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2019 Blog Posts

Dharma – An Aspect of Truth (12/24/2019)

Dharma (Sanskrit: धर्म, romanized: dharma; Pali: धम्म, romanized: dhamma; Traditional Chinese: 法, romanized: ) is a central idea of truth or reality with different meanings in multiple Indian religions. Dharma is held in Hinduism as a cosmic law of the eternal and inherent nature of reality underlying right behavior and social order. In Buddhism, dharma is the nature of reality seen as a universal truth taught by the Buddha. Read More

Yang T'ai Chi Chuan – The Soft Art (11/28/2019)

T'ai chi (Taiji), short for Tai chi chuan (Taijiquan), or T'ai chi ch'üan (pinyin: tàijíquán; 太极拳), is an internal Chinese martial art practiced for its defense training, its health benefits, and meditation. T'ai chi chuan has spread worldwide. Most present day styles of tai chi chuan trace their development to at least one of the five traditional schools: Chen, Yang, Wu (Hao), Wu, and Sun. All of the schools trace their historical origins to Chen Village. Yang family-style (Traditional Chinese: 楊氏; pinyin: Yángshì) T'ai Chi Chuan is the most popular style in the world today and second in seniority among the main five family styles of T'ai Chi Chuan. Read More

Northern School of Ch'an Versus Southern School of Ch'an Controversy (10/29/2019)

The East Mountain School (falsely labeled as the Northern School) of Dayi Daoshin (580–651) the Fourth Patriarch of Ch'an and Daman Hongren (601–674) the Fifth Patriarch of Ch'an made remarkable contributions to Buddhism from its development in China to its spread to Tibet and East Asia. Although it is no longer a living tradition, its influence continues to the present day. Read More

Heze Shenhui – The Creator of the Southern School of Ch'an (9/28/2019)

Heze Shenhui (Traditional Chinese: 菏泽神會/神会; Wade–Giles: Ho-tse Shen-hui, 684–758) was a Chinese Buddhist monk who sowed dissension among the ranks of the Ch'an clergy of China. He created the so-called "Southern School" of Ch'an and falsely labeled the "East Mountain School" of Dayi Daoxin (580–651) the Fourth Patriarch and Daman Hongren (601–674) the Fifth Patriarch as the "Northern School," fueling an artificial Northern and Southern School controversy. He supposedly studied under both Yuquan Shenxiu (606–706) the Sixth Patriarch and Dajian Huineng (638–713), but later started a campaign that had Huineng posthumously named as Sixth Patriarch and himself as Seventh Patriarch over Songshan Puji (651–739). Shenhui had a great impact on the rhetoric of Chinese Ch'an Buddhism and the lineage of China's Ch'an Patriarchs. Read More

Luzhou Faru – Pioneer of the Northern School of Ch'an  (8/27/2019)

Luzhou Faru (Traditional Chinese: 潞州法如; pinyin: Lùzhōu Fǎrù; Wade–Giles: Lo-chou Fa-ju; 638–689) was a prominent Chinese Ch'an master during the Tang Dynasty. He taught the dharma in northern China and developed the style that was later called the Northern School of Ch'an. Read More

Songshan Puji – The "Forgotten" Seventh Patriarch of Ch'an  (7/28/2019)

Songshan Puji (Traditional Chinese: 嵩山 普 寂, pinyin Sōngshān Pǔjì; Wade–Giles: Sung-shan P'u-chi) was a Ch'an master of the East Mountain School. Puji (651–739) was the Seventh Patriarch of Chinese Ch'an after Bodhidharma and the Dharma successor of Yuquan Shenxiu (606?–706), the "first" Sixth Patriarch. Due to the controversy between the Northern and Southern Schools of Ch'an, though, Puji's place in history has been obscured. Read More

Yuquan Shenxiu – The "First" Sixth Patriarch of Ch'an  (6/27/2019)

Yuquan Shenxiu (Traditional Chinese: 玉泉神秀; pinyin: Yùquán Shénxiù; Wade–Giles: Yü-ch'üan Shen-hsiu) was one of the most prominent Ch'an masters of his time. Shenxiu (606?–706) was a Patriarch of the East Mountain Teaching at Huangmei Mountain and the publicly recognized Sixth Patriarch and Dharma successor of Daman Hongren (601–674), the Fifth Patriarch of Ch'an. He was honored by Empress Wu Zetian (reign 690–705) and was the reputed writer of the Guan Xin Lun (Treatise on the Contemplation of the Mind, composed circa 675–700), a piece of writing once credited to Bodhidharma, the first Patriarch of Ch'an. He is also incorrectly termed the founder and first patriarch of the discredited Northern School of Ch'an. Read More

Dajian Huineng – The "Official" Sixth Patriarch of Ch'an  (5/29/2019)

Dajian Huineng (Traditional Chinese: 大鑒惠能; pinyin: Dàjiàn Huìnéng; Wade–Giles: Ta-chien Hui-neng; 638–713), is the Sixth Patriarch of Chinese Ch'an following Bodhidharma and the successor of Daman Hongren, the Fifth Patriarch of Ch'an. He is a central and semi-legendary figure in early Chinese Ch'an Buddhism. Fiction is difficult to separate from facts in his life accounts. He is said to not have passed on the Dharma and Bodhidharma's robe to any of his disciples, making him the last official patriarch though unofficial "patriarchs" of different lineages derived from Ch'an emerged. Though the current schools of Ch'an see Huineng as their ancestor, his status as the Sixth Patriarch is based on dubious grounds. Read More

Daman Hongren – The Fifth Patriarch of Ch'an  (4/24/2019)

Daman Hongren (Traditional Chinese: 大滿弘忍; Hànyǔ Pīnyīn: Dàmǎn Hóngrěn; Wade-Giles: Ta-man Hung-jen) is the Fifth Patriarch of Chinese Ch'an after Bodhidharma and the immediate successor of Dayi Daoxin, the Fourth Patriarch of Ch'an. He lived from 601–674. He stepped into the shoes of his master Daoxin and brought his master's work of creating a Ch'an monastic community to fruition. Read More

Dayi Daoxin – The Fourth Patriarch of Ch'an  (3/31/2019)

Dayi Daoxin (Traditional Chinese: 道信, pinyin: Dàoxìn; Wade–Giles: Ta-i Tao-hsin; 580–651) was the Fourth Patriarch of Chinese Ch'an after Bodhidharma.

. . .

Daoxin was born at or near present Huai-ning, Anhui Province, north of the Yellow River His surname was Si-ma. His life spanned the Sui and early Tang dynasties, which promoted religious freedom unlike the preceding Northern Zhou dynasty. He began studying Buddhism at age seven. Though his first teacher was himself morally bankrupt, Daoxin maintained his own Buddhist morality and integrity. Read More

Jianzhi Sengcan – The Third Patriarch of Ch'an  (2/26/2019)

Jianzhi Sengcan (Traditional Chinese: 鑑智僧璨; Hànyǔ Pīnyīn: Jiànzhì Sēngcàn; Wade–Giles: Chien-chih Seng-ts'an; 496?–606) is known as the Third Patriarch of Chinese Ch'an after Bodhidharma and thirtieth Patriarch after Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha.

The historical records of Sengcan are limited. The year and place of Sengcan's birth is unknown as well as his family surname. Of all the Chinese patriarchs, Sengcan is the least known.

Some sources say that Sengcan was over forty years old when he met Dazu Huike, the Second Patriarch of Ch'an, in 536. He studied with Huike for six years, who named him Sengcan ("Gem Monk"). Read More

Dazu Huike – The Second Patriarch of Ch'an  (1/27/2019)

Dazu Huike (487–593; Chinese: 大祖慧可; pinyin: Dàzǔ Huìkě; Wade–Giles: Ta-tsu Hui-k'o) is regarded as the Second Patriarch of Chinese Ch'an after Bodhidharma and the twenty-ninth since Gautama Buddha.

Like with many of the early Chinese patriarchs, little information is available about Huike's life.

According to the Further Biographies of Eminent Monks (645) by Tao-hsuan (?–667), Huike was born in Hu-lao (Sishui, present day Xingyang, Henan). His secular name was Shénguāng (Traditional Chinese: 神光; pinyin: Shen-kuang). Though he was a scholar of the three teachings of Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism and regarded as an enlightened being, Shénguāng was criticized for not having a teacher.

Shénguāng met his teacher Bodhidharma at the Shaolin Temple in 528 when he was about forty years old. He studied with Bodhidharma for about 6 years (other sources state four years, five years, or nine years). Shénguāng gradually turned away from the life of a scholar and intellectualism toward pure experience.

In other traditions, Huike was a famous general who had killed many people in battle. One day, though, he realized that the people he had slain had family and friends who might one day kill him in retribution. Shénguāng decided to ordain as a Buddhist monk and he became a great speaker on Buddhism. Read More

 

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