Author Topic: The differences between Ch'an and Zen  (Read 6686 times)

Offline ChangYuan

  • The Inept Buddhist
  • Member
  • Posts: 98
  • Always in the Origin of the Buddha Mind
    • View Profile
    • Inept Buddhist Blog
The differences between Ch'an and Zen
« on: April 02, 2010, 08:17:57 am »
It seems most places on the net you go, many people will find these to be interchangeable. I have to say I find this rather disconcerting, because if you look at the practices of the 2 traditions, they are really quite different. I know that Zen came about when Ch'an was brought over from China, but the practices were adapted to suit the needs of the people which they were brought to, and so are very different from where they originated. I have never heard of zen practitioners doing nianfo, or chanting of the 88-Buddha's names, which are common practice in Ch'an. Who knows, maybe it is just me......
地藏菩萨灭定业真言
OM BA LA MO LING TO NING SVAHA

Offline FaDao

  • Member
  • Posts: 56
    • View Profile
Re: The differences between Ch'an and Zen
« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2010, 11:34:44 am »
It seems most places on the net you go, many people will find these to be interchangeable. I have to say I find this rather disconcerting, because if you look at the practices of the 2 traditions, they are really quite different. I know that Zen came about when Ch'an was brought over from China, but the practices were adapted to suit the needs of the people which they were brought to, and so are very different from where they originated. I have never heard of zen practitioners doing nianfo, or chanting of the 88-Buddha's names, which are common practice in Ch'an. Who knows, maybe it is just me......
The Ch'an that went to Japan was mainly from Linji (Rinzai), Fuke and Obaku lineages. Linji, Fuke and Obaku lines are southern "Dao Chan" lineages.

Those lineages were not particularly "big on chanting". The chanting thing comes from what is now the "Pure Land" lineage -- which lineage is among the "Five Houses of Classical Ch'an" but more closely aligned with the northern "Confucian Ch'an".

It is all Ch'an -- just different approaches to practice.

Japanese Zen is definitely closely tied to southern Dao Ch'an -- but a few steps away from the techniques of Northern Ch'an.

One mountain -- many paths.

Namo Amitofo
- Fa Dao -

Offline Dae Bi

  • Member
  • Posts: 45
  • All you need is love
    • View Profile
Re: The differences between Ch'an and Zen
« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2010, 03:59:13 pm »
What about Caodong/Soto?
I am he as you are he and we are all together.
                                                                           The Beatles

First there is a mountain then there is no mountain,
then there is.
                       Donovan

Offline ChangYuan

  • The Inept Buddhist
  • Member
  • Posts: 98
  • Always in the Origin of the Buddha Mind
    • View Profile
    • Inept Buddhist Blog
Re: The differences between Ch'an and Zen
« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2010, 04:53:41 pm »
That's a good question. I really am not sure, as the founder of the Ch'an school I am associated with was a master in both the Linji and Caodong lineages; Ven Master Sheng Yen.
地藏菩萨灭定业真言
OM BA LA MO LING TO NING SVAHA

Offline lowonthetotem

  • Member
  • Posts: 871
    • View Profile
Re: The differences between Ch'an and Zen
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2010, 08:29:03 am »
I've found the similarities in Soto/Rinzai to be more profound than the differences.  They are both expressions of the Great Vehicle, and I think a fair amount of hair splitting has to occur to differentiate them.  Similarly, Chan and Zen (and Tien and Soen for that matter) are simply manifestations of the Dhyana tradition in different countries in differnet languages and in different periods.  Although the flavor may vary somewhat, they all offer relatively the same food for thought so to speak.  In many cases these differentiations are more political than theoretical, in my opinion.  Of course, I do tend toward a more non-sectarian view of things.  I think these classifications have more to do with looking back at things passed and explaining them as opposed to any profound difference in actual practice.  In the end, the sentiments are the same, as well as the goal, even with Pureland and, I would say, the rest of the Mahayana (including Vajrayana) traditions.

Offline FaDao

  • Member
  • Posts: 56
    • View Profile
Re: The differences between Ch'an and Zen
« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2010, 12:12:33 pm »
What about Caodong/Soto?

In Japan, Caodong (Soto) derived from a more "Northern Chan" (Confucian / gradualist) approach. Linji (Rinzai) derived from the "Southern Chan" (Tao / inspirational) approach.

In China, the Caodong and Linji lineages melded into the United Houses of Ch'an.

Ultimately, the four lineages (Soto / Rinzai in Japan, Caodong and Linji in China) melded quite well -- and the differences are more a matter of meditation technique than of actual dhamma.

Namo Amitofo
- Fa Dao -

Offline Dae Bi

  • Member
  • Posts: 45
  • All you need is love
    • View Profile
Re: The differences between Ch'an and Zen
« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2010, 03:54:38 pm »
From what I have gathered,  Soto tends to put more emphasis on Dogen than the Buddha.   Many Soto teachers don't believe in rebirth either.
I am he as you are he and we are all together.
                                                                           The Beatles

First there is a mountain then there is no mountain,
then there is.
                       Donovan

Offline lowonthetotem

  • Member
  • Posts: 871
    • View Profile
Re: The differences between Ch'an and Zen
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2010, 06:44:52 am »
Quote
Soto tends to put more emphasis on Dogen than the Buddha.   Many Soto teachers don't believe in rebirth either.

This would seem to over-estimate a difference in what Dogen taught and Buddha Dharma.  Several times in Japanese history, monks travel to China to learn from Chinese Ch'an Masters.  Almost invariably, when they return, a new school begins to form.  I am not sure that the re-patriated monks would have seen their teachings as revolutionary in any way (often they tend to be reassertions of the traditional Mahayana), but subsequent generations tend to look back at them with veneration.  Their important can be seen as similar to the phenomenon of Bodhidharma coming to China.

In Dogen's own work, very early he urges monastics to take the Bodhisattva vows immediately.  What would be the purpose of such a call without an acceptance of rebirth.  There may be some translation issues that obscure concepts of rebirth and what is actually reborn.  It is our Kharma, or storehouse consciousness, that is reborn, rather than any aspect of our identity, personality, or self.  Of course there is a discussion of this going on in the danger zone.

Offline Ron-the-Elder

  • Member
  • Posts: 4485
  • May all beings live rightly and harmoniously.
    • View Profile
Re: The differences between Ch'an and Zen
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2010, 12:08:22 pm »
The main differences (I) can see:

a.  One begins with a C, the with a Z.

b.  One has an apostrophe.  The other has none.

c.  One has four letters.  The other three.

d.  One was practiced first in China.  The other in Japan.

e.  One has > one third of the world population practicing it.  The other is pretty much limited to Japan, Europe, The U.S. and Australia.

That's about all I've got.
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline Dae Bi

  • Member
  • Posts: 45
  • All you need is love
    • View Profile
Re: The differences between Ch'an and Zen
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2010, 03:53:06 pm »
Two Soto priests were Banned on esangha for their anti rebirth stances.   I have read some Dogen and find his work, wonderful.  But that has nothing to do with my earlier post.   
I am he as you are he and we are all together.
                                                                           The Beatles

First there is a mountain then there is no mountain,
then there is.
                       Donovan

Offline pickledpitbull

  • Member
  • Posts: 271
    • View Profile
Re: The differences between Ch'an and Zen
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2010, 04:18:31 pm »
Actually, the mark in "Chan" isn't an apostrophe, it's a tone mark, indicating that the word is pronounced in the second tone.  It's pronounced "Chan?", as if it were a question.
You've been taught that there is something wrong with you and that you are imperfect, but there isn't and you're not.


~ Cheri Huber

Offline FaDao

  • Member
  • Posts: 56
    • View Profile
Re: The differences between Ch'an and Zen
« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2010, 03:51:10 pm »
Actually, the mark in "Chan" isn't an apostrophe, it's a tone mark, indicating that the word is pronounced in the second tone.  It's pronounced "Chan?", as if it were a question.
True enough --
which is a problem of translation into English.

The ideogram 禅 is the same in both Japanese and Chinese.

Pronunciation varies.

As to the difference between Zen and Ch'an -- perhaps we can illustrate. If a man teaches his son everything he knows and the son then teaches others, what is the difference between the teachings of the man and the teachings of his son?

Not always an easy question to answer.

Namo Amitofo
Fa Dao
« Last Edit: April 09, 2010, 03:56:38 pm by FaDao, Reason: clarity »

Offline lowonthetotem

  • Member
  • Posts: 871
    • View Profile
Re: The differences between Ch'an and Zen
« Reply #12 on: April 12, 2010, 11:13:20 am »
Quote
Two Soto priests were Banned on esangha for their anti rebirth stances.

I am familiar with this, but I am not sure that someone's willingness to argue a point represents a broadly accepted belief in Soto, or even a strong personal belief in an individual.  As I mentioned, I haven't seen anything in Dogen's writings or in the comentaries of other Soto patriarchs that would suggest a disbelief in rebirth, although Zen does promote a non-attachment to views/opinions.  Just as some Priests molest children, the Catholic church doesn't promote pedophilia, what a priest or two says on an internet forum, regardless of how prestigious it may be, doesn't, in my opinion, present some profound difference between Rinzai and Soto or Ch'an and Zen and Soen and Tien.

I think what differentiates Ch'an and Zen more than anything is how preceding religious/philosophical frameworks, like those of Confucianism, Taoism, and Shinto, may have affected the language used to make Buddhism more culturally relevant and available in each of the different societies.

Offline FaDao

  • Member
  • Posts: 56
    • View Profile
Re: The differences between Ch'an and Zen
« Reply #13 on: April 12, 2010, 12:37:57 pm »
Quote
Two Soto priests were Banned on esangha for their anti rebirth stances.

I am familiar with this, but I am not sure that someone's willingness to argue a point represents a broadly accepted belief in Soto, or even a strong personal belief in an individual.  As I mentioned, I haven't seen anything in Dogen's writings or in the comentaries of other Soto patriarchs that would suggest a disbelief in rebirth, although Zen does promote a non-attachment to views/opinions.  Just as some Priests molest children, the Catholic church doesn't promote pedophilia, what a priest or two says on an internet forum, regardless of how prestigious it may be, doesn't, in my opinion, present some profound difference between Rinzai and Soto or Ch'an and Zen and Soen and Tien.

I think what differentiates Ch'an and Zen more than anything is how preceding religious/philosophical frameworks, like those of Confucianism, Taoism, and Shinto, may have affected the language used to make Buddhism more culturally relevant and available in each of the different societies.

True enough.

Once upon as time "I" read Dogen -- but Dogen diverged into Shinto from the root  Dao Ch'an of Huineng and Linji that made sense to "me", so I quit reading Dogen.

It was not a difficult decision.

Namo Amitofo
- Fa Dao -

Offline kindergarden

  • Member
  • Posts: 13
    • View Profile
Re: The differences between Ch'an and Zen
« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2010, 09:40:52 am »
Dear FaDao, please comment future on your belief that Dogen diverged into Shinto. Thank you.

 


SimplePortal 2.3.3 © 2008-2010, SimplePortal