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Eminent Nuns

Discussion of Chinese Chán (禪) Buddhism.

Eminent Nuns

Postby deci belle on Wed Oct 21, 2015 3:55 pm

…a very small taste of a good bit of insight and history excerpted from pages 19~21 of Beata Grant’s Eminent Nuns, 257 pages. ISBN 978-0-8248-3202-5 University of Hawaii Press, 2009

—from Images of Nuns in the Writings of Seventeenth-Century Monks

Hongzan Caican appears to have advocated domestic piety primarily as a logical extension of his own teaching and practice. However, in some cases the presence of Buddhist nuns who had left the domestic sphere—and, in particular, women who claimed the status of Chan masters—provoked a considerable amount of polemic ire. As noted earlier, the revival of Linji Chan in the seventeenth century was accompanied by often very vitriolic polemical debates, whether between advocates of a “pure” Linji Chan and those who espoused a more syncretic (and less antinomian) type of Buddhism, or between different views within the Linji Chan school itself. Women Chan masters do not appear to have participated directly in these debates—in fact, when they do mention the sectarian wrangling, it is to lament its foolishness. Yet they were unable to completely keep out of the fray, especially since they sometimes found themselves used, by men both within and without the Linji revival movement, as symbolic weapons in this larger polemical battle. For some of the most acerbic examples of this, we turn not to a male Chan master but to the Buddhist layman Qian Qianyi, who, as we have seen, did not think much of the performative re-creations of the “blows and shouts” advocated by Miyun Yuanwu. He was also highly critical of what he called an “indiscriminate” proliferation of Dharma transmissions, which he saw not as proof of the revival of Chan Buddhism, but rather as further proof of its degenerate state. Significantly, he presents as evidence of this the fact that women were among those receiving such Dharma transmission and assuming the title and authority of Chan masters:

In these latter days of the Dharma, the Chan school has lost its way. Witch-like nuns [yaoni] and their demonic kin [mojuan] ascend the [Dharma] hall, preach to the congregation, and circulate their discourse records. This is all due to a generation of heterodox teachers and blind Chan followers who indiscriminately bestow the seal of transmission. Oiled heads and rouged cheeks wrangle over who will grasp the fly whisk; untouchable slave girls are elevated to the status of lineage masters.

As is well known, Qian Qianyi was by no means unsympathetic to female aspirations: he edited a substantial anthology of women’s writings, with the help of his wife, the famous late-Ming poet and ex-courtesan Liu Rushi, and was in general quite supportive of women who pushed the social and cultural envelope. However, we also find a similar vitriolic polemic against female Chan practitioners elsewhere in his writings. In one instance, he again rails against the “women of today … who seek the Way of leaving the world”: (“leaving the world” here refers to ambitions and polemics of institutionalized pursuits; not the dharma of enacting enlightening function in the midst of delusional existence)

[Some] in seeking it, cling to appearances, paying homage, reciting prayers, exhorting zealously and distributing alms. Their mouths are like lotus flowers, but their hearts are like thorns and thistles and all of their womanly appearances are still in place, not to mention [the questions of life and death]. [Some] in seeking it shatter appearances: abandoning propriety and regulations, they plagiarize [others’] words and phrases and plunder the expedient teaching devices of the old women [of the Chan texts] and collect together all of their words and talks. [In so doing,] they plummet into hell as swiftly as an arrow: they certainly cannot be said have escaped [the wheel of] life and death.

Although this passage does seem to indicate the limits of Qian Qianyi’s tolerance for women’s active participation in religious activities, it is clear that his primary target was not women per se but rather the antinomian Chan practices espoused by Miyun Yuanwu and his circle, which included not only the “blows and shouts” but a renewed interest in re-creating the dialogues and discourses found in Chan texts.

Qian Qianyi himself espoused the combined practice (shuangxiu) of Pure Land and Chan as taught by Yunqi Zhuhong and others, which preserved the focus on pious devotion, good works, and—in the case of women—a praiseworthy death with the promise of rebirth sans the female body in Amitabha’s Pure Land. It certainly did not encourage women to abandon their traditional religious roles as models of piety, much less to ascend the dais and publicly play the role of Chan master. We see an explicit articulation of this view in a funerary inscription that Qian Qianyi composed for Chaoyin, a nun who entered the religious life only after having raised a family and conscientiously served both her parents and her in-laws. In this inscription, Qian Qianyi draws a sharp contrast between Chaoyin and other types of nuns who, like their male Chan counterparts, appear to Qian to be more interested in public performance than in private practice: (whereas my advocacy lies in private performance in broad daylight and public practice unbeknownst to anyone)

Nowadays, there are so many women who have taken the precepts in the Chan school and vie to assume the honorary position of priests [âchâryas]. Their dressing cases are filled with discourse records and religious poems (gatha) all mixed up with their rouge and powders. Some have [even] received the Dharma verification of eminent masters, and establish branch sects of the transmitted lineage. This is not the way to be a nun (biqiuni) [who should] flee the marketplace and distance herself from vulgar people and should not broadcast her karmic affinity for traveling to visit [religious teachers (canfang)] or [claim to be the eminent] successor in the lineage of an eminent monk. [Rather] she, with every single sound of the Buddha’s name, [devotes] ten thoughts to [his compassion, thus ensuring that she will appear] on the list of those destined for rebirth [in the Pure Land]. In the latter days of the Dharma this is very difficult, and there are few [who can accomplish it]… . Layman Xu Bo has spoken highly of Chaoyin, saying: “When the Honored One preached the Dharma, all of the four divisions of the sangha [monks, nuns, laymen, laywomen] assembled together; and it has been recorded that at the Lotus Assembly there were nuns among the various major disciples who attained Buddhahood. However, this is no longer true today. Now [women] stick out their heads and expose their faces almost as if they were acting in a play; blindly investigating and ignorantly [transmitting the Dharma] seal, they dispense with the Buddha Dharma.

No doubt Qian Qianyi would have emphatically agreed with the early seventeenth-century Spanish theologian Bartolomé de Medina, who declared that Teresa of Avila and her nuns would be better off “in their convents praying and spinning,” or, in the Chinese equivalent, pursuing their devotions in the privacy of the inner quarters or, in exceptional cases, the cloister. As the Jesuit priest Rodrigo Niño, in a 1627 sermon in honor of Teresa of Avila’s nomination as co-patron of Spain, remarked, “Sanctity in women usually consists in being quiet, obeying, staying in a corner and forgetting about oneself; O new miracle and rare prodigy! Not by keeping quiet, but by speaking, teaching and writing; not only by obeying, but by ordering, commanding, governing; not by observing enclosure but by traveling, disputing.”


Sacré bleu❤︎!!

”…and distance herself from vulgar people…” —Scandale~ hahhahahahaaa!!
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deci belle
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Re: Eminent Nuns

Postby Mothers Lap on Wed Oct 21, 2015 4:52 pm

65 accounts of Chinese nuns from the fourth to sixth centuries translated by BDK.

http://www.bdk.or.jp/pdf/bdk/digitaldl/ ... s_2002.pdf

Taishō 2063

Volume 50
Biographies of Buddhist Nuns

This text contains the biographies of 65 Chinese Buddhist nuns (Skt. bhikuṇī, Ch: biqiuni) who lived during the approximately 160-year period between the Eastern Chin and Liang Dynasties. According to the introduction, in former times many virtuous nuns were to be met with, but at the time of the Liang Dynasty when this work was compiled there were few nuns to be found rigorously observing the monastic precepts. Accordingly the author brought together various inscriptions, the recollections of elderly people and other relevant records into this single volume in order to provide examples for future nuns.

Ch. Biqiuni zhuan (比丘尼傳), composed by Bao-chang. 4 fascicles.
Lacking mindfulness, we commit every wrong.
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔
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Mothers Lap
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Re: Eminent Nuns

Postby deci belle on Mon Nov 16, 2015 5:36 pm

Bonjour, Madame Mothers Lap❤︎!! …je suis une religieuse coquine~ (trans) I am a naughty nun— heehee!!❤︎❤︎
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deci belle
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