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Thread: Samadhi

  1. #1

    Samadhi

    In all major Buddhists sects and Schools, One of the main aims of meditation, is to enter Samadhi. I know in Korean Zen (Lin-Chi) tradition, this is also the case. How does Samadhi equate to Soto Zen?

  2. #2
    Hello,

    I think with Zazen we experience both aspects of Buddhist Meditation both Samatha (calm abiding) and Vipassana (insight). I believe that Sahmadi can be seen as the result of Samatha meditation, which leads to the insight aspects. . .but I don't know if it's very "Zen" to look at it this way. Considering "Zazen" is seen as the effortless gate, I know it's best not be overly concerned with ideas of entering Sahmadi or gaining Insights --- But of course both may occur.


    I'll apologize in advance for peddling a Insight/Theravada perspective. But it's my deepest pool of Dharma "Knowledge". Perhaps it is too much baggage. . . but when it comes down to it there are parallels between Zen and the Theravada tradition. I suppose Buddhism is Buddhism.

  3. #3
    Hi Guys,

    I like very much what Harry and Greg have written.

    Samadhi is at the very Heart of Zazen.

    I think Dogen considered effortless Shikantaza to be the perfection of Samadhi.
    Zazen without purpose, Zazen without goals or effort, is the Gateway to non-discriminating mind ... to Samadhi. My teacher, Nishijima, says that Samadhi is balance in body/mind. Merely crossing the legs in a balanced pose, allowing the mind to settle of its own accord, lets us experience reality in balance. One sits poised at the center point of all things, without separation ... serene, clear. I would not call this the "goal" of Zazen, because there should be no "goal". It comes by not looking and by just allowing it (the reason I often compare this balance to the balance of riding a bicycle ... it just comes naturally, simply, by not making particular effort and without need to describe it in words ... Just ride your bike!)

    It also comes with many flavors. Some Buddhist and Hindu philosophers have taken great trouble to analyze all its many variations and 'depths'. We do not do that so much, and just allow what happens to happen. Let me use the analogy here of balanced 'surfing'. We are surfing through life. Some philosophers will analyze the fact that there are tall waves and short, rough current or no current, right foot or goofy foot, blue sea or green sea, in "the tube" or out etc etc. ... In Zazen, we just ride our board. (In fact, I think that some of the descriptions and categorizations of types of Samadhi are artificial impositions of the philosophical mind ... creating categories where none are needed. Just ride your board!)

    As well, Samadhi is not the ending point of our practice, but is more like a light that is turned on and illuminates our lives in new ways. Things no longer appear the same as before when viewed from a state of Samadhi, and so we can see all that our lives contain quite differently from this alternate perspective. Form is emptiness, emptiness is form.

    But we cannot live in "One Mind". A teacher ( Mu Sang Sunim) in the lineage of Master Seung Sahn has a nice story about this ...

    On our recent teaching trip to western Europe [Master Seung Sahn] found that many people were confused about the relation between "samadhi" and Zen practice. So he taught over and over that while samadhi -- "one-mind," "not moving mind" may appear "on the way," it is not the goal of Zen. The aim of our practice is truth or "clear mind," and the correct functioning of truth moment to moment. ...

    Once one of my students decided to practice with an Indian guru. This guru taught samadhi practice. So my student got a mantra, tried it all the time when he wasn't working, and went deeply into samadhi. All the time he was having a very good feeling. Then one day while doing this mantra, he was crossing the street. The next thing he knew, a car screeched to a halt, almost hitting him, and loudly sounded its horn. The driver shouted at him, 'Keep clear mind!' Then my student was very afraid. The next day he came to me and said, 'Dae Soen Sa Nim, I have a problem. Last night I almost died. I was practicing samadhi, didn't pay attention and was almost hit by a car. Please teach me my mistake.'

    "So I explained to him, samadhi practicing takes away your consciousness. But Zen means moment to moment keeping clear mind. What are you doing now? When you are doing something, just do it. Then this kind of accident cannot happen. So don't make samadhi. Don't make anything! Just do it, O.K.?"
    Greg wrote ...

    I think with Zazen we experience both aspects of Buddhist Meditation both Samatha (calm abiding) and Vipassana (insight). I believe that Sahmadi can be seen as the result of Samatha meditation, which leads to the insight aspects. . .but I don't know if it's very "Zen" to look at it this way. Considering "Zazen" is seen as the effortless gate, I know it's best not be overly concerned with ideas of entering Sahmadi or gaining Insights --- But of course both may occur.
    Our Zen Practice contains both Samatha (Samadhi) and Vipassana (insight) aspects ... and I would say that we are an "insight" school as much as any other branch of Buddhism, and pretty much the same insights! For example, that everything is impermanent and changing, that there is no 'self' etc. etc. Those insights are gained naturally from Zazen, plus the philosophy of Master Dogen and others that surrounds Zazen. As Greg says, we may not put it in quite the same terms, but it is all there. While our Zazen is not focused on insights in the way of the "Vipassana" (Insight Meditation) schools (who tend to a very analytical type of meditation) ... we learn the same lessons in Zen Practice through our own means.

    Anyway, enough words ... time to bike to the beach and grab my surfboard.

    Gassho, Jundo

  4. #4
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Isn't samahdi what comes when you allow the thoughts to float away and abide in the emptiness of the blue sky of the mind? I feel the same way as when I used to sit with intense concentration on my breath, back when I was sitting with other techniques.

    Kirk

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc
    Isn't samahdi what comes when you allow the thoughts to float away and abide in the emptiness of the blue sky of the mind?
    Yes, I would say just that.

    Gassho, J

  6. #6
    What shade of blue? Dark blue? Same blue all over? All the time? Dang, I think I've got the wrong blue here. Maybe it's bleu instead. What's the green tinge about? :lol:

  7. #7

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by BruceS
    This seemed a really good explanation of samadhi as it relates to zazen:

    http://www.mro.org/mr/archive/23-3/articles/mondo.html
    Hi Bruce,

    Thank you for the article. Daido Loori is a marvelous teacher. I always enjoy listening and reading his talks.

    However, I always have to raise one caution concerning many talks and writings from that lineage (the Sambokyodan/Diamond Sangha/White Plum lineage). My only caution is that, because they are an unusual hybrid of Dogen's "just sitting" and hard-boiled, Kensho focused Rinzai techniques and philosophy (they are rather a split off from both in Japan, and many of their teachers cut ties with both branches, some did not), they constantly try to imply that Dogen was an advocate of many Rinzai-esque ways and thinking ... that Dogen was preaching a philosophy that he was not (this subject came up most recently in our discussion of Dogen and Koans during Zazen). Because their line is so well published in books and magazines in the West (they are not well known in Japan, but very influential in the West), they have really muddled the picture of what unites and what separates Dogen from Hakuin et. al.. We are the same in so many ways, but the approaches and underlying philosophy are also quite different in important ways.

    More power to them (I do not mean to criticize a practice that works for somebody), but they have confused students on what their lineage represents, the traditional philosophies of Rinzai and Soto (both what unites us and what is different in approach) and the options available in Zen practice. It is a little like mixing animal hunting with being a vegetarian (it might even work for you, but don't tell folks that such was the original meaning of 'vegetarianism').

    So, in this article too, I am hesitant about statements such as:

    You eventually reach a point where you slip into samadhi or single-pointedness of mind. The thoughts disappear for a short period of time and you enter into a state of mind where you’re not processing anything. You’re not letting go of anything. The watcher disappears. And then, in an instant, you’re back again, aware of something. Some people, as they near that place of complete letting go, respond to its arrival with fear. They don’t want to lose control. They may experience a physical reaction — an “involuntary” muscular jerk or a flooding of thoughts.
    There is something about this statement implying that this kind of experience is the 'goal' of Shikantaza. It is not, as Shikantaza has no goals. The kind of thing Daido describes happens from time to time, and at other moments of Shikantaza other things happen or nothing happens. Each is Shikantaza, each is our life, each is our Practice. Daido's folks are just really into these intense experiences as the target.

    In shikantaza, you are simply aware of the flow of thoughts, without attempting to do anything about them. This is called “goalless zazen.” There’s no effort to do anything. You just watch the thoughts. In the process of watching thoughts, they begin to diminish. This takes a long time. Shikantaza is not dramatic. It works slowly and deeply. You become very familiar with the workings of your mind. It is a real education about you, your mind, and what you do with your mind most of your life. Finally, you reach a point where the thoughts disappear. When the thought disappears, the thinker disappears, because thought and thinker are interdependent. One doesn’t exist without the other.
    Same comment. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it does not or something else happens. This is not where you want to "get to", in the meaning that such experiences are the ultimate target of Dogen's Zazen. In other words, too much emphasis on the "disappearing" as the goal of Zazen. These folks like to focus on the big, hard edge experiences, not the small, gentle stuff of practice. I believe.

    Samadhi can eventually lead to kensho. Kensho, literally, means seeing the nature of the self. Samadhi is a state of consciousness. Kensho is realization. It is said that Shakyamuni was in a state of samadhi when he realized perfect, unsurpassable enlightenment upon seeing the morning star.
    Same comment. Just understand where his lineage is coming from on this Kensho biz.

    In his writings, Master Dogen talked about different kinds of samadhis. There is the absolute samadhi of “falling away of body and mind.” Then there is the working samadhi where you have single-pointedness of mind but you don’t lose track of your surroundings. You are openly aware of the circumstances around you and your mind is very centered and focused. ...

    Dogen also spoke about self-fulfilling samadhi, other-fulfilling samadhi and the samadhi of self-enlightenment. Self-fulfilling samadhi is samadhi concerned with the self-enjoyment of the dharmakaya, the body of reality, without relating itself to other sentient beings. Dogen might be speaking here of the arhat. Other-fulfilling samadhi refers to the samadhi concerned with the enjoyment and fulfillment of others through the accommodation of the dharmakaya to the needs and states of sentient beings in their myriad forms. This is the samadhi of compassion.
    Frankly, I am not sure if Dogen categorized or distinguished Samadhi specifically like this, with these specific categories (I have put the question to Nishijima for his input. I will let you know his opinion on the subject). But, yes, Samadhi is like the ocean: Sometimes it forms itself to whatever land it contacts, sometimes it is just the ocean, sometimes it is individual drops of liquid, the ocean and drops together, sometimes it is deep or shallow ...
    We just sit with it all.

    Gassho, Jundo

  9. #9
    I think they left out "after the buddha sat for those 7 days (or is it weeks?)

    He got up and found a washroom.

  10. #10
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Quote:
    You eventually reach a point where you slip into samadhi or single-pointedness of mind. The thoughts disappear for a short period of time and you enter into a state of mind where you’re not processing anything. You’re not letting go of anything. The watcher disappears. And then, in an instant, you’re back again, aware of something. Some people, as they near that place of complete letting go, respond to its arrival with fear. They don’t want to lose control. They may experience a physical reaction — an “involuntary” muscular jerk or a flooding of thoughts.


    There is something about this statement implying that this kind of experience is the 'goal' of Shikantaza. It is not, as Shikantaza has no goals. The kind of thing Daido describes happens from time to time, and at other moments of Shikantaza other things happen or nothing happens. Each is Shikantaza, each is our life, each is our Practice. Daido's folks are just really into these intense experiences as the target.
    It seems to me that if you tell people it might be scary, then it _will_ be scary. Yes, this happens to me from time to time, and I just let it happen. In the early days of sitting it gave me a rush, because I _wanted_ it to happen; hence it didn't happen often, and it became my goal. Now, thanks to Jundo, I undersand that this is just part of what is.

    Kirk

  11. #11
    Hi Jundo,
    Yes I hesitated to post the link, but thought it may be good for discussion. So much of what you see regarding samadhi is from yoga or vajrayana practice. The Tibetans would say that samadhi, being a product of one pointedness in shamatha, is only starting point for higher practices, and one shouldn't get too attached to it.

    I found the article interesting in several way. Wasn't sure about the categories of samadhi attributed to Dogen, but that's just 'cause I don't know. The Tibetans or the Yoga guys might categorize it differently. What was interesting to me was the statement mixing "one pointedness" which, to me, implies a single point of concentration, and shikantaza which has no point of concentration. That seems a bit contradictory, but maybe I misunderstand.

    Anyway, my understanding of samadhi is a bit different, coming from vajrayana, I don't think they would necessarily associate samadhi with a direct experience of emptiness. Samadhi would be said to be a prerequisite, and a direct experience of emptiness or a pointing to the nature of mind would be a prerequisite to dzogchen or mahamudra, which in some ways resembles shikantaza (I think).

    My experience is certainly one of slipping in and out of "non-thought". By my vajrayana understanding of samadhi, I'm not sure I've ever been there.
    Gassho,
    Bruce

  12. #12
    Hey Bruce,

    I am going to say something I have said before, but that may strike some people as a bit strange. I like my Buddhism, and I am going to do it even if it is wrong. Even if the Buddha did something different. Same for my Samadhi.

    What worked for the Buddha worked for the Buddha, what works for me works for me.

    So, even if what I propose is very different from even what the Buddha and all the Great Ancestors did (I don't really think it so, by the way) ... even if what I am doing would qualify as the lowest rung on some Yogi's Samadhi ladder ... well, I like my life. I appreciate this Practice. I will keep non-doing it even if it is wrong, and not give much thought to someone's list of what should be done/not done (and those lists rarely agree, by the way).

    Fortunately, one of the first things to drop is thought of doing Practice wrong.

    Gassho, Jundo

    P.s.- Unmonkish thing to say: It is not unlike making love. If it feels right, and feels good ... and if nobody is being damaged by it ... you are doing it right.

    P.p.s - That does not mean that any form of practice goes, by the way. I did not mean that any form of practice is right. My Practice is very serious, and very carefully done. I do not take it lightly, and do not have an "anything goes" attitude. Far from it. I just mean that, if what I am doing is not the way some old fart did it 500 years ago, or in the deep mountains of the Himalayas, I will keep my way anyway. I will keep it because this Practice works on the road I am walking.

  13. #13
    Hi Jundo,
    Seems like maybe you took my post as disagreeing with you? That wasn't my intention. My intention was only to discuss what I understand to be different views on samadhi and it's "place", for lack of a better word, in practice. That was my only intention of posting the link, since one doesn't often see it discussed as often in Zen writings. And, while my practice has been more or less Zen, most of my study and training has been in Vajrayana, so I'm trying to understand the Zen view on the subject (and btw, I don't pretend to completely understand the Vajrayana views either, and yeah they're different from school to school).

    Ultimately, I don't think it matters how one labels these things, but samadhi is the topic of the thread so I was just trying to contribute and learn.
    Cheers,
    Bruce

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by BruceS
    Hi Jundo,
    Seems like maybe you took my post as disagreeing with you?
    Cheers,
    Bruce
    Hey Bruce,

    I think you read something into my mail that wasn't there ... I should have used more emoticons perhaps

    It is one of the dangers of web chats ... you can't read the body language and facial expressions. No, I took no afront ... and I do not care if somebody disagrees, by the way. So, a "double no affront!"

    No, my basic point was just that, more than "Kill the Buddha," I am a believer in "Screw the Buddha". (Not literally ... I mean it more as "to heck with the Buddha"). You need to listen to other folks, many teachers, then find your own way ... even if the Buddha and all the Ancestors did the opposite. You will know if things are right for you.

    "Screw the Buddha"! What I great name for a book I might never write!

    Gassho, Jundo

  15. #15
    Hi Jundo,
    That's cool, and I do understand. It was old Shakyamuni who said, don't believe anyone, even me. Go find out for yourself!

    Gassho and with much respect,
    Bruce :lol:

  16. #16

  17. #17
    Hi Guys,

    On the following subject, this just in from the head office ...

    In his writings, Master Dogen talked about different kinds of samadhis. There is the absolute samadhi of “falling away of body and mind.” Then there is the working samadhi where you have single-pointedness of mind but you don’t lose track of your surroundings. You are openly aware of the circumstances around you and your mind is very centered and focused. ...

    Dogen also spoke about self-fulfilling samadhi, other-fulfilling samadhi and the samadhi of self-enlightenment. Self-fulfilling samadhi is samadhi concerned with the self-enjoyment of the dharmakaya, the body of reality, without relating itself to other sentient beings. Dogen might be speaking here of the arhat. Other-fulfilling samadhi refers to the samadhi concerned with the enjoyment and fulfillment of others through the accommodation of the dharmakaya to the needs and states of sentient beings in their myriad forms. This is the samadhi of compassion.
    Jundo said ...

    Frankly, I am not sure if Dogen categorized or distinguished Samadhi specifically like this, with these specific categories (I have put the question to Nishijima for his input. I will let you know his opinion on the subject). But, yes, Samadhi is like the ocean: Sometimes it forms itself to whatever land it contacts, sometimes it is just the ocean, sometimes it is individual drops of liquid, the ocean and drops together, sometimes it is deep or shallow ...
    We just sit with it all.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Nishijima Roshi responded ...


    On your questions my answers are as follows.

    1) I think that it is very important for us to grasp the true meaning of "falling away of body and mind," and the words "falling away of
    body and mind" never do suggest losing body and mind, but the words suggest that because of the balanced autonomic nervous
    system, we feel that the function of body and mind seems to be as if plus/minus=0.

    2) About the explanation of the working samadhi, I haven't met such an explanation in Master Dogen's quotation at all, and so I
    suppose that such a kind of explanation might have come from some kinds of unreliable persons' opinion.

    3) I think also that self-fulfilling samadhi, other-fulfilling samadhi and the samadhi of self-enlightenment can never be found in
    Master Dogen's opinion, and so I think that those strange interpretations can never belong to Master Dogen's thoughts at all.

    With best wishes Gudo Wafu Nishijima


    And there you have it.

    Gassho, J

  18. #18
    I've noticed that as far as Gudő Rőshi is concerned if something doesn't come from Dőgen it is "unreliable."

    :roll:

  19. #19
    Hi Guys,

    Jun, yes, for Nishijima ... if it ain't Dogen, it ain't Kosher. But there is a reason for that: Maybe of all the Zen Teachers I can think of, Dogen professed a philosophy so simple and direct that (I think) it is the Heart of the Matter ... 'Just Sit'.

    One thing to know about Dogen is that ... for all his complexity ... he basically just came down to the same point again and again ... namely, 'Just Sit Zazen'. So, want to see X Samadhi? ... Forget about X Samadhi, 'Just Sit Zazen'. Want to see Y Samadhi? ... Forget about Y Samadhi, 'Just Sit Zazen' What comes will come ... 'Just Sit Zazen. What does not come, does not come ... 'Just Sit Zazen'.

    So, with Dogen's view of non-attaining, goalless sitting, and 'Just Sit', it is very hard to imagine him professing any categories of Samadhi like that (even though Dogen will be the first to tell you that Zazen and Samadhi come in many flavors).

    And Nishijima is basically a "One Answer" Teacher too, although there are actually a handful of answers in his vocabulary. In the end, Nishijima also comes down to "Just Sit" and forget everything else.

    Gassho, Jundo

  20. #20
    I find Nishijima Roshi's consistency and directness on this issue of "just sit Zazen", to be refreshingly honest and sincere.

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Gregor
    I find Nishijima Roshi's consistency and directness on this issue of "just sit Zazen", to be refreshingly honest and sincere.
    I do too. One answer teachers really make you think for yourself. I remember my first year physics teacher. We reached a point of study where whenever you went to his office to ask a question, he listened then smiled and said, "F=MA now go away"! Really used to piss us students off sometimes, but now I appreciate it. :lol:

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