Western Myth of Zen

Re: Western Myth of Zen

Postby LastLegend » Mon Dec 16, 2013 1:36 am

From Guīshān Língyòu,

Có vị tăng hỏi: “Người được Đốn ngộ có tu chăng?”

Sư trả lời (Thích Thanh Từ dịch):
“Nếu người khi thật ngộ được gốc thì họ tự biết, tu cùng không tu là lời nói hai đầu. Như nay có người sơ tâm tuy từ duyên được một niệm đốn ngộ chân lí nơi mình, nhưng vẫn còn Tập khí nhiều kiếp từ vô thuỷ chưa có thể chóng sạch, nên dạy hắn trút sạch dòng thức tạo nghiệp hiện tại, tức là tu vậy. Không có nói một pháp riêng dạy hắn tu hành thú hướng. Từ nghe nhập được lí nghe và lí sâu mầu, tâm tự tròn sáng không ở chỗ mê lầm, hiện thời dù có trăm ngàn diệu nghĩa thăng trầm, hắn vẫn được ngồi yên mặc áo, tự biết tạo sinh kế. Nói tóm lại ‘Chỗ lí chân thật không nhận một mảy bụi, trong cửa muôn hạnh chẳng bỏ một pháp.’ Nếu được như vậy là một mình cầm đao thẳng vào, lòng phàm thánh sạch, hiện bày chân thường, lí sự không hai, tức Phật như như.”


I am going to attempt to translate this:

A monk asked: "A person truly sees his own nature needs to practice?"

Master Língyòu replied (translated by Master Thich Thanh Tu):

"If a person truly sees his own nature knows for himself, practice and no practice is the same. A beginner by conditions has a thought of recognition in his mind of his own nature, but still has not got rid of his habits accumulated from many previous kaplas, should teach him to break the current (consciousness) cycle of habitual tendencies, known as practice. Does not say a particular teaching to reach a goal. From listening, enters an understanding of listening and an understanding of deep mystery, mind perfectly illuminates on its own without delusion, even now is troubled by ups and downs of thousands of meanings, he is able to sit wearing his shirt, knows what to do next (make a living) to support himself. In short, 'True nature does not accept a speck of dust, within the door of conduct does not leave any dharma behind.' If that is so, one is holding the sword directly busting in, mind becoming pure, appearing true nature, mental and appearances are not two, as such such Tathagata."


The importance piece here is to stop current habits. To my understanding, basically to stop seeking or at least seeking less. :anjali:

On a similar note, Pure Land practice of chanting or recitation is to secure faith, especially when approaching death:

They’re not the Way. The Way is wordless. Words are illusions. They’re no different from things that appear in your dreams at night, be they palaces or carriages, forested parks or lakeside ‘lions. Don’t conceive any delight for such things. They’re all cradles of rebirth. Keep this in mind when you approach death. Don’t cling to appearances, and you’ll break through all barriers. A moment’s hesitation and you’ll be under the spell of devils. Your real body is pure and impervious. But because of delusions you’re unaware of it. And because of this you suffer karma in vain. Wherever you find delight, you find bondage. But once you awaken to your original body and mind," you’re no longer bound by attachments. ~Bodhidharma Bloodstream Sermon~

Does a glimpse of emptiness guarantee a free pass to do whatever one likes?
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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Postby seeker242 » Mon Dec 16, 2013 4:10 am

Astus wrote:
seeker242 wrote:They are considered meditation at a real zen temple.


Isn't that the other extreme, saying that a real Zen temple must take everything (or certain things) as meditation? As above I mentioned, there is that view, when you "just do it" or when "you are aware doing it" means meditation. But then, what's the difference between "just bowing" and "just chanting", and "just listening to music" and "just swimming in a lake"? If there is no difference, then no point in doing those things instead of others.


The point in doing them is that there is no point in not doing them.

For instance, recitation is good for memorising a text. That's what it was/is used for. And if you memorise a text you can always go back to it, reflect on it, etc. And there are reciting mantras for magical effects and reciting the name of buddhas as a form of worship or contemplation. Saying that recitation is for "just reciting" makes it meaningless, as I said above. Same goes for other practices.

To someone who is not trapped by "cultural trappings", cultural trappings don't even exist. There is no such thing.


Cultural trappings is a sort of argument to reduce Zen (Buddhism) to a set of chosen methods and teachings. It doesn't mean that they are actually related to the source culture (Japanese, Chinese, Indian, etc.) or not. So, calling it "cultural" is based on the idea that there is a difference between the Dharma and the culture, a very modern idea actually (that is, the idea of cultural relativism and cultural identity).

The purpose of such activity is to practice "mind sitting". Huineng did not teach that "only sitting on the floor with your legs crossed" is meditation.


If there is an activity to be done, it is not "mind sitting". Chapter five of the Platform Sutra about seated meditation says clearly,

"In this teaching, there is no impediment and no hindrance. Externally, for the mind to refrain from activating thoughts with regard to all the good and bad realms is called ‘seated’ (zuo). Internally, to see the motionlessness of the self-nature is called ‘meditation’ (chan)."

That is, zazen (zuochan, seated meditation) is not a technique or practice, it is not an activity or teaching to follow. "Mind sitting" is not being hung up on sensory and mental phenomena based on the wisdom of emptiness. As the sutra says in the previous chapter,

"There is in the self-nature fundamentally not a single dharma that can be perceived. To think that there were any would be a false explanation, a disaster, a false view of enervating defilements. Therefore, this teaching takes nonthought as its central doctrine."

The Platform Sutra does not recommend or teach any other practice than "no practice". This is also true of Zen in general. Look at the followings.

If you don't see your nature, invoking buddhas, reciting sutras, making offerings, and keeping precepts are all useless. Invoking buddhas results in good karma, reciting sutras results in a good memory; keeping precepts results in a good rebirth, and making offerings results in future blessings-but no buddha.
(Bloodstream Sermon, The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma, p 11)

In the authentic transmission of [our] religion, it is said that this Buddha-Dharma, which has been authentically and directly transmitted one-to-one, is supreme among the supreme. After the initial meeting with a [good] counselor we never again need to burn incense, to do prostrations, to recite Buddha’s name, to practice confession, or to read sutras. Just sit and get the state that is free of body and mind.
(Bendowa, Shobogenzo, vol 1, p 5, tr. Nishijima-Cross)

Again [Master Tendō] said, “Practicing [za]zen is the dropping off of body and mind. We need not burn incense, do prostrations, recite the Buddha’s name, confess, or read sutras. When we are just sitting, we have attainment from the beginning.”
(Gyoji, SBGZ, vol 2, p 209)

One day the Councilor Wang visited the master. When he met the master in front of the Monks’ Hall, he asked, “Do the monks of this monastery read the sutras?”
“No, they don’t read sutras,” said the master.
“Then do they learn meditation?” asked the councilor.
“No, they don’t learn meditation,” answered the master.
“If they neither read sutras nor learn meditation, what in the world are they doing?” asked the councilor.
“All I do is make them become buddhas and patriarchs,” said the master.
The councilor said, “‘Though gold dust is valuable, in the eyes it causes cataracts.’”
“I always used to think you were just a common fellow,” said the master.

(Record of Linji, p 38, tr. Sasaki)


What the platform sutra says is "mind sitting". "Mind sitting" precisely is the practice of no practice. So is bowing, so is chanting, so is sitting, so is cleaning the bathroom.

Again [Master Tendō] said, “Practicing [za]zen is the dropping off of body and mind. We need not burn incense, do prostrations, recite the Buddha’s name, confess, or read sutras.


Agreed. We also need not have aversion to incense, prostrations, recitations and sutras. Being averse to things like prostrations precisely is being "hung up on sensory and mental phenomena". One refusing to do prostrations proves that one is still attached to and still following their own likes and dislikes. Following your own likes and dislikes is not zen. Making prostrations bad, and not-prostrations good, is not zen either.
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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Postby Astus » Mon Dec 16, 2013 11:43 am

Meido wrote:What do you consider a well-rounded approach to Buddhist teaching? Particularly since we're talking about Japanese Zen, which has a large stream of self-view as Ekayana based on recognition of one's nature and transcending divisions of the Three Vehicles.


What I'm looking for/into is how Zen is presented in the West currently. Saying that Zen is all about meditation and there are no doctrines attached to it is one possible way. There are other options, like as you say, an Ekayana teaching beyond the three vehicles. I'm not saying this or that is good or wrong, but I believe that the definition has short- and long-term consequences. One example is Samu Sunim's group that was previously the Zen Lotus Society but changed name for Buddhist Society for Compassionate Wisdom, and they have a mission that includes elements of social engagement and Mahayana. Its difference from the Zen Peacemaker Order is that the BSCW is explicitly Buddhist, while the ZPO is more secular.

So you get a lot of talk meant to stress welcome, accessibility and non-sectarianism.


Saying that a group is welcoming to everyone or that Islam and Buddhism can go together are two different things as I see it. There are some Christian priests who are also Zen teachers, so according to that view, Zen is not really bound by any religion. That's why I brought that part of Daibosatsu's introductory text. It continues that quoted part with this, "With this flexible and accommodating attitude toward the various cultures and beliefs it encountered, Buddhism was embraced throughout Asia. In China, it merged with Taoism and evolved into Ch'an, the Chinese word for meditation, which became "Zen" in Japan." So, this might be just an advertisement to invite everyone - although in that case it is questionable why they state something they don't actually believe in - or it is what they think. Don't get me wrong, I'm not picking on the Zen Studies Society, and I'm not saying this is heretical or anything like that. What I'm interested in is to see how various groups present/define Zen, thus creating the "Western myth of Zen".

In any case, from within the Zen view of itself I see no problem with saying that anyone, regardless of beliefs and self-identification, could experience awakening if they encounter a realized teacher.


Do you mean your interpretation of Zen is that it is above cultures and beliefs? If I were a devout Evangelical Christian I could still attain enlightenment without leaving behind my faith in the Saviour? Like, I could reach black belt level in some martial art regardless of my religion?

What's wrong with them benefiting in this way according to their capacity?


It's not wrong. It can be very beneficial, I'm not questioning that at all. Although I think that wisdom is an integral part of Zen, using meditation alone is not a bad thing at all.
"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)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“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; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Postby Astus » Mon Dec 16, 2013 11:52 am

seeker242 wrote:The point in doing them is that there is no point in not doing them.


In that case one should do something enjoyable or socially beneficial, and then there is some meaning in doing them. The same nihilist (no point, no meaning) reasoning can be used practically for any sort of abuse and evil action too. It's not correct discernment and clarity but blank mind and blind faith.

"Mind sitting" precisely is the practice of no practice. So is bowing, so is chanting, so is sitting, so is cleaning the bathroom.


Same as above. This is denying all sense.

Following your own likes and dislikes is not zen.


This is an easily misinterpreted concept. It does not negate moral/ethical discernment, nor "common sense".
"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)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“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; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Postby seeker242 » Mon Dec 16, 2013 12:59 pm

Astus wrote:
seeker242 wrote:The point in doing them is that there is no point in not doing them.


In that case one should do something enjoyable


Why? What exactly is "enjoyable"? Do you think prostrations and chanting are not enjoyable? Do you think spending time with Sangha members is not enjoyable?

or socially beneficial, and then there is some meaning in doing them.


Activity with Sangha members is not socially beneficial? Of course it is. The very existence of the Sangha and temple or center is socially beneficial.

The same nihilist (no point, no meaning) reasoning can be used practically for any sort of abuse and evil action too. It's not correct discernment and clarity but blank mind and blind faith.


Actually, it's neither of those. It's simply cleaning the bathroom. Where is there potential for abuse and evil action in cleaning the bathroom? There is none. To assume that precepts aren't followed in other situations, is a mistaken assumption. Just because someone does prostrations, this alone is "not correct discernment"? What makes you think precepts are just ignored? What makes you think morals and ethics are just ignored simply because someone engages in chanting? There is no basis for that assumption. The activity of chanting does not negate ethical action.

"Mind sitting" precisely is the practice of no practice. So is bowing, so is chanting, so is sitting, so is cleaning the bathroom.

Same as above. This is denying all sense.


What kind of sense does one need to perform a prostration? That does not require any kind of sense to begin with. You just kneel down and get back up and that's it. What kind of sense does one need to clean a bathroom? None. You just take the cloth and wipe the counter and that's it.

Following your own likes and dislikes is not zen.

This is an easily misinterpreted concept. It does not negate moral/ethical discernment, nor "common sense".


Yes, it is an easily misunderstood concept and no it does not negate moral/ethical discernment. However, if the tradition of the temple is to do bows in the morning and you say "No, I don't like doing that. I'm not going to do that", that is just following your likes and dislikes. To assume that morals are being negated is a huge mistake. Where is the moral and ethical discernment needed to perform a prostration? There is none necessary to begin with. Prostrations and chanting are not an ethical matter to begin with. No one is being harmed by chanting some sutra. Moral and ethical discernment is irrelevant with regards to bows, chanting, etc. Now, if the teacher puts his hand on a woman's breast while they are doing the chanting, only then does moral and ethical discernment enter the picture. If this happened to a person with "common sense", of course they would get up and leave. If they don't, only then do they abandon common sense. Common sense is not abandoned simply by chanting a sutra. Chanting is not unethical, nor is doing prostrations.
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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Postby Astus » Mon Dec 16, 2013 1:57 pm

seeker242 wrote:Common sense is not abandoned simply by chanting a sutra. Chanting is not unethical, nor is doing prostrations.


I'm not talking about chanting or doing prostrations. I'm criticising the argument, the reason you gave for doing those practices. That is, that there is no reason whatsoever and one should just do it.
"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)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“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; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Postby seeker242 » Mon Dec 16, 2013 2:11 pm

Astus wrote:
seeker242 wrote:Common sense is not abandoned simply by chanting a sutra. Chanting is not unethical, nor is doing prostrations.


I'm not talking about chanting or doing prostrations. I'm criticising the argument, the reason you gave for doing those practices. That is, that there is no reason whatsoever and one should just do it.


If there was a significant reason for doing chanting in particular, it would not be the practice of no practice. So you are criticizing the practice of no practice? I thought that is what you were advocating? I don't understand! Do you think the practice of no practice is appropriate or not appropriate?
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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Postby Astus » Mon Dec 16, 2013 3:36 pm

seeker242 wrote:If there was a significant reason for doing chanting in particular, it would not be the practice of no practice. So you are criticizing the practice of no practice? I thought that is what you were advocating? I don't understand! Do you think the practice of no practice is appropriate or not appropriate?


The teaching of "no practice" cannot be used to validate any sort of practice. If we put this into the Mahayana frame of the six paramitas, then it could be argued that while with prajnaparamita the view of emptiness is clear (no practice, no practitioner), the other five paramitas - while viewed with prajnaparamita - are to accumulate merit and develop qualities. The Zen teaching of sudden enlightenment may or may not agree with this, depending on how it is interpreted. If sudden enlightenment is truly sudden, then there is no need to develop wisdom and accumulate merit, because the buddha-nature is in and of itself perfect. But when it is taught as "sudden enlightenment, gradual practice", there is a reason for practising, as it agrees with the bodhisattva path of common Mahayana.
"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)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“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; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Postby LastLegend » Mon Dec 16, 2013 4:01 pm

Sometimes, mind is clear. Most of the time, it is not clear. Practice is understanding why it is not clear all the time?
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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Postby Meido » Mon Dec 16, 2013 5:59 pm

Thanks for those comments, Astus.

Astus wrote:What I'm looking for/into is how Zen is presented in the West currently. Saying that Zen is all about meditation and there are no doctrines attached to it is one possible way. There are other options, like as you say, an Ekayana teaching beyond the three vehicles. I'm not saying this or that is good or wrong, but I believe that the definition has short- and long-term consequences.


I don't pretend to have an definitive view of Zen in the West. But I would say that ideas of Zen as "all about meditation and there are no doctrines attached to it" are on the way out.

I've thought often that it makes sense many Japanese teachers stressed practice and forms over doctrine, even though they themselves had backgrounds at places like Hanazono and Komazawa. This is because they had limited time to transmit a great deal, and often had limited language skill. Some of what they had to transmit - e.g. koan study on the Rinzai side - takes many years to get through. So in one sense they started us without a foundation. In the case of the teachers I knew, they helped us draw up reading lists of sutras and other texts to fill in that foundation, and often lectured on key topics in place of typical teisho. It was made clear that teachers especially needed to have this background, however they got it. From what I've seen other groups doing, I suspect some variation of this story is common.

Another thing contributing to this trend is likely the increasing encounter between learned folks from different Buddhist traditions. It has allowed Zen teachers these days to see more clearly the strengths and deficits in their own training.

Astus wrote:Saying that a group is welcoming to everyone or that Islam and Buddhism can go together are two different things as I see it. There are some Christian priests who are also Zen teachers, so according to that view, Zen is not really bound by any religion.


Astus wrote:Do you mean your interpretation of Zen is that it is above cultures and beliefs? If I were a devout Evangelical Christian I could still attain enlightenment without leaving behind my faith in the Saviour? Like, I could reach black belt level in some martial art regardless of my religion?


The experience of awakening is not bound by culture and beliefs, though its expression, religions, and our lives are. I don't know of any Zen teacher who would say you can't experience awakening as a Muslim or Christian, if your roots are sufficient and/or you have the good fortune to meet a realized teacher.

What happens after awakening, though, is the important part. If it's deep enough, your cherished eternalist and theistic beliefs may crumble (I've seen this happen). If not, your habitual tendencies may re-assert themselves and you'll interpret the experience as a sign from God or something (I've seen this happen). And since such experiences are only entry into the path, not a culmination, someone holding on to their beliefs may deny themselves that crucial path of clarifying and embodying awakening which Zen Buddhism possesses.

So I think the majority view would be something like this: you can be a Muslim and practice Zen Buddhism, even experience awakening according to your capacity. But reconciling the two is your problem. In any case you're welcome to hang out as long as you like. We kind of like some of the Sufi stuff we've seen, by the way.

Astus wrote:It's not wrong. It can be very beneficial, I'm not questioning that at all. Although I think that wisdom is an integral part of Zen, using meditation alone is not a bad thing at all.


I think we agree that a whole training is important. Again, I believe that an awareness of this is growing in those quarters where it did not previously exist.

~ Meido
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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Postby Astus » Mon Dec 16, 2013 6:20 pm

Meido wrote:Again, I believe that an awareness of this is growing in those quarters where it did not previously exist.


Thank you for your answers. I'm happy to hear that you see that as a general trend. :twothumbsup:
"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)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“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; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Postby Meido » Mon Dec 16, 2013 6:24 pm

Thank you for the good discussion as always.

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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Postby seeker242 » Mon Dec 16, 2013 7:41 pm

Astus wrote:
seeker242 wrote:If there was a significant reason for doing chanting in particular, it would not be the practice of no practice. So you are criticizing the practice of no practice? I thought that is what you were advocating? I don't understand! Do you think the practice of no practice is appropriate or not appropriate?


The teaching of "no practice" cannot be used to validate any sort of practice. If we put this into the Mahayana frame of the six paramitas, then it could be argued that while with prajnaparamita the view of emptiness is clear (no practice, no practitioner), the other five paramitas - while viewed with prajnaparamita - are to accumulate merit and develop qualities. The Zen teaching of sudden enlightenment may or may not agree with this, depending on how it is interpreted. If sudden enlightenment is truly sudden, then there is no need to develop wisdom and accumulate merit, because the buddha-nature is in and of itself perfect. But when it is taught as "sudden enlightenment, gradual practice", there is a reason for practising, as it agrees with the bodhisattva path of common Mahayana.


And likewise the teaching of " no practice" can not be used to invalidate any practice just like the teaching of "no thought" can not be used to invalidate thoughts. Because "no thought" does not actually mean no thought but no thought within thought. The same can be said about "practice". As for sudden vs gradual distinction, I prefer the platform sutra explanation of that in there really is no such distinction to begin with. I believe it says that the only difference is capacity of different individuals.
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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Postby Astus » Mon Dec 16, 2013 9:34 pm

seeker242 wrote:And likewise the teaching of " no practice" can not be used to invalidate any practice just like the teaching of "no thought" can not be used to invalidate thoughts. Because "no thought" does not actually mean no thought but no thought within thought. The same can be said about "practice". As for sudden vs gradual distinction, I prefer the platform sutra explanation of that in there really is no such distinction to begin with. I believe it says that the only difference is capacity of different individuals.


The Platform Sutra says (ch 4):

“Good friends, there are also those who teach meditation [in terms of ] viewing the mind, contemplating tranquility, motionlessness, and nonactivation. You are supposed to make an effort on the basis of these. These deluded people do not understand, and in their grasping become mixed up like all of you here. You should understand that such superficial teachings are greatly mistaken!”
The master addressed the assembly, “Good friends, the correct teaching is fundamentally without either sudden or gradual—it is human nature that is either clever or dull. Deluded people cultivate gradually, while enlightened people suddenly conform [to the truth]. If you recognize your own fundamental mind and see your own fundamental nature, there will be no such distinctions! Thus it is that sudden and gradual are posited as provisional names.


That is, any sort of practice - as listed - is a mistake. Only deluded people cultivate gradually. If one sees one's true nature - sudden enlightenment - then there is no point any more to talk of either sudden or gradual path. As it says in chapter 2:

There are no sudden and gradual in the Dharma,
It is delusion and enlightenment that are slow or fast.
It is only this teaching of seeing the nature
Which stupid people cannot comprehend.


And,

Those with deluded minds appear to be cultivating and seeking buddhahood, but they are unenlightened to their self-natures. Hence are they of small capacities. If one is to be enlightened to the sudden teaching, one cannot cultivate externally (i.e., superficially): one should just constantly activate correct views in one’s own mind, and the enervating defilements of the afflictions will be rendered permanently unable to defile one. This is to see the nature.

And in chapter 8:

The morality, meditation, and wisdom of your master is for exhorting those of small capacities to wisdom, but my morality, meditation, and wisdom is for exhorting those of great capacities to wisdom. If you are enlightened to the self-nature, you need not posit bodhi and nirvana, nor do you have to posit emancipated perceptual understanding.

The self-nature becomes enlightened itself, sudden enlightenment and sudden cultivation. There is no gradual progression. Therefore, one does not posit all the dharmas. The dharmas are quiescent—how could there be a progression?

So, yes, there are differences in capacity. Those with little affinity for the sudden teaching cannot understand it, and they need to follow the gradual path of Mahayana. Huangbo says the same thing,

"The practice of the six paramitas and various other disciplines is known as the gradual method of becoming a Buddha. This gradual method, however, is a secondary idea, and it does not represent the complete path to Perfect Awakening."

And,

"The attainment of one who has practiced the myriad Dharma doors throughout three kalpas, having passed through the many Bodhisattva stages, and the attainment of one who has suddenly awakened to the One Mind are equal. Both of them have just attained their own Original Buddha. The former type of disciple, the gradual attainer, upon arriving at his Original Buddha, looks back on his three kalpas of past practice as if he were looking at himself acting totally without principle in a dream."

And as you say, there isn't really any sudden and gradual path, since both ends in buddhahood. Huineng taught for those of the best capacity, to directly see the nature of mind, and so did Huangbo and others, but not everyone. But the distinction is there, that doing such practices as sitting meditation, recitation, chanting, etc. as practices are of the gradual path. The sudden path would not be sudden if there were methods to follow. It wouldn't be "no practice" if there were practices to use. Just as it wouldn't be "no thought" if there were thoughts to keep in mind.
"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)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“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; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Postby seeker242 » Mon Dec 16, 2013 11:36 pm

Astus wrote:
That is, any sort of practice - as listed - is a mistake.


So then what do you think is meant by "the practice of no practice"? Does that just mean you sit on the couch all day and just watch TV and don't do anything?

It wouldn't be "no practice" if there were practices to use.


I disagree as it's possible to not practice chanting, while practicing chanting.

Just as it wouldn't be "no thought" if there were thoughts to keep in mind.


Would not agree with that either. For example, say your car broke down. You need to hold some kind of thought in mind in order to fix the car. If you don't hold the thought in mind of how a car works, you won't ever be able to fix it. But simply because you are holding that thought in mind, that does not mean it wouldn't be "no thought". Which means it's possible for it to be "no thought" while at the same time, holding thoughts in mind.

Although, the rest of what you wrote is quite nice. :smile:
One should not kill any living being, nor cause it to be killed, nor should one incite any other to kill. Do never injure any being, whether strong or weak, in this entire universe!
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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Postby Jikan » Mon Dec 16, 2013 11:41 pm

Meido wrote:The experience of awakening is not bound by culture and beliefs, though its expression, religions, and our lives are. I don't know of any Zen teacher who would say you can't experience awakening as a Muslim or Christian, if your roots are sufficient and/or you have the good fortune to meet a realized teacher.

What happens after awakening, though, is the important part. If it's deep enough, your cherished eternalist and theistic beliefs may crumble (I've seen this happen). If not, your habitual tendencies may re-assert themselves and you'll interpret the experience as a sign from God or something (I've seen this happen). And since such experiences are only entry into the path, not a culmination, someone holding on to their beliefs may deny themselves that crucial path of clarifying and embodying awakening which Zen Buddhism possesses.

So I think the majority view would be something like this: you can be a Muslim and practice Zen Buddhism, even experience awakening according to your capacity. But reconciling the two is your problem. In any case you're welcome to hang out as long as you like. We kind of like some of the Sufi stuff we've seen, by the way.


Related: Sufi Sesshin

http://lamafoundation.org/index.php/be- ... treat.html
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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Postby Astus » Tue Dec 17, 2013 1:08 am

seeker242 wrote:So then what do you think is meant by "the practice of no practice"? Does that just mean you sit on the couch all day and just watch TV and don't do anything?


It means buddhahood. There is in fact an old term: aśaikṣa (Pali: asekha), it means non-training, and it is a term for arhats and buddhas who have completed the path. Of the five paths it is the path of no more training (aśaikṣa-mārga).

I disagree as it's possible to not practice chanting, while practicing chanting.


That is the bodhisattva training in the paramitas, and that is for accumulating merit.

Which means it's possible for it to be "no thought" while at the same time, holding thoughts in mind.


I said that the meaning of no thought is not that one should keep a specific thought in mind for that. I didn't say there are no thoughts at all, or that one cannot have thoughts. But no thought is not to have this or that thought, and it is open to all thoughts. Saying that one should do this or that kind of practice for no practice is equal to saying that one should have this or that kind of thought for no thought.
"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)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“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; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Postby LastLegend » Tue Dec 17, 2013 1:11 am

What is the aim for chanting if it is not for accumulating merits?
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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Postby LastLegend » Tue Dec 17, 2013 1:17 am

Astus wrote:
And as you say, there isn't really any sudden and gradual path, since both ends in buddhahood. Huineng taught for those of the best capacity, to directly see the nature of mind, and so did Huangbo and others, but not everyone. But the distinction is there, that doing such practices as sitting meditation, recitation, chanting, etc. as practices are of the gradual path. The sudden path would not be sudden if there were methods to follow. It wouldn't be "no practice" if there were practices to use. Just as it wouldn't be "no thought" if there were thoughts to keep in mind.


It is of gradual path but to non-gradual path, meditation, recitation, and chanting are non-gradual. Why is it necessary and not necessary to do meditation, recitation, and chanting? If it is not necessary, then why and what is there to do? If it is necessary, then why?
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NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)
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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Postby Astus » Tue Dec 17, 2013 10:57 am

LastLegend wrote:It is of gradual path but to non-gradual path, meditation, recitation, and chanting are non-gradual. Why is it necessary and not necessary to do meditation, recitation, and chanting? If it is not necessary, then why and what is there to do? If it is necessary, then why?


On a gradual path, various practices can have their own role and relevance. It is summed up in the six paramitas, where prajnaparamita is for the accumulation of wisdom, and the other five are for the accumulation of merit. Yongming Yanshou discussed this in his Treatise on the Common End of Myriad Good Deeds, that incorporates various practices into a "sudden enlightenment, gradual practice" system (see Albert Welter's dissertation: pdf).

On a genuinely sudden path, it is not really a path at all. As quoted previously, there are no practices to do, as there is nowhere to develop. It is buddhahood itself.
"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)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“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; T2076p461b24-26)
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