The Differences Between Chinese Ch’an and Japanese Zen in a Nutshell

This time period saw the Rinzai and Soto actively deny their Chinese cultural roots, and support the government’s anti-China policies. This coincided with the Rinzai and Soto Zen traditions ‘abandoning’ the Vinaya Discipline for ordained monks and nuns because it was viewed as both ‘Indian’ and ‘Chinese’, and therefore ‘un-Japanese’ in nature. This abandoning of the Vinaya Discipline marks a significant deviation of the Japanese Zen tradition from its Chinese Ch’an origin.

Hui Jian (慧剑) – the Sword that Clears the Mind

Therefore the characters ‘慧剑’ (hui jian) represent a distinctly ‘Buddhist’ method of clearing the mind that is as decisive as a blow from a sharp sword used in scholarly self-defence. Despite its obvious Buddhist origin and undertones – the ‘sword’ is a clear concession to the Confucian establishment as it strove to integrate foreign Indian Buddhist thought, with that of Chinese indigenous understanding and belief.