The Noble Truths as Skillful Means

Discussion of meditation in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.
Meido
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Re: The Noble Truths as Skillful Means

Post by Meido »

JimTempleman wrote: Wed Sep 08, 2021 12:53 pm As you can see, it has it's roots in Zen, but I cannot classify it further.
Only inasmuch as Tohei co-opted Zen or general Buddhist ideas widely known in Japan. For example, Takuan's description of fudoshin in Fudochi Shimmyo Roku, a well-known Zen text that most everyone doing martial arts will read. The idea of intoku, good deeds done in secret. And so on.

He was not a Zen practitioner. In fact, he disparaged Zen and discouraged his students from practicing it. He was interested in founding his own new religion. And he did so, though with marginal success, and continually decreasing relevance on the Aikido side too.

All off topic, though (if there is a main topic here anymore). So I'll stop there.
JimTempleman wrote: Wed Sep 08, 2021 4:19 pm Generally what I would do (have done as a teacher) is to give them a rough sketch of why it wouldn't work. If it were close enough to salvage I'd tell them how to fix it, without dictating all the details.
Reading from the beginning, I see Malcolm having done precisely this a number of times. As was said, you can lead a horse to water...
PeterC
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Re: The Noble Truths as Skillful Means

Post by PeterC »

JimTempleman wrote: Wed Sep 08, 2021 4:19 pm
JimTempleman wrote: Wed Sep 08, 2021 1:46 pm Turns out that most respondents don't want to touch its content with a hundred foot pole.
Malcolm wrote: Wed Sep 08, 2021 2:50 pm If someone wrote a post on neural net theory, which was predicated on insufficient learning, would you "touch its contents," or would you tell that person to go to school and get it right?
Generally what I would do (have done as a teacher) is to give them a rough sketch of why it wouldn't work. If it were close enough to salvage I'd tell them how to fix it, without dictating all the details. The problem is that with computer models the results are viewed objectively. With meditation it's one's own experience which cannot be directly shared with others (except transmission, so I've heard). Subjective matters are always at least 10x more difficult to gauge. (& I've done a lot of 'usability' testing).

I cannot fault you're responses to me. It's clear that you're giving me what you believe I need to hear. I thank you for that. I wish you the best in your studies.
You’re still not really getting it. If you’re serious about training in zen practice - if that is your interest - you should actually try it. Do a period of proper retreat at a monastery. Present the results of your practice to a teacher and see what he or she says. Otherwise you’ll just keep tying yourself up in concepts and convincing yourself you know best.
Malcolm
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Re: The Noble Truths as Skillful Means

Post by Malcolm »

JimTempleman wrote: Wed Sep 08, 2021 4:19 pm Subjective matters are always at least 10x more difficult to gauge. (& I've done a lot of 'usability' testing).

I cannot fault you're responses to me. It's clear that you're giving me what you believe I need to hear. I thank you for that. I wish you the best in your studies.
These things are not subjective.

Dhyāna/samādhi/samapatti states, in Buddhadharma, are defined by specific mental factors which arise in predictable and repeatable fashions.

These things are discussed in Abhidharma, which concerns the first principles upon which Mahāyāna exegesis, including Chan/Zen are predicated.

The observation of the arising, abiding, and passing away of concepts in the mind is an instruction for beginners in every school of Mahāyāna Buddhism, at least those that actually engage in the cultivation of śamatha and vipaśyanā.

Further, there are many manuals, such as Asanga's text on śamatha, Kamalashila's manuals on cultivation and so on, as well as a very influential set of meditation manuals, which had great influence on people like Dogen, etc., by the fifth century Chinese master Chih-I. You should study them (which a teacher).

Buddhism has an extremely rich literature on contemplative phenomenology, if you will, a literature that most people have no access to, because most of it is still locked away in Sanskrit, Pali, Tibetan, Chinese, and Japanese. Further, all of the great masters spent years mastering these curriculums, combining their study with practice. This is why your post and subsequent remarks have met with general incredulity. You are simply out of your depth here.

Since you are a modern, educated person, you have the Western attitude that somehow these pre-modern systems, which are not based on a modern medical understanding of anatomy and physiology, need to be helped in some way, an attitude that is frankly mere cultural chauvinism, not grounded in any facts. For example, while in Tibetan medicine they did not recognize things such as neurons, etc., they certainly were aware of circulation, the connection between the brain, sense organs, and the functions of limbs and organs in the body via nerves, since at least the 10th century (they dealt with a lot of traumatic injuries from warfare, and their methods of diagnosing organ and brain damage from traumatic injuries are remarkable and accurate). One of the consequences of this attitude is that you feel, based on a couple of short, classical texts, that you have somehow grasped the entirety of Buddhadharma and are now in a position to offer your esteemed opinion on such matters, arrogating to yourself the position of having discovered "a brand new method of using the the 4NT as a skillful means." You haven't discovered anything new.

Even more ridiculous, you somehow insist that if your English phraseology is not found in classical texts, somehow this validates your so-called "discovery," as if all this is merely an exercise in creating a computational algorithm based on your conceptual observation of rising, abiding, and passing away of thoughts. You certainly do not know how to do meditation according to Buddhist instructions. You do not know how eliminate lethargy, nor avoid agitation, and a hundred other flaws and obstacles one confronts in meditation. You are talking to people, who in some cases, have spent years in solitary retreats practicing between 10-12 hours a day for extended periods of time.

So you must forgive us for finding your tone hubristic and arrogant.
"Death stands before all who are born."
— Ācārya Aśvaghoṣa
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JimTempleman
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Re: The Noble Truths as Skillful Means

Post by JimTempleman »

JimTempleman wrote: Wed Sep 08, 2021 12:53 pm As you can see, it has it's roots in Zen, but I cannot classify it further.
Meido wrote: Wed Sep 08, 2021 4:31 pm He was not a Zen practitioner. In fact, he disparaged Zen and discouraged his students from practicing it. He was interested in founding his own new religion. And he did so, though with marginal success, and continually decreasing relevance on the Aikido side too.
Never heard that before. No one in our Dojo treated it that way: just as a helpful foundation.
It's possible, just never saw it that way before.
Meido wrote: Wed Sep 08, 2021 4:31 pm Reading from the beginning, I see Malcolm having done precisely this a number of times. As was said, you can lead a horse to water...
Appreciate, your responses. Enjoyed your book.
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JimTempleman
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Re: The Noble Truths as Skillful Means

Post by JimTempleman »

JimTempleman wrote: Wed Sep 08, 2021 4:19 pm Subjective matters are always at least 10x more difficult to gauge. (& I've done a lot of 'usability' testing).
I cannot fault you're responses to me. It's clear that you're giving me what you believe I need to hear. I thank you for that. I wish you the best in your studies.
Malcolm wrote: Wed Sep 08, 2021 5:01 pm These things are not subjective.
All I meant by 'subjective' here is that no one except a highly trained teacher or a Bodhisattva can know what another person's mental state is.[/quote]
Malcolm wrote: Wed Sep 08, 2021 5:01 pm Dhyāna/samādhi/samapatti states, in Buddhadharma, are defined by specific mental factors which arise in predictable and repeatable fashions. ...
I am not questioning any of your theory or practices. I hold them in high regard!
If I meant unpredictable or unrepeatable I would have said so. That is my training.
Malcolm wrote: Wed Sep 08, 2021 5:01 pm Further, all of the great masters spent years mastering these curriculums, combining their study with practice. This is why your post and subsequent remarks have met with general incredulity. You are simply out of your depth here.
I don't claim to be a great master & I fully acknowledge to be out of my depth here. But I have the understanding I have. And I am not deliberately misrepresenting my experiences. I could well be misclassifying them. I have no way of ruling that out, without a good teacher.
Malcolm wrote: Wed Sep 08, 2021 5:01 pm Since you are a modern, educated person, you have the Western attitude that somehow these pre-modern systems, which are not based on a modern medical understanding of anatomy and physiology, need to be helped in some way, an attitude that is frankly mere cultural chauvinism, not grounded in any facts.
If you've missed what I've said in earlier posts: I am in awe of Buddhist traditions!
Malcolm wrote: Wed Sep 08, 2021 5:01 pm Even more ridiculous, you somehow insist that if your English phraseology is not found in classical texts,
I'm just working with what I've got to work with. I've never been any good at learning new languages. I envy people who can.
Malcolm wrote: Wed Sep 08, 2021 5:01 pm You do not know how eliminate lethargy, nor avoid agitation, and a hundred other flaws and obstacles one confronts in meditation.
Yes, I've tried to strip things down to their bare essentials & focus on a basic method. As simple as possible, but no simpler. -That's how I've learned to design user interfaces.
Malcolm wrote: Wed Sep 08, 2021 5:01 pm So you must forgive us for finding your tone hubristic and arrogant.
Please forgive me if I came across that way.
I respect the path you are on & thank you for your advice.
Malcolm
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Re: The Noble Truths as Skillful Means

Post by Malcolm »

JimTempleman wrote: Wed Sep 08, 2021 6:27 pm
All I meant by 'subjective' here is that no one except a highly trained teacher or a Bodhisattva can know what another person's mental state is.
Yes, correct, and part of that training is learning how to discover these mental factors that are associated with contemplative states experientially, so one can guide others. While it is not rocket science, it is knowledge that is earned with a lot of sweat equity and guidance from qualified people, like Meido, and so on. I have heard good things about Guo Gu as well. There are a number of Korean Son centers out there as well.

I am a Tibetan Buddhist, so, I am not that familiar with the Chan/Zen/Son scene in the US.

But the basic principles are the same: find a teacher, rely on their guidance, do as much retreat as one's life will permit; most importantly, be humble. Buddhadharma is so vast, no one can master it all. But that is not necessary, all one has to do is stick with one qualified practice in a qualified lineage under the guidance of a qualified teacher/s, and then one will generate true bodhicitta, overcome one's afflictions, understand emptiness, and rouse great compassion for all sentient beings, with a bit of concerted effort and study. When all this is complete, one can say one is really on the Mahāyāna path of liberation

My advice, especially with Zen and Chan, is that there are a lot of fools out there pretending to be internet Zen masters, teachers of "Nonduality" and so on, who are really just bolstering their own egos and lining their pockets. Avoid them like you would avoid sleeping with someone who has syphilis. Not everyone with a book published by Wisdom or Shambhala is really a qualified teacher. So be careful who you choose as a mentor.

Please forgive me if I came across that way.
I respect the path you are on & thank you for your advice.
Of course. Please take our collective advice to heart. In this life, at this moment, you are a beginner, please begin to act like one.

You are welcome.
"Death stands before all who are born."
— Ācārya Aśvaghoṣa
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