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Thread: Recommended Reading from Jundo: DZOGCHEN - SHIKANTAZA

  1. #1

    Recommended Reading from Jundo: DZOGCHEN - SHIKANTAZA

    From time to time, the topic comes up of the great samenesses of Tibetan Dzogchen meditation practices and Shikantaza Zazen ... and the following certainly resonates with me such way ...

    In fact, I would ask everyone to have a read, as folks around Treeleaf often hear Taigu and me describe these things again and again with our tired old words ... and it is good to hear expression from a fresh voice and new ways to put it all. Also, it is wonderful to know that these teachings are held by so many, in many Traditions. Please have a look if you can (the following is part of a longer article at Buddhadharma, The Practitioner's Quarterly, PDF)

    https://sites.google.com/site/jundotree ... ects=0&d=1

    Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche is a meditation master in the Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism who has trained many prominent lineage figures, including the Seventeenth Karmapa. ... This teaching is adapted from his book, Vivid Awareness: The Mind Instructions of Khenpo Gangshar, translated and edited by David Karma Choephel, forthcoming in January from Shambhala Publications.

    We had another thread recently on Tibetan practices echoing Shikantaza ... worth a listen too ...

    viewtopic.php?f=1&t=3125&p=44559&hilit=dzogchen#p4 4559

    Gassho, Jundo

  2. #2
    Treeleaf Unsui Kyrillos's Avatar
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    Re: Recommended Reading from Jundo: DZOGCHEN - SHIKANTAZA

    Very nice, very "clear"; but as kirkmc pointed out in that other thread the Kagyu lamas see Dzogchen and Mahamudra practice as an advanced teaching only available after much rigorous training. That may seem strange at first, when we read how simple this "naked" practice is described, but consider that it truly needs a quiet mind to practice it as described. The many years of preparation that the lamas expect of their students before Dzogchen initiation is mant to help do just that, quiet the mind, and also the body. There is a practice called Ngondro, which varies by Tibetan lineage, but generally consists of doing about 100,000 each of four practices, beginning with full body prostrations while repeating an invocation; then there are 100,000 individual Vajrasattva cleansing pujas, mandalas offering and Guru pujas. All of that can take years to acculmulate and is meant to help calm and discipline the mind and body so it is possible to undertake Mahamudra and Dzogchen practice. And here we on the first day plop down on a cushion and expect satori!!!! :shock:

    Gassho...to the lamas

    Seishin Kyrill

  3. #3

    Re: Recommended Reading from Jundo: DZOGCHEN - SHIKANTAZA

    Quote Originally Posted by Kyrillos
    Very nice, very "clear"; but as kirkmc pointed out in that other thread the Kagyu lamas see Dzogchen and Mahamudra practice as an advanced teaching only available after much rigorous training. That may seem strange at first, when we read how simple this "naked" practice is described, but consider that it truly needs a quiet mind to practice it as described. The many years of preparation that the lamas expect of their students before Dzogchen initiation is mant to help do just that, quiet the mind, and also the body. There is a practice called Ngondro, which varies by Tibetan lineage, but generally consists of doing about 100,000 each of four practices, beginning with full body prostrations while repeating an invocation; then there are 100,000 individual Vajrasattva cleansing pujas, mandalas offering and Guru pujas. All of that can take years to acculmulate and is meant to help calm and discipline the mind and body so it is possible to undertake Mahamudra and Dzogchen practice. And here we on the first day plop down on a cushion and expect satori!!!! :shock:

    Gassho...to the lamas

    Seishin Kyrill
    I really liked that reading.. very clear. That is very interesting about the preparation for just sitting. Is this akin to counting the breaths and focusing on Mu in other lineages?

    Gassho,

    Cyril

  4. #4

    Re: Recommended Reading from Jundo: DZOGCHEN - SHIKANTAZA

    Very nice, very "clear"; but as kirkmc pointed out in that other thread the Kagyu lamas see Dzogchen and Mahamudra practice as an advanced teaching only available after much rigorous training.

    I've personally been told the same thing- that Shikantaza is a very advanced practice- both at the nearby Chinese (Chan) monastery and while sitting with the local White Plum Asanga member group. Apparently, Shikantaza is seen that way.

  5. #5

    Re: Recommended Reading from Jundo: DZOGCHEN - SHIKANTAZA

    Very nice and clear reading, indeed. From my -very few and asystematic- readings on Tibetan buddhism I'd say that this is considered an advance practice because they consider you have to be more or less able of deep concentration before even considering practicing Dzogchen. Actually in the text it is said that you enter in samadhi before starting Dzogchen. In one Mahamudra text I remenber the author put zazen as an example of a practice that won't lead you anywhere, only realy advanced and spiritual people - like us - can start with zazen and get anywhere.

    That's one of the things I love most in zen: simplicity: you don't need preparatory practices, visualizations, devotion to the guru, contemplation and so on: zazen is the preparatory practice, the devotion, the advance practice and the goal in itself.

    But different folks, different strokes. Some friends of mine love Tibetan Buddhism precisely for all these preparatory and preliminary practices, the devotion to the guru and so on.

    So Gassho to the Lamas indeed and devotion to our teachers in Treeleaf

  6. #6

    Re: Recommended Reading from Jundo: DZOGCHEN - SHIKANTAZA

    This article and thread is very interesting. I have been reading a book which seems related somehow.
    The book is "The Bodhidharma Anthology: The Earliest Records of Zen" by Jeffrey L. Broughton. The material in the book, in turn, is connected with the archeological discovery of "lost Ch'an (Zen) literature from T'ang Dynasty times" and "Tibetan Ch'an related manuscript materials, which are from the same era" at Tun-huang in North-West China".
    D.T. Suzuki has made much use of many of these materials in his books. Broughton, however, has translated additional material from this find and makes several references to Tibetan Buddhism's receipt, study (and incorporation?) of Ch'an teachings and the presence of Tibetan Zen:
    http://www.amazon.ca/Bodhidharma-Ant...3572036&sr=8-1
    While it is great for unrepentant Bodhidharma buffs, it contains a lot of detail and historical references at points.
    Gassho,
    Don

  7. #7
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: Recommended Reading from Jundo: DZOGCHEN - SHIKANTAZA

    Hi all,

    Shikantaza is the ultimate practice and , at the same time, a beginners relish. In shikantaza all our traditions meet and merge. The funny thing is that in Zen, as I always say, we start with the end and make it everytime a beginning. . You won't find the colourful and heavily symbolic collection of practices that is given in other streams. Or, shall I say, you are invited to see-experience-cross this reality around you as a huge body of practices and a boundless hall of metaphors. The mountains and rivers and trains and roads and supermarkets are the mandala on which you do the work. The devotion is for every Buddha met, at every step. the bowing is in letting go of the self, the mantra the simple breathe as well as the most common words coming out of your mouth. Nothing special and yet everything made unique and priceless. No stupas, no prayer wheels and yet...the spirit of repetition and daily action.

    Today I am off to meet my a brother of mine, a Shingon priest who lives in a remote valley between Osaka and Kyoto. Yasuo, his name, often says that, without a shadow of doubt, shikantaza is IT.

    gassho


    Taigu

  8. #8

    Re: Recommended Reading from Jundo: DZOGCHEN - SHIKANTAZA

    Thanks for your comments, Taigu.

  9. #9

    Re: Recommended Reading from Jundo: DZOGCHEN - SHIKANTAZA

    My brother Taigu took the words right out of my mouth! Wonderful. Thank you and many bows.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kyrillos
    Very nice, very "clear"; but as kirkmc pointed out in that other thread the Kagyu lamas see Dzogchen and Mahamudra practice as an advanced teaching only available after much rigorous training. That may seem strange at first, when we read how simple this "naked" practice is described, but consider that it truly needs a quiet mind to practice it as described.
    Well, Shikantaza did work a couple of lovely tweeks on this, so wonderful ...

    For example, sitting is sat anywhere, in any conditions ... and one need not achieve an advanced state, isolate oneself in the mountains removed from people or flee into a quiet room. Most days, we’d best sit Zazen in a quiet room, with little noise and few distractions. The reason is simply that a peaceful, still, quiet environment helps us allow the mind to become peaceful, still and quiet, with thoughts and emotions drifting away as the mind settles down. Yet, is not the true "quiet room" to be found when the mind is roomy and quiet? So, for that reason, I encourage everyone sit, every few days, in a truly disturbing, disagreeable, ugly, noisy, smelly, busy, and distracting place. In a stinking garbage dump, next to a construction site with jackhammers pounding, at an Ozzy Osbourne concert, in a game room, while crushed in a crowded city bus or parked in a parking lot off a busy highway. Push none of it away.

    viewtopic.php?p=41786#p41786

    Plus, to "Zazen" any moment during one's day ... in a creeping postal line, in the dentist’s chair, when the car won’t start on a cold morning, when driving and stuck in traffic, when the computer crashes, the baby is teething, waiting for the crossing light to change, the toast to toast, wherever and whenever…

    viewtopic.php?p=41788#p41788

    And we take the non-judgement described in the Dzogchen article ... the non-judgment even of our own meditation experience ... and emphasize that it is all Zazen whether "in the zone" or when "just a mess" (although, by the very dropping even of such judgments ... it will tend to be "IN THE ZONELESS ZONE"!) ...

    viewtopic.php?p=39735#p39735

    So, Shikantaza can be practiced by anyone ... the fresh beginner or the advanced sitter who has sat for a lifetime (yet, in our view, always a beginner too). 5 seconds of sitting is 5 seconds of Buddha, 50 years of sitting is 50 years of Buddha.

    The very sitting of Zazen is so whole, sacred and complete, with nothing more to add or take away from the sitting ... that all is Buddha ... Buddha sitting Buddha ...

    Gassho, J

  10. #10

    Re: Recommended Reading from Jundo: DZOGCHEN - SHIKANTAZA

    Hi everyone!
    I would like to thank everyone for this wonderful thread! I've been "around Dzogchen" for awhile and maybe that is also what bring me to zazen. We are very lucky to have an access to these very important (and beautiful!) teachings, and above all to have the opportunity to practice them in a simple and profound way: Zazen.

    humble gassho,
    Jinyu

  11. #11
    Stephanie
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    Re: Recommended Reading from Jundo: DZOGCHEN - SHIKANTAZA

    I am more familiar with Mahamudra than Dzogchen, as Chogyam Trungpa, author of my favorite Buddhist books, was a teacher of Mahamudra, but they both seem similar, and, indeed, similar to shikantaza.

    My thought on the relationship between "preliminary practices" and "shikantaza" in Zen is this: we are working on the preliminary practices all the time. To my understanding, across Buddhist schools, "preliminary practices" have to do with karma, morality, surrender, devotion, and calming the mind. All of this comes up in the context of my shikantaza Zen practice. In the zendo of everyday life.

    Every day, I work with my karma, with the choices and actions I make and their consequences. It is impossible to practice as a Buddhist and not deal with karma. The karma of our thoughts and behavior are the working materials of practice. The day-to-day nuts and bolts. Every day, I am "purifying my karma" by taking an honest look at the circumstances I find myself in and investigating the causes. Growing in wisdom as to how not to perpetuate suffering.

    And even if you are not doing shamatha practice, continued zazen will lead to a calmer, less reactive mind, at least in my experience. I actually had a turning point in my practice when I found my mind calmed and quieted more quickly when I practiced shikantaza than when I did traditional shamatha practices. Dropping the effort and just watching, the mind calms of its own accord, whereas in breath concentration, the mind is subdued by effort, which is intrinsically problematic, as it further entrenches the ego-self that experiences itself as "the doer," and requires a constant supply of control and willpower to keep the mind subdued. I experienced wonderful bliss states at times doing this, but it did not translate into much off of the cushion, as it only entrenched my natural tendency to try to control and master things.

    I have found on this practice path that surrender and devotion arise naturally from this practice. When I am practicing and experiencing the benefits of practice, I feel devotion to the people and causes that contribute to this experience of peace and freedom. And shikantaza itself has been a koan for me about letting go. I keep trying to come at it like I come at other things in my life--something I can master and control, something I can perfect and improve. But it resists all of these "assaults." Every time I sit, I am invited to surrender. This is what I have not "gotten" yet and why I think I don't sit regularly. It just doesn't fit into my normal way of dealing with things. But I think I might finally be seeing this... that it is precisely because it is not something to be mastered that it is worth doing.

    So I really do think in this practice we work on "preliminaries" constantly. It just happens in a more natural, less prescribed way.

  12. #12
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: Recommended Reading from Jundo: DZOGCHEN - SHIKANTAZA

    I cannot agree more Stephanie. Just a piece of information, as you know the Tibetan path requires a huge amount of bowing practice as part of the preliminaries. In the times of Buddha, as the monk was sewing his kesa, it was one pai (one bow) at every stitch. A few thousands bows per kesa...The sewing tradition was kept and I understand now that this stitches are part orf the necessary preliminaries in our tradition.

    gassho


    Taigu

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