Lineage (Buddhism)

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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 Zen and Tibetan Buddhism maintain records of their historical teachers. These records serve as a validation for the living exponents of the tradition.

Vinaya[edit]

In the lineage of the vinaya, the requirements for ordination as a monk or a 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 nuns became extinct in many Buddhist countries. When Ani Tenzin Palmo wanted full ordination for example, she had to travel to Hong Kong to receive it.

Mahasiddha[edit]

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

Chán and Zen lineages[edit]

Construction of lineages[edit]

The idea of a patriarchal lineage in Ch'an dates back to the epitaph for Fărú (法如 638–689), a disciple of the 5th patriarch Hóngrĕn (弘忍 601–674). In the Two Entrances and Four Acts 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.[2][3]

In the 6th century biographies of famous monks were collected. From this genre the typical Ch'an-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.[4]

D.T. Suzuki contends that Ch'an'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 Ch'an historians made Bodhidharma the 28th patriarch of Buddhism in response to such attacks.[5]

Six patriarchs[edit]

The earliest lineages described the lineage from Bodhidharma to Huining. There is no generally accepted 7th Chinese Patriarch.[6]

The principle teachers of the Chan and Zen traditions are commonly known in English translations as Patriarchs, however the more precise terminology would be "Ancestors" or "Founders" (祖, zu3) and "Ancestral Masters" or "Founding Masters" (祖師, zu3shi1) 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
1 Bodhidharma Bodhidharma Bodhidharma Bodhidharma
2 Huìkě 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)
3 Sēngcàn 僧璨 (d.606) Sēngcàn 僧璨 (d.606) Sēngcàn 僧璨 (d.606) Sēngcàn 僧璨 (d.606)
4 Dàoxìn 道信 (580 - 651) Dàoxìn 道信 (580 - 651) Dàoxìn 道信 (580 - 651) Dàoxìn 道信 (580 - 651)
5 Hóngrěn 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 Shakyamuni Buddha[edit]

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

According to the Song of Enlightenment (證道歌 Zhèngdào gē) by Yǒngjiā Xuánjué (665-713),[7] one of the chief disciples of Huìnéng, Bodhidharma was the 28th Patriarch of Buddhism in a line of descent from Śākyamuni Buddha via 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.[8]

The Transmission of the Light gives 28 patriarchs in this transmission,[9][10] and 53 overall:

SANSKRT CHINESE VIETNAMESE JAPANESE KOREAN
1 Mahākāśyapa 摩訶迦葉 / Móhējiāyè Ma-Ha-Ca-Diếp Makakashyo 마하가섭 / Mahagasŏp
2 Ānanda 阿難陀 / Ānántuó A-Nan-Đà / A-Nan Anan 아난다 / Ananda
3 Śānavāsa 商那和修 / Shāngnàhéxiū Thương-Na-Hòa-Tu Shonawashu 상나화수 / Sanahwasa
4 Upagupta 優婆掬多 / Yōupójúduō Ưu-Ba-Cúc-Đa Ubakikuta 우바국다 / Ubagupta
5 Dhrtaka 提多迦 / Dīduōjiā Đề-Đa-Ca Daitaka 제다가 / Chedaga
6 Miccaka 彌遮迦 / Mízhējiā Di-Dá-Ca Mishaka 미차가 / Michaga
7 Vasumitra 婆須密 / Póxūmì Bà-Tu-Mật Bashumitsu 바수밀다 / Pasumilta
8 Buddhanandi 浮陀難提 / Fútuónándī Phật-Đà-Nan-Đề Buddanandai 불타난제 / Pŭltananje
9 Buddhamitra 浮陀密多 / Fútuómìduō Phục-Đà-Mật-Đa Buddamitta 복태밀다 / Puktaemilda
10 Pārśva 婆栗濕婆 / Pólìshīpó Bà-Lật-Thấp-Bà / Hiếp-Tôn-Giả Barishiba 협존자 / Hyŏpjonje
11 Punyayaśas 富那夜奢 / Fùnàyèshē Phú-Na-Dạ-Xa Funayasha 부나야사 / Punayasa
12 Ānabodhi / Aśvaghoṣa 阿那菩提 / Ānàpútí A-Na-Bồ-Đề / Mã-Minh Anabotei 마명 / Mamyŏng
13 Kapimala 迦毘摩羅 / Jiāpímóluó Ca-Tỳ-Ma-La Kabimara 가비마라 / Kabimara
14 Nāgārjuna 龍樹 / Lóngshù Long-Thọ Ryusho 용수 / Yongsu
15 Kānadeva 迦那提婆 / Jiānàtípó Ca-Na-Đề-Bà Kanadaiba 가나제바 / Kanajeba
16 Rāhulata 羅睺羅多 / Luóhóuluóduō La-Hầu-La-Đa Ragorata 라후라다 / Rahurada
17 Sanghānandi 僧伽難提 / Sēngqiénántí Tăng-Già-Nan-Đề Sōgyanandai 승가난제 / Sŭngsananje
18 Sanghayaśas 僧伽舍多 / Sēngqiéshèduō Tăng-Già-Da-Xá Sogyayasha 가야사다 / Kayasada
19 Kumārata 鳩摩羅多 / Jiūmóluóduō Cưu-Ma-La-Đa Kumarada 구마라다 / Kumarada
20 Śayata 闍夜多 / Shéyèduō Xà-Dạ-Đa Jayana 사야다 / Sayada
21 Vasubandhu 世親 / Shìqīn Bà-Tu-Bàn-Đầu Bashyubanzu 바수반두 / Pasubandu
22 Manorhita 摩拏羅 / Mónáluó Ma-Noa-La Manura 마나라 / Manara
23 Haklenayaśas 鶴勒夜那夜者 / Hèlèyènàyèzhě Hạc-Lặc-Na Kakurokuyasha 학륵나 / Haklŭkna
24 Simhabodhi 師子菩提 / Shīzǐpútí Sư-Tử-Bồ-Đề / Sư-Tử-Trí Shishibodai 사자 / Saja
25 Vasiasita 婆舍斯多 / Póshèsīduō Bà-Xá-Tư-Đa Bashashita 바사사다 / Pasasada
26 Punyamitra 不如密多 / Bùrúmìduō Bất-Như-Mật-Đa Funamitta 불여밀다 / Punyŏmilta
27 Prajñātāra 般若多羅 / Bānruòduōluó Bát-Nhã-Đa-La Hannyatara 반야다라 / Panyadara
28 धर्म / Dharma 達磨 / Dámó Đạt-Ma だるま / Daruma 달마 / Dalma

Transmission to Japan[edit]

Twenty-four different Zen-lineages are recorded to be transmitted to Japan. Only three survived until today. Sōtō was transmitted to Japan by Dogen, who travelled to China for Chan training in the 13th century CE. After receiving Dharma transmission in the Caodong line he returned to Japan and established the Sōtō line. The Linji line was also transmitted to Japan several times, where it became known as the Rinzai line.

Jodo Shinshu[edit]

In Jodo Shinshu the term patriarch refers to seven Indian, Chinese and Japanese masters before its founder Shinran.

Tibetan Buddhism[edit]

Karma Kagyu[edit]

Possession of lineage[edit]

Wallace[11] renders into English a citation of Chagmé (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,[a] is the unbroken rosary of Buddhas...".[13]

Preservation of lineages[edit]

Gyatrul (b. 1924),[14] in a purport to Chagmé (Wylie: karma-chags-med, fl. 17th century), conveys Khyentse's 'samaya' (Sanskrit), diligence and humility in receiving 'wang' (Tibetan), lineal transmission and 'rlung' (Wylie) 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.[15]

Chöd lineage[edit]

Chöd is an advanced spiritual practice known as "Cutting Through the Ego."[16] This practice, based on the Prajnaparamita sutra, uses specific meditations and tantric ritual.

There are several hagiographic accounts of how chöd came to Tibet.[17] One namthar, or spiritual biography, asserts that shortly after Kamalashila won his famous debate with Moheyan as to whether Tibet should adopt the "sudden" route to enlightenment or his own "gradual" route, Kamalashila 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 Kamalashila was otherwise engaged, a Mahasiddha by the name of Padampa Sangye came across the vacant kuten or "physical basis" of Kamalashila. Padampa Sangye was not karmically blessed with an aesthetic corporeal form, and upon finding the very handsome and healthy empty body of Kamalashila, which he assumed to be a newly dead fresh corpse, used phowa to transfer his own mindstream into Kamalashila's body. Padampa Sangye's mindstream in Kamalashila'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 Kamalashila was unable to return to his own kuten and so was forced to enter the vacant body of Padampa Sangye.[18][19]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  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'."[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Haskel 2001, p. 2.
  2. ^ Dumoulin 1993, p. 37.
  3. ^ Cole 2009, p. 73–114.
  4. ^ Yampolski 2003, p. 5-6.
  5. ^ Suzuki 1949, p. 168.
  6. ^ 禪宗第七祖之爭的文獻研究
  7. ^ Chang 1967.
  8. ^ Suzuki 1948, p. 50.
  9. ^ Cook 2003.
  10. ^ Diener 1991, p. 266.
  11. ^ Chagmé et al., 1998: p. 22
  12. ^ Padmasambhava (composed); Terton Karma Lingpa (revealed); Gyurme Dorje (translated); Graham Coleman (editor); Thupten Jinpa (editor) with H.H.Tenzin Gyatso (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
  13. ^ 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: Snow Lion Publications. ISBN 978-1-55939-071-2; ISBN 1-55939-071-9, p.22
  14. ^ Source: [1] (accessed: Wednesday March 25, 2009)
  15. ^ 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: Snow Lion Publications. ISBN 978-1-55939-071-2; ISBN 1-55939-071-9, p.21
  16. ^ Rinpoche, Yangthang (1991). "Chod - Cutting Through the Ego". Retrieved 2009-06-04. 
  17. ^ Edou, Jérôme (1996). Machig Labdrön and the Foundations of Chöd. Snow Lion Publications. ISBN 978-1-55939-039-2. 
  18. ^ Thrangu, Khenchen & Klonk, Christoph (translator) & Hollmann, Gaby (editor and annotator)(2006). Chod – The Introduction & A Few Practices. Source: [2] (accessed: November 2, 2007)
  19. ^ Tantric Glossary

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]