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Thread: 7/2 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Ananda

  1. #1

    7/2 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Ananda

    When doctrinal debates were held at monasteries of old, flags of the respective teams and debaters would be posted at the gates. When the debate was done, the 'loser's' flag would be knocked down by the victor.

    Is one of the arguments by Keizan in this week's reading that no readings at all are necessary for Zen Practice, and no argument as to the correct meaning? Keizan somehow seems quite well read in the Buddhist Sutras and history, well versed in doctrine, and an able debater.

    Or is too much reading, or reading the wrong way, a bad thing? Ananda was a walking encyclopedia of everything the Buddha ever said yet, somehow, this was not enough. What was missing?

    Is it more a matter of piercing to the heart of the meaning of the words ... which are sometimes needed, sometimes not?

    Shall we debate the meaning of this? Is there even a gate to post our flags, or no gate at all? A gateless gate? Shall we see who knocks down whose flag first?

    Another famous Koan ...

    The wind was flapping a temple flag, and two monks were arguing about the flag. One said, "The flag is moving." The other said, "the wind is moving." They could not agree, no matter how hard they debated. The sixth patriarch, Eno, happened to come by and said, "Not the wind, not the flag. It is the mind that is moving!" The two monks were struck with awe.
    Our reading this week is Cook from page 36, and Hixon from page 43

    Gassho, J

  2. #2

    Re: 7/2 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Ananda

    Hi.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    When doctrinal debates were held at monasteries of old, flags of the respective teams and debaters would be posted at the gates. When the debate was done, the 'loser's' flag would be knocked down by the victor.

    Is one of the argument of this week's reading that no readings at all are necessary for Zen Practice, and no argument as to the correct meaning? Keizan somehow seems quite well read in the Buddhist Sutras and history, well versed in doctrine, and an able debater.

    Or is too much reading, or reading the wrong way, a bad thing? Ananda was a walking encyclopedia of everything the Buddha ever said yet, somehow, this was not enough. What was missing?
    What is too much?
    By the very definition of the phrase too much you have too much, does it matter for whom/what?
    Does the same apply for the wrong way?

    Another thought is if you have nothing, what do you have to lose?
    Nothing.

    So what was missing?
    Nothing.
    Was that enough?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Is it more a matter of piercing to the heart of the meaning of the words ... which are sometimes needed, sometimes not?

    Shall we debate the meaning of this? Is there even a gate to post our flags, or no gate at all? A gateless gate? Shall we see who knocks down whose flag first?
    Some have flagpoles, some have maypoles...
    Are they properly grounded?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Another famous Koan ...

    The wind was flapping a temple flag, and two monks were arguing about the flag. One said, "The flag is moving." The other said, "the wind is moving." They could not agree, no matter how hard they debated. The sixth patriarch, Eno, happened to come by and said, "Not the wind, not the flag. It is the mind that is moving!" The two monks were struck with awe.
    [/quote]

    Moving where?

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen

  3. #3

    Re: 7/2 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Ananda

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    When doctrinal debates were held at monasteries of old, flags of the respective teams and debaters would be posted at the gates. When the debate was done, the 'loser's' flag would be knocked down by the victor.

    Is one of the argument of this week's reading that no readings at all are necessary for Zen Practice, and no argument as to the correct meaning? Keizan somehow seems quite well read in the Buddhist Sutras and history, well versed in doctrine, and an able debater.

    Or is too much reading, or reading the wrong way, a bad thing? Ananda was a walking encyclopedia of everything the Buddha ever said yet, somehow, this was not enough. What was missing?
    Both books often speak of questing for something. Ananda and Mahakshyapa were both standing in the same spot facing opposite directions, but Ananda thought he needed to take a trip. So he went on one for twenty years, basically around the Earth and the Universe with his bag of words and knowledge. Not good, not bad, just what was needed. When he finally got back to Mahakshyapa's spot he was finally looking him in the face. Sometimes a banana is ripe when it's picked, other times it just needs to sit awhile.

    The more and more I read and sit, the more apparent it seems that there really isn't anything to do. I certainly don't get it, especially because I think I can see it in the distance. But sometimes it's more of a "so what?" and sit. Still questing, but questioning the quest more than ever.

    Taylor

  4. #4

    Re: 7/2 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Ananda

    Quote Originally Posted by Taylor
    Both books often speak of questing for something. Ananda and Mahakshyapa were both standing in the same spot facing opposite directions, but Ananda thought he needed to take a trip. So he went on one for twenty years, basically around the Earth and the Universe with his bag of words and knowledge. Not good, not bad, just what was needed. When he finally got back to Mahakshyapa's spot he was finally looking him in the face.
    Thank you for this imagery!

    Taking years of study before knocking down the flag is not a good or bad thing, but it does give me some insight on some of my own foibles. Often the seductiveness of book learning seems to outweigh the necessity of action (or inaction as the case may be) of zazen. While study is important, it mustn't take the place of sitting. I can be tempted after a long day of trying to convince myself that reading a chapter of some Buddhist tome excuses me from cushion time. It doesn't.

    The lesson of Ananda is 'in your own time.' Makes me think of talk of instantaneous and gradual enlightenment I have read. Ananda took the gradual path, but the destination was the same so, so be it.

  5. #5

    Re: 7/2 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Ananda

    I found HIxon's translation/interpretation to be much clearer than Cooks in this case. Cook's comments on "the echo" confuse me:

    Hixon: Ananda's awakened response, his full attention, is an instant echo.

    Cook: Kashyapa, knowing the time was right, called "Ananda", and like an echo following a sound, Ananda responded... (a couple paragraphs later)...Do not get stuck in purity. You should go further and understand the echo.

    Hixon seems to be saying Ananda's awakening instantatneously echoed Kashyapa's call. I don't understand Cook's comment about purity and understanding the echo. Is he just saying don't get stuck in intellectual understanding, but expereince awakening for yourself?

    Gassho,

    Craig

  6. #6
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    Re: 7/2 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Ananda

    Some (like me) need to read/study for a while before acting - now less interest in reading/studying, more interest in seeing for myself. I think you need a bit of both. Is one better than the other, says who and why?

    I liked
    There is no one seperate from Wonderful Mind, and therefore no one to understand. This realization is the gold brocade robe of transmission, which now manifest as the golden body fo the fully awakened ananda......There is only the robe, with no one wearing it. But do not get stuck in pristine emptiness. The historical Ananda actually wears the robe...
    Ron

  7. #7

    Re: 7/2 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Ananda

    Hi all,

    Anything other than the gold brocade robe? The idea of most people about transmission is that there is a secret element into it, a body of hidden teachings...This is the fantasy. At midnight, behind closed doors and red curtains, the teacher opens up a secret treasury box...

    This particular transmission, to Ananda, sheds light on the fact that in the process, what is given is the ability to release, give away, cast off. Of course Hixon is very eloquent about it, to knock down the flagpole before the gate is to forget about empty notions like "you" and "me", "here" and "there, 2teacher" and "student". In essence, the non-dual is manifested when one takes banners and labels down. The pole being this sense of self on which we rely so much and act out from, the illusion that gives birth to the ten thousands concepts, thoughts, ideas we cherish so much. In other words, what is transmitted is not a thing, or a non-thing. The treasury box opens itself to reveal its endless opening.

    gassho

    Taigu

  8. #8

    Re: 7/2 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Ananda

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    Hi all,

    Anything other than the gold brocade robe? The idea of most people about transmission is that there is a secret element into it, a body of hidden teachings...This is the fantasy. At midnight, behind closed doors and red curtains, the teacher opens up a secret treasury box...
    Ah! So you and Jundo really aren't hiding the secret to life in an old wooden chest? Suspicious...

    I don't personally think Ananda received anything but the robe. Even that's debatable. What's the difference between his robe and Shakyamuni's? One was already on his body and the other descended from the sky? Two robes (or not two robes :P ) only make someone warmer on a cold night. But when one knocks down the flag pole, what could ever be cold or hot?

    Gassho

  9. #9

    Re: 7/2 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Ananda

    Not an old wooden chest, Taylor...just check the very last sentence of Dogen's Fukanzazengi.


    gassho


    Taigu

  10. #10

    Re: 7/2 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Ananda

    Hello all,

    since right view, or a corresponding problem: delusion, are absolutely essential elements to take into account in just about all Buddhist traditions, it seems IMHO to be absolutely essential to understand how to apply the "thought medicine" that the dharma offers through some studying as well.

    Just don't think the handbook is reality, or that the map is the territory.

    Apparently Rumi was all buried in his books as well, until he met a Sufi called Shams who burned his books/threw them into a pond (depends on the version of the story).

    If we truly had a "tabula rasa" mind, then maybe just sitting without studying would truly be enough....but by the time the average Westerner gets into Zazen, decades upon decades of assumptions, norms, values etc. have been internalized up to the point where it's hard to even recognize all the individual components to our worldviews .

    Read them, apply their lessons, then burn them. Don't turn the scriptures into Mara's toilet paper through sticking to them like a fly sticks to fly paper.

    Gassho,

    Hans

  11. #11

    Re: 7/2 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Ananda

    Seems to me Ananda wanted some "thing" he thought Mahakashyapa possessed, and no matter what he did he couldn't gain this "thing." But he finally got the "idea" that they both (and everyone else) shared this non-thing. My words don't do it justice, but it's a great lesson in so many ways:
    1. he (and we) already had (have) it
    2. it's not about the books' words as much as it's about realizing or actualizing #1
    3. labels (in the form of flagpoles) are barriers to #1
    4. "Truly, much hearing is an obstacle to the Way" of #1 (or as Pink Floyd said, "Tear down the wall!")
    5. you have to be your own Buddha, not somebody else's; imitation does not lead to #1

  12. #12

    Re: 7/2 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Ananda

    I need to not think about this one.
    Gassho,
    Soen

  13. #13

    Re: 7/2 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Ananda

    Very busy this week and so just a couple of points that struck me.....

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Ananda was a walking encyclopedia of everything the Buddha ever said yet, somehow, this was not enough. What was missing?
    Interesting to speculate on this point....perhaps we can't put what was missing into words anyway?

    Another perspective on this issue might be:

    Quote Originally Posted by Taylor
    Both books often speak of questing for something. Ananda and Mahakshyapa were both standing in the same spot facing opposite directions, but Ananda thought he needed to take a trip. So he went on one for twenty years, basically around the Earth and the Universe with his bag of words and knowledge. Not good, not bad, just what was needed. When he finally got back to Mahakshyapa's spot he was finally looking him in the face. Sometimes a banana is ripe when it's picked, other times it just needs to sit awhile.
    Gassho,
    BrianW

  14. #14

    Re: 7/2 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Ananda

    A voice-hearer is not necessarily a voice-understander. Don't rely on other's words. See it for yourself.

  15. #15

    Re: 7/2 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Ananda

    Flagpole, thump, echo arise and fade into silence.

    gassho,

    Sylvie

  16. #16

    Re: 7/2 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Ananda

    This week's Koan (if you will) seems to me to be about mediating reality too much through theory. The learned Ananda carries within him the entire teachings (verbatim) of the Tagatha. Yet all this learning does not constitute full realisation. For that, a direct perception of reality must occur: something that knocks over and uproots all the debate and theory of a life devoted to mastering the sutras. So, I think this transmission is like a restating of the flower transmission (I suspect all the transmissions we encounter on this journey will have a similar kernel of truth): that this is about a direct experience of reality, rather than merely pointing at it.

    However, as sutras are written in words, obviously words have value. Zen, therefore, is not entirely anti-intellectual, as it is often claimed.

    However, to experience Tokyo fully, you ultimately have to take your head out of the guide book and have a look around you.

    That's my yen's worth on Ananda.

    Gassho,

    Soen

  17. #17

    Re: 7/2 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Ananda

    I read this section and reviewed it as one of my Greek philosophy professors made us view everything; Apolonian vs. Dionysian experience of wisdom or knowledge. The Apolonian being akin to Ananda with his erudite mind and ability to recreate the talks of the Buddha, even down to his gestures; and the Dionysian as the spontaneous understanding of Mahakashyapa. When these two approaches are taken singly they will lead to enevitable conflict as is evidenced by the Schisms and the Reformation of the Christian Church, which incorporated Greek philosophy into its theology at an early age. That struggle is at the core of Western thinking even to today.

    The thing I kept thinking about as I read these sections was Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis. I maintained, and wrote a thesis for my degree, that this book served to illustrate that conflict and offer the solution. The Boss is purely Apolonian; a scholar, effete, removed from the world and alone in it. Zorba is Dionysius; earthy, emotional, always looking for someone to enjoy life with. One is of the mind, the other, the heart. After all the adventures and "glorious disasters" of the book, the Boss comes to seethat Zorbahad an understanding that he didn't, and Zorba saw that the Boss had an vision that could order things. They needed one another and so (in the wonderful Treeleaf tradition) they danced together. They united rather than fought one another.

    Ananda was still thinking separately form experience, thinking everything was held in "words". When Mahakashyapa told him to "Knock down the flagpole in front of the gate", Ananda was suddenly brought into the heart, which he had been distant from, and he was enlightened.

    We in the West really need to pay close attention to this particular message, since we tend to be more caught up in the rational mind. We need a healthy infusion of spirit and experience to balance it out and see the value of walking with two feet , and breathing with two lungs, as if they were one.

    Gassho,

    Seishin Kyrill

  18. #18

    Re: 7/2 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Ananda

    I am enjoying both books. HIxon's poetic discourse is very beautiful. Though, he reminds me of Jimmi Hendrix playing The National Anthem at Woodstock. His wording can get dense for me and wishing for just a riff like Fats Domino. :mrgreen:

  19. #19

    Re: 7/2 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Ananda

    Hiyas!
    Not much to add to whats already been said so well!

    "Clearly, if you want to investigate the True Way, abandon the false view of self, old emotions, pride, and egotism."

    Ananda had it all down pat, line for line, move for move- "dance instructions" ;D
    After 20 years but he was still just holding the instructions and repeating them..not dancing the dance at all.
    20 years later his inquisitiveness and dedication helped him to truly understand. Reading is important, however we must each come to an understanding of the teachings beyond the books, talks, podcasts, movies, blogs etc. through dedicated practice and, like Ananda, inquisitiveness.

    Gassho
    Shohei

  20. #20

    Re: 7/2 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Ananda

    Quote Originally Posted by Shohei
    Ananda had it all down pat, line for line, move for move- "dance instructions" ;D
    After 20 years but he was still just holding the instructions and repeating them..not dancing the dance at all.
    20 years later his inquisitiveness and dedication helped him to truly understand. Reading is important, however we must each come to an understanding of the teachings beyond the books, talks, podcasts, movies, blogs etc. through dedicated practice and, like Ananda, inquisitiveness.

    Gassho
    Shohei
    I just want to post here something from another thread ...

    We read as a dance with the text ... not getting lost in the book "how to dance" ...



    ... or in the mechanics of the dance steps on the floor (although all that is helpful) ...



    .. .but just dancing ... reader, author, the movement and meaning ... all swept up in a dance.



    Have a good dance with Shakyamuni, Kashyapa, Ananda, Bodhidharma, Dogen, Hixon, Cook, etc. etc. . 8)

  21. #21

    Re: 7/2 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Ananda

    Thanks to all for your thoughtful, amusing, insightful, entertaining posts. I am enjoying reading them as well as both texts. Cook did it for me this week with "... do not look for the knocked-down flagpole outside of yourselves."

    Gassho, Jikyo

  22. #22

    Re: 7/2 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Ananda

    How difficult is to tear down one's own pole! The more I think about it, or read about it, the stronger the pole turns out to be.
    Time to dance with zazen.

    Gassho

    Da5id

  23. #23

    Re: 7/2 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Ananda

    The Surangama Sutra offers a quite a bit of insight into Ananda's practice. After having read that one, I get the idea that Ananda just kind of wore Mahakasyapa down...

    Yours in Practice,
    Jordan

  24. #24

    Re: 7/2 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Ananda

    The transmission of light was not bestowed upon Ananda it was finally recognized. Can anyone bestow the light of the Moon or rays of the Sun? Only the resulting growth from them can be seen. Gassho Shogen

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