Mahayana and the Dhyanas/Jhanas

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Mahayana and the Dhyanas/Jhanas

Postby Indrajala » Fri Mar 19, 2010 2:41 am

In Nagarjuna's Letter Nagarjuna is quoted as saying:


There can be no dhyana without wisdom;
There can be no wisdom without dhyana.
He who has both reduces the ocean of existence
To the size of an ox's hoofprint.


If one masters the dhyanas, srotāpanna or stream-entry becomes a possibility and as I understand it, it logically follows as the fetters are cut off and attachment to even the mind realms is done away with. This of course is said to be a catastrophe for the Bodhisattva aspirant who seeks Buddhahood and not srotāpanna.

So, I have to wonder this: what is the safe way for a Mahayana practitioner to engage in dhyana practises? If wisdom requires dhyana, then we must master the dhyanas. I imagine worrying about srotāpanna might be a hindrance for the practitioner and would possibly prevent the absorptions.

Are Bodhisattva vows and the aspiration for Buddhahood sufficient to prevent srotāpanna?
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Re: Mahayana and the Dhyanas/Jhanas

Postby Astus » Fri Mar 19, 2010 9:18 am

Only non-returners (anagami) and arhats are free from the kamaloka. On the other hand, just by mastering dhyanas and samapattis (eight jhanas) one never becomes an arya of any level. These absorptions can result in heavenly births in the rupa and arupalokas, so they're said to be parts of the teaching of men and gods that is before the level of sravakas. Also don't forget that there is a dhyanaparamita for the bodhisattvas.
"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: Mahayana and the Dhyanas/Jhanas

Postby White Lotus » Fri Mar 19, 2010 5:41 pm

if you have wisdom you will have imagination, imagination is an aspect of dhyana. if you have imagination you will be able to reduce the hoof print to a grain of sand, just using a simple wish, or vow. but if you resort to wishes and vows, wish first of all to always make perfect wishes, and vow always to vow perfect vows.

use your imagination!

best wishes, White Lotus. x

a wish or a vow can encompas myriad myriads.
she comes she goes.
in any matters of importance. dont rely on me. i may not know what i am talking about. take what i say as mere speculation. i am not ordained. nor do i have a formal training. i do believe though that if i am wrong on any point. there are those on this site who i hope will quickly point out my mistakes.
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Re: Mahayana and the Dhyanas/Jhanas

Postby Astus » Fri Mar 19, 2010 7:04 pm

BTW, to reply to your question, bodhicitta is fully sufficient for preventing one to get lost in illusory nirvanas.
"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: Mahayana and the Dhyanas/Jhanas

Postby Indrajala » Sat Mar 20, 2010 12:12 am

Astus wrote:BTW, to reply to your question, bodhicitta is fully sufficient for preventing one to get lost in illusory nirvanas.


That's what I figured. The dhyanas, while potentially difficult to master, are still a mundane accomplishment that are not limited to Buddhists.

Theravada engages is jhana practises and their goal is sotāpanna. On the other hand, it seems a Mahayana Bodhisattva can still, and actually must, master the dhyanas for different reasons and out of a different motivation. I suppose with the Bodhicitta intention in mind, srotāpanna just wouldn't happen.
Last edited by Indrajala on Sat Mar 20, 2010 12:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Mahayana and the Dhyanas/Jhanas

Postby Indrajala » Sat Mar 20, 2010 12:16 am

White Lotus wrote:if you have wisdom you will have imagination, imagination is an aspect of dhyana. if you have imagination you will be able to reduce the hoof print to a grain of sand, just using a simple wish, or vow. but if you resort to wishes and vows, wish first of all to always make perfect wishes, and vow always to vow perfect vows.

use your imagination!

best wishes, White Lotus. x

a wish or a vow can encompas myriad myriads.
she comes she goes.



"imagination is an aspect of dhyana" -- I'm speaking about specifically the four dhyanas (or jhana in Pali), where you don't visualize or imagine things.
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Re: Mahayana and the Dhyanas/Jhanas

Postby Huifeng » Sat Mar 20, 2010 7:44 am

Ha! This happens to be exactly the question that my research has hit today:

From Kumarajiva's translation of the Small (Astasahasrika) Prajnaparamita (c. chp. 16:3 in Conze's translation from the Sanskrit):

舍利弗!是六千菩薩,已曾供養親近五百諸佛,於諸佛所,布施持戒忍辱精進禪定,不為般若波羅蜜方便所護故,今不受諸法漏盡,心得解脫。
O Śāriputra! These six thousand bodhisattvas have previously made offerings to and approached five hundred buddhas, and in the presence of those buddhas, have [cultivated] giving in charity, upholding morality, patient tolerance, vigorous effort, and dhyāna concentration; if they are not safe-guarded by the skillful means of prajñāpāramitā, they will now experience the exhaustion of dharmas with influxes, attain liberation of mind.

舍利弗!菩薩雖行空無相無作道,不為般若波羅蜜方便所護故, 證於實際,作聲聞乘。舍利弗!譬如有鳥,身長百由旬, 若二三四五百由旬,翅未成就,欲從忉利天上,來至閻浮提,便自投 來下。舍利弗!於意云何?是鳥中道作是念:我欲還忉利天上寧得還不?」
O Śāriputra! Although the bodhisattva courses in the paths of śūnya, animitta and apraṇihita, if they are not safe-guarded by the skillful means of prajñāpāramitā, they will realize the reality limit, and become of the śrāvaka vehicle. O Śāriputra! It is just as a bird, whose body is one hundred yojanas in length, or two, or three, or four, or five hundred yojanas [in length], yet its wings have not yet developed. If it wishes [to fly] from the Trāyatriṃśa heavens and come to Jambūdvīpa, it would instead hurl itself as it comes down. O Śāriputra! What do you think, should this bird, midway along the path, conceive the thought – ‘I wish to return to the Trāyatriṃśa heaven’, would it be able to return?”

「不也,世尊!」
[The Buddha said:] “Indeed not, O Bhagavan!”

「舍利弗!是鳥復作是願:至閻浮提,身不傷損得如願不?」
[The Buddha said:] “O Śāriputra! If this bird hopes that it may alight in Jambūdvīpa without suffering physical injury, will it attain it’s hope?”

「不也,世尊!是鳥至閻浮提,身必傷損。若死,若近死苦。何以故?世尊!法應爾。其身既大,翅未成就故。
[Śāriputra said:] “Indeed not! O Bhagavan! When this bird alights in Jambūdvīpa, it will certainly suffer physical injury, either dying or experiencing death-like pain. For what reason? O Bhagavan! That is the nature of dharma, it’s body is very huge, and it’s wings are undeveloped.”

舍利弗!菩薩亦如是。雖於恒河沙劫,布施持戒忍辱精進禪定,發大心大願,受無量事,欲得阿耨多羅三藐三菩提,而不為般若波羅蜜方便所護故,則墮聲聞、辟支佛地。舍利弗!菩薩雖念於過去未來現在諸佛,所行戒品、定品、慧品、解脫品、解脫知見品,而心取相。是菩薩取相念故,不知諸佛戒品、定品、慧品、解脫品、解脫知見品。不知不見故,聞諸法空,名字取是音聲相,迴向阿耨多羅三藐三菩提。當知是菩薩墮於聲聞、辟支佛地。何以故?舍利弗!菩薩離般若波羅蜜故,法應當爾。」
[The Buddha said:] “O Śāriputra! Like the bodhisattva. Although over as many kalpas as sands of the Gaṅges they have [cultivated] giving in charity, upholding morality, patience tolerance, vigorous effort, and dhyāna meditation; have arisen the great mind [of aspiration] and great resolve; undertaken measureless deeds; and wish to realize anuttara samyak saṃbodhi; they are not safe-guarded by the skillful means of prajñāpāramitā, and thus fall onto the grounds of the śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas. O Śāriputra! Although the bodhisattvas recollect the factors of morality, factors of concentration, factors of knowledge, factors of release, and factors of the gnosis and vision of release of the buddhas of the past, future and present, their minds seize upon signs. Because of the minds of these bodhisattvas seize upon signs, they do not know the factors of morality, factors of concentration, factors of knowledge, factors of release, factors of the gnosis and vision of release of the buddhas. Due to neither knowing nor seeing, when they hear the words – ‘All dharmas are śūnya’, they seize upon the signs of sound, and turn that over [in dedication] to anuttara samyak saṃbodhi. One should know that these bodhisattvas will fall onto the grounds of the śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas. For what reason? O Śāriputra! That is how it is, when the bodhisattvas are separated from prajñāpāramitā.”

「世尊!如我解佛所說義,若菩薩離般若波羅蜜,則於阿耨多羅三藐三菩提狐疑未了。是故菩薩摩訶薩,欲得阿耨多羅三藐三菩提,當善行般若波羅蜜方便。」
[Śāriputra said:] “In the way in which I understand the meaning of that spoken by the Buddha, if a bodhisattva is separated from prajñāpāramitā, they will then have perplexed doubts towards and be yet to comprehend anuttara samyak saṃbodhi. Therefore, bodhisattva mahāsattvas who wish to realize anuttara samyak saṃbodhi should well undertake the skillful means of prajñāpāramitā.”


I made one little edit out in the first paragraph, where comparing the actual content and every other version, Kumarajiva obviously has a mistake.

I hope that goes some way to answering the question. :smile:
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Re: Mahayana and the Dhyanas/Jhanas

Postby Indrajala » Sat Mar 20, 2010 11:03 am

Venerable Huifeng

That is quite useful and insightful. Thank you.

In a nutshell, prajnaparamita must be thoroughly and intimately studied, lest one fall into the śrāvaka path.

Venerable, what do you think of the Lotus Sutra where it states that all arahats are inevitably destined for Buddhahood?

There are various thoughts on this within the Mahayana, I understand, but what do you personally think?
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Re: Mahayana and the Dhyanas/Jhanas

Postby Huifeng » Sun Mar 21, 2010 1:09 am

Huseng wrote:Venerable Huifeng

That is quite useful and insightful. Thank you.

In a nutshell, prajnaparamita must be thoroughly and intimately studied, lest one fall into the śrāvaka path.

Venerable, what do you think of the Lotus Sutra where it states that all arahats are inevitably destined for Buddhahood?

There are various thoughts on this within the Mahayana, I understand, but what do you personally think?


Though in East Asian Buddhism, Zhiyi's Tiantai doxography came to be the dominant one, ie. that the Saddharmapundarika Sutra idea of all arhats eventually becoming buddhas, the ultimacy of the one vehicle over the expedient teaching of the three vehicles, personally I am more of the opinion that it's the other way around, ie. there are three basic goals, and the idea of a "one vehicle" is an expedient to encourage people to the Mahayana. This is also what the Faxiang zong also said. It involves much less hermeneutics to explain things, such as the implication that in a sense, all the other teachings are ultimately incorrect. I don't find that a helpful attitude.
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Re: Mahayana and the Dhyanas/Jhanas

Postby White Lotus » Sun Mar 21, 2010 3:46 pm

‘All dharmas are śūnya’
dhyana is empty.
adyana is empty.
eating is dhyana.
sleeping is dhyana.
working is dhyana.
resting is dhyana.
a flower is dhyana.
there is no difference, when you know that all is the same, with no difference
then there is no adhyana. when you know that all is dhyana, without distinctions of good or bad. then 'This' becomes your practice. how can one not be mindful of what is before ones eyes. how can one not be mindful of what one tastes. there is nothing remarkable in this. it is quite mundane. just know your own mind... know all things. knowing that dhyana is without distinction all things, is to know that all things are the Dharmakaya. the reality body, of truth. all reality is the dharmakaya, all dharmas are empty, is this the dharma? how could it not be, since all dharmas are intrinsically perfect, being the essence of the buddha.

as for four Dhyanas, perhaps that is limiting oneself to the world or particularisations and discriminations. i would say, learn to see that all is practice and that all practice is dhyana... just breathe. or perhaps have a cup of tea.
why focus on the breath when it comes naturally.

I dont say that meditation is fruitless. i only would say learn to be meditation... in every moment. you already are.

best wishes, White Lotus. x

reading his words, we see some truth.
but, in a nutshell, it is unclear and defies convention.
what to do?... nothing to be done.
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Re: Mahayana and the Dhyanas/Jhanas

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Mon Mar 22, 2010 7:22 am

White Lotus wrote:‘All dharmas are śūnya’
as for four Dhyanas, perhaps that is limiting oneself to the world or particularisations and discriminations. i would say, learn to see that all is practice and that all practice is dhyana... just breathe. or perhaps have a cup of tea.


Or perhaps, savor a succulent turd. How wonderful!
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Re: Mahayana and the Dhyanas/Jhanas

Postby justsit » Mon Mar 22, 2010 1:40 pm

Pema Rigdzin wrote:
White Lotus wrote:‘All dharmas are śūnya’
as for four Dhyanas, perhaps that is limiting oneself to the world or particularisations and discriminations. i would say, learn to see that all is practice and that all practice is dhyana... just breathe. or perhaps have a cup of tea.


Or perhaps, savor a succulent turd. How wonderful!


:twothumbsup:
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Re: Mahayana and the Dhyanas/Jhanas

Postby White Lotus » Mon Mar 22, 2010 3:05 pm

i would prefer a cup of tea...
though in vajrayana, ati yoga (?) of dzogpachenpo shit is considered to be one of the defiled foods that one is supposed at some time or another to eat on the path to enlightenment. a wise man once wrote: "shit is a gift that is rejected". just ask white lotus, she lives in a cess pool.

love White Lotus. xxx :pig:

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its when you think no way, that the way opens.
every tear is moulding the diamond chalice from which
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Re: Mahayana and the Dhyanas/Jhanas

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Mon Mar 22, 2010 11:06 pm

White Lotus wrote:i would prefer a cup of tea...


Now, within realization of suchness, which is beyond all concepts, how could there be preferences? Tea and turds are both equally suchness, are they not? Just like the emptiness of yourself, and the action of consumption?
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Re: Mahayana and the Dhyanas/Jhanas

Postby catmoon » Tue Mar 23, 2010 11:34 am

Pema Rigdzin wrote:
White Lotus wrote:i would prefer a cup of tea...


Now, within realization of suchness, which is beyond all concepts, how could there be preferences? Tea and turds are both equally suchness, are they not? Just like the emptiness of yourself, and the action of consumption?


That is all very well for those who have the realization. I still have a marked preference for the tea. I can live with that.
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Re: Mahayana and the Dhyanas/Jhanas

Postby White Lotus » Tue Mar 23, 2010 5:09 pm

though all is ultimately suchness, we are still conditioned by causes and effects. to deny cause and effect is to become a monster. if you prefer tea... then stick to tea. the preference is suchness. the aversion is suchness. inspite of things all being one, and ultimately the same dharmakaya, we are still conditioned by our nature and by the dancing of appearances and dualities.

best wishes, White Lotus. x

truth shines, sometimes in the darkest places.
what would the farmer do without manure?
it all works together, every appearance
leads towards enlightenment.
in any matters of importance. dont rely on me. i may not know what i am talking about. take what i say as mere speculation. i am not ordained. nor do i have a formal training. i do believe though that if i am wrong on any point. there are those on this site who i hope will quickly point out my mistakes.
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Re: Mahayana and the Dhyanas/Jhanas

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Wed Mar 24, 2010 7:43 am

White Lotus wrote:though all is ultimately suchness, we are still conditioned by causes and effects. to deny cause and effect is to become a monster. if you prefer tea... then stick to tea. the preference is suchness. the aversion is suchness. inspite of things all being one, and ultimately the same dharmakaya, we are still conditioned by our nature and by the dancing of appearances and dualities.

best wishes, White Lotus. x

truth shines, sometimes in the darkest places.
what would the farmer do without manure?
it all works together, every appearance
leads towards enlightenment.


You and Catmoon have obviously missed my point. As long as there is all sorts of apprehension of characteristics of phenomena and preferences and clinging to pure vs impure, it's silly to speak as though one is actually experiencing everything in the post-meditative state as suchness. It's just a bunch of flowery words... It's really quite an amazing, liberating realization if during meditation one's experience is suchness. For all of us who have not joined the ranks of the arya bodhisattvas, all we know of suchness is what we've understood through reasoning aimed at the ultimate and some intuitive understanding springing from that. But not suchness as it is.
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Re: Mahayana and the Dhyanas/Jhanas

Postby White Lotus » Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:21 pm

You and Catmoon have obviously missed my point. As long as there is all sorts of apprehension of characteristics of phenomena and preferences and clinging to pure vs impure, it's silly to speak as though one is actually experiencing everything in the post-meditative state as suchness.


everything in the meditative, and non meditative state is just as it is... suchness. apprehension of characteristics is natural, but seeing the oneness of all characteristics is not something one sees without work (but this is not at all important). preferences are fine, its just when days are no longer good nor bad, thats the way it is. suchness is not dependent upon the meditative nor non meditative state. its seeing things the way things are. nothing special. we all do this.

It's just a bunch of flowery words... It's really quite an amazing, liberating realization if during meditation one's experience is suchness. For all of us who have not joined the ranks of the arya bodhisattvas, all we know of suchness is what we've understood through reasoning aimed at the ultimate and some intuitive understanding springing from that. But not suchness as it is.


there is no need for reasoning in suchness, only, seeing, tasting, smelling, hearing things just the way they are. enjoying a cup of hot tea is suchness. experience of the profound unity of everything whilst in meditation is also suchness. as things are.

the truth of being, that a cup of tea is truly a cup of tea. that on a sunny day the sky is truly blue. simple... theres nothing special about it. you are a Master/Dame of suchness without any kind of training. do you have to reason that a cup of tea tastes like a cup of tea? no. you just taste it. this is suchness. totally ordinary, utterly profound.

the profound meditative experience of suchness is no different from having a chat with a friend. these things just are, and being as they are they are the reality body of the Buddha, totally real dharmakaya, and totally empty. Pema, please forgive me if you feel i am talking a load of nonsense. i am interested in your critique and do recognise the importance of a profound meditative experience of suchness. however this profundity can be found in all things, especially in the ordinary/mundane things of life.

best wishes, White Lotus. x

to wait and you will see,
or,
to seek and you will find.
in any matters of importance. dont rely on me. i may not know what i am talking about. take what i say as mere speculation. i am not ordained. nor do i have a formal training. i do believe though that if i am wrong on any point. there are those on this site who i hope will quickly point out my mistakes.
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Re: Mahayana and the Dhyanas/Jhanas

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Wed Mar 24, 2010 10:10 pm

White Lotus wrote:
You and Catmoon have obviously missed my point. As long as there is all sorts of apprehension of characteristics of phenomena and preferences and clinging to pure vs impure, it's silly to speak as though one is actually experiencing everything in the post-meditative state as suchness.


everything in the meditative, and non meditative state is just as it is... suchness. apprehension of characteristics is natural, but seeing the oneness of all characteristics is not something one sees without work (but this is not at all important). preferences are fine, its just when days are no longer good nor bad, thats the way it is. suchness is not dependent upon the meditative nor non meditative state. its seeing things the way things are. nothing special. we all do this.

It's just a bunch of flowery words... It's really quite an amazing, liberating realization if during meditation one's experience is suchness. For all of us who have not joined the ranks of the arya bodhisattvas, all we know of suchness is what we've understood through reasoning aimed at the ultimate and some intuitive understanding springing from that. But not suchness as it is.


there is no need for reasoning in suchness, only, seeing, tasting, smelling, hearing things just the way they are. enjoying a cup of hot tea is suchness. experience of the profound unity of everything whilst in meditation is also suchness. as things are.

the truth of being, that a cup of tea is truly a cup of tea. that on a sunny day the sky is truly blue. simple... theres nothing special about it. you are a Master/Dame of suchness without any kind of training. do you have to reason that a cup of tea tastes like a cup of tea? no. you just taste it. this is suchness. totally ordinary, utterly profound.

the profound meditative experience of suchness is no different from having a chat with a friend. these things just are, and being as they are they are the reality body of the Buddha, totally real dharmakaya, and totally empty. Pema, please forgive me if you feel i am talking a load of nonsense. i am interested in your critique and do recognise the importance of a profound meditative experience of suchness. however this profundity can be found in all things, especially in the ordinary/mundane things of life.

best wishes, White Lotus. x

to wait and you will see,
or,
to seek and you will find.


White Lotus,
It's not my wish to tell you what you must believe or to twist your arm to make you believe what I believe, only to make it clear that if you're under the impression that your beliefs as stated above are in accords with Mahayana doctrine or how it defines "suchness" or "Dharmakaya," then you are mistaken. If you'd like to know what Mahayana doctrine itself says about suchness, there are many sutras and commentaries that explain things from a POV with a focus on either emptiness or on buddha nature. Traditionally, in the Tibetan lineages, one first gains a firm grounding in the emptiness teachings before moving on to studying buddha nature in order to avoid misinterpreting the latter. It's my not-so-noteworthy opinion that this is a most wise approach.

That being the case, I think an excellent place to start - if you're interested - would be Dzongsar Khyentse's commentary on Chandrakirti's "Introduction to the Middle Way" which I'll link you to below. All you have to do is request it from the site and you'll automatically be emailed the pdf file in minutes. The text details what it means to become an arya by entering and progressing along the bodhisattva bhumis, including what obscurations one rids oneself of in meditation and in post-meditation at each bhumi, and which obscurations still remain at each stage which prevent the full realization of buddhahood (and therefore suchness as it truly is). Then, later in the text, the commentary goes into a lucid explanation of emptiness using examples and reasoning. The text itself is basically a commentary on the general meaning of Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamakakarika and is also based on the Dashabhumika sutra. Here's the link: https://app.etapestry.com/hosted/Khyent ... eForm.html

Brian
Pema Rigdzin
 
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Re: Mahayana and the Dhyanas/Jhanas

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Wed Mar 24, 2010 10:34 pm

Pema Rigdzin wrote:
White Lotus wrote:though all is ultimately suchness, we are still conditioned by causes and effects. to deny cause and effect is to become a monster. if you prefer tea... then stick to tea. the preference is suchness. the aversion is suchness. inspite of things all being one, and ultimately the same dharmakaya, we are still conditioned by our nature and by the dancing of appearances and dualities.

best wishes, White Lotus. x

truth shines, sometimes in the darkest places.
what would the farmer do without manure?
it all works together, every appearance
leads towards enlightenment.


You and Catmoon have obviously missed my point. As long as there is all sorts of apprehension of characteristics of phenomena and preferences and clinging to pure vs impure, it's silly to speak as though one is actually experiencing everything in the post-meditative state as suchness. It's just a bunch of flowery words... It's really quite an amazing, liberating realization if during meditation one's experience is suchness. For all of us who have not joined the ranks of the arya bodhisattvas, all we know of suchness is what we've understood through reasoning aimed at the ultimate and some intuitive understanding springing from that. But not suchness as it is.


Maybe experiencing suchness :quoteunquote: in equipoise is easy - but carrying it out into karma reality is the difficult thing.
Karma Dondrup Tashi
 
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