Fo Guang Shan and Triratna centres are nearby

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Stiphan
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Fo Guang Shan and Triratna centres are nearby

Post by Stiphan » Tue Dec 26, 2017 8:54 am

So I've gone back to my original tradition of Theravada, but still love all of Buddhism and open to all traditions.

There is this Fo Guang Shan temple just a 5-minute ride from my place. I am going to visit it, but in the meanwhile what should I know beforehand? There are some centres to be avoided such as New Kadampa Tradition, this one also seems a modernist sect but I don't think there is anything to be wary of. From my brief reading it seems it is Pure Land, which I haven't read much about, but it seems to be more faith-based? I was into the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism earlier in the year, but from East Asian Buddhism my favourite school would be Zen/Ch'an as it is very meditative and practice-oriented and has some profound teachings as well. Is there anything I should bring to the monastics when I go? I'll donate, but would a small gift be something people would give when visiting a temple from this tradition?

My Theravada school is very conservative, but I am not against modernist movements. Triratna is a good one, I think, and it's also in central Manchester, and I've visited it many times. It seems to be an attempt to fuse all three yānas into one, rather than being a part of any particular lineage? Or am I mistaken here? Sangharakshita was taught by Zen and Tibetan teachers as far as I know.

There's also a Zen Dojo near where I play soccer, which I'll pay a visit as well. And a Kagyu temple as well. Unfortunately, the Thai temple is a bit further away, but there's a Sri Lankan one which I was heavily involved with last year and a Burmese which I've visited several times. Good options in Manchester! Wish there was a Gelug centre as it's still my favourite Mahāyāna sect, particularly the FPMT.

Anyway, the closest is Fo Guang Shan. Any info I need to know in advance? Many thanks.

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Re: Fo Guang Shan and Triratna centres are nearby

Post by SonamTashi » Tue Dec 26, 2017 12:32 pm

Stiphan wrote:
Tue Dec 26, 2017 8:54 am
So I've gone back to my original tradition of Theravada, but still love all of Buddhism and open to all traditions.

There is this Fo Guang Shan temple just a 5-minute ride from my place. I am going to visit it, but in the meanwhile what should I know beforehand? There are some centres to be avoided such as New Kadampa Tradition, this one also seems a modernist sect but I don't think there is anything to be wary of. From my brief reading it seems it is Pure Land, which I haven't read much about, but it seems to be more faith-based? I was into the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism earlier in the year, but from East Asian Buddhism my favourite school would be Zen/Ch'an as it is very meditative and practice-oriented and has some profound teachings as well. Is there anything I should bring to the monastics when I go? I'll donate, but would a small gift be something people would give when visiting a temple from this tradition?

My Theravada school is very conservative, but I am not against modernist movements. Triratna is a good one, I think, and it's also in central Manchester, and I've visited it many times. It seems to be an attempt to fuse all three yānas into one, rather than being a part of any particular lineage? Or am I mistaken here? Sangharakshita was taught by Zen and Tibetan teachers as far as I know.

There's also a Zen Dojo near where I play soccer, which I'll pay a visit as well. And a Kagyu temple as well. Unfortunately, the Thai temple is a bit further away, but there's a Sri Lankan one which I was heavily involved with last year and a Burmese which I've visited several times. Good options in Manchester! Wish there was a Gelug centre as it's still my favourite Mahāyāna sect, particularly the FPMT.

Anyway, the closest is Fo Guang Shan. Any info I need to know in advance? Many thanks.
Fo Guang Shan is Humanistic Buddhism. It is a Chinese group, and Chinese Buddhism is pretty non-sectarian. That said, from what I've heard, they have more of a Ch'an/Zen orientation than a Pure Land one. The laypeople might have some Pure Land related practices, but it would most likely be practiced from a Ch'an perspective. If you like Ch'an, then it would probably be a good fit.
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Re: Fo Guang Shan and Triratna centres are nearby

Post by Stiphan » Tue Dec 26, 2017 1:29 pm

SonamTashi wrote:
Tue Dec 26, 2017 12:32 pm
Fo Guang Shan is Humanistic Buddhism. It is a Chinese group, and Chinese Buddhism is pretty non-sectarian. That said, from what I've heard, they have more of a Ch'an/Zen orientation than a Pure Land one. The laypeople might have some Pure Land related practices, but it would most likely be practiced from a Ch'an perspective. If you like Ch'an, then it would probably be a good fit.
Thanks. Do they practice zazen?

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Re: Fo Guang Shan and Triratna centres are nearby

Post by SonamTashi » Tue Dec 26, 2017 1:46 pm

Oh, also Theravada is as much a form of Buddhist Modernism as Fo Guang Shan is, in that it only exists as it does today as a reaction against Western Colonialism. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but a lot of people equate it with Early Buddhism, when it only exists as it does today as a result of reformation.
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Re: Fo Guang Shan and Triratna centres are nearby

Post by Stiphan » Tue Dec 26, 2017 2:43 pm

SonamTashi wrote:
Tue Dec 26, 2017 1:46 pm
Oh, also Theravada is as much a form of Buddhist Modernism as Fo Guang Shan is, in that it only exists as it does today as a reaction against Western Colonialism. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but a lot of people equate it with Early Buddhism, when it only exists as it does today as a result of reformation.
Allow me to disagree: Theravāda is the oldest school of Buddhism going back to the period when there were 18 early schools, perhaps around the Third Buddhist Council during Ashoka's time. Ultimately it can be traced back to the Buddha's time of course as it preserves the original teachings taught by the Buddha.

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Re: Fo Guang Shan and Triratna centres are nearby

Post by SonamTashi » Tue Dec 26, 2017 2:56 pm

You'd have to ask someone more knowledgeable than me for a definitive answer, but I would think they probably do teach some form of zazen/sitting meditation.
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Re: Fo Guang Shan and Triratna centres are nearby

Post by Grigoris » Tue Dec 26, 2017 3:30 pm

Stiphan wrote:
Tue Dec 26, 2017 1:29 pm
SonamTashi wrote:
Tue Dec 26, 2017 12:32 pm
Fo Guang Shan is Humanistic Buddhism. It is a Chinese group, and Chinese Buddhism is pretty non-sectarian. That said, from what I've heard, they have more of a Ch'an/Zen orientation than a Pure Land one. The laypeople might have some Pure Land related practices, but it would most likely be practiced from a Ch'an perspective. If you like Ch'an, then it would probably be a good fit.
Thanks. Do they practice zazen?
Yes.
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Re: Fo Guang Shan and Triratna centres are nearby

Post by Simon E. » Tue Dec 26, 2017 3:37 pm

Stiphan wrote:
Tue Dec 26, 2017 2:43 pm
SonamTashi wrote:
Tue Dec 26, 2017 1:46 pm
Oh, also Theravada is as much a form of Buddhist Modernism as Fo Guang Shan is, in that it only exists as it does today as a reaction against Western Colonialism. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but a lot of people equate it with Early Buddhism, when it only exists as it does today as a result of reformation.
Allow me to disagree: Theravāda is the oldest school of Buddhism going back to the period when there were 18 early schools, perhaps around the Third Buddhist Council during Ashoka's time. Ultimately it can be traced back to the Buddha's time of course as it preserves the original teachings taught by the Buddha.

The evidence is against you Stiphan.
But if you find the Theravada meets your needs then good for you. Whether it is the 'oldest' school is less relevant.
Back to fishin' folks... :namaste:

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Re: Fo Guang Shan and Triratna centres are nearby

Post by liuzg150181 » Tue Jan 02, 2018 3:01 am

Stiphan wrote:
Tue Dec 26, 2017 2:43 pm
SonamTashi wrote:
Tue Dec 26, 2017 1:46 pm
Oh, also Theravada is as much a form of Buddhist Modernism as Fo Guang Shan is, in that it only exists as it does today as a reaction against Western Colonialism. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but a lot of people equate it with Early Buddhism, when it only exists as it does today as a result of reformation.
Allow me to disagree: Theravāda is the oldest school of Buddhism going back to the period when there were 18 early schools, perhaps around the Third Buddhist Council during Ashoka's time. Ultimately it can be traced back to the Buddha's time of course as it preserves the original teachings taught by the Buddha.
To be more precise, what we call Theravada is actually Vibhajjavāda,a sub-sect of ancestral Sthāvirīya which came into existence during Third Buddhist council under the patronage of the Indian Emperor Ashoka.

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Re: Fo Guang Shan and Triratna centres are nearby

Post by PeterC » Tue Jan 02, 2018 4:42 am

liuzg150181 wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 3:01 am
Stiphan wrote:
Tue Dec 26, 2017 2:43 pm
SonamTashi wrote:
Tue Dec 26, 2017 1:46 pm
Oh, also Theravada is as much a form of Buddhist Modernism as Fo Guang Shan is, in that it only exists as it does today as a reaction against Western Colonialism. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but a lot of people equate it with Early Buddhism, when it only exists as it does today as a result of reformation.
Allow me to disagree: Theravāda is the oldest school of Buddhism going back to the period when there were 18 early schools, perhaps around the Third Buddhist Council during Ashoka's time. Ultimately it can be traced back to the Buddha's time of course as it preserves the original teachings taught by the Buddha.
To be more precise, what we call Theravada is actually Vibhajjavāda,a sub-sect of ancestral Sthāvirīya which came into existence during Third Buddhist council under the patronage of the Indian Emperor Ashoka.
One could narrow the definition further - what is usually taught as Theraveda is the view and practice of the Dhammayut sub-sect, which is considerably younger, and within that the most prevalent version taught is the forest tradition, which dates to about a century ago. Nothing wrong with that at all - it is a serious lineage worthy of respect that has produced many great monks. But the idea that these lineages are 'authentic' and unchanged since time immemorial is nonsense.

BTW OP: avoid Triratna. Google can tell you more. And whatever you choose, stick with one meditation method, consistency is much more valuable than variety.

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Re: Fo Guang Shan and Triratna centres are nearby

Post by ItsRaining » Tue Jan 02, 2018 6:56 am

Stiphan wrote:
Tue Dec 26, 2017 2:43 pm
SonamTashi wrote:
Tue Dec 26, 2017 1:46 pm
Oh, also Theravada is as much a form of Buddhist Modernism as Fo Guang Shan is, in that it only exists as it does today as a reaction against Western Colonialism. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but a lot of people equate it with Early Buddhism, when it only exists as it does today as a result of reformation.
Allow me to disagree: Theravāda is the oldest school of Buddhism going back to the period when there were 18 early schools, perhaps around the Third Buddhist Council during Ashoka's time. Ultimately it can be traced back to the Buddha's time of course as it preserves the original teachings taught by the Buddha.
The lineage is originally fairly old by the current sects within the Theravada have changed greatly in the last century or two so that someone from 300-400 years ago probably would be very confused by many practices.

ItsRaining
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Re: Fo Guang Shan and Triratna centres are nearby

Post by ItsRaining » Tue Jan 02, 2018 6:58 am

Fo Guang Shan is a non-sectarian Chinese School that like most other schools will focus on Chan and Pureland. Zazan isn't as popular as Hua Tou in China so Huatou will most likely be taught rather than Zazen (Silent Illumtination/Mo Zhao).

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Re: Fo Guang Shan and Triratna centres are nearby

Post by Kim O'Hara » Tue Jan 02, 2018 11:03 pm

ItsRaining wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 6:56 am
The lineage is originally fairly old by the current sects within the Theravada have changed greatly in the last century or two so that someone from 300-400 years ago probably would be very confused by many practices.
This is true of all schools, all lineages - all human social endeavours, in fact - and especially true for Buddhism in the West.
Simon E. wrote:
Tue Dec 26, 2017 3:37 pm
... if you find the Theravada meets your needs then good for you. Whether it is the 'oldest' school is less relevant.
:good:
This is probably the best way to look at the question.

:namaste:
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Re: Fo Guang Shan and Triratna centres are nearby

Post by Sādhaka » Tue Jan 02, 2018 11:17 pm

PeterC wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 4:42 am
liuzg150181 wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 3:01 am
Stiphan wrote:
Tue Dec 26, 2017 2:43 pm


Allow me to disagree: Theravāda is the oldest school of Buddhism going back to the period when there were 18 early schools, perhaps around the Third Buddhist Council during Ashoka's time. Ultimately it can be traced back to the Buddha's time of course as it preserves the original teachings taught by the Buddha.
To be more precise, what we call Theravada is actually Vibhajjavāda,a sub-sect of ancestral Sthāvirīya which came into existence during Third Buddhist council under the patronage of the Indian Emperor Ashoka.
One could narrow the definition further - what is usually taught as Theraveda is the view and practice of the Dhammayut sub-sect, which is considerably younger, and within that the most prevalent version taught is the forest tradition, which dates to about a century ago. Nothing wrong with that at all - it is a serious lineage worthy of respect that has produced many great monks. But the idea that these lineages are 'authentic' and unchanged since time immemorial is nonsense.

BTW OP: avoid Triratna. Google can tell you more....

Thanks for that info.

I did some searching:

https://www.google.com/search?q=Dhammay ... ent=safari
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Re: Fo Guang Shan and Triratna centres are nearby

Post by Fu Ri Shin » Wed Jan 03, 2018 12:54 am

ItsRaining wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 6:58 am
Fo Guang Shan is a non-sectarian Chinese School that like most other schools will focus on Chan and Pureland. Zazan isn't as popular as Hua Tou in China so Huatou will most likely be taught rather than Zazen (Silent Illumtination/Mo Zhao).
Zazen is just seated meditation and may serve as the container for huatou or silent illumination. The former method will often extend beyond zazen (not sure about the latter).
Know that in a remote place in a cloud-covered valley
There is still a sacred pine that passes through the chill of ages.

— Taiso Josai Daishi

ItsRaining
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Re: Fo Guang Shan and Triratna centres are nearby

Post by ItsRaining » Wed Jan 03, 2018 5:50 am

Fu Ri Shin wrote:
Wed Jan 03, 2018 12:54 am
ItsRaining wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 6:58 am
Fo Guang Shan is a non-sectarian Chinese School that like most other schools will focus on Chan and Pureland. Zazan isn't as popular as Hua Tou in China so Huatou will most likely be taught rather than Zazen (Silent Illumtination/Mo Zhao).
Zazen is just seated meditation and may serve as the container for huatou or silent illumination. The former method will often extend beyond zazen (not sure about the latter).
Ah ok, so Zazen isn't what Japanese use to refer to Silent Illumination? What do they call it? Shikantaza?

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Re: Fo Guang Shan and Triratna centres are nearby

Post by Fu Ri Shin » Thu Jan 04, 2018 1:38 am

ItsRaining wrote:
Wed Jan 03, 2018 5:50 am
Ah ok, so Zazen isn't what Japanese use to refer to Silent Illumination? What do they call it? Shikantaza?
As far as I understand it:

Zuochan (J. zazen) is all seated meditation. This may involve a huatou (J. wato) or a gong'an (J. koan) or silent illumination / mozhao (J. mokusho), to say nothing of other possible methods. Although I've seen scholars make subtle distinctions, to the extent that Hongzhi's mozhao survives in Japanese lineages, it does so in the form of Dogen's zhiguan dazuo (J. shikantaza).
Know that in a remote place in a cloud-covered valley
There is still a sacred pine that passes through the chill of ages.

— Taiso Josai Daishi

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Re: Fo Guang Shan and Triratna centres are nearby

Post by Zhen Li » Thu Jan 04, 2018 3:59 am

ItsRaining wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 6:58 am
Fo Guang Shan is a non-sectarian Chinese School that like most other schools will focus on Chan and Pureland. Zazan isn't as popular as Hua Tou in China so Huatou will most likely be taught rather than Zazen (Silent Illumtination/Mo Zhao).
In my decade at FGS I have never encountered Huatou. Ch'an meditation programs and retreats at FGS usually will involve a period of sitting and then a period of walking meditation. There may also be tea meditation and silent vegetarian meal. Frequency and length of such events will differ from temple to temple. Sometimes there will be lectures and 8 precepts involved.

As far as the statement that it is mostly "Ch'an and Pureland" at FGS, essentially, it depends on the lunar calendar. At certain points in the month the Amitabha Sutra and recitation of Amitabha's name is chanted. At other points in the month, or other times of year, other sutras, such as the Diamond Sutra, Heart Sutra, Great Compassion Dharani, 88 Buddhas Repentance, Emperor Liang Repentance, Ksitigarbha Sutra, and other various sutras, may be chanted.

So it is probably better just to say FGS, and most Chinese/Taiwanese Buddhism, is general Mahayana. But the meditation events will typically be Ch'an without Huatou or Gongans. What you do inside your head when you sit in meditation is really your own business. I've never been interviewed about my meditation during a retreat. I typically do a combination of breath/dhyāna focused meditation and visualization or meditation on signlessness.

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