Hello 大家好!

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mairuwen
Posts: 11
Joined: Sat Mar 30, 2019 3:47 pm

Re: Hello 大家好!

Post by mairuwen » Wed Apr 17, 2019 3:49 am

humble.student wrote:
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.
Thanks! I think I actually have the English version of "the Way to Buddhahood" sitting unread on my kindle right now. I should really get round to reading it! That would be great to be able to meet people and maybe even participate in some activities and one of the temples. Just, a practical question, if I wanted to talk to a monk, how formal/ respectful would you say I should be? For example bowing and addressing them as 法师?

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mairuwen
Posts: 11
Joined: Sat Mar 30, 2019 3:47 pm

Re: Hello 大家好!

Post by mairuwen » Wed Apr 17, 2019 4:03 am

FromTheEarth wrote:
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


: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.
Well... I'd certainly like to know more about Tiantai! though it seems a huge field of study (and probably requires more familiarity with basic concepts, and texts such as sutras and so on.) It's interesting that it came to influence Pure Land and Chan. It seems in many ways remarkably different from both Pure Land and Chan, in terms of a scholasticism and emphasis on intellectual systematisation. I was just reading the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy on Tianta, and it immediately starts off with 'translating' the schools concepts into Western philosophical language. Actually I'm kind of sceptical of this approach, and this seems to be quite an extreme example......

""To translate Tiantai’s rather technical scholastic terminology and its typically Buddhist soteriological orientation into something approaching traditional philosophical categories, we can start by identifying a few hashtag themes that are characteristic of Tiantai thinking. Tiantai is: a thoroughgoing contextualism, a thoroughgoing holism, a thoroughgoing monism, and a theory of absolute immanence. It asserts an exceptionless impermanence, exceptionless anti-substantialism, and exceptionless ambiguity of identity for all finite and conditional entities. Epistemologically this entails thoroughgoing skepticism about all unconditional claims, and thoroughgoing anti-realism. Ethically it implies a thoroughgoing renunciation of all finite aims, as well as thoroughgoing repudiation of all determinate moral rules, moral consequences, and moral virtues.""

humble.student
Posts: 112
Joined: Wed Aug 19, 2015 1:35 pm

Re: Hello 大家好!

Post by humble.student » Wed Apr 17, 2019 8:45 am

mairuwen wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 3:49 am
Thanks! I think I actually have the English version of "the Way to Buddhahood" sitting unread on my kindle right now. I should really get round to reading it! That would be great to be able to meet people and maybe even participate in some activities and one of the temples. Just, a practical question, if I wanted to talk to a monk, how formal/ respectful would you say I should be? For example bowing and addressing them as 法师?
Yes, being polite is a good idea: hands in the anjali mudra, a little bow etc, and 法師 as a term of address. 師父 is also used, but since it's typically used when referring to one's own master, it can cause confusion. But no one will expect you to master all the intricacies of etiquette as a freshly arrived foreign student - most Chinese don't know these things either, so you'll have a lot of leeway. Read Bill Porter's books for an informative look at things. (Road to Heaven, Zen Baggage, etc) Also, Amituofo 阿彌陀佛 is used as a sort of multi-purpose greeting or interjection among Buddhists too.

IME the (usually elderly) volunteers will be delighted to discover that you can speak Chinese and are interested in Buddhism, so make the effort to talk to people and you'll be more than rewarded. If you do go ahead and take part in a refuge ceremony, you'll be given a small booklet like a passport, and that will open doors for you in many other temples and make it easier to stay in places for the night or for a retreat and so on as you'll then be a bona fide Buddhist (at least that's the idea...) and not just a curious tourist. Another kettle of fish I suppose.

Guanghua Temple 广化寺 up at the lakes is also a nice place and they frequently have ceremonies as well. There is no shortage of Buddhist temples and places to visit, either within Beijing or beyond, but becoming closer to a community will take a little effort. Best of luck!

User avatar
FromTheEarth
Posts: 62
Joined: Sun Apr 29, 2018 4:54 am

Re: Hello 大家好!

Post by FromTheEarth » Fri Apr 19, 2019 9:40 pm

mairuwen wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 4:03 am
FromTheEarth wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 3:17 am
mairuwen wrote:
Thu Apr 11, 2019 6:46 am


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.
Well... I'd certainly like to know more about Tiantai! though it seems a huge field of study (and probably requires more familiarity with basic concepts, and texts such as sutras and so on.) It's interesting that it came to influence Pure Land and Chan. It seems in many ways remarkably different from both Pure Land and Chan, in terms of a scholasticism and emphasis on intellectual systematisation. I was just reading the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy on Tianta, and it immediately starts off with 'translating' the schools concepts into Western philosophical language. Actually I'm kind of sceptical of this approach, and this seems to be quite an extreme example......

""To translate Tiantai’s rather technical scholastic terminology and its typically Buddhist soteriological orientation into something approaching traditional philosophical categories, we can start by identifying a few hashtag themes that are characteristic of Tiantai thinking. Tiantai is: a thoroughgoing contextualism, a thoroughgoing holism, a thoroughgoing monism, and a theory of absolute immanence. It asserts an exceptionless impermanence, exceptionless anti-substantialism, and exceptionless ambiguity of identity for all finite and conditional entities. Epistemologically this entails thoroughgoing skepticism about all unconditional claims, and thoroughgoing anti-realism. Ethically it implies a thoroughgoing renunciation of all finite aims, as well as thoroughgoing repudiation of all determinate moral rules, moral consequences, and moral virtues.""
Haha! The Tendai subforum here could be really helpful. And you might be interested in Dr. Swanson's recent translation of 摩訶止觀.

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mairuwen
Posts: 11
Joined: Sat Mar 30, 2019 3:47 pm

Re: Hello 大家好!

Post by mairuwen » Tue Apr 23, 2019 2:28 am

Thanks again humble.student and FromTheEarth!

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