For this month’s open-audience, open-discussion “Ask Us Anything” — continuing discussions about meditation and related topics — Denny and I sum up the themes of our last two conversations on Mahayana and Theravada while adding in the 3rd Buddhist Council. We then wrap-up the developmental history of Buddhism in China, South East Asia and Tibet. Finally we move into the history of Zen Buddhism. From Denny’s notes (most of which is covered in this talk and/or previous talks):
- Zen is Chán which is 禪, short for 禪那, or jhāna.
- Zen was first brought to Japan in the Kamakura era (12th century) through Korea (which originally came through China in the 9th century).
- Zen was welcomed by the samurai class, combining Zen, Confucianism and Shintoism and developing into Bushido, a code of honor and ideals, which eventually enabled the transfer of power away from the imperial aristocracy.
- In 1187, Zen master Eisai returned to Japan from China and brought with him the Rinzai tradition.
- In 1223, another Zen master Dōgen went to China, upon return he brought back the Soto tradition.
- «Rinzai for the Shōgun, Sōtō for the peasants»
- Rinzai is famous for the kōan (a riddle to keep the mind in suspense)
- Sōtō is famous for “Shikantaza” (Only Sitting).
- Rinzai and Sōtō are two of the five schools formed by students of the sixth patriarch (Huineng, 638 ~ 713).
- Shikantaza is much misunderstood. In reality, Shikantaza is a shorthand for 默照 (Silent Illumination) which is the integration between shamatha (calming of the mind) and vipashyana (contemplation).