Makashikan & Shikantaza

Makashikan & Shikantaza

Postby Seishin » Mon Jun 11, 2012 2:26 pm

It has only just occured to me that there seems to be a difference in the Kanji for Makashikan 摩訶止観 and Shikantaza 只管打坐. Is this a mistranslation or a genuine difference?

Gassho,
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(Kanji taken from here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shikantaza)
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Re: Makashikan & Shikantaza

Postby Seishin » Mon Jun 11, 2012 2:37 pm

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Re: Makashikan & Shikantaza

Postby Wesley1982 » Mon Jun 11, 2012 10:24 pm

I've only read one book on zazen and need to re-read it again. I would guess and say that the Shikan in the word Shikantaza might be related to the Shikan form of meditation practice.
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Re: Makashikan & Shikantaza

Postby Matylda » Wed Jun 13, 2012 11:38 am

Wesley1982 wrote:I've only read one book on zazen and need to re-read it again. I would guess and say that the Shikan in the word Shikantaza might be related to the Shikan form of meditation practice.


Shikan of Maka Shikan is this 止観... where 止 SHI means literally ''to STOP'' and refers to shmatha meditation or shine in Tibet. 観 KAN is for insight meditation and means vipassana, or lakthong in Tibetan. So it is together for meaning of shamatha - vipassana and has nothing to do with shikan taza of soto school.

只管 SHIKAN of shikan taza was described inother topic on shikan taza so I will not go into details. Please check the topic below in the same ZEN folder.

SHIKAN 止観 or shamtha vipassana is practiced in theravada as well as other mahayana traditions. In Japan specially it is practiced in Tendai, but also in Shingon school. And are different from shikan tza of soto school. What could be similar is cross leg posture, vertical backbone etc. As for maka shikan, it is exclusively the term used by tendai and its founder 智顗 Chigi(538-597)there are at least two manuals of his, the short one and long one. Actually the long text carries maka 摩訶 in its title what means great, short manual has sho instead that is small, or short in this context 小止観 - sho shikan. They both describe proper way of 止観 according to tendai.
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Re: Makashikan & Shikantaza

Postby jundo cohen » Wed Jun 13, 2012 3:54 pm

Hi,

I believe that Matylda's description is right, and that this may be another example of Dogen's creative "wordplay" in "non-doing his own inventive thing", winking toward and playing on a phrase which came before and was well known in the Tientai/Tendai tradition he came from.

Tientai Master Zhiyi , the great mix and matcher of many traditions, taught a kind of meditation based upon samatha-vipassana which he phrased as zhi-guan (止観 chih-kuan, stopping-observing. or shi-kan in Japanese). Dogen employed very different Chinese characters in his "shi-kan" in shi-kan-ta-za (只管打座), and a different emphasis and flavor in his Zazen. Still, Dogen was a former Japanese Tendai monk who likely was practicing shi-kan in the Tientai manner when young, so had to know the earlier term. Hopwever, Dogen did that kind of wordplay a lot, reflecting tradition but "going his own way". As Matylda pointed out, there is another ongoing thread on the meaning of the Kanji used by Dogen.

viewtopic.php?p=108767#p108767

The great Soto Chinese Ancestor Hongzhi also used the "shikan" which is "stopping-observing" (止観) in his writing on silent illumination. Historian and Soto Priest Taigen Leighton writes a bit about that ...

Hongzhi's meditation teaching is usually referred to as "silent, or serene, illumination," although Hongzhi actually uses this term only a few times in his voluminous writings. In his long poem, "Silent Illumination," Hongzhi emphasizes the necessity for balance between serenity and illumination, which echoes the traditional Buddhist meditation practice of shamatha-vipashyana, or stopping and insight. This was called zhiguan in the Chinese Tiantai meditation system expounded by the great Chinese Buddhist synthesizer Zhiyi (538-597). Hongzhi emphasizes the necessity for active insight as well as calm in "Silent Illumination" when he says, "If illumination neglects serenity then aggressiveness appears. . . . If serenity neglects illumination, murkiness leads to wasted dharma."[3] So Hongzhi's meditation values the balancing of both stopping, or settling the mind, and its active illuminating functioning.


http://ancientdragon.org/dharma/article ... st_sitting

Let me mention that I believe that Samatha-Vipassana is vital to Dogen's Shikantaza too, but in its own flavor. In a nutshell, in Dogen's Shikantaza we do not pursue any particular practices --during-- Zazen itself in order to cultivate such vipaśyanā insight ... and much insight naturally arises from Zazen as "Zazen does-non-does its thing". Perhaps we might say that, just in "just sitting" Shikantaza ... dropping thoughts of this and that, thus quieting the mind's "mind games" ... we develop a natural sensitivity and understanding of the mind's "mind games".

Gassho, Jundo
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Re: Makashikan & Shikantaza

Postby jundo cohen » Wed Jun 13, 2012 4:13 pm

Seishin also asked about the relationship of Dogen to Chinese Tientai. Although Carl Bielefeldt's "Dōgen's Manuals of Zen Meditation" is a little dated now, check out the last paragraph of page 71 and top of page 72 here ... Dogen was not cut off from the earlier tradition, and seemed to have great knowledge and respect for Zhiyi ... even while turning away from it.

http://books.google.co.jp/books?id=dw0I ... 22&f=false

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Re: Makashikan & Shikantaza

Postby Jikan » Wed Jun 13, 2012 5:10 pm

summing up in terms of practice: Shi Kan feels to me closer to shamatha-vipashyana as I've been instructed by Tibetan-trained teachers than to Shikantaza as I've been introduced to it by Soto-trained teachers. I have limited experience with both, but from an experiential POV, that's what I got.

The point is that the kanji are different because the meaning is a bit different.
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Re: Makashikan & Shikantaza

Postby Matylda » Wed Jun 13, 2012 8:13 pm

Jikan wrote:summing up in terms of practice: Shi Kan feels to me closer to shamatha-vipashyana as I've been instructed by Tibetan-trained teachers than to Shikantaza as I've been introduced to it by Soto-trained teachers. I have limited experience with both, but from an experiential POV, that's what I got.

The point is that the kanji are different because the meaning is a bit different.


Oh yes, it is different from shine or lakthong, definitely. Among many kinds of shine and many lakthong ways, there is nothing similar to ST. But some pointers of mahamudra etc. sound sometimes similar.
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Re: Makashikan & Shikantaza

Postby Matylda » Wed Jun 13, 2012 8:36 pm

As for Chigi - Zhiyi, I think Jundo is right. Dogen Zenji had big respect for him and mentions him by name. Though tendai is more focused on sort of tantric training, specially from the time of Jikaku Daishi (794 - 864) who strictly studied tantric Buddhism in China for 7 y. spending in China 9 years, however tendai enjoyed periodical revival of shikan practices. Latest wave was in 60s and 70s... I have seen on tv and on photos their meditation halls, which were very austere and looked more like old rinzai zazen halls. Moreover they sit face to face like rinzai does and use in similar way long keisaku.

Shoshikan and Makashikan texts are very well written and very beautiful with great depth of mahayana meditation... I always liked to read them, very inspiring. And as Jundo wrote Dogen was for sure well versed in this kind of practice.

By the way, Jikaku Daishi - Ennin was extremely prominent figure in Japanese buddhism. As for tantric transmissions he brought many very unique practices to Japan, which extremely enriched the whole tantric path in Japanese Tendai. Might be the original Chinese school was a bit different from what we know in Japan now .
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Re: Makashikan & Shikantaza

Postby Huifeng » Thu Jun 14, 2012 1:06 am

Matylda wrote:Might be the original Chinese school was a bit different from what we know in Japan now .


I think that one can be quite sure about this, and probably any school of Buddhism...

~~ Huifeng
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Re: Makashikan & Shikantaza

Postby Matylda » Thu Jun 14, 2012 7:24 pm

Huifeng wrote:
Matylda wrote:Might be the original Chinese school was a bit different from what we know in Japan now .


I think that one can be quite sure about this, and probably any school of Buddhism...

~~ Huifeng


I do not know how much of original tien-tai survived within Chinese buddhism. But in Japan beside heavy tantra influence they use almost same teaching system for different parts, like period division of Budhha's teaching etc. Is in Chinese school so much tantric practice like in Japan?
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Re: Makashikan & Shikantaza

Postby pueraeternus » Thu Jun 14, 2012 8:29 pm

Matylda wrote:
Huifeng wrote:
Matylda wrote:Might be the original Chinese school was a bit different from what we know in Japan now .


I think that one can be quite sure about this, and probably any school of Buddhism...

~~ Huifeng


I do not know how much of original tien-tai survived within Chinese buddhism. But in Japan beside heavy tantra influence they use almost same teaching system for different parts, like period division of Budhha's teaching etc. Is in Chinese school so much tantric practice like in Japan?


There were no tantric elements in Tiantai. From what I have read, the tantric elements in Tendai came mostly from Shingon/Zhengyen influence.
If you believe certain words, you believe their hidden arguments. When you believe something is right or wrong, true of false, you believe the assumptions in the words which express the arguments. Such assumptions are often full of holes, but remain most precious to the convinced.

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Re: Makashikan & Shikantaza

Postby Matylda » Thu Jun 14, 2012 11:17 pm

pueraeternus wrote:
There were no tantric elements in Tiantai. From what I have read, the tantric elements in Tendai came mostly from Shingon/Zhengyen influence.


During Saicho time [founder of Japanese tien-tai], there were elements of esoteric buddhism in tien-tai. It is how he encountered it. Actually tendai had its own line of esoteric buddhism independent from shingon. Actually esoteric form of buddhism was practiced at the headquarters of tien-tai in China during Saicho times. Check Paul Groner p.51. It is known that he obtained for example Five Buddhas Families abhisheka on the Tein-tai mountain. However I have no knowledge of historical development of Chinese tien-tai school. So when did they start esoteric practice and when they stopped, if they stopped, this I do not know. As far as I know some important tien-tai temples which did transmit zomitsu did not survive, and nobody is sure of their exact location today. It creates problems for the research.
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Re: Makashikan & Shikantaza

Postby pueraeternus » Fri Jun 15, 2012 12:38 am

Matylda wrote:
pueraeternus wrote:
There were no tantric elements in Tiantai. From what I have read, the tantric elements in Tendai came mostly from Shingon/Zhengyen influence.


During Saicho time [founder of Japanese tien-tai], there were elements of esoteric buddhism in tien-tai. It is how he encountered it. Actually tendai had its own line of esoteric buddhism independent from shingon. Actually esoteric form of buddhism was practiced at the headquarters of tien-tai in China during Saicho times. Check Paul Groner p.51. It is known that he obtained for example Five Buddhas Families abhisheka on the Tein-tai mountain. However I have no knowledge of historical development of Chinese tien-tai school. So when did they start esoteric practice and when they stopped, if they stopped, this I do not know. As far as I know some important tien-tai temples which did transmit zomitsu did not survive, and nobody is sure of their exact location today. It creates problems for the research.


Then that has to be a very late development. Zhiyi certainly never taught esoterism, and as far as I know, the Tiantai panjiao systems didn't even classify any esoteric or tantric texts.

But thanks for the heads-up on Groner tip. I should catch up on my research.
If you believe certain words, you believe their hidden arguments. When you believe something is right or wrong, true of false, you believe the assumptions in the words which express the arguments. Such assumptions are often full of holes, but remain most precious to the convinced.

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Re: Makashikan & Shikantaza

Postby Huifeng » Fri Jun 15, 2012 1:40 am

Matylda wrote:
Huifeng wrote:
Matylda wrote:Might be the original Chinese school was a bit different from what we know in Japan now .


I think that one can be quite sure about this, and probably any school of Buddhism...

~~ Huifeng


I do not know how much of original tien-tai survived within Chinese buddhism. But in Japan beside heavy tantra influence they use almost same teaching system for different parts, like period division of Budhha's teaching etc. Is in Chinese school so much tantric practice like in Japan?


What little I know of Chinese Tiantai does not really have any tantra at all.
It uses mainly earlier texts, especially those by Master Zhiyi (Zhizhe) himself,
including the various sutra commentaries, the doxography systems (panjiao),
and the four meditation texts (Mohe Zhiguan, Xiao Zhiguan, Shi Chanboluomi, Liu Miaomen).
A few Chinese Tiantai teachers of late have connections with Japan,
but I don't know the details.

But, perhaps the most important point, is to not think of the Chinese "schools"
as distinct and separate "schools" at all. From the Japanese perspective,
some comment (criticize) the Chinese schools as being "syncretic", somehow
mixing or combining originally pure schools together. But really, when one
looks at the situation in China throughout most of it's history, these are not
distinct schools, but just groups that focus on particular aspects. When it comes
to the practice of a given person, one uses the thought and system of a given
group with respect to a particular practice, and that of another group for
other practices. Originally, they are almost all Mahayana systems anyhow,
and a large number of Mahayana sutras and sastras contain these full range
of elements already. eg. purification of a buddha-field in a Prajnaparamita sutra
- so, is that "Pure Land" or "San Lun", or what? - answer: wrong question!

~~ Huifeng
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Re: Makashikan & Shikantaza

Postby Matylda » Fri Jun 15, 2012 9:18 am

pueraeternus wrote:
Matylda wrote:
pueraeternus wrote:
There were no tantric elements in Tiantai. From what I have read, the tantric elements in Tendai came mostly from Shingon/Zhengyen influence.


During Saicho time [founder of Japanese tien-tai], there were elements of esoteric buddhism in tien-tai. It is how he encountered it. Actually tendai had its own line of esoteric buddhism independent from shingon. Actually esoteric form of buddhism was practiced at the headquarters of tien-tai in China during Saicho times. Check Paul Groner p.51. It is known that he obtained for example Five Buddhas Families abhisheka on the Tein-tai mountain. However I have no knowledge of historical development of Chinese tien-tai school. So when did they start esoteric practice and when they stopped, if they stopped, this I do not know. As far as I know some important tien-tai temples which did transmit zomitsu did not survive, and nobody is sure of their exact location today. It creates problems for the research.


Then that has to be a very late development. Zhiyi certainly never taught esoterism, and as far as I know, the Tiantai panjiao systems didn't even classify any esoteric or tantric texts.

But thanks for the heads-up on Groner tip. I should catch up on my research.


Yes I also did not find any remark on esoterism in early tien-tai. Anyway the history of development is interesting. Saicho caught up with certain situtation in China, when the influence from India gave new impact. Later it died out, probably.
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Re: Makashikan & Shikantaza

Postby Matylda » Fri Jun 15, 2012 9:22 am

Huifeng wrote:
But, perhaps the most important point, is to not think of the Chinese "schools"
as distinct and separate "schools" at all. From the Japanese perspective,
some comment (criticize) the Chinese schools as being "syncretic", somehow
mixing or combining originally pure schools together. But really, when one
looks at the situation in China throughout most of it's history, these are not
distinct schools, but just groups that focus on particular aspects. When it comes
to the practice of a given person, one uses the thought and system of a given
group with respect to a particular practice, and that of another group for
other practices. Originally, they are almost all Mahayana systems anyhow,
and a large number of Mahayana sutras and sastras contain these full range
of elements already. eg. purification of a buddha-field in a Prajnaparamita sutra
- so, is that "Pure Land" or "San Lun", or what? - answer: wrong question!

~~ Huifeng


Yes it is true. In Japan buddhism was influenced from the very beginning by sort of political situation. And there was definitely rivalry between different streams. It showed almost in every tradition which arrived in Japan. Later it calmed down and relations were better, so through ages different important figures had background of another traditions as well. Actually if one studies buddhist history in different countries one can easily see what kind of role played politics, and different support groups.
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