Yogi Chen

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Chen Chien Ming (Chinese: 陳健民; pinyin: Chén Jiànmín; 1906–1987), also known as Yogi C. M. Chen or simply as Yogi Chen, was a Chinese hermit who lived in Kalimpong, India, from 1947 until 1972, when he moved to the United States, where he lived for the remainder of his life.[1] According to Lama Ole Nydahl, Chen had, in his youth in China, been terrified of death and had at first practiced Taoist life-extending exercises. Later he turned to Buddhism and, in search of teachings, went to Tibet, where he spent several years living in a cave. He also met the famous French explorer, Alexandra David-Néel, while he was in Kham.[2]

He had as disciples two English-born bhikkhus, Sangharakshita and Khantipalo. The three men together compiled materials for a book, published as Buddhist Meditation, Systematic and Practical.[3] According to one version Sangharakshita would ask Yogi Chen questions, and Khantipalo wrote down and edited the dialog.[4] But in his own version Sangharakshita states "The three of us probably discussed meditation, for it was either on this occasion, or shortly afterwards, that Yogi Chen undertook to give Khantipalo and me a talk on the subject. Whether it was his own idea, or the result of a request by his two yellow-robed visitors, I no longer recollect. Whichever it was, the talk proved to be a long one. It was given in weekly instalments, over a period of four months...'. [5]

Yogi Chen was visited repeatedly in Kalimpong by Lama Ole Nydahl, who related that Chen had not left his hermitage in the 24 years that he had (until then) lived there. He was also surprised to find that Chen had criticisms of several well-known lamas, whom Nydahl had naively expected to be perfect.[6] During his years in the hermitage (actually a small bungalow on the outskirts of the bazaar, although it had originally been outside Kalimpong before the town expanded), Yogi Chen spent most of his day meditating, with half an hour devoted to writing. He rarely received visitors.[7]

Both Sangharakshita and Khantipalo describe Chen as "eccentric,"[8][9] but both men,[10][11] and Lama Nydahl,[12] had a high regard for his spiritual attainments. Sangharakshita regarded Chen as one of his teachers, although he says that the yogi refused to regard himself as a teacher.[13] Lama Nydahl has referred to Chen as "the Great Yogi Chen" and as "a highly accomplished teacher."[14]

Sangharakshita says that he introduced the poet, Allen Ginsberg, to Yogi Chen in Kalimpong.[15] Chen was approached in the United States by Carlos Castaneda, who related that he was being taught how to produce a "double" of himself, and who asked if there were similar practices in Buddhism. "Of course, said Yogi Chen, there were methods for producing up to six emanations of oneself. 'But why bother? Then you only have six times as much trouble.' "[16] Daniel C. Noel, who recounts the Castaneda anecdote, says that Chen was regarded as a "local saint."[17]

Lama Surya Das quotes Yogi Chen's advice on setting up an altar in his book, The Mind Is Mightier Than the Sword: Enlightening the Mind, Opening the Heart.[18]

Zen priest Ken Ireland is a former disciple of Yogi Chen.[19] Yogi Chen's main disciple is Dr. Yutang Lin.[20]

Daniel Odier, in his book Tantric Quest (Inner Traditions), also describe an encounter with yogi Chen in Kalimpong in 1968.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Dharmachari, Kulananda (2000), Teachers of enlightenment: the refuge tree of the Western Buddhist Order, Windhorse Publications, p. 240, ISBN 1-899579-25-7 
  2. ^ Nydahl, Lama Ole (1985), Entering the Diamond Way: Tibetan Buddhism Meets The West, Blue Dolphin, pp. 126–7, ISBN 978-0-931892-03-5 
  3. ^ Chen, Chien Ming; Khantipalo, Bhikkhu (1983), Buddhist Meditation, Systematic and Practical (Volume 42 of Hsientai fohsüeh tahsi), Mile chʻupanshe 
  4. ^ Lawrence, Khantipalo (2002), Noble friendship: travels of a Buddhist monk, Windhorse Publications, p. 140, ISBN 1-899579-46-X 
  5. ^ Sangharakshita, Urgyen (2007), Precious Teachers: Indian Memoirs of an English Buddhist, Windhorse Publications, p. 142-151, ISBN 978-1-899579-78-5 
  6. ^ Nydahl, Lama Ole (1985), Entering the Diamond Way: My Path Among the Lamas, Blue Dolphin Pub, p. 125, ISBN 0-931892-03-1 
  7. ^ Dharmachari, Kulananda (2000), Teachers of enlightenment: the refuge tree of the Western Buddhist Order, Windhorse Publications, p. 235, ISBN 1-899579-25-7 
  8. ^ Mallander, J.O. (1995), In the Realm of the Lotus: A Conversation About Art, Beauty and the Spiritual Life, Windhorse Publications, p. 32, ISBN 978-0-904766-72-1 
  9. ^ Lawrence, Khantipalo (2002), Noble friendship: travels of a Buddhist monk, Windhorse Publications, p. 147, ISBN 1-899579-46-X 
  10. ^ Lawrence, Khantipalo (2002), Noble friendship: travels of a Buddhist monk, Windhorse Publications, p. 144, ISBN 1-899579-46-X 
  11. ^ Sangharakshita, Urgyen (2002), Moving Against the Stream: The Birth of a New Buddhist Movement, Windhorse Publications, p. 336, ISBN 978-1-899579-11-2 
  12. ^ Nydahl, Lama Ole (1985), Entering the Diamond Way: Tibetan Buddhism Meets The West, Blue Dolphin, p. 126, ISBN 978-0-931892-03-5 
  13. ^ Sangharakshita, Urgyen (2002), Moving Against the Stream: The Birth of a New Buddhist Movement, Windhorse Publications, p. 336, ISBN 978-1-899579-11-2 
  14. ^ Watzlawek, Stefan; Zaremba, Melanie (2007), "Lama Ole Nydahl — On the Meditation on the 16th Karmapa", Buddhism Today 20 
  15. ^ Sangharakshita, Urgyen (2002), Moving Against the Stream: The Birth of a New Buddhist Movement, Windhorse Publications, p. 106, ISBN 978-1-899579-11-2 
  16. ^ Noel, Daniel C. (1976), Seeing Castaneda: reactions to the "Don Juan" writings of Carlos Castaneda, Putnam, p. 59, ISBN 0-399-11603-6 
  17. ^ Noel, Daniel C. (1976), Seeing Castaneda: reactions to the "Don Juan" writings of Carlos Castaneda, Putnam, p. 59, ISBN 0-399-11603-6 
  18. ^ Das, Lama Surya (2009), The Mind Is Mightier Than the Sword: Enlightening the Mind, Opening the Heart, Random House, pp. 230–231, ISBN 978-0-7679-1864-0 
  19. ^ Callahan, Morgan Zo (June 7, 2003), Two Zen Dialogues, retrieved July 10, 2010 
  20. ^ Vedro, Steven (2007), The Mind Is Mightier Than the Sword: Enlightening the Mind, Opening the Heart, Quest Books, p. 197, ISBN 978-0-8356-0859-6 

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