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Thread: Shaolin History - Fact or Myth?

  1. #16
    Ok, the source for the information I will present here is: “The Bodhidharma Anthology: the Earliest Records of Zen” by Jeffery L. Broughton.

    These are a compilation of the 7 earliest known written texts on Ch’an in China.

    The documents were found in a walled up cave complex in the Mo-kao Grottoes in North-west China near the Tun-huang oasis, in the early 1900’s. The Bodhidharma Anthology was found along with tens of thousands of other manuscripts of Chinese, Tibetan and other Central Asian and Indic languages,

    Buddhist manuscripts were found stuffed to the ceiling in Cave Number 17. The cave was walled up around 1,000 A.D. for some unknown reason. There were approximately 300 texts relating to Ch’an, many were copies and fragments of other texts present. There were about 100 unique texts.

    The Bodhidharma Anthology, by Broughton, is an English translation of the 7 earliest known written texts on Ch’an. Following his translations are detailed commentaries and appendices that discuss each text.

    The information below is from these commentaries and appendices.

    1) The traditional biography of Bodhidharma is generally taken from Record of the Patriarchal Hall (Tsu-t’ang chi).

    This is probably compiled from the Biography section of the Bodhidharma Anthology written by a man named T’an-lin (Armless Lin) who was either a disciple of Bodhidharma or of Hui-k’o.

    2) Record of the Buddhist Monasteries of Lo-yang (Lo-yang chia-lan chi), written by Yang Hsuan-chih, in the middle 500’s A.D. probably just after 547, is a non-Buddhist source that mentions a Bodhidharma in Lo-yang around 527 when our Bodhidharma was supposed to be in Lo-yang. Yang was a local official and wanted a record of the former glory of Lo-yang’s Buddhist tradition. This Bodhidharma however, was from Iran. Lo-yang was the eastern end-of-the-line of the famous Silk Road. So, it would have been possible for Bodhidharma to have entered China via this route. Lo-yang had over a thousand temples and monasteries and many Buddhist masters from the West. This manuscript does not focus on Buddhist masters or teachings, but mainly on the Buddhist monasteries, temples and other Buddhist sites as these were noted for their magnificence and beauty as well as interesting stories concerning notable Buddhists.

    Yang mentions a Bodhidharma twice, but just in passing. This Bodhidharma mentions that in all his 150 years of life he had never seen such beautiful Buddhist architecture. The monastery he was referring to was called Yung-ning Monastery which flourished between 516-526, so this places a Bodhidharma in Lo-yang at around the time tradition places Ch’an’s Bodhidharma.

    3) Approximately 100 years later there is a biographical entry for Bodhidharma found in Continued Biographies of Eminent Monks (Hsu kao-seng chuan), compiled by Tao-hsuan around 645. There are entries for both Bodhidharma and Hui-k’o. Most of the information however, probably comes from the short biography recorded by Tan-lin and Two Entrances, written by Tan-lin (and part of the Bodhidharma Anthology), and the previously mentioned Record of the Buddhist Monasteries of Lo-yang. This text does have some information not found previously, specifically it is the origin of the story of Bodhidharma coming to China via a sea route from southern India. Tao-hsuan’s source for this information is presently unknown apparently.

    Tao-hsuan is known as an assiduous researcher and edited his Biographies as new information was discovered over time. It is deduced that he had a number of other sources besides Tan-lin and Record of Buddhist Monasteries of Lo-yang.

    So, there you have it. The earliest records in China of Bodhidharma put a Bodhidharma in Loyang around the time he is supposed to have been there. The first two sources are almost contemporary with his time there, within 20-50 years or so. Tan-lin was either a disciple of Bodhidharma or Hui-k’o. There is no direct mention of Shaolin in the texts, however.
    Last edited by Scott R. Brown; 03-01-2013 at 09:50 PM.

  2. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlackEChan View Post
    LFJ: Who would you recognize as the founder of Zen Buddhism? Or was there one at all?
    The first Dhyana/Chan/Zen style teaching was the "Flower Sermon" given by Sakyamuni Buddha.

  3. #18
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    As far as I know, the Shaolin MA came from outside. Many criminal hided in the Shaolin temple. When they were there, they taught to the other monks.
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  4. #19
    That's good stuff Scott, thanks for sharing...well that further confuses this history thing...
    Quote Originally Posted by YouKnowWho View Post
    This is 100% TCMA principle. It may be used in non-TCMA also. Since I did learn it from TCMA, I have to say it's TCMA principle.
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  5. #20
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    As far as I know, the Shaolin MA came from outside. Many criminal hided in the Shaolin temple. When they were there, they taught to the other monks.
    that is true. the people hiding taught what they knew to the monks as a form of payment for the monks hospitality
    I'm pretty sure the only thing tongs do nowadays is make sure Chinese restaurants don't pay out tips to their waiters. - Pazman[/B]

    https://scontent-b-pao.xx.fbcdn.net/...8a&oe=52848D36

  6. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by LFJ View Post
    The first Dhyana/Chan/Zen style teaching was the "Flower Sermon" given by Sakyamuni Buddha.
    This would be more "myth" than "fact", but is a cool story nonetheless.
    Last edited by pazman; 03-02-2013 at 01:21 PM.

  7. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by pazman View Post
    This would be more "myth" than "fact", but is a cool story nonetheless.
    Well, technically, they are all myths really!

  8. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by hskwarrior View Post
    that is true. the people hiding taught what they knew to the monks as a form of payment for the monks hospitality
    You are not even taking myth here, you'r talk'n pure fiction dud.

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    You are not even taking myth here, you'r talk'n pure fiction dud.
    Ok you say that village styles never made it into Shaolin? Shaolin is the birthplace of all gung fu? is that what you're saying? now thats myth and fiction right there.

    what proof do you have that its a myth? i would like to know. the info i got came from shaolin. this was something they admit to. so hook it up. i want to see some real proof about this so i will only speak the truth. so why should i believe you over shaolin?
    Last edited by hskwarrior; 03-02-2013 at 09:16 PM.
    I'm pretty sure the only thing tongs do nowadays is make sure Chinese restaurants don't pay out tips to their waiters. - Pazman[/B]

    https://scontent-b-pao.xx.fbcdn.net/...8a&oe=52848D36

  10. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott R. Brown View Post
    Well, technically, they are all myths really!
    Good point Scott, because it is myth that has created our global history, art, and even drives science, and in the end our civilization. As one historian said, "those historians who do not believe mythical history are bound to live it."
    r.
    Last edited by r.(shaolin); 03-02-2013 at 09:37 PM.

  11. #26
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    Ok you say that village styles never made it into Shaolin? Shaolin is the birthplace of all gung fu? is that what you're saying? now thats myth and fiction right there.

    what proof do you have that its a myth? i would like to know. the info i got came from shaolin. this was something they admit to. so hook it up. i want to see some real proof about this so i will only speak the truth. so why should i believe you over shaolin?
    Originally Posted by hskwarrior
    that is true. the people hiding taught what they knew to the monks as a form of payment for the monks hospitality
    Hey Shrimp Boy I think I understand where you are coming from, but your point simply does not track. As I've said, the idea that (. . . people hiding at Shaolin Henan taught what they knew to the monks as a form of payment for the monks hospitality), is not even myth but pure fiction.

    With respect my friend;
    r.
    Last edited by r.(shaolin); 03-02-2013 at 11:30 PM.

  12. #27
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    Yeah, I didn't want to imply the "Flower Sermon" wasn't important because it most likely was not given by the Buddha. I just didn't want the OP to be confused since he seems to be looking for historical information. That said, Chan Buddhist have traditionally seen their practice and philosophy as going all the way back to the Buddha. Historically, I imagine it's a much more complicated issue, though.

  13. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by pazman View Post
    That said, Chan Buddhist have traditionally seen their practice and philosophy as going all the way back to the Buddha. Historically, I imagine it's a much more complicated issue, though.
    The Platform Sutra lists the Dhyana lineage to Sakyamuni Buddha, which interestingly includes Vasubandhu (founder of Yogacara) as the 21st patriarch, and Nagarjuna (founder of Madhyamaka) as the 14th patriarch, which makes sense if you study these schools going back to at least the 2nd/3rd century.

  14. #29
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    Hey Shrimp Boy I think I understand where you are coming from, but your point simply does not track. As I've said, the idea that (. . . people hiding at Shaolin Henan taught what they knew to the monks as a form of payment for the monks hospitality), is not even myth but pure fiction.

    With respect my friend;
    r.
    shrimp boy isn't here, i'm not him. I don't know you, so i can't call you friend. I never talked about Henan. so maybe its myth for you. still, saying its pure fiction without any evidence is just your opinion.
    I'm pretty sure the only thing tongs do nowadays is make sure Chinese restaurants don't pay out tips to their waiters. - Pazman[/B]

    https://scontent-b-pao.xx.fbcdn.net/...8a&oe=52848D36

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    LFJ, where does the Dhammapada fit into the timeline of early texts? Is this a Chan text?

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