See Nature, Become Buddha - Can You?

See Nature, Become Buddha - Can You?

Postby Astus » Wed Apr 28, 2010 11:13 pm

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)

“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; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: See Nature, Become Buddha - Can You?

Postby Indrajala » Thu Apr 29, 2010 1:40 am

I think there is more to it than that. For example these manuals were written probably with monastics in mind who presumably had dozens of other practices behind them when they went to sit on the meditation cushion. The monastic lifestyle, the vinaya and so on all foster positive conditions and help to prevent further defilements from accumulating.
1. What hinders one from realising the nature of mind?


Usually it is said that defilements prevent realization of tathata.


2. What stops one who has seen the nature from completing buddhahood?


I think generally the realization list goes like this:

1.Realization of emptiness of self.

2.Realization of emptiness of phenomena.

3. Realization of tathata.

Buddhahood is where you completely and without any klesa realize tathata.

As long as the defilements remain, there is no complete realization.
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Re: See Nature, Become Buddha - Can You?

Postby m0rl0ck » Thu Apr 29, 2010 3:54 am

Huseng wrote:
3. Realization of tathata.



What is that? How is it different than self and phenomena? From what does it arise?

The Heart sutra and various other chan/zen sources seem pretty clear to me in equating form and emptiness, it the tathata isnt form or emptiness, what is it?
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Re: See Nature, Become Buddha - Can You?

Postby m0rl0ck » Thu Apr 29, 2010 3:56 am

Astus wrote:1. What hinders one from realising the nature of mind?


Imo comfort seeking and fear mostly. Fear of giving up control and preferring comfortable misery to a glimpse of reality. In other words lack of ability to surrender to beingness as it actually is. Some egos i think may even go as far as suicide to maintain control rather than surrender to life as it is.

The second question doesnt make alot of sense to me. What does buddhahood mean? How is it different than seeing the true nature of mind and reality? Huang po for instance equates the two.
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Re: See Nature, Become Buddha - Can You?

Postby Indrajala » Thu Apr 29, 2010 7:03 am

m0rl0ck wrote:
Huseng wrote:
3. Realization of tathata.



What is that? How is it different than self and phenomena? From what does it arise?

The Heart sutra and various other chan/zen sources seem pretty clear to me in equating form and emptiness, it the tathata isnt form or emptiness, what is it?


Tathata is usually equated to emptiness, but then emptiness has different meanings according to different perspectives.
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Re: See Nature, Become Buddha - Can You?

Postby m0rl0ck » Thu Apr 29, 2010 7:18 am

Huseng wrote:
Tathata is usually equated to emptiness, but then emptiness has different meanings according to different perspectives.


If its emptiness too, how can it be different than the emptiness of self and the world?
If you have two kinds of emptiness you have to distinguish them from each other and then they arent empty anymore, are they?
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Re: See Nature, Become Buddha - Can You?

Postby Indrajala » Thu Apr 29, 2010 7:21 am

m0rl0ck wrote:
Huseng wrote:
Tathata is usually equated to emptiness, but then emptiness has different meanings according to different perspectives.


If its emptiness too, how can it be different than the emptiness of self and the world?
If you have two kinds of emptiness you have to distinguish them from each other and then they arent empty anymore, are they?


Emptiness is also empty.
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Re: See Nature, Become Buddha - Can You?

Postby Indrajala » Thu Apr 29, 2010 7:21 am

In other words, there is a point where ratiocination ceases and the fruit born from the causes cannot be set in words.
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Re: See Nature, Become Buddha - Can You?

Postby m0rl0ck » Thu Apr 29, 2010 7:38 am

The Master said to me: All the Buddhas and all sentient beings are nothing but the One Mind, beside which nothing exists. This Mind, which is without beginning, is unborn and indestructible. It is not green nor yellow, and has neither form nor appearance. It does not belong to the categories of things which exist or do not exist, nor can it be thought of in terms of new or old. It is neither long nor short, big nor small, for it transcends all limits, measure, names, traces and comparisons. It is that which you see before you – begin to reason about it and you at once fall into error. It is like the boundless void which cannot be fathomed or measured. The One Mind alone is the Buddha, and there is no distinction between the Buddha and sentient things, but that sentient beings are attached to forms and so seek externally for Buddhahood.


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Re: See Nature, Become Buddha - Can You?

Postby Astus » Thu Apr 29, 2010 9:56 am

Huseng,

Interestingly enough, these Song dynasty Chan manuals were meant for the laity (too). Monks had their elder teachers around and the whole tradition, so they didn't really need instructions in written form about how to sit and what to do, unlike lay people who didn't sit with the monks. Plus there were tomes with a lot more detailed and complicated instruction (eg. Mohezhiguan). This simplified, basic Chan was meant for everyone, just like Dahui taught Kanhua Chan mainly to his lay followers.

Defilements are certainly behind all our problems. It means we're attached to feelings and concepts taking them as real and solid. That's why in Chan it is told to turn the attention on mind itself, thus realising the true nature. That is called the direct cut instead of eliminating klesa step by step. On the other hand, the sudden path is not for everyone. For instance, the Perfect Enlightenment Sutra advises repentance practice and long retreats.

As m0rl0ck mentioned, there may not be a difference between realising buddha-mind and buddhahood. But as I see, many Chan teachers differentiate between initial insight and complete liberation, even some from the early Hongzhou school. On the other hand, after Shenhui there were no such stages as you describe it. Such steps belong to the gradual and not the sudden path. In Tathagata Chan - the Supreme Vehicle - one goes directly for tathata.
"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)

“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; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: See Nature, Become Buddha - Can You?

Postby Astus » Thu Apr 29, 2010 10:06 am

m0rl0ck,

What you describe as hindrances are what defilements are. And if that obstructs one from seeing nature, isn't it that different methods should be applied? Huangbo also says that while there are a few who can go the sudden way, many has to walk the gradual path.

"Some students attain the state of liberated Mind quickly, some slowly. After listening to a Dharma talk, some reach "no mind" directly. In contrast, some must first pass gradually through the ten grades of Bodhisattva faith, the Dasabhumi of Bodhisattva development, and the ten stages before attaining the Perfectly Awakened Mind."

"Out of thousands and thousands of Dharma students in the Dhyana School, only three or five attain the fruit."

It follows that if one is not enlightened immediately, they must apply the usual Mahayana path of sila, samadhi and prajna.
"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)

“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; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: See Nature, Become Buddha - Can You?

Postby Dae Bi » Thu Apr 29, 2010 10:23 am

I thought Tathata was Suchness/thatness? Tathata isn't, as far as I'm aware, the realisation of the Emptiness of all dharma. Tathata, as I am aware, is the knowledge that form is emptiness, emptiness is form. By just realising emptiness, that is only one part. The other part is Form.
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Re: See Nature, Become Buddha - Can You?

Postby Astus » Thu Apr 29, 2010 10:51 am

Realising tathata, suchness, is seeing how things actually are (yatha bhuta). This is equivalent to say one has realised emptiness. Emptiness is never separate from form, thinking they're different is not really an enlightenment on emptiness. But of course, there are different meanings of emptiness, that's why Huseng said he used tathata.
"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)

“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; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: See Nature, Become Buddha - Can You?

Postby m0rl0ck » Thu Apr 29, 2010 11:51 am

Astus wrote:m0rl0ck,

What you describe as hindrances are what defilements are. And if that obstructs one from seeing nature, isn't it that different methods should be applied? Huangbo also says that while there are a few who can go the sudden way, many has to walk the gradual path.

"Some students attain the state of liberated Mind quickly, some slowly. After listening to a Dharma talk, some reach "no mind" directly. In contrast, some must first pass gradually through the ten grades of Bodhisattva faith, the Dasabhumi of Bodhisattva development, and the ten stages before attaining the Perfectly Awakened Mind."

"Out of thousands and thousands of Dharma students in the Dhyana School, only three or five attain the fruit."

It follows that if one is not enlightened immediately, they must apply the usual Mahayana path of sila, samadhi and prajna.


HP also says that "To practice the six paramitas and a myriad of similiar practices with the intention of becoming a buddha thereby is to advance by stages, but the Ever-Existent Buddha is not a Buddha of stages." (This is so cool, dueling Huang Po quotes :D )

Yeah i guess different methods might be applied, im not a teacher so i dont really want to hazard an opinion about any particular method of practice over another. I have read that the path of love and devotion may be somewhat safer from existential crises, but i dont really know alot about that path other than some haphazard metta practice over the years. As far as immediate/sudden enlightenment goes, some sit i have heard, either with a koan or huatou or not, for years before "something" (whatever that may be) happens. How sudden is that?

EDIT: The HP quote is from The Zen Teachings of Huang Po, Blofeld, page 49.
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Re: See Nature, Become Buddha - Can You?

Postby Astus » Thu Apr 29, 2010 12:29 pm

m0rl0ck,

Indeed, there have always been Chan students working with different meditation practices before gaining insight. Huatou is a method devised to expedite seeing nature. As tradition says, it was invented by teachers because the capacity of students became worse than those of the ancients. I don't think this is the case, but that's a historical issue.

However, it tells a lot about Chan if there is hardly anyone who can do it. Talking about sudden enlightenment and 30 years of mountain retreat at the same time is a bit contradictory. One could as well use other methods, like samatha-vipasyana of Tiantai, or Huayan instructions, since they're more step by step and applicable to different circumstances. Seeing nature is supposed to be the pure Chan path which is not even a path but enlightenment. Or that is just rhetoric.
"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)

“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; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: See Nature, Become Buddha - Can You?

Postby m0rl0ck » Thu Apr 29, 2010 12:53 pm

Astus wrote:m0rl0ck,

Indeed, there have always been Chan students working with different meditation practices before gaining insight. Huatou is a method devised to expedite seeing nature. As tradition says, it was invented by teachers because the capacity of students became worse than those of the ancients. I don't think this is the case, but that's a historical issue.

However, it tells a lot about Chan if there is hardly anyone who can do it.


Well there do seem to be alot of people doing it, both now and historically and chan includes alot of different methods. Silent illumination (similar to tho not exactly like zazen according to Sheng Yen), samatha, huatou and is usually, i gather, found with pure land which brings on board another set of practices.

Astus wrote:Talking about sudden enlightenment and 30 years of mountain retreat at the same time is a bit contradictory. One could as well use other methods, like samatha-vipasyana of Tiantai, or Huayan instructions, since they're more step by step and applicable to different circumstances.


See above.

Astus wrote:Seeing nature is supposed to be the pure Chan path which is not even a path but enlightenment. Or that is just rhetoric.


I vote rhetoric, but thats just me. :)
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Re: See Nature, Become Buddha - Can You?

Postby Astus » Thu Apr 29, 2010 1:32 pm

If sudden enlightenment were purely rhetorical in Chan the whole thing could as well be put aside as a badly set up system and we should get involved in something real. I mean, the whole idea of Chan is about sudden enlightenment, without that it has no raison d'être.

Other methods used are actually usual Mahayana techniques, means of the gradual path. Only exception is the huatou-gongan technique which is an internal development of the Chan tradition, again, based on the sudden enlightenment concept.
"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)

“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; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: See Nature, Become Buddha - Can You?

Postby m0rl0ck » Thu Apr 29, 2010 1:48 pm

Astus wrote:If sudden enlightenment were purely rhetorical in Chan the whole thing could as well be put aside as a badly set up system and we should get involved in something real. I mean, the whole idea of Chan is about sudden enlightenment, without that it has no raison d'être.



Sorry i didnt make my meaning more clear. I meant that i thot the question was a rhetorical device on your part :)
Im not really your guy if you are looking for a justification of chan. Im just a lowly and somewhat confused practioner, i am sure others on the board are better able to help you if you are looking for a debate on the value of chan. As to the value of paths, im willing to go with huang po, see my earlier quote. There is loads in the same vein in the book i referenced. I guess one has to do something while waiting for the lightning to strike tho :jumping:
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Re: See Nature, Become Buddha - Can You?

Postby Astus » Thu Apr 29, 2010 2:33 pm

I simply raised to (hopefully provocative) questions. Different perspectives and ideas are very welcome.

m0rl0ck wrote:I guess one has to do something while waiting for the lightning to strike tho


Maybe it wasn't intentional on your side, but there is actually a view saying that regardless of one's practice enlightenment will come suddenly (and that's what they call sudden enlightenment). It is a wrong idea that denies the meaning of practice. There are people who think that one should just sit and wait for realisation to happen. That way nothing will happen. So there are also people who believe that if nothing happens that's zazen, that's enlightenment. What is that good for?
"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)

“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; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: See Nature, Become Buddha - Can You?

Postby White Lotus » Thu Apr 29, 2010 4:29 pm

:namaste:
See Nature, Become Buddha - Can You?


how can you not see your nature? you are just as you are. it is just as it is. nothing in it. just so. you are astus, i am tom. theres nothing to it...
except the ego, which probably wont like me saying this, because the ego always wants something. if you give it no-thing at all it starts complaining.

best wishes, White Lotus.

ego... whats that!
i didnt see anything,
i didnt hear anything,
i didnt taste anything.
i want to see!
i want to hear!
i want to taste!

then your looking for something.
emptiness is not. it is a no thing.

all things being empty...
just taste that ice cream!
sip that coffee.
hit those keys.
perfect enlightenment. just as it is, just as things are. just so. so.
(not even empty... my stomach).
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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