The Masters' "Words" and the "Right Speech"

The Masters' "Words" and the "Right Speech"

Postby el gatito » Wed Jun 09, 2010 12:24 am

:namaste:

It was once said:

"The inherent nature is inconceivable luminosity. In the midst of the inexplicable Dharma not speaking even a single word is called the precept of no lying."

Source: The One Mind Precepts of Bodhidharma (translated by Ven. Anzan Hoshin roshi)

Further, in the "Teaching of Rinzai", it reads:

"... when you as much as open your mouth, you are already off the point. Why is that so? Do you not know that Buddha said: ‘The Dharma is other than words; it is neither limited nor conditioned.’ ..."

Source: The Zen Teaching of Rinzai (by Irmgard Schloegl)

Next, if the community could please forgive me for quoting a bit alien source, yet, here it goes:

"... speech is not mere blowing of breath. It is intended to say some thing, only what it is intended to say cannot yet be determined. Is there speech indeed, or is there not? Can we, or can we not, distinguish it from the chirping of young birds? ..."

Source: Selected Chapters of the Chuang-tzu (translated by Lin Yutang)

Having said that.. don't we all enjoy numerous texts, that are attributed to patriarchs, and ancient Masters, with very same Masters stating that, "... if you wish to speak ten times, keep quiet nine; it’s as if moss grew over your mouth ..."?

Source of the above quote: Notes on What to be Aware of in Zazen by Keizan Jokin zenji (translated by Yasuda Joshu Dainen roshi and Anzan Hoshin roshi)

So.. is there speech indeed, or is there not?..

I mean, too many words are being said, really.. but, how else?..

:namaste:
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Re: The Masters' "Words" and the "Right Speech"

Postby el gatito » Wed Jun 09, 2010 4:59 pm

:namaste:

This is to simplify the question just raised.

Speaking of various "stages" on the Way, the Seekers who have not yet arrived at their "final destination" (so to say) -- they do obviously prevail in this world. And so do their words. Not to say, and it is my sincere belief, that those who has "arrived" -- they would just remain always silent.

So, speaking of the speech of such Seekers (I mean, the words said, or written by them), unless they have reached what I'd call the "full realization", their words would be unavoidably missing the point, one way or another. Why is this so? For what is called "wisdom" is not realized by them fully (yet).

When the words are a bit "missing the point", and the listeners have not yet "progressed" along the Way much -- the "understanding" of the majority of the texts by the majority of the readers would not be correct, if not at all confusing.

This post is not to say that any words said are serving no purpose at all.. yet very very close to that.

I'd happily stay corrected, for it's just my personal observation, based on many texts studied (not only related to Chan, BTW, and even to Buddhism, and even to all that is called "Eastern"), many countries/cultures visited, and many years of humble attempts to "practice" (though, still lacking the "right understanding" of the real message that was transmitted through Chan Masters of the past).

:namaste:
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Re: The Masters' "Words" and the "Right Speech"

Postby Indrajala » Wed Jun 09, 2010 5:22 pm

Without words, there is no basis for initial understanding.

If there is no initial understanding, there is no right view. No right view would entail that the other seven branches of the Eightfold Noble Path become futile.

These texts about the limits of language are rather common in the Buddhist canon. In the Vimalakirti Sutra there is a famous part where the layman remains silent after being asked for his opinion meanwhile all the great Bodhisattvas have provided their own rich and profound opinions.

That being said, avoiding language because it in itself is not liberation is tossing away the raft because it isn't the other side of the shore. It is a means to an end, but that doesn't mean it can be so readily disposed of.

A lot of people read these profound words from ancient teachers and think they should emulate them. This is unrealistic and rather arrogant in my mind. If you look at how modern Chan monks and nuns conduct themselves, they regularly lecture on the dharma and write books. They don't walk around telling everyone that they're attached to words and then slapping them on the head with a cane for being unenlightened.

These Chan texts are like Buddhism 501. In order to get much out of it, both as a reader and practitioner, you have to have mastery of the first and second year courses, so to speak.

That being said, I don't personally put much faith in the Chan records for a few reasons. The first is that even reading them in the original Chinese with senior scholars I've discovered a lot of it comes down to speculation and guesswork because we're far too removed from that period and moreover the texts usually have multiple versions. The texts are usually written in that period's vernacular Chinese (not proper Classical or Classical Buddhist Chinese which have specific grammar and rules which allow for easier understanding).

If you want to understand what Chan is about, you have to use a lot of words and letters initially. That means reading, discussing, asking questions and most of all opening your mouth.
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Re: The Masters' "Words" and the "Right Speech"

Postby Astus » Wed Jun 09, 2010 8:11 pm

Cleary's translation (Buddhist Yoga - A Comprehensive Course, p. 7-8) of the Xuanzang translation (T676, 解深密經) of the Samdhinirmocana Sutra, in chapter 2, says:

"If people are not ignorant, and have seen the holy truths, and have attained the wisdom of sages, and know the true nature of all things beyond words as it really is, when they see or hear of the created and the uncreated they think that there really is no such thing as the created or the uncreated, but there are active forms created by discrimination, which are like magical effects deceiving the intellect into producing notions of created and uncreated, or notions of difference between created and uncreated. They do not cling to what they have seen or heard, or claim it is the only truth. In order to convey this point, they too make verbal explanations. They do not need to examine further.
"In this way, in the midst of these things, sages detach from names and words by knowledge and insight, and therefore realize enlightenment. Then, because they want to make others aware of this real nature which is beyond words, they provisionally set up names and characteristics and call things created or uncreated."
Then, to restate this point, Unlocking the Implicit Intent of the Profound Doctrine said in verse:

Buddha explains the meaning of nonduality beyond words;
It is most profound, beyond the scope of the ignorant.
The ignorant, confused by delusion about this,
Cling to duality and make false descriptions;
They are either unsettled or fixed in error
And revolve forever in the pains of birth and death.
Still repudiating discourse on true knowledge like this,
They will be reborn as goats and sheep.
"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)
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Re: The Masters' "Words" and the "Right Speech"

Postby el gatito » Thu Jun 10, 2010 1:24 am

:namaste:

Huseng wrote:Without words, there is no basis for initial understanding.


With respect to the "initial understanding", here is what I'd like to note:

With certain texts becoming widely available to general public (whose interest to them is mainly based on their seeking yet another form of entertainment, or a kind of "emotional stimulation", or maybe "pure intellectual" understanding) yes, quite a few readers do get their "initial understanding".. but is this not just plain "misunderstanding", actually? How many readers, who are "seeking" things that they call "spiritual", are now causing nothing but harm to themselves, and to the others (not to say about their attempts to "teach" the others based on their so-called "initial understanding")?

Now please tell me: what "thing" actually causes "real" seekers to seek, and, eventually, arrive at some sort of teaching, say, Chan? What is that "thing" (besides your "initial understanding")? And, is there such "thing", or there is not? Many years ago I thought that "yes". Then -- I thought "no", all need "words", all need texts. Now, I'd say again -- yes, there is, and there is [probably] no need for any "words", texts, etc. Even "initially".

Understanding -- it is either complete, or it is just missing. There should be no such thing as "initial understanding". Well, I know, I know.. many people call the perception of their present state of understanding -- "initial understanding"..

:namaste:

Huseng wrote:If there is no initial understanding, there is no right view.


Is that view "right" (the view that is based on the "initial understanding", that is in turn based on the "words" perceived by readers/practitioners)? That is my question.

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Re: The Masters' "Words" and the "Right Speech"

Postby Huifeng » Thu Jun 10, 2010 3:00 am

I guess one has to climb the 100 foot pole, before jumping off the end of it.
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Re: The Masters' "Words" and the "Right Speech"

Postby Indrajala » Thu Jun 10, 2010 11:50 am

Huifeng wrote:I guess one has to climb the 100 foot pole, before jumping off the end of it.


Hyuk hyuk hyuk... Buddhist humour. :twothumbsup:
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Re: The Masters' "Words" and the "Right Speech"

Postby Indrajala » Thu Jun 10, 2010 11:54 am

How many readers, who are "seeking" things that they call "spiritual", are now causing nothing but harm to themselves, and to the others (not to say about their attempts to "teach" the others based on their so-called "initial understanding")?


Unfortunately we don't have millions of enlightened masters to teach the masses of suffering.

Now please tell me: what "thing" actually causes "real" seekers to seek, and, eventually, arrive at some sort of teaching, say, Chan?


Your question doesn't make much sense. It sounds like you're trying to prove your subtle intellectual prowess by asking rhetorical questions.


Is that view "right" (the view that is based on the "initial understanding", that is in turn based on the "words" perceived by readers/practitioners)? That is my question.


You have to start somewhere don't you?
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Re: The Masters' "Words" and the "Right Speech"

Postby el gatito » Thu Jun 10, 2010 5:33 pm

:namaste:

Huseng wrote:
Me wrote:Now please tell me: what "thing" actually causes "real" seekers to seek, and, eventually, arrive at some sort of teaching, say, Chan?

Your question doesn't make much sense. It sounds like you're trying to prove your subtle intellectual prowess by asking rhetorical questions.

No, no, not "intellectual" nor "rhetorical". Rather, improperly stated. Sorry about that. I'll try once again.

Say, if you were isolated from what the world has to offer as regards Dharma (here using the term "Dharma" I mean, the Teaching -- all the words spoken or written by those you think have the right to speak): would you or would you not start seeking some sort of an answer to your questioning the way things in this world go? And would such questioning arise, or would it not? And how? If "yes", could you please try to put it in right words -- what has caused you to start seeking?

And if you could please don't use such words as the "Four Noble Truths", and the like, that are obviously would be a part of the Teaching (and the words contained therein).

:namaste:

Huseng wrote:You have to start somewhere don't you?

I'd say that those "feeling" (or "thinking") that they have to start somewhere are actually seeking some other thing to start, and this is in no way the "right" thing (well, the meaning of "right" I'll define properly after climbing the 100 foot pole, jumping off the end of it, and remaining in good health after the said exercise).

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Re: The Masters' "Words" and the "Right Speech"

Postby Indrajala » Thu Jun 10, 2010 5:35 pm

You still make little sense and your vague questions are likewise unclear.
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Re: The Masters' "Words" and the "Right Speech"

Postby White Lotus » Thu Jun 10, 2010 5:39 pm

:namaste: Mind causes Mind to seek, just as Mind causes thoughts and imagination, forms and words.

in emptiness (initial enlightenment), there are no words, nor are there thoughts to speak of. all opposites such as good and bad are seen as empty, and therefore by some as meaningless, if all is seen to be one emptiness, then this is so... emptiness negates dualities and arisings of all kinds are seen to be not.

however... when Mind is penetrated then all of these things are seen as they are... just so. if we choose to describe what some have said is indescribable, then that is our dharma... however any kind of explanation of reality is just what it is. there are arguments about 'relative'. 'objective'. neither relative nor objective, both, none of these. each view (a dualtity) can be seen as a postion. is there really any need to take positions? if your mind tells you there is, then this is so.
if your mind tells you there isnt. then this is so. the mind likes to dance. it does not like to be forced into a rigid postion where it looses its freedom.

if i talk about winds and mists then winds and mists are seen by your minds eye. but one mans mist is superficially different from another mans mist.

you will find your own way to the truth. the buddha would like to lend a hand, but ultimately who is the buddha? you are the buddha. if you think you do not know then you dont, if you think you do then you do. both of these are merely positions that can be accepted or swept away like dust.

words may be used, or they may be rejected. if one is natural, one will be in accord with whatever comes... which Master Tenkei said is 'it'. to some will come words, to others will come silence. fundamentally i can say whatever i like about words and silence, since i have freedom. or i can say just as much by saying nothing at all.

the dharma that embraces emptiness is saying nothing at all. there is not a grain of dust anywhere in the dharma, not a hair. it is pure and pristine. not a single word ever spoken by the buddha. Mind giving its commentary on emptiness says that emptiness is whatever you want it to be. whether with words or without words.

it has been said that 'in enlightenment not a single thing is established'. this is the approach of the empty mind. radiant Mind that has been filled says whatever it wants. it is not limited to 'neither', 'nor' formulae, nor to 'no' this, 'no' that. it says what it wants to say.

ch'an does favour emptiness and therefore it stresses the emptiness of all dualties.
(opposites), hot, cold etc.

I hope i have clarified my position. every word on this post is nothing but the expression of Mind, as it is, as it isnt. as it wants to be seen or not seen.

with love, from White Lotus.
in any matters of importance. dont rely on me. i may not know what i am talking about. take what i say as mere speculation. i am not ordained. nor do i have a formal training. i do believe though that if i am wrong on any point. there are those on this site who i hope will quickly point out my mistakes.
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Re: The Masters' "Words" and the "Right Speech"

Postby el gatito » Thu Jun 10, 2010 5:56 pm

White Lotus wrote:words may be used, or they may be rejected. if one is natural, one will be in accord with whatever comes...

:namaste:
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Re: The Masters' "Words" and the "Right Speech"

Postby Individual » Tue Oct 19, 2010 3:09 am

This thread is a bit old, but it's still front page, and I had some thoughts which may be relevant:

It's best to always avoid speaking, not out of aversion to speaking, but because speaking is unsatisfying.

However, speaking is also unavoidable: You have a mouth and a brain, and others have ears, mouths, and brains too. They have questions and you might have answers. So, you should not choose to speak, but you should also recognize that the act of speaking is a result of the past karma of being reborn as a human being in a human world, and until you can enter the Mahaparinirvana, you will have to just keep on talking.

So, in every situation, you have a choice: You can tell people pleasant lies or tell them the truth. It comes down to a decision between whether you feel their mind needs to be calmed or enlightened. But these "lies" to calm the mind are different in character from what is mundanely referred to as lying, as a violation of the fourth precept, because it is a holy lie born of compassion.

So, if the mother of a recently deceased child asks, "Will my child be reborn in heaven?" it may be good to simply say yes, or that she should simply make offerings to the Buddhas. To say anything else would be cruelty.

But if you teach that kind of dharma to everybody, especially if monastics learn that sort of thing, you are a worthless imbecile who understands nothing. There are actually entire sects of Buddhism devoted to fostering this kind of ignorance.

Also, this should be distinguished from relativism: from merely spontaneously spouting whatever you feel is "natural" or "right" at that time, which might be completely wrong. It is Right Speech, because it accords with reality, is conducive to harmony, benefits others, etc.. It is relativism, if one thinks strictly in terms of language and asks, "How can you use these words in one situation but different words in another situation?" But it is not relativism at all, when one sees that all the different words come from a rocksteady mind.

So, as Astus said:
Astus wrote:Cleary's translation (Buddhist Yoga - A Comprehensive Course, p. 7-8) of the Xuanzang translation (T676, 解深密經) of the Samdhinirmocana Sutra, in chapter 2, says:

"If people are not ignorant, and have seen the holy truths, and have attained the wisdom of sages, and know the true nature of all things beyond words as it really is, when they see or hear of the created and the uncreated they think that there really is no such thing as the created or the uncreated, but there are active forms created by discrimination, which are like magical effects deceiving the intellect into producing notions of created and uncreated, or notions of difference between created and uncreated. They do not cling to what they have seen or heard, or claim it is the only truth. In order to convey this point, they too make verbal explanations. They do not need to examine further.
"In this way, in the midst of these things, sages detach from names and words by knowledge and insight, and therefore realize enlightenment. Then, because they want to make others aware of this real nature which is beyond words, they provisionally set up names and characteristics and call things created or uncreated."
Then, to restate this point, Unlocking the Implicit Intent of the Profound Doctrine said in verse:

Buddha explains the meaning of nonduality beyond words;
It is most profound, beyond the scope of the ignorant.
The ignorant, confused by delusion about this,
Cling to duality and make false descriptions;
They are either unsettled or fixed in error
And revolve forever in the pains of birth and death.
Still repudiating discourse on true knowledge like this,
They will be reborn as goats and sheep.
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