Am i treading the wrong path?

I am very new to buddhism. I would definitely be considered a “layman”. I have been studying suttas and buddhist history. I’m not sure if this question is offensive or not to some, but is certainly not meant to be.
I just would like to know how far back i have to go to get it how it was originally meant to be gotten? …To put it right out there…how corrupted is zen, tao, dao, etc., etc. from original pali texts??
Maybe corrupted is the wrong word, and i really do want to use the right speech…but i can’t really think of a nice way to phrase it. I am currently attending a zen temple and all of the litergy is extremely dumbed down for westerners. I can tell that it has to have lost A LOT in the translation. I don’t want to offend anyone, but i don’t know what to believe. I think that i have somewhat of an idea as to what has gone on in tibet, but i am not there, so i rely on what sources i can find on the subject. I want to study buddhism as it was meant to be understood by Shakyamuni Buddha. Bottom line…am i treading down the wrong avenue?


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The dao/tao (Way) is Chinese. The term is Han Chinese, 2nd c BCE, tracing back to “the old master” Laozi and the real life philosopher Zhuangzi (4th c BCE). I am not going to go into the relationship between Daoism, Chinese Buddhism, Chinese Neo-Confucianism and Zen with you. But, yeh, depending on who’s teaching you what, you could be in … some pretty interesting territory.

Zen began as a Chinese meditation school (Chan) that, yes, did trace its lineage back to Buddha, through Kaśyapa to Bodhidharma (around 500 CE), who is taken to be the first “patriarch” of Zen. This is the legend. The history of Chan and its development is fairly complex, so … but the line of Chan that is Japanese Zen (again gentle now) derives its authority from the Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch, (Huineng, around 700 CE).
Zen first came to Japan through Eisai (1141-1215), who brought in Rinzai from China, and Dogen (1200-1253) who brought in Soto from China. Both were originally Tendai monks.

Hello meggers,

Thank you for your response. You see, what is bothering me is this…as i said, i have been researching the history and watched a video on the history of buddhism in tibet by either BBC or PBS, can’t remember off hand which.

I was pretty disturbed at what they said the chinese had done in tibet, and that the tibetens are currently able to practice buddhism, but under strict control by the CCP.

I read through the comment section and many were saying that this video was just western propaganda meant to tarnish the CCP.

My big question is…is there a cover up of the truth trying to be applied towards Shakymuni Buddha’s original teachings? And how much influence would the CCP have on Buddhist monks and practices here in the U.S.?

I am wondering why the first part in my text in a current discussion is not in the same format as everything else…you have to scroll horizontally to read it

Edit…this was supossed to be addresssed to admin

Well, I think the Tibet issue is straight politics. The CCP invaded in 1950 and it was a land grab and they are ruthless about it. China has a long history of expansion and contraction, expansion and contraction, so they just pick a period in history when they had expanded into at least certain portions of Tibet and on the basis of that claim that it’s historically part of China.

I’m Canadian, so I can’t speak to the US. But if you know anything about our recent massive scandal here, with all the CCP’s attempts to influence our federal election and lots of tension over HK, we have certainly discovered that the CCP does its best to influence everywhere. Anyway, I have a very good friend who is a professor at the University of Hong Kong, so it’s not worth it for me to talk these politics. You just never know and it would be unbearable to think that something I said had consequence.

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Also Buddhist, in a practical way, take often the wrong path, i.e. deal with suffering in a wrong way. Still seeking an escape of suffering in what is temporary, subject to cessation, and conditioned. Taking a wrong path is also so simple as walking to the fridge to take a snack when one feels lonely, sad.

If i see this within myself, the mind is very often looking for something to enjoy , to take delight in, because it feels sad, bad, is suffering. The moment one follows this path one is treading the wrong path because it does not end suffering.

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Probably you accidentally clicked this button when typing your post:

Screenshot from 2023-09-06 09-34-17


You used spaces (probably with the intent to indent text) at the beginning of the first two lines, which had an unexpected effect :wink:.

You should simply input text and conclude paragraphs by entering two carriage returns (Enter) at the end of each paragraph (you shouldn’t use Enter at the end of each line, as lines are automatically adjusted to screen width).

You can edit your post by selecting button at the bottom of your post, and then selecting the pencil button.

Here’s a quick reference and tutorial for Markdown and Discourse new user guide to help you, and if you have any questions or need additional help please send personal message (PM) to @helpdesk-dd.

Edit: fixed it for you.


I understand you to be searching for spiritual answers primarily, not political.

This story is indeed rather a political one and does not have much to do with a spiritual quest. But it’s sad indeed.

Generally, I would say it is normal that traditions develop over time, and different traditions develop in different ways. You may perhaps be interested to read this essay by Bhante Sujato where he lists a number of points where the Theravada tradition has come to views and ideas that diverge from the early texts.

Similar things have been and still are going on in all traditions (Buddhist or otherwise), and this is just a normal feature of a living tradition. So yes, it is to be expected that in Zen (which I personally am not familiar with) you will find things that are not backed up in the Suttas.

But as Bhante also points out in his essay, we should also bear in mind that the traditions, besides having their own influences and views, also have preserved things that can not easily be captured in a text: things like respect for the Buddha and his teachings, moral values on how to live together in a good way, etc.

The Suttas—or let’s say the Early Buddhist texts, which include great portions of the Pali canon as well as their parallels transmitted in Chinese, Sanskrit, Tibetan, etc.—are certainly a good way to come as close to the original teachings of the Buddha as we possibly can; which does not mean that the spirit of his message may not equally be found elsewhere, especially in a way of living of any individual who has managed to develop a certain degree of peace and wisdom within themselves, no matter with which tradition.

So I think it is up to each of us who wish to foster spiritual values in our lives to find our own way of how we want to live and practice and what we can or want to believe.


Let me suggest a book to you:
In the Buddha’s Words : An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon, compiled and translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi


I’d probably recommend Buddhist Life, Buddhist Path as it’s a bit more introductory and was written by a former Zen monk who “switched” over to Theravada, so it may be a particularly relevant perspective…

But, of course, ItBW is the classic introduction to what the Buddha actually taught, so if the O.P. is ready for it, it’s a good read. (You can find Bhikkhu Bodhi’s lectures on ItBW here in case those are helpful for anyone…)


WOW. I had searched for a monestary near me. I found a zen monestary and visited once for a sutra reading and tea ceromony. I had been feeling that i could get the first two of the three jewels online, but was seeking the third. Since then i seem to get only robot emails when trying to communicate with the ‘shifu’ monk, and eveything seems, well…phony. After less than one day being here at sutta central i feel as though i have found this third jewel. Thanks very much to all who have responded to my question. It is very welcoming indeed. I do not care to spend a lot of time writing, as it takes away from my time to read, bit i would sincerely like to thank all of you.
Ok…back to my studies!!


“What The Buddha Taught” by Walpoa Rahula, a Buddhist monk is an excellent book. It is clearly written. It is short.


Many thanks to all. I will try to find these books recomended. I am, and have been for many years an audiobook lover. Youtube has been a tremendous resource for this, and i am sure one or more of these recomends are available.
…on a side note, even though it has nothing to do with buddhism, one of my favorites is “the wonderful story of henry sugar” by roald dahl. It is very inspirational, especially now since i am trying to learn how to effectively meditate.
Thanks again, and i will search for these titles.

i would like to present a perspective more contraintuictive to what you’ve been asking for, but very common to be found: practice what is feels to be right. i myself was with those same questions: what is original, what is deturped? what is right, what is wrong? the buddha taught to seek for yourself.

he also taught the dhamma in many skillful ways, according to the capacity and will of it’s listeners. wich means, there is not only one path to attain liberation. ofc, buddhism possess a core: the four noble truths etc. as long it have this core, you can call it buddhism.

so, go on and practice what feels right for you, what works for you. don’t go judging this is right, this is wrong, these are the words of the buddha, these are not the words of the buddha. after all, even the oldest text claiming to be the words of the buddha have some years of distance since the physical death of the buddha.

i myself am inclined to theravada tradition, but i was born in a japanese mahayana tradition and practiced it for years. they also claimed to be the only truth, but it didn’t feel right for me.

hope it helps in some way. with metta :slight_smile:

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I have come to this same conclusion. It is all the same in the end. I will have to be careful to use right speech, though…i was on the phone with the “Shifu” earlier to find out when the next “hang out” will be. When he asked me how i am doing with it all i replied that i had been studying the Suttas. He quickly corrected me, " you mean Sutras"… I corrected myself and said “of course, Sutras”…i will be honest with him upon our next face to face and tell him of my theravadic(sp?) studying. If he doesn’t accept this, well then, i’ll move on…just as Shakymuni Buddha had done many times before his enlightenment. :sunglasses:

i think you should be honest with your goals. if he persists in a dogmatic way throughout you, thank him from the bottom of your heart and go somewhere. we should not disrespect our teachers just because we don’t agree with them.

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I am in agreement 100%.

Great question. There are many teachers who focus on early Buddhist texts, such as Ajahn Sona and Ajahn Brahmali. You can check them out on YouTube.

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