Chan Buddhism

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
User avatar
bodom
Posts: 6184
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:18 pm
Location: San Antonio, Texas

Chan Buddhism

Post by bodom » Sun Oct 15, 2017 10:46 pm

I've been doing some reading lately on Chan Buddhism. I have always had a deep affinity for Soto Zen practice as that was the tradition I started in.

I have noticed that Chan Buddhism, despite the focus on the Bodhisattva path, also emphasizes key Early Buddhist concepts like the four noble truths, eightfold path, three characteristics and developing samatha and vipassana together etc. and more so than any other Mahayana tradition I have come across. There is also a focus on the study of the agamas as well as the prajna parimitas.

Has anyone here experience with practicing in the Chan tradition? Any recommended books? I feel Chan can be a complimentary to my meditation practice.

Thanks.

:namaste:
To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With no struggling, no thinking,
the mind, still,
will see cause and effect
vanishing in the Void.
Attached to nothing, letting go:
Know that this is the way
to allay all stress.

- Upasika Kee Nanayan

User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
Posts: 19453
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

Re: Chan Buddhism

Post by retrofuturist » Sun Oct 15, 2017 10:54 pm

Greetings,
bodom wrote:
Sun Oct 15, 2017 10:46 pm
Has anyone here experience with practicing in the Chan tradition? Any recommended books? I feel Chan can be a complimentary to my meditation practice.
I've read a book or two, and found them to be quite interesting... and what I found overlaps with your observations.

The only thing that's really resonated that I'd recommend is Verses on the Faith Mind by Chien-chih Seng-ts'an

:sage:

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

User avatar
Javi
Posts: 467
Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2012 5:40 pm
Location: Sacramento, CA

Re: Chan Buddhism

Post by Javi » Sun Oct 15, 2017 11:34 pm

The Chinese Chan Buddhists are much more likely to refer to the Agamas than the Japanese AFAIK.

The Vietnamese too, possibility because of their closeness to Theravada countries (and the fact that there is Vietnamese theravada). Also Thich Nat Hahn is one of the few Zen folks I've seen actually cite and publish material on the early Buddhist texts. And of course one cannot fail to mention venerable Thich Minh Chau.
Vayadhammā saṅkhārā appamādena sampādethā — All things decay and disappoint, it is through vigilance that you succeed — Mahāparinibbāna Sutta

Self-taught poverty is a help toward philosophy, for the things which philosophy attempts to teach by reasoning, poverty forces us to practice. — Diogenes of Sinope

I have seen all things that are done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a chase after wind — Ecclesiastes 1.14

User avatar
Will
Posts: 866
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 11:26 pm
Location: So Cal

Re: Chan Buddhism

Post by Will » Sun Oct 15, 2017 11:44 pm

bodom wrote:
Sun Oct 15, 2017 10:46 pm

Has anyone here experience with practicing in the Chan tradition? Any recommended books? I feel Chan can be a complimentary to my meditation practice.
Thanks.
:namaste:
Master Hsuan Hua taught whatever practice would benefit beings, but his roots and main practice was Chan. There are several of his books (and e-books) focused on Chan. Try this one the Chan Handbook which is also in print I think.

http://www.cttbusa.org/chan/chan.asp

Also this one translated by a disciple of Master Hua, published by Kalavinka Press:
The Six Dharma Gates to the Sublime
By Shramana Zhiyi (Chih-i) - (538-597 ce)

This classic, by Master Zhiyi, explains the six practices crucial to success in traditional Indian Buddhist breath (anapana) and calming-and-insight (samatha-vipasyana) meditation. Correctly implemented, these six "gates" lead the practitioner to realize the third of the four truths (cessation), of which the "sublimity" referenced in the title is one of the four canonically-described practice aspects.
Last edited by Will on Sun Oct 15, 2017 11:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Whatever one frequently thinks and ponders upon, that will become the inclination of his mind. -- MN 19

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 15663
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: Chan Buddhism

Post by mikenz66 » Sun Oct 15, 2017 11:54 pm

Hi Bodom,

Perhaps you could be a little more specific about what you are asking. In broad terms "Chan" encompasses quite a lot of East Asian Buddhism:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chan_Buddhism

I have not had specific experience of practice, but I know a few Fo Guang Shan people though various connections. Ven Huifeng, a Fo Guang Shan Bhikkshu from New Zealand used to post here, and is easy to find: https://www.facebook.com/huifeng.shi He did a PhD in Hong Kong and now teaches in Taiwan.

The meditative practises Ven Huifeng, and others, describe is, as you say, development of samatha and vipassana that would not seem out of place in a Theravada context. Fo Guang Shan, of course, also emphasises community engagement, and the New Zealand Abbess (no problem with Bhikshuni ordination in East Asia...) often says that her practice is engagement. They have strong connections with the community, and ran a relief centre after the earthquakes of 2011.

:heart:
Mike

User avatar
bodom
Posts: 6184
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:18 pm
Location: San Antonio, Texas

Re: Chan Buddhism

Post by bodom » Mon Oct 16, 2017 12:07 am

mikenz66 wrote:
Sun Oct 15, 2017 11:54 pm
Hi Bodom,

Perhaps you could be a little more specific about what you are asking. In broad terms "Chan" encompasses quite a lot of East Asian Buddhism:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chan_Buddhism

I have not had specific experience of practice, but I know a few Fo Guang Shan people though various connections. Ven Huifeng, a Fo Guang Shan Bhikkshu from New Zealand used to post here, and is easy to find: https://www.facebook.com/huifeng.shi He did a PhD in Hong Kong and now teaches in Taiwan.

The meditative practises Ven Huifeng, and others, describe is, as you say, development of samatha and vipassana that would not seem out of place in a Theravada context. Fo Guang Shan, of course, also emphasises community engagement, and the New Zealand Abbess (no problem with Bhikshuni ordination in East Asia...) often says that her practice is engagement. They have strong connections with the community, and ran a relief centre after the earthquakes of 2011.

:heart:
Mike
Thanks Mike. In particular I'm asking about Chinese Buddhism.

:namaste:
To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With no struggling, no thinking,
the mind, still,
will see cause and effect
vanishing in the Void.
Attached to nothing, letting go:
Know that this is the way
to allay all stress.

- Upasika Kee Nanayan

User avatar
bodom
Posts: 6184
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:18 pm
Location: San Antonio, Texas

Re: Chan Buddhism

Post by bodom » Mon Oct 16, 2017 12:08 am

retrofuturist wrote:
Sun Oct 15, 2017 10:54 pm
Greetings,
bodom wrote:
Sun Oct 15, 2017 10:46 pm
Has anyone here experience with practicing in the Chan tradition? Any recommended books? I feel Chan can be a complimentary to my meditation practice.
I've read a book or two, and found them to be quite interesting... and what I found overlaps with your observations.

The only thing that's really resonated that I'd recommend is Verses on the Faith Mind by Chien-chih Seng-ts'an

:sage:

Metta,
Paul. :)
Thanks retro I've always been fond of that discourse.

:namaste:
To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With no struggling, no thinking,
the mind, still,
will see cause and effect
vanishing in the Void.
Attached to nothing, letting go:
Know that this is the way
to allay all stress.

- Upasika Kee Nanayan

User avatar
bodom
Posts: 6184
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:18 pm
Location: San Antonio, Texas

Re: Chan Buddhism

Post by bodom » Mon Oct 16, 2017 12:11 am

Will wrote:
Sun Oct 15, 2017 11:44 pm
bodom wrote:
Sun Oct 15, 2017 10:46 pm

Has anyone here experience with practicing in the Chan tradition? Any recommended books? I feel Chan can be a complimentary to my meditation practice.
Thanks.
:namaste:
Master Hsuan Hua taught whatever practice would benefit beings, but his roots and main practice was Chan. There are several of his books (and e-books) focused on Chan. Try this one the Chan Handbook which is also in print I think.

http://www.cttbusa.org/chan/chan.asp

Also this one translated by a disciple of Master Hua, published by Kalavinka Press:
The Six Dharma Gates to the Sublime
By Shramana Zhiyi (Chih-i) - (538-597 ce)

This classic, by Master Zhiyi, explains the six practices crucial to success in traditional Indian Buddhist breath (anapana) and calming-and-insight (samatha-vipasyana) meditation. Correctly implemented, these six "gates" lead the practitioner to realize the third of the four truths (cessation), of which the "sublimity" referenced in the title is one of the four canonically-described practice aspects.
Thanks Will. I've read some works by Hsuan Hua as many of Ajahn Chahs western disciples at Abhayagiri mention him in there teachings. He is actually the one who donated the land to them to build Abhayagiri.

:namaste:
To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With no struggling, no thinking,
the mind, still,
will see cause and effect
vanishing in the Void.
Attached to nothing, letting go:
Know that this is the way
to allay all stress.

- Upasika Kee Nanayan

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 15663
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: Chan Buddhism

Post by mikenz66 » Mon Oct 16, 2017 12:21 am

bodom wrote:
Mon Oct 16, 2017 12:07 am
Thanks Mike. In particular I'm asking about Chinese Buddhism.
OK. I guess that Chinese Chan is particularly preserved/accessible in Taiwan (and Taiwan-connected organisations) these days. I'm no expert on the historical details, but I gather that a lot of Bhkkhunis and Bhikkhus migrated to Taiwan to escape Communist persecution. In these talks on Bhikkhunis: http://www.audiodharma.org/series/7/talk/8223/ it is stated that the Bhikshunis were more proactive in leaving, which is why Bhikshunis far outnumber Bhikshus there. The large Bhikshuni population also explains why a number of Theravada Bhikkhuni ordinations have involved Fo Guang Shan Bhikshunis.

:heart:
Mike

Caodemarte
Posts: 831
Joined: Fri May 01, 2015 3:21 pm

Re: Chan Buddhism

Post by Caodemarte » Mon Oct 16, 2017 12:56 am

Fo Guang Shan Is not a specifically Chan school, but a new religious order.

Dharma Drum is a good resource (http://www.dharmadrum.org/) for information on orthodox, yet modern, Chan. Japanese Soto and Rinzai Zen (Korean Seon, and Vietnamese Thien come from Chan. There are no substantive differences among the various national forms, although the emphasis of individual teachers and sub-traditions may vary In terms of style Chinese Buddhism in general is much , much ess sectarian than traditional Japanese forms.

I would not say that the 4NT, etc. are not stressed, but it is usually taken for granted by teachers that students are already familiar with this.

Zen meditation is usually considered to be both samatha and vipassana or the essence of both by Zen/Chan/Seon/Thien.

User avatar
bodom
Posts: 6184
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:18 pm
Location: San Antonio, Texas

Re: Chan Buddhism

Post by bodom » Mon Oct 16, 2017 1:20 am

Javi wrote:
Sun Oct 15, 2017 11:34 pm
The Chinese Chan Buddhists are much more likely to refer to the Agamas than the Japanese AFAIK.

The Vietnamese too, possibility because of their closeness to Theravada countries (and the fact that there is Vietnamese theravada). Also Thich Nat Hahn is one of the few Zen folks I've seen actually cite and publish material on the early Buddhist texts. And of course one cannot fail to mention venerable Thich Minh Chau.
Thich Naht Hahn was actually my introduction to the Pali Suttas with his translations.

:namaste:
To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With no struggling, no thinking,
the mind, still,
will see cause and effect
vanishing in the Void.
Attached to nothing, letting go:
Know that this is the way
to allay all stress.

- Upasika Kee Nanayan

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 15663
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: Chan Buddhism

Post by mikenz66 » Mon Oct 16, 2017 1:33 am

Caodemarte wrote:
Mon Oct 16, 2017 12:56 am
Fo Guang Shan Is not a specifically Chan school, but a new religious order.
Well, yes, they describe themselves as a combination of Buddhist styles. Nevertheless, as I said, much of what I have heard/read from Ven Huifeng about mediation is quite standard. And hearing the Bhikshunis I have met talk about how tough their training was was very interesting. As in Theravada, it would be a mistake to confuse lay outreach activities with the serious sides of practice.

:heart:
Mike

User avatar
aflatun
Posts: 808
Joined: Fri Sep 16, 2016 2:40 pm
Location: Bay Area, CA

Re: Chan Buddhism

Post by aflatun » Mon Oct 16, 2017 1:54 am

bodom wrote:
Sun Oct 15, 2017 10:46 pm
I've been doing some reading lately on Chan Buddhism. I have always had a deep affinity for Soto Zen practice as that was the tradition I started in.

I have noticed that Chan Buddhism, despite the focus on the Bodhisattva path, also emphasizes key Early Buddhist concepts like the four noble truths, eightfold path, three characteristics and developing samatha and vipassana together more so than any other Mahayana tradition I have come across. There is also a focus on the study of the agamas as well as the prajna parimitas.

Has anyone here experience with practicing in the Chan tradition? Any recommended books? I feel Chan can be a complimentary to my meditation practice.

Thanks.

:namaste:
I have the same affinity you have it seems, and the same reading of Chan. I'm a big fan of master Sheng Yen (you could check out his Silent Illumination; many of his talks are on youtube, and his writings can be found on the internet). Also his disciple Guo Gu (Jimmy Yu) posts at ZFI and has great articles out there, and a few books I've yet to delve into. If you're interested in the practice of hua tou I can recommend a book by another Sheng Yen disciple but the name escapes me at the moment.
"People often get too quick to say 'there's no self. There's no self...no self...no self.' There is self, there is focal point, its not yours. That's what not self is."

Ninoslav Ñāṇamoli
Senses and the Thought-1, 42:53

"Those who create constructs about the Buddha,
Who is beyond construction and without exhaustion,
Are thereby damaged by their constructs;
They fail to see the Thus-Gone.

That which is the nature of the Thus-Gone
Is also the nature of this world.
There is no nature of the Thus-Gone.
There is no nature of the world."

Nagarjuna
MMK XXII.15-16

User avatar
bodom
Posts: 6184
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:18 pm
Location: San Antonio, Texas

Re: Chan Buddhism

Post by bodom » Mon Oct 16, 2017 2:27 am

aflatun wrote:
Mon Oct 16, 2017 1:54 am
bodom wrote:
Sun Oct 15, 2017 10:46 pm
I've been doing some reading lately on Chan Buddhism. I have always had a deep affinity for Soto Zen practice as that was the tradition I started in.

I have noticed that Chan Buddhism, despite the focus on the Bodhisattva path, also emphasizes key Early Buddhist concepts like the four noble truths, eightfold path, three characteristics and developing samatha and vipassana together more so than any other Mahayana tradition I have come across. There is also a focus on the study of the agamas as well as the prajna parimitas.

Has anyone here experience with practicing in the Chan tradition? Any recommended books? I feel Chan can be a complimentary to my meditation practice.

Thanks.

:namaste:
I have the same affinity you have it seems, and the same reading of Chan. I'm a big fan of master Sheng Yen (you could check out his Silent Illumination; many of his talks are on youtube, and his writings can be found on the internet). Also his disciple Guo Gu (Jimmy Yu) posts at ZFI and has great articles out there, and a few books I've yet to delve into. If you're interested in the practice of hua tou I can recommend a book by another Sheng Yen disciple but the name escapes me at the moment.
Thanks aflatun. Sheng Yen is actually who I have been reading. I have a copy of Silent Illumination sitting next to me. It is the book that sparked my interest in Chan. It is an excellent book. Very simple but very profound. I have another book of his that has been very helpful called Dharma Drum.

I am going to be ordering his book on the 37 bodhi-pakkhiya-dhammas or wings to awakening. I've never heard any Mahayana teachers ever mention them before. Chan is an awesome tradition and I'm glad I came across Sheng Yens books.

:namaste:
To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With no struggling, no thinking,
the mind, still,
will see cause and effect
vanishing in the Void.
Attached to nothing, letting go:
Know that this is the way
to allay all stress.

- Upasika Kee Nanayan

Garrib
Posts: 414
Joined: Mon May 30, 2016 8:35 pm

Re: Chan Buddhism

Post by Garrib » Mon Oct 16, 2017 2:39 am

Cool thread! I think I might try reading some Sheng Yen too.

Caodemarte
Posts: 831
Joined: Fri May 01, 2015 3:21 pm

Re: Chan Buddhism

Post by Caodemarte » Mon Oct 16, 2017 3:03 am

Garrib wrote:
Mon Oct 16, 2017 2:39 am
Cool thread! I think I might try reading some Sheng Yen too.
I did not mention that Sheng Yen was the founder of Dharma Drum
(http://www.dharmadrum.org/) and there are links to some of his writings, videos, his successors’ activities, and various centers at the website.
Last edited by Caodemarte on Mon Oct 16, 2017 3:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
DNS
Site Admin
Posts: 11462
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:15 am
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada, Estados Unidos de América
Contact:

Re: Chan Buddhism

Post by DNS » Mon Oct 16, 2017 3:06 am

I like Chan too! If I were not Theravada / Modern Theravada, I'd probably be practicing Chan. I hosted a Chan event at my place last year.

http://fulllotus.org

User avatar
bodom
Posts: 6184
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:18 pm
Location: San Antonio, Texas

Re: Chan Buddhism

Post by bodom » Mon Oct 16, 2017 3:57 am

DNS wrote:
Mon Oct 16, 2017 3:06 am
I like Chan too! If I were not Theravada / Modern Theravada, I'd probably be practicing Chan.
Hey David

I have always said that as well. I use sort of a combination of the two in my meditation practice which is influenced by Ajahn Sumedho's instructions. In turn Ajahn Sumedho's teachings are heavily influenced by the time he spent practicing first with a Chan teacher and then with Ajahn Chah. When Ajahn Sumedho arrived at Ajahn Chahs monastery Chah asked him what sort of meditation he was doing. Sumedho answered that he had been using instructions he learned from a Chan retreat and said he had gotten good results. Ajahn Chah said good. Keep practicing. The two traditions are very complimentary.

:namaste:
To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With no struggling, no thinking,
the mind, still,
will see cause and effect
vanishing in the Void.
Attached to nothing, letting go:
Know that this is the way
to allay all stress.

- Upasika Kee Nanayan

User avatar
bodom
Posts: 6184
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:18 pm
Location: San Antonio, Texas

Re: Chan Buddhism

Post by bodom » Mon Oct 16, 2017 4:19 am

Historically there have been differences of opinion about the relative merits of Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism and, if you read much of the literature, they would seem to be quite divergent in their approaches toward Buddhist practice - yet there also seem to be some tremendous affinities.

When I arrived at the International Forest Monastery in Thailand, I had never read any Buddhist books and I wasn't actually in search of becoming a Buddhist monk. I was a wanderer, a free-lance spiritual seeker, and I just happened to turn up at this forest monastery that Ajahn Sumedho had established a couple of years before, basically as a place for a free meal and a roof over my head for a few nights. Little did I expect, some twelve or thirteen years later, that I would be doing what I am doing now. But when I went there and asked the monks about Buddhism, to explain things a little bit for me so that I could get a feel for what their life was about, the first thing one of them did was to give me a copy of a book of talks by a Zen Master, and he said, "Don't bother trying to read the Theravada literature; it's terribly boring, very dry. Read this, it is pretty much the same thing that we're doing, and it will give you a sense of what our practice is about. And I thought, "Well, obviously these guys are not too hung up on their tradition." The book was 'Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind.'

So, one could see right from the beginning that, even though there is a strength to the particular form within any Buddhist country, one is not necessarily constricted or limited by that. I was there for months before I even heard of 'Theravada' and 'Mahayana', let alone the differences of opinion between them. It seemed that when you actually lived the life there really wasn't any great disparity, but if you thought about it a lot, and if you were the kind of person who wrote histories and books and had got into the political side of religious life, then that was where the divergences occurred.

I have heard Ajahn Sumedho recount a few times over the years that, for the first year of his monastic life, he had been practising using the instructions from a Ch'an meditation retreat given by the Ven. Master Hsu Yun, and that he had used the Dharma talks from that retreat given in China as his basic meditation instruction. When he went to Wat Pah Pong, Ajahn Chah asked him what kind of meditation he had been doing, at first he thought, "Oh no, he's going to get me to give this up and do his … method." But, when Ajahn Sumedho described what he had been doing and mentioned that it had had excellent results, Ajahn Chah said, "Oh, very good, just carry on doing that."
https://www.budsas.org/ebud/ebdha082.htm

:anjali:
To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With no struggling, no thinking,
the mind, still,
will see cause and effect
vanishing in the Void.
Attached to nothing, letting go:
Know that this is the way
to allay all stress.

- Upasika Kee Nanayan

User avatar
Mr Man
Posts: 3209
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2011 8:42 am

Re: Chan Buddhism

Post by Mr Man » Mon Oct 16, 2017 6:46 am

Essentials of Chan Practice by Master Hsu-yun

http://www.thezensite.com/ZenTeachings/ ... _Words.pdf

EMPTY CLOUD
The Autobiography of the Chinese Zen Master

http://www.thezensite.com/ZenTeachings/ ... Xu_Yun.pdf


"The Zen Teaching of Huang Po on the Transmission of Mind" (not sure if this can be read online).

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 69 guests