Will be taking a “digital-sabbatical” for a time; am presently getting into Andy Ferguson’s book, “Tracking Bodhidharma”, a most interesting—travel-log-type—account of the present day Cultural and Spiritual Renaissance of Ch’an/Zen in China; truly fascinating how many ancient Dharma-seat sites are being reconstructed and are visited daily by thousands of devotees. I also concur with Mr. Ferguson’s position that Bodhidharma is not just some fanciful and mythical persona espoused by many postmodernists, but was an actual living and breathing historical person and force that shaped the spiritual landscape of China for centuries to come.
It’s also interesting to note his fine nuanced understanding of “Wuxiang”—meaning “signless” and wrongly interpreted as meaning “wuxing”—or “formless.” This is crucial in understanding Huineng’s “signless-precepts”, wrongly viewed as “formless precepts”. There is indeed a world of difference as signless/imageless has a completely different connotation vs. “formless” that is diametrically opposed to something of “form”. Will also be studying during this digital-sabbatical the “Tun-Huang” version of the Platform Sutra, which is the earliest known version that is the foundation for later redacted texts.
Wendi L. Adamek’s works, “The Teachings of Master Wuzhu” and “The Mystique of Transmission: On an Early Chan History and Its Contexts” is also on my list for study. Wendi is an extraordinary contemporary scholar in the field and has helped to shed light on the early Ch’an patriarchal formulations that were challenged by such nuances like no-thought and no-religion as advocated by Wuzhu.
*If you’re coming here for the first time there is a wealth of archive material from these past months, like studies of The Lankavatara and Vimalakirti Sutras, recent reflections on the “Zen Teachings of Bodhidharma”, as well as blogs dealing with contemporary spiritual topics.