Essential Zen Practice

Essential Zen Practice

Postby Astus » Fri Jan 04, 2013 5:19 pm

"If a thought arises, be aware of it; once you are aware of it, it will disappear. The excellent gate of practice lies here alone."
(Zongmi on Chan, p. 123)

"Do not think of any good or evil whatsoever. Whenever a thought occurs, be aware of it; as soon as you are aware of it, it will vanish. If you remain for a long period forgetful of objects, you will naturally become unified. This is the essential art of tso-ch'an. Honestly speaking, tso'ch'an is the dharma gate of ease and joy."
(Dogen's Manuals of Zen Meditation, p. 181)

"One must not delve into thoughts that arise, whether good or bad. As soon as a thought arises, he must become aware of it. He must always be aware of what arises in the sphere of consciousness without losing clear discrimination, and without becoming dull or scattered. A myriad of years is nothing but one moment of thought, which is neither discontinuous nor continuous. This is the essential Way (or method) of Zen practice. Zazen is in itself the doctrinal gateway of “comfort and ease.”"
(The Baizhang Zen Monastic Regulations, p. 256)
"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: Essential Zen Practice

Postby songhill » Sat Jan 05, 2013 2:18 am

The most essential part of Zen is to know one's own nature. Hopefully, the right practice will lead to this.

"To attain supreme enlightenment, one must be able to know spontaneously one's own nature or Essence of Mind, which is neither created nor can it be annihilated. From Ksana to Ksana (momentary sensations), one should be able to realize the Essence of Mind all the time. All things will then be free from restraint (i.e., emancipated). Once the Tathata (Suchness, another name for the Essence of Mind) is known, one will be free from delusion for ever; and in all circumstances one's mind will be in a state of 'Thusness'. Such a state of mind is absolute Truth. If you can see things in such a frame of mind you will have known the Essence of Mind, which is supreme enlightenment"(trans. Mou-Lam, The Sutra of Wei Lang (or Hui Neng) (1953),, p. 17).
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Re: Essential Zen Practice

Postby Astus » Sat Jan 05, 2013 11:44 am

And what is that right practice in your opinion?
"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: Essential Zen Practice

Postby icylake » Sat Jan 05, 2013 1:04 pm

is it Satti ?
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Re: Essential Zen Practice

Postby songhill » Sat Jan 05, 2013 4:46 pm

Astus wrote:And what is that right practice in your opinion?


The term "right practice' is not with some problems because to realize one's nature is not a physical practice or exercise.

"Are Precepts religious practice? If the body were religious practice, then religious practice would not be good, it would not be the true teaching, it would be defiled, it would be impure, it would be foul, it would be unclean, it would be disgusting, it would be intractable, it would be defined, it would be a corpse, it would be a mass of microbes" (Avatamsaka Sutra).


Is doing physical zazen right practice? But what is zazen? Shouldn't it be a means to see our true nature which is incorporeal? But some say that zazen is just physically to sit (J. shikan taza). Do the Four Slogan of Zen generally express something about right practice? Probably.

A special transmission outside the Buddhist canon;
Without dependence upon words and letters.
Pointing directly to the mind of man;
Seeing into one's nature, realizing Buddhahood.
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Re: Essential Zen Practice

Postby Astus » Sat Jan 05, 2013 8:58 pm

Zazen is not a matter of body posture, nor is it a method to achieve something. This is what the Platform Sutra (ch. 5) and later generations say.
"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: Essential Zen Practice

Postby songhill » Sun Jan 06, 2013 12:40 am

Astus wrote:Zazen is not a matter of body posture, nor is it a method to achieve something. This is what the Platform Sutra (ch. 5) and later generations say.


In Caodong (Soto) posture is very important. For Dogen Zenji, zazen appears to be enlightenment. For example, "Sitting is itself the treasury of the eye of true Dharma and the mystic mind of nirvana" (Carl Bielefeldt, Dogen's Manuals of Zen Meditation, p. 169). Dogen Zenji seemed to believe that one is already a Buddha so that zazen is not practiced to become a Buddha. When the adept can sit in zazen with no desire his Buddha-ness will begin to reveal itself.

"For Dogen, zazen is not waiting for enlightenment, but simply the practice of buddhas. This practice is not to acquire something in some other times or in another state of consciousness or being. It is actually the practice of enlightenment or realization right now. And this enlightenment or realization for Dogen is naturally expressed in practice" ( Steven Heine, Dale Stuart Wright, Zen Ritual, p. 177).
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Re: Essential Zen Practice

Postby pueraeternus » Sun Jan 06, 2013 3:40 am

zenkitties_sm.jpg
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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.

- The Open-Ended Proof from The Panoplia Prophetica
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Re: Essential Zen Practice

Postby Astus » Sun Jan 06, 2013 11:55 am

songhill wrote:In Caodong (Soto) posture is very important. For Dogen Zenji, zazen appears to be enlightenment. For example, "Sitting is itself the treasury of the eye of true Dharma and the mystic mind of nirvana" (Carl Bielefeldt, Dogen's Manuals of Zen Meditation, p. 169). Dogen Zenji seemed to believe that one is already a Buddha so that zazen is not practiced to become a Buddha. When the adept can sit in zazen with no desire his Buddha-ness will begin to reveal itself.

"For Dogen, zazen is not waiting for enlightenment, but simply the practice of buddhas. This practice is not to acquire something in some other times or in another state of consciousness or being. It is actually the practice of enlightenment or realization right now. And this enlightenment or realization for Dogen is naturally expressed in practice" ( Steven Heine, Dale Stuart Wright, Zen Ritual, p. 177).


Sitting meditation is just a small part of a Zen monastery's programme, initially assuming a sitting posture is helpful for beginners. But not even Dogen or Keizan regarded sitting itself as the only form of Zen.

"Give up the operations of mind, intellect, and consciousness; stop measuring with thoughts, ideas, and views. Have no designs on becoming a Buddha. How could that be limited to sitting or lying down?"
(Fukan zazengi)

"Zazen means to clarify the mind-ground and dwell comfortably in your actual nature. This is called revealing yourself and manifesting the original-ground. In zazen both body and mind drop off. Zazen is far beyond the form of sitting or lying down."
(Zazen yojinki)
"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: Essential Zen Practice

Postby songhill » Sun Jan 06, 2013 5:49 pm

It is not amazing for any great teacher of Zen to teach that Zen is about realizing Buddha Mind. What would be amazing is to teach that the physical exercise of zazen, sitting upright and cross-legged, is the way to realize Buddha Mind. One more thing. Perbish has something interesting to say about Dogen's practice.

"Under Dogen, a form of Zen was taught in which the individual does nothing but sit (zazen) in the faith that he is already a Buddha, and that the zazen is an organic unfolding of Buddha nature. Since one is a Buddha, zazen is not practiced in order to become a Buddha. When all selfish graspings after such things as enlightenment are abandoned, and he can sit in zazen with no desire, his true nature will begin to reveal itself" (ed. Charles S. Perbish, Buddhism: A Modern Perspective, p. 226).
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Re: Essential Zen Practice

Postby Astus » Sun Jan 06, 2013 10:19 pm

It is interesting that you bring up Dogen again while none of the three original quotes are from Dogen or even a Caodong teacher.
"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: Essential Zen Practice

Postby bulhaeng » Sun Jan 06, 2013 11:23 pm

Astus wrote:Sitting meditation is just a small part of a Zen monastery's programme, initially assuming a sitting posture is helpful for beginners.

Not in Korea it's not :P A seon monastery runs two 3+month angos + additional shorter angos in between longer angos.
A meditation monk can literally spend half of his life sitting.
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Re: Essential Zen Practice

Postby oushi » Tue Jan 08, 2013 3:36 pm

A meditation monk can literally spend half of his life sitting

Maybe because he is a meditation monk? :D
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Re: Essential Zen Practice

Postby _username_ » Mon Mar 25, 2013 12:52 am

I've been studying the Beginner's basics of Zen ... So that covers the formation of a beginner's introduction into Zen mind, Beginner's mind.
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Re: Essential Zen Practice

Postby Beatzen » Mon May 13, 2013 3:45 am

songhill wrote:
Astus wrote:Zazen is not a matter of body posture, nor is it a method to achieve something. This is what the Platform Sutra (ch. 5) and later generations say.


In Caodong (Soto) posture is very important. For Dogen Zenji, zazen appears to be enlightenment. For example, "Sitting is itself the treasury of the eye of true Dharma and the mystic mind of nirvana" (Carl Bielefeldt, Dogen's Manuals of Zen Meditation, p. 169). Dogen Zenji seemed to believe that one is already a Buddha so that zazen is not practiced to become a Buddha. When the adept can sit in zazen with no desire his Buddha-ness will begin to reveal itself.

"For Dogen, zazen is not waiting for enlightenment, but simply the practice of buddhas. This practice is not to acquire something in some other times or in another state of consciousness or being. It is actually the practice of enlightenment or realization right now. And this enlightenment or realization for Dogen is naturally expressed in practice" ( Steven Heine, Dale Stuart Wright, Zen Ritual, p. 177).



I think Dogen had a unique understanding of what "enlightenment" and "buddha" imply. I don't agree that Dogen thought that Zazen "was enlightenment." I'm not sure how much of an adherent (to the theory of original-enlightenment) he was.

The root fasicle of the Shobogenzo states that "enlightenment is when the dharmas come forth to illuminate the self" - enlightenment in that context has nothing to do with seated meditation practice, but a phenomenological method of interface with objects [dharmas].

I understand that his initial questions on Original enlightenment did lead him to conclusions that "enlightenment and practice are indivisible", but I think that statements like that have more bearing on Dogen's actual dharma-theory than the theory of original enlightenment.

My argument is based on the fact that Dogen really believed that all there really "is" is this moment. period.

That implies, as he said, that causes and their coresponding effects emerge simultaneously in one moment. which is the only time they can emerge (right now).

He is saying that causes and effects are imediate and co-emergent. It is actually quite logical. I mention this because it has bearing on why Dogen was so praxis-oriented. He utilizes these kind of thoughts to bolster arguments he makes about "making emptiness" and comitting to a truly soterologically-effective practice.
"Cause is not before and Effect is not after"
- Eihei Dogen Zenji
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Re: Essential Zen Practice

Postby Astus » Mon May 13, 2013 9:30 am

Both sequential and simultaneous cause and effect are mistaken, this has been shown by Nagarjuna and even the Lankavatara Sutra has a small chapter for it. As I see it, Dogen follows the general view of Zen as sudden enlightenment, just as in the Platform Sutra and others, with the exception of some special emphasis on seated meditation. Practice is enlightenment because the only practice is not grasping phenomena, what is the same as enlightenment. This is the "essential zen practice" stated in the OP.
"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: Essential Zen Practice

Postby dyanaprajna2011 » Mon May 13, 2013 1:47 pm

From my understanding, Zen practice is anything that pointed directly to one's true nature, the Buddha-nature within. Zen masters throughout history employed a wide range of techniques to reach this end. Zazen, while appropriate and useful, was just one of these techniques. It was up to the teacher to decide which technique was right for the individual.
"If you want to travel the Way of Buddhas and Zen masters, then expect nothing, seek nothing, and grasp nothing." -Dogen
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Re: Essential Zen Practice

Postby Beatzen » Tue May 14, 2013 5:54 am

Astus wrote:Both sequential and simultaneous cause and effect are mistaken, this has been shown by Nagarjuna and even the Lankavatara Sutra has a small chapter for it.


That's kind of incredible to me... Can you give us a quote [preferably Nagarjuna] elucidating how effective and formal causality are "mistaken?" Also, what is the name of that Sutra chapter so that I can look into this?

My initial reaction to completely throwing out dependent origination (effective causality) and interdependence/co-emergence (formal causality) is that you seem to believe (incorrectly) that Zen is relegated to "the buddhism of meditation" (i.e., "mysticism" under idealistic pretense) rather than "the buddism of wisdom" (which does not emphasize peak experiences and such irrationality)

I think this comes back to a pretense in other schools that looks at Zen askance because of the unorthodoxy set forth by Hui Neng.

Astus wrote:As I see it, Dogen follows the general view of Zen as sudden enlightenment, just as in the Platform Sutra and others, with the exception of some special emphasis on seated meditation.



"general view" is a strange way to put whatever you're talking about to me, as I have never actually seen a Dogen citation emphasizing "sudden enlightenment" above "gradual" or even a 'special emphasis' on Zazen over other forms of practice. If someone could cite those sources for me, i would greatly appreciate it.

I should add that contemporary Zen teachers I have studied under have told me that Zen practice is "gradually sudden."

Maybe these Zen dharma-holders and masters don't know what they're talking about?

Astus wrote:Practice is enlightenment because the only practice is not grasping phenomena, what is the same as enlightenment. This is the "essential zen practice" stated in the OP.


I think is is a little misguided in interpretation. It is not true in Zen that non-grasping is "the only practice." That is a gross oversimplification and comes nowhere near explaining the practices of Shikantaza, or Kinhin.

Neither is it true that simple "non-grasping" constitutes "enlightenment" from a zen perspective. I refer you back to the root fascicle of the Shobogenzo, where Dogen elucidates exactly what enlightenment and delusion actually are.
"Cause is not before and Effect is not after"
- Eihei Dogen Zenji
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Re: Essential Zen Practice

Postby Astus » Tue May 14, 2013 10:12 am

Beatzen wrote:That's kind of incredible to me... Can you give us a quote [preferably Nagarjuna] elucidating how effective and formal causality are "mistaken?" Also, what is the name of that Sutra chapter so that I can look into this?


Chapter 20 of the Middle treatise (MMK) analyses sequential and simultaneous causality. Similar reasoning occurs in other chapters, like chapter 11, 14, 16. It is also taught by later masters, like Candrakirti, reasoning like this:

"If it is something existent, what need is there for its production? But if it does not exist, what could be done to it?
If it is both [existent and non-existent], what can be done? And if neither, what can be done?"
(quoted by Mipham)

Lankavatara Sutra, 2.31 (tr. Suzuki):
"there is no gradual nor simultaneous rising of existence. Why? Because, Mahamati, if there is a simultaneous rising of existence, there would be no distinction between cause and effect, and there would be nothing to characterise a cause as such. If a gradual rising is admitted, there is no substance that holds together individual signs, which makes gradual rising impossible."

However, none of the above is the denial of everyday common reality where we see causes generating results. I have mentioned this because you said that Dogen believed in simultaneous cause and result, which doesn't actually match normal reality where the cause must always precede the result.

Beatzen wrote:"general view" is a strange way to put whatever you're talking about to me, as I have never actually seen a Dogen citation emphasizing "sudden enlightenment" above "gradual" or even a 'special emphasis' on Zazen over other forms of practice. If someone could cite those sources for me, i would greatly appreciate it.


Bendowa (PDF):

"The Buddhas and Thus Come Ones have all simply Transmitted an unfabricated wonderous means of realizing complete and utter Awakening, the Teaching of Wonder. In Transmitting it from a Buddha to a Buddha, its standard is self-enjoyment harmonization. To enter this through sitting up straight in zazen is the main gate."

"The person of zazen unmistakably drops through body and mind, cutting through the myriad distorted views of the past, and realizes essential Buddha Dharma. You thus raise up the work of the Buddhas at numberless practice places of the Buddhas and Thus Come Ones everywhere, causing everyone to have the opportunity of ongoing Awakening, and vigorously uplift the ongoing Buddha Dharma."

"Each moment of zazen is equally wholeness of practice, equally wholeness of realization for this and for that."

"Why do you urge only zazen?
Answer: Because it is the main gate to the Buddha Dharma - this is my answer to them."


"You just sit idle and do nothing. How can this be a means to Awakening?
...
Just understand that if sincere students and realized Masters correctly Transmit and receive the subtle Dharma of the Seven Buddhas, its essence manifests, and can be experienced. Those who teach only the words of the Discourses know nothing of this. So stop this doubt and delusion and follow a true Teacher and, through zazen, actualize the self- enjoyment harmonization of the Buddhas."


It is not true in Zen that non-grasping is "the only practice." That is a gross oversimplification and comes nowhere near explaining the practices of Shikantaza, or Kinhin.
Neither is it true that simple "non-grasping" constitutes "enlightenment" from a zen perspective.


"If you recognize your fundamental mind, this is the fundamental emancipation. And if you attain emancipation, this is the samādhi of prajñā, this is nonthought.
...
Good friends, to be enlightened to the Dharma of nonthought is for the myriad dharmas to be completely penetrated. To be enlightened to the Dharma of nonthought is to see the realms of [all] the buddhas. To be enlightened to the Dharma of nonthought is to arrive at the stage of buddhahood."

(Platform Sutra, ch. 2; tr. McRae)
"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: Essential Zen Practice

Postby gordtheseeker » Tue May 14, 2013 9:14 pm

Good info. Thanks! Zazen is wonderful. It's the one practice that always seems like home.
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