Chapter

Beginnings

John R. McRae

in Seeing through Zen

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2004 | ISBN: 9780520237971
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520937079 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520237971.003.0002
Beginnings

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According to traditional accounts, Bodhidharma was the third son of a great Brahman king of southern India, who left home to undertake the life of a Buddhist monk. He crossed the Yangzi River by floating across on a reed and went to Mount Song, just south of the great city of Luoyang. There Bodhidharma took up residence at Shaolin Temple (Shaolinsi), but instead of joining the regular activities of the congregation of monks, he spent nine years in a cave, sitting in meditation while facing a wall. His extraordinary discipline eventually attracted the attention of a student named Huike, who was to become his successor and thus the second patriarch of Chan Buddhism. Huike went on to transmit the teachings to Sengcan, from whom they were passed on to Daoxin, Hongren, and then to the sixth patriarch Huineng. This chapter focuses on the evolving hagiography of Bodhidharma, Hongren and the “East Mountain Teaching,” and two treatises (Treatise on the Two Entrances and Four Practices and Treatise on the Essentials of Cultivating the Mind).

Keywords: Chan Buddhism; India; China; Bodhidharma; East Mountain Teaching; Hongren; Huike; hagiography; treatises; monks

Chapter.  9804 words. 

Subjects: Buddhism

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