Stumbled across Thich Thanh Tu's Truc Lam Thien materials in English...

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Sentient Light
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Stumbled across Thich Thanh Tu's Truc Lam Thien materials in English...

Post by Sentient Light »

Looks like this stuff was translated in 2017.

For those who don't know, Thich Thanh Tu is the Vietnamese monastic who revitalized the esoteric Truc Lam school of Thien, and it looks like his disciples have been working tirelessly to translate his materials, starting with this liturgical book: http://www.tvvu.thienvienvouu.com/media ... O%20UU.pdf

This isn't too notable, but it does contain the first translations I've ever seen for certain liturgies, like the Sam Hoi Sau Can.

The much much much much cooler translation I came across was this: http://www.tvvu.thienvienvouu.com/media ... O%20UU.pdf

The "Internal Regulations" booklet, which at first just looks like a book of precepts and their explanations, but further reading reveals this to be the *curriculum* for Thich Thanh Tu's samanera program, which I think gives us a great look into the education of Zen monastics. I'll just put the juicy bits here for everyone:
Year 1

Sutras: Extracts and Explanations of the Agamas

Discourses: First Phase of Buddhist Studies; the Buddhist Councils

History: Vietnamese Meditation from the beginning up until the Ly Dynasty
---

Year Two

Sutras: Heart Sutra (Chinese); Diamond Sutra (Chinese); Vimalakirti Sutra (Vietnamese); Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment (Chinese)

Discourses: Vietnamese Meditation in the Late 20th Century; Origin of Meditation; Discourse on the Ultimate Supreme Vehicle (Vietnamese); Platform Sutra (Chinese)

History: The Indian and Chinese Patriarchs; Thien in the Ly and Tran Dynasties
---

Year Three

Sutras: Lankavatara Sutra (Vietnamese); Surangama Sutra (Chinese); Lotus Sutra (Vietnamese)

Discourses: Thieu That Six Brief Treatises (Vietnamese); Essential Door to Enter the Way to Immediate Enlightenment (Vietnamese); The Awakening of the Faith in the Mahayana (Chinese); The Song of Attaining the Way (Chinese)

History: Chronicle of Chinese Masters' Path of Practice, Volume I; Thien after the Tran Dynasty to the present
---

Year Four

Sutra: Mahayana Parinirvana Sutra (Vietnamese); Avatamsaka Sutra (Vietnamese)

Discourses: Direct Elucidation on True Nature (Vietnamese); Discourse on the Middle Way (Chinese); Precious Words on Returning to the Mind of All Dharmas (Vietnamese); Inscripton on the Heart of Faith (Chinese)

History: Chronicle of Chinese Meditation Masters' Path of Practice, Volume II
Took me a while to figure out that "discourses" means "commentaries/sermons". Some of those look to be Vietnamese commentaries I've never heard of before.
:buddha1: Nam mô A di đà Phật :buddha1:
:bow: Nam mô Quan Thế Âm Bồ tát :bow:
:bow: Nam mô Đại Thế Chi Bồ Tát :bow:

:buddha1: Nam mô Bổn sư Thích ca mâu ni Phật :buddha1:
:bow: Nam mô Di lặc Bồ tát :bow:
:bow: Nam mô Địa tạng vương Bồ tát :bow:
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Astus
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Re: Stumbled across Thich Thanh Tu's Truc Lam Thien materials in English...

Post by Astus »

See also previous topic: Thich Thanh Tu.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"
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Astus
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Re: Stumbled across Thich Thanh Tu's Truc Lam Thien materials in English...

Post by Astus »

There are two other parts I'd highlight.

On meditation and study (Internal Regulations, p 53-55):
Since Vietnamese Buddhism inherits the treasure of Meditation Tradition but fails to faithfully preserve it so this tradition has been deviated. Henceforth, meditation monasteries advocate Dual Practice of Meditation and Study, that is the practice of meditation and study of sutras and discourses on the Dharma. Moreover, at the present time, many Vietnamese monastics practice meditation but few truly practice Orthodox Meditation Tradition, they may be easily misled; consequently, they may become physically ill or mentally disturbed. So, if meditation monasteries do not introduce the study of sutras and discourses taught by the Buddha and Patriarchs to provide strong support to Meditation Tradition, many monastics would not be able to avoid uncertainty and nervousness. That is the fundamental reason monastics in meditation monasteries must study sutras and discourses.

On sitting meditation (Zen Meditation Chanting Ceremonies, p 127-131):
There are three methods for beginning practitioners:
a. Counting The Breath Method: “Sổ” means to count, “tức” means breath, “counting the breath method” signifies observing the in-and-out breaths, counting silently from one to ten. There are two ways to count the breaths: fast and slow.
Fast counting: Inhale completely, count “one”, exhale totally, count “two”..., continue to “ten”. Then restart from “one”. [Keep counting in this manner during the entire sitting meditation session.]
Slow counting: Inhale completely andexhale totally, count “one”; inhale completely and exhale totally, count “two”, continue to “ten”. Then restart from “one”. Keep counting in this manner during the entire sitting meditation session. While counting from “one” to “ten”, halfway if forgetting or suspecting that the numbers are mixed up, restart the counting from “one”.
Having practiced for some time, practitioners count correctly without making mistakes, then they can proceed to the Observing The Breath Method.
b. Observing The Breath Method:
“Tùy” means observe, “tức” means breath. “Observing the breath method” signifies following and observing the breath. As we inhale, we know where the breath is, as we exhale we also follow and observe the breath, we are fully aware of it. While observing the breath, the practitioners also realize that life exists in the breathing. Exhaling without inhaling, life stops existing. The breath is impermanent, life is also unstable, unreal and temporary.
When the breath observation is skillfully practiced, the practitioners can proceed to the next stage:
Recognizing The True Mind.
c.Recognizing The True Mind:
This is the essential part of the Zen meditation practice in Zen meditation centers.
From the practice of observing the breath,
- The practitioners progress to the stage of stopping the observation, the mind is peaceful and concentrated.
- At this moment, the practitioners consistently remind themselves “Mind-consciousness fully aware of its mental objects is True Mind”.
- Reminding in this manner until the True Mind is recognized, then we only need to acknowledge that “True Mind is present”.
Pay attention to the practice at this stage, it should not be too tense, be awake and clear-minded, gently preserve the practice. Once fully adept with recognition of the presence of the True Mind’s awareness, then proceed on to the stage of living with the True Mind’s nature.
The practitioners recognize that True Mind signifies “know perpetually and clearly without thoughts”.
- Perform this practice until completely skillful, only keep in mind the two words “no thoughts”.
- Abandon the two words “no thoughts”, thus, the mind is limitless and everlasting.
If feeling dreamy or drowsy, open eyes wide, reorganize the practice.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"
Sentient Light
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Re: Stumbled across Thich Thanh Tu's Truc Lam Thien materials in English...

Post by Sentient Light »

Astus wrote: Tue Jun 04, 2019 12:50 pm There are two other parts I'd highlight.

On meditation and study (Internal Regulations, p 53-55):
Since Vietnamese Buddhism inherits the treasure of Meditation Tradition but fails to faithfully preserve it so this tradition has been deviated. Henceforth, meditation monasteries advocate Dual Practice of Meditation and Study, that is the practice of meditation and study of sutras and discourses on the Dharma. Moreover, at the present time, many Vietnamese monastics practice meditation but few truly practice Orthodox Meditation Tradition, they may be easily misled; consequently, they may become physically ill or mentally disturbed. So, if meditation monasteries do not introduce the study of sutras and discourses taught by the Buddha and Patriarchs to provide strong support to Meditation Tradition, many monastics would not be able to avoid uncertainty and nervousness. That is the fundamental reason monastics in meditation monasteries must study sutras and discourses.

I think what's being discussed here is the rise of Theravadin Vipassana-reform movement meditation in Vietnam during the 20th century, which resulted in the spread of meditation classes and offerings without a connection to the lineage of Thien Tong . They translate "Tong" as "Tradition" here for "Meditation Tradition," but "Tong" normally means 'school' in this context, and I'm fairly confident Thich Thanh Tu is saying here that few are practicing in the Chan lineage of patriarchs, and without that lineage connection, they are apt to learn incorrectly. He's likely also addressing 'fake zen' teachers too, particularly the ones that advocate practice without further study, but I mostly think he's criticizing the spread of the Vipassana Reformation style of meditation that began proliferating in Vietnam during the 1920s, which some monasteries--notably the ones with little-to-no association with Chan lineages--began adopting. I think what he's doing is pointing out that the whole Vipassana-only kind of meditation isn't traditional, isn't founded in the scriptures we have from the Buddha (even the Nikayas/Agamas), and doesn't have an ancient lineage of meditation instruction connected to it.

Just wanted to clarify what I think he means when he says the Thien tradition has largely been 'lost' in Vietnam.
:buddha1: Nam mô A di đà Phật :buddha1:
:bow: Nam mô Quan Thế Âm Bồ tát :bow:
:bow: Nam mô Đại Thế Chi Bồ Tát :bow:

:buddha1: Nam mô Bổn sư Thích ca mâu ni Phật :buddha1:
:bow: Nam mô Di lặc Bồ tát :bow:
:bow: Nam mô Địa tạng vương Bồ tát :bow:
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Astus
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Re: Stumbled across Thich Thanh Tu's Truc Lam Thien materials in English...

Post by Astus »

Sentient Light wrote: Tue Jun 04, 2019 7:05 pmI think what he's doing is pointing out that the whole Vipassana-only kind of meditation isn't traditional, isn't founded in the scriptures we have from the Buddha (even the Nikayas/Agamas), and doesn't have an ancient lineage of meditation instruction connected to it.
Aren't there monasteries that maintain Mahayana and Thien practices? On the other hand, Thich Thanh Tu revived/reinvented the Truc Lam school that died out centuries ago, so wouldn't his criticism about the lack of 'Orthodox' tradition apply more generally than just those who took up Vipassana?
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"
Sentient Light
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Re: Stumbled across Thich Thanh Tu's Truc Lam Thien materials in English...

Post by Sentient Light »

Astus wrote: Tue Jun 04, 2019 9:04 pm
Aren't there monasteries that maintain Mahayana and Thien practices? On the other hand, Thich Thanh Tu revived/reinvented the Truc Lam school that died out centuries ago, so wouldn't his criticism about the lack of 'Orthodox' tradition apply more generally than just those who took up Vipassana?
There are monasteries that maintain the Thien lineage, yes. But all the extant Thien lineages can be easily traced back to China, so I'd have a hard time reconciling his comment as a criticism of every other Thien school in Vietnam. I think two things are being addressed here, the first is a meditation 'transmission' that is not based in lineage (hence the frequent referencing to the patriarchs), and then second, any idea that zen in Vietnam can be taught without scriptural study, because of the sloppy way the lineage was preserved. However, I'm not really aware of Vietnamese monastic communities that teach Thien in such a way. According to the notes at the bottom, I believe this was originally written in the 1990s, so the situation in Vietnam could've been very different back then.
:buddha1: Nam mô A di đà Phật :buddha1:
:bow: Nam mô Quan Thế Âm Bồ tát :bow:
:bow: Nam mô Đại Thế Chi Bồ Tát :bow:

:buddha1: Nam mô Bổn sư Thích ca mâu ni Phật :buddha1:
:bow: Nam mô Di lặc Bồ tát :bow:
:bow: Nam mô Địa tạng vương Bồ tát :bow:
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