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Vajra Fist

Internal alchemy in Zen

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I'm reading a book by Julian Daizan Skinner called Practical Zen. 

 

He was a former monastic student of Shinzan Roshi, and teaches a sort of hybrid Soto and Rinzai zen.

 

After running through the basic methods, he starts describing stuff that sounds a lot like internal alchemy. Building the tanden (dantien), developing conditions for the turning of the wheel of law (microcosmic orbit). 

 

He also teaches a type of traditional 'yoga' they used to practice in the temple, that includes stretching as well as ki practices, as well as a sort of qigong meditation.

 

All of this side of the practice dates back to Hakuin, who learned it from a hermit and revived the Rinzai sect in the 18th century.

 

All this was fairly surprising to me in terms of its presence in Japanese Zen. I've only been exposed to Soto Zen, which is fairly straightforward in its approach.

 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Vajra Fist said:

All this was fairly surprising to me in terms of its presence in Japanese Zen. I've only been exposed to Soto Zen, which is fairly straightforward in its approach.


Zen is derived from Chan which is a mixture of Daoism and Buddhism… 

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According to Pregadio, Shitou Xiqian (caodong chan) wrote a short text with the title "cantong qi". Pregadio doesn't spell it out, but imply it might be related to it and thus reflect a Chan interest in Nei Dan going back to the eight century. 

 

Caodong imply Shaolin btw. 

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I’m not particularly privy to the historical aspects - it just seemed quite evident that there’s a lot of Daoism within the type of Chan that I’ve seen practiced behind ‘closed doors’.

 

And there’s certainly a lot of Buddhism in the (at least Northern) alchemical Daoist schools…

 

A pretty incestuous world :blink:^_^

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I would call it the opposite, they both bread in new blood to avoid inbreeding. 

 

As always when one mix stuff, the result varies. 

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Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism and other relevant historical Chinese culture and arts intermixed and resulted in "Chan Buddhism", which then became Zen in Japan

 

From modern/contemporary teachers, Venerable Master Hsuan Hua and Master Nan Huai Chin both have taught an internal/alchemical/esoteric type of Zen, at least in the notion that the path requires some sense of transformation of the body and of course, ultimately the mind.  

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