Nan Huai Chin and William Bodri

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Nan Huai Chin and William Bodri

Post by Nikolay » Tue Apr 09, 2013 7:11 pm

Once upon a time I came upon a massive book called "The Mind Experiment" by Bavo Lievens. Honestly I have yet to finish it, but so far it looks fantastic: for example, I found the very detailed discussion of various celestial realms linking them with meditative attainments. Such things are, in my experience, usually skipped in Western books. A review on Amazon mentioned that the book was based on teachings by Chan master Nan Huai Chin, so I decided to look for more books by him.

Eventually I got another book: "Tao and Longevity". It is a great and detailed guide to Taoist meditation, various signs of progress and effects on health, which I recommend to anyone interested in the subject. I also read master Nan Huai Chin's biography on Wikipedia and was quite impressed.

And finally, I just happened to encounter another book with Nan Huai Chin's name on the cover, named "The Insider's Guide ot the Best and Worst Spiritual Paths and Meditation Techniques" and co-authored with William Bodri. The name seemed kind of strange and New Agey, and should have tipped me off, but I have seen worse naming choices for translations. Well, probably not.

Honestly, I was really underwhelmed by the book. There was, in my impression, none of the thoroughness and detail which I found in the two previous books, and lost of strong assertions seemingly with little basis. One chapter, however, takes the cake, and that would be "The Big Pros and Cons of Tantric Cultivation Techniques". In other words, a chapter on Tibetan Buddhism. Among other things, it contains:

1)No small amount of thinly veiled bitterness regarding the prevalent Indian cultural influence on Tibet instead of Chinese one.
2)Several reminders that teachings that came into Tibet from India were not the original teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni.
3)What I can only describe as "moral panic" regarding the consort practices.
4)Lots of words like "twisted", "deviation", "misunderstanding" and "polluted".
5)Weirdly, lots of praise for Je Tsongkhapa, apparently because he was against sexual practices. His criticism of the sudden enlightenment schools is dismissed offhand as "skillful means".
6)One single offhand mention of Dzogchen with no comments.

And so on.

Honestly, I am a bit stunned. in the preface, William Bodri does say that many fragments of the book are basically his own, so I cannot tell which parts belong to him and which to master Nan Huai Chin. I can hardly imagine a realized master (and Nan Huai Chin was surely a realized teacher) making such denigrating remarks, especially considering that he studied with Tibetan teachers and was given the Kagyu (I think) transmission himself. Is this a mainstream position in Chinese Buddhism? If so, it is really sad.
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