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Thread: One-pointedness.

  1. #1

    One-pointedness.

    Hi,

    Maybe this is a stupid question,

    but is one-pointedness the same as enlightment?

    Or is it a part of it?

    Or only the path to realizing enlightment?

    And with one-pointedness I mean the way it is descibed in The Three Pillars Of Zen, chapter I/The three aims of zazen: "Joriki, the first of these, is the power or strength with arises when the mind has been unified and brought to one-pointedness in zazen concentration."

    If you already have discussed this in some way, maybe you could redirect me to that thread.

  2. #2
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: One-pointedness.

    Quote Originally Posted by Janne H
    Hi,

    Maybe this is a stupid question,

    but is one-pointedness the same as enlightment?

    Or is it a part of it?

    Or only the path to realizing enlightment?

    And with one-pointedness I mean the way it is descibed in The Three Pillars Of Zen, chapter I/The three aims of zazen: "Joriki, the first of these, is the power or strength with arises when the mind has been unified and brought to one-pointedness in zazen concentration."

    If you already have discussed this in some way, maybe you could redirect me to that thread.
    One-pointedness is an aspect of concentration.

    Enlightenment is the path to realizing enlightenment. You realize, don't you - that the more you fill yourself up with these ideas, the harder it will be to let them go? Better to approach with as little encumbrance as possible.

    Shikantaza is a sort of diffuse awareness, not a concentration on one particular thing. It's an unhooking. Nothing will 'make you enlightened' - instead of inquiring into the enlightened state, you might better inquire into this state right now. What other state is there?

    Dogen's 'Backward Step' is a good place to start. Shikantaza is a backward step out of identification with (or concentration on) any particular thing. It's mostly a matter of letting be. Reading the Diamond Sutra or Nagarjuna (with commentary) can be a helpful intellectual practice if you feel the need to intellectualize - as they give you so little onto which to hold.

    Chet

  3. #3

    Re: One-pointedness.

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Enlightenment is the path to realizing enlightenment. You realize, don't you - that the more you fill yourself up with these ideas, the harder it will be to let them go? Better to approach with as little encumbrance as possible.
    Yes, I think I realize that.

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Shikantaza is a sort of diffuse awareness, not a concentration on one particular thing. It's an unhooking. Nothing will 'make you enlightened' - instead of inquiring into the enlightened state, you might better inquire into this state right now. What other state is there?

    Dogen's 'Backward Step' is a good place to start. Shikantaza is a backward step out of identification with (or concentration on) any particular thing. It's mostly a matter of letting be. Reading the Diamond Sutra or Nagarjuna (with commentary) can be a helpful intellectual practice if you feel the need to intellectualize - as they give you so little onto which to hold.
    I´ve read some of the Diamond sutra before, do you have a translation to recommend?

    EDIT:

    Sometimes I get stuck on ideas. And like you said it should propably be more like an unhooking or a backward step.

  4. #4
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: One-pointedness.

    Hi guys,

    Yes, I think I realize that
    You think?... :lol: Your statement, even if it can be seen as a simple an innocent English sentence that just means: I understand, is interesting because it makes very clear how much, in your own perception, thinking has to do with realization.

    Chet 's advice is very precious. Unhooking is good. Undoing is better, in my limited opinion. Whatever works for your mind eager to fathom and find concepts, Jannne H.

    Joriki is not particularly cultivated as such in our gentle Soto way, it is very much part and parcel of the Rinzai taste. Kapleau's book is great but can be quite misleading if you have just sat for a few years. Unless you go down, or up that route, that is.

    Kodo Sawaki's "Zazen is good for nothing" is most precious, the basic reminder is that this path makes you loose. This loosing, unhooking, undoing, is the living action of Buddha, which people call in an absurd way enlightenment. As Chet says, you better let go of this expectation unless you want to spend twenty years or so on the cushion chasing your own a...! Read and practice Genjokoan. It is the most important chapter of Shobogenzo. And come back to Bendowa and Fukanzazengi.

    You could also give that vid a try in which I answered your question already:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/tetsuten#p/u/13/5jyjiFfupGw

    gassho, which is by the way a very good practice for everybody, putting our head down and allowing our life to be lighter

    Taigu

  5. #5

    Re: One-pointedness.

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    You think?... :lol: Your statement, even if it can be seen as a simple an innocent English sentence that just means: I understand, is interesting because it makes very clear how much, in your own perception, thinking has to do with realization.
    I was sure somebody would pick on that sentence, and yes I meant simply that I got the point.

    Sometimes I get stuck to thinking this or that, or an idea of how to drop ideas.

    Thanks for your advice and for your vid.

  6. #6
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: One-pointedness.

    gassho



    ...





    Taigu

  7. #7
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: One-pointedness.

    Quote Originally Posted by Janne H
    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    You think?... :lol: Your statement, even if it can be seen as a simple an innocent English sentence that just means: I understand, is interesting because it makes very clear how much, in your own perception, thinking has to do with realization.
    I was sure somebody would pick on that sentence, and yes I meant simply that I got the point.

    Sometimes I get stuck to thinking this or that, or an idea of how to drop ideas.

    Thanks for your advice and for your vid.
    Yeah, it was sort of a cheap Zen trick, I think - unless it worked - in which case it was a cheap Zen trick that worked. Expedient means and all that.

    Chet

  8. #8

    Re: One-pointedness.

    Hi,

    I will just direct you to this post from awhile back, which is for new readers of "Zen books" who may not yet realize that different teachers and corners of this Zen world come in various flavors ... Zen books are the same, but different ... very different, even though the same.

    viewtopic.php?p=24370#p24370

    You may want to read the entire thread ...

    viewtopic.php?f=2&t=1704

    viewtopic.php?f=2&t=1729

    "The Three Pillars Of Zen" is discussed there. It is not meant so much as a criticism (various paths, many ways up the mountain ... and, anyway, 'what mountain'? :shock: ), but the reader of such books should know where the particular writer is "coming from and going to" in his "no coming, no going".

    Oh, and I would describe the flavor of "Shikantaza" which is taught here as "open, spacious awareness concentration, focused on everything and nothing in particular" instead of a "one point concentration" which some attempt to build through focus on a Koan, Mantra, and sometimes the breath or the like. In each case, there is "concentration" that is at the core, but of very different focus. Our way might be called "boundless abiding with equanimity" more than a hard "one pointed" concentration in which, for example, the mind is concentrated like a laser beam on a particular target.

    Gassho, J

  9. #9
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: One-pointedness.

    Good old Chet...

    Cheap ? Does not belong to my vocabulary.

    Cheap... a byproduct of I-know-what-I-am-talking-about -mind.


    Who is cheap?


    gassho


    Taigu

  10. #10
    disastermouse
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    Re: One-pointedness.

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    Good old Chet...

    Cheap ? Does not belong to my vocabulary.

    Cheap... a byproduct of I-know-what-I-am-talking-about -mind.


    Who is cheap?


    gassho


    Taigu
    Nah, it's just a cheap shot to finger someone for saying 'I' in a conventional way as to state that it's indicative of a belief in a 'permanent I'. Peeps used to use it on me all the time when I was trying to talk about 'non-self'.

    Not really faulting you for it - because it seemed to have worked! Also, I didn't say 'you' were cheap, I said the trick was cheap.

    Uh oh, are you identifying with the thought? Did I offend ya? Wow, where did THAT guy come from?

    Chet

  11. #11
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: One-pointedness.

    No, Chet, you don't offend anybody ( i have bigger reasons to be offended working with very difficult teens all day).

    Just that... cheap doesn't work.


    Anyway, thank you.


    take care


    gassho


    Taigu

  12. #12

    Re: One-pointedness.

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Nah, it's just a cheap shot to finger someone for saying 'I' in a conventional way as to state that it's indicative of a belief in a 'permanent I'.
    I think so too.

  13. #13
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: One-pointedness.

    gassho


    Taigu

  14. #14

    Re: One-pointedness.

    Jundo,

    Thanks for directing me to the threads, really great reading (!) (both chapters and threads), brought some clarity in several things.

    And I must say that I kinda feel at home with the Soto tradition, or at the doorstep where I am standing now.

    So, as a newbie to Soto, maybe you or someone could recommend where to continue my reading?

  15. #15
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: One-pointedness.

    Quote Originally Posted by Janne H
    Jundo,

    Thanks for directing me to the threads, really great reading (!) (both chapters and threads), brought some clarity in several things.

    And I must say that I kinda feel at home with the Soto tradition, or at the doorstep where I am standing now.

    So, as a newbie to Soto, maybe you or someone could recommend where to continue my reading?
    I'm digging 'The Method of No-Method' by Shen Yeng. It's Chan, not Soto - but I think it's illuminating.

    Chet

  16. #16

    Re: One-pointedness.

    I´ve read some of his dharma talks from: http://www.westernchanfellowship.org/dh ... ngyen.html

    Are there different traditions in China, like Rinzai and Soto in Japan?

  17. #17
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: One-pointedness.

    Quote Originally Posted by Janne H
    I´ve read some of his dharma talks from: http://www.westernchanfellowship.org/dh ... ngyen.html

    Are there different traditions in China, like Rinzai and Soto in Japan?
    Not really sure.

    You can also get a lot from Steve Hagen's stuff. 'Buddhism Plain and Simple' is a good 'un.

    Chet

  18. #18

    Re: One-pointedness.

    Please have a look at our suggested book list:

    viewtopic.php?f=1&t=889

    I have tried to mark with ** those books recommended for beginners and any folks new to “Just Sitting” and our style of Zazen here at Treeleaf and Soto Zen. New folks would do very well to just read down the list of ** books.

    Master Sheng-yen, by the way, is a wonderful teacher who left this visible world this year, and I do love his writings and especially "The Method of No Method". He also had his own flavor and perspective, sometimes a little differently focused from the emphasis here (I find that his view of "Silent Illumination" can be very close to, but sometimes a bit different from "Just Sitting" Shikantaza, as Sheng-yen often emphasises ... in some of his writings on Silent Illumination anyway, although not so much in others ... attaining various states of deep concentration as the ultimate objective. He is also someone who practiced both Koan Zazen and Silent Illumination at the same time, and who mixed and matched some other perspectives into his Buddhism such as a devotional Pure Land flavor ... and that comes through in his writings. In answer to your question, Chinese Buddhism over the centuries has tended to become a blend of Rinzai Zen, a bit of Soto, Esoteric Buddhism, as well as Pure Land and other very devotional practices. Again, not a criticism of just another path up the mountain, but information for the discerning reader of generic "Zen books").

    Truly, concentrating on "one point" can expand endlessly into boundless awareness ... and open, boundless awareness is just concentration on 'one great point' which sweeps in all. "Hard" and "soft" styles are just the changing weather, and many paths up the mountain ... including paths, not only within Buddhism, but encompassing paths of other religions and philosophies too. As the guide on this hike, I just recommend the path here as I have practiced it for nearing 30 years and believe it a great and effective path for most mountain climbers seeking the fruits of this practice.

    The most important thing is to find the path right for you, however. Try many things, read about and partake in many traditions, then stick to one that resonates with you. Sometimes I like the pure taste of Japanese food, sometimes the variety of Chinese, and on some cold nights spicy Korean or hot Thai. However, Zen practice is a little different from choosing from a menu, in that mixing and matching too much can result in a confused mess. Even mixing and matching the approaches of different Zen teachers too much can result at fingers pointing at the moon in different parts of the sky, and one can get quite dizzy with all the head spinning.

    Gassho, Jundo

    PS - A wonderful survey of all the different traditions of Zen practice common in the West (although more focused on North America than Europe) is this one ... highly recommended to everyone ...

    • Zen Master Who? by James Ford (telling the story of the various Zen Lineages in the West, though mostly the U.S. Look for Jundo Cohen on page 140! plug plug ) **

    This old thread on the "Eight Types of Enlightenment" should also be a reference ...

    viewtopic.php?f=2&t=1757

  19. #19

    Re: One-pointedness.

    There are many books, even for the beginner. I think that I will begin with Opening the Hand of Thought and The Method of No-Method, is that a good start? I´ve already read The Art of Just Sitting and it was very good, I sometimes return to some paiges in it.

  20. #20
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: One-pointedness.

    Quote Originally Posted by Janne H
    There are many books, even for the beginner. I think that I will begin with Opening the Hand of Thought and The Method of No-Method, is that a good start? I´ve already read The Art of Just Sitting and it was very good, I sometimes return to some paiges in it.
    Some of it may go over your head (Method of No-Method) - mostly because reading about Zen doesn't do much for you if you don't sit zazen.

    'Buddhism Plain and Simple' may be more accessible and probably gives fewer conceptual culs-de-sac in which to get lost.

    Chet

  21. #21

    Re: One-pointedness.

    I do sit about once a day.

    EDIT:

    I´m new to Soto Zen, not Zen, earlier I have mostly been following Thich Nhat Hanhs teachings.

    Is Hagens book about Soto Zen?

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