Lineage (Buddhism)

A lineage in Buddhism is a line of transmission of the Buddhist teaching that is "theoretically traced back to the Buddha himself."[1] The acknowledgement of the transmission can be oral, or certified in documents. Several branches of Buddhism, including Chan (including Zen and Seon) and Tibetan Buddhism maintain records of their historical teachers. These records serve as a validation for the living exponents of the tradition.

The historical authenticity of Buddhist lineage is questionable. Stephen Batchelor has claimed, speaking about specifically Japanese Zen lineage, "the historicity of this “lineage” simply does not withstand critical scrutiny."[2] Erik Storlie has noted that transmission "is simply false on historical grounds."[3] Edward Conze said "much of the traditions about the early history of Chan are the inventions of a later age."[4]

Vinaya

In the lineage of the vinaya, the requirements for ordination as a bhikkhu ("monk") or a bhikkhuni ("nun") include the presence of at least five other monks, one of whom must be a fully ordained preceptor, and another an acharya (teacher). This lineage for ordaining bhikshunis became extinct in the Theravada school and in Tibetan Buddhism. Therefore, when śrāmaṇerikās like Tenzin Palmo wanted full ordination, she had to travel to Hong Kong.

Mahasiddha

Lineages in the Mahasiddha tradition do not necessarily originate from Gautama Buddha, but are ultimately grounded, like all Buddhist lineages, in the Adi-Buddha.

Chan and Zen lineages

Construction of lineages

The idea of a patriarchal lineage in Chan Buddhism dates back to the epitaph for Fărú (法如 638–689), a disciple of the 5th patriarch, Hóngrĕn (弘忍 601–674). In the Long Scroll of the Treatise on the Two Entrances and Four Practices and the Continued Biographies of Eminent Monks, Daoyu and Huike are the only explicitly identified disciples of Bodhidharma. The epitaph gives a line of descent identifying Bodhidharma as the first patriarch.[5][6]

In the 6th century biographies of famous monks were collected. From this genre the typical Chan-lineage was developed:

These famous biographies were non-sectarian. The Ch'an biographical works, however, aimed to establish Ch'an as a legitimate school of Buddhism traceable to its Indian origins, and at the same time championed a particular form of Ch'an. Historical accuracy was of little concern to the compilers; old legends were repeated, new stories were invented and reiterated until they too became legends.[7]

D. T. Suzuki contends that Chan's growth in popularity during the 7th and 8th centuries attracted criticism that it had "no authorized records of its direct transmission from the founder of Buddhism" and that Chan historians made Bodhidharma the 28th patriarch of Buddhism in response to such attacks.[8]

Six patriarchs

The earliest lineages described the lineage from Bodhidharma to Huineng. There is no generally accepted 7th Chinese Patriarch.[9]

The principle teachers of the Chan, Zen and Seon traditions are commonly known in English translations as "Patriarchs". However, the more precise terminology would be "Ancestors" or "Founders" (Chinese: ; pinyin: ) and "Ancestral Masters" or "Founding Masters" (Chinese: 祖師), as the commonly used Chinese terms are gender neutral. Various records of different authors are known, which give a variation of transmission lines:

The Continued Biographies
of Eminent Monks

Xù gāosēng zhuàn 續高僧傳
of Dàoxuān 道宣
(596-667)
The Record of the Transmission
of the Dharma-Jewel

Chuán fǎbǎo jì 傳法寶記
of Dù Fěi 杜胐
History of Masters and Disciples of the Laṅkāvatāra-Sūtra
Léngqié shīzī jì 楞伽師資紀記
of Jìngjué 淨覺
(ca. 683 - ca. 650)
The Xiǎnzōngjì 显宗记
of Shénhuì 神会
1BodhidharmaBodhidharmaBodhidharmaBodhidharma
2Huìkě 慧可 (487? - 593) Dàoyù 道育Dàoyù 道育Dàoyù 道育
Huìkě 慧可 (487? - 593)Huìkě 慧可 (487? - 593)Huìkě 慧可 (487? - 593)
3Sēngcàn 僧璨 (d.606)Sēngcàn 僧璨 (d.606)Sēngcàn 僧璨 (d.606)Sēngcàn 僧璨 (d.606)
4Dàoxìn 道信 (580 - 651)Dàoxìn 道信 (580 - 651)Dàoxìn 道信 (580 - 651)Dàoxìn 道信 (580 - 651)
5Hóngrěn 弘忍 (601 - 674)Hóngrěn 弘忍 (601 - 674)Hóngrěn 弘忍 (601 - 674)Hóngrěn 弘忍 (601 - 674)
6- Fǎrú 法如 (638-689)Yuquan Shenxiu 神秀 (606? - 706)Huìnéng 慧能 (638-713)
Yuquan Shenxiu 神秀 (606? - 706) 神秀Xuánzé 玄賾
7---Xuánjué 玄覺 (665-713)

Continuous lineage from Gautama Buddha

Eventually these descriptions of the lineage evolved into a continuous lineage from Gautama Buddha to Bodhidharma. The idea of a line of descent from Gautama is the basis for the distinctive lineage tradition of Chan.

According to the Song of Enlightenment (證道歌 Zhèngdào gē) by Yǒngjiā Xuánjué (665-713),[10] one of the chief disciples of Huineng, Bodhidharma was the 28th Patriarch of Buddhism in a line of descent from Gautama Buddha through his disciple Mahākāśyapa:

Mahakashyapa was the first, leading the line of transmission;

Twenty-eight Fathers followed him in the West;
The Lamp was then brought over the sea to this country;
And Bodhidharma became the First Father here
His mantle, as we all know, passed over six Fathers,
And by them many minds came to see the Light.[11]

The Denkoroku gives 28 patriarchs in this transmission,[12][13] and 53 overall:

Sanskrit Chinese Vietnamese Japanese Korean
1Mahākāśyapa摩訶迦葉 / MóhējiāyèMa-Ha-Ca-DiếpMakakashō마하가섭 / Mahagasŏp
2Ānanda阿難陀 (阿難) / Ānántuó (Ānán)A-Nan-Đà (A-Nan)Ananda (Anan)아난다 (아난) / Ananda (Anan)
3Śānavāsa商那和修 / ShāngnàhéxiūThương-Na-Hòa-TuShōnawashu상나화수 / Sangnahwasu
4Upagupta優婆掬多 / YōupójúduōƯu-Ba-Cúc-ĐaUbakikuta우바국다 / Upakukta
5Dhrtaka提多迦 / DīduōjiāĐề-Đa-CaDaitaka제다가 / Chedaga
6Miccaka彌遮迦 / MízhējiāDi-Dá-CaMishaka미차가 / Michaga
7Vasumitra婆須密 (婆須密多) / Póxūmì (Póxūmìduō)Bà-Tu-Mật (Bà-Tu-Mật-Đa)Bashumitsu (Bashumitta)바수밀다 / Pasumilta
8Buddhanandi浮陀難提 / FútuónándīPhật-Đà-Nan-ĐềBuddanandai불타난제 / Pŭltananje
9Buddhamitra浮陀密多 / FútuómìduōPhục-Đà-Mật-ĐaBuddamitta복태밀다 / Puktaemilda
10Pārśva波栗濕縛 / 婆栗濕婆 (脅尊者) / Bōlìshīfú / Pólìshīpó (Xiézūnzhě)Ba-Lật-Thấp-Phược / Bà-Lật-Thấp-Bà (Hiếp-Tôn-Giả)Barishiba (Kyōsonja)파률습박 (협존자) / P'ayulsŭppak (Hyŏpjonje)
11Punyayaśas富那夜奢 / FùnàyèshēPhú-Na-Dạ-XaFunayasha부나야사 / Punayasa
12Ānabodhi / Aśvaghoṣa阿那菩提 (馬鳴) / Ānàpútí (Mǎmíng)A-Na-Bồ-Đề (Mã-Minh)Anabotei (Memyō)아슈바고샤 (마명) / Asyupakosya (Mamyŏng)
13Kapimala迦毘摩羅 / JiāpímóluóCa-Tỳ-Ma-LaKabimora (Kabimara)가비마라 / Kabimara
14Nāgārjuna那伽閼剌樹那 (龍樹) / Nàqiéèlàshùnà (Lóngshù)Na-Già-Át-Lạt-Thụ-Na (Long-Thọ)Nagaarajuna (Ryūju)나가알랄수나 (용수) / Nakaallalsuna (Yongsu)
15Āryadeva / Kānadeva迦那提婆 / JiānàtípóCa-Na-Đề-BàKanadaiba가나제바 / Kanajeba
16Rāhulata羅睺羅多 / LuóhóuluóduōLa-Hầu-La-ĐaRagorata라후라다 / Rahurada
17Sanghānandi僧伽難提 / SēngqiénántíTăng-Già-Nan-ĐềSōgyanandai승가난제 / Sŭngsananje
18Sanghayaśas僧伽舍多 / SēngqiéshèduōTăng-Già-Da-XáSōgyayasha가야사다 / Kayasada
19Kumārata鳩摩羅多 / JiūmóluóduōCưu-Ma-La-ĐaKumorata (Kumarata)구마라다 / Kumarada
20Śayata / Jayata闍夜多 / ShéyèduōXà-Dạ-ĐaShayata사야다 / Sayada
21Vasubandhu婆修盤頭 (世親) / Póxiūpántóu (Shìqīn)Bà-Tu-Bàn-Đầu (Thế-Thân)Bashubanzu (Sejin)바수반두 (세친) / Pasubandu (Sechin)
22Manorhita摩拏羅 / MónáluóMa-Noa-LaManura마나라 / Manara
23Haklenayaśas鶴勒那 (鶴勒那夜奢) / Hèlènà (Hèlènàyèzhě)Hạc-Lặc-NaKakurokuna (Kakurokunayasha)학륵나 / Haklŭkna
24Simhabodhi師子菩提 / ShīzǐpútíSư-Tử-Bồ-Đề / Sư-Tử-TríShishibodai사자 / Saja
25Vasiasita婆舍斯多 / PóshèsīduōBà-Xá-Tư-ĐaBashashita바사사다 / Pasasada
26Punyamitra不如密多 / BùrúmìduōBất-Như-Mật-ĐaFunyomitta불여밀다 / Punyŏmilta
27Prajñātāra般若多羅 / BānruòduōluóBát-Nhã-Đa-LaHannyatara반야다라 / Panyadara
28Dharma / BodhidharmaTa Mo / 菩提達磨 / PútídámóĐạt-Ma / Bồ-Đề-Đạt-MaDaruma / BodaidarumaTal Ma / 보리달마 / Poridalma

Transmission to Japan

Twenty-four different Zen lineages are recorded to be transmitted to Japan. Only three survived until today. Sōtō was transmitted to Japan by Dōgen, who travelled to China for Chan training in the 13th century. After receiving Dharma transmission in the Caodong school, he returned to Japan and established the lineage there, where it is called the Sōtō.

The Linji school was also transmitted to Japan several times, where it is the Rinzai school.

Jōdo Shinshū

In Jōdo Shinshū, "Patriarch" refers to seven Indian, Chinese and Japanese masters before its founder, Shinran.

Tibetan Buddhism

The 14th Dalai Lama, in the foreword to Karmapa: The Sacred Prophecy[14] states:

Within the context of Tibetan Buddhism, the importance of lineage extends far beyond the ordinary sense of a particular line of inheritance or descent. Lineage is a sacred trust through which the integrity of Buddha's teachings is preserved intact as it is transmitted from one generation to the next. The vital link through which the spiritual tradition is nourished and maintained is the profound connection between an enlightened master and perfectly devoted disciple. The master-disciple relationship is considered extremely sacred by all the major schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

Karma Kagyu

Possession of lineage

Wallace[15] renders into English a citation of Karma Chagme (Wylie: karma chags med , fl. 17th century) that contains an embedded quotation attributed to Nāropā (956-1041 CE):

The crucial, primary qualification of a spiritual mentor is stated by Naropa, "The qualification of a spiritual mentor is that [t]he[y][(s/he)] possesses the lineage."

The Single Meaning of the Vajra Speech [Wylie: rDo rje'i gsungs dgongs pa gcig pa] states, "There is great profundity in the connection within the lineage of the holy Dharma." The real lineage of the realization of this Dharma, which transfer blessings,[lower-alpha 1] is the unbroken rosary of Buddhas...".[17]

Preservation of lineages

Gyatrul (b. 1924),[18] in a purport to Karma Chagme, conveys Dilgo Khyentse's 'samaya', diligence and humility in receiving Vajrayana empowerment, lineal Dharma transmission and rlung, as rendered into English by Wallace (Chagmé et al., 1998: p. 21):

With respect to oral transmission, even if the lineage is impure, it is not a problem. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche often sought out and received any oral transmission he thought was on the verge of disappearing. It made no difference who was giving it. He would receive it and, in turn, pass it on to make sure that the lineage remained unbroken.[19]

Chöd

Chöd is an advanced spiritual practice known as "Cutting Through the Ego."[20] This practice, based on the Prajnaparamita sutra, uses specific meditations and tantric ritual.

There are several hagiographic accounts of how chöd came to Tibet.[21] One namtar (hagiography) asserts that shortly after Kamalaśīla won his famous debate with Moheyan as to whether Tibet should adopt the "sudden" route to enlightenment or his own "gradual" route, Kamalaśīla enacted phowa, transferring his mindstream to animate a corpse polluted with contagion in order to safely move the hazard it presented. As the mindstream of Kamalaśīla was otherwise engaged, a mahasiddha named Dampa Sangye came across the vacant kuten or "physical basis" of Kamalaśīla. Dampa Sangye was not karmically blessed with an aesthetic corporeal form, and upon finding the very handsome and healthy empty body of Kamalaśīla, which he assumed to be a newly dead fresh corpse, used phowa to transfer his own mindstream into Kamalaśīla's body. Dampa Sangye's mindstream in Kamalaśīla's body continued the ascent to the Himalaya and thereby transmitted the Pacification of Suffering teachings and the Indian form of Chöd which contributed to the Mahamudra Chöd of Machig Labdrön. The mindstream of Kamalaśīla was unable to return to his own kuten and so was forced to enter the vacant body of Dampa Sangye.[22][23]

See also

Notes

  1. "In the Buddhist context, the term blessing should not be understood in terms of grace as in the case of theistic religions. Rather, it relates to the sense of inspiration received...which transforms or awakens the potentials inherent within an individual's mental continuum. Thus, the Tibetan word byin-rlabs is interpreted to mean: 'to be transformed through inspiring magnificence'."[16]

References

  1. Haskel 2001, p. 2.
  2. Batchelor, Stephen (Winter 2000). "The Lessons of History". Tricycle: The Buddhist Review. Retrieved April 25, 2015.
  3. Storlie, Erik (February 8, 2011). "Lineage Delusions: Eido Shimano Roshi, Dharma Transmission, and American Zen". Sweeping Zen. Retrieved April 25, 2015.
  4. Conze, Edward (2003). Buddhism: Its Essence and Development. Courier Corporation. p. 201. ISBN 9780486430959.
  5. Dumoulin 1993, p. 37.
  6. Cole 2009, p. 73–114.
  7. Yampolski 2003, p. 5-6.
  8. Suzuki 1949, p. 168.
  9. 禪宗第七祖之爭的文獻研究
  10. Chang 1967.
  11. Suzuki 1948, p. 50.
  12. Cook 2003.
  13. Diener 1991, p. 266.
  14. Karmapa: The Sacred Prophecy. New York: Kagyu Thubten Choling Publications Committee. 1999.
  15. Chagmé et al., 1998: p. 22
  16. Padmasambhava (composed); Terton Karma Lingpa (revealed); Gyurme Dorje (translated); Graham Coleman (editor); Thupten Jinpa (editor) with the 14th Dalai Lama (introduction) (2005, 2006). The Tibetan Book of the Dead. First Complete Translation. Strand, London, UK: Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-14-045529-8, p.448
  17. Chagmé, Karma (author, compiler); Gyatrul Rinpoche (commentary) & Wallace, B. Alan (translator) (1998). A Spacious Path to Freedom: Practical Instructions on the Union of Mahamudra and Atiyoga. Ithaca, New York, USA: Shambhala Publications. ISBN 978-1-55939-071-2; ISBN 1-55939-071-9, p.22
  18. Source: "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-12-29. Retrieved 2009-03-25. (accessed: Wednesday March 25, 2009)
  19. Chagmé, Karma (author, compiler); Gyatrul Rinpoche (commentary) & Wallace, B. Alan (translator) (1998). A Spacious Path to Freedom: Practical Instructions on the Union of Mahamudra and Atiyoga. Ithaca, New York, USA: Shambhala Publications. ISBN 978-1-55939-071-2; ISBN 1-55939-071-9, p.21
  20. Rinpoche, Yangthang (1991). "Chod - Cutting Through the Ego". Retrieved 2009-06-04.
  21. Edou, Jérôme (1996). Machig Labdrön and the Foundations of Chöd. Snow Lion Publications. ISBN 978-1-55939-039-2.
  22. Thrangu, Khenchen & Klonk, Christoph (translator) & Hollmann, Gaby (editor and annotator)(2006). Chod – The Introduction & A Few Practices. Source: (accessed: November 2, 2007)
  23. Tantric Glossary

Sources

  • Chang, Chung-Yuan (1967), "Ch'an Buddhism: Logical and Illogical", Philosophy East and West, Philosophy East and West, Vol. 17, No. 1/4, 17 (1/4): 37–49, doi:10.2307/1397043, JSTOR 1397043 
  • Cole, Alan (2009), Fathering Your Father: The Zen of Fabrication in Tang Buddhism, Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, ISBN 978-0-520-25485-5 
  • Cook, Francis Dojun (2003), Transmitting the Light: Zen Master's Keizan's Denkoroku, Boston: Wisdom Publications 
  • Diener, Michael S.; and friends (1991), The Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen, Boston: Shambhala 
  • Dumoulin, Heinrich (1993), "Early Chinese Zen Reexamined: A Supplement to Zen Buddhism: A History" (PDF), Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, 20 (1): 31–53, ISSN 0304-1042, archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-03-04 
  • Haskel, Peter (2001). Letting Go: The Story of Zen Master Tōsui. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 0-8248-2440-7. 
  • Suzuki, D.T. (1949), Essays in Zen Buddhism, New York: Grove Press, ISBN 0-8021-5118-3 
  • Yampolski, Philip (2003), Chan. A Historical Sketch. In: Buddhist Spirituality. Later China, Korea, Japan and the Modern World; edited by Takeuchi Yoshinori, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass 
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