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Tao and Zen and Ch'an

To: alt.philosophy.taoism
From: lawrence day 
Subject: Re: Tao and Zen and Ch'an
Date: Sun, 05 Mar 2000 13:38:30 -0500

lisa wrote:

> > (Doug) wrote:
> >This is a somewhat hazy post, but I hope that you can extract my
> >meaning.
> Hopefully you won't mind my space cookiness then.  I haven't been posting much
> here lately because of it, but at the risk of public humiliation here I go...

Hi Li,
I always enjoy your posts myself. :-)

>>Are there some saying by Zen masters that are Taoist?  If a Zen person

> >says something that is Taoist in principle or derived from the CT or
> >TTC is it automatically Zen, or does it remain Tao?  Can a Zen person
> >touch the Tao?

To look for 'Zen' relationships with Tao is difficult, for Zen is the
Japanese tradition. However Tao relates easily with early Chan
which is almost indistinguishable in many places. Chao-chou for
example discusses Tao with Nan-chuan and gets enlightened before even
becoming a Buddhist monk.
For my lengthy and pedantic essay on 'Chan and Tao' in that historical
period, visit the library at either Derek Lin's site or
at David Oller's Buddhist

> The essence of tao is found everywhere.  It is the way of something.  Why not
> the way of Zen?

Neither fit into words or logic it seems..
So indeed, why not?

> >
> >My gut feeling is that when the saying get complicated, that is Zenny,
> >and Buddhist, but when they are simple they are Taoist.
> hmmm... The conclusion (still subject to change) I've come to about Tao and Zen
> (don't know about Buddhism) is that Zen statements are self-contained and not
> looking for a "response," where Tao statements beg one.  For those familiar
> with both Tao and Zen, what do you think of my conclusion?

'Zen and Ta' is the name of the very first chapter in John Wu's 'The Golden Age of
Zen'. Wu emphasizes Chuang-tzu's influence, even on the later question and answer
style 'koan' interviews, eg, a student comes to learn from Lao-tzu;
Lao says: "Who are all these people you brought with you?" The
student looks around but he came alone. "Do you understand?" asks Lao.

> >As an aside, I suspect that the women in those zen stories who
> >confound zen masters and who the senior zen master remarks are not
> >really that perceptive because she did not treat the senior zen master
> >differently than his students are really Taoists,
> Seems reasonable that one who chooses to take the title of zen master would be
> looking for recognition as being superior to his students.

Ironically modern Zen has changed a lot from early Chan.
Lin-chi (the original 'founder' of what is now Rinzai) celebrated the ideal
[teacher?] as a 'true man of no title' or a 'independent man of Tao' (wu-i
Tung-shan (founder of Soto tradition) complained to his early teacher
abbot Ch'u asking:
"Buddha and Tao are but names and words, why don't we
study the true doctrine?"
Ch'u asks what that is, and Tung-shan quotes Chuang-tzu:
"When you have got the idea, forget about the words." :-)

>  Is there such a
> thing as a female zen master?

Waley's chapter 210 in 'Buddhist Texts Through the Ages' (ed, Conze)
is called  'From the Lives of the Nuns'
mentioning Ching-chien, Seng-kuo, and nun Feng (died, 504 CE).
Whether they qualified as 'Zen' is debatable because the distinctions were still
at that time. But another interesting Buddhist female voice considered
'enlightened' was the Tibetan poetess Saraha who wrote a treasury of songs.
(chapter 188 in this old college text).
Also,  chapter 211, the Seng-ts'an is worth comparing to a Taoist view. (No
knowledge of Buddhism is required; in Waley's translation no technical terms are
used at all.)
And just to say you've seen it, like Niagara Falls, check out this amazing
Budd-tech term on p. 202: "Aryatarabhattarikanamashtottarasatakastotra". I'm not
sure what it means, but it clearly demonstrates a basic difference in Buddhist
viewpoint from Taoist vocabulary!

>  and that what the
> >Zen master is missing is that he too stinks too much of zen.  I am
> >going to have to start collecting those stories and test this out.

Get the real histories, not the censored Japanese versions.
Chan was antiauthoritarian; the Japanese adapted the stories through a veil of
authoritarian Shinto, thereby eliminating or obscuring much of the Taoist elements.

> >But there are some masters who pay direct homage to CT I am told and I
> >am always reminded of the stories of Layman P'ang such as
> >
> >"The Laymand was once selling bamboo baskets.  Coming down off a
> >bridge he stumbled and fell.  When Ling-chao (his daughter) saw this
> >she ran to her father's side and threw herself down.
> >"What are you doing!" cried the layman.
> >"I saw Papa fall to the ground, so I'm helping," replied Ling-chao.
> >"Luckily no one was looking," remarked the Layman."
> >
> >All but the last line have a taoist flavor to me, but that may be my
> >defect.
> Not sure about that last line either, but the rest of it sounds like Confucian
> filiality to me.

(from another thread:)
What I mean is a formal title.  I'm sure there are plenty of men and women zen
masters without one.  A formal title of master seems to carry the air of
superiority with it.

how about a Zen Mistress? ;-)

wu-i tao-jen rules!
--lawrence the stinky

> Lisa
> >--
> >Lao Wombat

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