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Thread: 2/1 - The Four Seals(II)

  1. #1

    2/1 - The Four Seals(II)

    Oh, forgot to post this yesterday ...

    2/1 - The Four Seals(II) - All dharmas are without self & All things are as they are p.11

    Is there a conflict there? Not at all, said Dr. Dogen.

    Gassho, J

  2. #2
    Up until this book, I had only ever heard of the 3 seals. I rather like this 4th one that "all things are as they are". It seems to complete the equation.

    Was this fourth seal actually taught by the Buddha, or did it come at a latter date?

    G,
    K

  3. #3

    Re: 2/1 - The Four Seals(II)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Oh, forgot to post this yesterday ...

    2/1 - The Four Seals(II) - All dharmas are without self & All things are as they are p.11

    Is there a conflict there? Not at all, said Dr. Dogen.

    Gassho, J
    Hello, Jundo.

    As a way of addressing this apparent conflict, would it be accurate to say that "suchness" may be understood only in the context of impermanence? Things are not solid or substantial, because all conditioned things are impermanent and therefore empty of separate selves. But within the net of impermanent conditions, things exhibit suchness. They are as they are.

    While we're discussing suchness, I'd be interested in exploring why, in Zen literature, the realization of suchness is so often associated with the hearing of a sound. Kyogen heard a stone hitting bamboo and was awakened. Mumon heard the beating of the drum announcing mealtime and realized suchness. Master Gensha instructed Kyosho to listen to the mountain stream and “enter Zen from there!” For his dharma talk, Fudaishi struck the table with a stick. This kind of thing happens often in Zen stories, and it points to a sudden, pre-reflective experience, in which the thing perceived is both real and impermanent, present and insubstantial.

    Gassho,

    Ben

  4. #4
    Ben wrote:

    "I'd be interested in exploring why, in Zen literature, the realization of suchness is so often associated with the hearing of a sound."
    ----------------------

    I wonder if the point is that sometimes we need a disturbance or a jolt (the sound) to get out of the way of our own fixed ideas (to become awake and receptive).

    Having offering that statement, I wonder if it also presents a paradox. That is, Uchiyama (on page 15) speaks of putting our energy into “settling everything in our world here and now, where we really live.” What do you think he means by “settling”? Is settling about the acceptance of everything you encounter as your practice? Is settling about unsettling (detaching) from the recurring stories that may arise in your thoughts?

  5. #5
    Hi Guys,

    I am going to try to offer what I can here. Wow, tough questions today!! Hope I can answer.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kelly M.
    Up until this book, I had only ever heard of the 3 seals. I rather like this 4th one that "all things are as they are". It seems to complete the equation.

    Was this fourth seal actually taught by the Buddha, or did it come at a latter date?

    G,
    K
    Kelly, have a look at footnote 4. That addresses your question on history.

    I will say this: Most schools of Buddhism, including strains of Zen Buddhism, traditionally emphasized seeing the phenomena of this world as a delusion, to be escaped, an illusion to be seen through as false, that "enlightenment" is seeing the falsity of the dualism of Samsara and the truth of Nirvana.

    Dogen believed that too, absolutely. HOWEVER, he SIMULTANEOUSLY believed the seemingly opposite: More than almost every other school of Buddhism that I am aware of, Master Dogen emphasized that the phenomena of Samsara are confirmed as-they-are in enlightenment. The phenomena are not seen as only delusion and illusion, but are celebrated as real as real can be! Things are not to be abandoned, but are seen as Reality to be lived in, our true home too ... Both perspectives are true. Mundane things are to be abandoned and absolutely CANNOT be abandoned as the home we can never leave!!!! So, his interpretation of the Four Seals might emphasize that more.

    But, this perspective is not completely original to Dogen at all: It has long been said that "Nirvana is Samsara, Samsara is just Nirvana". For example, Nagarjuna:

    In Nagarjuna's MMK XXV:19, he says

    There is not the slightest difference
    Between Samsara and Nirvana

    So, always, finding Nirvana is BOTH escaping Samsara and discovering Samsara. D The traditional Fourth Seal about Nirvana (being nondualistic peace) is really Samasra in disguise!

    Does that help?

    Hello, Jundo.

    As a way of addressing this apparent conflict, would it be accurate to say that "suchness" may be understood only in the context of impermanence? Things are not solid or substantial, because all conditioned things are impermanent and therefore empty of separate selves. But within the net of impermanent conditions, things exhibit suchness. They are as they are.
    Hi Ben,

    Dogen said that things are self-less, AND intimately connected, AND yet stand fully sufficient and complete as a unique expression of the universe. Time flows yet each moment of time stands timelessly. So, for example, Dogen might say something such as that firewood becomes ash, so all things are impermanent. Yet, firewood is perfectly firewood and timeless, and ash is perfectly ash and timeless.

    It is a symbol for our lives, which flow in time and are impermanent, yet each instant of our lives is complete and timeless ... a whole lifetime, and all of time, in each instant of time.


    While we're discussing suchness, I'd be interested in exploring why, in Zen literature, the realization of suchness is so often associated with the hearing of a sound. Kyogen heard a stone hitting bamboo and was awakened. Mumon heard the beating of the drum announcing mealtime and realized suchness. Master Gensha instructed Kyosho to listen to the mountain stream and “enter Zen from there!” For his dharma talk, Fudaishi struck the table with a stick. This kind of thing happens often in Zen stories, and it points to a sudden, pre-reflective experience, in which the thing perceived is both real and impermanent, present and insubstantial.

    Gassho,

    Ben
    It is an interesting question, I vaguely recall reading something in the book "Zen and the Brain" about the connection of our auditory center and Zen experience. I cannot find it now. Let us just say, as Janice said, there is something about a sound that is a language beyond words and can shake us to the bone. Each ring of the bell, for example, stands self sufficient, yet fades effortlessly into silence. But we cannot perceive it in the normal way: Master Dongshan said, "Hear with the eyes, and see with the ears".

    I hope something was helpful. I hope you see my answers with your ears!

    Gassho, Jundo

  6. #6
    Hi all,

    One of the reasons why auditory sensations are often singled out, as opposed to say, visual sensations, is that with the former it is easier to directly recognize their impermanence and lack of self. We can clearly recognize the arising, duration, decline and cessation of a sound. Of course, everything is impermanent and without self, however sight is not very well suited for recognizing this. We tend to be fooled easily by what we see into thinking that it has a substantial existence in and of itself, since the sensory impulses for sight are continuously repeated in rapid succession, giving the (false) impression of a permanent entity.

    Gassho
    Ken

  7. #7
    Hi Kelly,

    Quote Originally Posted by Kelly M.
    Up until this book, I had only ever heard of the 3 seals. I rather like this 4th one that "all things are as they are". It seems to complete the equation.

    Was this fourth seal actually taught by the Buddha, or did it come at a latter date?

    G,
    K
    Most likely it was introduced later(*) - see my posting on the previous thread, i.e. The Four Seals(I).

    Gassho
    Ken

    * Standard Disclaimer: No one alive today knows with absolute certainty what the Buddha said. :wink:

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Kenneth
    Most likely it was introduced later(*) - see my posting on the previous thread, i.e. The Four Seals(I).

    :
    You did!! Very interesting. Thank you for that. You know your history!!

    Double Gassho, Jundo

  9. #9
    I think that there was something in the Surangama Sutra about penetration through sound having an advantage over the other five senses. The reasoning was that sound travels, and can be detected, in all directions, and that it can penetrate solid objects.

  10. #10
    Hi all,

    On p.12 Uchiyama says “This is the present reality of life. It is the reality of that which cannot be grasped, the reality of which nothing can be said. This very ungraspability is what is absolutely real about things.”

    How could we grasp something that is impermanent and changing every second? Like judging a film from viewing one frame of the film? I think the idea of there being a solid reality out there came from Plato and has lingered long with us. Or maybe we have to create a substantial, pragmatic, working model of things just to be able to cope with everyday life – isn’t that what Dogen is hinting at? But we then reify this conception and believe in it and grasp it too tightly. We also have a version of reality that we share with others, a ‘socially constructed consensus reality’. But that’s when conflict arises, because there are other different consensus realities in other societies that disagree with our model.

    Incidentally, I have been frequenting a virtual reality – Second Life - for a couple of months now and am amazed at the reactions of some of my friends and acquaintances when I mention this! “It isn’t real”, “you’re living in a dream world” they say. I point out to them that they watch TV or movie dramas that are just a story made up by someone, played by actors, and it is represented by colored dots on a 2-dimensional screen. They don’t notice that their brain has to then construct a 3D world with a storyline from that information. At least I get to talk and interact with others in there, rather than be a passive spectator. But they are so familiar with that form of unreality that they don’t get it.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by paige
    I think that there was something in the Surangama Sutra about penetration through sound having an advantage over the other five senses. The reasoning was that sound travels, and can be detected, in all directions, and that it can penetrate solid objects.
    Am I correct in remembering that sound waves actually never end? Their characteristics are actually infinite (thus they can penetrate a solid object but are not technically absorbed and stopped by them?) Gods...11 years teaching cogneuropsych and I can't remember something like *this! :?

    I believe this refers to the phrase: The Golden Bell That Rings But Once.

    Jundo, do you know?

    In Gassho~
    *Lynn

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by John
    On p.12 Uchiyama says “This is the present reality of life. It is the reality of that which cannot be grasped, the reality of which nothing can be said. This very ungraspability is what is absolutely real about things.”

    Incidentally, I have been frequenting a virtual reality – Second Life...
    I've been on Second Life for a year now and I think it's a bang on example of that very quote. When in Second Life, it is the present reality of life. It is ungraspable no matter how much you want to reach your hand through that screen and hug your virtual friend. No can do. It is a very good teacher of impermanence for me.

    It is also a monster teacher about distraction, mindfulness and delusion. I really get a chance to observe my addictive patterns. ops: I think it's a huge phenomenon. In a sense I would love to still be doing brain electrophysiology research, slap a neural net on someone's head, send them into SL, and watch what happens!! :lol:

    In Gassho~

    *Lynn

  13. #13
    Jundo wrote:

    It is an interesting question, I vaguely recall reading something in the book "Zen and the Brain" about the connection of our auditory center and Zen experience. I cannot find it now. Let us just say, as Janice said, there is something about a sound that is a language beyond words and can shake us to the bone. Each ring of the bell, for example, stands self sufficient, yet fades effortlessly into silence. But we cannot perceive it in the normal way: Master Dongshan said, "Hear with the eyes, and see with the ears".

    I hope something was helpful. I hope you see my answers with your ears!


    I can't find it either. However, in his discussion of "suchness" James Austin has this to say:

    [S]uppose you consent to take part in a brief harmless experiment. All you're invited to do is to put on a blindfold and to swallow a bland liquid. The liquid will be warm tea, imported from India. You won't know that before you swallow. First, you feel the heat of a liquid, then the wave of taste-aroma from the tea. Next you conclude that it is, indeed, hot tea. But that isn't all. For soon, you'll go on to think and even to verbalize a long string of associations to it. Zen lies in the direction of those early, uncomplicated milliseconds. Then, you and the teacup and the hot tea simply exist in the whole seamless universe"

    (James Austin, Zen and the Brain, 550).

    For tea, substitute vanilla ice cream. Or substitute a sound. With the latter, however, the pronounced silence following the sound may also be the source of realization. The main point, as I understand it, is that "suchness" is realized prior to reflective thought, in those "early, uncomplicated milliseconds" during or after the sound.

    Gassho,

    Ben

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynn
    I've been on Second Life for a year now and I think it's a bang on example of that very quote. When in Second Life, it is the present reality of life. It is ungraspable no matter how much you want to reach your hand through that screen and hug your virtual friend. No can do. It is a very good teacher of impermanence for me.

    It is also a monster teacher about distraction, mindfulness and delusion. I really get a chance to observe my addictive patterns. ops: I think it's a huge phenomenon. In a sense I would love to still be doing brain electrophysiology research, slap a neural net on someone's head, send them into SL, and watch what happens!! :lol:
    Yes Lynn, you sure can spend a lot of time in there - it's fascinating. I'm interested in the way my avatar seems to be developing a 'self'. And it is a bit different to the one I have in RL. Does that make sense? Maybe it's because it is able to walk around and get access to most places, unlike my RL self that is stuck in a wheelchair.

    Hey, with you, Boone and myself, that makes at least three Treeleafers in there, so maybe we'll be able to have Soto Zen meetings in SL soon, and get Jundo in to teach us.

    Gassho,
    John

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynn

    I've been on Second Life for a year now and I think it's a bang on example of that very quote. When in Second Life, it is the present reality of life. It is ungraspable no matter how much you want to reach your hand through that screen and hug your virtual friend. No can do. It is a very good teacher of impermanence for me.
    Well, not to sound like a bad Sci-fi movie on the cable channel, but "First Life" is pretty much "virtual" too ... and a large part of our practice is to realize that about it. I mean, our whole experience of "reality" is light and other data, input through the senses and recreated on the "holodeck" of the brain (no cheap Star Trek jokes please). While I think something is actually "out there", how much of the experience is created, added, and interpreted by you in the process of creating "First World" in your Brain? What can be changed through our Zen Practice?

    And what/where is "No World"?

    Gassho, Jundo

  16. #16

    Re: 2/1 - The Four Seals(II)

    Quote Originally Posted by Shiju
    While we're discussing suchness, I'd be interested in exploring why, in Zen literature, the realization of suchness is so often associated with the hearing of a sound. Kyogen heard a stone hitting bamboo and was awakened. Mumon heard the beating of the drum announcing mealtime and realized suchness. Master Gensha instructed Kyosho to listen to the mountain stream and “enter Zen from there!” For his dharma talk, Fudaishi struck the table with a stick. This kind of thing happens often in Zen stories, and it points to a sudden, pre-reflective experience, in which the thing perceived is both real and impermanent, present and insubstantial.

    Gassho,

    Ben
    Like ripples in a pond, sound consists of waves traveling through a medium (I'm sure you all already know that). The information it carries is real, but it has no substance of its own . . . it is a dependent phenomenon. Also, with no source of energy, sound will dissipate and the medium will return to its original state. Sound can in this way be seen as a metaphor for much of the parts of our lives that we are often deluded about. Sound can be complex and beautiful, like music. We can devote our lives to creating wonderful and powerful sounds that bring joy, peace, and even wisdom to other people, yet, in the end, the sound has no substance at all. Would we say then that all of that energy is wasted? Probably not. Music is without 'self' too, it is completely dependent, but it is great, and is a very direct way to communicate ideas that are beyond words.
    Sound can be startling and violent like a thunderclap. . . it can make us jump out of our skin. It can remind us of our animal brains and bodies; in a sense, it puts us in our place (knocks us down a notch every now and then). Sounds can startle me, but I can't remember a time when a sight, or a taste, or a smell, etc. provoked the startle reflex. So, sound has a unique way of touching our experience . . . hearing is not superior to other senses, but it provides often overlooked opportunities for a world in which sight is given so much emphasis.
    If feel like I'm rambling (I'm still getting over the flu, so I bet I'll look back at this post in a few days and think "What the hell was I trying to say?").

    Gassho,
    Bill

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynn

    I've been on Second Life for a year now and I think it's a bang on example of that very quote. When in Second Life, it is the present reality of life. It is ungraspable no matter how much you want to reach your hand through that screen and hug your virtual friend. No can do. It is a very good teacher of impermanence for me.
    Well, not to sound like a bad Sci-fi movie on the cable channel, but "First Life" is pretty much "virtual" too ... and a large part of our practice is to realize that about it. I mean, our whole experience of "reality" is light and other data, input through the senses and recreated on the "holodeck" of the brain (no cheap Star Trek jokes please). While I think something is actually "out there", how much of the experience is created, added, and interpreted by you in the process of creating "First World" in your Brain? What can be changed through our Zen Practice?

    And what/where is "No World"?
    Absolutely!! But in First Life we actually have all the senses in play and the attachments are easier to form, harder to let go of and see the impermanence therein. In Second Life, as John mentioned, the only senses you have involved are 2-D seeing (and it's all cartoon-like) and hearing (cuz they have a voice programme now so you can actually do real time chats and hear the voices of your friends.) You can not smell, you can not taste, you can not touch and you are not bound to the laws of First Life physics so you can fly and walk through walls and, hell, I have no cellulite!!!

    And, as John also mentioned, you get a first hand look at how personality is actually formed because your avatar is born and you can literally watch a "self" grow as it begins to interact with a world, at first completely unknown, and then, slowly, the chain of dependent origination kicks in and off you go forming attachments and I have seen a lot of suffering there, as everywhere.

    John, one of the things about Second Life that I think is absolutely astoundingly wonderful is the doors it has opened to alter-abled individuals such as yourself. There is a whole realm dedicated to folks with CP, for instance.

    Jundo, No World really is the place we reside with all our skandas. It is, as you say, all virtual, totally dependent upon our perceptions. When this vessel dies and the karma unravels, what is?

    John, I would love to see a Treeleaf presence. There is an Osho presence and a Kusaladharma presence. Jundo would be a terrific asset and he could hold virtual dharma talks...if he likes... Own his own island with nothing on it but a tree that folks gather within to hear the dharma. So cool!

    In Gassho~

    *Lynn

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Well, not to sound like a bad Sci-fi movie on the cable channel, but "First Life" is pretty much "virtual" too ... and a large part of our practice is to realize that about it. I mean, our whole experience of "reality" is light and other data, input through the senses and recreated on the "holodeck" of the brain (no cheap Star Trek jokes please). While I think something is actually "out there", how much of the experience is created, added, and interpreted by you in the process of creating "First World" in your Brain? What can be changed through our Zen Practice?

    And what/where is "No World"?
    I know, Jundo. That's why I find it a bit odd that others make such a huge distinction between what they see as 'real life' and Second Life. But I don't go all the way with anti-realism. There's something there to begin with, isn't there? We just add our interpretation to it from our way of seeing things that is conditioned by our cultural, educational, life experiences, our physical and mental makeup, etc. It's like when Uchiyama talks about the way no two people see the same cup?

    What I think can be changed through our practice is the realisation that this is so, that we don't have to cling so tightly to views that are only a personal, temporary, interpretation, or be so sure we are right and others wrong, or become attached to objects or people.

    Lynn: I have been to Kusaladharma's talks at the Mood Lounge the last two Sundays and found 'The Letter from Mara' very interesting.

    Gassho,
    John

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