Cultivating both Body and Mind in Buddhism

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Re: Cultivating both Body and Mind in Buddhism

Postby lobster » Wed Nov 21, 2012 2:22 pm

The Buddha himself said, “There is one thing that when cultivated and regularly practiced, leads to deep spiritual intention, to peace, to mindfulness and clear comprehension, to vision and knowledge, to a happy life here and now and to the culmination of wisdom and awakening. And what is that one thing? It is mindfulness centered on the body.”
Elsewhere, Buddha said, “If the body is not cultivated, the mind cannot be cultivated. If the body is cultivated then the mind can be cultivated.”


http://mettarefuge.wordpress.com/2011/04/11/why-buddhist-practice-is-deeply-rooted-in-mindfulness-of-the-body/ :popcorn:
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Re: Cultivating both Body and Mind in Buddhism

Postby Astus » Wed Nov 21, 2012 3:52 pm

lobster wrote:
The Buddha himself said, “There is one thing that when cultivated and regularly practiced, leads to deep spiritual intention, to peace, to mindfulness and clear comprehension, to vision and knowledge, to a happy life here and now and to the culmination of wisdom and awakening. And what is that one thing? It is mindfulness centered on the body.”
Elsewhere, Buddha said, “If the body is not cultivated, the mind cannot be cultivated. If the body is cultivated then the mind can be cultivated.”


http://mettarefuge.wordpress.com/2011/04/11/why-buddhist-practice-is-deeply-rooted-in-mindfulness-of-the-body/ :popcorn:


That is the first section of the fourfold basis of mindfulness (satipatthana), called mindfulness of body (kayanupassana). It is not by training the body but by training the mind that one uses that technique, otherwise we could say that Buddhism also has such methods as cultivating water, earth, space, etc. that can all be objects of meditation.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Cultivating both Body and Mind in Buddhism

Postby Meido » Wed Nov 21, 2012 5:51 pm

Astus wrote:Let's add that that kind of Rinzai Zen technique started with Hakuin and used to strengthen the body to avoid illness generated by extensive asceticism. It does not lead to realising the nature of mind, nor is it used in any other Zen school outside of Hakuin's followers. There are of course others who do different forms of yoga, qigong, etc., but again, not for liberation itself but as supportive methods to maintain health. As such, they are not much different from a healthy diet and proper clothing.


Hakuin, actually, states clearly that such methods lead to enlightenment.

There are a number of practices specific to the Rinzai school, of course (and manuals do exist for them, I have three of these within arm's reach as I write). But I have been made aware that Soto practitioners have their own things handed down as well. The various teaching lines transmit a great deal of things not shared publicly.

As to the use of martial arts which was mentioned I have no knowledge of Chinese traditions. But in our line, four forms from the Kashima Shinden Jikishinkage Ryu (a koryu school of swordsmanship) are taken as a practice. Utilizing a particular breathing method and an energetic usage which is visualized to accord with the seasons, their purpose is not exercise or health at all. It is "To cut off all habits you have acquired since the day you were born and return to your original nature." In other words, they are methods to dissolve jikke, remove obstructions and embody realization.

This reminds me that even the late Sheng-yen's "Eight-Form Moving Meditation", which looks to me like a type of qigong, is prescribed not only for health benefits but as a method for integrating Ch'an: "By practicing the Eight Forms, you will always be composed and at ease, and at every moment enjoy the bliss of meditation and the joy of the Dharma."

In any case, it seems safe at least to say that there are some non-tantric Mahayana traditions that cultivate using body methods. Or perhaps more accurately, that practice using mind-body-energy in unity (shin ki roku itchi), which is what we're really talking about.

~ Meido
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Re: Cultivating both Body and Mind in Buddhism

Postby Karma Dorje » Wed Nov 21, 2012 8:29 pm

Who knew that Cartesian dualism was such an intrinsic part of Buddhist thought! Amazing!
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Re: Cultivating both Body and Mind in Buddhism

Postby Jnana » Wed Nov 21, 2012 10:55 pm

Jikan wrote:The Mahayana practices I am most familiar with are indeed embodied. That is to say, you need a body to do it, and you do it with your body. Buddhism is already "noetic" in that respect (apropos of Reginald Ray's book Meditating with the Body).

Did you mean somatic perhaps?

Indeed, there's something of a longstanding historical debate as to just what role the felt-sense of the body plays in Buddhist meditation. In terms of dhyāna, a version of this debate is recorded in the Abhidharmakośabhāsya (chapter 8). And more recently there have been teachers who've criticized the idea that deep samādhi (as right samādhi -- samyaksamādhi) should be a disembodied state. For example, Ven. Ṭhānissaro in Jhāna Not by the Numbers:

    If whole areas of your awareness are blocked off, how can you gain all-around insight? And as I've noticed in years since, people adept at blotting out large areas of awareness through powerful one-pointedness also tend to be psychologically adept at dissociation and denial. This is why Ajaan Fuang, following Ajaan Lee, taught a form of breath meditation that aimed at an all-around awareness of the breath energy throughout the body, playing with it to gain a sense of ease, and then calming it so that it wouldn't interfere with a clear vision of the subtle movements of the mind. This all-around awareness helped to eliminate the blind spots where ignorance likes to lurk.

And as you already mentioned, Reginald Ray in Touching Enlightenment: Finding Realization in the Body:

    The problem with this somatically ungrounded type of shamatha, and the "peace" that it leads to, is that it is not full, complete, genuine peace. Rather, it is a kind of hard, brittle, and cold peace that includes a subtle effort to keep the body at bay. The warmth of the body, and its complex sensory and feeling life -- the embodied totality of its experience -- are walled off. Enfolded within the hard edge held against the body by this type of shamatha are the classic three poisons in an active, but extremely subtle form: grasping at a "peace" that is easy and uncomplicated; aggression against the abundance, turmoil, and chaos of the body's life; and ignorance of the vast world the body knows and also the meditator's own ego-driven "spiritual" agenda.

And a healthy body makes the development of a somatically attuned samādhi possible.
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Re: Cultivating both Body and Mind in Buddhism

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Wed Nov 21, 2012 11:05 pm

Karma Dorje wrote:Who knew that Cartesian dualism was such an intrinsic part of Buddhist thought! Amazing!



Wish the forum had a "like" button for this lol.

Honestly if you are engaged in meditative activities I don't see a benefit in relegating much of anything to 'merely physical' activity, including movements ostensibly done as exercise.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Cultivating both Body and Mind in Buddhism

Postby Astus » Wed Nov 21, 2012 11:14 pm

Meido,

What reason does Hakuin give that those practices result in realisation?
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Cultivating both Body and Mind in Buddhism

Postby Meido » Thu Nov 22, 2012 1:05 am

Astus wrote:What reason does Hakuin give that those practices result in realisation?


Essentially, that they balance the elements of the body and cause ki to gather at the tanden, which - along with improving health - effects a cessation of excessive or gross mental activity and entrance into true samadhi. From Yasen Kanna:

If you take the heat in your heart, the fire in your mind, and draw it down into the region of the elixir field [kikai tanden] and the soles of the feet, you will feel naturally cool and refreshed. All discrimination will cease. Not the slightest conscious thought will occur to raise the waves of emotion. This is true meditation - pure and undefiled meditation.
...
There are, I believe, two kinds of concentration: concentration on ultimate truth and concentration on temporary truth. The former is a full and perfect meditation on the true aspect of all things;in the latter, primary importance is placed on focusing the heart-energy in the region of the elixir field.


Some effects of such practice, from Orategama:

...The serious disease from which I suffered, that up until then I had found so difficult to cure, gradually cleared up like frost and snow melting beneath the rays of the morning sun. The problems with those vile koans - koans difficult to believe, difficult to penetrate, difficult to unravel,difficult to enter - koans that up to then had been impossible for me to sink my teeth into, now faded away with the passing of my disease.
...
Initially emphasis must be placed on the care of the body. Then, during your practice of introspection [i.e. naikan, one of the practices in question], without your seeking it and quite unconsciously, you will attain, how many times I cannot tell, the benefits of enlightenment experiences.


Yasen Kanna and Orategama are widely known of course. There is additional oral teaching which elaborates on these practices, and also describes changes in the body that occur with realization.

~ Meido
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Re: Cultivating both Body and Mind in Buddhism

Postby Rakshasa » Thu Nov 22, 2012 7:02 am

Very insightful discussion.

I remember reading in a book "Mahayana Meditation Manual" that various illnesses are caused by two causes:

1. Afflictions :greed, anger and ignorance
2. Imbalance of the elements

Where as the first can be taken care of through meditation, the second can only be balanced by some kind of Yoga or Qi Gong practice. I dont have the book currently, but will go home and quote from it later. It was from a translation of a Sanskrit text into Chinese by an Indian monk.

Sitting meditation alone will help you develop insight, but excessive sitting and meditating can also lead to physical weaknesses in the body. Which is why I think that ALL Buddhist sects had some form of Yoga (in India and South East Asia) or Qi Gong (East Asia) to balance the long hours of meditation.

I am not good at noting down facts, but I did read somewhere that even Saravastivadin monks had their own Yoga manuals (and even manuals of spells against dangers). Some scholars think that Patanjali's Ashtanga-Yoga (Eight-fold Yoga) was heavily influenced by Buddha's Noble Eight Fold path.
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Re: Cultivating both Body and Mind in Buddhism

Postby Astus » Thu Nov 22, 2012 11:29 am

Meido,

So, according to your quotes, focus on the belly and the feet helps calm the mind at the initial stages of meditation. Did I miss anything?
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Cultivating both Body and Mind in Buddhism

Postby Astus » Thu Nov 22, 2012 1:26 pm

"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Cultivating both Body and Mind in Buddhism

Postby Meido » Thu Nov 22, 2012 2:22 pm

Astus wrote:Meido,

So, according to your quotes, focus on the belly and the feet helps calm the mind at the initial stages of meditation. Did I miss anything?

Hi Astus,

Something missed. "Focus on the belly and feet" does not sufficiently describe these practices. "Calm the mind at the initial stages of meditation" does not sufficiently describe their intent.

Yasen Kanna and Oretagama give a general outline of their theory in terms of balancing the elements, cultivation/movement of energy and benefits for health. But not detailed instructions, which involve the body not just as an object of attention but in the sense of specific movement and usage. The results include observable physical change in the body. The quotes I provided were meant to be summary, particularly,
Then, during your practice of introspection [i.e. naikan, one of the practices in question], without your seeking it and quite unconsciously, you will attain, how many times I cannot tell, the benefits of enlightenment experiences.


Of course these practices and their function are to be viewed within the context of the overall training one is doing. But their intent with Rinzai Zen is to remove obstructions to, and actualize, the goals of that overall training...not merely to pacify the mind or obtain the benefits of physical health. And their nature is physical in a very detailed manner which requires some effort to master and integrate.

~ Meido
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