After the couple of threads where I've participated which mainly were about Pure Land I'd like to come up this time with a Zen discussion.
To me Zen is simply the direct way of realising the essence of Buddhism, the nature of mind, ie. buddha-mind. Everything else are empty fists and golden leaves.
For a start let me give here short quotes from two Song dynasty meditation instructions.
"Once you have settled your posture and regulated your breathing, you should relax your abdomen. Do not think of any good or evil whatsoever. Whenever a thought occurs, be aware of it; as soon as you 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." (Changlu Zongze, tr. by C. Bielefeldt)
"In quiet concentration, examine clearly with true mindfulness. What is congnizant of sitting is mind, and what introspects is mind. What knows being and nonbeing, center and extremes, inside and outside, is mind. This mind is empty yet perceptive, silent yet aware. Round and bright, perfectly clear, it does not fall into ideas of annihilation or eternity. Spiritual awareness radiantly bright, its discrimination is not false." (Foxin Bencai, tr. by T. Cleary)
Simple and straightforward. This is all there is to seeing nature. By attaining it buddhahood is at hand. So here are two questions to discuss:
1. What hinders one from realising the nature of mind?
2. What stops one who has seen the nature from completing buddhahood?
"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)