Meditations; first steps and tales
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Wang's Illustrated Exposition of Internal Techniques Neigong tushuo shows how Shaolin exercises were drawn from Taoist methods like those of the Yi jin jing and Eight pieces of brocade , possibly influenced by the Ming dynasty's spirit of religious syncretism. Korean Seon also has developed a similar form of active physical training, termed Sunmudo. They were introduced by Hakuin — who learned various techniques from a hermit named Hakuyu who helped Hakuin cure his "Zen sickness" a condition of physical and mental exhaustion. Intensive group meditation may be practiced occasionally in some temples.
In the Japanese language, this practice is called sesshin. While the daily routine may require monks to meditate for several hours each day, during the intensive period they devote themselves almost exclusively to zen practice.
The numerous 30—50 minute long sitting meditation zazen periods are interwoven with rest breaks, ritualized formal meals Jp. In modern Buddhist practice in Japan, Taiwan , and the West, lay students often attend these intensive practice sessions or retreats. These are held at many Zen centers or temples. Most Zen monasteries, temples and centers perform various rituals , services and ceremonies such as initiation ceremonies and funerals , which are always accompanied by the chanting of verses, poems or sutras.
The butsudan is the altar in a monastery, temple or a lay person's home, where offerings are made to the images of the Buddha, bodhisattvas and deceased family members and ancestors. An important element in Zen ritual practice is the performance of ritual prostrations Jp. These ceremonies are also performed in American Zen Buddhism. The ritual might date back to the Tang dynasty , and was very popular during the Ming and Qing dynasties, when Chinese Esoteric Buddhist practices became diffused throughout Chinese Buddhism.
These ghost rituals are a source of contention in modern Chinese Chan, and masters such as Sheng Yen criticize the practice for not having "any basis in Buddhist teachings".
Another important type of ritual practiced in Zen are various repentance or confession rituals Jp. Funerals are also an important ritual and are a common point of contact between Zen monastics and the laity.
Seventeen percent visit for spiritual reasons and 3 percent visit a Zen priest at a time of personal trouble or crisis. The usage of esoteric mantras in Zen goes back to the Tang dynasty. There is evidence that Chan Buddhists adopted practices from Esoteric Buddhism in findings from Dunhuang.
There is also documentation that monks living at Shaolin temple during the eighth century performed esoteric practices there such as mantra and dharani, and that these also influenced Korean Seon Buddhism. Though Zen-narrative states that it is a "special transmission outside scriptures", which "did not stand upon words",  Zen does have a rich doctrinal background that is firmly grounded in the Buddhist tradition. The philosophy of the Huayan school also had an influence on Chinese Chan. One example is the Huayan doctrine of the interpenetration of phenomena , which also makes use of native Chinese philosophical concepts such as principle li and phenomena shi.
Zen teachings can be likened to "the finger pointing at the moon". Various Zen traditions have varying views on awakening or enlightenment bodhi.
The Tree of Life Concept
According to Stuart Lachs, one view is that one's mind is already enlightened, this is termed pen chueh in Chinese Buddhism and hongaku in Japanese Zen. Another important issue widely debated in Zen is that of how awakening happens. Beginning with the combative figure of Shenhui — , the idea that there were two ways to enlightenment emerged.
One was a sudden way McRae: "the position that enlightenment occurs in a single transformation that is both total and instantaneous" , while the other was the gradual or progressive way which Shenhui saw as inferior. By practicing shikantaza, attainment and Buddhahood are already being expressed. The Rinzai school emphasizes kensho , insight into one's true nature. Other Zen-teachers have also expressed sudden insight followed by gradual cultivation.
The Buddhist Society: Further Stories from the Old Silk Road
Jinul , a 12th-century Korean Seon master, followed Zongmi, and also emphasized that insight into our true nature is sudden, but is to be followed by practice to ripen the insight and attain full buddhahood. This trajectory of initial insight followed by a gradual deepening and ripening is expressed by Linji in his Three Mysterious Gates and Hakuin Ekaku's Four Ways of Knowing.
Contrary to the popular image, literature does play a role in the Zen training. Nevertheless, Zen is often pictured as anti-intellectual. The use of koans , which are highly stylized literary texts, reflects this popularity among the higher classes. What the Zen tradition emphasizes is that the enlightenment of the Buddha came not through conceptualization but rather through direct insight.
The early Buddhist schools in China were each based on a specific sutra. At the beginning of the Tang Dynasty , by the time of the Fifth Patriarch Hongren — , the Zen school became established as a separate school of Buddhism. Other influential sutras are the Vimalakirti Sutra ,    Avatamsaka Sutra ,  the Shurangama Sutra ,  and the Mahaparinirvana Sutra. The Zen-tradition developed a rich textual tradition, based on the interpretation of the Buddhist teachings and the recorded sayings of Zen-masters.
Religion is not only an individual matter, but "also a collective endeavour".
Further Stories from the Old Silk Road
Suzuki ,  and further popularized by Hakuun Yasutani and the Sanbo Kyodan. Each period had different types of Zen, some of which remained influential, while others vanished.
Ferguson distinguishes three periods from the 5th century into the 13th century:. When Buddhism came to China from Gandhara now Afghanistan and India , it was initially adapted to the Chinese culture and understanding. Buddhism was exposed to Confucianist  and Taoist     influences.
Taoism 101: Introduction to the Tao
Judging from the reception by the Han of the Hinayana works and from the early commentaries, it appears that Buddhism was being perceived and digested through the medium of religious Daoism Taoism. Buddha was seen as a foreign immortal who had achieved some form of Daoist nondeath. Taoist terminology was used to express Buddhist doctrines in the oldest translations of Buddhist texts,  a practice termed ko-i , "matching the concepts",  while the emerging Chinese Buddhism had to compete with Taoism and Confucianism. The first Buddhist recruits in China were Taoists.
One point of confusion for Chinese Buddhism was the two truths doctrine. Chinese thinking took this to refer to two ontological truths : reality exists on two levels, a relative level and an absolute level. Based on their understanding of the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra the Chinese supposed that the teaching of the Buddha-nature was, as stated by that sutra, the final Buddhist teaching, and that there is an essential truth above sunyata and the two truths. It was based on the practice of dhyana and is connected to the figures of Bodhidharma and Huike , though there is little actual historical information about these early figures and most legendary stories about their life come from later, mostly Tang sources.
The fifth patriarch Daman Hongren — , and his dharma-heir Yuquan Shenxiu ? This phase saw the development new schools of Chan. The most important of these schools is the Hongzhou school of Mazu Daoyi — , to which also belong Shitou , Baizhang , and Huangbo. Rinzai school. Both of these traditions were quite influential both in and outside of China. During the later Tang, the practice of the "encounter dialogue" reached its full maturity. These formal dialogues between master and disciple used absurd, illogical and iconoclastic language as well as non-verbal forms of communication such as the drawing of circles and physical gestures like shouting and hitting.
The Great Anti-Buddhist Persecution in was devastating for metropolitan Chan, but the Chan school of Mazu survived, and took a leading role in the Chan of the later Tang. During the 12th century, a rivalry emerged between the Linji and the Caodong schools for the support of the scholar-official class. The Linji school's Dahui Zonggao — meanwhile, introduced k'an-hua chan "observing the word-head" chan , which involved meditation on the crucial phrase or "punch line" hua-tou of a gong'an.
Some scholars see the post-classical phase as being an "age of syncretism. The book placed self-proclaimed Chan monks without proper Dharma transmission in the category of "lineage unknown" sifa weixiang , thereby excluding several prominent Caodong -monks. This period saw the rise of worldly Chan activism, what is sometimes called Humanistic Buddhism or more literally "Buddhism for human life", rensheng fojiao , promoted by figures like Jing'an — , Yuanying — , Taixu — , Xuyun — and Yinshun — These figures promoted social activism to address issues such as poverty and social injustice, as well as participation in political movements.
They also promoted modern science and scholarship, including the use of the methods of modern critical scholarship to study the history of Chan.