lördag 23 juli 2011

Bodhidharma and The Zoroastrian Origin of Zen (Chan) Philosophy

Bodhidharma was clearly a Persian Zoroastrian trader, possibly a Mitharist of sorts. From Soghdia, a Persian kingdom in Central Asia (current Uzbekistan) with extensive trade connections to China. The idea that Bodhidharma was an Indian prince is of course nonsense, meant to ascribe him royal status. No Indian prince would leave India to move to China. This is why Zen is originally Persian and not Chinese or Japanese philosophy.

Dino is right. We can't lose our personal responsibility. Zoroastrian ethics is tough: We are the things we do, responsibility is automatic and not chosen or conscious. And as for the roots of desire, desire is rooted in drive. It is the process of consciosuness that makes us process drive and when we do so desire is the outcome. Desire is utlimately the desire for desire itself (therefore constantly replacing of escaping itself). But it is also the only possible ethical standard. Just make sure your empathy works as empathy is an integral part of desire: The will not to merely enjoy pleasure (the dilemma of modern humans) but to enjoy the enjoyrment of others as caused by or going through ourselves. Zizek calls it by its proper name: Love!


2011/7/23 Special Kain

Please see:

Jeffrey L. Broughton (1999): The Bodhidharma Anthology: The Earliest Records of Zen (Berkeley: University of California Press)

Broughton notes that Bodhidharma was a Persian from Central Asia.

This paper investigates the relationships between Mithraism, Persian culture, Zen and Mahayana Buddhism:



--- hampus lindblad schrieb am
Sa, 23.7.2011:

Von: hampus lindblad
Betreff: Re: [Ushta] The Ethics of Process Philosophy
An: Ushta@yahoogroups.com
Datum: Samstag, 23. Juli, 2011 20:14 Uhr

Dear Dino,

Yes, Alexander has mentioned this connection to me earlier. That and the Zoroastrian influence on Greek thinking as well. It's highly interesting! There doesn't seem to be easily accessible information on the subjects though (although admittedly my searches on Google have been fairly quick and shallow). The etymology on the word Ch'an usually stops at mentioning how it is derived from the Sanskrit word dhyana meaning meditation or meditative states (with no mentioning of Persian traders or the like bringing the ideas of Zarathushtra into China) and I've never seen any mention of Zoroastrian influences in descriptions of Zen history.
Would be great if someone here could elaborate more on the subject and/or refer me to online information!


On Sat, Jul 23, 2011 at 7:18 PM, Special Kain wrote:

Dear Hampus

There is a strong connection between Zoroastrianism and Zen philosophy, culturally and historically. It is the habits that we take that make a difference. The thoughts we think determine what we will say. The words we speak determine what we will do.
According to Aristotle, we are what we repeatedly do. And this is where such great thinkers like Zarathushtra, Bodhidharma, Spinoza, Peirce and Dewey agree!!!
Deweyan speaking, we live in accordance with asha when our words and actions co-create new possibilities and encourage growth on different levels. We are obliged to foster progress and contribute creatively to "the world's constant renewal".


--- hampus lindblad schrieb am Sa, 23.7.2011:

Von: hampus lindblad
Betreff: Re: [Ushta] The Ethics of Process Philosophy
An: Ushta@yahoogroups.com
Datum: Samstag, 23. Juli, 2011 17:02 Uhr

Yes, I feel that I understand and agree completely! But I still also feel that without the further clarification that you just gave an example of, the term relevant in and of itself is too "open" to different interpretations. It's an eternal "middle man" of sorts. On the other hand I would be hard-pressed to find a better alternative.

So desires then. What does Lacan say about the origin of desires apart from the purely/directly biological ones? And is there some sort of hierarchy of desires in your view? And if so what does it look like? What, if any, means do we possess to influence and direct our driving desires? How does one in your mind go about coupling and aligning often unconsciously driven desires to an intellectually conceived vision of a more akashic self? To me it seems this is all tied to the scope of one's identity. We need to enlarge our identities, without losing the sense of individual responsibility, in order to bring harmony into our interdependent desires.

I like the focus on the smaller choices as a way to steer larger processes. This bottom-up approach seems to me to be what Zen has really come to emphasize. If we just take care to be conscious and steadfast in the smaller things the rest follows naturally, like the simple work of individual cells making up the fantastically complex process of a human body.

One a sidenote I just discovered that the phrase "The Devil is in the details" evolved out from the opposing statement that the details is in fact rather the abode of God. They never quite seem to be able to decide what's what, the Abrahamites...

Hampus - who is sick with fever and thus preemptively apologetic for any feverish misconceptions...

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