Bon Banned

Subforum: Traditions > East Asian Buddhism > Chan/Zen/Seon General Forum
Thread title: Zen and Taoism, Why Blocked?
Page: 1
Date : Oct 17th 2008

Forum member:

“The establishment of Zen is traditionally credited to the Indian prince turned monk Bodhidharma who is recorded as having come to China to teach a “special transmission outside scriptures” which “did not stand upon words”. The emergence of Zen as a distinct school of Buddhism was first documented in China in the 7th century CE. It is thought to have developed as an amalgam of various currents in Mahāyāna Buddhist thought—among them the Yogācāra and Madhyamaka philosophies and the Prajñāpāramitā literature—and of local traditions in China, particularly Taoism and Huáyán Buddhism. From China, Zen subsequently spread southwards to Vietnam and eastwards to Korea and Japan.” Wikipedia

Taoism was a building block of Zen. How can it be excluded from a discussion on a Zen forum? Taoism was a local tradition in China which is reputed to have given Zen it’s “to the point”, pithy nature. Should we block any discussion of Buddhism with regard to Zen, because it too was only a component of it. Where do the arbitrary distinctions stop?

Forum member:

Namdrol disapproved.

Forum member:

You might as well ask how the Bon forum can first be archived, then deleted altogether when the Dalai Lama personally approves of it as the fifth Tibetan tradition. However, Namdrol is of the opinion that it’s only a cheap knock-off of Buddhism (I think he used those exact words), so it’s got to go.

Namdrol (Former Esangha Global Moderator):

Right, Bon is a Tibetan spiritual tradition, but it is not a Buddhist tradition. I am not against Bon, per se. But there certain historical realities that Bonpoas will not admit. Since this is so, we decided to close the Bon forum after Bonpos persisted in denying their basic historical debt to Buddhism.

Taoism is a non-Buddhist school. It’s view, as I said before is similar to the Indian Samkhya school. There is no place for this discussion, since as Anders pointed out, it is a frickin dead horse. The sound of people kicking it however is a public disturbance.


3 Responses to “Bon Banned”

  1. James Says:

    This is an unfortunate stance to take re Bon.

    If we assert that dzogpachenpo is the pinnacle of the Buddha’s teachings, and that all lower teachings manifest according to the needs of sentient beings… and if we assert that the origin of dzogpachenpo is beyond the categories and dualism of the three times… that it’s source is timeless pure awareness, Samantabhadra… then it is a little moot whether Bon is Buddhist or Buddhist is Bon.

    Such concerns are tied up in dualistic historicity.

    If we get caught up in historicities– as Namdrol says, there are certain realities that the Bon will not admit– perhaps we should examine certain realities that Buddhists will not admit.

  2. Gerry Says:

    Heh! Well put James.

    The general history of Bon, especially in light of the two formal persecutions (pre-Buddhist and later at the hand of Trisong Detsen), the arrival of Buddhism from India in Tibet, plus the confusion of early Tibetologists and others about Bon and who really is a Bonpo, could lead to endless discussions. Snellgrove was perhaps the first and best documented to actually ask the Bonpos themselves to tell their side of the story. We see this sort of conflict again and again in human history – those indigenous to the “Americas” vs those who came from across the waters, Yugoslavia post Tito, Iraq and Kurdistan or Iran, or simply follow the migration of any religion, or philosophical system – moving mind cannot help but defend its views with tenacity for fear of being found out (even this posting of mine could fall into that category).

    For me, the most amusing aspect in reference to the controversies around Bon is for the most part there is no animosity by Bonpos towards Buddhism or Buddhists – rather Bonpos see it all as Dharma the aim of which is minimize suffering in samsara and ultimately attain enlightenment.

    If one actually bothers to read the tiny bit available about Bon written from a Bonpo point of view, their side of the story could be seen as extremely plausable – especially in light of the Tibetan Buddhist version of how Mahayana with its related teachings came about.

    Warm regards.

  3. Gerry Says:

    I suppose I should add…

    I remember a time before the Bön Subforum. Somebody asked a questions about the different spiritual traditions in Tibet and I replied “Five – Bön, Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya, & Gelug” – shortly after that was the beginning of the Bön Subforum.

    The eventual closing was more due to a play on words – the word “Buddha” can refer to many, however “Buddhism” in the west generally refers to the followers of Shakyamuni. Bönpos follow the teachings of the Buddha Tönpa Shenrap and because many of the discussions had a tendancy to get a little heated, the Bön Subforum went to comparative, then read only and eventually vanished all together.

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