Archive for the ‘China’ Tag

That Was Then, This Is Now

Both Zen and Taoism lead to same place. The methods for getting there are quite different. It is like two roads leading to the same destination, but definitely they are two different roads.

The idea that Taoism and Chan were cross-fertilized is a typical modern misunderstanding, and one that is usually perpetuated by Western Scholars; not Chan masters. Taoism and Chan have separate histories. In the development of Chan in China, none of the six patriarchs had any influence from Taoism.

One needs to look at the priests of Taoism and Zen to see the differences. Zen monks shave their head, are vegetarian, avoid wine and intoxication, value the Heart Sutra, and practice celibacy. Taoist priests generally have a full head of hair, drink wine, value the Dao De Jing, and are permitted to have wives and sex.

We can have a look at their meditation techniques. In Zen, practitioners keep their mind on the void. In Taoism, visualization is used extensively in meditation. From a Zen perspective, these visualizations are considered a deviation because they cause thoughts to arise, which conflict sharply with Zen teachings, but not with Taoist teachings.

Chan talks about no mind and Taoism talks about the extreme void. To a Western ear, these terms may sound similar, but upon deep scrutiny, they are different. Both terms refer to “Cosmic Reality” and are thus similar. But this does not point to a link between Taoism and Chan; it points to a link between all of the world’s religions, all of which point to the concept of this “Cosmic Reality.”

Bodhidharma’s teachings are not recorded in language and words. Bodhidharma teaches transmission beyond the tradition. Bodhidharma points at the mind. Bodhidharma propose entering Buddhahood in an instant. These concepts are different from Sarvastivada, which is essentially a Hinayana school teaching. Bodhidharma’s teachings are a reaction against Sarvastivada teachings, not a continuation of Sarvastivada teachings.

As for Zen Buddhism being different today than it was in the past depends on where we look, just as it does with Kungfu. If we look at modern Shaolin Wushu, we might say that Kungfu is different today than it was practiced in the past. But if we look at genuine Kungfu schools, we might say that it is very much the same.


Posted April 28, 2013 by dranilj1 in Art of Living

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Indian Way

Posted January 2, 2013 by dranilj1 in Indian Culture

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Essential Art of Zazen

Zazen means “seated meditation.” Zazen is a place of refuge far beneath our everyday involvements, a place where we turn inward for peace, for answers to the deepest questions of life, and for the ability to meet our lives with wisdom, love, and compassion. For twenty-five hundred years the practice of Zen meditation and the essence of Buddhism have been passed from teacher to disciple. The method of this practice is simple and direct. However, like any discipline, knowing of it is not enough; Zazen requires time and effort sitting on the cushion, training the mind, and doing the work that leads to transformation. Zazen brings a state of stable, focused concentration by the act of repeatedly bringing the mind back to the present. Absorption, is the form and method of zazen — the practice of letting go and returning to the present. Cultivating this prevents distraction, but it is not a way to escape or ignore the conditions around us. Zazen happens in and with the world, not apart from it. The result of meditation is an ever deepening experience of openness and serenity in the midst of life.

In Soto Zen, we use the method known as Serene Reflection. The meditation involves staying alert, aware and still, and “just sitting.” It is an objectless method of meditation, simple and straightforward, but radical in its acceptance of conditions. Serene Reflection is profoundly deep when practiced over time. This meditation helps us see our minds clearly, for there is nothing to do but watch how our habit patterns distract us from the present moment. Seeing our mind clearly brings awareness of both the impermanence of everything in the mind — each thought, feeling, pattern, idea — as well as the limitlessness of mind itself, a vast space that lies beneath all the clutter. The practice of Zen is a direct method of finding this place of real truth within ourselves, and learning to function with this wisdom. Within every moment of thought you should see yourself that your fundamental nature is pure. You should cultivate for yourself, practice for yourself, and accomplish for yourself the enlightenment of buddhahood.

Universally recommended instructions for Zazen is the way originally perfect and all-pervading. How could it be contingent on practice and realization? The true vehicle is self-sufficient. What need is there for special effort? Indeed, the whole body is free from dust. Who could believe in a means to brush it clean? It is never apart from this very place; what is the use of traveling around to practice? And yet, if there is a hairsbreadth deviation, it is like the gap between heaven and earth. If the least like or dislike arises, the mind is lost in confusion. Suppose you are confident in your understanding and rich in enlightenment, gaining the wisdom that knows at a glance, attaining the Way and clarifying the mind, arousing an aspiration to reach for the heavens. You are playing in the entrance way, but you still are short of the vital path of emancipation.

Consider the Buddha, although he was wise at birth, the traces of his six years of upright sitting can yet be seen. As for Bodhidharma, although he had received the mind-seal, his nine years of facing a wall is celebrated still. If even the ancient sages were like this, how can we today dispense with wholehearted practice? Therefore, put aside the intellectual practice of investigating words and chasing phrases, and learn to take the backward step that turns the light and shines it inward. Body and mind of themselves will drop away, and your original face will manifest. If you want such a thing, get to work on such a thing immediately.

For practicing Zen, a quiet room is suitable. Eat and drink moderately. Put aside all involvements and suspend all affairs. Do not think “good” or “bad.” Do not judge true or false. Give up the operations of mind, intellect, and consciousness; stop measuring with thoughts, ideas, and views. Have no designs on becoming a Buddha. How could that be limited to sitting or lying down? At your sitting place, spread out a thick mat and put a cushion on it. Sit either in the full-lotus or half-lotus position. In the full-lotus position, first place your right foot on your left thigh, then your left foot on your right thigh. In the half-lotus, simply place your left foot on your right thigh. Tie your robes loosely and arrange them neatly. Then place your right hand on your left leg and your left hand on your right palm, thumb-tips lightly touching. Straighten your body and sit upright, leaning neither left nor right, neither forward nor backward. Align your ears with your shoulders and your nose with your navel. Rest the tip of your tongue against the front of the roof of your mouth, with teeth and lips together both shut. Always keep your eyes open, and breathe softly through your nose.

Once you have adjusted your posture, take a breath and exhale fully, rock your body right and left, and settle into steady, immovable sitting. Think of not thinking. Not thinking—what kind of thinking is that? Nonthinking. This is the essential art of zazen. The zazen I speak of is not meditation practice. It is simply the Dharma gate of joyful ease, the practice-realization of totally culminated enlightenment. It is the koan realized, traps and snares can never reach it. If you grasp the point, you are like a dragon gaining the water, like a tiger taking to the mountains for you must know that the true Dharma appears of itself, so that from the start dullness and distraction are struck aside. When you arise from sitting, move slowly and quietly, calmly and deliberately. Do not rise suddenly or abruptly. In surveying the past, we find that transcendence of both mundane and sacred, and dying while either sitting or standing, have all depended entirely on the power of zazen.

In addition, triggering awakening with a finger, a banner, a needle, or a mallet, and effecting realization with a whisk, a fist, a staff, or a shout – these cannot be understood by discriminative thinking, much less can they be known through the practice of supernatural power. They must represent conduct beyond seeing and hearing. Are they not a standard prior to knowledge and views? This being the case, intelligence or lack of it is not an issue; make no distinction between the dull and the sharp-witted. If you concentrate your effort single-mindedly, that in itself is wholeheartedly engaging the way. Practice-realization is naturally undefiled. Going forward is, after all, an everyday affair.

In our world and others, in both India and China, all equally hold the buddha-seal. While each lineage expresses its own style, they are all simply devoted to sitting, totally blocked in resolute stability. Although they say that there are ten thousand distinctions and a thousand variations, they just wholeheartedly engage the way in zazen. Why leave behind the seat in your own home to wander in vain through the dusty realms of other lands? If you make one misstep you stumble past what is directly in front of you. You have gained the pivotal opportunity of human form. Do not pass your days and nights in vain. You are taking care of the essential activity of the buddha way. Who would take wasteful delight in the spark from a flint stone? Besides, form and substance are like the dew on the grass, the fortunes of life like a dart of lightning—emptied in an instant, vanished in a flash.

Please, honored followers of Zen, long accustomed to groping for the elephant, do not doubt the true dragon. Devote your energies to the way that points directly to the real thing. Revere the one who has gone beyond learning and is free from effort. Accord with the enlightenment of all the Buddhas; succeed to the samadhi of all the ancestors. Continue to live in such a way, and you will be such a person. The treasure store will open of itself, and you may enjoy it freely.

Chinese respect for German tech?

BERLIN – As workers struggled to contain the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011, the head of German company Putzmeister in Japan rerouted one of its special boom trucks floating in the Pacific Ocean to the disaster site.

The truck – originally designed to pump concrete – proved so effective in cooling the station’s reactors with ocean water, that TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) immediately requested more of Putzmeister’s trucks – including two of the only three 70Z units in the world.

Nicknamed the “Juggernaut”, the 70Z gets its name from its massive 70-yard boom (nearly the length of a football field), which allowed it to pump some 700 gallons of water per minute into the Fukushima reactor, meanwhile keeping workers as far as possible from what had become ground zero in the disaster.

Less than a year on, Chinese industrial company Sany acquired family-owned Putzmeister, marking one of the biggest Chinese takeovers of a company from Germany’s “Mittelstand” engineering group – seen as a pillar of the country’s economy.

The significance of the acquisition was soon underscored by an Ernst & Young study in June citing Germany as the third most attractive investment opportunity among medium and large-sized Chinese businesses. Appearing on the lists of some 25% of companies surveyed, the European economic leader came in after only the U.S. (29%) and China itself (61%).

According to the study, more than half of those surveyed expressed an interest in mechanical engineering, with the automobile industry coming in second.

“The term ‘Made in Germany’ is famous the world over,” Yi Sun, a partner at Ernst & Young and head of China business services in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, told Germany’s RTL.

“German products speak for quality, which is something Chinese investors value, along with the advanced infrastructure of the country. We’re not talking about hype: this is a long-term trend that will see Chinese investors keep coming.”

German chancellor Angela Merkel has long pushed for Chinese investment in Europe and the Euro, along with her Finance Minister Philipp Rösler, who is under pressure to reconcile a steep imbalance: Germany currently has some 20 billion Euros invested in Chinese businesses, while Chinese investment in Germany amounts to only about 600 million Euros.

“We have to break down the prejudices that these direct investments are harmful: on the contrary, we want them,” n-tv quoted Rösler as saying, underpinning the emotional and psychological barriers that may be standing in the way of more Chinese investment.

But with Germany and China going head to head on worldwide export leadership, trust has been difficult to forge on either side.

“There were concerns that, like American companies and some venture capitalists, the Chinese will suck a company dry, take the filet pieces out, and then dissolve it,” Marc Tenbieg, head of the Deutscher Mittelstands-Bund (DMB), representing over 14,000 small and midsize German businesses, told Bloomberg.

The Putzmeister transaction, however, seemed to speak for a changing tide.

When the takeover was announced, Sany Heavy Industry Chairman Liang Wengen gave public assurance that its German acquisition would continue to produce its current product lines, meanwhile expanding them, and even adding to its own workforce. Whether or not the promises uphold, representatives of Putzmeister’s 3,000-person workforce seem satisfied with the deal.

“We prefer the Chinese because they have a long-term strategy, whereas Anglo-Saxon private equity firms are all about a quick turnaround,” Sieghard Bender, a union leader who had originally organized protests against the takeover, told Bloomberg.

“Sany will do everything to make the Putzmeister deal a success,” Bender said.

The combination of traditional German diligence, infrastructure and experience with Chinese long-term strategy could prove to be a powerful economic marriage. But the success of German-Chinese business relations may depend largely upon whether the integrity of each side’s respective strengths survives the union.





River of Golden Sands

CHINA-As the last of the turbines at China’s Three Gorges Dam was connected to the grid on Wednesday, a dams debate rages over the fate of the Upper Yangtze River and its main western tributary, the Jinsha River. Known as the “River of Golden Sands,” the Jinsha is slated for a cascade of 25 dams designed to generate as much electricity as four Three Gorges Dams put together. Earlier studies by geologists have highlighted the seismic, safety, and water security risks of out-of-control dam building in this fragile region. Experts also warn against the risk of dam-building in China’s seismically active and flood-heavy southwest, where one dam break could cause a tsunami that creates a domino effect of collapsing dams downstream. This occurred in China in 1975, when a major flood and poor communications caused dam breaks at 62 sites in Henan Province. The catastrophe killed over 26,000 people – more casualties than any other dam failure in history. While such massive floods are rare (this was a once-in-1000-years flood), dam developers have yet to factor in the affects of climate change on extreme weather events such as droughts and floods, which are common in the southwest and have serious implications for dam operation. The valleys in this region, including those formed by the Lancang/Upper Mekong and Nu/Salween, also experience disastrous landslides during the rainy season due to the steepness of the terrain. These can be exacerbated by the clearing of vegetation for dam construction and by the filling and emptying of reservoirs. The fluctuating water levels of the Three Gorges reservoir, for instance, have destabilized hundreds of miles of slopes and triggered massive landslides. A recent warning sign is the deadly mudslide that occurred on June 28, 2012, at the Baihetan Hydropower Station on the lower Jinsha River (it is under construction by the China Three Gorges Project Corporation). The mudslide killed four people and left 36 more missing – all workers and their families at the dam construction zone
Three Gorges Dam, China
construction zone
Three Gorges Dam, China

Three Gorges Dam, China

Can you put into practice attentiveness?

If you are ‘practicing’ attentiveness, then you are being inattentive. So, be sentient of inattention, you do not have to practice.  You do not have to go to Burma, China, India, places which are romantic but not factual.  I remember once travelling in a car with a group of people.  I was sitting in the front with the driver.  There were three behind who were talking about attentiveness, wanting to talk about what attentiveness is.  The car was going very fast.  A deer was in the road, and the driver did not pay much attention and ran over the poor animal.  The gentlemen behind were discussing what is attentiveness, but they by no means were acquainted with what had happened!  You laugh, but that is what we are all doing.