Is Zazen described in Sutras?

Is Zazen described in Sutras?

Postby Rakshasa » Sun May 19, 2013 7:01 pm

Do practices like Zazen have any basis in Sutras? AFAIK, there are not sutras that describe the various forms of meditation that are available nowadays. Only in some Pali Suttas are some meditations vaguely described (especially pertaining to Jhanas and Satipatthhana).

Was meditation ever described in Sutras/Suttas? If not, what is the basis of Zazen practice? Or was it supposedly transmitted by word of mouth by the Buddha to his disciples which did not end up becoming part of the canon?

The posture, the tongue touching the palate, the hand mudra etc - I know these are essential from practice - are not described in any Sutras I have read so far. Where did it come from?
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Re: Is Zazen described in Sutras?

Postby Jikan » Sun May 19, 2013 7:41 pm

Rakshasa wrote:Was meditation ever described in Sutras/Suttas?


Sure. Some sutras canonical in East Asia that describe meditation in close detail include the Surangama Sutra and the Sutra of Complete Enlightenment.
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Re: Is Zazen described in Sutras?

Postby Astus » Sun May 19, 2013 8:25 pm

Here's a list of early meditation sutras that existed in China: Chanjing Meditation Manuals
"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: Is Zazen described in Sutras?

Postby Wayfarer » Sun May 19, 2013 11:52 pm

One particular compilation that is well-knnown in the West is The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Zen Patriarch which is sometimes published in the same volume with the Diamond Sutra.
Learn to do good, refrain from evil, purify the mind ~ this is the teaching of the Buddhas
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Re: Is Zazen described in Sutras?

Postby Huifeng » Mon May 20, 2013 1:04 am

Rakshasa wrote:Do practices like Zazen have any basis in Sutras? AFAIK, there are not sutras that describe the various forms of meditation that are available nowadays. Only in some Pali Suttas are some meditations vaguely described (especially pertaining to Jhanas and Satipatthhana).

Was meditation ever described in Sutras/Suttas? If not, what is the basis of Zazen practice? Or was it supposedly transmitted by word of mouth by the Buddha to his disciples which did not end up becoming part of the canon?

The posture, the tongue touching the palate, the hand mudra etc - I know these are essential from practice - are not described in any Sutras I have read so far. Where did it come from?


Depends on what you mean by "zazen". For one who reads Chinese (or Japanese, no doubt), the question is, "Do practices like 坐禪 have any basis in sutras?" Of course. A large number of sutras talk about 坐禪 = sitting meditation. This does not specify a particular technique or method, just sitting meditation in general.

Much of this material is found in material in Chinese that comes from the northern Indian traditions, travelling through the silk road into China. These parallel the Pali texts, but are from different schools. Not much is available on these in English. So, people only look at the Pali and miss the connections.

But, if you are talking about zazen only in the sense of that taught by Dogen Zenji in the Japanese Sotoshu Zen tradition, then there are certainly some differences.

~~ Huifeng
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