Not much interest in discussing Zen, is there, DN?
No, not that. I'm all about discussing Zen.
Let's do it. I'll write the first thing that goes through my mind when reading the text."Quietness is an element in meditation, but merely striving to attain quietness leads nowhere. It is like putting a paper bag over a cat’s head: It will walk backward but will never be able to advance."
I wouldn't consider the state of shamatha going nowhere, much less putting a bag over a cat's head. Said like this, it seems like shamatha is "walking backward". Very unfortunately, I think nowadays shamatha is more needed than ever. Our mind is subjected to such a load of stimuli that plain mindfulness doesn't cut it."The same thing happens when one forces oneself to enter quietness. It is only when one forgets both the world of noise and the realm of quietness that one is able to enter into the kingdom of true silence."
Although some pressure is needed to achieve quiescence, force is not the favored method by any means. Forgetting the world of noise and of quietness is a very eloquent form of saying exactly what? It's not by forgetting what is concentration that we achieve it. We need to know what obstacles we will face like gross, medium and subtle torpor/agitation and the methods to overcome them. We need concentration, at least to a degree, to make full use of mindfulness. The kingdom of true silence is exactly what besides a poetic expression to someone untrained? Watching movies or resting in the park is just as good as sitting in a zendo, if what you want is quietness.
This sort of sentences forget that initially training conditions are useful. By watching movies one doesn't achieve quietness. Quite the opposite in fact. I've never seen someone progressing in the path by watching movies... again, another nice sentence that I find counter productive. It's not that we can't practice mindfulness in any kind of situation. It's just that it's not that easy to do so before we master this skill. Developing concentration to a certain degree is important. Having a zendo to sit while doing it seems useful, IMO. Striving for quiescence meditation in a zendo is not the same as watching movies.You are students of nonthinking
The swing of a bat straight in the head should do it then...
Context is very important. Thoughts aren't enemies.Meditation is complicated and difficult only when one becomes more interested in one’s own opinions and ideas than in disentangling oneself from all traces of dualistic thinking. As Zen Master Nanin once said: “Unless you empty your teacup, I cannot fill it.”
There are so many factors that can make it difficult...
Disentangling ourselves from dualistic thinking is probably the hardest think on Earth. We can empty the cup by turning it upside down. The problem is that after it will be impossible to fill, unless we turn it up again. This means learning. I always see a lot of concern regarding the emptying part, but almost nothing about how and what should we fill it with.In the beginning, you aim to empty your mind and try to drive all thoughts away. But aiming and trying are also thoughts! So aiming and trying keep you from your goal, of becoming emptiness itself. When you think you are in emptiness, you are not in emptiness.
Emptiness is an experience, not a thought. If one thinks about anything at all, such experience doesn't happen. It's quite a remarkable experience that you don't mistake by anything else. It also scares the shit out of those unprepared to have it.When you think you have discovered your Buddha-nature, you are far away from it
Again, this is not something one thinks. Unless someone has no idea whatsoever about what Buddha-nature means. That is avoided by studying, not just being mindful of one's neurosis. When no thought arises, there is no need to drive thoughts away.
I wonder about what stating the obvious achieves...When nothing is good, nothing is bad.
Unpacking is useful. Otherwise it's a silly slogan. What you never had, you will never miss. What you do not see does not disappear. What cannot increase cannot decrease. This is true emptiness. This is samädhi.
I'm sure poor people miss the money they never had, people who born blind miss the eyesight they never had, those born slaves miss the freedom they never had, and so on.
I know what the author is pointing, but the excess of these slogans without unpacking leads to the sad scenario we actually see in western Zen. Ignorants repeating these slogans like parrots and having no idea about their meaning. I would also disagree that this is samadhi. The experience of emptiness and samadhi may be very different things. ‘When you enter into this condition, then you are walking in the Palace of Realization. Never to think—even for a moment—that you are enlightened: This is the ideal of Zen meditation."
I wonder if those who realize enlightenment think they are unenlightened.
Let me try to put in words what I'm thinking. It's not that duly interpreted what the author says doesn't make sense. But you have a succession of slogans there that aren't of much use to the practice.
It's all oh so very humble, so very paradoxical, so very trendy and intellectually challenging, so aesthetic and disconcerting... for sure there's a public that loves that sort of stuff. I just don't see it leading anywhere without clear (down to earth, didactic, not so trendy, non paradoxical and intellectually challenging) instructions, a la Theravada or a la Tibetan style. Precise, clear instructions instead of cool paradoxical slogans. Instructions for the dumb and limited unenlightened beings that are us.
Now, to rattle the discussion
, I'll say this:
I wonder if the way high profile Zen teachers placed themselves regarding Japan's involvement in WWII it isn't a result of plain bad practice resulting of the lack of clear instructions, Zsolt. If those were their best la creme de la creme
of Zen masters, something's definitively wrong and perhaps that's an excess of trendily challenging slogans with too little useful instructions.
So, I'm sure there's a lot of wrong ideas in my post. We can start there.
EDITED for clarity purposes