Bankei's "method" of abiding in the unborn

Bankei's "method" of abiding in the unborn

Postby Alex123 » Tue Oct 16, 2012 2:12 am

Hello all,

Did anyone study Bankei's teaching? Can someone explain his "method"?

How exactly does on "abide in the unborn" ?

1) Don't intentionally think any thoughts?

Or
2) Don't react to thoughts? Don't try to reject the bad ones or prolong the good ones. Let them come and go as they will.


Thanks,

With best wishes,

Alex
Even the water melting from the snow-capped peaks finds its way to the ocean"
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Re: Bankei's "method" of abiding in the unborn

Postby greentara » Tue Oct 16, 2012 3:19 am

"Bankei's main advice, given to everyone from rich aristocrats and menacing samurai to merchants, peasant farmers and children, was quite frequently and simply expressed as: “Abide as the Unborn.” “Don’t get ‘born!’” That is, don’t fall into identification as a “me,” a “Buddhist,” “enlightened,” “unenlightened,” “young,” “old,” etc. For instance, when a woman complained that her gender was a karmic obstacle, he retorted: “From what time did you become a woman?” So he taught the multitudes: let go all selfishness and bad habits—they’re not part of your Original Mind."

As Ajhan Chah said "Don't waver. Let go. Throw it all away."
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Re: Bankei's "method" of abiding in the unborn

Postby Anders » Tue Oct 16, 2012 8:33 am

Bankei was perhaps too direct at times. If his most basic advice didn't make intuitive sense, it really doesn't give you much to go on.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

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Re: Bankei's "method" of abiding in the unborn

Postby Fu Ri Shin » Tue Oct 16, 2012 9:04 am

That tagline of his probably made a lot more sense in the context of being a long term face-to-face student. This is the great drawback of only being able to read records of what these great masters said.
"Once delusion is extinguished, your wisdom naturally arises and you don’t differentiate suffering and joy. Actually, this joy and this suffering, they are the same."

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Re: Bankei's "method" of abiding in the unborn

Postby oushi » Tue Oct 16, 2012 9:08 am

To abide in the unborn, you first need to find it. It is found by not looking and as it is unborn, it does not need to be contrived (it can't be contrived!). You may try to:
(1) relax,
(2)drop the desire to know
(3) and drop the desire to remember.
Just go on with naked and defenseless mind. It is not easy to go through this treasure house without the desire to grab something and hold into it. But no worry, you can try again anytime you want. If I remember correct, Bankei advised to abide for 30 days in this state.
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Re: Bankei's "method" of abiding in the unborn

Postby zenkarma » Tue Oct 16, 2012 2:23 pm

A good method imo for doing this would be to use mind as a meditation object. Turn the light around, as they say, and look inward to mind. Get some samadhi on what you are looking at and keep looking. Look with a sense of inquiry. Let thoughts come and go rather than grasping them or trying to avoid them, and just keep looking, eventually they will quit down a bit.
If you follow this method with some sincerity, dedication and regularity, you may run into difficulties, so its good to make sure before you start that you have access to a teacher that knows what you are doing and will agree to give advice when needed.
The substance of the Absolute is inwardly like wood or stone, in that it is motionless, and outwardly like the void, in that it is without bounds or obstructions. It is neither subjective nor objective, has no specific location, is formless, and cannot vanish. ~Huang Po
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Re: Bankei's "method" of abiding in the unborn

Postby anjali » Tue Oct 16, 2012 2:43 pm

Alex123 wrote:Hello all,

Did anyone study Bankei's teaching? Can someone explain his "method"?

Hi Alex,

Bankei's method is to recognize and rest in the knowing quality of the mind.



The Master addressed the assembly:
"What I tell everyone is nothing but the fact that the Unborn Buddha Mind is marvelously illuminating. You're all endowed with the Buddha Mind, but since you don't know it, I'm telling you and trying to make you understand."Well, then, just what does it mean that everybody has the Buddha Mind? All of you came from home with the express intention of hearing what I've got to say, so you're supposed to be listening to the sermon. But, in the course of listening to my talk, if a dog barks outside the temple,you recognize it as the voice of a dog; if a crow caws, you know it's a crow; if you hear the voice of an adult, you know it's an adult; if you hear the voice of a child, you knowit's a child. What I mean is that when you all left your homes to come here to the temple, you did so precisely in order to hear me speak this way; you didn't come with any preconceived idea that if, while I was talking, there were sounds of dogs and birds, children or grown-ups some-where outside, you were deliberately going to try to hear them. Yet here in the meeting you recognize the noises of dogs and crows outside and the sounds of people talking;your eyes can distinguish red from white, and your nose tell good smells from bad. From the start, you had no deliberate intention of doing this, so you had no way to know which sounds, colors or smells you would encounter. But the fact that you recognize these things you didn't expect to see or hear shows you're seeing and hearing with the Unborn Buddha Mind. If outside the temple a dog barks, you know it's a dog; if a crow caws, you know it's a crow. Even though you're not deliberately trying to hear or not to hear these different sounds, you recognize each one the moment it appears, and this is proof of the Buddha Mind, unborn and marvelously illuminating. This not deliberately trying to see or hear is the Unborn....
  • The object of the game is to go on playing it. --John Von Neumann
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Re: Bankei's "method" of abiding in the unborn

Postby Alex123 » Tue Oct 16, 2012 6:13 pm

Anders wrote:Bankei was perhaps too direct at times. If his most basic advice didn't make intuitive sense, it really doesn't give you much to go on.


I wanted to make sure that I don't misunderstand what is said. He talked in 17th Century Japan. What I have are English books. It is also possible that some things didn't make it into the translations.
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Re: Bankei's "method" of abiding in the unborn

Postby Alex123 » Tue Oct 16, 2012 6:16 pm

anjali wrote:Bankei's method is to recognize and rest in the knowing quality of the mind.


Is it possible to rephrase as:

Don't interfere with mental-states. Don't push bad mental-states away or try to create and prolong "good" mental-states.
Even the water melting from the snow-capped peaks finds its way to the ocean"
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Re: Bankei's "method" of abiding in the unborn

Postby anjali » Tue Oct 16, 2012 8:00 pm

Alex123 wrote:
anjali wrote:Bankei's method is to recognize and rest in the knowing quality of the mind.


Is it possible to rephrase as:

Don't interfere with mental-states. Don't push bad mental-states away or try to create and prolong "good" mental-states.


Certainly we need the noninterference aspect, but that is not the recognition aspect. Think silent illumination or calm abiding. Let go of the passing states, abide in the knowing quality of the mind (the Unborn).
  • The object of the game is to go on playing it. --John Von Neumann
  • All activities are like the games children play. If started, they can never be finished. They are only completed once you let them be, like castles made of sand. --Khenpo Nyoshul Rinpoche
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Re: Bankei's "method" of abiding in the unborn

Postby Astus » Mon Oct 22, 2012 8:31 am

As said before, the first and most important thing is to recognise the unborn. What is the unborn mind? Using Bankei's explanation, it is this mind that while you are reading hears the background noises, sees things around the monitor, feels the chair, and all of that happens without intentionally trying to perceive them. It is the awareness without fixing on a single object of attention, the naturally present knowing that does not require grasping anything in order to be aware and be able to interact. Once this is clear just keep it. Nothing else needs to be done. This is genuine and direct Zen, not "devices Zen".
"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: Bankei's "method" of abiding in the unborn

Postby Astus » Mon Oct 22, 2012 1:40 pm

Another thing about Bankei is that he taught openly to everyone. No special requirements, no secret techniques. The teaching of the buddha-mind includes everyone because all beings have the unborn without exception.
"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: Bankei's "method" of abiding in the unborn

Postby Meido » Mon Oct 22, 2012 4:47 pm

Astus wrote:Another thing about Bankei is that he taught openly to everyone. No special requirements, no secret techniques. The teaching of the buddha-mind includes everyone because all beings have the unborn without exception.


And another thing about Bankei is that his line quickly died out in part because he taught no techniques - no "devices" - for the many who couldn't grasp his approach, or for those who had a genuine experience of the Unborn through his direct pointing but found that "now, just keep it" was easier said than actually done.

There is no difference in intent and essential content between Bankei's Zen and Hakuin's Zen, so I think raising the spectres of "genuine/sudden" and "devices/gradual" is not terribly useful here. Differences in skillful means and practice method differentiate the various teaching lines. One may naturally be suited for one line's approach more than another, of course. Which is exactly the point of these lines: transmission of supportive practices which remove obstructions to seeing one's nature, directly point to it, or support the lifelong training which comes afterward of integrating and actualizing that seeing. The fact that Hakuin's line contains such a rich collection of these practices is one reason why it has become dominant.

One may judge for oneself if Bankei was guilty of that common error of those who have reached - through great practice and effort - a place of effortlessness: coming to think that the past practice and effort, with all its successes and sometimes bitter failures, was not an important part of one's formation. When we read the records of his exchanges with his audience, as they ask very natural beginner's questions to the effect of "well, HOW do I abide in this Unborn, because I just can't seem to get it", we may be forgiven for sometimes wishing that he might give them something more in the way of supportive practices.

~ Meido
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Re: Bankei's "method" of abiding in the unborn

Postby oushi » Mon Oct 22, 2012 5:00 pm

Bankei's role in Zen is no less important than that of Hakuin or Dogen, just because he didn't leave any guidelines. His Dharma remained pure.
:bow: to all the unknown masters that did just the same.
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Re: Bankei's "method" of abiding in the unborn

Postby Meido » Mon Oct 22, 2012 5:26 pm

oushi wrote:Bankei's role in Zen is no less important than that of Hakuin or Dogen, just because he didn't leave any guidelines. His Dharma remained pure.
:bow: to all the unknown masters that did just the same.


Indeed. Critique of Bankei that I have seen generally centers on points I mentioned, not on his realization or place among the luminaries of Japanese Zen.

~ Meido
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Re: Bankei's "method" of abiding in the unborn

Postby anjali » Mon Oct 22, 2012 5:48 pm

Meido wrote:
oushi wrote:Bankei's role in Zen is no less important than that of Hakuin or Dogen, just because he didn't leave any guidelines. His Dharma remained pure.
:bow: to all the unknown masters that did just the same.


Indeed. Critique of Bankei that I have seen generally centers on points I mentioned, not on his realization or place among the luminaries of Japanese Zen.

~ Meido

I believe he would have had more impact on future generations if he had allowed his disciples to record his dharma teachings. He expressly forbade his disciples from recording any of his teachings. What we have is because they went against his wishes and collected some of his teachings and anecdotes anyway. Apparently he was a powerful orator and even average people got "direct introduction" to the Unborn. I love this quote, "When asked how he fit into the line of great Zen teachers, Bankei replied, 'Tokusan and Rinzai know how to use the stick and shout; I know how to use the three inches [of my tongue].' "
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  • All activities are like the games children play. If started, they can never be finished. They are only completed once you let them be, like castles made of sand. --Khenpo Nyoshul Rinpoche
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Re: Bankei's "method" of abiding in the unborn

Postby Alex123 » Mon Oct 22, 2012 6:33 pm

Astus wrote:As said before, the first and most important thing is to recognise the unborn. What is the unborn mind? Using Bankei's explanation, it is this mind that while you are reading hears the background noises, sees things around the monitor, feels the chair, and all of that happens without intentionally trying to perceive them.


Interesting thing is that this sounds like anatta. Perceptions occur due to causes and conditions rather than will of Someone.
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Re: Bankei's "method" of abiding in the unborn

Postby Alex123 » Mon Oct 22, 2012 6:37 pm

Meido wrote:One may judge for oneself if Bankei was guilty of that common error of those who have reached - through great practice and effort - a place of effortlessness: coming to think that the past practice and effort, with all its successes and sometimes bitter failures, was not an important part of one's formation. When we read the records of his exchanges with his audience, as they ask very natural beginner's questions to the effect of "well, HOW do I abide in this Unborn, because I just can't seem to get it", we may be forgiven for sometimes wishing that he might give them something more in the way of supportive practices.


This is another issue that I am uncertain about. How much of Bankei's heroics (he was REALLY dedicated zazen practitioner) resulted in his Awakening.

Even though he keeps telling us that it was un-needed, maybe he is mistaken in this part?
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Re: Bankei's "method" of abiding in the unborn

Postby Meido » Mon Oct 22, 2012 7:53 pm

Alex123 wrote:Even though he keeps telling us that it was un-needed, maybe he is mistaken in this part?


That is indeed a question that is sometimes raised.

I have no way of knowing, of course. From my own perspective, I would say that such practice may not have been necessary for him to grasp "Unborn", i.e. see the true nature. But "abiding in the Unborn" - the embodiment and actualization of that recognition - is another thing. I am not certain how someone who sees their nature but has no practice foundation - and no particular practice afterwards - is to accomplish this if they are not of Bankei's caliber.

Of course I am only speaking as someone whose experience of Rinzai practice is post-Hakuin (and am no Bankei expert, to be sure).

~ Meido
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Re: Bankei's "method" of abiding in the unborn

Postby anjali » Mon Oct 22, 2012 9:02 pm

Meido wrote:When we read the records of his exchanges with his audience, as they ask very natural beginner's questions to the effect of "well, HOW do I abide in this Unborn, because I just can't seem to get it", we may be forgiven for sometimes wishing that he might give them something more in the way of supportive practices.

~ Meido


I suspect that he did offer instruction in supportive practices. They just weren't recorded in the dialogs. The interesting thing that was consistently noted about him was his nonsectarian approach. Anyone with whatever background could come for instruction/training. Apparently, during extended sessions in the compound where sessions were held, a lot of people with different backgrounds and practices would attend and they would divide into groups based on their preferred practice. For example one building was for those who were just sitting, and another building was for those practicing chanting (I think it was the nembutsu). Bankei would go around late into the night to these groups and answer any questions they might have. I would have loved to be at some of those sessions to hear the Q&A.
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  • All activities are like the games children play. If started, they can never be finished. They are only completed once you let them be, like castles made of sand. --Khenpo Nyoshul Rinpoche
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