China

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    Consider the Source: Are Baizhang’s Famous “Pure Rules” a Fake? Paid Member

    The ancient Chinese Zen master Baizhang established “pure rules” for the regulation of his monastery on Great Hero Mountain in China. The rules have served as the basis for monastic organization and practice for centuries, and their influence has extended to Zen monasteries throughout China and beyond. The Chinese Zen tradition acknowledges that The Pure Rules is a reconstruction written about 400 years after Baizhang lived. The original text of Baizhang’s regulations was lost in the chaos of war as Chinese dynasties rose and fell in the centuries following his death. Many take on faith that the current version of Baizhang’s rules was reconstructed to accurately reflect the original text based on available evidence. But this view may be entirely mistaken. More »
  • Buddha Buzz: The Face of Buddhist Terror & The Face of the Dalai Lama (in Tibet) Paid Member

    Buddhist-led anti-Muslim violence and persecution has received unprecedented mass-media attention in the past couple weeks. Images of Wirathu—monk-leader of the “969” movement, recognized for its hate speech and for inciting violence against Burma’s Muslims—have now graced both the cover of TIME and the front page of The New York Times. More »
  • Consider the Source: Why is Bodhidharma Credited as the "First Ancestor" of the Chan (Zen) School? Paid Member

    Although Bodhidharma is honored as the “First Ancestor” of Zen Buddhism in China, historians know well that Zen not only preceded Bodhidharma, it was also widely practiced centuries before his arrival. So how did Bodhidharma acquire the honored title of “The First”? The foreign Parthian monk An Shigao is credited with introducing Zen to China in the 2nd century, roughly 300 years before Bodhidharma arrived in China. Plenty of evidence indicates that Zen gained popularity soon thereafter, with historical records indicating that Zen flourished in China’s Northern Liang Dynasty at least 50 years before Bodhidharma came on the scene. More »
  • Consider the Source: Why didn't Chinese Zen dharma halls have Buddhist icons? Paid Member

    In traditional Chinese Zen, the dharma hall had a special status as the place where the Zen master expounded the dharma. It was purposefully separated from the Buddha hall, where statues of the Buddha and other notables provided prominent devotional icons for temple services and visitors. The dharma hall itself, however, was always bare of such figures. Why? More »
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    Consider the Source: Why Did Tea Come to Symbolize Enlightenment? Paid Member

    The great Zen master Zhaozhou (Joshu)’s advice to seekers of the Way was “Go drink tea.” Zhaozhou’s contemporary, Zen Master Jiashan Shanhui, famously uttered, “Tea, Zen: one taste,” a phrase that adorns countless tea houses in China. What’s the story behind Chinese Zen and tea culture’s intimate relationship? More »
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    Consider the Source: Why is the Yellow River yellow (and what does it have to do with Buddhism)? Paid Member

    The Yellow River is an iconic symbol of Chinese civilization. Its yellowness comes from the immense amount of silt it carries from the desert regions in the northwest, where Buddhism entered China via the Silk Road. The sand blown off from those deserts has blanketed the region for millenia, leaving soil that is both fertile and easy to dig. The main result was the civilization’s early farming communities. The easily dug soil from the desert also helped create a great number of caves, which house thirty million Chinese people to this day. More »