China Root: Taoism, Chan, and Original Zen David Hinton

Discussion on the three big Chinese internals, Yiquan, Bajiquan, Piguazhang and other similar styles.

China Root: Taoism, Chan, and Original Zen David Hinton

Postby Bob on Mon May 25, 2020 10:09 am

At times there have been a substantial amount of references to the Chinese Martial Arts and Buddhism - one of my colleagues once made reference to the assertion that all Chinese martial arts had their roots in Buddhism from India thereby claiming India had substantial influence on the art - the book by David Hinton will be an interesting read in that the Buddhism we refer to in the Chinese martial arts and culture in general has its own influence from the Chinese Daoist origins.

I am sure this will be an interesting and useful read let alone being controversial with regard to the nature of Buddhism found in China.

https://www.amazon.com/China-Root-Taois ... 153&sr=1-4

A beautifully compelling and liberating guide to the original nature of Zen in ancient China by renowned author and translator David Hinton.

Buddhism migrated from India to China in the first century C.E., and Ch'an (Japanese: Zen) is generally seen as China's most distinctive and enduring form of Buddhism. In China Root, however, David Hinton shows how Ch'an was in fact a Buddhist-influenced extension of Taoism, China's native system of spiritual philosophy. Unlike Indian Buddhism's abstract sensibility, Ch'an was grounded in an earthy and empirically-based vision. Exploring this vision, Hinton describes Ch'an as a kind of anti-Buddhism. A radical and wild practice aspiring to a deeply ecological liberation: the integration of individual consciousness with landscape and with a Cosmos seen as harmonious and alive.

In China Root, Hinton describes this original form of Zen with his trademark clarity and elegance, each chapter exploring in enlightening ways a core Ch'an concept--such as meditation, mind, Buddha, awakening--as it was originally understood and practiced in ancient China. Finally, by examining a range of standard translations in the Appendix, Hinton reveals how this original understanding and practice of Ch'an/Zen is almost entirely missing in contemporary American Zen, because it was lost in Ch'an's migration from China through Japan and on to the West.

Whether you practice Zen or not, taking this journey on the wings of Hinton's remarkable insight and powerful writing will transform how you understand yourself and the world.
Last edited by Bob on Mon May 25, 2020 10:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: China Root: Taoism, Chan, and Original Zen David Hinton

Postby edededed on Mon Jun 01, 2020 12:47 am

I was thinking something similar recently - as the Theravada sutras are rather straightforward compared to the abstract and mystical Mahayana sutras. Perhaps Daoism influenced not only Chan, but just Chinese Buddhism in general (which in turn was passed onto Korea, Japan, Vietnam, etc.).
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Re: China Root: Taoism, Chan, and Original Zen David Hinton

Postby Yeung on Sat Jun 06, 2020 12:39 pm

I am looking at the excavated text of Laozi's Daodejing dated before 200 BC, and there is over a hundred mistakes in the commonly circulated text in first century BC. It is kind of sad to let the Zen practitioners know that their practice is based on a tempted text of Laozi.
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Re: China Root: Taoism, Chan, and Original Zen David Hinton

Postby Yeung on Sat Jun 06, 2020 12:40 pm

The excavated text of Laozi is available at:

https://ctext.org/excavated-texts
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Re: China Root: Taoism, Chan, and Original Zen David Hinton

Postby Graculus on Sun Jun 07, 2020 10:07 pm

The book looks interesting, but I thought it was (fairly) common knowledge that Zen had Daoist influence. I remember reading something to that effect in Draeger and Warner's book on Japanese swordsmanship (with reference to the Zen priest Takuan) 15 or so years ago. Of course, the Buddhism in Japan has all kinds of influences - a strong Tibetan influence in Shingon, for example.

@Yeung – I don't think they were influenced by reading the 'right' or 'wrong' version of the Daodejing – Taoism was very much a living religion in those days and I feel sure the primary input would have been from practitioners, not texts.

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Re: China Root: Taoism, Chan, and Original Zen David Hinton

Postby Yeung on Tue Jun 09, 2020 2:49 am

Essence of Dao (體 ti3 道 dao4) was the title given to this chapter by 河 he2 上 shang4 公 gong1, the earliest commentator of Laozi in the first century AD. The alchemist’s interpretation of the tampered version of Laozi presented a lot of problems especially alchemists believe in the elixir of life. Laozi had nothing to do with alchemy or the Taoist religion which was formal established in the second century AD, Laozi was a librarian during the late Spring and Autumn Period (770 – 467 BC) and he wrote the Daodejing. The alchemists adopted the Daodejing as part of their teaching for the pursuing of elixir of life and called themselves as Taoists (道 dao4 士 shi4) rather than the traditional name of 方 fang1 士 shi4.
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