Great Doubt Zen

Great Doubt Zen

Postby seeker242 » Wed Jan 08, 2014 11:22 pm

What do people think it means when the wise zen men talk about "Great Doubt"? What does great doubt mean? Great doubt about what? The old saying goes "no doubt, no awakening, small doubt, small awakening, great doubt, great awakening". What is meant by that?

:namaste:
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!
User avatar
seeker242
 
Posts: 696
Joined: Sat Mar 17, 2012 2:50 pm
Location: South Florida, USA

Re: Great Doubt Zen

Postby Astus » Thu Jan 09, 2014 1:06 am

Great doubt is the determination to get an answer and at the same time not accepting (i.e. doubting) whatever answer one finds in the process.

Some related things:

Robert E. Buswell: The Transformation of Doubt (Ŭijŏng) in Kanhwa Sŏn: The Testimony of Gaofeng Yuanmiao
Jeff Shore: Great Doubt: Getting Stuck & Breaking Through The Real Koan
What are the feeling of doubt, the ball of doubt, form into one piece, and the silver mountains and iron walls?

Also: Collected Works of Korean Buddhism, Vol. 3; p75-77 n132, n135

This looks like a good source, however, don't know where to get it: Gaofeng Yuanmiao's (1238-1295) "Three Essentials": The Nature and Function of Doubt in Chinese Kanhua 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)
User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4226
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

Re: Great Doubt Zen

Postby LastLegend » Thu Jan 09, 2014 3:16 am

seeker242 wrote:What do people think it means when the wise zen men talk about "Great Doubt"? What does great doubt mean? Great doubt about what? The old saying goes "no doubt, no awakening, small doubt, small awakening, great doubt, great awakening". What is meant by that?

:namaste:


Great doubt in oneself-use head to doubt head.
NAMO AMITABHA
NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (VIETNAMESE)
NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)
User avatar
LastLegend
 
Posts: 2064
Joined: Sat Mar 19, 2011 3:46 pm
Location: Washington DC

Re: Great Doubt Zen

Postby LastLegend » Thu Jan 09, 2014 6:11 am

Mind ground where seeds grow into flowers.
NAMO AMITABHA
NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (VIETNAMESE)
NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)
User avatar
LastLegend
 
Posts: 2064
Joined: Sat Mar 19, 2011 3:46 pm
Location: Washington DC

Re: Great Doubt Zen

Postby Gwenn Dana » Thu Apr 24, 2014 8:10 pm

Doubt can only be in what is found.
If everything is doubted, what remains?
Gwenn Dana
 
Posts: 468
Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2014 1:03 pm

Re: Great Doubt Zen

Postby Wayfarer » Fri Apr 25, 2014 12:11 am

It is tangential to this thread, but there are interesting correspondences between Buddhism and philosophical scepticism. Not your common variety dogmatic scepticism which refuses to accept anything not proven by science, but scepticism in the original sense, which is 'witholding of judgement of what is not evident'.

There has been some recent scholarship on the Greek philosopher Pyrrho, who was the originator of what became the philosophical school of scepticism. Some scholars believe that Pyrrho travelled to India (probably Gandhara, centred around the Swat valley on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan) and studied with the predominant Buddhist philosophical school in existence at the time, namely the Madhyamaka. (For the original journal article see Pyrrho and India, E. Flintoff.)

The subject is discussed at some length in McEvilly's The Shape of Ancient Thought. He elaborates on the resemblances between the Buddhist 'nirodha' (cessation) which is a technical term in Buddhist meditative training, and the ancient Greek 'epoché' meaning 'suspension of judgement'. (In fact the notion of epoché has had a long subsequent history in Western philosophy, appearing in Descartes' famous 'Cogito' and again in the 20th C as the basis of Husserl's phenomenology.)

There is also a book called Pyrrhonism: how the Ancient Greeks Re-invented Buddhism by Adrian Kuzninski (there seems to be a complete PDF copy here.)

As I say, tangential to the topic of 'the great doubt' in Zen practice, but nevertheless some interesting parallels.
Learn to do good, refrain from evil, purify the mind ~ this is the teaching of the Buddhas
User avatar
Wayfarer
 
Posts: 1931
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 8:31 am
Location: Sydney AU

Re: Great Doubt Zen

Postby oushi » Fri Apr 25, 2014 7:47 am

Gwenn Dana wrote:Doubt can only be in what is found.

Not always so. You can doubt things you haven't found, precisely because you haven't found them.
Gwenn Dana wrote:If everything is doubted, what remains?

Doubt toward everything? :smile:
seeker242 wrote:What do people think it means when the wise zen men talk about "Great Doubt"?

I remember Hakuin writing a lot about doubt, in the context of koan practice. It makes sense, since every answer to a koan that brings doubt, is not the correct answer. While working with koan, doubt will naturally grow as the pool of possible answers decreases.

Pyrrho made a change in his perspective, excluding certainty as a default response. He started from doubt in every matter. We can assume many different benefits that come from such an approach. Applied doubt will soften guilt, hopes, fears, and attachments as a consequence, but it will also have the negative part. Doubt in the social values costs a lot.
Say what you think about me here.
User avatar
oushi
 
Posts: 1596
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2012 6:18 am

Re: Great Doubt Zen

Postby Gwenn Dana » Fri Apr 25, 2014 9:34 am

Gwenn Dana wrote:If everything is doubted, what remains?

Doubt toward everything? :smile:

Doubt doubt :tongue:
Gwenn Dana
 
Posts: 468
Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2014 1:03 pm

Re: Great Doubt Zen

Postby Wayfarer » Fri Apr 25, 2014 9:41 am

Here's how the real skeptics escape that pitfall:

Wikipedia wrote:The skeptics used to refer to themselves as zetetikoi ("searchers"). They do not dogmatically assert the inability to know anything: the word skepsis means "inquiry, examination." According to them, only by refusing either to affirm or to deny the truth of what we cannot know, can ataraxia (=tranquility) be achieved.

Without actually claiming that we do not know anything, Pyrrhonism argues that the preferred attitude to be adopted is epoché, i.e., the suspension of judgment or the withholding of assent. It would be a contradiction to boldly assert that nothing can be known since that very proposition itself would then be elevated to the status of something which is known.


It is very much an application of Buddhist principles in my view.
Learn to do good, refrain from evil, purify the mind ~ this is the teaching of the Buddhas
User avatar
Wayfarer
 
Posts: 1931
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 8:31 am
Location: Sydney AU

Re: Great Doubt Zen

Postby Gwenn Dana » Fri Apr 25, 2014 10:04 am

Hmm. For me it is usually sufficient to say that "ku" is only "mu shiki", not "mu ku" , not "mu", but "ku".

no-Thingness, where Thing involves any concept of what appears as awareness.
Ku does not disappear even when everything is doubted.
Not even when doubt is doubted.
Not even when ku is doubted.
Mu would be the opposite of ku.

That´s not nihilistic, since ku remains. It does not deny existence.
Within ku there still actions appear, but they are free from conceptual morality.

Taisen Deshimaru has a couple of neat paragraphs on that which have been collected in "heart of the heart sutra".

Best wishes
Gwenn
Gwenn Dana
 
Posts: 468
Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2014 1:03 pm

Re: Great Doubt Zen

Postby oushi » Fri Apr 25, 2014 11:48 am

free from conceptual morality

Functioning in this way is not possible in society. Just a small remark.
Watch out what you are looking for. ;)
Say what you think about me here.
User avatar
oushi
 
Posts: 1596
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2012 6:18 am

Re: Great Doubt Zen

Postby Dan74 » Fri Apr 25, 2014 11:49 am

Doubt is inquiry, continually pressing further and refusing to pitch your tent anywhere. No matter what one finds, one does not abide there. Don't abide in an answer, don't abide in jhanas, don't abide in bliss, don't abide in emptiness, don't abide in realisation. Press on!
User avatar
Dan74
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 389
Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2012 3:59 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Great Doubt Zen

Postby Wayfarer » Fri Apr 25, 2014 11:51 am

Spot on.

(not that the opportunity to pitch my tent in any of those abodes has yet presented itself....:emb:
Learn to do good, refrain from evil, purify the mind ~ this is the teaching of the Buddhas
User avatar
Wayfarer
 
Posts: 1931
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 8:31 am
Location: Sydney AU

Re: Great Doubt Zen

Postby oushi » Fri Apr 25, 2014 11:54 am

Dan74 wrote:Doubt is inquiry, continually pressing further and refusing to pitch your tent anywhere. No matter what one finds, one does not abide there. Don't abide in an answer, don't abide in jhanas, don't abide in bliss, don't abide in emptiness, don't abide in realisation. Press on!

Bringing up my doubts, I would say that this is not how Sakyamuni behaved. Moreover, it looks like a chase after something, which by definition, cannot be found. Quite painful trip.
If, on the other hand, we would swap "pressing further" with "not resisting the change", then...
Say what you think about me here.
User avatar
oushi
 
Posts: 1596
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2012 6:18 am

Re: Great Doubt Zen

Postby Kim O'Hara » Fri Apr 25, 2014 12:35 pm

oushi wrote:
Dan74 wrote:Doubt is inquiry, continually pressing further and refusing to pitch your tent anywhere. No matter what one finds, one does not abide there. Don't abide in an answer, don't abide in jhanas, don't abide in bliss, don't abide in emptiness, don't abide in realisation. Press on!

Bringing up my doubts, I would say that this is not how Sakyamuni behaved. Moreover, it looks like a chase after something, which by definition, cannot be found. Quite painful trip.
If, on the other hand, we would swap "pressing further" with "not resisting the change", then...

Yes ... "pressing further" has suggestions or connotations of a continued search, presumably for certainty. Of all the formulations so far presented in this thread, I like "the suspension of judgment or the withholding of assent" best (that Wikipedia, he one smart fella! :smile: ).

:namaste:
Kim
User avatar
Kim O'Hara
 
Posts: 804
Joined: Fri Nov 16, 2012 1:09 am
Location: North Queensland, Australia

Re: Great Doubt Zen

Postby Dan74 » Fri Apr 25, 2014 12:48 pm

oushi wrote:
Dan74 wrote:Doubt is inquiry, continually pressing further and refusing to pitch your tent anywhere. No matter what one finds, one does not abide there. Don't abide in an answer, don't abide in jhanas, don't abide in bliss, don't abide in emptiness, don't abide in realisation. Press on!

Bringing up my doubts, I would say that this is not how Sakyamuni behaved. Moreover, it looks like a chase after something, which by definition, cannot be found. Quite painful trip.
If, on the other hand, we would swap "pressing further" with "not resisting the change", then...


Horses for courses, they say...

Sometimes a painful trip may well be what the doctor's ordered... When the disease runs so deep, cutting through all the way ain't gonna be easy.
User avatar
Dan74
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 389
Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2012 3:59 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Great Doubt Zen

Postby Gwenn Dana » Fri Apr 25, 2014 12:54 pm

oushi wrote:Functioning in this way is not possible in society. Just a small remark.
Watch out what you are looking for. ;)


You should have warned me years ago, and even then I would not have heard it ;)
So I go with the flow. What comes, comes.
For conventional morality there was rarely a need yet, although sometimes it is tough for society to accept that you will not show certain emotions or attachments. As I´ve written in another thread, there is danger that certain parts will spit you out. It helps to have people in the environment who understand.
Gwenn Dana
 
Posts: 468
Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2014 1:03 pm

Re: Great Doubt Zen

Postby Gwenn Dana » Fri Apr 25, 2014 12:55 pm

oushi wrote:If, on the other hand, we would swap "pressing further" with "not resisting the change", then...


Doubt change? :-)
Gwenn Dana
 
Posts: 468
Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2014 1:03 pm

Re: Great Doubt Zen

Postby oushi » Fri Apr 25, 2014 1:07 pm

Kim O'Hara wrote: "the suspension of judgment or the withholding of assent"

I agree that this is an interesting statement, but after further analysis it appears that "suspension of judgement" kills initiative. Then, activity of an individual is based on responses, and urges. I will not judge full outcomes of such an attitude, because I do not know them.
Dan74 wrote:Sometimes a painful trip may well be what the doctor's ordered... When the disease runs so deep, cutting through all the way ain't gonna be easy.

It may be true, but I have doubt... even in doctors. Still, I move one, whether I want it or not. Even if I want to pitch my tent in a beautiful place, it cannot last long. I have no choice but to learn from this experience. Thus I see that striving for goals in future brings suffering into now, so I focus on removing suffering from now, not bothering about the future.
Gwenn Dana wrote:Doubt change? :)

Always.
Gwenn Dana wrote:You should have warned me years ago, and even then I would not have heard it ;)

Neither would I. I don't even listen to myself now.
Gwenn Dana wrote:So I go with the flow. What comes, comes.

Like we all, surrendering or resisting. But that does not remove the suffering of existence. :(
Say what you think about me here.
User avatar
oushi
 
Posts: 1596
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2012 6:18 am

Re: Great Doubt Zen

Postby Dan74 » Fri Apr 25, 2014 1:23 pm

Kim O'Hara wrote:
oushi wrote:
Dan74 wrote:Doubt is inquiry, continually pressing further and refusing to pitch your tent anywhere. No matter what one finds, one does not abide there. Don't abide in an answer, don't abide in jhanas, don't abide in bliss, don't abide in emptiness, don't abide in realisation. Press on!

Bringing up my doubts, I would say that this is not how Sakyamuni behaved. Moreover, it looks like a chase after something, which by definition, cannot be found. Quite painful trip.
If, on the other hand, we would swap "pressing further" with "not resisting the change", then...

Yes ... "pressing further" has suggestions or connotations of a continued search, presumably for certainty. Of all the formulations so far presented in this thread, I like "the suspension of judgment or the withholding of assent" best (that Wikipedia, he one smart fella! :smile: ).

:namaste:
Kim


Great doubt as you must know, is a Linchi/Rinzai Zen term, Kim, and koan work requires some form of pressing further. Initially it's an effort, great effort, later it is maybe more like what you or oushi describe.

Here's some good stuff from Ven Huifeng posted some years back on the other Wheel:

Paññāsikhara wrote:
Dan74 wrote:
PPPS.
Panasikkhara wrote:It is mainly with regard to the notion of not apprehending the object in the manner that one commonly thinks that it exists, the lack of letting the mind fully take up the objects of cognition. This leads to an absence of grasping on one hand, and also of conceptual proliferation, both about the object in question. Taken to its fullest, it is probably very akin to the notion of the mind which does not take up any object (cf. AN 11:9), totally unsupported mind.


Thank you for this - I haven't seen it put this way before. If I may ask - a totally unsupported mind sounds like quite a lofty aim, doesn't it? In meditating on a huatou (word-head) the Great Doubt stops the meditator from settling on a mental object, is that what you are saying? But I guess the mind is still supported (in the sense of "abiding") by a notion of a self and all the consequent reification?


Hi Dan :)

My phrasing above was mainly in the light of the fact that this is in a Theravada Forum, and it appeared that there was a fair amount of confusion, mainly about reading 疑情 yiqing as "doubt" which was mistakenly considered the opposite of 信 xin "faith / confidence". If I was just responding to a Son (Zen / Chan) practitioner such as yourself, I might have phrased it differently.

Thus, the "unsupported mind" is a term straight from the Pali Canon. In Chan, I'd rather saying "non-abiding mind" 無住心, which is mentioned by the Sixth Patriarch Huineng. Or, for a Son practitioner, (not that I know much about Son per se), I'm thinking that the now common English term "don't know" may be in order.

Anyway, like a lot of terms, we may use that term as both the practice, but also the result. (But personally I don't like to use "practice is realization" in the sense that Soto does.) Rather, like "emptiness" (even in the Pali canon), we can use this term to indicate a practice - the emptiness samadhi, the emptiness abiding, etc. - and also the result, the empty mind (empty of afflictions / conceptual proliferation). So, only part is a "lofty aim".

At first, one really needs to settle / abide the mind with some sort of samatha, calm it down. Then, pull up the object in question, and raise the word-head. eg. classic Chan would be to use recitation of Amitabha until one has some good Amitabha samadhi going on, and then ask - "Who is reciting Amitabha?" These "who" word-heads are great, because they then turn the subject ("me" / "I" and "what pertains to I") into the object of the "yiqing".

Most people would just say "I", "I recite Amitabha". But, then one begins to 參 (can) "investigate" this, deeper and deeper. For those who haven't much theoretical training in Buddhism, especially the notion of "not self", they may ask: "So, what is this I?" "Is this consciousness I?" "But this consciousness changes..." and so on. For those with the background, then the simple question "Who recites Amitabha?" Will be enough to raise the strong "yiqing". Rather than identifying as "I recite", "the name Amitabha is recited", and "this is recitation", one "empties the three aspects" and cuts off the basis of "self".

At first, this will be a kind of reified "not self". ie. rather than the usually conceptually proliferated idea of "me" and "mine", one instead overlays a different conceptual antidote of "not self". This is still concept versus concept, removing the false with the true. But, this conceptual "not self" is still merely a concept, one is still abiding in the antidote, still abiding in the word-head, so to speak, one needs to go deeper.

While it is still conceptualized, it isn't really "yiqing", but just rational thought. Only when it cuts out this inner verbalization, inner talk, does it fully develop into the yiqing. One may merely raise the word-head just enough to sustain this. For some, the raising of the word-head once, may be enough to sustain the yiqing for an hour, or hours, or even days. This takes some serious gongfu, however. For most beginners, maybe they'll have to raise it up every few minutes or so at least. haha! Just don't babble away and recite it like a mantra or something - totally, totally different kettle of fish!

Only when one removes the actual basis of "self" and "mine", will the conceptual proliferation end. It may take a lot of time. This is the first break through. Examples could be such as Master Hsu Yun, who in his six year "three steps and one prostration" pilgrimage, entered into deep samadhi while walking and on pilgrimage. He maintained the investigation and yiqing for a long, long time before he had his realization at Gaomin si in Yangzhou.


And here are some instructions worth listening to:

http://buddhismnow.com/2009/12/22/hua-tou/

http://buddhismnow.com/2011/02/24/dharma-seal-of-the-unborn-by-kusan-sumin/#more-2770
Last edited by Dan74 on Fri Apr 25, 2014 2:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Dan74
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 389
Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2012 3:59 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Next

Return to Zen

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests

>