Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04
Welcome home! Please contact lincoln@newbuddhist.com if you have any difficulty logging in or using the site. New registrations must be manually approved which may take up to 48 hours. Can't log in? Try clearing your browser's cookies.

Is there any info on how Bodhidharma 'created' ZEN. (i know he brought Zen to china)

zenmystezenmyste Veteran
edited June 2012 in Sanghas
I know he introduced Zen to china but where did Zen come from then?
Did Bodhidharma 'create zen'

How did zen initially differ from the other traditions? (i know how it differs now) But back then when bodhidharma first brought it to china, what did he say about it?? and where did he get zen from?
What was his experience with 'zen' ?

Any info please thanks. (ive read the 'zen teachings of bodhidharma' but it just jumps right into his teachings, and doesnt say much about ''ZEN'' itself..

Thanks.

Comments

  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran
    edited June 2012
    My understanding is that "Zen" or "Ch'an" is a corruption of the Pali word "Dhyāna" which, in Hinduism, refers to meditation or meditative states. So if anyone made Zen up, it was the Hindus ... which of course begs the question of where they got it from.

    My own feeling is that it is enough to find out whether it works or not, irrespective of who cooked it up. :)
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    In The Tao of Zen, Ray Grigg explains how Taoism and Zen influenced each other to the point where when somebody spoke of the "way", it could mean either one.

    The Japanese term "Roshi" came from a Chinese expression indicating Lao Tzu.

    It's a terrific read for anyone into either Taoism or Zen. I highly recommend it.
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    edited June 2012
    I don't think he "created" zen so to speak. I read somewhere that Bodhidharma gave someone a copy of the Lankavatara Sutra, an ancient text that is much older than he was, as the basis or example of his teaching.
  • zenffzenff Veteran
    Bodhidharma supposedly was one of the early Buddhist missionaries and translators who used the Silk Road trade contacts between China and central Asia for their purposes.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silk_Road_transmission_of_Buddhism

    Apparently he had a copy the Lankavatara Sutra, which he handed over to his successor.
    One sutra only to supply theoretical background!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_Chán#Bodhidharma

    The early history of Chan is not documented, so all we got is myth and speculation.
    My contribution to this speculation is that Bodhidharma’s approach was practical as he emphasized meditation. That made his style accessible for the Chinese who have a reputation of being practical about spiritual matters.
    After he appointed a Chinese student as his successor I suppose there was little or no feedback from Buddhists who studied the traditional Indian philosophical schools. Chan from that point on was shaped by Chinese who understood Buddhism as something not too different from Daoism, and Chan developed as it did.
  • Don't have details handy but to the best of my recollection the Buddha "preached" a sermon that consisted simply of holding up a flower and then asked the monks gathered to tell him their understanding. Three gave verbal descriptions and one simply smiled which was the best answer and supposedly that began the lineage of silent transmission which was zen... Probably not literally true but that's all I've got.
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    Don't have details handy but to the best of my recollection the Buddha "preached" a sermon that consisted simply of holding up a flower and then asked the monks gathered to tell him their understanding. Three gave verbal descriptions and one simply smiled which was the best answer and supposedly that began the lineage of silent transmission which was zen... Probably not literally true but that's all I've got.
    "The Flower Sermon" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flower_Sermon

    :)
  • PrairieGhostPrairieGhost Veteran
    edited June 2012
    shays860
    the Buddha "preached" a sermon that consisted simply of holding up a flower
    Then a monk held up a slip of parchment as if in answer, and said 'you do know this cost me eighty dollars on ebay?'.

    zenff
    The early history of Chan is not documented, so all we got is myth and speculation.
    My contribution to this speculation is that Bodhidharma’s approach was practical as he emphasized meditation. That made his style accessible for the Chinese who have a reputation of being practical about spiritual matters.
    Yes, I expect it was something like this. I had a friend who told me about a Chinese emperor whose approach was never to act unless absolutely necessary, because usually state interference causes more trouble than the original problem. There's an elegant, practical minimalism in Chinese culture that expresses itself in art, architecture, politics etc. Also a very strong hierarchical tradition, and the facility to accept what you are told by a teacher even if it seems opaque or nonsensical.

    Whereas Indian religion has a tradition of rigorous debate and fine philosophical definitions, with the original thought always open to elaboration by later thinkers (I suspect this is what confuses some people about the various vehicles' expressions of the dharma). I think the Buddha taught in this way in the Pali Suttas because it suited his audience; Bodhidharma recognised that this wasn't the Chinese way, and taught the same truth in a different style.
  • I found this on the Net and thought I'd share. We can say that Bodhidharma is truly what legends are made of. Part myth and part truth.

    Who is Daruma?

    Daruma (dah-ROO-mah), also known as Bodhidharma, was an Indian monk who traveled from India to China in the fifth century. Many believe that Daruma is the founder of Zen Buddhism in Japan (Ch'an Buddhism in China).

    Bodhidharma was born into a high-caste family in India but abandoned the family's wealth and prestigious reputation to lead a more modest and self-reflective lifestyle. Daruma left India at about 100 years of age in hopes of reaching China. Even though Daruma was over 100 years old, these are the years that are important to Japanese and Chinese culture. After three long, grueling and exhausting years Daruma reached southern China in 520 A.D.

    Daruma left southern China rather quickly because he felt his view on life and the way he thought of Buddhism was very different to that of those that surrounded him. He believed in self-reflection and being in a meditative state while those in the region were interested in building temples and looking for acceptance and a sense of appreciation in others. He is said to have traveled north on the Yangtze River on a reed to northern China. It is in this region that Daruma excelled as a Buddhist monk and teacher.

    Daruma is not only thought of as the founder of Zen Buddhism, but is also said to have brought certain martial arts to the region as well as the creator of tea. Daruma is known to have meditated in a cave for nine consecutive years. During this time he cut his eyelids off and threw them to the ground with frustration. He wanted to stay awake while meditating and his heavy and falling eyelids did not allow him to do this. Where his eyelids landed the first tea plant grew. His arms and legs fell off during this nine-year period, which is why many illustrations and figurines of Daruma have no arms or legs.

    Even though many Zen Buddhist ideas migrated into Japan over the years it wasn't until twelfth century that Zen Buddhism truly made it to Japan. Daruma did not physically bring Zen Buddhism to Japan, instead two Japanese monks who trained in China are said to have brought Zen Buddhism and legend of its founder, Daruma, back to Japan.
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    Yep... I heard the same story told a bit differently, lol. It took me a while to find it again.

    It was apparently a Shaolin Temple he ended up at that was founded by Ba Tuo after his nine years of meditation. What astounds me is the devotion of Shen Guang.

    Facsinating story.

    http://www.usashaolintemple.org/chanbuddhism-history/
  • Don't have details handy but to the best of my recollection the Buddha "preached" a sermon that consisted simply of holding up a flower and then asked the monks gathered to tell him their understanding. Three gave verbal descriptions and one simply smiled which was the best answer and supposedly that began the lineage of silent transmission which was zen... Probably not literally true but that's all I've got.
    "The Flower Sermon" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flower_Sermon

    :)
    :) I had a funny feeling you would have some light to shed on that.
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    Bodhidharma didn't create zen. Zen is a teacher student transmission back until Buddha.
  • betaboybetaboy Veteran
    Bodhidharma didn't create zen. Zen is a teacher student transmission back until Buddha.
    Bodhidharma didn't create zen. It was zen that created Bodhidharma.
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited June 2012
    Zen is unconditional according to my view on non-self. Thus Zen created everything yet Zen cannot be pinpointed. The ungraspable/pinpointable is pretty obvious.

    If Zen is conditional you'd have to say that Zen co-dependently arose with the Zen teachers, students, and mother culture.

    Both are true. Zen is both conditional and non.
  • howhow Veteran
    edited June 2012

    Here I thought Zen was just a Zen practitioners meditation.
    .
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    @how, I'll take that as a Zen koan :) I can't wrap my mind around your statement in relation to what I had said.
  • howhow Veteran

    Here I thought Zen was just a Zen practitioners meditation.
    .
    @how, I'll take that as a Zen koan :) I can't wrap my mind around your statement in relation to what I had said.</blockquote

    No koan to it. I think our two postings are identical.
  • zenffzenff Veteran
    Bodhidharma didn't create zen. Zen is a teacher student transmission back until Buddha.
    That’s the myth.
    The principle teachers of the Chan and Zen traditions are commonly known in English translations as Patriarchs, however the more precise terminology would be "Ancestors" or "Founders" (祖, zu3) and "Ancestral Masters" or "Founding Masters" (祖師, zu3shi1) as the commonly used Chinese terms are gender neutral.
    For these traditions the first Patriarch in the lineage after the Buddha was Mahakasyapa. Thereafter there were another 26 teachers in India before Bodhidharma, travelled to China in the 5th century CE, becoming the first Ch'an patriarch.[5][
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lineage_(Buddhism)
    This myth served a purpose. It validated the Chan-school and - as it was a transmission outside words - it conveniently put all debate about it's position in Buddhist philosophy aside.

    I think the story isn’t historically correct though, and it is important to see that. Our teachers have no ‘Dharma-Seal”; no approval dating back to the historic Buddha. They are people who do their best and who can make mistakes. They are open to criticism.
  • howhow Veteran
    edited June 2012
    If the Buddha lived 200 Years ago (the early 1800's) and then the folks on this site decided to write down the storeys that had only been memorized of his life and teachings, just how accurate would it be. Just how many folks would each retelling of a Buddhist story have gone through before it was finally written down today?
    Add to that a couple of conferences hundreds of years later that tried to bring some symmetry to those diverse stories of the Buddha, and you can forget about it representing reality.
    I look to the efficacy of what I've found in the Buddhas teachings as the whole "cred".

    Bodhidharma is also a teaching.
    It should breathe or fade away on the merit of it's own practise.
    A teaching that I think Bodhidharma would agree with.
  • zenffzenff Veteran
    Agree.
    The “meaning of Bodhidharma coming from the west” is the meaning of practice in my own life.
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    @zenff, how do you know the transmission was a myth? There might be a reality under the myth.

    Transmission just means a student of Buddha taught a student taught a student taught a student taught a students..

    It doesn't mean it needs be historically varified.
  • zenffzenff Veteran
    edited June 2012
    @Jeffrey
    Firstly I don’t have to prove a wild claim is wrong; the one making the claim should prove it is valid.
    The lineage is a very wild claim. It was made in retrospective - created something like a millennium after the first transmission supposedly took place (and the only visible sign of it was a smile on the face of a guy!).

    I’m off to work. But I did a fast Google search and found what appears to be an interesting book which deals with the myths and fantastic stories of Chan history.
    It’s not difficult to see; Zen is full of great stories.

    But that’s what they are; stories not actual history.
    http://www.thezensite.com/ZenBookReviews/seeing_through_zen.htm

    Lineage charts are myth-making devices designed to prove the authenticity of the teaching and to validate the teacher. Therefore, the importance of these charts lays mostly with those at the end of the chart. After all, long-dead masters have no use for lineage charts, but contemporary, living teachers and students may place great importance on these charts. To say that one's teachings are part of a long history that can be traced back to the Buddha himself gives great power and legitimacy to a contemporary teacher. (Lachs, 2002, 1994)

    And it is here where the importance of the myth of lineage really lies, not in the authenticity of the lineage itself. While lineages may be of great importance to those within the Zen community, the charts, based as they are on a "string of pearls" view of historical development where great men shine like the jewels in Indra's net, blinding all that is around them, lock us into a one-sided view of Chan development. They tell us nothing about why the charts were developed in the first place or the cultural and religious dynamics at play or their role in the development of the rich and variegated history that is Chan. This history is, after all, what Zen is today.
    Lineage charts, like much of Chan history, are retrospective. McRae makes an important point when talking about the history of Chan as we know it today:
    Time and again we find we are dealing, not with what happened at any given point, but with what people thought happened previously. We deal not so much in facts and events as in legends and reconstructions, not so much with accomplishments and contributions as with attributions and legacies. (p. 14-15, emphasis added)

  • My understanding is that "Zen" or "Ch'an" is a corruption of the Pali word "Dhyāna" which, in Hinduism, refers to meditation or meditative states.
    Yes, they pinched it from here:
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an09/an09.036.than.html

    :p
  • zenff, good quote. Reminds me of auteur theory in film, which has been similarly criticised.
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    @zenff, I didn't say I could prove there is a transmission. Transmission just means teacher to student. There are abundant stories of teacher to student in all learnings not just Buddhism. Why wouldn't there be a teacher/student relationships? We are not even in the zip code of proof. First we need to make hypotheses based on the info. My hypothesis is reasonable. If you were agnostic then the burden of proof is on me. But you are positing non-teacher/student. Because you are positing the proof is on each of us.

    For example suppose in 600 BC one person posited that the earth was the center of the universe, one person agnostic, and one posited the earth was not the center of the universe.

    Both assertions yes no need proof to establish.

    For example if I posited that you are not wearing jeans I would have the burden of proof.
  • In the strict sense of the term there no formal Zen school at the time of Bodhidharma nor did he create one. Early biographies say there were just individual dhyana/Zen teachers of which Bodhidharma was one of many. A so-called Zen school comes much later.
  • A more accurate translation is: "A special [separate] transmission outside the teachings" insofar as the character for Sutra ( jīng 經) is not in the slogan. Historically, the four slogans don't appear together until well into the Song dynasty. The particular slogan in question is a late addition. It is also important to understand that Zen or Chan does not reject Sutras (經).

    The older three slogans are:

    Directly point to human mind,
    see one’s nature and become Buddha,
    do not depend on written words.
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    Ch'an was an adaptation of Indian meditation tradition. Bodhidharma learned Ch'an and took that to Japan, AFAIK.
  • DaozenDaozen Veteran
    It is quite likely that Bodhidarma is a myth.

    But like most myths, it probably doesn't matter.
  • SileSile Veteran
    edited June 2012
    "Throughout Buddhist art, Bodhidharma is depicted as a rather ill-tempered, profusely bearded and wide-eyed barbarian. He is referred as "The Blue-Eyed Barbarian" (碧眼胡) in Chinese Chan texts." (Soothill, William Edward and Hodous, Lewis. A Dictionary of Chinese Buddhist Terms. London: RoutledgeCurzon, 1995.)

    The first Ch'an crazy-wisdom teacher, perhaps? :)

    image
  • zen......? always been there
  • zen...? not even there
Sign In or Register to comment.