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  1. 1. ZEN (CH’AN) BUDDHISM 1
  2. 2. • Both the words "Zen" (Japanese) and "Ch'an" (Chinese) derive from the Sanskrit word Dhyana, meaning "meditation." Zen Buddhism focuses on attaining enlightenment (bodhi) through meditation as Siddharta Gautama did. It teaches that all human beings have the Buddha-nature, or the potential to attain enlightenment, within them, but the Buddha-nature been clouded by ignorance. 2
  3. 3. • To overcome this ignorance, Zen rejects the study of scriptures, religious rites, devotional practices, and good works in favor of meditation leading to a sudden breakthrough of insight and awareness of ultimate reality. Training in the Zen path is usually undertaken by a disciple under the guidance of a master. 3
  4. 4. BUDDHISM COMES TO EAST ASIA • “Silk Road” merchants and missionaries transmit Buddhism to China by 65 CE • As Han 漢 dynasty (202 BCE-220 CE) declines, Chinese elites turn away from Confucianism to Daoism and Buddhism, often combining elements of each in syncretistic mix • By Tang 唐 dynasty (618-907 CE), Buddhism reaches zenith of its popularity in China • From China, Buddhism spreads to Vietnam, Korea, and Japan 4
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  6. 6. CHALLENGES TO BUDDHISM IN CHINA • Geographic: difficulty of India-China travel • Linguistic: translation of foreign texts and concepts • Political: conflicts between rulers and sangha; separation between north and south during “Period of Disunity” • Religious: competition with and/or dilution by Confucianism and Daoism • Social: traditional Chinese distaste for foreign ways (e.g., celibacy, monasticism, Sanskrit terminology, karma theory) 6
  7. 7. ROOTS OF EAST ASIAN BUDDHISM • Buddhists in Tang China develop theory of “Last Days of the Dharma” (Chinese mofa, Japanese mappo 末法) – view of present as degenerate era in which former methods of teaching do not suffice for enlightenment • “Desperate times call for desperate measures” – tendency to focus solely on one text or practice • Chan 禪 = Sanskrit dhyana (“meditation” – Japanese: Zen) • Chan goal: Chinese jianxing, Japanese kensho 見性 (seeing one’s true nature) – sudden enlightenment • Based on Theravāda concept of individual effort (Chinese zili, Japanese jiriki自力) and Tantric meditation techniques • Enlightenment verified by “mind-to-mind” transmission from master to disciple, beginning with Bodhidharma (Indian, 400s CE?) 7
  8. 8. SOURCES OF JAPANESE BUDDHISM • Buddhism (Tantric, Chan, Pure Land) introduced during 500s CE by Korean immigrants, missionaries, and diplomats • Functions of Buddhism in early Japan: 1. Instrument of diplomacy 2. Vehicle of civilization 3. Symbol of political power • Shintô-Buddhist syncretism: 1. theory of honji suijaku 本地 重跡 (original reality, manifest traces) 2. Buddhas and bodhisattvas are honji, kami are suijaku 8
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  10. 10. DEVELOPMENT OF THE CHAN/ZEN TRADITION • Degeneration of dharma justifies rejection of devotion and scriptures in favor of meditation as sole or primary method of attaining enlightenment • Reality must be seen as it is (nondualistic, spontaneous, “empty”) • Two major sects: 1. Chinese Linji, Japanese Rinzai 臨濟 – uses riddles (Chinese gong’an, Japanese koan 公案), verbal abuse and meditation 2. Chinese Caotong, Japanese Soto 曹狪 -- uses meditation only 10
  11. 11. LEGACIES OF THE CHAN/ZEN TRADITION • Cements syncretism of indigenous and imported elements (Buddhism/Daoism, Buddhism/Shintô) in East Asian Buddhism • Hugely influential on East Asian cultures: 1. Calligraphy 2. Cuisine (e.g., tea) 3. Drama (especially in Japan) 4. Martial arts (e.g., fencing) 5. Painting 6. Philosophy 7. Poetry 8. Ritual (e.g., tea ceremony) 11
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