Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

General forum on the teachings of all schools of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism. Topics specific to one school are best posted in the appropriate sub-forum.
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by LastLegend »

Master Meido is needed here!
It’s eye blinking.
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by Crazywisdom »

Malcolm wrote: Wed Jun 24, 2020 9:39 pm
Crazywisdom wrote: Wed Jun 24, 2020 8:40 pm
Dan74 wrote: Wed Jun 24, 2020 8:35 pm

Pointing out is an integral part of what a Zen teacher does. I am not in a position to compare this to Dzogchen or Mahamudra. Are you, Malcolm?

I am not sure how much time Astus has spent with Zen teachers. My understanding is that he is essentially a scholar and a sole practitioner, so not really representative of Zen. Neither am I, btw.

In order to get a balanced view on this subject, one needs either a Zen teacher or a competent student. Failing that, people can search for old posts by such.

As it stands it seems to be a no contest. One that's been played before.
The Drikung lineage teaches Bodhiharma had a vajrayana lineage, hence the pointing out by a teacher thing, but it was mostly lost,and it is a broken lineage.
This is because some Tibetans conflate Bodhidharma with Padampa Sangye.
The research was done by HH Chetsang R. He is some Tibetan.
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by Könchok Thrinley »

Am really glad to see Meido stepping in as I have hoped he would come in and show us the other side.
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by Astus »

Malcolm wrote: Wed Jun 24, 2020 8:16 pmChan, like all other sūtra traditions, lacks direct introduction.
Do you mean that there are no empowerments in sutra? Still, since the nature of mind is directly perceived in the sutrayana, the goal of the empowerments is achieved there too, so, as you noted before, it is the method that is different. But if we talk of Chan, the very meaning of sudden awakening is not going through stages using various skilful means to eventually attain realisation, but obtaining it directly. Then what methods can be talked about? Of course, in Chan there were various methods used and devised, 'Still, to even speak about practice is really like the last alternative. For example, in the use of weapons, they are really not auspicious objects! But they are used as the last alternative [in battles].', as noted by Hanshan. Among such methods, when needed, mantra is very much accepted as an option, as Hanshan also stated: 'If your practice of huatou is not taking effect, or that you're unable to contemplate and illuminate your mind, or you're simply incapable of applying yourself to the practice, then you should practice prostrations, read the sutras, and engage yourself in repentance. You may also recite mantras to receive the secret seal of the Buddhas; it will alleviate your hindrances.'
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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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by tkp67 »

Könchok Thrinley wrote: Wed Jun 24, 2020 10:26 pm Am really glad to see Meido stepping in as I have hoped he would come in and show us the other side.
Ditto. The zen dudes are alright in my book. The economy of words does speak volumes as well.
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by Malcolm »

Astus wrote: Wed Jun 24, 2020 10:38 pm
Malcolm wrote: Wed Jun 24, 2020 8:16 pmChan, like all other sūtra traditions, lacks direct introduction.
Do you mean that there are no empowerments in sutra? Still, since the nature of mind is directly perceived in the sutrayana, the goal of the empowerments is achieved there too, so, as you noted before, it is the method that is different.
No one ever disputed the goal of all the Buddha's teachings was to perceive the nature of the mind, and this realizing this was bodhi.

What I am claiming is that there is no direct introduction in sūtra. In sūtra, the nature of the mind, to use your term, is the result of the path, whether gradual or not, not the basis. In sūtra, one does not start at the nature of the mind because it is never directly introduced and no methods are provided for such an introduction. In Vajrayāna, the gnosis pointed out in the beginning is the basis for the path, whether that path again is gradual, as in the case of the eight lower yānas; or nongradual, as in Atiyoga (though to be fair, in Atiyoga it is explained that buddhahood through
But if we talk of Chan, the very meaning of sudden awakening is not going through stages using various skilful means to eventually attain realisation, but obtaining it directly.
Correct. This is acknowledged. But as above, you are describing this in terms of a result to obtain through a cause. A result is a result, whether obtained gradually or suddenly, and it is obtained from a cause, whether gradually or suddenly, whether through a process of gathering the two accumulations over eons or a sudden flash of intuition. Then of course, even if one has this sudden flash of intuition, without the guidance of teacher one will not be able to ascertain whether this gradual attainment or sudden intuition is the real deal. In this respect, there is no difference between Vajrayāna in general and Chan. Both systems depend on a teacher. The principle difference is that in the case of the former, the interested student is first introduced to their own state by the teacher; in the case of the latter, the teacher confirms for the student they indeed have had a proper intuition of the nature of the mind.
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by Malcolm »

Crazywisdom wrote: Wed Jun 24, 2020 9:49 pm
Malcolm wrote: Wed Jun 24, 2020 9:39 pm
Crazywisdom wrote: Wed Jun 24, 2020 8:40 pm

The Drikung lineage teaches Bodhiharma had a vajrayana lineage, hence the pointing out by a teacher thing, but it was mostly lost,and it is a broken lineage.
This is because some Tibetans conflate Bodhidharma with Padampa Sangye.
The research was done by HH Chetsang R. He is some Tibetan.
Yes, but he uses exclusively Tibetan historical accounts, which are none too reliable past the 11th century.
"Nonduality is merely a name;
that name does not exist."
—Kotalipa
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by SilenceMonkey »

Meido wrote: Wed Jun 24, 2020 9:03 pm
"bitter interviews" refers to the core method of Zen, i.e. sanzen [face to face encounter with the teacher].
In dzogchen tradition, the lama will do something to reveal the nature of the student's mind. This "direct introduction" is the beginning point for dzogchen practice. Is there something like this in japanese zen?

Often they talk about "mind to mind transmission outside of the scriptures." I'm wondering if maybe this could be the same thing or something similar to the dzogchen lama showing the student the nature of their mind.
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by SilenceMonkey »

Malcolm wrote: Wed Jun 24, 2020 11:32 pm In sūtra, the nature of the mind, to use your term, is the result of the path, whether gradual or not, not the basis. In sūtra, one does not start at the nature of the mind because it is never directly introduced and no methods are provided for such an introduction.
I'm not so sure that the mind's emptiness nature isn't the basis for practice. Many ch'an masters emphasize ch'an as a practice of sitting in the buddha nature. I've heard told that Ch'an masters of old were more able practice ch'an without a method or path, although these days it must be used in tandem with a method to focus the mind.

From an article Guo Gu recently wrote in Lion's Roar:
We Are Already Enlightened

The Chan tradition does not usually refer to steps or stages. Its central teaching is that we are intrinsically awake; our mind is originally without abiding, fixations, and vexations, and its nature is without divisions and stages. This is the basis of the Chan view of sudden enlightenment. If our mind’s nature were not already free, that would imply we could become enlightened only after we practiced, which is not so. If it’s possible to gain enlightenment, then it’s possible to lose it as well.

Consider a room, which is naturally spacious. However we organize the furniture in the room will not affect its intrinsic spaciousness. We can put up walls to divide the room, but they are temporary. And whether we leave the room clean or cluttered and messy, it won’t affect its natural spaciousness. Mind is also intrinsically spacious. Although we can get caught up in our desires and aversions, our true nature is not affected by those vexations. We are inherently free.

In the Chan tradition, therefore, practice is not about producing enlightenment. You might wonder, “Then what am I doing here, practic­ing?” Because practice does help clean up the “furniture” in the “room.” By not attaching to your thoughts, you remove the furniture, so to speak. And once your mind is clean, instead of fixating on the chairs, tables, and so on, you see its spaciousness. Then you can let the furniture be or rearrange it any way you want—not for yourself, but for the benefit of others in the room.
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by Malcolm »

Meido wrote: Wed Jun 24, 2020 9:03 pm To be honest, I actually think no Zen practitioner really cares much if Zen is called sutric or not, or how other traditions categorize its approach. Why should they?
They shouldn't.
Zen is clear as to its own relationship with the sutras as well as its method. For example:
If you study the sutra teachings, you easily get stuck in the traces of the teachings. How then can you slough off your old body? ... Our patriarchal Zen school does not depend on the traces of the teachings [the sutras], but has a special meaning: energy, free and unobstructed, responding in accord with the situation, that is what it is about. ... Nowadays there is much talk about the sublime and the profound, or conversely criticism of the Two Vehicles, belittling their authority. [Students of] the partial, the round, the exoteric and the exoteric schools contend with each other, yet they have not even accomplished the confirmation of the Two Vehicles, let alone that of the Bodhisattva Vehicle. And as for the One Buddha Vehicle, how could they conceive of it even in their dreams? What use to them then are the partial, round, exoteric, and esoteric [teachings]? ... None of this applies to our patriarchal school, which surpasses expedient means. When by bitter interviews and painful training at last the principle is attained, the then Buddhadharma of the exoteric and esoteric schools appears directly before the eyes.
[Torei, Shumon Mujintoron]
These considerations are not disputed.
Regarding actual method,

"energy, free and unobstructed, responding in accord with the situation" refers to the direct pointing activity of the teacher, which encompasses not only various transmitted methods for this purpose but also (in fact, mainly) the general effect on the student's conditions of the teachers ba [proximity, field], the function of which is described in terms of, and dependent upon, kiai [energetic quality and intensity] and joriki [samadhi power]. Related to this are various physical manifestations of realization described in oral instruction that mark a qualified teacher, and which impact the ability of the student to catch certain things. If we are discussing post-kensho practice, these things remain important since the teacher must be able to manifest an embodied fruition of various practices that the student takes up.
I have no reason to doubt that these things are important in the Rinzai Zen tradition.
"bitter interviews" refers to the core method of Zen, i.e. sanzen [face to face encounter with the teacher].
"painful training" refers to the post-kensho path. Hakuin and Torei unpack this pretty clearly with reference to Tozan's 5 ranks, with explanation of what realization of the 4 wisdoms/3 bodies within this body and life means in Zen practice, describing the practice after recognition of one's nature for which the secret 3-year [minimum] practices of hokkyo zanmai and hen sho ego zanmai are the main points, etc.
In other words, Chan/Zen is causal path.
But you can't practice only from those writings: they are meant to be taken up in the sanzen room with one's teacher, who can manifest the fruition-states of the practices.
Sure.
Of course many other methods supporting all this exist. In Rinzai practice the core thing is tanden soku, i.e. the method of sealing the breath power in the lower abdomen through a physical usage of the anal sphincter, pelvic floor, and diaphragm, retaining that for longer and longer periods until it becomes constant and subtle. There are various reasons for this, and Hakuin writes about it quite a bit (though again, without giving complete practice details).
In Vajrayāna, this is called 'jam rlung (gentle breath), and it means maintaining this "seal" as you put it, constantly. There are more forceful methods, but this is considered to be essential for all practice in all traditions. These kinds of prāṇayāma practices are written about extensively in Vajrayāna. They are of consummate importance.

Hakuin lived in late 17th century and early 18th century. I would not be surprised at all if Indian methods of prāṇāyāma had spread widely in Chinese and Japanese monasteries by this time, either from Tibetan sources or even Shingon (which is ), or even Taoist sources, since Japanese medicine is largely Taoist in nature.
See how that all needed to be unpacked? I mean, if someone is really interested in method, I can talk a lot about it. But most of the details regarding what one actually does in genuine Zen practice remain solely in the realm of kuden (oral instruction). Zen is just not a tradition that is big on explicit written practice instruction.
This is also the case with Vajrayāna—but these things were written down because people forget them.
It is ironic, but at this point I think it is easier for anyone to research details of, for example, various HYT practices than it is to find accurate information RE what actually passes between teacher and student in a sanzen room.
Yes, but of course you will readily understand that without oral explanation the written instructions are incomplete. The written instructions are for reference.
FWIW sutras were never much used as a reference in my experience except for just a few passages that, along with many Zen writings, were accompanied by additional verbal explanation (in sanzen, during teisho) explaining some specific practice application. For example, a passage from the Vimalakirti sutra pointing out a use of the body that has utility.
Sure, this is understandable. The Tibetan description of sūtra vs. tantra, sudden/gradual has less to do with the textual traditions than it does method of entry.
So at the end of the day, is it all sutric or not? No problem to me to say so. It's not tantric, so call it sutric, or non-tantric upadesha, or whatever one likes that best fit the categories that one accepts. But the only important point to me is the oral instructions from one's teacher in whom one has great faith, which clarify the Zen writings and transmit practice details. It's hard to talk much about Zen in any useful manner without having those (though certainly common enough - even among some Zen folks).
I agree, which is why I rarely discuss Chan or Zen.

But when people make statements wondering what all the fuss is about, it is useful to consider the perspectives of Tibetans, like Nubchen, who trained in Tang-era Chan as well as Vajrayāna during the late 8th and the 9th century, both in Tibet, as well as the fertile and ecumenical environment of Dunhuang. While the Chan they encountered is certainly not the same as the Post-Song era school of Rinzai to which you belong, they are related and so their accounts are of interest to those who wish to understand the overall differences, claims. and counterclaims, made by its various adherents.

Anyway, thanks for your input, always valued.
"Nonduality is merely a name;
that name does not exist."
—Kotalipa
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by Malcolm »

SilenceMonkey wrote: Thu Jun 25, 2020 12:08 am
Malcolm wrote: Wed Jun 24, 2020 11:32 pm In sūtra, the nature of the mind, to use your term, is the result of the path, whether gradual or not, not the basis. In sūtra, one does not start at the nature of the mind because it is never directly introduced and no methods are provided for such an introduction.
I'm not so sure that the mind's emptiness nature isn't the basis for practice. Many ch'an masters emphasize ch'an as a practice of sitting in the buddha nature. I've heard told that Ch'an masters of old were more able practice ch'an without a method or path, although these days it must be used in tandem with a method to focus the mind.
There are some similarities between Chan rhetoric and Dzogchen rhetoric. But the important difference identified by Nubchen is direct introduction. All the people I have met, who have done extensive Zen practice (quite a few who have gone through koan practice under Maizumi Roshi and others), agree that direct introduction as practiced in Vajrayāna does not exist in Zen. Apart from having done a weekend sit with the now-disgraced Eido Roshi when I was 16, I have no personal experience with Zen, and I am sure any Zen master would kick me out for being lazy, obstreperous, and arrogant.

Another important distinction is that in sūtra based system, there is no explanation of what is termed lhun grub, sometimes is translated as spontaneous presence, self-perfected, and so on, but these English translation do not really get at the meaning.
"Nonduality is merely a name;
that name does not exist."
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by Meido »

SilenceMonkey wrote: Wed Jun 24, 2020 11:45 pm In dzogchen tradition, the lama will do something to reveal the nature of the student's mind. This "direct introduction" is the beginning point for dzogchen practice. Is there something like this in japanese zen?

Often they talk about "mind to mind transmission outside of the scriptures." I'm wondering if maybe this could be the same thing or something similar to the dzogchen lama showing the student the nature of their mind.
There is something called "direct pointing" in Zen. My teachers stated clearly that the primary initial task of the Zen master is to lead students to have the recognition called kensho, that this is the entrance into actual Zen practice which rests upon it, and that this is accomplished through both orally transmitted methods of direct pointing as well as implicit/spontaneous means that I described earlier.

I am not a Dzogchen person, and am not qualified to say what is similar or different. I do not have extensive experience in both traditions at all. I can say that experiences I had meeting Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche and his son Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche were profound. And, as far as I am able to judge (which is not far), those experiences were identical in both effect and (outer) method to occurrences of direct pointing I experienced later with several Rinzai Zen teachers. In fact, it was only those second experiences that caused me to understand what had happened earlier with the Tibetan teachers (though that likely says more about my obstructions and affinities than anything else). Of course the Japanese teachers explained such things using their terminology, so I'm limited in the ways I can talk about it.

So for what it's worth. Comparison is not something I'm terribly interested in.

Regarding mind-to-mind transmission (isshin denshin), yes this is related in that there are Zen practices the purpose of which is that the student experiences the teacher's state directly. I've mentioned sanzen, but also kentan - a daily occurrence during sesshin especially - is crucial in this regard.
tkp67 wrote: Wed Jun 24, 2020 10:42 pm The zen dudes are alright in my book.
Thanks. The Tibetan Buddhist dudes are more than okay in mine. I've also become fond of the Tendai, Shingon, Pure Land, and most recently Nichiren-shu folks.
It is relatively easy to accomplish the important matter of insight into one’s true nature, but uncommonly difficult to function freely and clearly [according to this understanding], in motion and in rest, in good and in adverse circumstances. Please make strenuous and vigorous efforts towards this end, otherwise all the teachings of Buddhas and patriarchs become mere empty words. - Torei

The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice

Hidden Zen: Practices for Sudden Awakening and Embodied Realization

Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺] - http://www.korinji.org
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by Meido »

Malcolm wrote: Thu Jun 25, 2020 12:13 am [quote
Anyway, thanks for your input, always valued.
Likewise, most certainly.
It is relatively easy to accomplish the important matter of insight into one’s true nature, but uncommonly difficult to function freely and clearly [according to this understanding], in motion and in rest, in good and in adverse circumstances. Please make strenuous and vigorous efforts towards this end, otherwise all the teachings of Buddhas and patriarchs become mere empty words. - Torei

The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice

Hidden Zen: Practices for Sudden Awakening and Embodied Realization

Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺] - http://www.korinji.org
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by SilenceMonkey »

Malcolm wrote: Thu Jun 25, 2020 12:21 am There are some similarities between Chan rhetoric and Dzogchen rhetoric. But the important difference identified by Nubchen is direct introduction.
Interesting... So you're saying that any system without direct introduction is "sutra"?

I still think the "sutra" category is stilted and doesn't fit well with ch'an.

Earlier you said something is "sutra" if it is based in the sutras... But ch'an is not exactly based in the sutras. It's based in living experience of the patriarchs, and that is the essence which is transmitted. It's true in some schools that sutras and shastras are studied... But the essence is in the master's instructions, and in often wordless interactions between master and disciple.

I think one can't say ch'an is or isn't dependent on sutras. Both would be falling short of the truth.
Malcolm wrote: Wed Jun 24, 2020 11:32 pm
Another important distinction is that in sūtra based system, there is no explanation of what is termed lhun grub, sometimes is translated as spontaneous presence, self-perfected, and so on, but these English translation do not really get at the meaning.
Ch'an might call this naturalness 自然 or abiding in non-abiding 住而不住... or just awareness 覺知. I don't see why there wouldn't be parallel experiences in ch'an or zen. Anyway I'm with you, the language doesn't capture subtle and wordless experience.
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by Malcolm »

SilenceMonkey wrote: Thu Jun 25, 2020 12:39 am
Malcolm wrote: Thu Jun 25, 2020 12:21 am There are some similarities between Chan rhetoric and Dzogchen rhetoric. But the important difference identified by Nubchen is direct introduction.
Interesting... So you're saying that any system without direct introduction is "sutra"?
By definition.

But the essence is in the master's instructions, and in often wordless interactions between master and disciple.
Thus feature does not distinguish Chan/zen as unique among common Mahayana schools. Buddhism in general is an oral tradition. Texts exist merely to supplement that oral tradition. One cannot learn Dharma from books, but of course one can learn about Buddhism from books. Dharma and Buddhism however are not the same thing.



Ch'an might call this naturalness 自然 or abiding in non-abiding 住而不住... or just awareness 覺知. I don't see why there wouldn't be parallel experiences in ch'an or zen. Anyway I'm with you, the language doesn't capture subtle and wordless experience.
As I said, this principle is not explained in sutras. It’s not even explained clearly in Mahayoga and Anuyoga. Where Dzogchen, Zen, and the perfection of wisdom meet is in the original purity of all phenomena. But the similarities end there.
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that name does not exist."
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by Sennin »

Meido wrote: Wed Jun 24, 2020 9:03 pm To be honest, I actually think no Zen practitioner really cares much if Zen is called sutric or not, or how other traditions categorize its approach. Why should they?

Zen is clear as to its own relationship with the sutras as well as its method. For example:
If you study the sutra teachings, you easily get stuck in the traces of the teachings. How then can you slough off your old body? ... Our patriarchal Zen school does not depend on the traces of the teachings [the sutras], but has a special meaning: energy, free and unobstructed, responding in accord with the situation, that is what it is about. ... Nowadays there is much talk about the sublime and the profound, or conversely criticism of the Two Vehicles, belittling their authority. [Students of] the partial, the round, the exoteric and the exoteric schools contend with each other, yet they have not even accomplished the confirmation of the Two Vehicles, let alone that of the Bodhisattva Vehicle. And as for the One Buddha Vehicle, how could they conceive of it even in their dreams? What use to them then are the partial, round, exoteric, and esoteric [teachings]? ... None of this applies to our patriarchal school, which surpasses expedient means. When by bitter interviews and painful training at last the principle is attained, the then Buddhadharma of the exoteric and esoteric schools appears directly before the eyes.
[Torei, Shumon Mujintoron]

Regarding actual method,

"energy, free and unobstructed, responding in accord with the situation" refers to the direct pointing activity of the teacher, which encompasses not only various transmitted methods for this purpose but also (in fact, mainly) the general effect on the student's conditions of the teachers ba [proximity, field], the function of which is described in terms of, and dependent upon, kiai [energetic quality and intensity] and joriki [samadhi power]. Related to this are various physical manifestations of realization described in oral instruction that mark a qualified teacher, and which impact the ability of the student to catch certain things. If we are discussing post-kensho practice, these things remain important since the teacher must be able to manifest an embodied fruition of various practices that the student takes up.

"bitter interviews" refers to the core method of Zen, i.e. sanzen [face to face encounter with the teacher].

"painful training" refers to the post-kensho path. Hakuin and Torei unpack this pretty clearly with reference to Tozan's 5 ranks, with explanation of what realization of the 4 wisdoms/3 bodies within this body and life means in Zen practice, describing the practice after recognition of one's nature for which the secret 3-year [minimum] practices of hokkyo zanmai and hen sho ego zanmai are the main points, etc. But you can't practice only from those writings: they are meant to be taken up in the sanzen room with one's teacher, who can manifest the fruition-states of the practices.

Of course many other methods supporting all this exist. In Rinzai practice the core thing is tanden soku, i.e. the method of sealing the breath power in the lower abdomen through a physical usage of the anal sphincter, pelvic floor, and diaphragm, retaining that for longer and longer periods until it becomes constant and subtle. There are various reasons for this, and Hakuin writes about it quite a bit (though again, without giving complete practice details).

See how that all needed to be unpacked? I mean, if someone is really interested in method, I can talk a lot about it. But most of the details regarding what one actually does in genuine Zen practice remain solely in the realm of kuden (oral instruction). Zen is just not a tradition that is big on explicit written practice instruction. It is ironic, but at this point I think it is easier for anyone to research details of, for example, various HYT practices than it is to find accurate information RE what actually passes between teacher and student in a sanzen room.

FWIW sutras were never much used as a reference in my experience except for just a few passages that, along with many Zen writings, were accompanied by additional verbal explanation (in sanzen, during teisho) explaining some specific practice application. For example, a passage from the Vimalakirti sutra pointing out a use of the body that has utility.

So at the end of the day, is it all sutric or not? No problem to me to say so. It's not tantric, so call it sutric, or non-tantric upadesha, or whatever one likes that best fit the categories that one accepts. But the only important point to me is the oral instructions from one's teacher in whom one has great faith, which clarify the Zen writings and transmit practice details. It's hard to talk much about Zen in any useful manner without having those (though certainly common enough - even among some Zen folks).
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by Matt J »

I've had very similar experiences. I've also found that practicing with a teacher (Zen or Vajrayana), one hears and learns very different things than when one comes to an online forum.
Meido wrote: Thu Jun 25, 2020 12:25 am I am not a Dzogchen person, and am not qualified to say what is similar or different. I do not have extensive experience in both traditions at all. I can say that experiences I had meeting Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche and his son Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche were profound. And, as far as I am able to judge (which is not far), those experiences were identical in both effect and (outer) method to occurrences of direct pointing I experienced later with several Rinzai Zen teachers. In fact, it was only those second experiences that caused me to understand what had happened earlier with the Tibetan teachers (though that likely says more about my obstructions and affinities than anything else). Of course the Japanese teachers explained such things using their terminology, so I'm limited in the ways I can talk about it.
"The essence of meditation practice is to let go of all your expectations about meditation. All the qualities of your natural mind -- peace, openness, relaxation, and clarity -- are present in your mind just as it is. You don't have to do anything different. You don't have to shift or change your awareness. All you have to do while observing your mind is to recognize the qualities it already has."
--- Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche
Varis
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by Varis »

Malcolm wrote: Thu Jun 25, 2020 12:13 am In Vajrayāna, this is called 'jam rlung (gentle breath), and it means maintaining this "seal" as you put it, constantly. There are more forceful methods, but this is considered to be essential for all practice in all traditions. These kinds of prāṇayāma practices are written about extensively in Vajrayāna. They are of consummate importance.

Hakuin lived in late 17th century and early 18th century. I would not be surprised at all if Indian methods of prāṇāyāma had spread widely in Chinese and Japanese monasteries by this time, either from Tibetan sources or even Shingon (which is ), or even Taoist sources, since Japanese medicine is largely Taoist in nature.
It's probably Daoist in origin. The sort of breathing practices Meido mentions here and in his wonderful book on Rinzai Zen are identical to some of the practices you see in the earliest texts collected in the Daozang. I asked about this once in the East Asian subforum because my background in Daoism made those practices immediately stand out it to me, and after a little digging on google I found out that systems of Dao-yin are still practiced in Japan and from a Daoist immortality-seeking POV interestingly enough. I had thought Daoism had died out there, but apparently not.
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by Meido »

The records of early Zen in Japan (Kamakura era) record a concern with this kind of cultivation among the late Song Chinese Chan masters and monks who landed in Japan, and their Japanese students. So whatever the ultimate origins, it all greatly predates Hakuin. If Daoist in origin, the intent certainly was reframed since Zen describes it in terms of accessing the most profound and subtle samadhi, and also in terms of the manner in which realization is made to penetrate the body in post-kensho practice. Something like koan practice depends on it.

Those were Linji/Rinzai lines of course. I have no idea if Dogen brought back anything like that which is preserved somewhere in a corner of the Soto world.
It is relatively easy to accomplish the important matter of insight into one’s true nature, but uncommonly difficult to function freely and clearly [according to this understanding], in motion and in rest, in good and in adverse circumstances. Please make strenuous and vigorous efforts towards this end, otherwise all the teachings of Buddhas and patriarchs become mere empty words. - Torei

The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice

Hidden Zen: Practices for Sudden Awakening and Embodied Realization

Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺] - http://www.korinji.org
Varis
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Re: Why choose Mahayana over Vajrayana?

Post by Varis »

Meido wrote: Thu Jun 25, 2020 4:03 am The records of early Zen in Japan (Kamakura era) record a concern with this kind of cultivation among the late Song Chinese Chan masters and monks who landed in Japan, and their Japanese students. So whatever the ultimate origins, it all greatly predates Hakuin. If Daoist in origin, the intent certainly was reframed since Zen describes it in terms of accessing the most profound and subtle samadhi, and also in terms of the manner in which realization is made to penetrate the body in post-kensho practice. Something like koan practice depends on it.

Those were Linji/Rinzai lines of course. I have no idea if Dogen brought back anything like that which is preserved somewhere in a corner of the Soto world.
Breathing practices fell out of favor pretty early among the Daoists, it's potentially a pretty darn old appropriation if it does come from them. I know Korean Buddhists practice breathing exercises too so it definitely has to predate Hakuin.
I should clarify, I'm definitely not throwing shade towards Zen/Ch'an, Buddhists have been appropriating and repurposing practices from other religions since the time of Sakyamuni. Nothing wrong with that, if it works it works.

Also, thank you for sharing what you know, Meido Roshi, I've learned a lot from your posts! :twothumbsup:
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