The Beginning of Zen/Chan in China.

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AlexMcLeod
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The Beginning of Zen/Chan in China.

Post by AlexMcLeod » Sat Apr 16, 2016 3:04 am

I'd like to start with a story told of how the Shaolin grew to be the most famous and infamous temple in China.

When Bodhidharma, known in China as Damo, came to the Shaolin temple, he saw that the monks were weak. As a result of their physical weakness, their minds were clouded and they were unable to meditate properly.

Saddened by the situation, he sat alone in a cave and meditated. When he finally came out, he passed on to them three treasures. Often in-correctly translated as sutras, what he transmitted to them was actually three sets of exercises and skills.

The most widely known of these is called the 18 Lohan hands. It is the set that was actually meant to solve their problem. Its function is to get the body's energy flowing freely, and facilitate excellent health.

Next, came the Sinew-metamorphosis. (Often called tendon changing classic) This is also a set of exercises, although most of the instructions are often left out, due to the level of energy that can build up with any single exercise in this set. Possible damage is greater than with Lohan hands. This set was designed for transforming the body into a vessel capable of seated meditation for long periods of time.

The final treasure is the most frequently misunderstood, mostly due to purposeful obscuration by masters in the past. It was a set of skills, dealing with energy at a deep level. As a result, it is highly dangerous for the untrained, and thus remained hidden. Whereas the other two sets have physical form, and deal in health and power, respectively, this last is just skill, and has no form. It is for cleansing the bone marrow and brain.

I think that is enough for tonight.
Relax! Smile From The Heart!
There is a difference between the Mundane and the Transcendental. If you purposefully confuse them, I will ignore you, you nihilist.
There is no Emotion, there is Peace. There is no Ignorance, there is Knowledge. There is no Passion, there is Serenity. There is no Death, there is the Force.

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Qing Tian
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Re: The Beginning of Zen/Chan in China.

Post by Qing Tian » Sat Apr 16, 2016 9:10 am

The yi jin jing (muscle/tendon changing classic) has been dated to the 17th century by historians. Bodhidharma did not write it.

I do wonder why this particular myth is so well perpetuated. It's an entertaining story I suppose. :shrug:
“Not till your thoughts cease all their branching here and there, not till you abandon all thoughts of seeking for something, not till your mind is motionless as wood or stone, will you be on the right road to the Gate.”

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Astus
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Re: The Beginning of Zen/Chan in China.

Post by Astus » Sat Apr 16, 2016 9:47 am

What does this have to do with Zen?

First martial arts book attributed to Bodhidharma was made in 1642. Even the association of martial arts with Shaolin goes back only to the 13th century. See for reference McRae's "Seeing through Zen", p 26.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

AlexMcLeod
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Re: The Beginning of Zen/Chan in China.

Post by AlexMcLeod » Sat Apr 16, 2016 12:02 pm

Again, none if these were books. Also, there are ancient murals depicting some of the exercises. And the classics giving descriptions of the skills they help develop. Again, not talking about books or the martial arts that later evolved.

Especially considering that the books attributed to Damo have nothing to do with what the classics describe.
Relax! Smile From The Heart!
There is a difference between the Mundane and the Transcendental. If you purposefully confuse them, I will ignore you, you nihilist.
There is no Emotion, there is Peace. There is no Ignorance, there is Knowledge. There is no Passion, there is Serenity. There is no Death, there is the Force.

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Astus
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Re: The Beginning of Zen/Chan in China.

Post by Astus » Sat Apr 16, 2016 1:11 pm

AlexMcLeod wrote:Especially considering that the books attributed to Damo have nothing to do with what the classics describe.
Can you give exact sources?
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

AlexMcLeod
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Re: The Beginning of Zen/Chan in China.

Post by AlexMcLeod » Sat Apr 16, 2016 8:05 pm

When I get home, I'll see if I can find them.
Relax! Smile From The Heart!
There is a difference between the Mundane and the Transcendental. If you purposefully confuse them, I will ignore you, you nihilist.
There is no Emotion, there is Peace. There is no Ignorance, there is Knowledge. There is no Passion, there is Serenity. There is no Death, there is the Force.

AlexMcLeod
Posts: 368
Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2016 2:54 am

Re: The Beginning of Zen/Chan in China.

Post by AlexMcLeod » Sun Apr 17, 2016 1:58 pm

Anyway, while I'm looking through my old books, I'll continue the story.

There was a monk by the name of Huike there who wished to be trained by the master, so he went and begged to be taken as a disciple. The master refused, saying Huike was unhealthy. First train the Lohan hands.

Huike left and trained for a year. He returned to the master and begged him again. This time, Damo said, you are too weak for my training. Train in the Sinew-metamorphosis.

So Huike did as Damo said. After another year, he returned, and begged once more. Damo said a third time, your mind is too clouded too understand my training. First train in brain washing.

So Huike did as Damo said, and again returned after a year. Finally, Damo said, you are capable of the training, but I will take no disciples.

From here, the story is well known.

It is believed that Huike, having finally attained perfection of body, energy, and concentration, had reached as far as he possibly could go, hence his willingness to sever his own arm.

It took Damo and his koan to put him over the edge, making him ripe for transmission.

What happened to that lineage is fairly common knowledge, but the Shaolin continued in secret to train the three treasures he passed on, until that lineage abandoned the Shaolin temple, around the 1600s.

They spread out from there all over China, continuously, from the beginning until then, hence the scattered and widely different lineages that claim Shaolin influence. Each time people took the teachings of Damo and each of his successors, they emphasized some different aspect of the training.

The main thing that remains constant between them is a reliance on the transmission from master to student, and the goal.
Relax! Smile From The Heart!
There is a difference between the Mundane and the Transcendental. If you purposefully confuse them, I will ignore you, you nihilist.
There is no Emotion, there is Peace. There is no Ignorance, there is Knowledge. There is no Passion, there is Serenity. There is no Death, there is the Force.

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