The Chan lineages picture the semi-legendary monk Bodhidharma as the patriarch who brought Chan to China. Only scarce historical information is available about him, but his hagiography developed when the Chan tradition grew stronger and gained prominence in the early 8th century.
This polarity is recognizable in the emphasis that the Zen-tradition puts on maintaining the correct Dharma transmission, while simultaneously stressing seeing into one's nature:
Bodiford distinguishes seven dimensions which are discernible in both family relationships and in dharma lineages:
Within the various Chan and Zen traditions, dharma transmission got various meanings. A difference is made in most schools between
Traditional Chinese Chan still exists in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, though it is less known in the west than Japanese Zen.
It is customary to refer to one's own tonsure Master as "Gracious Master", precept Master as "Root Master" and Dharma transmission Master as "Venerable Master". In Chinese Buddhism, these 3 systems are separate and are not performed by the same Masters. Moreover, due to the strong emphasis on the Dharma, when a person receives the Dharma transmission, he or she is recognized as that Chán Master's Dharma son or daughter. Lay Buddhists may also receive this Dharma transmission, but this is very rare and with very few incidences. Most of the monks and nuns who received the transmission have already been tonsured and ordained by other Masters.
In the Rinzai school, a difference is made between acknowledgement of insight and succession in the organisation:
According to Manzan, even an unenlightened student could receive dharma transmission:
In Sōtō-zen, since Manzan Dokahu, two criteria are applied for dharma transmission:
In contrast to the status that dharma transmission has begotten in the west, in Sōtō it has a relatively low status:
To supervise the training of monks, further qualifications are necessary:
a) Shisho (the scripture of transmission, the names of the ancestors arranged in a circle – the dharma has passed on from to Shakyamuni to yourself, and now you give it back to Shakyamuni. There is a small piece of papaer, probably originally written by Sawaki Roshi, with some comments. This paper is also copied by the student when doing dharma transmission at Antaiji.)
b) Daiji (the great matter, a cryptic symbolization of the content of the teaching. Again, there is a small extra sheet of paper that explains about the meaning of the symbols.) c) Kechimyaku (the blood lineage, looks quite similar to the blood line transmission that you already wrote at the time of ordination)
The procedure has to take place only once in one's life, and binds the student to the teacher forever:
According to Muho Noelke, dharma transmission marks the beginning of the real learning:
In Korean Soen, Inka (In'ga) typically refers to the private acknowledgement of dharma transmission from a teacher to their student. "Transmission" is used to refer to the public ceremonial version of the same acknowledgement.