Home » In what ways did Ch’an Buddhism and Taoism influence each other in China.?
When I approached a Chinese Ch’an Buddhism monk recently, asking for his recommendation on the entry materials to read on Buddhism, he recommended a modified version of Tao Te Ching of Lao Tzu, know as 太上感应篇 to me. Taoism pre-existed Buddhism in China, and Tao was used to help promote Buddhism when the religion was first introduced into the country. Although Taoism was originally not a religion, there are similarities among the two, such as emptiness, etc. They are however not the same, and the Chinese are aware, even when they are ‘borrowing’ the concepts in each to explain one another.
The Daoist Schools and Buddhist Schools are completely independent of each other. Each school teaches according to its respective scripture. Zen Buddhism is a School.
In the section “Different Levels Have Different Laws” of the Zhuan Falun Lecture on the web, you can find out a discussion about Zen Buddhism.
In the section “Buddhist Qigong and Buddhism” of the Lecture, you can find out a concise discussion about Buddhism.
There have been low level Daoist in China for years and they are popular. “In the Daoist small worldly paths they don’t cultivate longevity. What they do is all about fortune-telling, feng shui reading, exorcising evil, and healing people, and most small worldly paths use sorcery.”, copied from page #105. See page #8 for higher level of Daoist practice.
Not relating to Buddhism nor Daoism, Falun Gong is a unique Buddha School, combining the Daoist and Buddhist practice. consisting of five sets of powerful exercises.
Falun Gong, Tibetans, other Buddhists, and Christians have been persecuted in China. The most offensive human right violation is the organ harvesting from the Falun Gong practitioners in China.
I hope you can sign a petition to stop persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China ahead of the Beijing Olympics:
When Buddhism was first introduced to China in the 1st century CE, the Chinese sometimes referred to it as “Indian Taoism” because of the apparent strong affinity between the two traditions.
One of the major strains of Indian Buddhism that came to China was Madhyamika tradition. Madhyamika places primary emphasis on the concept of “emptiness”. (The Chinese referred to Madhyamika as the “emptiness” tradition (the word “Buddhism” appears not to have been used in these early days).)
Taoists took the Buddhist concept of emptiness to mean the same thing as the Taoist notion emptiness. This turned out to be an error, since the Taoist notion of emptiness refers to qualities such as restraint, patience, frugality, simplicity, and lack of worldly desire; in Buddhism, emptiness refers to the never ceasing flux of each thing in the universe.
Even though there was some confusion about the concept of emptiness, the error encouraged many Chinese people to take up the practice of Buddhism. And, of course, they integrated many of their existing practices into Buddhist practice (this has happened everywhere Buddhism goes).
Probably the two most important Taoist concepts to influence the development of Ch’an Buddhism are:
– “Wu wei,” or ‘not doing.’ This doesn’t literally mean passivity. It means acting in accord with a situation. Ch’an internalized this concept as “correct function” — perceiving how to function correctly, from moment to moment. However, in Ch’an correct function means acting for the benefit of all beings (bodhisattva action) — a concept that existed in Taoism but didn’t occupy a major focus.
– “Pu,” or ‘natural state.’ Taoist training cultivated “pu,” a mental state not confused by thinking, ideas of right/wrong, good/bad, beautiful/or ugly — just pure awareness. This concept first appears in the writings of the 3rd Ch’an patriarch, Seng-Ts’an, who wrote, “The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. If you wish to see the truth then hold no opinions for or against anything.”
Ch’an Buddhism (Zen) appeared as the result of an intermingling of Indian Buddhism and Chinese Taoism. (It’s probably not accurate to say that Ch’an and Taoism influenced one another, at least not in the early years of Ch’an. Instead, Ch’an was the result of Taoism’s influence on Buddhism.)
There are very poor historical recordings for this topic, unfortunately, but the above information is generally believed accurate. I hope it helps!
Until one of my friends offers a better answer, this link will have to do.
“A special transmission outside the scriptures,
No dependence upon words and letters,
Direct pointing to the human heart,
Seeing into ones own nature.”
“Taoism teaches a person to live to their heart”
The influence of Taoism and Confucianism allowed Ch’an Buddhism to have a more Chinese face. prior to that infusion, Buddhism had trouble gaining a foothold because it was considered foreign.
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