etc. etc., ... All are here now as much as there then!! When we are sitting a moment of Zazen ... perfectly whole, just complete unto itself, without borders and duration, not long or short, nothing to add or take away, containing all moments and no moments in "this one moment" ... piercing Dukkha, attaining non-self, non-attached ... then there is not the slightest gap between each of us and the Buddha.
    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-17-2015 at 04:03 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  2. #2
    Hello,

    Thank you for the link.


    Gassho,
    Myosha sat today
    "Recognize suffering, remove suffering." - Shakyamuni Buddha when asked, "Uhm . . .what?"

  3. #3
    Hello,

    Good stuff.

    Gassho, Jishin, _/st\_

  4. #4
    Thank you, Jundo. I love the way Ch'an is presented in some of the old Chinese teachings and there are good reasons we still chant the Sandokai and study Song of the Grass Hut Hermitage. The presentation may change but the nature of truth doesn't.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    #sattoday

  5. #5
    Thank you for the link, Jundo. Definitely interesting info. I'm in to history like that. Always good to see the beginningless beginning.



    Gassho,

    Hotetsu

    #SatToday
    Forever is so very temporary...

  6. #6
    Thank you Jundo. =)

    Gassho
    Shingen

    SatToday

  7. #7
    Jundo,

    Thank you for the link, this is very interesting. Maybe in time I will become a Zen History Wonk.

    One specific question: in the paper the word "retribution" is used several times, and I'm wondering if that word has a specific Buddhist meaning or connotation? I'm familiar with that word to mean punishment or penalty (with a flavor of redress or setting things right)...

    Thank you,

    Gassho
    Lisa
    sat today

  8. #8
    Thank you for these readings

    Gassho
    Ishin

    Sat Today!

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by raindrop View Post
    Jundo,

    Thank you for the link, this is very interesting. Maybe in time I will become a Zen History Wonk.

    One specific question: in the paper the word "retribution" is used several times, and I'm wondering if that word has a specific Buddhist meaning or connotation? I'm familiar with that word to mean punishment or penalty (with a flavor of redress or setting things right)...

    Thank you,

    Gassho
    Lisa
    sat today
    Hi Lisa,

    I think they just mean Karmic bad effects from bad volitional actions. Retribution would not really be appropriate, as it is a natural process with nobody in the driver's seat seeking retribution.

    Some other words in there have meanings a bit different from the impression given. For example, "chaos" to describe the Absolute probably just means something like "great undivided swirling whole of the source", actually something positive, rather that the negative sense of "chaos" as something all confused and running out of control. In Greek myth too, I understand, "Chaos" just meant something like "the primal void", a positive meaning.

    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  10. #10
    Thank you Jundo,

    yes, I liked the way they used several words in there: "chaos," "oblivion," "traces," etc.

    I won't even ask about The Dark Learning (cue Darth Vader theme music).

    Gassho
    Lisa
    sat today

  11. #11
    I liked the way they used several words in there: "chaos," "oblivion," "traces," etc.
    I am guessing that "sitting in oblivion" is less scary than it sounds!

    The relationship between order and chaos also plays out in northern mythology such as Nordic and Celtic sagas as well as in the Indian Vedas.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    #sattoday

  12. #12
    I am guessing that "sitting in oblivion" is less scary than it sounds!
    I always visualize "chaos" (or Absolute, Emptiness, etc.) as a sort of quantum field which holds all possibilities.

    “Oblivion” sounds wonderful to me, so restful to forget our stories, thoughts, worries, obsessions, identities, just sit and fugettaboutit. Not to be confused with a dull state of inattention of course. Just a gentle releasing. What freedom!

    Gassho
    Lisa
    sat today

  13. #13
    Wonks? Lol.

    Gassho, John
    Sat Today

  14. #14
    Member Christopher's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2014
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    Alberta, Canada...beside the Rocky Mouintains
    Thanks for this interesting history of the connections between Buddhism and Taoism, Jundo. I have been interested in Taoism ever since reading "The Tao of Physics". Fritjof Capra was one of the early writers of that slew of books on Quantum Mechanics, Relativity etc in the 70's and 80's.

    Seeing the connections between Zen and Quantum Mechanics makes me think that the new 21st century Dharma will have a great social importance even outside of our duty to the teachings. We need more scientists, philosophers, and administrators trained in Eastern understanding rather than Greek and Abrahamic.

    Gassho
    Christopher
    sat today

  15. #15
    Thanks for posting, Jundo. Always happy to learn.

    Gassho

    Sat today
    求道芸化 Kyūdō Geika
    I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by raindrop View Post

    “Oblivion” sounds wonderful to me, so restful to forget our stories, thoughts, worries, obsessions, identities, just sit and fugettaboutit. Not to be confused with a dull state of inattention of course. Just a gentle releasing. What freedom!

    ...

    I won't even ask about The Dark Learning (cue Darth Vader theme music).
    Yes. I am sure that "Oblivion" is another very misleading word choice. It is probably something closer to "Emptiness" in meaning, that which is experienced when the mind is freed of "stories, worries, obsessions, identities," likes and dislikes, thoughts of this and that.

    I want to emphasize that Daoism is not the same as Buddhism, but rather, when Indian Buddhism was translated to Chinese culture through a Daoist lens, the result was something well on the way to becoming Chan/Zen. I would call Zen a successful hybrid of both parents, although it is also Buddhism through and through.

    The "Dark Learning" mentioned is also a strange name, although something well known to scholars of Chinese history. The Kanji is really better translated as "mysterious and profound", and is simply a reference to later forms of Daoism which became known as "neo-Daoism", which is what we are discussing in this article. The "dark" is not in the sense of "evil" or the like.

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/neo-daoism/

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  17. #17
    It seems many terms have negative connotations in English. Dark, emptiness, no self. To someone unfamiliar with the lingo, we probably sound like we should be wearing black and reading beat poetry in a smokey night club.

    Gassho, John
    Sat Today

  18. #18
    Thank you Jundo.

    Great read for a silent morning and a huge cup of coffee

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    #SatToday
    Hondō Kyōnin
    奔道 協忍

  19. #19
    Ah so; I've been aware of the blending of Dao and Buddhism for some time. However, it is intersesting to read how the originds are believed to have evolved. Thank you for sharing this Jundo.
    gassho

    #sattoday
    合掌 仁道 生開 - gassho, Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    日々是好日 【nichi nichi korego nichi】Every Day is a Good Day!!

  20. #20

    For Zen History Wonks Only: Paper on Origins of Early Chan (Zen) in Chinese D...

    Hi, interesting article. I am glad things have changed and Buddhism is available to us lay folk now too! A light that beautiful needs to be shared. I really don't know much of the history so there may have been some element of lay practice in the past. Perhaps not as much as today though?

    I don't know much about Daoism. It sounds fascinating. There seems to be a lot of parallels with Buddhism. I am curious about the Dao concept of the Absolute. From that short reading, it sounds like something I would like to learn more about. Any recommendations on a good Dao for beginners book?


    ..sat2day•
    Last edited by Troy; 01-18-2015 at 10:43 PM.

  21. #21
    Hey Troy,

    Tao Te Ching is a seminal work in Taoism. Then there's also the Zhuangzi. Can find the Tao The Ching online, not sure about Zhuangzi though.

    Gassho, John
    Sat Today

  22. #22
    I love the history stuff. Buddhism and Zen is such an incredible dialogue amongst culture's through time.

    Gassho

    Sat Today
    Last edited by Byrne; 01-19-2015 at 02:39 AM.

  23. #23
    Thank you, Jundo. Very much enjoy the subject. I always saw a Daoist influence in the fresh already-arrived quality of Zen. Indian Buddhism does not seem to have that, at least Theravadin Buddhism, where there can be a forlorn sense of remote truth.

    Gassho
    Daizan

    sattoday

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Nameless View Post
    Hey Troy,

    Tao Te Ching is a seminal work in Taoism. Then there's also the Zhuangzi. Can find the Tao The Ching online, not sure about Zhuangzi though.

    Gassho, John
    Sat Today
    Thanks John! I download a free copy of the Tao Te Ching from iBooks today on my lunch break. I read the first couple chapters. It resonated well with me. I can't wait to read more


    ..sat2day•

  25. #25
    Treeleaf Unsui / Engineer Sekishi's Avatar
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    Apr 2013
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    Virginia, USA
    Thank you for this post Jundo. I arrived at Zen via Taoism, so this has a very personal meaning for me.

    Gassho,
    Sekishi
    #sattoday
    sekishi
    石志

    He/him. As a novice priest-in-training, this is simply an expression of my opinion. Please take it with a grain of salt.

  26. #26
    In Chinese Taoist texts I've always wondered about what is meant by the word Heaven and whether it applies to Zen practice.

  27. #27
    Hi Troy,

    Quote Originally Posted by Troy View Post
    Thanks John! I download a free copy of the Tao Te Ching from iBooks today on my lunch break. I read the first couple chapters. It resonated well with me. I can't wait to read more
    Just an important note: There are big differences between the various translations of the Tao Te Ching.
    I read several of them, and IMHO (and in the opion of other "modern Taoists" I came across online) the Mitchell translation is one of the best:
    http://acc6.its.brooklyn.cuny.edu/~p.../taote-v3.html

    There is also a good translation by Tim Freke, but that is a bit more difficult to get (out of print AFAIK).
    The parallels to our practice are striking indeed, but there still are differences, of course...

    I am aware that I've been saying this a lot at Treeleaf, but IMHO the Tao Te Ching is a "must read" for every Zennie.
    Have fun!

    Gassho,

    Daitetsu

    #sat2day


    PS: Thanks a lot for this link, Jundo!
    no thing needs to be added

  28. #28

    For Zen History Wonks Only: Paper on Origins of Early Chan (Zen) in Chinese D...

    Hi,

    Dao # 1 rocks!

    Gassho, Jishin, _/st\_

  29. #29
    Thank you Daitetsu for the link,
    I really love read the Tao Te Ching but I left my paper book at home and I ddin´t have any electronic copy with me here.
    I really appreciate it.
    Gassho
    Miguel
    #Sat Today

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Daitetsu View Post
    Hi Troy,



    Just an important note: There are big differences between the various translations of the Tao Te Ching.
    I read several of them, and IMHO (and in the opion of other "modern Taoists" I came across online) the Mitchell translation is one of the best:
    http://acc6.its.brooklyn.cuny.edu/~p.../taote-v3.html

    There is also a good translation by Tim Freke, but that is a bit more difficult to get (out of print AFAIK).
    The parallels to our practice are striking indeed, but there still are differences, of course...

    I am aware that I've been saying this a lot at Treeleaf, but IMHO the Tao Te Ching is a "must read" for every Zennie.
    Have fun!

    Gassho,

    Daitetsu

    #sat2day


    PS: Thanks a lot for this link, Jundo!
    Hi Daitetsu,

    Thank you for the heads up on the translations. The one I got was translated in 1919 by Dwight Goddard. It has fallen out of copyright so it is in the public domain for free. I don't if it is a good one? Thank you for the link to Mitchell's translation. I will check it out. At some point, I would like to find a book with some commentary too.


    ..sat2day•

  31. #31
    Thank you.. .very interesting.

    Gassho,

    Risho
    -sattoday

  32. #32
    Hi Troy,

    Quote Originally Posted by Troy View Post
    Thank you for the heads up on the translations. The one I got was translated in 1919 by Dwight Goddard. It has fallen out of copyright so it is in the public domain for free. I don't if it is a good one?
    I haven't read that one to be honest. The Tao Te Ching is - besides the Bible - one of the most translated books there are. I think there are really about 100+ translations/interpretations out there.
    The differences between them are bigger than one might imagine.

    BTW: I have just found out that the translation by Tim Freke is available as an ebook now (a bit less than 7 bucks): clicky!
    There is also a translation by Red Pine (who translated the Heart Sutra and others as well) which is supposed to be good and which I am going to read soon: clicky!
    And here a link to the printed Mitchell translation: clicky!

    Quote Originally Posted by Troy View Post
    At some point, I would like to find a book with some commentary too.
    I would wait with that! For me part of the beauty was to discover the text for myself, to delve into it myself. It is possible you read a passage on one day and get something different out of it a month later.
    This is something to read again and again.
    If you want recommendations on commentaries, just send me a PM.

    There is a nice video introduction series about Taoism by Donna Quesada on YouTube. Here is part 1:



    (She has other videos on her channel that are not my cuppa tea, but the Tao stuff is good.)

    Nuff said, have fun!

    Gassho,

    Daitetsu

    #sat2day
    no thing needs to be added

  33. #33
    Thank you for the readings Jundo.

    I found the commentary on "The Making of Modern Buddhism" very interesting and will look into the book. One comment by the author really stood out,

    That’s not surprising: much of it is our own culture, repackaged and passed back to us.

    Familiar ideas about individual access to ultimate truth (a core theme of Protestantism), social justice, and emotional health are dressed up with Sanskrit, Pali, or Tibetan words, and supported with highly selective quotations from Buddhist scripture. That makes them intriguingly exotic, yet comfortably unthreatening.
    For myself this is one of the unfortunate outcomes of mixing religions and ideologies. I don't like the idea that things have been "dressed up" in something we Western's find to be "exotic" so that they can be resold to us. He also states,
    "When these ideologies are disguised as “timeless Eastern wisdom,” we may accept them uncritically."
    I recently had Gesshin Greenwood's blog suggested to me as a good source of reading from the perspective of a western practicing in Japan. (You might remember her from this post a couple months back.) While not academic, I really enjoyed her blog "What We Talk About When We Talk About Ducks." In it she discusses some of the same topics brought up in Modern Buddhism, including the idea of repacking Buddhism to fit a western perspective; specifically that Buddhism is typically presented as not a religion and instead meditation is something scientific. I found it to be a thought provoking commentary on how Buddhism is presented in different parts of the world.

    Gassho,

    Shoka
    Sat Today

    PS: Gesshin mentions "appropriating meditation - taking it out of a Buddhist religious context -ignores and overlooks what Buddhism has been for thousands of years." If you have not heard the term cultural appropriation before, this article is a good overview of the topic.

  34. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by Shoka View Post

    PS: Gesshin mentions "appropriating meditation - taking it out of a Buddhist religious context -ignores and overlooks what Buddhism has been for thousands of years." If you have not heard the term cultural appropriation before, this article is a good overview of the topic.
    Yes, I believe that this is precisely what has happened. However, I also believe that many of the repackagings and adaptations may actually be strengthenings and improvements (!!) to the Traditions in some ways. Or, better said, they are adaptations for modern times and societies that may work very well there, well older traditions were right for other times and societies. I think many of the changes that happened to Buddhism as it became "Buddhism modernism" and Westernized are keepers! I believe that the greater equality of women, the greater ability of lay folks to access Teachings and actually Practice, and the bringing of modern education and science to traditions sometimes lost in superstition and ignorance are but three examples.

    Gassho, Jundo

    SatToday
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  35. #35
    I don't mind Buddhism being repackaged but would be very sad if the original sources of traditional material were lost.

    In addition to the innovators making teachings relevant to the current age, I think it is very important that there are holders of traditional lineage. As well as suiting many people, it is also the wellspring from which new innovations will be made.

    Many thanks to all of the priests and monks in many traditions keeping the flame alive.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    #sattoday

  36. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by Kokuu View Post
    I don't mind Buddhism being repackaged but would be very sad if the original sources of traditional material were lost.

    In addition to the innovators making teachings relevant to the current age, I think it is very important that there are holders of traditional lineage. As well as suiting many people, it is also the wellspring from which new innovations will be made.

    Many thanks to all of the priests and monks in many traditions keeping the flame alive.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    #sattoday
    I agree too. The Traditionalists keep the Traditions alive and, moreover, some Pracitioners need more Traditional Paths. Others flourish in more modern Paths.

    It is similar to Judaism, which has very Orthodox folks who try to live as was done 500 years ago, strictly maintaining hundreds of rules of behavior and many old Traditions. At the same time, there are all manner of reformers and modernizers, trying t make things relevant for current times. If you only had one or the other, the religion would be much poorer. We need all flavors, suited to different needs.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  37. #37
    Treeleaf Unsui / Engineer Sekishi's Avatar
    Join Date
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    Virginia, USA
    Jundo,

    I hope this is not too off-topic, but I was wondering if you could offer any insight into something I have often wondered about in our tradition: how and why did the eightfold path end up with so little emphasis in Zen, but so much emphasis in many other Mahayana and Theravada traditions? Do you see this is part of the syncretic nature of Zen / Chan / Tao, a re-emphasis in other traditions, or something else?

    My own personal take on it is that much of (but not all of) the eightfold path is contained within Shikantaza, undertaking the precepts, and liturgy (which I will expand on a little elsewhere for those who are interested) - we follow the spirit of the law if not the letter. However, I would love to hear other's understanding of this difference (historical and otherwise).

    Gassho,
    Sekishi
    sekishi
    石志

    He/him. As a novice priest-in-training, this is simply an expression of my opinion. Please take it with a grain of salt.

  38. #38
    Hi Sekishi,

    Why do you say it is not emphasized? I don't see that.

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/forum...-Buddha-Basics

    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  39. #39
    Treeleaf Unsui / Engineer Sekishi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Why do you say it is not emphasized? I don't see that.

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/forum...-Buddha-Basics
    Hi Jundo,

    I do not mean to imply that it is ignored, simply not emphasized as much as some other traditions. Seeing it specifically covered in detail here at Treeleaf (in the Buddha Basics section) was part of what "won me over" initially as I was coming from a more Theravada angle at the time. In any case, it was (and is) my view (ahem, there are those views again) that in many western Zen sanghas the noble eightfold path is rarely mentioned. Perhaps it is simply understood to be the substrate of the rest of practice.

    Anyhow, when I have some time, maybe a) rewatch the Buddha Basics videos and b) work on some specific questions for the role of the eightfold path in the Soto tradition.

    Gassho,
    Sekishi
    #sattoday
    sekishi
    石志

    He/him. As a novice priest-in-training, this is simply an expression of my opinion. Please take it with a grain of salt.

  40. #40
    Treeleaf Unsui / Engineer Sekishi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sekishi View Post
    I do not mean to imply that it is ignored, simply not emphasized as much as some other traditions. Seeing it specifically covered in detail here at Treeleaf (in the Buddha Basics section) was part of what "won me over" initially as I was coming from a more Theravada angle at the time.
    I would add, that I am not trying to somehow set up Soto or Mahayana against Theravada. There are certainly Theravada traditions put much of their focus on different aspects of the Eightfold path (for example very specific Jhana attainments). Over 2600 years there has been lots of time to shift focus and create different traditions. Although I have firmly chosen the Soto way, I have deep humility and respect for the diversity of traditions.

    Gassho,
    Sekishi
    #sattoday
    sekishi
    石志

    He/him. As a novice priest-in-training, this is simply an expression of my opinion. Please take it with a grain of salt.

  41. #41
    how and why did the eightfold path end up with so little emphasis in Zen, but so much emphasis in many other Mahayana and Theravada traditions?
    Actually, it is not very emphasised in most Mahayana traditions I am aware of.

    In Tibetan traditions the eightfold path is condensed into three aspects - ethics, concentration and insight. These are then emphasised over the 8FP.

    I have always thought it is a good thing to be familiar with early Buddhist teachings as they are implicitly contained in all other traditions even if not explicitly, and find it somewhat surprising when some Mahayana students aren't aware of some quite basic cornerstones of dharma.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    #sattoday

  42. #42
    Hi Sekishi,

    I would say that is not right. Everyone emphasizes the Eightfold Path, it is basic to the Four Noble Truths, which is the foundation of all Buddhism!

    Perhaps what you are seeing is that, well, in Mahayana Buddhism, we have so many Teachings, Koans, Sutras, Stories, Precepts, More Teachings, that we cannot mention it every hour because we are talking about all that other stuff (or sitting and not talking about anything). But they are still there, and fundamental (in fact, they ARE the other Teachings!). Right Livelihood, Right Speech, Right Action etc etc ... I do not think a day goes by in which any Zen Teacher does not focus on these aspects of the Way in actual practice, if not by mentioning the specific name.

    And, yes of course, approaches and ways of explanation are rather of a different flavor from South Asian Traditions.

    Gassho, Jundo

    SatToday

    PS = I picked the name of a random Zen Teacher or two, googled Eightfold Path just to see what came up. Sure enough, they talk about it front and center ...

    Okumura ...

    https://books.google.co.jp/books?id=...ath%20&f=false

    Katagiri ...

    https://books.google.co.jp/books?id=...ulness&f=false
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-21-2015 at 08:14 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  43. #43
    Treeleaf Unsui / Engineer Sekishi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post

    I would say that is not right. Everyone emphasizes the Eightfold Path, it is basic to the Four Noble Truths, which is the foundation of all Buddhism!

    Perhaps what you are seeing is that, well, in Mahayana Buddhism, we have so many Teachings, Koans, Sutras, Stories, Precepts, More Teachings, that we cannot mention it every hour because we are talking about all that other stuff (or sitting and not talking about anything).
    Hi Jundo,

    This is pretty much in line with my original statement and understanding.

    The eightfold path is contained "within Shikantaza, undertaking the precepts, and liturgy"
    As you say, it may not be mentioned every hour or every day, but it is still the foundation of practice.

    Thank you for the clarification.

    Gassho,
    Sekishi
    #sattoday
    sekishi
    石志

    He/him. As a novice priest-in-training, this is simply an expression of my opinion. Please take it with a grain of salt.

  44. #44
    Quote Originally Posted by Daitetsu View Post
    Hi Troy,



    I haven't read that one to be honest. The Tao Te Ching is - besides the Bible - one of the most translated books there are. I think there are really about 100+ translations/interpretations out there.
    The differences between them are bigger than one might imagine.

    BTW: I have just found out that the translation by Tim Freke is available as an ebook now (a bit less than 7 bucks): clicky!
    There is also a translation by Red Pine (who translated the Heart Sutra and others as well) which is supposed to be good and which I am going to read soon: clicky!
    And here a link to the printed Mitchell translation: clicky!



    I would wait with that! For me part of the beauty was to discover the text for myself, to delve into it myself. It is possible you read a passage on one day and get something different out of it a month later.
    This is something to read again and again.
    If you want recommendations on commentaries, just send me a PM.

    There is a nice video introduction series about Taoism by Donna Quesada on YouTube. Here is part 1:



    (She has other videos on her channel that are not my cuppa tea, but the Tao stuff is good.)

    Nuff said, have fun!

    Gassho,

    Daitetsu

    #sat2day
    Hi Daitetsu,

    Thank you for taking the time to put all the recommendations together! I will check out another translation after I read the one I have. Perhaps I will find a favorite or at the very least it will give me a frame of reference of how the Tao Te Ching can be interpreted in different ways. I started watching Donna Quesada's videos. That is helpful so I don't feel like I am reading the Tao Te Ching in a vacuum of knowledge about Taoism. I recommend them to others if they are curious. Ah, now to sit back and let it all soak in.


    ..sat2day•

  45. #45
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post

    I would say that is not right. Everyone emphasizes the Eightfold Path, it is basic to the Four Noble Truths, which is the foundation of all Buddhism!

    Perhaps what you are seeing is that, well, in Mahayana Buddhism, we have so many Teachings, Koans, Sutras, Stories, Precepts, More Teachings, that we cannot mention it every hour because we are talking about all that other stuff (or sitting and not talking about anything).
    Pondering this a little more, I would actually say that almost nothing that we discuss, advise or do around this Sangha (or most any Zen Sangha) escapes being the Eightfold Path ... talking about Right View, Right Speech, Right Mindfulness etc. For example, we might have a thread about right thinking (and non-thinking), right books to read and study (and when to put them down), right ways to sit Zazen (beyond right and wrong), right goals (and no goals), gentle speech (and silence) and the like, but I do not specifically say "right now we are talking about No. 4 on the list".

    However, if one looks at was is being said or undertaken, it will be clear even without looking too much between the lines.

    Nothing escapes the Eightfold Path! (Which is also Eightfold Pathless, by the way)

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-22-2015 at 02:54 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

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