Great doubt, great enlightenment...

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Great doubt, great enlightenment...

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Sep 10, 2009 12:39 pm

Greetings,

There is a saying in the Ch'an Buddhist tradition...

Great doubt, great enlightenment; small doubt, small enlightenment


Do you think this applies to your chosen Buddhist tradition, or your personal approach to Buddhism?

If so, what does this mean to you?

Are you a Ch'an practitioner? Perhaps you could tell us more...

:buddha1:

Metta,
Retro. :)
Live in concord, with mutual appreciation, without disputing, blending like milk and water, viewing each other with kindly eyes

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Re: Great doubt, great enlightenment...

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Fri Sep 11, 2009 3:01 am

Hi Retro,

I'm not a Cha'an practitioner, but this reads to me as a prompt to investigate and pursue the dharma with vigor. A sense of doubt, or I might say practicality is a good quality imho.

Speaking from the point of view of a practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism, pursing the path definitely takes committment and motivation. And taking the words of a teacher or sutra, and investigating and digesting on one's own is recommended. The specific reference to "small enlightenment" vs. "great enlightenment," makes me think of the idea that you see fruits of practice and study that are comprable to how much you put into them.

While I don't think it's necessarily helpful to reject everything out of hand before it's proven, nor is it good to accept any teacher or teaching that comes my way without investigation, there's some place in the middle that works for me. Thanks for this nice quote, it's a good reminder.

Best,
Drolma :)
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Re: Great doubt, great enlightenment...

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Sep 11, 2009 6:01 am

Greetings,

I understand this phrase in a not too dissimilar way to the Zen story about the professor and the tea cup.

A university professor went to visit a famous Zen master. While the master quietly served tea, the professor talked about Zen. The master poured the visitor's cup to the brim, and then kept pouring. The professor watched the overflowing cup until he could no longer restrain himself. "It's overfull! No more will go in!" the professor blurted. "You are like this cup," the master replied, "How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup."

Source: http://www-usr.rider.edu/~suler/zenstory/emptycup.html

The more you are prepared to challenge your existing views and not cling to them... the more likely you are to discover the Dharma in all its profundity.

Metta,
Retro. :)
Live in concord, with mutual appreciation, without disputing, blending like milk and water, viewing each other with kindly eyes

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Re: Great doubt, great enlightenment...

Postby zoltan » Mon Sep 14, 2009 12:42 pm

Hello,

I agree with the middle path. Give things a chance, don't judge too soon but always investigate. It is also important to investigate the investigator and make sure that we don't ask questions with a full cup. So many times I base my doubts on false premise and dicriminations and at the end just end up with a head full of garbage.

The habit of quickly responding to things, always analyzing disecting can also hinder true experience. Sometimes it's better to let things be. Things naturally become clear with time and an open mind.
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Re: Great doubt, great enlightenment...

Postby Luke » Mon Sep 21, 2009 8:04 pm

Great doubt, great enlightenment; small doubt, small enlightenment


I think the "doubt" referred to here could mean "a great need to ask spiritual questions" and "a doubt in the physical appearances and materialistic explanations of things which people usually give." These burning questions like "Why do we die?" "What is the purpose of life?" "Why do beings suffer?" can drive a person to work hard at a spiritual path. I remember reading that one Zen master had parents who died when he was very young and this made him reflect unceasingly on the nature of life and death. Doubt in "obvious" appearances can sometimes lead to wisdom.

The more I study Buddhism, the more I doubt my current model of reality and my sense perceptions. I realize how easily I can fool myself. Who knows how reality would seem to a fully enlightened Buddha? I'm sure it's something beyond what I can comprehend now, although I'm sure that the Four Noble Truths spoken by Lord Buddha will form its core.

Doubting our past assumptions allows us to grow and find new ones.
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Re: Great doubt, great enlightenment...

Postby m0rl0ck » Tue Nov 17, 2009 2:15 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

There is a saying in the Ch'an Buddhist tradition...

Great doubt, great enlightenment; small doubt, small enlightenment


Do you think this applies to your chosen Buddhist tradition, or your personal approach to Buddhism?

If so, what does this mean to you?

Are you a Ch'an practitioner? Perhaps you could tell us more...

:buddha1:

Metta,
Retro. :)


i am a chan practitioner currently have been doing a huatou for almost a year now and have yet to have much doubt arise. What is meant by doubt, i think, is a sort of frustration or need to get to the bottom of things. im still waiting, but not really vexed about it :)

EDIT: i do like these words on the subject tho http://www.purifymind.com/HsuYunMeditation.htm
Ride the horse in the direction its going.

~Werner Erhard
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Re: Great doubt, great enlightenment...

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Tue Nov 17, 2009 7:15 pm

M0rl0ck, cool link :)
I thought you were of the Japanese persuasion with your Buddhist practice. Interesting!
Perhaps you've dabbled in Zen and Cha'an?

Best,
Laura
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Re: Great doubt, great enlightenment...

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Tue Nov 17, 2009 7:16 pm

I think if I could take this thread and ask a different question, it will be:

Of what use is doubt for us in our study and practice? And what do we really mean by doubt?

Thanks,
Laura :)
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Re: Great doubt, great enlightenment...

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Tue Nov 17, 2009 10:43 pm

LauraJ wrote:I think if I could take this thread and ask a different question, it will be:

Of what use is doubt for us in our study and practice? And what do we really mean by doubt?

Thanks,
Laura :)


Doubt, faith - what's the difference actually?
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Re: Great doubt, great enlightenment...

Postby hungryghost » Wed Nov 18, 2009 7:38 am

It's said in zen/chan that you need three things to effectively pursue practice, great faith, great doubt, and great determination...Chan Master Sheng Yen wrote that they come in that order.
Great faith in your Buddha Nature, your teacher, the method your using
the method works to create great doubt (hua tou, koan), a burning desire to 'get to the bottom of things' as morlock said very eloquently. I think having those big questions like mentioned earlier "why do beings suffer" etc can help fuel this greatly. Great determination to practice hard comes from this feeling of doubt..
thats the way i understand it at least, and i'm trying to practice in this direction
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Re: Great doubt, great enlightenment...

Postby m0rl0ck » Mon Nov 23, 2009 12:25 am

LauraJ wrote:M0rl0ck, cool link :)
I thought you were of the Japanese persuasion with your Buddhist practice. Interesting!
Perhaps you've dabbled in Zen and Cha'an?

Best,
Laura


I did japanese zen for a while and i find chan to have a warmer feel to it. maybe because of the pureland influence :)
Ride the horse in the direction its going.

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Re: Great doubt, great enlightenment...

Postby m0rl0ck » Mon Nov 23, 2009 12:29 am

Karma Dondrup Tashi wrote:
LauraJ wrote:I think if I could take this thread and ask a different question, it will be:

Of what use is doubt for us in our study and practice? And what do we really mean by doubt?

Thanks,
Laura :)


Doubt, faith - what's the difference actually?


you know when i first looked at that it seemed kind of frivolous, but in this context anyway, especially if they both drive you to practice, what is the difference? :)
Ride the horse in the direction its going.

~Werner Erhard
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Re: Great doubt, great enlightenment...

Postby catmoon » Mon Nov 23, 2009 10:37 pm

I am currently involved with great doubt quite personally. My confidence in the sutras has taken a crippling blow. It feels like walking along a clifftop and suddenly feeling the earth and rock start to slide away out from underneath you. In such a situation one dives towards solid ground and grabs whatever one can. The tree branch I caught ahold of was certain modern teachings that have inspired me. So here I dangle above the abyss.

Now all I need is for some twerp to come along and ask me why Bodhidharma went to China.


I think I am in for a wholesale re-examination of my beliefs. The predicament is awkward, but the view is nice.
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Re: Great doubt, great enlightenment...

Postby ground » Tue Nov 24, 2009 4:18 am

Hi all

I understand "doubt" in this context as being a synonym for [an attitude of] "renunciation".
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Re: Great doubt, great enlightenment...

Postby tatpurusa » Thu Dec 03, 2009 11:17 pm

I think doubt here means the realization that all contents of the mind,
all thinkable, imaginable and communicatable manifestations are based on
more or less arbitrary concepts, therefore about as true as false.

If one takes them for granted, if one believes them and considers them reality, one
lives in avidya or self deception.

Doubting them means not confining oneself to the limitation of concepts based on the duality
of perciever and percieved. This doubt is an openness to a non-dual, direct experience of reality as
it is, without the division created by the concept of "I".
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Re: Great doubt, great enlightenment...

Postby ground » Fri Dec 04, 2009 6:26 am

tatpurusa wrote:I think doubt here means the realization that all contents of the mind,
all thinkable, imaginable and communicatable manifestations are based on
more or less arbitrary concepts, therefore about as true as false.

If one takes them for granted, if one believes them and considers them reality, one
lives in avidya or self deception.

The latter is not necessarily true because there are valid concepts and invalid concepts which we all can experience in our daily lives.


tatpurusa wrote:Doubting them means not confining oneself to the limitation of concepts based on the duality
of perciever and percieved. This doubt is an openness to a non-dual, direct experience of reality as
it is, without the division created by the concept of "I".

Concepts can be limitations but they also can show the way to what you call "openness". So to doubt all concepts is not advisable. Discerning valid and invalid concepts seems to be the right approach.
"Not wanting duality" does not eliminate the fact that duality is the prerequisite to survive. "duality" is not "bad".

Kind regards
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Re: Great doubt, great enlightenment...

Postby tatpurusa » Fri Dec 04, 2009 11:58 am

TMingyur wrote:The latter is not necessarily true because there are valid concepts and invalid concepts which we all can experience in our daily lives.

Even "valid" concepts are valid in only a very limited way.
No valid concept will ever allow one to experience reality as it is.
That is why zen/chan and other "higher" practices aim at going beyond the intellect.
Concepts can be limitations but they also can show the way to what you call "openness". So to doubt all concepts is not advisable. Discerning valid and invalid concepts seems to be the right approach.
"Not wanting duality" does not eliminate the fact that duality is the prerequisite to survive. "duality" is not "bad".

Kind regards

Concepts can show us the way to that openness, but that experiece can only take place if one abandones all concepts. Of course they are helpful in surviving in this world, they are the very base of existence in samsara.
Sticking to them is sticking to samsara.

"Little doubt" is doubting the absolute validity of a certain concept, that leads to "little enlightenment": i.e. the realisation of its empty nature.
"Great doubt" is the questioning of the totality of all possible contents of mind, that leads to the "great enlightenment", the experience of the empty nature of phenomenal existence.
As long as one considers concepts as real in an absolute way, there is no possibility of the vanishing (nirvana) of the concept of "I", and the perception of "reality as it is" cannot take place.

This is the reason why for example koans are used, as a means to overcome the limitations of the conceptual mind.
Nonconceptual or nondual experience is where there is no perciever and percieved, only perception.

"Not wanting duality" does not eliminate the fact that duality is the prerequisite to survive. "duality" is not "bad".


No, duality is neither good nor bad. Good and bad are just concepts, after all.
For wanting them there needs to be a "wanter". As long as there is a "wanter", the word nirvana has no relevance.

kind regards
tp
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Re: Great doubt, great enlightenment...

Postby ground » Fri Dec 04, 2009 12:51 pm

Dear tatpurusa

I am very familiar with your mode of reasoning.

However I prefer a different mode of reasoning, which means: Zen is not my cup of tea ;)

Kind regards
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Re: Great doubt, great enlightenment...

Postby m0rl0ck » Sat Dec 05, 2009 4:30 pm

tatpurusa wrote:I think doubt here means the realization that all contents of the mind,
all thinkable, imaginable and communicatable manifestations are based on
more or less arbitrary concepts, therefore about as true as false.

If one takes them for granted, if one believes them and considers them reality, one
lives in avidya or self deception.

Doubting them means not confining oneself to the limitation of concepts based on the duality
of perciever and percieved. This doubt is an openness to a non-dual, direct experience of reality as
it is, without the division created by the concept of "I".


That rings a bell with me. :) Thanks. But if its all self deception and false dichotomy, how can we penetrate to the truth of things, since all the available tools and concepts we have to do so, are false distinctions?
Ride the horse in the direction its going.

~Werner Erhard
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Re: Great doubt, great enlightenment...

Postby Dexing » Thu Jan 21, 2010 1:14 pm

TMingyur wrote:Discerning valid and invalid concepts seems to be the right approach.


Right approach to what?

What is an example of a valid vs invalid concept?
nopalabhyate...
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