Ch'an understanding of Suffering

Ch'an understanding of Suffering

Postby mettafou » Tue May 18, 2010 1:22 am

Can anyone clarify the Ch'an understanding of Suffering, with the emphasis that different beings have different needs?
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Re: Ch'an understanding of Suffering

Postby Dexing » Tue May 18, 2010 2:39 am

mettafou wrote:with the emphasis that different beings have different needs?


Not sure what change this would have on suffering...

But the classical Chan understanding of suffering might go something like this;

Shenguang had followed Damo for thirteen years but Damo had never spoken a word to him.

After thirteen years of silence from Damo, Shenguang was standing outside of Damo's room in the wintertime. It was extremely cold, snow and ice covered the ground. Becoming enraged at Damo's silence, Shenguang picked up a large block of snow and ice and hurled it into Damo's room. The snow and ice struck the floor and Damo was awakened from his meditation. He looked at Shenguang and in anger and frustration, Shenguang demanded to know when Damo would teach him. Damo finally replied, saying that he would teach him when red snow fell from the sky.

When he heard this, something inside Shenguang changed and he took the sword from around his belt and cut off his left arm. Raising the severed arm above his head, Shenguang whirled the arm around. The blood from the arm froze as it fell in the cold air, like red snow.

Seeing this, Damo agreed to teach Shenguang. He asked him what it was he wanted from him. Shenguang, in great pain, asked Damo to pacify his mind. But when Damo asked Shenguang to hand him his mind so that he might pacify it, Shenguang was unable to find his mind. Damo then told him; "then I've already pacified it."


So, you have suffering? Where is this suffering thing? If you can take it out and show it to me, perhaps we can have a look.

If you can't find it, then you are already free from suffering. Just let go of the idea.

:namaste:
nopalabhyate...
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Re: Ch'an understanding of Suffering

Postby mettafou » Tue May 18, 2010 7:47 am

thanks. in ch'an there is no conception of samsara or nibbana, is this correct? :anjali:
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Re: Ch'an understanding of Suffering

Postby Huifeng » Tue May 18, 2010 8:14 am

mettafou wrote:thanks. in ch'an there is no conception of samsara or nibbana, is this correct? :anjali:


I think you'd get a swift **thwack** with the incense board if you said something like that.
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Re: Ch'an understanding of Suffering

Postby Huifeng » Tue May 18, 2010 8:22 am

mettafou wrote:Can anyone clarify the Ch'an understanding of Suffering, with the emphasis that different beings have different needs?


First of all we may wish to deal with the issue "the Chan understanding", as if there was a singular position that Chan took on this (or any other) matter.

Basically we could say something to the effect of:

As long as living beings are deluded by craving, aversion and ignorance which obstructs their true nature, then they shall continue to be reborn again and again in the six types of rebirth, suffering immeasurable sufferings and pain.

These sufferings are many, because the karma of living beings are many, and therefore each requires a specific medicine to treat their suffering. However, ultimately the cure is seeing the truth -- The ultimate nature of a suffering being is no different from that of a Buddha.


That nice little bit of "verbal Chan" may plug the gap for a while. But a hungry man must eat, not just look at the menu.
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Re: Ch'an understanding of Suffering

Postby mettafou » Tue May 18, 2010 9:19 am

thanks again Huifeng.
These sufferings are many, because the karma of living beings are many, and therefore each requires a specific medicine to treat their suffering. However, ultimately the cure is seeing the truth -- The ultimate nature of a suffering being is no different from that of a Buddha.


what sort of specific medicines? are there any texts on this?

i know in classical chinese thought there is no "logic."
nothing like this dealing with transcendent a and subject b:
a<->b
a is independent of b
b is dependent on a.

perhaps this relates to the adaptation of the teachings, without the duality of samsara and the unconditioned as in the pali canon? If so are they compatible in terms of ultimate gnosis/ nibbana?
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Re: Ch'an understanding of Suffering

Postby Huifeng » Tue May 18, 2010 9:38 am

mettafou wrote:thanks again Huifeng.
These sufferings are many, because the karma of living beings are many, and therefore each requires a specific medicine to treat their suffering. However, ultimately the cure is seeing the truth -- The ultimate nature of a suffering being is no different from that of a Buddha.


what sort of specific medicines? are there any texts on this?


Oh, the regular sort of medicines. Stupid folks should contemplate on dependent origination, angry people should try to be kind - lest they be reborn in the hells or as asuras, that sort of thing.

Texts? um ... how about the entire canon in 12 sections?

i know in classical chinese thought there is no "logic."
nothing like this dealing with transcendent a and subject b:
a<->b
a is independent of b
b is dependent on a.

perhaps this relates to the adaptation of the teachings, without the duality of samsara and the unconditioned as in the pali canon? If so are they compatible in terms of ultimate gnosis/ nibbana?


And those who are overly prone to indulge in excessive mental gymnastics can put away the books, sit down quietly somewhere, and empty out all that sort of stuff. :smile:

But more seriously ... the ultimate is beyond distinctions of "conditioned" or "unconditioned", "duality" or "non-duality", and all that sort of jazz.

---

On another topic (well, actually same topic, but anyhoo!), may I ask, Mettafou, what sort of practice you are engaged with at present? Do you have a Chan teacher at all?

Sorry, just trying to get to know ya! It helps with communication on these otherwise o so impersonal digital message board thingees. :smile:
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Re: Ch'an understanding of Suffering

Postby mettafou » Tue May 18, 2010 9:57 am

And those who are overly prone to indulge in excessive mental gymnastics can put away the books, sit down quietly somewhere, and empty out all that sort of stuff.

the question on the ultimate is beyond those foundations right? or does ch'an remain within those foundations (less into to right concentration, discernment, etc.)?
But more seriously ... the ultimate is beyond distinctions of "conditioned" or "unconditioned", "duality" or "non-duality", and all that sort of jazz.

can we say what it's not to an extent in ch'an? *maybe you just did... anything beyond that?
what sort of practice you are engaged with at present? Do you have a Chan teacher at all?
mostly practices within the pali suttas, specifically in the thai forest tradition...

on the causal relationship between samsara and nibbana:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... nance.html
any thots on this article?

thank you
:anjali:
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Re: Ch'an understanding of Suffering

Postby Huifeng » Tue May 18, 2010 10:47 am

My thoughts on that article? Not specifically Chan, but my own thoughts ...

All stems from the problem of considering nirvana as something uncaused.
Then one gets into the quandry of what does one do, in fact, what can one do, to get to something which is uncaused? So people say, "Oh, just do nothing!" ummm, well it is true on one level, but 99% of people will mislead it.

But I think that:
Duhkha arises as the result from the presence of the defilements which are the cause.
That's a clear dependent origination.
Duhkha ceases due to the absence of these defilements.
The process of removal the defilements is the path, and the cessation is nirvana.

Duhkha and origin are dependent arising, the mundane.
Cessation and path are dependent cessation, the transmundane.

Now, nirvana is "not caused" but not in the sense of a thing which has no causes, but in the sense of it is the absence of result due to the absence of cause. In order to remove the cause, it isn't just a case of "do nothing", because for most people this just leaves their original defilements intact. Rather, one engages in actions which actively remove the defilements.

We could liken it to driving a car. If we have our foot on the gas, then we move on, travelling on highway samsara. Our aim is to stop, which is a kind of "doing nothing", unconditioned by the motor driving us forward. However, the best response is to actively take the foot off the gas, removal the main cause, and putting it on the brake.

Sorry if :offtopic: but ...
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Re: Ch'an understanding of Suffering

Postby White Lotus » Wed May 19, 2010 7:39 pm

sorry, this is right off topic, but i would notice the statement "all that Jazz" because i am quite a keen listener of Jazz FM (radio)... and today a van passed the bus and had "all that jazz" written on its side. so, i noticed!

so i guess we have to watch out for getting swamped in arguments such as dual and non dual, conditioned and un-conditioned. easy to take sides and sometimes necessary.

i have found that as i have progressed in my buddhist practice that i generate less causes for suffering, and so my life is easier... but still suffering from time to time.

best wishes, White Lotus.
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: Ch'an understanding of Suffering

Postby Bodhi » Fri Jul 16, 2010 11:01 pm

mettafou wrote:Can anyone clarify the Ch'an understanding of Suffering, with the emphasis that different beings have different needs?


I am really ignorance and shallow, and haven't have a deep understand of Chan or any realization at all.

But my reply to this would be there wouldn't be much different. Sufferings came from attachments. And in Chan, they emphasize the importance of realizing our pure nature, free from all attachments which cause delusion, and through meditation we directly realizing our pure nature. And this also means letting go of the idea of sufferings, because to believe and held onto the thought of "I'm suffering" will cause us to suffer because we are still holding onto "self".

The story with the first Patriarch Bodhidharma and the second patriarch Huiko in a way can help us understand this better.

Hui-k'o: My mind has not found peace. I beg you, Master, to pacify it for me.
Bodhidharma: Bring forth your mind to me and I will pacify it for you.
After a long silence, Hui-k'o told his master that he had searched for the mind but could not find it. Thereupon the Master said: Behold, I have already pacified the mind for you!


Peace in Chan
Wherever you are, that is where the mind should be. Always be mindful, and be your own master. This is true freedom. - Grand Master Wei Chueh
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Re: Ch'an understanding of Suffering

Postby Nighthawk » Sat Jul 17, 2010 4:14 am

Huifeng wrote:
mettafou wrote:Can anyone clarify the Ch'an understanding of Suffering, with the emphasis that different beings have different needs?


First of all we may wish to deal with the issue "the Chan understanding", as if there was a singular position that Chan took on this (or any other) matter.

Basically we could say something to the effect of:

As long as living beings are deluded by craving, aversion and ignorance which obstructs their true nature, then they shall continue to be reborn again and again in the six types of rebirth, suffering immeasurable sufferings and pain.

These sufferings are many, because the karma of living beings are many, and therefore each requires a specific medicine to treat their suffering. However, ultimately the cure is seeing the truth -- The ultimate nature of a suffering being is no different from that of a Buddha.


That nice little bit of "verbal Chan" may plug the gap for a while. But a hungry man must eat, not just look at the menu.


This was put forth by a famous theravadin monk. I wonder how a Mahayanist would respond?

If something with an awakened nature can suffer, what good is it? How could something innately awakened become defiled? If your original Buddha nature became deluded, what’s to prevent it from becoming deluded after it’s re-awakened?
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Re: Ch'an understanding of Suffering

Postby Dexing » Sat Jul 17, 2010 6:09 am

maestro wrote:This was put forth by a famous theravadin monk. I wonder how a Mahayanist would respond?

If something with an awakened nature can suffer, what good is it? How could something innately awakened become defiled? If your original Buddha nature became deluded, what’s to prevent it from becoming deluded after it’s re-awakened?


This doesn't seem to show a great deal of familiarity with the Buddha Nature teachings. Nonetheless...

It's not that an Original Buddha Nature became deluded and completely cut off and stopped working. It is simply overcast with delusion. It is basic awareness, and is functioning all the time. We are always seeing, hearing, smelling, etc. which is all part of our Awakened Nature, yet we are not a part of that experience. We are busy following our thinking and giving rise to delusion.

That delusion does nothing to the Awakened nature. If it can be lost and reattained it is not real. That which is produced and extinguished is not real. It neither comes nor goes and one cannot become more or less like it, no matter what one does.

What is it that has an Awakened Nature yet can suffer? Sentient Beings. And of what use are they? They can realize their Wonderfully Awakened Nature and let it function to benefit and gladden all beings. What better use?

:namaste:
nopalabhyate...
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Re: Ch'an understanding of Suffering

Postby Huifeng » Sat Jul 17, 2010 6:16 am

maestro wrote:
Huifeng wrote:
mettafou wrote:Can anyone clarify the Ch'an understanding of Suffering, with the emphasis that different beings have different needs?


First of all we may wish to deal with the issue "the Chan understanding", as if there was a singular position that Chan took on this (or any other) matter.

Basically we could say something to the effect of:

As long as living beings are deluded by craving, aversion and ignorance which obstructs their true nature, then they shall continue to be reborn again and again in the six types of rebirth, suffering immeasurable sufferings and pain.

These sufferings are many, because the karma of living beings are many, and therefore each requires a specific medicine to treat their suffering. However, ultimately the cure is seeing the truth -- The ultimate nature of a suffering being is no different from that of a Buddha.


That nice little bit of "verbal Chan" may plug the gap for a while. But a hungry man must eat, not just look at the menu.


This was put forth by a famous theravadin monk. I wonder how a Mahayanist would respond?


If I recall correctly, this was put forth by myself. It isn't a quote, but I wrote those few lines myself.

If something with an awakened nature can suffer, what good is it? How could something innately awakened become defiled? If your original Buddha nature became deluded, what’s to prevent it from becoming deluded after it’s re-awakened?


Well, there are many answers to this one. But I think that part of the problem is the rendering of the term "original", as if it were a temporal issue, hence the possibility of regression.

It may be best to first ask the Tiantai people, they have a long history of answering this question. But for me, this whole issue starts out on dubious premises, so I leave it well alone! haha!
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Re: Ch'an understanding of Suffering

Postby Nighthawk » Sat Jul 17, 2010 7:01 am

Funny stuff. The site I got it from didn't name you after the quote. I was thinking it was written by Thanissaro Bhikkhu to refute Buddha nature. If that's not the case then I'm curious to know how you would respond to your own inquiry? :smile:
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Re: Ch'an understanding of Suffering

Postby Huifeng » Sat Jul 17, 2010 10:47 am

maestro wrote:Funny stuff. The site I got it from didn't name you after the quote. I was thinking it was written by Thanissaro Bhikkhu to refute Buddha nature. If that's not the case then I'm curious to know how you would respond to your own inquiry? :smile:


Hi,

Yeah, kind of funny and weird. Are we talking about the same quote? I was referring to the

As long as living beings are deluded by craving, aversion and ignorance which obstructs their true nature, then they shall continue to be reborn again and again in the six types of rebirth, suffering immeasurable sufferings and pain.

These sufferings are many, because the karma of living beings are many, and therefore each requires a specific medicine to treat their suffering. However, ultimately the cure is seeing the truth -- The ultimate nature of a suffering being is no different from that of a Buddha.


although I posted that some time ago, I think I just thought it out at the time. I may just be totally wrong! I hope I haven't mistakenly appropriated somebody else's quote!

Which quote were you referring to, exactly? Sorry if we have been talking about different things.
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Re: Ch'an understanding of Suffering

Postby Huifeng » Sat Jul 17, 2010 10:49 am

Was it that your "this" was referring to what came next? whereas I took your "this" to refer to the post that you had quoted above it, which I had written?
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Re: Ch'an understanding of Suffering

Postby Dexing » Sat Jul 17, 2010 5:11 pm

Huifeng wrote:Was it that your "this" was referring to what came next? whereas I took your "this" to refer to the post that you had quoted above it, which I had written?


That's the way I took it. And I think that quote might have come from Ajahn Brahm. I remember him saying something like that on a talk about Buddha-Nature.

:namaste:
nopalabhyate...
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Re: Ch'an understanding of Suffering

Postby Nighthawk » Sat Jul 17, 2010 7:21 pm

Huifeng wrote:Was it that your "this" was referring to what came next? whereas I took your "this" to refer to the post that you had quoted above it, which I had written?


Yes, sorry for the confusion.
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