Questioning My Compatibility With Theravada Buddhism

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Re: Questioning My Compatibility With Theravada Buddhism

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tonysharp wrote: Fri May 31, 2019 12:03 am
Johnny Dangerous wrote: Thu May 30, 2019 11:49 pmI am not aware of any tradition where simply watching breath is considered Vipaysana
There was noting and scanning involved, but the core of the practice was watching the breath. The method, if I recall correctly, was based on the teachings of Mahasi Sayadaw.
I've read Mahasi Sayadaw and stuff by his students, namely Patrick Kearney. I recall alot more than that, including specific instructions about watching the mind stream.

I imagine that just like the Tibetan traditions, one grows into Vipaysana from this basic technique, but that it is not all that is taught.
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Re: Questioning My Compatibility With Theravada Buddhism

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Johnny Dangerous wrote: Fri May 31, 2019 12:54 amI've read Mahasi Sayadaw and stuff by his students, namely Patrick Kearney. I recall alot more than that, including specific instructions about watching the mind stream.
You want me to type out the full instructions? It's not uncommon to say "watching the breath" when referring to Anapanasati, which translates to "mindfulness of breathing." And I'd already expressed dissatisfaction with Satipatthana in the opening post. Since my recent mention of meditation was just a peripheral detail, and not the point of the thread, I was maybe a little less than precise with the wording. I'll be more careful next time.
“I, Shinran, do not have a single disciple of my own. The reason is that if I could induce others to call the nenbutsu through my own influence, then they might well be called my disciples. But it is utterly absurd to call them my disciples when they repeat the nenbutsu through the influence of Amida Buddha.”
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Re: Questioning My Compatibility With Theravada Buddhism

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I’m not sure Mahasi Sayadaw will be helpful in a Zen context, but that’s not to say it’s not worth knowing. Zazen is not either Samatha nor Vipassana, however maybe 1000 years ago Ch’an practice was considered to be both calm and insight, but both practiced together not separately. Just not in the modern context, which had, outside of Tibet, ceased as a practice for centuries. Modern Vipassana is a reconstruction, not an ancient tradition.
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Re: Questioning My Compatibility With Theravada Buddhism

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Johnny Dangerous wrote: Fri May 31, 2019 12:54 am I've read Mahasi Sayadaw and stuff by his students, namely Patrick Kearney. I recall alot more than that, including specific instructions about watching the mind stream.
Quite. The breath (or some other object) is the "grounding" or "primary" object, used to build up mindfulness and concentration. The usual instruction is to then pay attention to whatever else arises (pain, sounds, thoughts, etc), returning to the breath (or the walking in the case of walking practice) when that subsides. As Johnny says, a teacher will gradually point out how to observe more subtle aspects of experience (feelings, mind states, thoughts), and also provide some background understanding of the Dharma, so that the experience can be evaluated against it. The development process is more like learning to play an instrument than being in a class.

As others have said, the key reason for seeing a teacher, at least from time to time, is that the path is about working to dispel delusion. Just imagine someone who finds it hard to distinguish different musical notes trying to teach themselves the violin. It's painful! Some correction at the right time can save a lot of time!

I would, therefore, be careful with the following statement:
tonysharp wrote: Thu May 30, 2019 10:59 pm Sitting meditation and the Diamond Sutra with a commentary are quite intuitive on their own.
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Re: Questioning My Compatibility With Theravada Buddhism

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SunWuKong wrote: Fri May 31, 2019 2:54 am I’m not sure Mahasi Sayadaw will be helpful in a Zen context, but that’s not to say it’s not worth knowing.
I agree. Zazen and Vipassana are indeed different. My plan is to remain with the practices that I've already been instructed on (mindfulness of breathing, metta, and Buddhanusati) until I've settled on a new school. Then I'll pursue the specific practice instructions for that school.
mikenz66 wrote: Fri May 31, 2019 2:57 amI would, therefore, be careful with the following statement:
You responded to a misreading.

I'm aware of how Vipassana is practiced. In an earlier post, I said that I had doubts about how "watching the breath alone can lead to enlightenment." Johnny Dangerous read this as me oversimplifying Vipassana practice, which wasn't my intention.

Regarding sitting meditation (Zazen specifically), it is intuitive. If you can read or watch the instructions, you can start Zazen just fine. It's not like other practices where you have to visualize rotting corpses and risk traumatizing yourself if an instructor isn't there to hold your hand.
“I, Shinran, do not have a single disciple of my own. The reason is that if I could induce others to call the nenbutsu through my own influence, then they might well be called my disciples. But it is utterly absurd to call them my disciples when they repeat the nenbutsu through the influence of Amida Buddha.”
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Re: Questioning My Compatibility With Theravada Buddhism

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tonysharp wrote: Fri May 31, 2019 4:11 am
Regarding sitting meditation (Zazen specifically), it is intuitive. If you can read or watch the instructions, you can start Zazen just fine. It's not like other practices where you have to visualize rotting corpses and risk traumatizing yourself if an instructor isn't there to hold your hand.
The cemetery meditations and such like are not just Theravadin, but they are pretty much a monastic practice for those who have toddled down the path a piece. They are not beginner's or even intermediate practices.

Zazen and Vipassana are indeed different
Not really, once you get some experience.
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Re: Questioning My Compatibility With Theravada Buddhism

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SunWuKong wrote: Fri May 31, 2019 2:54 am I’m not sure Mahasi Sayadaw will be helpful in a Zen context, but that’s not to say it’s not worth knowing. Zazen is not either Samatha nor Vipassana, however maybe 1000 years ago Ch’an practice was considered to be both calm and insight, but both practiced together not separately. Just not in the modern context, which had, outside of Tibet, ceased as a practice for centuries. Modern Vipassana is a reconstruction, not an ancient tradition.
Shikan meditation which was and is practiced in the Chinese and Japanese Tiantai/Tendai Schools is the practice of both shi = samatha and kan= vipassana. It's the title of one of the greatest texts in China Master Zhiyi's Mohe Zhiguan/Maka Shikan known as " The Great treatise on Concentration and Insight" or under the current title Clear Serenity, Quiet Insight by translator Paul Swanson
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Chih-I:
The Tai-ching states "the women in the realms of Mara, Sakra and Brahma all neither abandoned ( their old) bodies nor received (new) bodies. They all received buddhahood with their current bodies (genshin)" Thus these verses state that the dharma nature is like a great ocean. No right or wrong is preached (within it) Ordinary people and sages are equal, without superiority or inferiority
Paul, Groner "The Lotus Sutra in Japanese Culture"eds. Tanabe p. 58
https://www.tendai-usa.org/
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Re: Questioning My Compatibility With Theravada Buddhism

Post by mikenz66 »

Hi Tony,
tonysharp wrote: Fri May 31, 2019 4:11 am You responded to a misreading.
...
Regarding sitting meditation (Zazen specifically), it is intuitive. If you can read or watch the instructions, you can start Zazen just fine. It's not like other practices where you have to visualize rotting corpses and risk traumatizing yourself if an instructor isn't there to hold your hand.
I'm sorry if I was not clear. There were two parts to my post. One about some technical details of the Mahasi approach.

The second part was more important. You said:
tonysharp wrote: Thu May 30, 2019 10:59 pm Sitting meditation and the Diamond Sutra with a commentary are quite intuitive on their own.
From what I've seen of Zazen from occasional gatherings that I've attended involving teachers from a variety of backgrounds, it didn't seem particularly intuitive to me. As I said, these various paths involve methods to break down delusion, to see things differently. I'm no expert on Zazen, so perhaps it's not as tricky as it seems to me.

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Re: Questioning My Compatibility With Theravada Buddhism

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tonysharp wrote: Fri May 31, 2019 2:45 am
Johnny Dangerous wrote: Fri May 31, 2019 12:54 amI've read Mahasi Sayadaw and stuff by his students, namely Patrick Kearney. I recall alot more than that, including specific instructions about watching the mind stream.
You want me to type out the full instructions? It's not uncommon to say "watching the breath" when referring to Anapanasati, which translates to "mindfulness of breathing." And I'd already expressed dissatisfaction with Satipatthana in the opening post. Since my recent mention of meditation was just a peripheral detail, and not the point of the thread, I was maybe a little less than precise with the wording. I'll be more careful next time.

No no, I just mean that 'watching the breath' itself is shamatha, and that the various meditation progressing from that turn into Vipaysana...this is true in most traditions I've seen that teach them separately. Not all traditions do. I am also saying that Shamatha alone -i.e. focus on a object such as the breath- is not an exclusive practice for any Buddhist school i'm aware of.

I believe that Zazen/Shikantaza is the same as union of Shamatha and Vipaysana.

We've had numerous discussions on this, some will quibble on th details, but I'm pretty convinced of it.

EDIT: Just saw above that Rory beat me to it.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

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Re: Questioning My Compatibility With Theravada Buddhism

Post by dude »

tony :

Your posts tell me you're advancing quickly. What you're doing, keep doing it.
I'm intrigued by your antipathy to the Lotus Sutra too, which, I think, is something that might be worth observing.
I share your frustration with the master-disciple thing. But fwiw, finding a bad teacher is worse that finding no teacher at all.
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Re: Questioning My Compatibility With Theravada Buddhism

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dude wrote: Fri May 31, 2019 8:40 amYour posts tell me you're advancing quickly. What you're doing, keep doing it.
I'm intrigued by your antipathy to the Lotus Sutra too, which, I think, is something that might be worth observing.
I share your frustration with the master-disciple thing. But fwiw, finding a bad teacher is worse that finding no teacher at all.
My aversion to the Lotus Sutra may be tied to how radically different it is from the texts I’m accustomed to. In the Theravada tradition, the Pali Canon is often touted, usually implicitly, but sometimes explicitly, as the definitive source for the authentic teachings of the Buddha. My doubts about this claim had already started, but it took some more reflection to learn how to approach the other Buddhist traditions with fairness. Reading Yoshiro Tamura and Mu Soeng was immensely helpful.

Living up to its title, the Diamond Cutter Sutra has had the most immediate and deepest impression on me. It made me rethink dualistic conventions, and consider the broader implications of anattā (anātmam). I’ve also connected with the Vimalakirti Sutra, which, in part, colorfully illustrates the compatibility of the lay and spiritual life. That all being said, I haven’t abandoned the Lotus Sutra. I will give it another look in the future.

From how things are karmically aligning, I feel like I’m being guided to Chan, which, surprisingly, has ties with Pure Land, the other tradition that I have an interest in. There are communities that integrate the practices of both of these traditions.

I appreciate your support as I fought to find my place on this new path.

:namaste:
“I, Shinran, do not have a single disciple of my own. The reason is that if I could induce others to call the nenbutsu through my own influence, then they might well be called my disciples. But it is utterly absurd to call them my disciples when they repeat the nenbutsu through the influence of Amida Buddha.”
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Re: Questioning My Compatibility With Theravada Buddhism

Post by 明安 Myoan »

Greetings, Tony.

From what I understand, Pure Land practices in China and Vietnam were never singled out from other Mahayana practices.
Exclusive nembutsu practice, on the other hand, is the teaching of Master Shandao, which was lost in China for centuries but taken up again by Master Honen in Japan.
So there's plenty of variety.

You've probably been up to your eyeballs in books and resources, but here are some Pure Land books with a Chan flavor that I've enjoyed:

* Pure Land Teachings of Master Chu-Hung
* Pure-Land Zen, Zen-Pure Land, by Master Yinguang
* Taming the Monkey Mind
* Dialogues with Ancient Masters, which includes the famous Ten Doubts document
* Master Ou-i's Commentary on the Amitabha Sutra is very dense reading, but gets deep into the theory

Ippen's "No Abode" is of a similar bent. I posted some quotes from the book here.
Thich Thien Tam's "Buddhism of Wisdom and Faith" is another good one.
With a heart wandering in ignorance down this path and that, to guide me I simply say Namu-Amida-Butsu. -- Ippen

Reciting the Nembutsu and believing in birth in the Pure Land naturally give rise to the Three Minds and the Four Modes of Practice. -- Master Hōnen
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Re: Questioning My Compatibility With Theravada Buddhism

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Mönlam Tharchin wrote: Fri May 31, 2019 4:52 pm Greetings, Tony.

From what I understand, Pure Land practices in China and Vietnam were never singled out from other Mahayana practices.
Exclusive nembutsu practice, on the other hand, is the teaching of Master Shandao, which was lost in China for centuries but taken up again by Master Honen in Japan.
So there's plenty of variety.
First let me clarify classic Tiantai/Tendai shikan (samatha-vipassana)meditation is not the same as Zen shikantaza they use different characters. Matylda or Rev. Meido from the Zen forum can explain what the characters for shikantaza means.

Also in China the Tiantai School practiced and practices both meditation and Pure Land. Master Ou-I who is regarded as a Pure Land patriarch was a famous 17th century Tiantai master. The Tendai school in Japan also practices meditation, Pure Land with the addition of esoteric practices too; Tendai is famous for being a mixed practice school. Historically the famous Jodo, Jodo Shinshu, Nichiren, Rinzai Zen and Soto Zen schools all broke away from Tendai eventually to form the single practice schools we all know today. Their eminent founders: Honen, Shinran, Nichiren, Eisai and Dogen were all Tendai monks!
gassho
Rory
Namu Kanzeon Bosatsu
Chih-I:
The Tai-ching states "the women in the realms of Mara, Sakra and Brahma all neither abandoned ( their old) bodies nor received (new) bodies. They all received buddhahood with their current bodies (genshin)" Thus these verses state that the dharma nature is like a great ocean. No right or wrong is preached (within it) Ordinary people and sages are equal, without superiority or inferiority
Paul, Groner "The Lotus Sutra in Japanese Culture"eds. Tanabe p. 58
https://www.tendai-usa.org/
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Re: Questioning My Compatibility With Theravada Buddhism

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:twothumbsup:
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Re: Questioning My Compatibility With Theravada Buddhism

Post by dude »

tonysharp:
The Lotus Sutra is indeed unique among sutras in many ways. Nichiren said that it differs from the Theravadin sutras as heaven differs from earth. The sutra also says it is "difficult to believe..." Even Shariputra, foremost in wisdom, said "At first, when I heard the Buddha’s preaching,
there was great astonishment and doubt in my mind.
Is this not a devil pretending to be the Buddha,
trying to vex and confuse my mind? I thought." - Lotus Sutra chapter 3.
I continue to rejoice as I share insights with you. Like you, I love the Diamond Sutra.
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Re: Questioning My Compatibility With Theravada Buddhism

Post by múscailt »

dude wrote: Sat Jun 01, 2019 6:21 am tonysharp:
The Lotus Sutra is indeed unique among sutras in many ways. Nichiren said that it differs from the Theravadin sutras as heaven differs from earth. ...
Theravada is not a synonym for hīnayana. These are no interchangeable words, and I: seriously doubt that Nichiren had any contact or actual knowledge of the Theravada. But I could be wrong about Nichiren knowing about the Theravada.
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Re: Questioning My Compatibility With Theravada Buddhism

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I’ve been reflecting on my issues with teachers. It goes beyond anxiety. I’m generally critical of systems that give disproportionate power to small groups of people—especially when those people claim that we can’t thrive without them. Such claims are often made to undermine our agency and make us doubt our ability.

Many reputable teachers have graciously provided books and even YouTube videos on the Dharma and meditation. If transmitting the teachings in this way is good enough for them, it’s good enough for me. I will mindfully follow these resources until I can meet with a teacher in person.
Mönlam Tharchin wrote: Fri May 31, 2019 4:52 pmSo there's plenty of variety.
Excellent.
You've probably been up to your eyeballs in books and resources,
Yeah. :lol:

I use an Amazon wishlist for organization, which I update as my understanding and needs shift.

My selection so far:
* The Diamond Sutra: Transforming the Way We Perceive the World by Mu Soeng
* The Sutra of Queen Srimala / The Vimalakirti Sutra by Paul/McRae
* The Three Pure Land Sutras by Inagaki/Stewart
* The Sixth Patriarch's Dharma Jewel Platform Sutra by Verhoeven/Sure
* The Chan Handbook: The Learner's Guide to Meditation by Master YongHua

The Chung Tai Translation Committee has also rendered a nice and freely available translation of the Diamond Sutra. I haven't liked some of the more popular translations of this text because they were strangely worded or too contemporary.
but here are some Pure Land books with a Chan flavor that I've enjoyed:
Thank you for sharing these. I've started Taming the Monkey Mind. It's been helpful in understanding the essence of Pure Land practice.
“I, Shinran, do not have a single disciple of my own. The reason is that if I could induce others to call the nenbutsu through my own influence, then they might well be called my disciples. But it is utterly absurd to call them my disciples when they repeat the nenbutsu through the influence of Amida Buddha.”
Tannisho VI
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