Bodhidharma statements on invoke the buddha ?

Bodhidharma statements on invoke the buddha ?

Postby Arabic Buddhist » Thu Feb 13, 2014 10:55 pm

Hello dharma friends

There some points i'm not understand it in this statement . I will mention them in the last .

"Student : The sutras say that someone who wholeheartedly invokes the Buddha is sure to be reborn in the Western Paradise. Since is door leads to Buddhahood, why seek liberation in beholding the mind ?

Bodhidharma : If you’re going to invoke the Buddha, you have to do it right. Unless you understand what invoking means, you’ll do it wrong. And if you do it wrong, you’ll never go anywhere.

Buddha means awareness, the awareness of body and mind that prevents evil from arising in either. And to invoke means to call to mind, to call constantly to mind the rules of discipline and to follow them with all your might. This is what’s meant by invoking. Invoking has to do with thought and not with language. If you use a trap to catch fish, once you succeed you can forget the trap. And if you use language to find meaning, once you find it you can forget language. To invoke the Buddha’s name you have to understand the Dharma of invoking. If it’s not present in your mind, your mouth chants an empty name. As long as you’re troubled by the three poisons or by thoughts of yourself, your deluded mind will keep you from seeing the Buddha and you’ll only waste your effort. Chanting and invoking are worlds apart, Chanting is done with the mouth. Invoking is done with the mind. And because invoking comes from the mind, it’s called the door to awareness. Chanting is centered in the mouth and appears as sound. If you cling to appearances while searching for meaning, you won’t find a thing. Thus, sages of the past cultivated introspection and not speech. This mind is the source of all virtues. And this mind is the chief of all powers, The eternal bliss of nirvana comes from the mind at rest. Rebirth in the three realms also comes from the mind. The mind is the door to every world and the mind is the ford to the other shore. Those who know where the door is don’t worry about reaching it. Those who know where the ford is don’t worry about crossing it .

The points which i 'm not understand it :
"And to invoke means to call to mind, to call constantly to mind the rules of discipline and to follow them with all your might " ?
"Invoking has to do with thought and not with language. If you use a trap to catch fish, once you succeed you can forget the trap. And if you use language to find meaning, once you find it you can forget language "?
"Chanting and invoking are worlds apart, Chanting is done with the mouth. Invoking is done with the mind. And because invoking comes from the mind, it’s called the door to awareness. Chanting is centered in the mouth and appears as sound. If you cling to appearances while searching for meaning, you won’t find a thing " ?
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Re: Bodhidharma statements on invoke the buddha ?

Postby Konchog1 » Fri Feb 14, 2014 1:37 am

"And to invoke means to call to mind, to call constantly to mind the rules of discipline and to follow them with all your might " ?
Don't know.

"Invoking has to do with thought and not with language. If you use a trap to catch fish, once you succeed you can forget the trap. And if you use language to find meaning, once you find it you can forget language "?
Remember a time when you reacted without thinking? When you acted on impulse or instinct? Therefore it is possible to act without words. It is also possible to think without words. To truly call a Buddha is done without words, it's a mental impulse or feeling. But words have to teach you the impulse first.

"Chanting and invoking are worlds apart, Chanting is done with the mouth. Invoking is done with the mind. And because invoking comes from the mind, it’s called the door to awareness. Chanting is centered in the mouth and appears as sound. If you cling to appearances while searching for meaning, you won’t find a thing " ?
Same as above. The impulse is more important. The words without the impulse are useless. Could a recording of you calling a Buddha, call a Buddha? No, only you can.
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

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"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

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Re: Bodhidharma statements on invoke the buddha ?

Postby PorkChop » Fri Feb 14, 2014 4:06 am

With all due respect to Bodhidharma, he wasn't really a Pure Land expert. There may even be some controversy over whether those were his words or not. The Ch'an syncretism with Pure Land didn't come until well after his time. Some of his statements not only show inconsistencies with the doctrines of popular Pure Land schools, but with the Pure Land sutras themselves. The general gist of his statement is not such a foreign idea however. Essentially he's saying that you have to think about the Buddha when you recite nianfo/nembutsu, it doesn't work merely by the vibration of the sounds coming out of your mouth, especially if you're distracted with other thoughts (which is pretty much the answer to all 3 of your questions AB). On this, I'm essentially agreeing with Konchog1. The other statement about "rules of discipline" doesn't seem like he's referencing the 5 precepts, sounds more like Vinaya. The Pure Land method, descending from traditional buddhanussati was a faith practice of householders, not typically a practice of the renunciates. The sutras themselves verify that the Pure Land can be reached without strict adherence to discipline, so not sure why he suddenly decides to introduce the idea. Of course, to claim that the Pure Land is Mind-Only and to dismiss it as conventionally real is considered a mistake (even in Ch'an) because to do so represents a duality of mind and object.

AB - I'm not sure why you are looking for agreement between Pure Land ideas and the teachings of early (pre-Pure Land syncretization) Ch'an or with the teachings of Japanese Zen (especially if it's not a Japanese teacher). Modern Ch'an teachers might be a better route if you're looking for agreement between the ideas of Ch'an Practice and Pure Land. A good place to start is Hsu Yun. If you are still interested in Japanese Zen & any agreement with Pure Land, you may want to look at people like the zen poet Ryōkan, the Shin(?) poet Zuiken- who Zen folks may appreciate, the eccentric Zen poet Ikkyu, the poet Saigyo, or the enigmatic founder of the Ji Sect - Ippen, who was granted a Zen Inka by Kakushin who brought the Fuke Shu school of Zen to Japan. Even Jodo Shin Shu founder Shinran has a statue at the Zen temple Hoonji. If you have any particular questions that are bugging you, feel free to ask.
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Re: Bodhidharma statements on invoke the buddha ?

Postby plwk » Fri Feb 14, 2014 6:07 am

Tee-hee PC :mrgreen:
There the academic world is debating whether or not Bodhidharma is even real and here this thread is trying to figure out attributed words to 'him'...
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Re: Bodhidharma statements on invoke the buddha ?

Postby Qianxi » Fri Feb 14, 2014 9:31 am

plwk wrote:Tee-hee PC :mrgreen:
There the academic world is debating whether or not Bodhidharma is even real and here this thread is trying to figure out attributed words to 'him'...

Well the academic consensus seems to be that this text, 'Treatise on the Destruction of Characteristics' (or 'Breakthrough Sermon' as translated by Red Pine, in Chinese 破相論, found on Dunhuang scroll under the name 觀心論 'Treatise on the Contemplation of the Mind') may well have been composed in the 8th century by Shenxiu (See John McRae's book on the Northern School), so it may well be an early text written by an important figure.

That's just from googling, I don't know much about Zen, but here is Red Pine's translation of part of the text next to the Chinese, with the bits Arabic Buddhist was asking about in red.

問。如經說言。至心念佛。必得往生西方淨土。以此一門。即應成佛。何假觀心。求於解脫。
[Student:] The sutras say that someone who wholeheartedly invokes the Buddha is sure to be reborn in the Western Paradise. Since is door leads to Buddhahood, why seek liberation in beholding the mind?

答。夫念佛者。當須正念。了義為正。不了義為邪。正念必得往生。邪念云何到彼哉。
Answer: If you're going to invoke the Buddha, you have to do it right. Unless you understand what invoking means, you'll do it wrong. And if you do it wrong, you'll never go anywhere.

佛者覺也。所謂覺察身心。勿令起惡也。念者憶也。所謂憶持戒行。不忘精進。了如是義。名之為念。故知念在於心。非在於言。因筌求魚。得魚忘筌。因言求意。得意忘言。
Buddha means awareness, the awareness of body and mind that prevents evil from arising in either. And to invoke means to call to mind, to call constantly to mind the rules of discipline and to follow them with all your might. This is what's meant by invoking. Invoking has to do with thought and not with language. If you use a trap to catch fish, once you succeed you can forget the trap. And if you use language to find meaning, once you find it you can forget language.

既稱念佛之名。須知念佛之道。若心無實。口誦空名。三毒內臻。人我填臆。將無明心。向外求佛。徒爾虛功。且如誦之與念。義理懸殊。在口曰誦。在心曰念。故知念從心起。名為覺行之門。誦在口中。即是音聲之相。執外求理。終無是處。故知過去諸聖所修念佛。皆非外說。只推內心。
To invoke the Buddha's name you have to understand the Dharma of invoking. If it's not present in your mind, your mouth chants an empty name. As long as you're troubled by the three poisons or by thoughts of yourself, your deluded mind will keep you from seeing the Buddha and you'll only waste your effort. Chanting and invoking are worlds apart, Chanting is done with the mouth. Invoking is done with the mind. And because invoking comes from the mind, it's called the door to awareness. Chanting is centered in the mouth and appears as sound. If you cling to appearances while searching for meaning, you won't find a thing. Thus, sages of the past cultivated introspection and not speech.

心即眾善之源。心為萬德之主。涅槃常樂。由真心生。三界輪迴亦從心起。心是出世之門戶。心是解脫之關津。知門戶者豈慮難入。識關津者何憂不通。
This mind is the source of all virtues. And this mind is the chief of all powers, The eternal bliss of nirvana comes from the mind at rest. Rebirth in the three realms also comes from the mind. The mind is the door to every world and the mind is the ford to the other shore. Those who know where the door is don't worry about reaching it. Those who know where the ford is don't worry about crossing it.
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Re: Bodhidharma statements on invoke the buddha ?

Postby Qianxi » Fri Feb 14, 2014 10:00 am

Reading above comments, the only line that remains a puzzle is
念者憶也。所謂憶持戒行。不忘精進。
Red Pine translation: And to invoke means to call to mind, to call constantly to mind the rules of discipline and to follow them with all your might.

I would translate it as: 'Mindfulness' means 'to remember', as in the phrases 'remember and uphold the precepts!' and 'don't forget the importance of effort!'

Basically the teacher is defining the meaning of the 'mindfulness of the Buddha' practice http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nianfo (Red Pine translates it as 'invoking the Buddha'). First the teacher defines the word 'Buddha' then he defines the word 'mindfulness' (Chinese: 念, Sanskrit: smṛti, Pali: sati). The mention of 戒行[discipline/precepts/moral behaviour] is just an example to illustrate the concept of remembering.
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Re: Bodhidharma statements on invoke the buddha ?

Postby plwk » Fri Feb 14, 2014 11:00 am

Thank you Qianxi for your superb effort to bring out the actual text and translation :thumbsup:
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Re: Bodhidharma statements on invoke the buddha ?

Postby Huifeng » Fri Feb 14, 2014 11:32 am

PorkChop wrote:With all due respect to Bodhidharma, he wasn't really a Pure Land expert. There may even be some controversy over whether those were his words or not. The Ch'an syncretism with Pure Land didn't come until well after his time.


But the fact that notions of Buddha fields (ie. Buddha lands) was quite possibly a part of the Mahayana from very early on.
Thus, if Bodhidharma was a Mahayana monk from India, quite probably he also had at least basic generic notions of Buddha fields.

Then... in China by the Tang - Song period, well after Bodhidharma, we see the notion of Chan and Pureland as separate.

And then, later still, we see the notion of them being "syncretized". One could just as well say "reunited". :hug:

~~Huifeng
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Re: Bodhidharma statements on invoke the buddha ?

Postby Huifeng » Fri Feb 14, 2014 11:36 am

Red Pine's "nian" as "invoke" is already imposing a mid period Pureland reading on this character in the first place. As originally a translation from Sanskrit "smrti" or "anusmrti", it really does mean "recollect", "remember", etc. in the first place. As per the modern 憶. Though in ancient translation idiom, that term often translated terms related to "conceptualization".

Finding a translator who doesn't make anachronistic garbling is not at all easy.

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Re: Bodhidharma statements on invoke the buddha ?

Postby Simon E. » Fri Feb 14, 2014 11:39 am

So how would that translate in context Ven Huifeng ?
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Re: Bodhidharma statements on invoke the buddha ?

Postby Huifeng » Fri Feb 14, 2014 12:59 pm

Simon E. wrote:So how would that translate in context Ven Huifeng ?


佛者覺也。所謂覺察身心。勿令起惡也。
念者憶也。所謂憶持戒行。不忘精進。

了如是義。名之為念。
故知
念在於心。非在於言。

因筌求魚。得魚忘筌。
因言求意。得意忘言。

"Buddha" means "aware", that is, be aware investigation of body and mind, not letting them arise [any] evil.
"Recollect" means "remember", that is, remember to uphold the practice of morality, not forgetting to be vigorous.

To understand this principle is known as "recollection".
Therefore know
that "recollect" is in the mind, not in the word.

"Due to the net, one catches the fish;
"Having caught the fish, one forgets the net."
Due to the words, one catches the meaning,
Having caught the meaning, one forgets the words.

* Note that the first two lines are paired couplets in Chinese, and the last quotation paired with his application here; see the structure which I've tried to maintain in English.

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Re: Bodhidharma statements on invoke the buddha ?

Postby Huifeng » Fri Feb 14, 2014 1:03 pm

Red Pine's translation goes against the text itself, because English "invoke" comes from a term which is "vocal", ie. words and language, not mental.

invoke (v.)
late 15c., from Middle French envoquer (12c.), from Latin invocare "call upon, implore," from in- "upon" (see in- (2)) + vocare "to call," related to vox (genitive vocis) "voice" (see voice (n.)). Related: Invoked; invoking.

Same as the Sanskrit root "vac", "speech", eg. vuccati "to say", ukta "said", etc.

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Re: Bodhidharma statements on invoke the buddha ?

Postby Qianxi » Fri Feb 14, 2014 1:16 pm

Oh yes, that's more like it. I didn't take a look at the parallel phrase to help sort out the relationship between the elements.

So he's not mentioning 'remembering morality' just as an example of the the use of the word remembering (as I wrongly said above), he actually thinks that morality is necessary for the practice of 念佛/nianfo/recollecting the Buddha and perhaps that the requirement for the practice of morality is somehow inherent in a correct understanding of the definition of 'recollection'.
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Re: Bodhidharma statements on invoke the buddha ?

Postby PorkChop » Fri Feb 14, 2014 5:54 pm

Huifeng wrote:But the fact that notions of Buddha fields (ie. Buddha lands) was quite possibly a part of the Mahayana from very early on. Thus, if Bodhidharma was a Mahayana monk from India, quite probably he also had at least basic generic notions of Buddha fields.
Then... in China by the Tang - Song period, well after Bodhidharma, we see the notion of Chan and Pureland as separate.
And then, later still, we see the notion of them being "syncretized". One could just as well say "reunited". :hug:
~~Huifeng


Touche. :) Good point, it's just that whenever I think of Bodhidharma I think of meditation, teaching beyond words, expressing nonduality and emptiness whenever he talks. I never thought he was big on other forms of practice, especially given his statement towards the emperor about merit making.

Thanks for the updated translation, your's makes a lot more sense and seems very reasonable.
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Re: Bodhidharma statements on invoke the buddha ?

Postby garudha » Tue Apr 01, 2014 5:37 am

Arabic Buddhist wrote:[size=150]Hello dharma friends


You can't invoke invoke Buddha, afaik.

You are already Buddha.

There is a shortcut but I think you won't enjoy it... tell me: why do you want to invoke Buddha ?
~ "The requested topic does not exist" ~
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Re: Bodhidharma statements on invoke the buddha ?

Postby LastLegend » Tue Apr 01, 2014 7:43 am

Recollecting Buddha can be done by chanting, recitation, or keeping 'aware.'
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NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)
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Re: Bodhidharma statements on invoke the buddha ?

Postby oushi » Tue Apr 01, 2014 9:42 am

Arabic Buddhist wrote:"Invoking has to do with thought and not with language. If you use a trap to catch fish, once you succeed you can forget the trap. And if you use language to find meaning, once you find it you can forget language "?

About the difference between thoughts and language:
Say what you think about me here.
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Re: Bodhidharma statements on invoke the buddha ?

Postby garudha » Tue Apr 01, 2014 1:23 pm

Arabic Buddhist wrote:[size=150]Hello dharma friends

There some points i'm not understand it in this statement . I will mention them in the last .


What the author generally means is that intention is the originating power of all resultant actions. There's a paradox; Pure Intention and Pure action are the same thing.
~ "The requested topic does not exist" ~
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Re: Bodhidharma statements on invoke the buddha ?

Postby Gwenn Dana » Tue Apr 01, 2014 1:40 pm

... because action does not exist in the now. It is only a retrospective which leads you to shift your intention (or not). And even intention is only concentration.
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Re: Bodhidharma statements on invoke the buddha ?

Postby garudha » Tue Apr 01, 2014 8:33 pm

Gwenn Dana wrote:... because action does not exist in the now. It is only a retrospective which leads you to shift your intention (or not). And even intention is only concentration.


In the context of the thread (Zen); it would be easy to your interpret your-statement "intention is only concentration" as meaning;.. "(the) purest intentions are always cultivated when being present in meditation".

Guidance which might indoctrinate others, into the belief that there's a "mythical" correct way to approach intention, would be false and misleading.
I think such talk is very dangerous and might hinder any possible arising of a very pure intention because the student had been conditioned to hold mistaken views about intention.

Also; I have a problem with "retrospective ... leads you to shift your intention". This implies that we might be able modify our present intention in a contrived fashion. However; in the process of modifying, our we not simply manifesting a new intention?

You also said that action does not exist in the now. I think that very confusing. When do you suggest we should perform any given action?... --yesterday?!!

Gwenn Dana, when posting in a forum where people are (implicitly) asking for guidance on how to find awaking or enlightenment, you should be very careful about the guidance you (implicitly) provide because such guidance acts as a form of conditioning. --Conditioning traps the mind into rigidity... can you see the problem here?

What I really want to say to the OP is; there's not really any right way to do anything. We all have the ability to awaken --and without books or teachings. Why? Because the truth lies within and was never lost.
~ "The requested topic does not exist" ~
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