Gaomin Temple One of The Greatest Zen temples In China

Gaomin Temple One of The Greatest Zen temples In China

Gaomin Temple (Chinese: 高旻寺; pinyin: Gāomín Sì) is a Buddhist Temple in YangzhouJiangsu Province of China. The temple is situated in a semi-rural setting about 7 km south of downtown Yangzhou, on the western shore of the Old Channel of the Grand Canal of China, just south of its junction with the Yizheng-Yangzhou Canal.

Gaomin temple was first built in the Sui dynasty, and achieved its largest area in the Qing dynasty, when it was expanded twice. In 1651, Tianzhong Tower was built, as well as a temple next to it called the Tower Temple. During the Kangxi Emperor‘s (r. 1661–1722) stay in the temple in his fourth southern tour, he climbed on TianZhong Tower, overlooking the scenery, which was very beautiful and vast. Then named the temple for Gaomin Temple. At that time, Gaomin Temple, Zhenjiang’s Jinshan Temple, Chengdu’s Geyuan Temple and Xindu’s Baoguang Temple were known as the greatest four Zen temples.

Buddha Tower and TianZhong Tower By Jimmy Nov 2019

Water Pavilion and Zen Meditation Hall By Lisa Su Feb 2016

In ancient times, a great number of people in the temple became accomplished through the practice of zen. At the Gaomin Monastery in Yangzhou, basically every seven days one person would awaken to zen, becoming enlightened and accomplished. Last century, there were several Holy monks reached enlightenment from Gaomin Temple Zen seven-day retreat, such as XuYun ( 虚云), YiZhao( 意昭) and BenHuan (本焕).

Gaomin Temple’s zen practice was truly inexplicable but unfathomably profound. Gaomin Temple was famous for its strict precepts and Zen style. There were very strict and even cruel rules for monks participating in Zen seven-day retreat.

First of all, in ancient times when someone entered the Gaomin Monastery to practice zen, that person would first have to sign an agreement. That agreement was very simple. To put it bluntly, they agreed that they could be beaten to death with impunity. The one who beat them to death would not have to lose his own life. Additionally, they agreed to voluntarily carry out the dharma rules of the monastery. After they entered the monastery, they had to give up all of the dharmas that they previously learned. As soon as one arrived at Gaomin Monastery and entered the zen hall, one could not apply any previously learned dharmas.

Five people carried cudgels. Those five were called “the five great cudgel carriers.” Their specific task was to beat people. The practitioners had periods of running zen, each of which lasted the time it took for a stick of incense to burn from top to bottom. The stick of incense was not long. The practitioners had to jog. In the zen hall, many practitioners formed a circle and jogged. As they jogged, one of the cudgel carriers would strike his cudgel against something, which made a loud noise. As soon as he struck his cudgel against something, that loud noise sounded. When the jogging practitioners heard the striking sound from the cudgel, they had to immediately stop jogging. They were not allowed to jog even one more step. When the striking sound of the cudgel sounded again, they had to immediately resume their jogging.

Photo by Klub Boks on Pexels.com

As soon as the striking sound from his cudgel sounded, if you were still jogging, you would be taken aside and beaten to death. If you were not beaten to death, you were at the very least maimed. Thus, the minds of those practitioners were of course extremely focused. They were always focused on the sound of the cudgel. They were always fearful that they would be taken aside and severely beaten for continuing to jog after the striking of the cudgel sounded, or, if they had stopped jogging, for not immediately resuming their jogging after the striking of the cudgel sounded.

There were sitting periods as well, which lasted as long as it took for a stick of incense to burn from top to bottom. As soon as they sat down, the cudgel carriers in back of them would keep an eye on them. While sitting, the practitioners were not allowed to move in any way. The practitioners were absolutely forbidden to move. They were not permitted to recite the name of any Buddha or chant any mantra. If one was seen moving a bit, he was taken aside and severely beaten, to the extent of possible death. Therefore, after they sat down in a settled posture, as soon as the striking sound of the cudgel carrier’s cudgel could be heard, they did not dare move. They had to remain stiff for as long as the incense stick burned. They did not dare move in the slightest. The focus of their minds increased a hundredfold because they feared that they would inadvertently move, be taken aside, and be beaten, resulting in injury, deformity, or death.

There was also a rule of drinking water. The practitioners had to go to the east side to draw water and then carry the water with both hands to the west side. Only then could they drink the water. Additionally, the cup of water had to be completely filled. If a drop of water spilled to the ground as they were carrying the cup with both hands, they were taken aside and severely beaten.

Thus, the consciousness of those who practiced zen there did not wander. They did not think of other things. They did not rest. When they ate, they were not even allowed to make the sound of chopsticks hitting the bowl. As a result, their consciousness was forced to naturally not dare think of other things. Therefore, it is only natural that after our consciousness is united, we will not think things over and will not be distracted. Everyone fears being beaten to death. When you fear being beaten to death and death is used to force you, then you have no other choice. You must seriously deal with the matter. That is why in such circumstances it is very easy to cut off mistaken thinking. Through force, your thoughts are cut off. When your thoughts are cut off through force, you original nature emerges. As soon as your original nature emerges, you have broken through in your zen practice.

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Therefore, by and large, at each seven-day retreat someone broke through in his zen practice at that monastery. Basically, there would be one breakthrough every seven days. How did they know someone broke through? The day someone broke through, he was ordered to write a verse for others to hear, enabling the abbot of the zen hall and the zen master to recognize him. That practitioner was later tested again to see whether he truly awakened to the truth through the practice of zen, whether he understood his mind and saw his nature.

I have great admiration for those monks who were willing to give up their lives in pursuit of the true Buddha Dharma.

Gaomin Temple One of The Greatest Zen temples In China

Link:https://peacelilysite.com/2022/09/21/gaomin-temple-one-of-the-greatest-zen-temples-in-china/

#Buddhism#ZenBuddhism#ZenTemple#ChineseTemple#GaominTemple#ZenPractice#ZenSevendayRetreat#XuYun#Meditation#ZEnMaster#Monastery

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaomin_Temple, https://learntruebuddhism.com/the-great-dharma-of-zen-expounded-by-h-h-dorje-chang-buddha-iii/

Jesus was a Buddhist Monk BBC Documentary

Jesus was a Buddhist Monk BBC Documentary

Many years ago, I have read an article about Zen Buddhism Master XuYun’s conversation about Christianity and Buddhism with previous presidents of Nationalist Party Mr. Jiang Jie Shi (蔣介石). Master XuYun said Jesus Christ learned buddhism in Indian, he reached enlightenment, and then went back to found Christianity. Even though I knew Master XuYun was a truly holy and virtuous, I was quite doubtful about his opinion.

However when I watched the documentary file below, I was quite convinced. At any rate, the unity and cooperation of these two religions could do a great contribution to peace in the world.

This BBC 4 documentary examines the question “Did Jesus Die?”. It looks at a bunch of ideas around this question until minute 25, where this examination of ideas takes a very logical and grounded turn with surprising conclusions that demonstrates that the three wise men were Buddhist monks who found Jesus and came back for him around puberty. After being trained in a Buddhist Monastery he spread the Buddhist philosophy, survived the crucifixion, and escaped to Kashmir, Afghanistan where he died an old man at the age of 80.

Jesus was a Buddhist Monk BBC Documentary

Link: https://peacelilysite.com/2022/07/15/jesus-was-a-buddhist-monk-bbc-documentary/

#Buddhism#ZenMaster#XuYun#Christianity#JesusChrist#Crucifixion

Zen Baggage : A Pilgrimage to China

Zen Baggage: A Pilgrimage to China by Bill Porter

Posted: July 2, 2010 | Author:Roy Hamric

You wonder how a book like Zen Baggage could be written. First, who would have guessed that China’s legendary Zen temples would rise from the ashes of the Cultural Revolution and prosper in the new century? And second, what Western writer could pull off a history of Zen in China and then go on to paint a vivid picture of contemporary life in China’s most legendary Zen temples and monasteries?

Bill Porter in Port Townsend (2010). Photograph by Julie Anand

The only writer I know who could do that justice is Bill Porter, also known as Red Pine, the éminence grise of translators and commentators on Zen and Taoist poetry and texts. In this latest, most personal, travel book, Porter is back on the fertile ground he covered so well in Road to Heaven: Encounters with Chinese Hermits.

Thanks to that book, we know that Taoist hermits continued to practice and live in their remote huts in the Chungnan Mountains throughout the era of China’s Red Guards.  The book was a revelation to Westerners and it seems to have fascinated many Chinese as well: the Chinese translation is now in its sixth printing under the title Hidden Orchids of Deserted Valleys.

Porter makes it clear that the average Chinese doesn’t quite know what to make of the legendary Zen temples and monasteries that have become heavily visited pit stops on a sort of Zen Tourist Highway running from Beijing to Hong Kong. Most of the temples are thriving: attracting more monks, building academies, expanding zendos, and refurbishing, enlarging, and promoting themselves in close—maybe too close—cooperation with the Chinese authorities, all under the auspices of a program that seems more intent upon raking in tourists’ money than in preserving the cultural legacy of Zen. The current government’s new relationship with Zen temples seems to be motivated in part by a desire to be more respectful and tolerant than the Communist regimes of the past, and its view that Zen is a non-threatening, home-grown, institution that promotes responsibility and discipline.

Zen being Zen, the abbots of these ancient temples are only too happy to accept whatever benefits accrue from the government’s new view of things. They remember all too well the days when monks were rounded up and abused, and temples were gutted or shut. Now abbots can easily meet the government’s modest expectations while also scooping up hoards of badly needed yuan from the bus loads of Chinese tourists who flock to the temples’ trinket shops to buy T-shirts, tea sets and kitschy souvenirs. The money is wisely used to build sub-temples in remote locations where monks can practice without being put on public view.

Porter’s personality comes through vividly in Zen Baggage, and it contains sketches of his earlier life in Taiwan, his frequent travels to China, and, most revealingly, his on-the-road personae as he makes his six-week, 2,500-mile, temple-hopping pilgrimage, which was largely a catch-up journey to supplement his many previous visits. He is on intimate terms with many of the temple abbots and others that he meets on his trip. In contrast, in Road to Heaven, during his forays into the rugged Chungnan Mountains (home of the hermits), he was on new ground ferreting out the names of hermits and the mountains where they were living, and then he tracked them down. What was most surprising about his first encounters with these Taoist solitaries, both men and women, is how seldom they showed surprise at the appearance of this bearded foreigner–if, indeed, they perceived him as a foreigner.  He seemed to have been expected.

Zen Baggage is soaked in wisdom so subtle it is almost invisible. I was three-quarters of the way into it, for example, when I realized I’d easily absorbed a chronology of the major Chinese Zen patriarchs along with the distinctive swerves and turns that collectively make up Zen’s birth, its crucial philosophical debates, its divisions, its flowering in the sixth century, its slow decline, and its diffusion in the world.

Porter’s personal Taoist/Zen style of travel gives his journey an interesting edge. Whether he’s interviewing the abbot of a legendary temple or eating sweet cakes at a truck stop, he lashes it all together in a bundle of concrete details that help illuminate the tales, metaphysics, koans, and esoterica of early Zen. He has read so deeply in Zen, Taoism and Buddhism that he could be the abbot of any of these legendary temples––to the benefit of the temples and monks––but it’s clear that most, if not all, of the abbots and monks he talked with would laugh at such a suggestion. Throughout Asia, Zen too often remains the “property” of individual countries, whereas in the West it’s readily perceived as open to all equally. In all his encounters, you get the feeling that in only a few cases was there a true meeting of minds. Many Chinese sized Porter up as just another Westerner who spoke good Chinese, and had no knowledge of his translation work or of his life (not that he cared), and most probably weren’t interested anyway. The prevailing orthodoxy seemed to be: “We’re the only ones who can translate the texts, who understand Zen––Westerners can’t get it.”  But as history reminds us, Buddhism is international: the Chinese texts the abbots depend upon were carried back to China from India by Chinese pilgrims and translated from Sanskrit and other languages.  In Porter’s many trips to China over the past two decades, we have an apposite addition to the history of Buddhism: a Western pilgrim who traveled to the East to get Chinese texts to translate into English.

On this latest trip, he bounced down China’s buzzing highways in buses to report to the world (or the English-speaking West), on what grew from those early Chinese translations into Zen. This recounting of how Zen was born and thrived in China (for a while), then died out, and is now being reborn closes China’s Buddhist/Zen circle, for the time being at least.

Along with his translations (11 so far), Porter’s two travel books are singular achievements that break new ground in our understanding of Zen and Taoism in contemporary China. My guess is that we can expect more travel books from him that will flesh out the on-the-ground story of Zen and Taoism, and that they will showcase his two greatest assets as a writer: his independence as a scholar and his practical knowledge of whatever he calls his personal blending of Taoism and Zen.

The travel books most closely resemble the work of his mentor John Blofeld (1913-1987), the British writer and translator of Buddhist texts, who gave Porter  the encouragement that led to his first translation in 1983, Cold Mountain Poems. Like Blofeld,  Porter uses his unique skills as a translator and his talents as a travel writer to bring to life Buddhism’s past and present.

Zen Baggage: A Pilgrimage to China by Bill Porter

LInk: https://peacelilysite.com/2022/04/10/zen-baggage-a-pilgrimage-to-china/

Source: https://royhamric.com/2010/07/02/zen-baggage-by-bill-porter-red-pine/

#Translater#Sinologist#BillPorter#CultureExchange#China#ZenBuddhism#Travel#Pilgrimage#Buddhism#China#Taoism