Zen, dhyana, and non-meditation

Zen, dhyana, and non-meditation

Postby Luke » Wed May 08, 2013 9:08 pm

I have read many times that the word Zen comes from the Sanskrit word "dhyana" which means "meditation" or "samadhi," but Zen Buddhists generally don't care about different states of samadhi and are usually more concerned with non-thinking and non-meditation than they are with meditation.

So perhaps Zen should have been called something else instead! lol

Does anyone else find this ironic?
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Re: Zen, dhyana, and non-meditation

Postby oushi » Wed May 08, 2013 10:09 pm

There are many types of meditation, so what does meditation mean precisely? If you find the answer, you will be able to compare it with the teachings of Zen.
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Re: Zen, dhyana, and non-meditation

Postby Meido » Wed May 08, 2013 10:41 pm

Luke wrote:.....Zen Buddhists generally don't care about different states of samadhi and are usually more concerned with non-thinking and non-meditation than they are with meditation.


Samadhi (Jp.: zanmai) is a term used often in Zen. It is used several ways:

Samadhi can refer to a state of meditative absorption in which dualistic habit and fixation is lessened.

Samadhi can refer to specific states that are expressions of deepening and integrating the recognition of one's nature, which are meticulously examined and cultivated within the course of Zen training. For example the Jewel Mirror Samadhi (hokkyo zanmai) and the alternate samadhis of hen and sho ([i]hen sho ego zanmai[/i]).

Samadhi can refer to the fruition of Zen, which is Zenjo (Skt: Dhyana-samadhi) in which the recognition of kensho is the perfection of vipashyana, and the continual arising of that recognition in the midst of activity is the perfection of shamatha. These in union are Zenjo. It could also be described as the union of wisdom and means, essence and function, emptiness and compassion, Manjusri and Samantabhadra, actualization of the 4 wisdoms/3 bodies, etc.

Non-thinking or no-thought (munen) refers to a mind which functions freely without stopping or fixating. This is also called no-mind (mushin).

Non-meditation is the encompassing of all activity of body, speech and mind within meditation. That is, one is never not practicing.

What I wrote above reflects Rinzai common usage of these terms. Other traditions may have different or additional usages. What was your question?

~ Meido
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Re: Zen, dhyana, and non-meditation

Postby Jinzang » Thu May 09, 2013 2:48 am

"Non-meditation" is a kind of meditation. (How very Zen.) Seriously, meditation pursued long enough will eventually lead to samadhi and there are numerous examples of it in the biographies of Zen masters.
Lamrim, lojong, and mahamudra are the unmistaken path.
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Re: Zen, dhyana, and non-meditation

Postby Wayfarer » Thu May 09, 2013 3:08 am

Because the Western mind tends to be rather sensationalist, it is often looking for some kind of Wow! experience in relation to meditation. Like 'the world stood still'. I think that does happen, but it is rare. From my experience, which is not at all much, one can enter into some states of samadhi without actually noticing it. These states are very subtle, and sometimes they're beneath the threshold of conscious awareness. The most that ever happens in my case is sometimes a sense of real peace and quietude. But it often passes quickly as the monkey mind starts up again.

There is another point - this is that 'realization' and 'experience' are not the same. You can have experiences during meditation, but they tend to come and go. But realizations are deeper. That is when you really understand 'the way things are'. That might not even constitute an experience. Often there is no 'wow' factor, although sometimes there is. But the point about realizations is that they tend to be more stable and more significant than experiences as such.

In any case, Zen does emphasis the importance of sitting practice, no matter what kinds of experiences arise or don't arise.
Learn to do good, refrain from evil, purify the mind ~ this is the teaching of the Buddhas
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Re: Zen, dhyana, and non-meditation

Postby Astus » Thu May 09, 2013 9:37 am

If my memories are correct, the term "Zen school" appeared rather late, around the 11th century, when a group of people wanted to strengthen their position in the Chinese Buddhist scene against the "others", namely the "teaching schools". And by Zen they never meant actual meditation, but rather the inexpressible experience of the true nature (while the "teachings" are the expressed side).
"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: Zen, dhyana, and non-meditation

Postby oushi » Thu May 09, 2013 9:41 am

Astus wrote:And by Zen they never meant actual meditation, but rather the inexpressible experience of the true nature.

And what is the difference between those two? There may be many methods and techniques, but isn't meditation an inexpressible experience of the true nature?
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Re: Zen, dhyana, and non-meditation

Postby Astus » Thu May 09, 2013 9:52 am

oushi wrote:And what is the difference between those two? There may be many methods and techniques, but isn't meditation an inexpressible experience of the true nature?


The gradual path of meditation (going through preliminaries, shamatha and vipashyana) culminates in the direct realisation of the true nature. So what counts as meditation is not actually that realisation but the path toward it.
"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: Zen, dhyana, and non-meditation

Postby oushi » Thu May 09, 2013 9:58 am

Astus wrote:
oushi wrote:And what is the difference between those two? There may be many methods and techniques, but isn't meditation an inexpressible experience of the true nature?


The gradual path of meditation (going through preliminaries, shamatha and vipashyana) culminates in the direct realisation of the true nature. So what counts as meditation is not actually that realisation but the path toward it.

From Bodhidharmas Bloodstream Sermon:
"Buddha is Sanskrit for what you call aware, miraculously aware. Responding, arching your brows blinking your eyes, moving your hands and feet, its all your miraculously aware nature. And this nature is the mind. And the mind is the Buddha. And the Buddha is the path. And the path is Zen. But the word Zen is one that remains a puzzle to both mortals and sages. Seeing your nature is Zen. Unless you see your nature, it’s not Zen."

What do you think about this?
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Re: Zen, dhyana, and non-meditation

Postby Astus » Thu May 09, 2013 10:39 am

oushi wrote:What do you think about this?


It is a quote from a Zen text.
"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: Zen, dhyana, and non-meditation

Postby oushi » Thu May 09, 2013 10:46 am

Astus wrote:
oushi wrote:What do you think about this?


It is a quote from a Zen text.

Ok.
What do you think Zen is, according to this Zen text?
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Re: Zen, dhyana, and non-meditation

Postby Astus » Thu May 09, 2013 10:51 am

oushi wrote:What do you think Zen is, according to this Zen text?


A sudden path to realising the nature of mind. That is, not a gradual method that goes through stages, but simply the insight into emptiness.
"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: Zen, dhyana, and non-meditation

Postby dzogchungpa » Thu May 09, 2013 5:18 pm

Jinzang wrote:"Non-meditation" is a kind of meditation. (How very Zen.).

I don't know how Zen it is, but it is certainly very Tibetan:
http://www.google.com/search?tbm=bks&q=nonmeditation
Through Dzogchen we can really understand what God is and we don’t have to worry if there is a God or not. God always exists as our real nature, the base, for everybody. - Chögyal Namkhai Norbu
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Re: Zen, dhyana, and non-meditation

Postby Meido » Thu May 09, 2013 6:05 pm

Nice one from the recorded sayings of Joshu [Zhaozhou, 778–897], if I remember it correctly:

A monk asked, "What is meditation?"
The master replied, "Non-meditation."
The monk asked, "How can meditation be non-meditation?"
The master replied, "It's alive!"

~ Meido
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Re: Zen, dhyana, and non-meditation

Postby Holybla » Thu May 09, 2013 6:06 pm

Zen and nonmeditation are not meditation. Meditation is using the mind to concentrate on something. Your nature is beyond the mind.
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Re: Zen, dhyana, and non-meditation

Postby Astus » Thu May 09, 2013 7:33 pm

Holybla wrote:Zen and nonmeditation are not meditation. Meditation is using the mind to concentrate on something. Your nature is beyond the mind.


Or rather there is nothing beyond mind. The true nature is no nature.

"There is a koan that asks, "What is your original face before your parents were born?" One might naturally assume that there is some special thing called "original face," but that is not the right approach. When we open the hand of thought, letting go, the original self is already there. It's not some special mystical state. Don't seek it somewhere else. When we open the hand of thought, what is there, in that moment, is our original face."
(Kosho Uchiyama: Opening the Hand of Thought, p. 154)
"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: Zen, dhyana, and non-meditation

Postby Jesse » Fri May 10, 2013 12:19 am

When we open the hand of thought, letting go, the original self is already there. It's not some special mystical state
:thanks:
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Re: Zen, dhyana, and non-meditation

Postby Wayfarer » Fri May 10, 2013 3:48 am

Right. So why bother getting up before dawn to meditate or taking the trouble to study sutras? Surely just better to open the hand of thought and just go about your daily routine. After all there's nothing special to attain and no 'special state'.
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Re: Zen, dhyana, and non-meditation

Postby oushi » Fri May 10, 2013 7:17 am

'Surely just better to open the hand of thought (opened) and just go (closed) about your daily routine. After all there's nothing special to attain and no 'special state'.'

For the 'opened hand of thoughts' there is no special state.
For the 'closed hand of thoughts', there is 'opened hand of thoughts' state.

jeeprs wrote:So why bother getting up before dawn to meditate or taking the trouble to study sutras?


Meditation constitutes of technique and meditative state (dhyana->Zen). Many techniques, one Zen. This meditative state is the highest meditation, as it transcends both doing and not doing, by not using the mind. In opened hand of thoughts, mind is not used, it acts. Before you can let it act, sometimes it is necessary to tame it (thus long practice of removing karma, taming the Ox). If it is wild, and you have no trust in it, you will close the hand of thoughts moment after opening it, like grasping reins.

So, it may be not difficult to open the hand, but to "make" it stay like this, is a different story.
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Re: Zen, dhyana, and non-meditation

Postby Simon E. » Fri May 10, 2013 7:44 am

And you know this how ?
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