It's a very good analogy! :)
It's a very good analogy! :)
Risho.... From my limited and sometimes foolish perspective (hello my friend Pontus [morehappy]), from just re-reading a dozen pages or so from '3 pillars of Zen' on a commentary by Yasutoni, pages 82 to 94, on just the koan Mu, Mu is considered the top `dog of koans to break through to enlightenment threw the process of kensho. It can be done in a week of sesshins in a monastery, or years for some. Its that sudden burst of light to instantaneous enlightenment, at least the first levels of such(ness).
Mu is used as a barrier, much like the gateless-gate, where here in relativity only a barrier exists (our minds, our delusional egoic small self), where in `reality no barrier exists. Its breaking down the mental game of delusion, where the masters had to use this method for the teachings for attainment (and koans in general), against their Zen wills of conceptualizing and intellectualizing, the `great paradox. It seems to point to (again in my limited perspective) the concept that we all have Buddha nature intrinsically (like the delusional karmic dog), but to fully embody our `true nature and become totally immersed into full Buddha-hood is the goal(less)-goal. One can approach this through this harsher more direct method of attainment of the Rinzai sect, or through the more methodical Soto sect practiced here at Treeleaf.
I would post a link or paste the pages here, but could not easily find a download, lacking the great talent of Jundo.
I think this should be the part you talked about:
Yasutani's way is not how we Practice here, or how we approach ... MU ...
... which cannot be approached or avoided.
It is kind of a "brute force method" (don't know how to describe it better)...
Still I found "Three Pillars of Zen" very interesting, I must admit.
Thank you Jundo,
I think by now we all understand that fear. Would not want one of those new students getting the wrong idea and go astray. With that being said, it is a tremendous book, and I have read many depth books the past 28 years, sometimes over and over with my little mind. If anything, the historical contrast and insight this books shows, only made me more comfortable being here. For the most part, we are adults and its our choice to be adulterated in concepts of our choice. Fear is the biggy with the ego, defending and sheltering, that only worrying brings, seemingly an un-Zen feature of the small self.
I think that, these days, many in the Zen world would consider it a book that did tremendous harm in causing tremendous misunderstandings about Zen Practice. Below is what I write when the topic arises.
On the other hand, to each there own ... and different medicines for what ails different patients. If someone finds something in that book or way of Practice helpful, that is very good for them. However, it is not as we practice here in this corner of the Zen woods.
Zen and all Buddhism come in so many flavors ... All ultimately the same at heart perhaps, but very different in viewpoints and approach. So, the person new to Buddhism and Zen is left very confused by all the different books claiming to be a "Guide to Zen" or "Introduction to Buddhism" recommending often very very different things! Even "Soto" and "Shikantaza" folks can be quite varied in approach among themselves ... everyone like a cook with her own personal recipe for chicken soup!
["Three Pillars of Zen"] had great influence because it was so early (one of the few books on the subject 50 years ago), but it presented a view on Zen Practice and 'Kensho' that is not usual even in Japan (not even in Rinzai Zen, in my understanding) and represents a group ... named "Sanbokyodan" ... that is tiny is Japan but has had a HUGE and disproportionate influence in the West through derived groups such as the White Plum and Diamond Sangha! Read more here.
The book presents a view of "Kensho" and "Enlightenment" that was very much present in corners of the Zen world at one time, especially in the west. I was recently reading a good book on the subject, a book about the culture surrounding "The Three Pillars of Zen" which presented to many such an extreme, misleading "Kensho or Bust" image of Zen practice. Here is a review of that book, called "Zen Teaching, Zen Practice: Philip Kapleau and The Three Pillars of Zen" edited by Kenneth Kraft, a long time student of Kapleau Roshi ...
You can also read a bit more on Kapleau and Yasutani Roshis' approach here ...Quote:
Kraft points out that Kapleau’s book is “in large measure a book about kensho” (p.14) which in itself is problematic as for many, including some of the authors of the essays, this led to “inflated expectations… [and] [t]he discrepancy between anticipatory visions of enlightenment and actual experiences of insight”. (p.15) This disjuncture between what Kapleau wrote and the actual experiences of Zen students has led to some criticisms of The Three Pillars of Zen as a book that gives an unrealistic picture of what to expect from zazen. ...
While this emphasis on and almost inevitability of kensho is, I think, a fair criticism of The Three Pillars of Zen, there is little doubt that Kapleau’s book brought many people to the study and practice of Zen Buddhism and for that we should be grateful. It is also necessary that we understand where and how Kapleau learned his Zen practice to better understand why he wrote and taught the way he did.
My comment about being confused was just me being a smart*** with you and Pontus talking about your ideas of God. hahaah When I personally think of God or any concepts that can be larger than life, I easily become confused. It's like thinking about our position in the universe, here on Earth. If you start thinking from a larger perspective of the Universe.. what if there were an edge to the univers? Is that possible, then what would be outside of it... well anything outside of it would have to be the universe, I guess depending on your view of what the Universe means.
This whole thing can just get very confusing... there's no way to know (yet), but it's still fun to speculate. It's like Mu. No matter if someone gave you an answer to this koan and explained it to you, they might as well be giving you the answer to your life. It doesn't exist. It's life, you live it. We have to find it ourself, we have to live our lives for ourselves. To the best of our ability, meaning in keeping with the precepts, our values.. yadda yadda yadda. Sometimes the answer is clearly yes or no. But most of the time, you have to go beyond that and just do something the best way you know how.
In any case, when I first started practicing I read Three Pillars. I found some of it good, but I personally could not relate to breaking down in zazen or sweating intensely during Shikantaza. I just don't relate to that, and I don't believe that if you aren't sweating during Shikantaza you aren't doing it right. I don't know how to do it right. Not to be coy, but if I worry about how I'm doing something while I'm doing it, I'm not fully doing it. I'm not judging those practitioners or teachers in that book. Perhaps they were in a psychological position the resulted in that, in breaking down for some reason. I've cried during zazen when my dog died. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a robot. I agree with Jundo though. I think pushing for any sort of "enlightenment experience" is sort of crazy. Pushing for what?
In my limited life experience so far, anytime an urgent need to get something or get somewhere occurs, the best thing to do is to ask why. Of course realization is urgent, but not in the sense that I have to drop everything now to get "it". If I have to give up my family and friends to get something called "enlightenment", that is not real. This practice is about being immersed in our lives now as they are (while we still try to change them for the better, but not being so "graspy" towards the outcome). I'm probably oversimplifying things, but I'm sort of on the slow cooking side of things. Practice-enlightment is practice-enlightenment. What is not practice?
If I've learned anything here from the teachers, the sangha, and from my practice, which aren't separate, it's not that we should be striving for something during practice. We need to become at peace with what we are, where we are now... and work with that... not run from or toward. Anyway, I'm just getting more confused again. lol
Risho.... glad the opportunity was made for your exalted explanation, and many chances to use the word I. Always enjoy your yadda yadda yadda, bla bla bla in such eloquence [morehappy]! You are soooooo coy and robotic :D, your post explains it `all. Enough tease from me, but always enjoy your smartase lols. And actually it seemed your lol may have been meant as you say here, in some context, but just the same it brought forth a whole bunch of yadda, hahahaha. Take care, and a BIG....
Gassho.... to you!
Very nice post Risho! :)
What is over-intellectualization? To me, it is when your thoughts become a trap, when chasing your own tail is causing you more and more Dukkha. But the intellect can also be a wonderful gift, it's not always an enemy. When you realize the nature of the trap, you can intellectualize and swim freely at the same time. Naturally swimming, using your intellect to its fullest potential, exploring the sea, your body-heart-mind, the whole body-heart-mind.
And of course, Amelia, you are not a lone. Zazen/meditation will at one point quiet the mind with more patience and perseverance, and you will be richly rewarded, as will we all. I know this from many years ago, but by letting my guard down without realizing it, I had let go of meditation that was pretty deep into no-thought tranquility, that did help to quiet my awake stage... life.
Well done. It seems more time `periods, not so much length of, sitting and sitting, will lead to more quiet. From experience, the chatter will gradually subside giving way to more control `in-action, without all the necessary thinking, questioning, defending and trying to reason everything out till it becomes nothing but a pile of worthless shit. After all, most of said practice comes in our activity and not in sitting, that is where real practice counts the most is when we stand up and proceed with the world about us.
Thank you for Mu.
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Amelia....... your seeming dilemma here of course is not unusual or that much different then for most of us. Your recognition, and the courage to bring it forth seems to be the perfect lesson for all of us, and esp for you. It seems to show discomfort from your big Mind, otherwise no discomfort would be needed or be necessitated. Our egos game is noise, chatter and what could be called thinking or intellectualizing, when none is needed, its unnatural. It seems if our ego can keep us defending, over-analyzing and in fear, it wins and our Big mind is left wanting with a deep empty feeling.
Suzuki approaches this in the chap. called Naturalness, in ZMBM, like only he can do, with his 'down to earth' nothing special approach to phenomena, in his easy to comprehend eloquence. Jundo can post this directly, but some of it goes like this.. "to have nothing in your mind is naturalness"; "when you do something, you should be completely involved in it" [the embodiment of]; with that being said, he goes on... "then you have nothing [which is good]. So if there is no true emptiness in you activity, it is not natural" [over thinking, rehearsing, not really listening to other]. "When all you do comes out of nothingness, then you have everything" [naturally [morehappy]]. He approaches this from emptiness and nothingness... ie, no damn thinking, just go natural, naked if you will.
I take the time here to post this because I am selfish, this is about me and my incessant noise!
Thinking is a natural function of the human brain. Thoughts arise and pass away. Sometimes we cling to them, get deeply involved in them. Sometimes we try to chase them away because we don't like them. But we don't need to. We can just let them be. We don't always have to pay them so much attention. We don't have to let them build a prison around us to abide in. There's nothing saying you're less enlightened if you think. And suppressing thoughts is not an enlightened practice in my view. You can be free from thought in the midst of thought, as Huineng said.
I could write a long post about this, but I don't have the time and others have done it better.
I think Charles Muller says it pretty well here:
"THE MEANING OF NO-THOUGHT:
What has been described above is a basic motif found in all major Ch'an/Sôn/Zen canonical texts: the teaching of the method of avoidance of abiding in set thought patterns. Although this practice is commonly referred to as no mind or no-thought (wu-hsin, wu-nien), it is a serious mistake to understand Zen to refer merely to the "denial" or "cessation" of "conceptual thinking."8 Regardless of whether or not it can be proven than the pre-Buddhist Sanskrit etymology of the term dhyaana can be shown to have no-thought connotations, the main concern here is the semantic development undergone by the Chinese term ch'an in the course of the production of the Ch'an texts in East Asia.
For it is quite clear that in Ch'an Buddhism, no-mind, rather than referring to an absence of thought, refers to the condition of not being trapped in thoughts, not adhering to a certain conceptual habit or position.
The error of interpretation made by many scholars (and by Zen practitioners as well) lies precisely in taking the term "no-thought" to refer to some kind of permanent, or ongoing absence of thought. While this assumption is routinely made, it is impossible to corroborate it in the Ch'an canon. If we study the seminal texts carefully, we do find a description of the experience of an instantaneous severing of thought that occurs in the course of a thoroughgoing pursuit of a Buddhist meditative exercise.
Nowhere in the Platform Sutra, Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment, Diamond Sutra, or any other major Ch'an text, is the term "no-mind" explained to be a permanent incapacitation of the thinking faculty or the permanent cessation of all conceptual activity.
It is rather the case that the interruption of the discursive process at a sufficiently deep level allows for an experiential vision of a different aspect of the mind, a vision that allows for a change in the nature of the mental function. But it is not that thought no longer occurs--the conceptualizing faculty still functions quite well--in fact, even better than before, since, now, under the influence of the deeper dimension of the mind it no longer has to operate in a rigid, constricted, and clinging manner. It is now possible to see things more clearly, unfiltered by one's personal depository of presuppositions. This is what is meant by seeing the "suchness" of things.
When the Ch'an writers talk about no-thought, or no-mind, it is this state of non-clinging or freedom from mistaken conceptualization to which they are referring, rather than the permanent cessation of thinking that some imagine. The deeper, immeasurably more clear aspect of the mind that they experience in the course of this irruption of the discursive flow, they call "enlightenment." Realizing now, that this potential of the mind was always with them, they call it "innate."
The locus classicus for the concept of no-thought is the Platform Sutra, which says:
"No-thought" means "no-thought within thought." Non-abiding is man's original nature. Thoughts do not stop from moment to moment. The prior thought is succeeded in each moment by the subsequent thought, and thoughts continue one after another without cease. If, for one thought-moment, there is a break, the dharma-body separates from the physical body, and in the midst of successive thoughts there will be no attachment to any kind of matter. If, for one thought-moment, there is abiding, then there will be abiding in all successive thoughts, and this is called clinging. If, in regard to all matters there is no abiding from thought-moment to thought-moment, then there is no clinging. Non-abiding is the basis.9
As we can see, after the break in thought, successive thoughts continue to flow, but one no longer abides in, or clings to, these thoughts. Nowhere is there mention of any kind of disappearance of, or absence of thought. "No-thought" refers to nothing other than an absence of abiding, or clinging. Other seminal Ch'an texts, such as the Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment, characterize no-thought in precisely the same manner.
Returning to the Sutra of the Perfect Enlightenment: the first passage cited above from that text is by no means some odd exception to an otherwise svabhaava-centric discourse. The pattern repeats itself over and over throughout the sutra: the initial reference to an intrinsic capacity for enlightenment based on a t'i-yung model, followed by an exercise in the practice of non-abiding in conceptions--a combination of basic Mahayana doctrinal grounding, which is further invariably followed with an effacement of provisionally-established conceptual structures--the practice of "no-thought." In a subsequent passage of the Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment we read:
"Good sons, all bodhisattvas and sentient beings of the degenerate age should separate from all illusory and false realms. By firmly abiding in separation from thought, you also separate from the thought of 'illusion.' As this separation becomes illusion, you again separate from it. You again separate from this separation from separation from illusion, until you reach "nothing to be separated from," which is the removal of all illusion. It is like making a fire with two sticks. The fire blazes and the wood is consumed; the ashes fly away and the smoke vanishes. Using illusion to remedy illusion is exactly like this. Yet even though all illusions are extinguished, you do not enter into nothingness. Good sons, awareness of illusion is none other than freedom [from it], without devising expedient means. Freedom from illusion is none other than enlightenment, and there are no stages."10
Again, this is an instruction on, and a guided exercise through, the non-abiding in conceptual constructs, where the point is for the practitioner to learn that illusion is none other than the habit of adherence to reified thought constructs. The metaphor, as we can see, is pratiitya-samutpaada through and through. We can also see the author's distaste for attaching a baggage-laden name, such as "Enlightenment" to the resultant state. But he nonetheless wants to add a note of encouragement to make it clear that the resulting state is not a void. Where, from this kind of passage, do we get the message that the individual is henceforth incapable of thought? And where is enlightenment hypostasized?
Again, in a later chapter of the sutra:
"Good sons, since the illusory body of this sentient being vanishes, the illusory mind also vanishes. Since the illusory mind vanishes, illusory objects also vanish. Since illusory objects vanish, illusory vanishing also vanishes. Since illusory vanishing vanishes, non-illusion does not vanish. It is like polishing a mirror: when the filth is gone, its brightness naturally appears. Good sons, you should understand both body and mind to be illusory filth. When the defiled aspects are permanently extinguished, the entire universe becomes pure."11
Here we have a movement of negation that proceeds from the subjective body and mind, out to the objects. In terms of standard Mahayana doctrine, that is, in itself, a sufficient descriptive account of the Enlightened condition. However, the author is not content to offer only a doctrinal description. He also wants the reader to be repeatedly removed from the concept of vanishing. The result is an experiential condition of the mind of the practitioner unfettered by illusion. When defilement is extirpated, the purity of the entire universe is visible. Nowhere is it stated that the attainment of enlightenment implies the loss of the ability to think."
Well done, Pontus.
And you say here you 'could' write a long post [smile].
I don't think anyone is insinuating to suppress thoughts. It just seems mostly about not over thinking and attachment to.
Are you over thinking here?
No accusations, no over-thinking! :)
It's just that this is an important point and I felt I needed to clarify some things. Many people misunderstand buddhism as anti-intellectual, anti-thoughts, anti-emotions etc, when it doesn't have to be. I used to have all sorts of misconceptions regarding these things. Sorry if I put words in anyone's mouth!
The heavy, low, solid, sometimes dark and storming clouds of thoughts and emotions that fill one's mind may not totally vanish (sometimes they do), but they are illuminated, become translucent, are transformed, open up airy, are experienced as substanceless even in their sometime rain and fog and thunder ... even as we go about our daily business. As MU!, another "no" that is "YES YES YES!" gassho1Quote:
... Think not-thinking. How do you think not-thinking (fu-shiryo)? Non-thinking (hi-shiryo). This in itself is the essential art of zazen.
But now that we have had this lovely discussion thinking about "MU" and "non-thinking" ... let's not get too caught up in intellectual traps of thinking about 'em! :p
" Does a dog have Buddha nature?"
" Dog. "
Form is emptiness; Emptiness is form. Walk the walk or talk the talk.