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Dharma transmission (Chinese: 傳法, Chuánfǎ or 印可, Inkě, Korean and Japanese: Inka) is the formal confirmation by a master of Zen or Chan Buddhism of a student's awakening. This one-to-one transmission is said to trace back over 2,500 years to Gautama Buddha when he gave dharma transmission to his disciple Mahakasyapa, who is regarded as the first patriarch of Zen in India.
It is described by Reginald Ray as the recognition that a student has achieved awakening, realizing his or her true Buddha Nature. Since an awakened Buddha realizes the connectedness inherent in all things, it is not "giving" something from the teacher to the student. Instead, it is a recognition that the student has cast off delusion.
In addition to acknowledgment of realization, which also occurs in other contexts (for instance the Harada-Yasutani school for many years had a ceremony acknowledging one's first kensho, which was an acknowledgment of realization but not Dharma transmission) Dharma transmission also includes permission or acknowledgment by the teacher that her or his student has now become a teacher, as well.
- Roshi and His Teachers, Dharma Transmission,and the Rochester Zen Center Lineage Roshi Bodhin Kjolhede discusses lineage and Dharma transmission.
- Coming Down from the Zen Clouds:A Critique of the Current State of American Zen Stuart Lachs criticizes Dharma transmission in Zen
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