These articles may help you to better understand the quoted passages of the Surangama Sutra.http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/search/label/Alex%20Weith
A Zen Exploration of the Bahiya Sutta
Posted by: An Eternal Now
Some excerpts of postings about Bahiya Sutta by AlexWeith (who is a lay Soto Zen teacher/priest who recently realized anatta) from http://kennethfolkdharma.wetpaint.com/t ... Results=20
Thusness told me that he thinks all these are very well written, which I fully agree.
"In the seen, there is only the seen, in the heard, there is only the heard, in the sensed, there is only the sensed,
in the cognized, there is only the cognized. Thus you should see that indeed there is no thing here;
this, Bahiya, is how you should train yourself. Since, Bahiya, there is for you
in the seen, only the seen, in the heard, only the heard, in the sensed, only the sensed,
in the cognized, only the cognized, and you see that there is no thing here,
you will therefore see that indeed there is no thing there. As you see that there is no thing there,
you will see that you are therefore located neither in the world of this,
nor in the world of that, nor in any place betwixt the two.
This alone is the end of suffering.” (Ud. 1.10)
There is no end to the process of awakening, but in Zen Buddhism there are steps and strategies. These introductory posts will explain my position, what I discovered so far, and how it unfolds.
Having got hold of the ox, one has realized the One Mind. In Zen literature this One Mind has often been compared to a bright mirror that reflects phenomena and yet remains untouched by appearances. As discussed with one of Sheng-yen's first Western students, this One Mind is still an illusion. One is not anymore identified to the self-center, ego and personality, yet one (the man) is still holding to pure non-dual awareness (the ox). Having tamed the ox, the ox-herder must let go of the ox (ox forgotten) and then forget himself and the ox (ox and man forgotten).
The problem is that we still maintain a subtle duality between what we know ourself to be, a pure non-dual awareness that is not a thing, and our daily existence often marked by self-contractions. Hoping to get more and more identified with pure non-dual awareness, we may train concentration, try to hold on to the event of awakening reifying an experience, or rationalize the whole thing to conclude that self-contraction is not a problem and that suffering is not suffering because our true nature is ultimately beyond suffering. This explains why I got stuck in what Zen calls "stagnating waters" for about a year.
This is however not seen as a problem in other traditions such as Advaita Vedanta where the One Mind is identified with the Brahman that contains and manifests the three states of waking, dreaming and deep sleep within itself, yet remains untouched by its dreamlike manifestation.
So what has been puzzling me what the sense of presence, the sense of being and its relation with the sense that things around me manifest their presence. Over the months I realized that if this beingness seems to be located as the center of our being, it is actually the flavor of all things.
Reading the blog "Awakening to Reality" that has become my main source of inspiration, I realized that this presence felt as the presence of 'what is' is the *luminosity* that the Mahamudra teachings are talking about. Gradually, feeling my own sense of being has become feeling the beingness of all things, leading to a deeper non-dual realization that gradually colapsed the sense of a Primoridal Awareness, True Self, or Bright Mirror into what is present here and now.
The conclusion is that all phenomena are in themself empty and luminous, ungraspable and self-aware, ever changing and alive. The conclusion is also that there is nothing beyond that; no permanent pure potential beyond phenomena, no true self that would be the source and substance of phenomena and above all no primordial awareness or Consciousness that would contain the five aggregates.
The whole universe is contained and expressed in a the "cypress tree in the court", simply because in the absence of a super Self in the background, the cypress tree brightly present in this very moment is the absolute reality made manifest in its suchness (tathata). Most Zen koans point to this realization, together with Hui-neng poem "Fundamentally no wisdom-tree exists, Nor the stand of a mirror bright. Since all is empty from the beginning, Where can the dust alight".
Surprizingly this deconstruction leads to a deeper level of non-duality. Huang-po's "One Mind' is starting to become Mazu's "No Mind, no Buddha".
Practically speaking this means:
1). becoming aware of one's sense of existence and focusing on it until it starts to feel as if the only reality is this pure presence-awareness containing everything;
2). shifting this sense of being-existence-presence-awareness to apprehend the beingness of all things, until everything starts to feel bright, luminous, present and alive. At this stage, there is no more "self" and "other", nor is there any subtle duality between primordial awareness and phenomena arising and passing away within it. There is only "seeing seeing the seen" without a seer, nor solid material objects behind the seen.
This does not mean that there is absolutely no Primordial Awareness, Self or One Mind. This would be an extreme position rejected by the Buddha. This explains why the Buddha remained silent when asked about the existence of a Self. Answering "Yes" would mean that there is an eternal abiding inherent essence beyond phenomena (eternalism), while answering "No" would lead to nihilism, the other extreme view. The Buddha's way is the middle way, between these two extremes. There is a self, but this self is an conventional concept to describe something that appears to be and is experienced as such, but it not an abiding ultimate reality.
There is a Mind, but this Mind is empty [of an abiding essence]. This Mind is the *non-abiding mind* of the Diamond Sutra. Therefore, *Mind* is *No Mind*.
This also means that the first step is to disembed from impermanent phenomena until the only thing that feels real is this all pervading uncreated all pervading awareness that feels like the source and substance of phenomena. Holding on to it after this realization can hower become a subtle form of grasping diguised as letting go.
The second step is therefore to realize that this brightness, awakeness or luminosity is there very nature of phenomena and then only does the duality between the True Self and the appearences arising and passing within the Self dissolve, revealing the suchness of what is.
The next step that I found very practical is to push the process of deconstruction a step further, realizing that all that is experienced is one of the six consciousness. In other words, there is neither a super Awareness beyond phenomena, not solid material objects, but only six streams of sensory experiences. The seen, the heard, the sensed, the tasted, the smelled and the cognized (including thoughts, emotions, and subtle thougths like absorbtion states, jhanas).
At this point it is not difficult to see how relevent the Bahiya Sutta can become.
@beoman & @giragirasol:
Yes, when we realize that there is no super Awareness beyond consciousnes and become mindful of
consciousness as it manifests at the 6 doors of the senses, we also realize that everything that we can ever experience is contained within one of these 6 streams of consciousness, including the 4 other aggregates that are known through the agregate of consciousness and the arupa jhanas that are in reality very subtle non-conceptual mind-states of the cognizing-consciousness.
Arriving at this point, we can start to investigate the 5 aggregate as well as the sense of self.
If we start with the aggregate of form (the physical body), we realize that our direct experience of the body is nothing more than stream of images (seeing legs, arms, a nose), the other senses and above all sensations. Exploring these sensations we realize that there is an impermanent stream of sensations that more of less matches the images of the body. However, the stream of seeing-consciousness is always distinct from the stream of sensing-consciousness. One never sees a sensation, but an unpleasant sensations can match the sight of a wounder arm. These stream are therfore seem as independent, yet totally interdependent. A sound, can trigger a thought that can trigger a sensations, that can trigger the images of a hand moving. Altogether, these 6 impermanent every changing streams of consciousness create the illusion of a solid substancial body. The same method applies to the other aggregates.
When it comes to the investiation of the sense of self, we must first realize that, even after what some have called technical 4th path, and even if we know that what we are is not any of the 5 aggregates, we still have a sense of self, a sense of existence. The sense "I am" has not been overcome yet.
This issue is discussed in the Khemaka Sutta.http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
In this text, Ven. Dasaka meets the Arhant Khemaka and tells him that "there is nothing I assume to be self or belonging to self, and yet I am not an arahant. With regard to these five clinging-aggregates, 'I am' has not been overcome, although I don't assume that 'I am this." (...) ""Friends, it's not that I say 'I am form,' nor do I say 'I am something other than form.' It's not that I say, 'I am feeling... perception... fabrications... consciousness,' nor do I say, 'I am something other than consciousness.' With regard to these five clinging-aggregates, 'I am' has not been overcome, although I don't assume that 'I am this.'"
The Arhat answers saying "friends, even though a noble disciple has abandoned the five lower fetters, he still has with regard to the five clinging-aggregates a lingering residual 'I am' conceit, an 'I am' desire, an 'I am' obsession."
Abendoning the five lower fetters means being an Anagami. Here the Arhant says that that even Anagami may still have a residual sense of self that he calls, the 'I am' conceit, an 'I am' desire, an 'I am' obsession."
As to how this sense 'I am' is experienced, the Arhant asks: "then how would he describe it if he were describing it correctly?"
And the monk replies, "as the scent of the flower: That's how he would describe it if he were describing it correctly." he sense of self is like the scent of the flower. It is the flavor of being.
In order to get rid of this residual sense of self and become an Arahat, the sage explains:
"As he keeps focusing on the arising & passing away of these five clinging-aggregates, the lingering residual 'I am' conceit, 'I am' desire, 'I am' obsession is fully obliterated. Just like a cloth, dirty & stained: Its owners give it over to a washerman, who scrubs it with salt earth or lye or cow-dung and then rinses it in clear water. Now even though the cloth is clean & spotless, it still has a lingering residual scent of salt earth or lye or cow-dung. The washerman gives it to the owners, the owners put it away in a scent-infused wicker hamper, and its lingering residual scent of salt earth, lye, or cow-dung is fully obliterated".
This means observing the arising and passing away of the 5 aggregates until "the lingering residual 'I am' conceit, 'I am' desire, 'I am' obsession is fully obliterated".
Practically speaking, the above mentioned method works in the same way. One can either split each of the 5 aggregates into 6 streams of consciousness, to see how the sense of "a body" (aggregate of form) arises when all senses working together create the illusion of substantiality, pretty much like the images track and the sounds tracks of a movie that together create the illusion of reality. Using the same method we can also see how the illusion of a solid body dissolves when we look deeply and see that what we had assumed to be a body is nothing more than an illusion created by 6 impermanent, separate-yet-interdependent streams of consciousness.
We can also investigate the sense of self as such.
In the seen, only the seen. We first realize that we cannot know the objects seen as such, but only the seen (shapes, colors, textures, etc.). We also realize that there is no separate entity that sees. There is seeing, but no seer. Seeing is seeing. Same with the other streams of sense consciousness.
Then, what I do is to look for a sense of self, and see whether it is more assocated to one of these 6 streams of consciousness. It is generally associated with a physical sensation around the solar plexus or gut, and is therefore related to the stream of sensing-consciousness. When this is seen for what it is, the sense of self drops. There is nothing beside the spontanious functioning of the senses.
Here the purpose is not to lock and make permanent a special state of consciousness, but only to gain deeper and deeper insights into Anatta and Shunyata until we become absolutely unable to make anything into "me" or "mine".
@giragirasol - and yes the results experienced during meditation when we stop investigating and let go of clinging that what has been seen as an illusion does match the traditional description of Rigpa. It first come for a brief moment, until it eventually becomes the only game in town. This is no surpize, since the Dzogchen teachings are basically about seeing the fruit (of mainstream Buddhism) as its ground (view) and the path (practice).
But here one should clearly mention that there is absolutely no inherently existing "Awareness" that is felt as existing separately from "phenomena arising witghin awareness", which would be Advaita Vedanta and maybe Kashmir Shaivism, but not Dzogchen. The Dalai Lama was very clear about that and insisted on the fact that Dzogchen can lead people astay if they lack a clear understanding of no-self, emptiness, co-dependent origination, interdependence, etc., recommending the in-depth study of Longchenpa with a solid background rooted in Tsongkapa's Lam Rim or other similar treaties.
With respect to the Zen 10 ox-herding pictures this above deals with "ox forgotten, man remains" (no more super-Awareness, One Mind beyond the 18 dhatus, 6 senses) and then "ox and man forgotten" when the lingering "sense I am" that used to apprehend the aggregate of consciousnes as the One Mind is also extinguished. This is not the only interpretation, but it does match Zen master Sheng-yen's commentaries.
And of course, mindfulness of the mind/6 sense doors/citta, being totally one with the seen, the heard, etc. is at the heart of Zen practice.
Ultimately, meditation practice is always "allowing everything to be as it is". However can only let go of what we see as an illusion. As an exemple disembedding from thoughts, sensations and perceptions allows us see them as mere reflexions. It then becomes easier to let go of thougths, sensations and perceptions. However, the same practice will also crystalize the sense of a witness untouched by phenomena that gradually evolves into a super non-dual Awareness seen as the source and substance of phenomena. Without further investigation, letting go is letting go thoughts, sensations and perceptions, but unknowingly also holding on to the Witness, Awareness or some other illusory inherent self hanging somewhere in the background. It is only when we investigate and look deeply into this awareness that we become able to let go of clinging to what looked like the Absolute leading to a deeper non-dual realization from the Awareness vs reflections-within-awareness duality.
There remains a duality between "That" and phenomena. "That" feels like an impersonal uncreated clean mirror in the background that reflect phenomena, yet remains untouched. As a matter of fact that is the Self that Raman Maharishi talked about. That is the Arma (or Atta in Pali).
On a later stage, we realize that "That" can self-contract or on the contrary expend. It is like zooming in an out. In reality, it never changes, but gets more or less identified with phenomena. Attending to this pure presence-awareness, it naturally grows and overpowers phenomena to the point where everything is seen as appearences reflected within it. Yet "That" is the Self.
The problem is not the Self, but what we make out of it. Grasping at it tends to create a subtle duality, since we can become more or less identified with its dreamlike projections. There is Awareness vs phenomena arising within awareness. Awarenees is IT. Phenomena arising within it are Maya, illusions. We must cease identification with, or disembed from illusory (empty, impermanent, not-the-self) phenomena. This is precisely what great Advaita Jnanis did, like Ramana Maharishi who meditated for years in a cave after his awakening.
The problem is that the more we disembed as this stage, the more we grasp at this pure non-dual Awareness, Absolute or Self and fail to realize what the Buddha realized under the Bodhi Tree.
My conviction is that in order to realize No-Self (Anatta), the Buddha has realized the Self. He was already an accomplished yogi, a master in his own right. But he still wasn't satisfied, because it wasn't yet the end of suffering. Why, because as long as there remains any tiny sense of "me" or "mine" either in relation with body and mind, or with a Self, primordial awareness, Consciousness, Brahman, the One Mind, God, etc. there will be suffering.
So what is this pure, unborn, empty, timeless and nondual Awareness? As I see it now, it is just the non-arising, unsupported, empty and self-luminous nature of what is that the mind grasps and imagines to be an essential sustancial inherhent ultimate reality beyond phenomena. Seeing a white ox on a while empty field covered with snow (common Zen simile for the experience of the One Mind), the mind assumes that there is a pure "Whiteness" beyond all white objects.
Why? Because when the mind is not yet freed from ignorance, it needs to hold on to some kind of stable reference point, reifying its unconditioned and nonabiding nature realized in a moment of total surrender into seeing the eternal Source and substance of all things.
As I am starting to see it now, there is no clean mirror behind the images reflected in the mirror.The mirror cannot be separated from its reflected images. The reflected images are the mirror. Reality is like a lucid dream, but there is no dreamer, nor dreamed reality beyond the dream. There is just an timeless flow of dream images dreaming themselves within the dream. In dreaming, only the dream / in seeing, only the seen / in hearing, only the heard.