Hello 大家好!

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mairuwen
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Hello 大家好!

Post by mairuwen » Sat Mar 30, 2019 4:22 pm

Hi,

Very glad to be here! I'm a scotsman living in mainland China. I've never formally taken refuge, but Buddhism and meditation are both important parts of my life in trying to become a clearer thinker and better person.

I'd love to learn more and make friends here.

也要问一下,这儿有中国人吗?我特别想认识更多中国佛教徒或者对佛教感兴趣的人。谢谢!

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Re: Hello 大家好!

Post by DNS » Sat Mar 30, 2019 4:37 pm

Welcome to DW!

Ni hao ma (that's about all the Mandarin I know)


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Re: Hello 大家好!

Post by Admin_PC » Sat Mar 30, 2019 6:25 pm

Welcome to DharmaWheel!
:anjali:

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mairuwen
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Re: Hello 大家好!

Post by mairuwen » Sun Mar 31, 2019 2:43 pm

Thanks for the welcome! Hope everyone's been having a good weekend.

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FromTheEarth
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Re: Hello 大家好!

Post by FromTheEarth » Tue Apr 02, 2019 2:57 am

Hi, mairuwen! Welcome!

I‘m from Shanghai so if you happen to live there or have a plan to visit in the summer, please let me know!

如傑優婆塞
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Re: Hello 大家好!

Post by 如傑優婆塞 » Tue Apr 02, 2019 5:55 am

歡迎來到 Dharma Wheel :mrgreen:

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mairuwen
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Re: Hello 大家好!

Post by mairuwen » Wed Apr 03, 2019 8:18 am

Thank you both! 感恩! :smile:

Actually I live in Beijing.... And have only visited Shanghai for a couple of days before. Can I ask how life is there? Is there much Buddhist activity?

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FromTheEarth
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Re: Hello 大家好!

Post by FromTheEarth » Fri Apr 05, 2019 3:41 am

mairuwen wrote:
Wed Apr 03, 2019 8:18 am
Thank you both! 感恩! :smile:

Actually I live in Beijing.... And have only visited Shanghai for a couple of days before. Can I ask how life is there? Is there much Buddhist activity?
Oh! Beijing is nice, as there surely are more historical places including Buddhist monasteries there to visit!
The Buddhist ecosystem in Shanghai should not be quite different from other big cities: traditional, ritual-based Buddhism as the mainstream; middle-class and intellectuals obsessed with Tibetan and Theravada traditions; even fewer intellectuals interested in the scholastic writings and philosophy etc. Though if you know Chinese, next time I would strongly recommend you to go to 佛学书局 Fo'xue'shu'ju on 常德路 Changde Road, not far from the famous Jing'an Temple, a Buddhist publishing house of high reputation.

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mairuwen
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Re: Hello 大家好!

Post by mairuwen » Tue Apr 09, 2019 3:45 am

FromTheEarth wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 3:41 am
mairuwen wrote:
Wed Apr 03, 2019 8:18 am
Thank you both! 感恩! :smile:

Actually I live in Beijing.... And have only visited Shanghai for a couple of days before. Can I ask how life is there? Is there much Buddhist activity?
Oh! Beijing is nice, as there surely are more historical places including Buddhist monasteries there to visit!
The Buddhist ecosystem in Shanghai should not be quite different from other big cities: traditional, ritual-based Buddhism as the mainstream; middle-class and intellectuals obsessed with Tibetan and Theravada traditions; even fewer intellectuals interested in the scholastic writings and philosophy etc. Though if you know Chinese, next time I would strongly recommend you to go to 佛学书局 Fo'xue'shu'ju on 常德路 Changde Road, not far from the famous Jing'an Temple, a Buddhist publishing house of high reputation.
Thanks very much for the reply and recommendations! Yes, Beijing is definitely great for history. Actually I'm planning to go on a hike around 八大处 for the first time this weekend.

I've noticed Chinese people doing Tibetan style protestations and seen signs of Tibetan Buddhism around, though I've never encountered any Chinese people interested in Theravada, which is interesting. Sorry to hear not so many people are not so interested in the philosophical sides of Buddhism, especially since Chinese Buddhism has such a rich heritage both of inheriting some of the great philosophical traditions of Indian Mahayana and of developing its own modes of thought. (Both of which I wish I could study more.) Can I ask, are Buddhist philosophy and the scholastic writings one of your interests?

I'd love to visit the Buddhist publishing house you mentioned. In Beijing, 万圣书园 near Peking University has a pretty good selection of books on Buddhism- though it's not a specifically Buddhist bookshop, just a great bookshop in general. Actually, I struggle reading any kind of long text in Chinese, but I can get through very slowly with the help of a dictionary. Hopefully in a year or two I'll be much faster reading in Chinese though.

如傑優婆塞
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Re: Hello 大家好!

Post by 如傑優婆塞 » Tue Apr 09, 2019 10:48 am

...though I've never encountered any Chinese people interested in Theravada, which is interesting...
Maybe, an answer lies in the possibility of exploring the great land beyond 北京? :smile:

Actually, this link may interest you. I have been to Yúnnán's purported oldest (1,400 years old) Theravāda 景洪市勐罕鎮傣族園曼春滿佛寺 in China. Another one that peaked my interest was back many years ago, there was news (I can't find those old articles anymore) that the Thais have built a Wat within the historical grounds of Luòyáng's legendary 白馬寺 and there was some concern over the political source funding of it but the more interesting question that was raised by many was on how was it possible for two distinct Nikāyas, here being the [Chinese] Dharmaguptaka (法藏部) to share the same Vinaya sīmā boundary with the [Thai] Theravāda (上座部 / 上座部佛教) and some opine that the two are the closest 'cousin' Nikayas. Here's a sample blog for pics.

This is going to take one back into the history of Theravāda's arrival and survival in China, which is somewhat scattered and contradictory at times as seen below... Its maiden contact was said to be in 5th C.E China.
Here's a sample excerpt:
In 433 CE, Ven Devasara of Sri Lanka led a group of bhikkhunis in a ship called Nandi and gave ordination to three hundred Chinese women in the Southern Forest Monastery in Nanking, China. (see Edward Conze: Buddhist Texts Through the Ages).

And from here:
Bhikkhunis in the meantime, had not confined their services to the island. Bhikkhuni Devasara Thisarana (Tie-sa-ra) led a mission of eight to China during the reign of Mahanama (410-431CE.) She, in 429CE, went on board a ship captained by Nanda – a Lankan and ordained over three hundred in the city of Nanjing (Nanking.) In 433CE, Captain Nandi returned to the island to bring more bhikkhunis as eight was insufficient to perform an ideal dual ordination. The bhikkhunis in China had received ordination from bhikkhus which called for a dual ordination to ordain them as bhikkhunis. By the time the second group of bhikkhunis arrived in China, the first group of bhikkhunis had learnt the Chinese language. And with the arrival of the second group, the two groups conferred dual ordination to the 300 Chinese bhikkhunis – which speaks of detailed attention given on Ordination.

Dr. Goonetilleke points out that the sea voyage of Bhikkhuni Devasara took place about ten years after the Chinese pilgrim Fa-Hsien left Sri Lanka. While in Sri Lanka, he stayed two years at the Abhayagiri Vihara and bhikkhunis who went to China had been affiliated to the Abhayagiri Nunnery. Therefore, there is the possibility that Fa-Hsien who took residence in Nanjing (Nanking) took the initiative in getting down the mission to China. In Nanjing, he had undertaken translations of Sanskrit manuscripts – especially literature on Vinaya, into Chinese. Records also say that a Chinese merchant made an offering to the Abhayagiri Monastery. Bhikkhunis left for China in a merchant ship.]

Note: They had the assistance of two Indian Masters, Gunavarman & Sanghavarman to help them establish and conduct a joint ordination for the Chinese women. This link in (pages 22-25) has a description of that event.

From the earlier former link:
Dr Hua Chee Min, a Chinese professor, in his book written in Sinhala, Theravada Buddhism in China, cited 40,000 Theravada Buddhists from 5,000 temples, many of which were in Yunnan. The lineage therefore has not been broken and it later spread to Korea, Japan and Taiwan. In the Mahavamsa bhikkhunis are still mentioned up and till the 10th century.

And this curious claim...as I recall, since the Sui/Tang onwards, there was State control of ordination standardisation & streamlining that was done per the Chinese] Dharmaguptaka exclusively... And the South China Theravada Sangha which included bhikkhunis did not disappear until well into the Cultural Revolution and subsequent Christian missionary aid activities quite recently.

And this last sample...
I would like to draw your attention to the facts put forward by the Most Ven. MadihePannasihaMahanayakaThero in his article ― Is reestablishing bhikkhuni order suitable for the time ?‖(in Sinhala) (20) in his article Ven. mentioned that to inquire about Theravada system in China Ven. Himself, Ven. Soma and Kheminda were sent to China in 1946 by Mahabodhi Society in response to the invitation of Most Ven. Taishu and his disciple Ven. Fan to inquire whether Theravada tradition is preserved in China or not. Though they went for five years period, because of the internal civil war in China this mission came to an end within nine months and three Venerables came back to Sri Lanka. According to the Most Ven. Madhihe Mahanayaka Thero there were neither Theravada bhikkhus nor bhikkhunis in China. He further recorded that the bhikkhunis who met him and discussed with him are not aware of the historic incident of giving upasampada to Chinese bhikkhunis by Sri Lankan bhikkhunis. Ven. Mahanayake Thero wrote this article to Dinamina paper on 2nd January 1997.

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FromTheEarth
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Re: Hello 大家好!

Post by FromTheEarth » Wed Apr 10, 2019 4:10 am

mairuwen wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 3:45 am
FromTheEarth wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 3:41 am
mairuwen wrote:
Wed Apr 03, 2019 8:18 am
Thank you both! 感恩! :smile:

Actually I live in Beijing.... And have only visited Shanghai for a couple of days before. Can I ask how life is there? Is there much Buddhist activity?
Oh! Beijing is nice, as there surely are more historical places including Buddhist monasteries there to visit!
The Buddhist ecosystem in Shanghai should not be quite different from other big cities: traditional, ritual-based Buddhism as the mainstream; middle-class and intellectuals obsessed with Tibetan and Theravada traditions; even fewer intellectuals interested in the scholastic writings and philosophy etc. Though if you know Chinese, next time I would strongly recommend you to go to 佛学书局 Fo'xue'shu'ju on 常德路 Changde Road, not far from the famous Jing'an Temple, a Buddhist publishing house of high reputation.
Thanks very much for the reply and recommendations! Yes, Beijing is definitely great for history. Actually I'm planning to go on a hike around 八大处 for the first time this weekend.

I've noticed Chinese people doing Tibetan style protestations and seen signs of Tibetan Buddhism around, though I've never encountered any Chinese people interested in Theravada, which is interesting. Sorry to hear not so many people are not so interested in the philosophical sides of Buddhism, especially since Chinese Buddhism has such a rich heritage both of inheriting some of the great philosophical traditions of Indian Mahayana and of developing its own modes of thought. (Both of which I wish I could study more.) Can I ask, are Buddhist philosophy and the scholastic writings one of your interests?

I'd love to visit the Buddhist publishing house you mentioned. In Beijing, 万圣书园 near Peking University has a pretty good selection of books on Buddhism- though it's not a specifically Buddhist bookshop, just a great bookshop in general. Actually, I struggle reading any kind of long text in Chinese, but I can get through very slowly with the help of a dictionary. Hopefully in a year or two I'll be much faster reading in Chinese though.
:cheers: Indeed there are a lot of young people including monastics quite interested in Theravada. Some, like several of my acquaintances, would go to Burma or Thailand for long-term strict meditation training. But, of course, except in regions like Yunnan as 如傑 mentions where there has been a historical lineage and culture of Theravada, Theravada is largely discriminated by the mainstream Chinese Buddhists and not well incorporated into the existent Buddhist communities. Those interested in it acquire knowledge about it mainly through, as this is my personal perception, internet and bookstores. Off-line activities are indeed rare and this should account for your experience.

如傑 has surely visited more places than I and these are all amazing recommendations! Moreover, regarding the 傣族 area, if you are interested, the "new books in Buddhist studies" podcast has hosted Thomas Borchert last year on his new book "Educating monks: minority Buddhism on China's Southwest Border," a very interesting session.

I am personally affiliated with Tiantai 天台宗, though my teachers in real life come either from Chan or Gelug. If you are interested, I can later share some materials with you through PM.
万圣 is definitely one of the best bookstores in China. No wonder you will enjoy it! Besides reading books, since you speak Chinese, I would recommend this documentary series http://www.iqiyi.com/a_19rrjzrqol.html about Chinese Buddhism. The team was not that professional as there were tons of technical inaccuracies I could find, but the documentary itself is quite comprehensive. Watch it and it would be as if you have traveled all around China, both present and historical.
(For those not in mainland China, you may watch it on Youtube: for the complete version in Chinese https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=P ... Bm9iNea84B; for an incomplete version that has English subtitles https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=P ... Kg_uMNhiS_; the video quality is quite poor though)

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Könchok Thrinley
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Re: Hello 大家好!

Post by Könchok Thrinley » Wed Apr 10, 2019 10:58 am

Welcome and best of luck in China.
“Observing samaya involves to remain inseparable from the union of wisdom and compassion at all times, to sustain mindfulness, and to put into practice the guru’s instructions”. Garchen Rinpoche

Formerly known as Miroku.

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Re: Hello 大家好!

Post by Simon E. » Wed Apr 10, 2019 11:09 am

Welcome mairuwen :namaste:
“You don’t know it. You just know about it. That is not the same thing.”

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche to me.

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mairuwen
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Re: Hello 大家好!

Post by mairuwen » Thu Apr 11, 2019 6:23 am

如傑優婆塞 wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 10:48 am
...though I've never encountered any Chinese people interested in Theravada, which is interesting...
Maybe, an answer lies in the possibility of exploring the great land beyond 北京? :smile:

Actually, this link may interest you. I have been to Yúnnán's purported oldest (1,400 years old) Theravāda 景洪市勐罕鎮傣族園曼春滿佛寺 in China. Another one that peaked my interest was back many years ago, there was news (I can't find those old articles anymore) that the Thais have built a Wat within the historical grounds of Luòyáng's legendary 白馬寺 and there was some concern over the political source funding of it but the more interesting question that was raised by many was on how was it possible for two distinct Nikāyas, here being the [Chinese] Dharmaguptaka (法藏部) to share the same Vinaya sīmā boundary with the [Thai] Theravāda (上座部 / 上座部佛教) and some opine that the two are the closest 'cousin' Nikayas. Here's a sample blog for pics.

This is going to take one back into the history of Theravāda's arrival and survival in China, which is somewhat scattered and contradictory at times as seen below... Its maiden contact was said to be in 5th C.E China.
Here's a sample excerpt:
In 433 CE, Ven Devasara of Sri Lanka led a group of bhikkhunis in a ship called Nandi and gave ordination to three hundred Chinese women in the Southern Forest Monastery in Nanking, China. (see Edward Conze: Buddhist Texts Through the Ages).

And from here:
Bhikkhunis in the meantime, had not confined their services to the island. Bhikkhuni Devasara Thisarana (Tie-sa-ra) led a mission of eight to China during the reign of Mahanama (410-431CE.) She, in 429CE, went on board a ship captained by Nanda – a Lankan and ordained over three hundred in the city of Nanjing (Nanking.) In 433CE, Captain Nandi returned to the island to bring more bhikkhunis as eight was insufficient to perform an ideal dual ordination. The bhikkhunis in China had received ordination from bhikkhus which called for a dual ordination to ordain them as bhikkhunis. By the time the second group of bhikkhunis arrived in China, the first group of bhikkhunis had learnt the Chinese language. And with the arrival of the second group, the two groups conferred dual ordination to the 300 Chinese bhikkhunis – which speaks of detailed attention given on Ordination.

Dr. Goonetilleke points out that the sea voyage of Bhikkhuni Devasara took place about ten years after the Chinese pilgrim Fa-Hsien left Sri Lanka. While in Sri Lanka, he stayed two years at the Abhayagiri Vihara and bhikkhunis who went to China had been affiliated to the Abhayagiri Nunnery. Therefore, there is the possibility that Fa-Hsien who took residence in Nanjing (Nanking) took the initiative in getting down the mission to China. In Nanjing, he had undertaken translations of Sanskrit manuscripts – especially literature on Vinaya, into Chinese. Records also say that a Chinese merchant made an offering to the Abhayagiri Monastery. Bhikkhunis left for China in a merchant ship.]

Note: They had the assistance of two Indian Masters, Gunavarman & Sanghavarman to help them establish and conduct a joint ordination for the Chinese women. This link in (pages 22-25) has a description of that event.

From the earlier former link:
Dr Hua Chee Min, a Chinese professor, in his book written in Sinhala, Theravada Buddhism in China, cited 40,000 Theravada Buddhists from 5,000 temples, many of which were in Yunnan. The lineage therefore has not been broken and it later spread to Korea, Japan and Taiwan. In the Mahavamsa bhikkhunis are still mentioned up and till the 10th century.

And this curious claim...as I recall, since the Sui/Tang onwards, there was State control of ordination standardisation & streamlining that was done per the Chinese] Dharmaguptaka exclusively... And the South China Theravada Sangha which included bhikkhunis did not disappear until well into the Cultural Revolution and subsequent Christian missionary aid activities quite recently.

And this last sample...
I would like to draw your attention to the facts put forward by the Most Ven. MadihePannasihaMahanayakaThero in his article ― Is reestablishing bhikkhuni order suitable for the time ?‖(in Sinhala) (20) in his article Ven. mentioned that to inquire about Theravada system in China Ven. Himself, Ven. Soma and Kheminda were sent to China in 1946 by Mahabodhi Society in response to the invitation of Most Ven. Taishu and his disciple Ven. Fan to inquire whether Theravada tradition is preserved in China or not. Though they went for five years period, because of the internal civil war in China this mission came to an end within nine months and three Venerables came back to Sri Lanka. According to the Most Ven. Madhihe Mahanayaka Thero there were neither Theravada bhikkhus nor bhikkhunis in China. He further recorded that the bhikkhunis who met him and discussed with him are not aware of the historic incident of giving upasampada to Chinese bhikkhunis by Sri Lankan bhikkhunis. Ven. Mahanayake Thero wrote this article to Dinamina paper on 2nd January 1997.


Thank you so much for the information! That is all absolutely fascinating.... And yes you are totally right that I need to get myself out of Beijing a lot more, and a brief check shows that Luoyang is only four hours away by train.... so I should mark that down for a weekend trip.

Like you said, it does seem like material is extremely scattered..... Is this a topic you're specifically done research on? I'd think an English language book on Chinese Theravada would be something that would be interesting and eye-opening for a lot of people. The question of an unbroken lineage of Theravada bhikkunis existing in China within living memory is also fairly amazing if true!

Regarding Christian missionary activities amongst minority groups in China- this seems to be a huge issue. It's hard to understand how these American/Western groups are even allowed to come and do missionary work on such an industrial (and it seems quite destructive) scale.

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mairuwen
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Re: Hello 大家好!

Post by mairuwen » Thu Apr 11, 2019 6:46 am

FromTheEarth wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 4:10 am
mairuwen wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 3:45 am
FromTheEarth wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 3:41 am


Oh! Beijing is nice, as there surely are more historical places including Buddhist monasteries there to visit!
The Buddhist ecosystem in Shanghai should not be quite different from other big cities: traditional, ritual-based Buddhism as the mainstream; middle-class and intellectuals obsessed with Tibetan and Theravada traditions; even fewer intellectuals interested in the scholastic writings and philosophy etc. Though if you know Chinese, next time I would strongly recommend you to go to 佛学书局 Fo'xue'shu'ju on 常德路 Changde Road, not far from the famous Jing'an Temple, a Buddhist publishing house of high reputation.
Thanks very much for the reply and recommendations! Yes, Beijing is definitely great for history. Actually I'm planning to go on a hike around 八大处 for the first time this weekend.

I've noticed Chinese people doing Tibetan style protestations and seen signs of Tibetan Buddhism around, though I've never encountered any Chinese people interested in Theravada, which is interesting. Sorry to hear not so many people are not so interested in the philosophical sides of Buddhism, especially since Chinese Buddhism has such a rich heritage both of inheriting some of the great philosophical traditions of Indian Mahayana and of developing its own modes of thought. (Both of which I wish I could study more.) Can I ask, are Buddhist philosophy and the scholastic writings one of your interests?

I'd love to visit the Buddhist publishing house you mentioned. In Beijing, 万圣书园 near Peking University has a pretty good selection of books on Buddhism- though it's not a specifically Buddhist bookshop, just a great bookshop in general. Actually, I struggle reading any kind of long text in Chinese, but I can get through very slowly with the help of a dictionary. Hopefully in a year or two I'll be much faster reading in Chinese though.
:cheers: Indeed there are a lot of young people including monastics quite interested in Theravada. Some, like several of my acquaintances, would go to Burma or Thailand for long-term strict meditation training. But, of course, except in regions like Yunnan as 如傑 mentions where there has been a historical lineage and culture of Theravada, Theravada is largely discriminated by the mainstream Chinese Buddhists and not well incorporated into the existent Buddhist communities. Those interested in it acquire knowledge about it mainly through, as this is my personal perception, internet and bookstores. Off-line activities are indeed rare and this should account for your experience.

如傑 has surely visited more places than I and these are all amazing recommendations! Moreover, regarding the 傣族 area, if you are interested, the "new books in Buddhist studies" podcast has hosted Thomas Borchert last year on his new book "Educating monks: minority Buddhism on China's Southwest Border," a very interesting session.

I am personally affiliated with Tiantai 天台宗, though my teachers in real life come either from Chan or Gelug. If you are interested, I can later share some materials with you through PM.
万圣 is definitely one of the best bookstores in China. No wonder you will enjoy it! Besides reading books, since you speak Chinese, I would recommend this documentary series http://www.iqiyi.com/a_19rrjzrqol.html about Chinese Buddhism. The team was not that professional as there were tons of technical inaccuracies I could find, but the documentary itself is quite comprehensive. Watch it and it would be as if you have traveled all around China, both present and historical.
(For those not in mainland China, you may watch it on Youtube: for the complete version in Chinese https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=P ... Bm9iNea84B; for an incomplete version that has English subtitles https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=P ... Kg_uMNhiS_; the video quality is quite poor though)
Thank you as well for all your links and information! I've started watching about 10 minutes of the documentary on iqyi. My Chinese still need to improve a lot but I can sort of follow so far. It also seems like it would be a great source for travelling ideas. I'd be very grateful for any materials on Chinese Buddhism, though obviously hope that won't be inconvenient!

Would it be alright to ask how you came to be affiliated with 天台i? Reading English books and online materials about Chinese Buddhism it seems to be treated almost as just a historical school in China(apart from its Japanese and Korean branches), so much so that I was surprised when reading an English version of the autobiography of 虚云法师 and he mentions training with a 天台 master.

I have to say, having received such a wealth of pointers from yourself and 如傑 I feel very glad indeed that I joined the forum!

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mairuwen
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Re: Hello 大家好!

Post by mairuwen » Thu Apr 11, 2019 8:41 am

Also thanks Miroku and £$&^@ for your welcomes!

如傑優婆塞
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Re: Hello 大家好!

Post by 如傑優婆塞 » Thu Apr 11, 2019 9:38 am

Is this a topic you're specifically done research on? I'd think an English language book on Chinese Theravada would be something that would be interesting and eye-opening for a lot of people.
To some extent but not too extensive plus this was many years ago and done as a side interest. Having started off from this tradition when I transitioned from Christianity, I do have a lingering fondness for them. I have tried searching for English texts on this subject but to no avail so far. You may have some luck asking on the sister site.
The question of an unbroken lineage of Theravada bhikkunis existing in China within living memory is also fairly amazing if true!
I am quite sure that it was a short-lived one for two reasons:
Firstly, the Sui-Tang State control of monastic ordination and standardization imposition of the Chinese Dharmaguptaka. That spelt the end of whatever other Nikāyas (which are non-Chinese Dharmaguptaka) that may have done past ordinations. Mind you, most works on this topic cite at least 5 major up until 7-8 Nikāyas whose Vinayas have been transmitted into China and I haven't even included Theravāda yet, which strangely was either not mentioned or ignored. There's a parallel to this in Tibetan Buddhism which I have read about, though I can't recall the name of the king back then; where during the time of the great Paṇḍita Atiśa Dīpaṃkara Śrījñāna, who was ordained under the Mahāsāṃghika, was told not to ordain anyone under that Nikāya as they already have the Mūlasarvāstivāda in place.

Secondly, the Theravāda Bhikkhunī conundrum would not have arisen in our time if there was a surviving lineage but instead, we have witnessed the modern creation of thilashins, maechis & dasa sil matas to compensate for the more serious Upāsikās who wanted more bite into the spiritual life, giving them a semblance that they're some kind of sāmaṇerīs when it's more like the male anagārikās scenario. Most are stuck with temple housekeeping duties and the lucky few given the right to do Dhamma sharing / teaching. When I was visiting a Thai temple in Śrāvastī, India; I asked the maechis there if any of them aspire to be a Bhikkhunī and all of them rejoined back to me the familiar Thai Buddhist propaganda on that issue. On top of this, those who are dissatisfied with their condition, these brave few sought ordination under the Chinese Dharmaguptaka as Bhikṣuṇīs and returned back to their countries only to encounter Sangha proscription and had to remain incognito. Of course, these days the Bhikkhunīs have gained more acceptance in the wider modern circles but the official conservative stances of the three major Theravāda lineages remains adamant on not recognising them plus they were even derided as Mahāyānist ordination & monastics, a common straw man diatribe.

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mairuwen
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Re: Hello 大家好!

Post by mairuwen » Sat Apr 13, 2019 6:23 pm

如傑優婆塞 wrote:
Thu Apr 11, 2019 9:38 am
Is this a topic you're specifically done research on? I'd think an English language book on Chinese Theravada would be something that would be interesting and eye-opening for a lot of people.
To some extent but not too extensive plus this was many years ago and done as a side interest. Having started off from this tradition when I transitioned from Christianity, I do have a lingering fondness for them. I have tried searching for English texts on this subject but to no avail so far. You may have some luck asking on the sister site.
The question of an unbroken lineage of Theravada bhikkunis existing in China within living memory is also fairly amazing if true!
I am quite sure that it was a short-lived one for two reasons:
Firstly, the Sui-Tang State control of monastic ordination and standardization imposition of the Chinese Dharmaguptaka. That spelt the end of whatever other Nikāyas (which are non-Chinese Dharmaguptaka) that may have done past ordinations. Mind you, most works on this topic cite at least 5 major up until 7-8 Nikāyas whose Vinayas have been transmitted into China and I haven't even included Theravāda yet, which strangely was either not mentioned or ignored. There's a parallel to this in Tibetan Buddhism which I have read about, though I can't recall the name of the king back then; where during the time of the great Paṇḍita Atiśa Dīpaṃkara Śrījñāna, who was ordained under the Mahāsāṃghika, was told not to ordain anyone under that Nikāya as they already have the Mūlasarvāstivāda in place.

Secondly, the Theravāda Bhikkhunī conundrum would not have arisen in our time if there was a surviving lineage but instead, we have witnessed the modern creation of thilashins, maechis & dasa sil matas to compensate for the more serious Upāsikās who wanted more bite into the spiritual life, giving them a semblance that they're some kind of sāmaṇerīs when it's more like the male anagārikās scenario. Most are stuck with temple housekeeping duties and the lucky few given the right to do Dhamma sharing / teaching. When I was visiting a Thai temple in Śrāvastī, India; I asked the maechis there if any of them aspire to be a Bhikkhunī and all of them rejoined back to me the familiar Thai Buddhist propaganda on that issue. On top of this, those who are dissatisfied with their condition, these brave few sought ordination under the Chinese Dharmaguptaka as Bhikṣuṇīs and returned back to their countries only to encounter Sangha proscription and had to remain incognito. Of course, these days the Bhikkhunīs have gained more acceptance in the wider modern circles but the official conservative stances of the three major Theravāda lineages remains adamant on not recognising them plus they were even derided as Mahāyānist ordination & monastics, a common straw man diatribe.
That is a really sad that there are so many obstacles for Buddhist women who want to leave home and and ordain in the Theravada tradition. I had heard about Thai women become ordained through Chinese Mahayana groups, maybe from Taiwan, and I can imagine that it could also add a sectarian element into the debate. It seems likely those Bhikkhunis who would go through all this for the sake of following the Buddha's path of renunciation must be very dedicated and inspiring people.

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FromTheEarth
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Re: Hello 大家好!

Post by FromTheEarth » Sun Apr 14, 2019 3:17 am

mairuwen wrote:
Thu Apr 11, 2019 6:46 am
FromTheEarth wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 4:10 am
mairuwen wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 3:45 am


Thanks very much for the reply and recommendations! Yes, Beijing is definitely great for history. Actually I'm planning to go on a hike around 八大处 for the first time this weekend.

I've noticed Chinese people doing Tibetan style protestations and seen signs of Tibetan Buddhism around, though I've never encountered any Chinese people interested in Theravada, which is interesting. Sorry to hear not so many people are not so interested in the philosophical sides of Buddhism, especially since Chinese Buddhism has such a rich heritage both of inheriting some of the great philosophical traditions of Indian Mahayana and of developing its own modes of thought. (Both of which I wish I could study more.) Can I ask, are Buddhist philosophy and the scholastic writings one of your interests?

I'd love to visit the Buddhist publishing house you mentioned. In Beijing, 万圣书园 near Peking University has a pretty good selection of books on Buddhism- though it's not a specifically Buddhist bookshop, just a great bookshop in general. Actually, I struggle reading any kind of long text in Chinese, but I can get through very slowly with the help of a dictionary. Hopefully in a year or two I'll be much faster reading in Chinese though.
:cheers: Indeed there are a lot of young people including monastics quite interested in Theravada. Some, like several of my acquaintances, would go to Burma or Thailand for long-term strict meditation training. But, of course, except in regions like Yunnan as 如傑 mentions where there has been a historical lineage and culture of Theravada, Theravada is largely discriminated by the mainstream Chinese Buddhists and not well incorporated into the existent Buddhist communities. Those interested in it acquire knowledge about it mainly through, as this is my personal perception, internet and bookstores. Off-line activities are indeed rare and this should account for your experience.

如傑 has surely visited more places than I and these are all amazing recommendations! Moreover, regarding the 傣族 area, if you are interested, the "new books in Buddhist studies" podcast has hosted Thomas Borchert last year on his new book "Educating monks: minority Buddhism on China's Southwest Border," a very interesting session.

I am personally affiliated with Tiantai 天台宗, though my teachers in real life come either from Chan or Gelug. If you are interested, I can later share some materials with you through PM.
万圣 is definitely one of the best bookstores in China. No wonder you will enjoy it! Besides reading books, since you speak Chinese, I would recommend this documentary series http://www.iqiyi.com/a_19rrjzrqol.html about Chinese Buddhism. The team was not that professional as there were tons of technical inaccuracies I could find, but the documentary itself is quite comprehensive. Watch it and it would be as if you have traveled all around China, both present and historical.
(For those not in mainland China, you may watch it on Youtube: for the complete version in Chinese https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=P ... Bm9iNea84B; for an incomplete version that has English subtitles https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=P ... Kg_uMNhiS_; the video quality is quite poor though)
Thank you as well for all your links and information! I've started watching about 10 minutes of the documentary on iqyi. My Chinese still need to improve a lot but I can sort of follow so far. It also seems like it would be a great source for travelling ideas. I'd be very grateful for any materials on Chinese Buddhism, though obviously hope that won't be inconvenient!

Would it be alright to ask how you came to be affiliated with 天台i? Reading English books and online materials about Chinese Buddhism it seems to be treated almost as just a historical school in China(apart from its Japanese and Korean branches), so much so that I was surprised when reading an English version of the autobiography of 虚云法师 and he mentions training with a 天台 master.

I have to say, having received such a wealth of pointers from yourself and 如傑 I feel very glad indeed that I joined the forum!
Haha you are welcome! For orthodox Chinese Buddhist views, 如傑 posted some really good materials elsewhere. It would be easy for you to get the books in China (学佛群疑&正信的佛教 by 圣严法师;成佛之道 by 印顺导师)。

Regarding my Tiantai affiliation, it has been a rather complicated story. In brief, my Chan master once occasionally lectured on an introductory text to Tiantai doctrines, i.e., 教观纲宗科释. Having read Buddhist literature extensively and had a bunch of questions, I was struck by the way Tiantai thought combined all the sutras & sastras I'd read so far into a meaningful structure and solved much of my puzzlement about certain doctrines & approaching the history of Buddhism with a background of secular scholarship. Almost immediately had I identified myself as a student of Tiantai.

With respect to the school in general, Tiantai underwent a systematic decline since the end of Song dynasty, as all other scholastic schools did. It went through a minor revival by the time of Ou'yi Zhi'xu, the author of the text I just mentioned above. Since the later 19th century and the early 20th century, however, masters such as 谛闲 have significantly revived the School again. That revival has some far-reaching effects and accounts for the most of the Tiantai we see today.
That said, the lineage of Tiantai itself has not broken, or so I tend to think based on my knowledge. There were always marginalized groups who at least nominally preserved the lineage, although the School was unable to compete with Chan or Pure Land either in the imperial courts or among ordinary people. Those Tiantai practitioners have also ceased to maintain many major practices, surely, and been assimilated to Chan & Pure Land profoundly. Nevertheless, Chan and Pure Land were not good at constructing their own doctrinal systems. Guess what? When the Chan and Pure Land masters preached on sutras, they mostly relied on a combination of Tiantai and Huayan systems, mostly Tiantai, within the last few centuries. Therefore, while people no longer affiliated themselves with Tiantai, their understanding of the Buddhist teachings were largely shaped by it as you would find in various (pre-)modern commentaries, treatises, teachings etc. Also for this reason, I received teaching about Tiantai initially from a Chan master. Today, moreover, there is an increasing number of institutions and masters devoted to reviving and maintaining the Tiantai tradition, so I hope it would no longer be viewed as a "dead" tradition in the near future.

humble.student
Posts: 251
Joined: Wed Aug 19, 2015 1:35 pm

Re: Hello 大家好!

Post by humble.student » Mon Apr 15, 2019 8:25 am

Hello,

The books 正信的佛教 by 圣严法师;成佛之道 by 印顺导师 are both available in English, as it happens, if that is easier to read; "Orthodox Chinese Buddhism" by Ven. Sheng-yen and "The Way to Buddhahood" by Ven. Yin-shun.

Beyond reading though, consider a visit to Guangji Temple 广济寺 to the west, which is the headquarters of the Buddhist Association, and which also hosts classes and other activities (including refuge and precepts a few times a year). There is also Fayuan Temple 法源寺, to the south, which is the main Buddhist seminary in Beijing. They also have classes and the like but you'll need to check if those are open to laypeople. You can go and visit and have a look around and chat with the monks or volunteers and staff and find out more.

There is also a nice nunnery behind the Lama Temple, Tongjiao Temple 通教寺, which is worth a visit. Speak to the older nuns or volunteers if you can, they have a wealth of stories...

And if you want to hear something rather different, head to Zhihua Temple 智化寺 to the east of the Forbidden City and attend one of the musical performances - there are no longer any monks there but the current crop of performers learned from the last generation of monks trained in the temple's musical tradition.

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