Zen Buddhism - Ch'an School

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  • The Ch'an Schools
    • Bodhidharma 1st Zen Patriarch (470-520 CE)
      • Semi-legendary figure who is responsible for establishing the 'meditation' school in China at around 520 CE
        • Taught the Lankavatara Sutra - the foundation of the mind is the store-house consciousness that contains the Buddha-nature (Tahagata-garbha)
      • A great meditation master - one legend has it he spent 9 years in meditation 'gazing at a wall' until his legs dropped off.
        • Showing the Ch'an single-minded emphasis on meditation as the main method for gaining enlightenment
      • He also told emperor Wu that 'no merit at all' was gained by good works, since these are empty of inherent existence, only insight into reality is what really matters.
      • 4 Key Pinciples
        • 3. A direct pointing to the human mind.
        • 2. No reliance on words and letters.
        • 4. Seeing the innate nature, one becomes a Buddha.
        • 1. A special transmission outside the scriptures
    • 5th Patriarch Hung-jen (601-674) - Poetry competition
      • In the 7th Century Hung-jen (of the East Mountain School) decided to choose his successor on the basis of the insight expressed in verse.
        • Led to a period of sectarianism among the following two Ch'an schools.
          • Southern School ('Sudden Awakening') - took Hui-neng as the 6th Patriarch.
          • Northern School ('Gradual Awakening') took Shen-hsui as the 6th Patriarch which continued only until the 10th Century.
          • 8th Century following the 769 CE council -5 Houses formed under the umbrella of Hui-neng's teachings. By the 11th Century the two most dominant of these schools in China were the Lin-chi and Ts'ao-tung school.
    • Life of Hui-Neng
      • Was an illiteralte boy, who had an awakening after hearing a monk reciting the DIamond-cutter Perfection of Wisdom Sutra.
        • As a young man he went to join Hung'jen's monastic community.
          • He worked in the kitchens and was not ordained as a monk due to the ridged caste system in China.
      • Took part in Hung-jens poety contest and has a friend write on the wall...
        • Enlightenment originally has no tree; The mirror asl has no standBuddhanature is always clear and pute; Where is there room for dust
          • He won as his verse showed the ultimate level of truth - that all phenomena are unreal
          • Meditation and wisdom are not two different things but a unity of the essence and functioning of Buddha nature.
    • Iconoclasm
      • Good works, devotion and study do play a part in Ch'an by can be seen as objects of attachment and a hindrance to spiritual practice.
      • Ch'an tends to be iconoclastic in other words opposed to image worship
        • Many Ch'an masters were taken to destroying images that are the object of veneration.
    • Core Teachings
      • Awakening is possible in any situation as it is not a product of mental purification.
      • Buddha-nature that can reveal itself anywhere anytime.
      • Distinction between essence and function.
      • Meditation is the realising of ones Buddha-nature.
      • Meditation is the very essence of wisdom and wisdom is the functioning of meditation.
  • As a young man he went to join Hung'jen's monastic community.
    • He worked in the kitchens and was not ordained as a monk due to the ridged caste system in China.


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