Meditation practices for the layfolk

Meditation practices for the layfolk

Postby Lazy_eye » Thu May 05, 2011 1:30 pm

Hi,

I recall reading somewhere that Dogen advised householders to meditate for a short period daily, but have not been able to locate the passage. Does anyone know the specifics? And did he advise any particular form of meditation?

Besides Dogen, have any other Zen or Ch'an masters provided recommendations on this topic? I don't mean for those "laypeople" who are essentially non-ordained monks, but for householders with busy lives, worldly involvements, spouses and so on.

In general, is there anything for us to do other than make offerings and say prayers? :smile:

Thanks,

LE
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Re: Meditation practices for the layfolk

Postby Jikan » Thu May 05, 2011 1:41 pm

You can listen to the Dharma and contemplate it. You can take precepts and keep them assiduously. Some Zen teachers (Tetsugen for instance) have advocated nembutsu practice. You can donate generously to the sangha. Those are a few off the top of my head. Just raising your kids properly and caring for your parents as they age is a challenging practice.
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Re: Meditation practices for the layfolk

Postby Astus » Thu May 05, 2011 2:16 pm

On the Japanese side Bankei comes to mind, he was quite a popular teacher then among the laity. Also Kodo Sawaki, I think, taught meditation to householders, just like the teachers in the Sanbo Kyodan group. Hakuin, on the other hand, taught some mantra and recitation practices to the laity. In Korea Gyeongheo, the reviver of modern Seon, had lay students too, currently Daehaeng kunsunim has a large number of lay followers. In China Dahui Zonggao, inventor of the koan-huatou meditation, taught huatou practice to many householders (in fact, it appears that he meant huatou for the laity rather than monks). Same with Caodong teachers like Hongzhi and others who taught silent illumination to many lay people and they were quite popular. In modern times Xuyun taught Chan to both monks and lay people. Ven. Shengyan had a number of lay students in the West who practice Chan. Since all those mentioned are famous teachers you can easily search on their names.

Theoretically Zen makes no difference between lay and monastic, sudden enlightenment is available for everyone. In reality only a few dedicated householder took it seriously. It should also be noted that meditation is for monks. Fortunately, Zen is not about meditation or other practices but seeing the nature of 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: Meditation practices for the layfolk

Postby Fa Dao » Thu May 05, 2011 2:48 pm

As Astus said, Master Sheng Yen worked extensively with monks and laypeople. I highly recommend any of his books but specifically his book "The Method of No Method-The Chan Practice of Silent Illumination" is an excellent book. Clear, easy to understand, yet profound in its simplicity.
"But if you know how to observe yourself, you will discover your real nature, the primordial state, the state of Guruyoga, and then all will become clear because you will have discovered everything"-Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche
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Re: Meditation practices for the layfolk

Postby Lazy_eye » Thu May 05, 2011 9:20 pm

Jikan wrote: Just raising your kids properly and caring for your parents as they age is a challenging practice.


That's for sure.

Although my question was in a Zen context, and you replied in the same, would your answer be any different if we were speaking about Tendai? That is, what is the Tendai point of view on lay practice? I'm just curious.

Thank you, Astus and Fa Dao, for your replies.
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Re: Meditation practices for the layfolk

Postby Jikan » Fri May 06, 2011 12:44 am

Lazy_eye wrote:
Jikan wrote: Just raising your kids properly and caring for your parents as they age is a challenging practice.

Although my question was in a Zen context, and you replied in the same, would your answer be any different if we were speaking about Tendai? That is, what is the Tendai point of view on lay practice? I'm just curious.


As we do it in the English-speaking world, there would be more emphasis on sutra recitation, and I wouldn't have qualified my comment on nembutsu. Depending on your proximity to a temple, there might be more practices available to you.
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Re: Meditation practices for the layfolk

Postby Aemilius » Sat May 07, 2011 12:44 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:Hi,

I recall reading somewhere that Dogen advised householders to meditate for a short period daily, but have not been able to locate the passage. Does anyone know the specifics? And did he advise any particular form of meditation?

Besides Dogen, have any other Zen or Ch'an masters provided recommendations on this topic? I don't mean for those "laypeople" who are essentially non-ordained monks, but for householders with busy lives, worldly involvements, spouses and so on.

In general, is there anything for us to do other than make offerings and say prayers? :smile:

Thanks,

LE


Thomas Cleary writes in an introduction to his translation of Shobogenzo about Dogen's views about laity and monks. He says that earlier Dogen emphsized that laity and monks are equally capable of attaining the Way. Later his views changed and he began to oppose the laity. This sounds littlebit strange, there is probably something else behind it ?!
Cleary gives the names of the quoted writings of Dogen in his introduction.
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Re: Meditation practices for the layfolk

Postby LastLegend » Sat May 07, 2011 3:32 pm

To realize enlightenment requires one to follow the correct methods.
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Re: Meditation practices for the layfolk

Postby Aemilius » Mon May 09, 2011 12:28 pm

Aemilius wrote:
Lazy_eye wrote:Hi,

I recall reading somewhere that Dogen advised householders to meditate for a short period daily, but have not been able to locate the passage. Does anyone know the specifics? And did he advise any particular form of meditation?

Besides Dogen, have any other Zen or Ch'an masters provided recommendations on this topic? I don't mean for those "laypeople" who are essentially non-ordained monks, but for householders with busy lives, worldly involvements, spouses and so on.

In general, is there anything for us to do other than make offerings and say prayers? :smile:

Thanks,

LE


Thomas Cleary writes in an introduction to his translation of Shobogenzo about Dogen's views about laity and monks. He says that earlier Dogen emphsized that laity and monks are equally capable of attaining the Way. Later his views changed and he began to oppose the laity. This sounds littlebit strange, there is probably something else behind it ?!
Cleary gives the names of the quoted writings of Dogen in his introduction.


Correction: It is in an introduction to an article named Rational Zen: Mind of Dogen Zenji that Thomas Cleary talks about Dogen's views on lay and monastic practice of the Way. The work is in volume III of the Collected Translations of Thomas Cleary.
Thomas Cleary writes: In "Talk On mastering the Way" Dogen denies that worldly duties make enlightenment impossible. and so on...
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Re: Meditation practices for the layfolk

Postby Lazy_eye » Thu Aug 11, 2011 11:35 pm

LastLegend wrote:To realize enlightenment requires one to follow the correct methods.


I understand, LastLegend, but practically speaking what can a layperson reasonably aspire to, and which practices/methods are appropriate to such a situation?

I mean in particular a layperson with various attachments and commitments, e.g. marriage and/or family. That is, someone who is not going to be willing or able to practice renunciation much beyond the five "training precepts".

In Theravada, various meditation practices are available, including anapanasati, metta, contemplation of brahma viharas, etc. Is Mahayana more restrictive in its view?

Thanks!
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Re: Meditation practices for the layfolk

Postby Astus » Thu Aug 11, 2011 11:52 pm

"In this there are no distinctions between the sharp and the dull, the rich and the poor, mendicants and lay people, Easterners or Westerners, ancients or moderns. It only depends upon whether or not the will for enlightenment is there, and whether instruction and guidance are mistaken or accurate."
(An Elementary Talk on Zen by Man-an)
"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: Meditation practices for the layfolk

Postby LastLegend » Fri Aug 12, 2011 4:45 am

Lazy_eye wrote:
LastLegend wrote:To realize enlightenment requires one to follow the correct methods.


I understand, LastLegend, but practically speaking what can a layperson reasonably aspire to, and which practices/methods are appropriate to such a situation?

I mean in particular a layperson with various attachments and commitments, e.g. marriage and/or family. That is, someone who is not going to be willing or able to practice renunciation much beyond the five "training precepts".

In Theravada, various meditation practices are available, including anapanasati, metta, contemplation of brahma viharas, etc. Is Mahayana more restrictive in its view?

Thanks!


Practice 10 virtuous acts.
viewtopic.php?f=41&t=4970

As for meditation such as sitting forms, I don't practice those. But practice paying attention to the mind at all time is actually fruitful. I think studying the mind and understanding how it works help a lot.
NAMO AMITABHA
NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (VIETNAMESE)
NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)

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―Listen! Those of you who devote yourselves to the Dharma
must not be afraid of losing your bodies and your lives―
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Re: Meditation practices for the layfolk

Postby Lazy_eye » Fri Aug 12, 2011 2:57 pm

LastLegend wrote:
Practice 10 virtuous acts.
viewtopic.php?f=41&t=4970

As for meditation such as sitting forms, I don't practice those. But practice paying attention to the mind at all time is actually fruitful. I think studying the mind and understanding how it works help a lot.


Thanks LL.

Would you say your approach/experience is characteristic of lay Buddhism in Vietnam and other countries in East Asia? In other words, emphasis more on virtuous acts and ethics as opposed to meditation?

Regards.
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Re: Meditation practices for the layfolk

Postby LastLegend » Fri Aug 12, 2011 8:59 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:
LastLegend wrote:
Practice 10 virtuous acts.
http://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=41&t=4970

As for meditation such as sitting forms, I don't practice those. But practice paying attention to the mind at all time is actually fruitful. I think studying the mind and understanding how it works help a lot.


Thanks LL.

Would you say your approach/experience is characteristic of lay Buddhism in Vietnam and other countries in East Asia? In other words, emphasis more on virtuous acts and ethics as opposed to meditation?

Regards.
Lazy


“This dharma is the path of the ten good karmas. What are these ten? One forever quits killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, false speech, divisive speech, abusive speech, suggestive speech, greed, anger, and the wrong views.
“Dragon-King, if one quits killing sentient beings, one will acquire ten dharmas free from afflictions. What are these ten? First, one will universally give sentient beings fearlessness. Second, one will invoke the mind of great lovingkindness toward sentient beings. Third, one will forever eradicate anger and its habitual traces. Fourth, one’s body will be free from illnesses. Fifth, one will live a long life. Sixth, one will constantly be protected by nonhumans. Seventh, one will sleep soundly without nightmares. Eighth, one’s enmity will be eliminated and one’s grudges will be resolved by themselves. Ninth, one will have no fear of the evil life-paths. Tenth, one will be reborn in heaven. These are the ten. If one transfers one’s roots of goodness to one’s attainment of anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi, one will eventually become a Buddha, with a lifespan controllable at will.


My practice is mainly recitation of Amitabha. But I also practice paying attention to the mind when I don't recite Amitabha. I do practice giving also in various forms. It's wholesome that all work together. I listen to Dharma almost everyday through MP3 in my language. Anger is my number 1 concern right now, but it is getting better :techproblem:.

I am no master first of all. Just to be clear on that. But here is my understanding. Feel free to comment.

I know that Vietnamese lay Buddhists learn the teachings and keep the 5 precepts. There are some who practice meditation, but this meditation is not anything near meditation taught to monks. So meditation practiced by lay Buddhists are provisional, meditation practiced by monks are advanced and required a teacher. So in general, lay practitioners will not enter deep meditative stages like monks do. There are some lay Buddhists who practice 10 virtuous acts that are equivalent of 10 precepts. But in general, the 10 virtuous acts or precepts are practiced by monks. The emphasis here is the 10 virtuous acts or precepts go with advanced meditation. For example if monks approach meditation with the mind filled with anger, greed, and wrong views/ignorance, will meditation be fruitful? To practice 10 virtuous acts or precepts is like practice withdrawing wood from the fire in order to extinguish fire. So in essence, meditation is a practice of detachment starting from the way we think and the way we do things. Would not it be ridiculous to meditate for peace when everyday one's mind engages in anger, greed, and wrong views/ignorance, body in killing, stealing, sexual misconducts, and in false speech, divisive speech, abusive speech, suggestive speech? By practicing meditation we are practicing the pure mind and body. Then meditation will advance to higher stages. So I hope it's clear what practice advanced meditation constitutes. And what practice for peace or clarity of the mind constitutes...most of us practice meditation for a long time but still possess intense anger, greed, and ignorance. At this point, we have to question the way/methods we approach meditation.

Lay Buddhists are taught by monks to practice paying attention to the mind constantly. For example, anger has to do with the way we think. If we expect others to do things our way, we will get angry when they don't meet that expectation. If we don't expect, we will not suffer. Too often when we get angry, we look at others for faults and blame but we don't look at faults of our thinking, our selfish thinking so that we can correct this false or selfish thinking to right thinking. Anytime we get angry, we are at fault. Even when others are at faults, we should not get angry at their faults for their faults have nothing to do with us. So practicing right thinking by correcting false thinking. Greedy thinking, we it arises also brings anger if expectation is not met...So we are trying to understand what causes suffering and decrease the cause here. By paying attention to the mind and its emotional reactions, we will understand what causes us suffering...it's also a way to process our emotional reactions so that in the future we will not react in the same way. When greed, anger, and ignorance/wrong view have decreased, peace and wisdom will increase.

Peace
NAMO AMITABHA
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NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)

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must not be afraid of losing your bodies and your lives―
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Re: Meditation practices for the layfolk

Postby Lazy_eye » Sat Aug 13, 2011 1:16 pm

Makes sense to me. For what it's worth, my own emphasis is mainly on being attentive to the mind (and the behavior that arises from various mind states).

I find this is very beneficial for those of us involved in lay life, especially when we have families or potentially stressful job situations where there is always the potential for stuff to come up -- impatience, frustration, anger and so on.

Do you recite formally at certain points during the day, or all the time as part of training the mind? What about situations where it is necessary for thoughts to arise?
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Re: Meditation practices for the layfolk

Postby LastLegend » Sat Aug 13, 2011 2:29 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:Makes sense to me. For what it's worth, my own emphasis is mainly on being attentive to the mind (and the behavior that arises from various mind states).

I find this is very beneficial for those of us involved in lay life, especially when we have families or potentially stressful job situations where there is always the potential for stuff to come up -- impatience, frustration, anger and so on.

Do you recite formally at certain points during the day, or all the time as part of training the mind? What about situations where it is necessary for thoughts to arise?


I recite Amitabha at all times if I don't forget. What I do is take a deep breath and recite consecutively one after another for about 10 times or more. This method is very effective because it does not allow intruding thoughts. I am more focused now compared to before, and my appearance has become more vibrant. Before, I looked very aggressive.

I find clarity in thinking and in what I do after I recite one breath. Things like household works, typing a paper, etc. So when I do work, I don't recite. There are times when I indulge myself in internet activities. This is when I forget reciting and paying attention to my mind. I think when we don't pay attention to the mind, it tends to drift and go back to its old habitual reactions.
NAMO AMITABHA
NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (VIETNAMESE)
NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)

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must not be afraid of losing your bodies and your lives―
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