randomseb wrote:the texts left by the patriarchs are not that confusing, once you understand that they are making references to the "thisness" of situations.
The teaching of "thisness" (tathatā) is quite an old one and it is explained extensively by various sutras and treatises. For instance, Vasubandhu's short definition is "the [true] nature of entities and the insubstantiality of entities"
(Inner Science of Buddhist Practice, p. 241). Asanga discusses three types of tathatā in the Abhidharmasamuccaya (favourable, unfavourable, neutral), and matches it with other terms like selfless, emptiness and signless. So, when you say that Zen texts are only referring to a well established Buddhist teaching - instead of saying it directly - it just proves how much they lack clarity.
Chan/Zen is not something that can be understood by intellectualism, unfortunately, but such can point out the way, right. This is not some westernism, this comes straight from the likes of Bodhidharma and the various early Masters. If you think you've understood via intellectual analysis, you are mistaken. This is clearly stated by those people.
Understanding is intellectual. Comprehending words is intellectual. Understanding a teaching without intellect is not understanding it at all. A thoughtless state is also quite useless and it is not wisdom. Mystifying it that it's impossible to understand only makes it ambiguous and something that is left to everyone's imagination. How could any of that be called "directly pointing to mind"?
You're not understanding it Astus.
It's not meant to be understood by the head.
There is more than one way to understand something actually.
Most of what is written in Zen texts is meant to be understood from what has been refered to as "the mind of meditation"
In other words, if you've had a kensho, you get it, because you've experienced directly what they are talking about.
It then makes perfect sense. If you try to understand it from a logical or rational point of view, it doesn't work.
This is why Rinzai gives people koans, to try and force people out of their head, and give them a sortof riddle that they can't solve using logic.
It forces them to let go, and just trust their gut, (however forcefully this technique is).
Soto just has people sit in meditation, and do working and walking meditation, and practice, and then this understanding arises naturally.
But however way you approach it, true understanding of those sorts of scriptures often require experiencing a kensho first.
This is why it's required to have one first to teach, and to recieve Dharma Transmission, because otherwise, you wouldn't know what you were talking about.
There are many Zen scriptures written in plain English. And most of the problems with the older ones have to do with translation problems with the way people spoke back then, or due to the fact that some were translated poetry, and are now missing the rhyme and syntax of their original languages, or were written in flowery language that makes translating them more difficult, or using ancient and obsolete "figures of speech" or cultural references that must now be accounted for, and scholarly translators often don't.
In the OBC they've made considerable effort make these things readable in plain English. Rev. Hubert Nearman (Dr. Mark J. Nearman) Has considerable experience in ancient Chinese and Japanese languages and the ancient cultures, as well as being a Zen Master himself. They're not too fond of those kindof "Zen Jokes" that make people sound clever without really getting anything of value to their practice.
The Shobogenzo, is very well translated, as are many other scriptures, but again, even a well translated text, is still written in a way may sound a bit disjointed or "blocky" when rendered in modern language, even if accurately done.
This is true of all translations of ancient texts.
The point is, they're trying to teach you something that goes beyond the normal mind, the "thinking mind".
That actually is not the only way to understand things. And that's what they're pointing to. They are trying to teach one to be able to listen to and rely on the Unborn/Imaculacy of Emptyness/Thusness/Dharmakaya/Cosmic Buddha/Eternal/etc, etc. whatever you want to call it.
"Life is full of suffering. AND Life is full of the Eternal
IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil Singer
" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy