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Thread: Bankei

  1. #1

    Bankei

    Hi. I am reading Unborn: The Life and Teachings of Zen Master Bankei, and would like to now how folks here feel about his teaching of "Unborn Zen". I have had this book for some years, but am only now hearing what he as to say.

    Thanks Daizan

    ed.
    大山

  2. #2
    Hi Daizan,

    After several years, I happened to re-read Bankei earlier this summer. He is another eccentric Zen Teacher in a long line of eccentric Zen Teachers with their own eccentric ways (a couple of those around this Sangha, for sure! )

    I wrote the following when he was recently quoted in the Forum ...

    ==========================

    Hi,

    I recently re-read Bankei too, and felt that, although of a Rinzai heritage, he seemed to recommend Zazen of a surprisingly Shikantaza flavor. He was not opposed to Zazen. As he advises on page 59 here, it is not that he says that one should not sit Zazen, but rather that all of life is Zazen too without division on and off the cushion (much the same lesson as around this Sangha if I might say) ...

    As for zazen, since za (sitting) is the Buddha Mind's sitting at ease, whilst Zen (meditation) is another name for Buddha Mind, the Buddha Mind's sitting at ease is what is meant by zazen. When you are abiding in the Unborn, all the time is zazen; zazen isn't just when you are practicing formal meditation.
    more here on p 59, in which he says his folks should sit because, well, ya gotta do something with the time ...

    http://books.google.co.jp/books?id=D...itting&f=false

    As I said, I was surprised to see almost no mention of sitting Zazen focused on a Koan (in the Rinzai way), and much advice like this to a disciple (quoted in the OP) ...

    Don’t hate the arising of thoughts or stop the thoughts that do arise; simply realize that our original mind, right from the start, is beyond thought, so that, no matter what, you never [actually] get involved with thoughts
    more here ...

    http://books.google.co.jp/books?id=M...hts%22&f=false

    He says (page 96) that Zazen is to be Goalless, not a means to try to attain enlightenment [my bold]...

    "All of you should realize the vital, functioning, living Buddha Mind! For several hundred years now, [people in] both China and Japan have misunderstood the Zen teaching, trying to attain enlightenment by doing zazen or trying to find 'the one who sees and hears,' all of which is a great mistake. Zazen is just another name for original mind, and means to sit in tranquility with a tranquil mind. When you do sitting meditation, you're simply sitting, just as you are; when you do walking meditation, you're walking, just as you are."
    (Bankei Zen, p. 96, tr. Haskel)

    "To exert yourselves in religious practice, trying to produce enlightenment by doing religious practices and zazen, is all wrong too. There's no difference between the mind of all the buddhas and the Buddha Mind of each one of you. But by wanting to realize enlightenment, you create a duality between the one who realizes enlightenment and what it is that's being realized. When you cherish even the smallest desire to realize enlightenment, right away you leave behind the realm of the Unborn and go against the Buddha Mind. This Buddha Mind you have from your parents innately is one alone—not two, not three!"
    (Bankei Zen, p. 76, tr. Haskel)
    Gassho, J

    ================================

    Frankly, Bankei offered many insightful and important teachings, and he was a great Ancestor of ours in the lesson of bringing this Way into all of life, that Zazen or any Practice is All of Life and All of life is simply this Way. But he is not one of my favorite old dead guys, and I think sometimes he was just a little too much a casual "do whatever you feel, no need to Practice really, anything goes" type of popularizer preaching to lay folks who came to see him.

    Yes, there is "no need to Practice" to someone realizing "Unborn Buddha Mind" in their life ... but the way to realize "Unborn Buddha Mind" is typically to do some Practice. It is a bit like saying "there is no need to wash the dirty dishes, just realize they are clean". Well, that is only half a lesson. Better to say "there is no need to wash the dirty dishes, they are already clean ... now wash them and clean them beyond clean vs. dirty". The first Teaching alone may leave people just with a sink full of dirty dishes!

    Also, he said many Wise Teachings, but some dumb stuff (Granted, that is true for any Teacher, cause they are all just artists saying whatever inspires 'em in the moment). Just because he is dead, and people write books about him, doesn't mean he was all that good and talented all the time (he was to Zen what Andy Warhol was to art). Particularly, throughout his talks he repeatedly preaches the following as "proof of the Unborn", which I feel is pretty silly reasoning even for a Zen guy ...

    When you all left your homes to come here to the temple, you did so precisely in order to hear me speak this way; you didn't come with any preconceived idea that if, while I was talking, there were sounds of dogs and birds, children or grown-ups some-where outside, you were deliberately going to try to hear them. Yet here in the meeting you recognize the noises of dogs and crows outside and the sounds of people talking;your eyes can distinguish red from white, and your nose tell good smells from bad. From the start, you had no deliberate intention of doing this, so you had no way to know which sounds, colors or smells you would encounter. But the fact that you recognize these things you didn't expect to see or hear shows you're seeing and hearing with the Unborn Buddha Mind. If outside the temple a dog barks, you know it's a dog; if a crow caws, you know it's a crow. Even though you're not deliberately trying to hear or not to hear these different sounds, you recognize each one the moment it appears, and this is proof of the Buddha Mind, unborn and marvelously illuminating.
    Hmmm.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  3. #3
    I like the metaphor of washing the dirty dishes - it makes things sparkling clear

    Did the term 'unborn mind' come specifically from Bankei? I find it a bit confusing and lacks the clarity of 'original mind'.

    I suppose we could say that mind's original state is that of the unborn - but then it doesn't function any further than as a metaphor - which isn't all that helpful because in real time - the time of our living, born, existential state - original mind is here - fully existant - moment to moment.

    The more I sit the less I'm concerned about what might be interpreted as transcendental views. In time. out of time. beyond time - none of this can be easily expressed (much less proven) by words.

    I think I now experience Buddha mind/original mind as peace in action/action in peace. Thoroughly unborn/born.

    Gassho

    Willow

  4. #4
    Senior Member Tiwala's Avatar
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    My only source of his teachings are extremely biased (Hakuin's Wild Ivy and Essential Teachings) so I can't really say.

    Nevertheless, from what I gather, Hakuin criticises him mostly because he sees the result of his teaching as a bunch of lazy monks.

    Here's some stuff he says:

    These people, true to their words, do not do a single thing. They engage in no act of religious practice; they don't develop a shred of wisdom. They just waste their lives dozing idly away like comatose badgers, useless to their contemporaries while they live, completely forgotten after they die. They aren't capable of leaving behind even a syllable of their own to repay the profound debt they owe to the Buddha patriarchs.

    Gassho,
    Ben

    Gassho
    Ben

  5. #5
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Could it be that the Unborn teaching was Bankei's way to express that we need to tear down the wall between the self and no-self?

    I read this a long time ago and I didn't quite understand. Maybe it's time to give it another go...

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Please remember I am only a priest in training. I could be wrong in everything I say. Slap me if needed.

    The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. Mr. Spock

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Tiwala View Post
    My only source of his teachings are extremely biased (Hakuin's Wild Ivy and Essential Teachings) so I can't really say.

    Nevertheless, from what I gather, Hakuin criticises him mostly because he sees the result of his teaching as a bunch of lazy monks.

    Here's some stuff he says:

    These people, true to their words, do not do a single thing. They engage in no act of religious practice; they don't develop a shred of wisdom. They just waste their lives dozing idly away like comatose badgers, useless to their contemporaries while they live, completely forgotten after they die. They aren't capable of leaving behind even a syllable of their own to repay the profound debt they owe to the Buddha patriarchs.

    Gassho,
    Ben
    Yes, well, Hakuin (and Dogen too) were never masters of the soft spoken understatement when it came to commenting on some Zen Master they didn't care for. So, I would take comments like "do not do a single thing" and "comatose badgers" with a grain of salt and a large dose of exaggeration. It probably means that Hakuin wanted to say that they were just not as "intense" as Hakuin wanted to imply that Hakuin was (and Dogen about Dogen).

    People think that all Buddhists go running around like soft spoken flowers mouthing loving and gentle speech. Baloney. Some of those guys (even some folks today) can take about each other with the same rhetorical flourishes of a bunch of Tea Partiers bad mouthing Obama!

    There is certainly some grain of truth to what Hakuin was complaining about, and Bankei seems like he was pretty loose in what he asked of folks by the standards of most Zen guys.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-21-2013 at 05:26 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  7. #7
    Senior Member Tiwala's Avatar
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    I-I have a confession to make! I really enjoy how Hakuin writes precisely because of his imagery... I'm not entirely sure if I actually value reading him more because of his teachings or the way he writes! It's just so entertaining.

    Here's another one that I burst out laughing at,

    Even should there be such a thing as . . . reaching a state where the great illumination is released by means of dead sitting and silent illumination . . . people are so involved in the numerous duties of their household affairs that they have scarcely a moment in which to practice concentrated meditation. What they do then is to plead illness and, neglecting their duties and casting aside responsibilities for their family affairs, they shut themselves up in a room for several days, lock the door, arrange several cushions in a pile, set up a stick of incense, and proceed to sit. Yet, because they are exhausted by ordinary worldly cares, they sit in meditation for one minute and fall asleep for a hundred, and during the little bit of meditation that they manage to accomplish, their minds are beset by countless delusions.
    Gassho
    Ben

  8. #8
    Unborn Mind ... Original Mind ...

    This is where the Zen Guy hits everybody with a stick ... not to think of "it" as some "thing somewhere over there".

    Unborn ... cause "beginnings and endings" are measures of that which is as beginningless and endless as a timeless ticking clock, handless hands moving round in circles. Every baby's birth and old man's death is just this, a "Mobius Strip-less" flowing into all directions, no borders of "inside" or "out", "above" or "below", "on" or "off" the strip-less strip.

    A stage-less stage ... a dance, a dream, with dancers coming "on and off" that stage ... yet stage and dance go on and on and on ... back stage and center stage just One ... dancers just dancers because they dance (how could there be a dancer who did not dance? How could there be a dance without dancers?) ... dancers just the dance brought to life, the stage brought to life. Stage-Dancers-Dance just the Dance. We are this Dance called "Original Mind".

    Original ... cause precisely this that and the other thing ... and our eyes too. To paraphrase and slightly amend Meister Eckhart ...

    The eye through which I see Mind is the same eye through which Mind sees me, Mind seeing Mind ... Mind minding Mind

    Ocean waves looking for the water and the sea ... rising and falling, just the endless flowing flowing flowing.

    When one burps or scratches the nose, Original Mind burps and itches.

    Not a "thing" because to say it is a "thing" means it is to be compared to "something else" or "no thing". Yet it is every "thing" and "everything", cause nothing left out. It is what is when we drop categories of "something that is 'something' cause it ain't nothing" and "nothing that's 'nothing' cause not something" ... of "being" that only "is" when we are "not not being". It is this thing, that thing, your thing, my thing, the thing's thing, happy things and sad things, all things of dreams, no thing in particular, and whatever supports all things ... Emptiness, the Great Interflowing Fullness that's Anything But Empty.

    Mind ... cause only one limited way to think of "mind" is as what's going on between your ears. Yet, if the eye and brain see a mountain and the moon in the sky, and if the mountain and the eye and brain are all made of atoms forged in distant stars long ago, can we not say that mountains and moon and stars and eye and brain are also "mind" all together? Could there be "sight" if nothing to see? Would the mountains be lifeless and lusterless if nobody to see them? "Mind" is a dance of interflowing seer-seeing-seen-sight-sentience-source of eyes and light. I do not mean that "Mind" need be some "Cosmic Consciousness" (though Mind may be so). Rather, to have a "mind" is a dance of beyond the eyes and brain-thoughts behind the eyes, within the eyes and out ... So, what happens if we stop measuring "inside" from "out"?

    "Mind" is inside the eye, outside the eye, behind the eye, beyond the eye and the eye itself ... and all that leads to that. All the Great Mobius Stripless ... My Thing, Your Thing, Everything, Nothing.

    Somebody hit me with a stick!

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-21-2013 at 03:23 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Tiwala View Post
    I-I have a confession to make! I really enjoy how Hakuin writes precisely because of his imagery... I'm not entirely sure if I actually value reading him more because of his teachings or the way he writes! It's just so entertaining.

    Here's another one that I burst out laughing at,

    Even should there be such a thing as . . . reaching a state where the great illumination is released by means of dead sitting and silent illumination . . . people are so involved in the numerous duties of their household affairs that they have scarcely a moment in which to practice concentrated meditation. What they do then is to plead illness and, neglecting their duties and casting aside responsibilities for their family affairs, they shut themselves up in a room for several days, lock the door, arrange several cushions in a pile, set up a stick of incense, and proceed to sit. Yet, because they are exhausted by ordinary worldly cares, they sit in meditation for one minute and fall asleep for a hundred, and during the little bit of meditation that they manage to accomplish, their minds are beset by countless delusions.
    Hakuin was also a great supporter of Lay Practice, with many lay followers who he always encouraged and led to Awakening ...

    http://books.google.co.jp/books?id=L...ers%22&f=false

    I would say, like Bankei, that "life" is not something we leave to enter Zen Practice. Rather, one realizes that all of life is Zen Practice, both sitting and getting up from sitting. Furthermore, we become "free" in life by realizing that there was never any need to flee, that what is being searched for was here all along ... in family affairs and in the sitting room. Thus, we sit. We sit and realize "no place in need of fleeing".

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-20-2013 at 12:55 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  10. #10
    Senior Member Tiwala's Avatar
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    The monkey is reaching
    For the moon in the water.
    Until death overtakes him
    He’ll never give up.
    If he’d let go the branch and
    Disappear in the deep pool,
    The whole world would shine
    With dazzling pureness.
    -Old Man Hakuin


    http://shambhalasun.com/sunspace/wp-...em-212x300.jpg


    Ben, the annoying parrot.
    Gassho
    Ben

  11. #11
    Thank you for your response, Jundo. You must have the same translation as me, because the passage on distinguishing the sound of dogs and birds is what had me scratching my head. Thought maybe he was... well not sure. The term unborn is beautiful. It suggests there isn't merely nothing, while not throwing a bone to chase.

    Gassho Richard
    大山

  12. #12
    Did the term 'unborn mind' come specifically from Bankei? I find it a bit confusing and lacks the clarity of 'original mind'
    In Tibetan lojong teachings there is the instruction 'Examine the nature of unborn awareness'. I have always found this to be a powerful phrase, as unborn suggests that awareness is not just something limited to now but has always been.

    As Richard says above, it points to the fact there is not nothing and yet...

    Gassho
    Andy

  13. #13
    Hi guys,

    Interesting stuff as always! The word "Unborn" alone was enough to ponder and sit with until toppling over on the spot one day, lol.

    That which can not not do, does without doing and we can only marvel at it in the dream, try to make sense and live and no live with the infinite possibilities of what comes forth but also always has been and will remain "unborn". You came from it, I came from it and all will return at this very moment, in the end right now.

    It's where all that is or is not, jumps into existence, without a trace of origin and vanishes back without leaving a trace.
    Deep emptiness filled to the brim, where everything exists beyond existence, poised to spring into being. It is the moment a decision is made, Tao as the source of all what manifests itself in this dream reality. Empty, holding all forms and possibilities, chances and the course of events in an endless string of bright, not this and not that. It comes and goes back eventually but was never there to begin with. The silence after one inhales to speak or shout, the moment the wheel of fortune makes its final "click", the falling glass just before it hits the floor or the moment the bell sounds in the Zendo. Like an empty canvas in the working space of a skilled painter. As long as the first stroke has not been made, all is possible.

    Well, that's my take on it. Just trying to express what cant be expressed. Not a poet ,I know

    Gassho

    Enkyo

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post

    The eye through which I see Mind is the same eye through which Mind sees me, Mind seeing Mind ... Mind minding Mind
    I could read this over, and over, and over.....

    Deep Gassho,

    Lu
    Shinjin datsuraku, datsuraku shinjin..Body-mind drop off, mind-body drop off..

  15. #15
    Wonderful and deep words. Life as living Zen and Zazen must go together, as you, Jundo, stated. I could;ve never been able to live a spiritual liife if I did not practice it, or spend time practicing. Like excercising, I could try to run a marathon by practicing by myself, but the right trainer and the right training helps me to do it better.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Karasu View Post
    In Tibetan lojong teachings there is the instruction 'Examine the nature of unborn awareness'. I have always found this to be a powerful phrase, as unborn suggests that awareness is not just something limited to now but has always been.

    As Richard says above, it points to the fact there is not nothing and yet...

    Gassho
    Andy
    Thank you for the clarification Andy.

    Gassho

    Willow

  17. #17
    Hello,

    there is no-thing there. But qualities display themselves nevertheless


    Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen
    Chudo Mongen, Ordained Novice Priest-in-Training

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Hans View Post
    Hello,

    there is no-thing there. But qualities display themselves nevertheless


    Gassho, Daizan

    Hans Chudo Mongen
    Not a display arising-from a no-thing, or qualities of a no-thing. Just qualities..."like a dew drop, a flash of lightening". Clouds rolling, static building, lightening flashing. Maybe it is needless to say , but we see water pour from a spout, and eggs come from chickens... it is only natural to imagine an ultimate chicken called "no-thing" or the unborn ...or..


    Gassho, Daizan
    Last edited by Daizan; 10-22-2013 at 02:56 PM.
    大山

  19. #19
    Not addressing this to any of the posters above but a quote I like on this subject:

    To cling to a concrete reality is to be as foolish as cattle.
    But clinging to emptiness is even more foolish.

    - Saraha


    Gassho
    Andy

  20. #20
    Chickens and eggs m8? Really? I'd go for a refund if I were you

    Gassho

    E.

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Daizan View Post
    eggs come from chickens... it is only natural to imagine an ultimate chicken called "no-thing" or the unborn ...or..


    Looking at the condition of this world sometimes, I can imagine that it is just something that happened to drop out of some Cosmic Chicken's ass.





    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  22. #22
    Hello Andy,

    Saraha is DA MAN!

    Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen
    Chudo Mongen, Ordained Novice Priest-in-Training

  23. #23
    He is indeed, Hans! I love those Mahasiddhas.

    One story I love about Saraha is when he asked his consort to prepare him a radish curry while he meditates but he loses track of time and sits for twelve years. When he eventually stops he yells for his dinner His dakini consort replies, 'You sit in samadhi for twelve years and the first thing you ask is where your curry is?'!

    Gassho
    Andy

  24. #24
    Hello Andy,

    although this is off-topic, I can be quite irritable as well if I haven't eaten properly for a while. The man just really liked his food

    Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen
    Chudo Mongen, Ordained Novice Priest-in-Training

  25. #25
    [QUOTE=Karasu;113489]He is indeed, Hans! I love those Mahasiddhas.

    One story I love about Saraha is when he asked his consort to prepare him a radish curry while he meditates but he loses track of time and sits for twelve years. When he eventually stops he yells for his dinner His dakini consort replies, 'You sit in samadhi for twelve years and the first thing you ask is where your curry is?'!

    Just looked up Saraha - thanks for the mention Andy - going to read some more.

    Gassho

    Willow

  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Looking at the condition of this world sometimes, I can imagine that it is just something that happened to drop out of some Cosmic Chicken's ass.
    It does have a vaguely chicken's ass smell this morning.

    Sometimes I look at what I posted the day before and think.."what are you going on about?"

    Gassho Daizan
    大山

  27. #27
    Hi all

    To add to the discussion on the use of 'unborn' in Buddhism, I have just begun reading a book on teachings on nibbana/nirvana in the Pali canon (The Island by Ajahn Pasanno and Ajahn Amaro). Early on in the book it lists all of the words and phrases that the Buddha uses for nibbana and one of those is ajāta, 'the unborn'.

    Gassho
    Andy

  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by Karasu View Post
    Hi all

    To add to the discussion on the use of 'unborn' in Buddhism, I have just begun reading a book on teachings on nibbana/nirvana in the Pali canon (The Island by Ajahn Pasanno and Ajahn Amaro). Early on in the book it lists all of the words and phrases that the Buddha uses for nibbana and one of those is ajāta, 'the unborn'.

    Gassho

    Andy
    This was a basic teaching in the Forest Sangha tradition.. "there is the unborn, uncompounded, unconditioned." When I was transitioning to Zen it helped to switched out the words of Heart Sutra to reflect a different understanding of "unborn" .

    Unborn is not other than born
    born is not other than unborn
    born is unborn
    unborn is born


    unconditioned is not other than conditioned
    conditioned is not other than unconditioned
    conditioned is unconditioned
    unconditioned is conditioned

    A silly exercise maybe, but it took The Unborn out of the realm of a transcendent goal, and back to a reminder of these bones now, and life as-is.

    Gassho Daizan
    Last edited by Daizan; 11-04-2013 at 01:08 AM.
    大山

  29. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by Karasu View Post
    Hi all

    To add to the discussion on the use of 'unborn' in Buddhism, I have just begun reading a book on teachings on nibbana/nirvana in the Pali canon (The Island by Ajahn Pasanno and Ajahn Amaro). Early on in the book it lists all of the words and phrases that the Buddha uses for nibbana and one of those is ajāta, 'the unborn'.

    Gassho
    Andy
    I don't mean to muddle in philosophy, but there is some discussion in Zen and Buddhism that terms like "the unborn" can be misleading, that maybe the famous short sutta which says "there is the unborn, uncompounded, unconditioned" is unusual or is easily misunderstood, and the Buddha actually did not speak in such way often. Why? Well, concepts like "the unborn" and such can give the impression of some reified (nice word) "thing", perhaps a great Spirit, Atman, Brahma, Great Godhead, Deity, Cosmic Source or the like that we are trying to "merge with" (or trying to realize that we are in disguise).

    The Buddha, it is said, did not teach such and rejected Atman. Or, perhaps, his Teaching was just unconcerned about whether there is some Great Godhead Etc. or not.

    Atman, the Sanskrit expression of Soul, Self, or Ego, is a permanent, everlasting and absolute entity, which is the unchanging substance behind the changing phenomenal world.
    ...Buddhism denies the existence of such a thought. (Walpola Rahula)
    So, if so, what DID the Buddha teach?

    Perhaps we might say that "unborn" means, not some "Great Universal Unborn" ... but the world encountered when we stop thinking about things being born, living and dying, coming and going. In other words, it is not some Thing, but more the inner state when we stop measuring and judging the world as this and that, good things and bad, starts and finishes, me and not me etc.

    Same with other Buddhist words, such as "Big 'M' Mind" ... which is perhaps not a Cosmic Consciousness or the like, but more the mind when we stop thinking about what happens behind the eyes and in front of the eyes as separate.

    Same with "Emptiness" or "the Void" ... which is not a thing or the absence of a thing, but a great moving dancing that cannot be stuffed into a box.

    Why is this important? Well, perhaps the Buddha's teaching have more to do with our giving up our psychological process of categorizing, judging, dividing up and feeling separate from the world, and less to do with some "merging with the Cosmic Spirit" or the like, which is what Buddha was critical of in Brahmanism.

    Anyway ... enough philosophy.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 11-05-2013 at 02:34 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  30. #30
    Senior Member Myosha's Avatar
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    Thank you.


    Gassho,
    Edward
    Practice with humility, respect all beings, avoid attachments, give rise to prajña from your own awareness, put an end to delusions - Hui-neng

  31. #31
    Thank you, Jundo.

    Personally, I don't have a problem with the use of terms like ajāta and śūnyatā - the problem comes when we try and make them into a thing. But given the tendency of the human mind to do that, such words are certainly best used wisely.

    Gassho
    Andy

  32. #32
    Hey Andy,

    It is also good to remember here the Buddha's ancient and often repeated caution that he does not teach either "Eternalism" or "Nihilism", but a "Middle Way". What does that mean?

    Well, the Buddha avoided seeing the world as either founded upon something permanent, fixed, eternal and unchanging ("Eternalism"), or reality as "not there", zero, meaningless, "a blank hole" ("Nihilism").

    Kaccayanagotta Sutta

    "The world in general, Kaccaayana, inclines to two views, to existence or to non-existence. But for him who, with the highest wisdom, sees the uprising of the world as it really is, 'non-existence of the world' does not apply, and for him who, with highest wisdom, sees the passing away of the world as it really is, 'existence of the world' does not apply.

    "The world in general, Kaccaayana, grasps after systems and is imprisoned by dogmas. But he [who is wise] does not go along with that system-grasping, that mental obstinacy and dogmatic bias, does not grasp at it, does not affirm: 'This is my self.' He knows without doubt or hesitation that whatever arises is merely dukkha that what passes away is merely dukkha and such knowledge is his own, not depending on anyone else. This, Kaccaayana, is what constitutes right view.

    "'Everything exists,' this is one extreme; 'nothing exists,' this is the other extreme. Avoiding both extremes the Tathaagata teaches a doctrine of the middle
    Some thus criticize certain Mahayana Sutras and certain language used by Zen Masters such as Bankei and many others for making "Big B" Buddha into an permanent, perfect and eternal "Source", such as this description from the Nirvana Sutra ...

    [T]he Tathagata is Eternal and Unchanging. Any person who says that the Tathagata is non-eternal [is ignorant] ... the Tathagata is Eternal and Unchanging. It is not good to say that the Tathagata is non-eternal and that he changes.
    BUT BUT BUT ... this seeming disparity dissolves if one realizes that perhaps what is actually being pointed to is a kind of "Big P" Permanence that arises when we drop all our small human measures of "permanent vs. impermanent", starts and finishes, yesterday/today/tomorrow. "here now vs. not here later". etc. There is a kind of "Big P" Perfection found when human beings put aside all judgments of "perfect" or "imperfect" to our selfish eyes and wants. There is a "Big P" Pure when one drops all human aversions and attractions to what we like or dislike as "pure" or "impure", clean or dirty. A Silence that sings both (small case) silence or noise, lovely song or cries of grief, a ("Big "S") Sacred Stillness that is both when sitting still or moving about like a hurricane. There is a certain "Big B" Being to reality that holds both human ideas of "being or not being", existing or not existing, time or timeless, here or gone, birth and death ... etc. etc. One realizes (all caps) Just What Is, beyond yet embodying (small case) what is or what ain't, what we want & what we resist and hate.

    This "Big P" Permanence, Perfection and Purity thus holds and manifests this world of starts and finishes, good and bad, clean and dirty etc. judged and labeled by "what's in it for me?" small human eyes. Such is "Big B" Buddha and "Big E" Enlightenment that even holds our small human expectations and descriptions of "small b" buddha vs. ignorant sentient beings (i.e., beings who are "ignorant" for the very reason of not knowing "Big B" Buddha that transcends even "enlightenment vs. ignorance" )

    But But But But ... all of the above remains just "armchair philosophy" until one actually realizes such in Zazen. Zen folks don't just leave all this as dry words on some Sutra page. How? By sitting, dropping all small human judgments, aversions and attractions in order to embody the "Big B" Buddha and "Big E" Enlightenment that simultaneously transcends yet embodies this samsaric world of "clean and dirty, war and peace, sickness and health, life and death" and all the rest ... even "enlightenment vs. ignorance".

    Something (and not "something") like that. It ain't rocket science.

    Just Sit ... dropping categories, appraisals, expectations, demands on the world, as and amid this world of sometime beauty and sometime ugliness to our eyes and ... Just Sit.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 11-06-2013 at 12:16 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  33. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Hey Andy,

    It is also good to remember here the Buddha's ancient and often repeated caution that he does not teach either "Eternalism" or "Nihilism", but a "Middle Way". What does that mean?

    Well, the Buddha avoided seeing the world as either founded upon something permanent, fixed, eternal and unchanging ("Eternalism"), or reality as "not there", zero, meaningless, "a blank hole" ("Nihilism").



    Some thus criticize certain Mahayana Sutras and certain language used by Zen Masters such as Bankei and many others for making "Big B" Buddha into an permanent, perfect and eternal "Source", such as this description from the Nirvana Sutra ...



    BUT BUT BUT ... this seeming disparity dissolves if one realizes that perhaps what is actually being pointed to is a kind of "Big P" Permanence that arises when we drop all our small human measures of "permanent vs. impermanent", starts and finishes, yesterday/today/tomorrow. "here vs. not here". etc. There is a kind of "Big P" Perfection found when human beings put aside all judgments of "perfect" or "imperfect" to our selfish eyes and wants. There is a "Big P" Pure when one drops all human aversions and attractions to what we like or dislike as "pure" or "impure", clean or dirty. A Silence that sings both (small case) silence or noise, lovely song or cries of grief, a ("Big "S") Sacred Stillness that is both when sitting still or moving about like a hurricane. There is a certain "Big B" Being to reality that holds both human ideas of "being or not being", existing or not existing, time or timeless, here or gone, birth and death ... etc. etc. One realizes (all caps) Just What Is, beyond yet embodying (small case) what is or what ain't, what we want & what we resist and hate.

    This "Big P" Permanence, Perfection and Purity thus holds and manifests this world of starts and finishes, good and bad, clean and dirty etc. judged and labeled by "what's in it for me?" small human eyes. Such is "Big B" Buddha and "Big E" Enlightenment that even holds our small human expectations and descriptions of "small b" buddha vs. ignorant sentient beings (i.e., beings who are "ignorant" for the very reason of not knowing "Big B" Buddha that transcends even "enlightenment vs. ignorance" )

    But But But But ... all of the above remains just "armchair philosophy" until one actually realizes such in Zazen. Zen folks don't just leave all this as dry words on some Sutra page. How? By sitting, dropping all small human judgments, aversions and attractions in order to embody the "Big B" Buddha and "Big E" Enlightenment that simultaneously transcends yet embodies this samsaric world of "clean and dirty, war and peace, sickness and health, life and death" and all the rest ... even "enlightenment vs. ignorance".

    Something (and not "something") like that. It ain't rocket science.

    Just Sit ... dropping categories, appraisals, expectations, demands on the world, as and amid this world of sometime beauty and sometime ugliness to our eyes and ... Just Sit.

    Gassho, J
    Thank you for this Jundo.

    I've found myself running aground on the notion of eternalism from time to time. One of the recommended books on our reading list is David Brazier's 'The New Buddhism' and I have to confess I felt very confused after reading that book. He is very critical of Zen (even though embracing Zen as his practice/teaching along with Pure Land).

    He argues a view of Soto Zen as teaching a notion of a 'fundamental, unifying, metaphysical substratum that is more real than the ordinary world'.
    He also argues that the concept of Buddha Nature and Original or Inherent enlightenment are not Buddhist concepts (Taoist) and that 'the grasses,trees, mountain and rivers all attain Buddhahood' is a slogan. He argues that the original meaning of shunyata has been corrupted into its opposite (an underlying eternal essence of everything).

    Well - this continues for many pages until he reaches an interesting conclusion - namely - Buddha discriminated between greed, hate, delusions and generosity etc and was in fact, through and through a dualist. Realizing the non-dual is absolutely no guarantee of anything in the sphere of ethics and social compassion.

    I have, from time to time, felt confused and run aground on all of the above. Sometimes it's difficult to differentiate between heart-felt thinking within my mind and excessive spinning of thoughts. But - Buddhism (for some) is a faith as well as a practice - it isn't just a case of 'we sit' but also we 'believe'. Sometimes we may be called upon to explain in words what we ground our practice upon.

    As it happens - I think Brazier presents Soto Zen in a different way to how it is taught here.

    I gravitate to the teaching here but I would be dishonest if I said I don't also have doubts. The only time the doubts really go away is when I sit - and perhaps that is the point of zazen - and the grace of practice - and ultimately it is hard to express any of this in words.

    Gassho

    Willow
    Last edited by willow; 11-05-2013 at 09:32 AM.

  34. #34
    Thank you, Jundo

  35. #35
    I stewed in philosophical and religious ideas for a long time before accepting guidance and learning to sit. So I was bitten bad and flopped back and forth between nihilism and eternalism. That experience gave some insight into the addictive nature of mind, this mind at any rate. It was understanding the meaning of upaya, skillful means, that made it possible to start to drop it, and to look into reaching and grasping, and how ideas set up in a blind spot and rule the roost. I believe that times change, and that what is skillful in one culture and time, might not be skillful in another. Some teachings helped, some just fed my addiction, and I can see that happening in others too. So for me being faithful to the Dharma doesn't mean regarding all the traditional types of teaching as helpful, because they are traditional. This could also just be a matter of character. I appreciate the balance of Jundo and Taigu.

    Gassho Daizan
    Last edited by Daizan; 11-05-2013 at 11:41 AM.
    大山

  36. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by willow View Post
    ... One of the recommended books on our reading list is David Brazier's 'The New Buddhism' and I have to confess I felt very confused after reading that book. He is very critical of Zen (even though embracing Zen as his practice/teaching along with Pure Land).

    He argues a view of Soto Zen as teaching a notion of a 'fundamental, unifying, metaphysical substratum that is more real than the ordinary world'.
    He also argues that the concept of Buddha Nature and Original or Inherent enlightenment are not Buddhist concepts (Taoist) and that 'the grasses,trees, mountain and rivers all attain Buddhahood' is a slogan. He argues that the original meaning of shunyata has been corrupted into its opposite (an underlying eternal essence of everything).
    Hi Willow,

    At risk of going into too much detail, those are very much narrow interpretations or mischaracterizations of Soto Zen practice.

    Strange as it sounds, while we believe in a TRUTH that is "more real" than this ordinary world, and while we believe this "ordinary world"(which is a place filled with greed anger and ignorance) is not any more "real" than a mirage or dream ... we simultaneously believe that this "ordinary world" is as real as real can be, and anything but "ordinary" because the "dream" and that TRUTH which is "more real" (and which is free of greed anger and ignorance) are "not two, one beyond one".

    Although "greed anger and ignorance" is certainly NOT the same as "generosity, compassion and wisdom" ... yet all is a dream, while all is also real ... and so we should embody "generosity, compassion and wisdom" which is free of "greed anger and ignorance".

    Furthermore, to say that "'the grasses,trees, mountains and rivers all attain Buddhahood' is a slogan" is not to understand that even "slogans" attain Buddhahood and, anyway, what is there to "attain"? (Dogen spoke of pictures of painted rice cakes that can satisfy hunger).

    Yes, there is some Taoist influence on Buddhism when it crossed from India to China ... one of the best things that ever happened to Buddhism! Most Mahayanists have asserted for centuries that they actually "improved" the original formulations of Buddhism which were inspired but a bit clunky (at least from some perspectives, for the so-called Hinayana folks would disagree).

    Shunyata (Emptiness) has not been corrupted into its opposite, an underlying "essence of everything", because Shunyata does not admit "opposites" (better said, Shunyata includes and transcends both opposites and identicals and anything-betweens and not-at-alls, holding each and every and some and neither at once without the least conflict.), everything and nothing in a great swimming essential dance ... beyond mere "to be or not to be".

    Also plenty of room in Zen for "ethics and social compassion", thank you much!

    The criticism is too narrow and does not understand the full implications of these Teachings.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 11-05-2013 at 01:59 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  37. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Shunyata (Emptiness) has not been corrupted into its opposite, an underlying "essence of everything", because Shunyata does not admit "opposites" (better said, Shunyata includes and transcends both opposites and identicals and anything between or never was, holding each and all and neither at once without the least conflict.), everything and nothing in a great swimming essential dance ... beyond mere "to be or not to be".

    The criticism is too narrow and does not understand the full implications of these Teachings.

    Gassho, J
    Hi Jundo. Are teachings other than how they are received? Is it fair to respond to very common misunderstandings by saying if people don't get it, that's not the problem of the teachings?
    I have no figures here, no facts, only a sense of it, but would bet that if a poll was taken of people who are interested in Zen and who show up at a Zen center, there will be believe in a formless Mind/God, because that is the popular idea. It was just such a notion that sat like a black rock behind my eyes for a long time, because of how the teachings were picked up (naturally enough). ...and also how it was first presented by a traditional teacher. I sympathize with people who are confused. Daizan /\
    大山

  38. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    yet all is a dream, while all is also real
    Wait wait wait, what?…now you're just jerking us around. (jk)

    This thread has been seriously great reading and something I'm still sitting with. Thanks everyone. Feel like there were some serious fastballs tossed in here and Jundo stepped in with with his zen-thwacker and put them all out of the park. (did I just really write that sentence? I don't even like baseball; whatever, I'm leaving it.)

    Also, I really liked what Daizan said, and think it's something we all do to varying degrees and characterizes, at least some of the time, my own little creeping doubts (which like you said Willow, mostly dissolve in sitting): "I stewed in philosophical and religious ideas for a long time before accepting guidance and learning to sit. So I was bitten bad and flopped back and forth between nihilism and eternalism. That experience gave some insight into the addictive nature of mind, this mind at any rate." Yes, that.

    gassho everyone
    Shōmon

  39. #39
    Hi Daizan,

    People will believe what they believe. They always have and always will. People will receive Teachings and Teacher's words and hear them and make of them whatever they want.

    Perhaps Zen Practice is just about getting behind some of those personally held beliefs and views, turning some upside down, rightside up and back again into new views and viewless views.

    But people will hear and make what they want. As long as such are good ways, no harm I suppose.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 11-06-2013 at 12:09 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  40. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    yet all is a dream, while all is also real
    Yes, Dogen and lots of Mahayana folks expressed something along the lines of how life is like something of a dream ... and we are dreamers dreaming of our "self" dreaming in a dream ... but this is our dream, our only dream of life to live ... sometimes a sweet dream, sometimes a silly dream, sometimes an "to dream the impossible dream" dream, and sometimes a nightmare ... a dream within a dream so dreamy that it bends around to be as real as real can be (as we all discover when our "dream knee" bumps into the "dream coffee table" ) ... a dream that is our dream, so we best dream-live it well.

    Wake Up!

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 11-05-2013 at 02:53 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  41. #41
    Anyway ... let's leave all this be, drop most away, and go sit.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  42. #42
    Senior Member Myosha's Avatar
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    Thank you.


    Gassho,
    Edward
    Practice with humility, respect all beings, avoid attachments, give rise to prajña from your own awareness, put an end to delusions - Hui-neng

  43. #43
    Really helpful thread - thanks all,



    Willow

  44. #44
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Anyway ... let's leave all this be, drop most away, and go sit.

    Gassho, J

    Thank you, Jundo, and thank you for being around.
    大山

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