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RELG 1681 (13)
Lecture

Quest for Enlightenment 10.docx

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Department
Religious Studies
Course
RELG 1681
Professor
Sam Borsman
Semester
Fall

Description
Chinese Buddhism  Buddhism on its way to China underwent a long process of acculturation  probably brought by traders working the silk route  Chinese less interested in philosophy, more interested in magical powers, rain making, deities  from Central Asia (Afghanistan, Pakistan) to desert regions along silk route to Northwestern China (c. 50 CE) o not influential at first... seen as a foreign "barbarian" religion  collapse of the Hand Dynasty (221 CE) o quetsioning of the old social and religious ethic (Confucianism) brings interest in Buddhism  central Asian translators brought into China to translate Buddhist scriptures o monk-translator Kumarajiva arrives in 401 CE, and many of his translations are still the standard East Asian texts, had a team of 50 monks working to translate under him, hundreds of works o emperor kidnapped him, put him in a harem of women, tried to enforce early eugenics by producing children he thought would be brilliant as well o no original Chinese words for "enlightenment" etc, sometimes translators had to make up new words, use words from other languages  translation problems o Indian Buddhist sutras full of abstract philosophical concepts (ie. shunyata) and mythology, yet CHinese thought was very down to earth o Chinese Daoist concepts used for Buddhist terms  the Buddhist path becomes a "Way" or Dao and shunyata is translated as "nothing" or "non-being" or wu (problems because it was seen as negative, nihlistic)  this translation technique was known as "matching the meaning" or geyi  later translators of Buddhist scriptures, like Kumarajiva produced actual Chinese words for text  Xuanzang (596-664 CE) journeys to India to research Yogacara philosophy o travelled to India for 17 years, studying languages and collecting scriptures which he translates and brings back to China o his travelogue becomes basis for Chinese classic (anime and live action series') Journey to the West, quite popular in 1960/70s, battling demons as he tries to collect the scriptures  in his quest to find Buddhist sutras in India, Xuanzang is accompanied by four disciples: a pig, a river ogre named Sandy, a monkey, a dragon king  Sui-Tang Period (581-907) o Buddhsim takes root in China and develops its own distinctive schools, which rise to prominence over early Indian schools in China (ie. Yogacara, Madhyamaka)  Chan (Japanese, Zen), Pure Land, Tiantai, Huayan o vegetarianism becomes the norm for monks/nuns, and for many laypeople o however, Buddhism still seen by many as foreign, "barbarian" and corrupting  Confucianism stressed family and political order, BUddhism seen as anti- family (ie. monasticism) and apolitical  Chan Buddhism o the word "Chan" derives from Sanskrit dhyana, meaning a "meditative state" (becomes Zen in Japan) o doctrinally, Chan teaches:  all beings have Buddha-nature, and are able to achieve enlightenment through meditation and/or the removal of mental obstructions  a "sudden" path to enlightenment, one must only realize one's true Buddha-nature (inclusive of women, especially in Japan)  a direct seeing of one's own true nature, sometimes critical of doctrinal/scriptural study and complex Buddhist philosophy  the need for a teacher, who may teach through gong-an (including shouting, hitting, meditation) o claims to pass on the Buddha-mind from teacher to disciple  legendary founding of Chan traced to Shakyamuni Buddha preaching by holding up a flower, only Mahakashyapa understands and becomes the first patriarch (when you pay attention to one thing, thinking of nothing else, you can reach enlightenment)- "What is the secret to enlightenment" "Shitting and pissing" o traces its Chinese origins to Bodhidharma (c. 5th century), an Indian monk who brought the teaching to China  he is the 1st Chinese patriarch, the 28th patriarch in the lineage of teachers going back to Shakyamuni Buddha  generally viewed to be part of folklore, no actual records of existing  meditated staring at a wall for 9 years, taught that all sentient beings are the same as dharmata, all beings are inherently Buddhas, realized through "wall gazing"  according to legend, meditates for 9 years in a cave, his disciple Huike
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