Wednesday, 15 January 2020


383. Case 19 of the Mumonkan tells the story of an encounter between a young Joshu and his master Nansen. Not long after entering the monastery in his late teens Joshu goes to his master with what is surely a most important opening question for someone new to the monastic life and the practice of Zen. And so he asks, 'What is the Way?' It is a very serious question and akin to the question a certain young man put to Jesus, saying, 'What must I do to gain eternal life?' The English expression 'the Way' translates the Chinese Tao, which entered the Zen lexicon from Taoism. The Taoist vocabulary was an important source for the acculturation of Dhyana Buddhism brought to China from India by Bodhidharma early in the sixth century CE. But it has a wider reference. The early believers in Jesus were called 'followers of the Way'. So, what is the Way?

1 comment:

  1. Bodhidharma is a fictional character invented to give the particular monastery greater prestige and thus attract donations. Zen is not an Indian import, it is a Chinese invention.