Results 1 to 9 of 9

Thread: You Are Already Enlightened

  1. #1

    You Are Already Enlightened

    This article came across me today and I liked it so much I felt it should be shared here:

    The author touches briefly on Dogen's shikantaza and how it relates to Silent Illumination. I'm not especially clear on the meaningful distinctions between them but I still found the author's commentary to be interesting.

    kyō (bridge) | sen (river)

  2. #2
    Thanks kyosen,
    It's a nice article, I like the room and furniture metaphor..although I was reading about sheng yen's "silent illumination" instructed as a method with different stages ( ) what seems to be a different approach to shikantaza, at least the way we learn it.
    Maybe jundo could say something to that?



    Enviado desde mi PLK-L01 mediante Tapatalk

  3. #3
    Hi Kyosen and Horin,

    I will offer my impressions. Master Sheng Yen basically created his own system of "Silent Illumination" (actually several variations, as he changed his interpretation over time). Guo Gu (who is also "Prof. Jimmy Yu") has an article on that, and explains his teacher Sheng Yen's personal reasons for doing so and combining it with "Koan Phrase Introspection" Zazen too:

    In a nutshell, Taigen Dan Leighton has done some writing on this, and there are some reasons to believe that what Dogen taught as Shikantaza may actually be closer to what he encountered as "Silent Illumination" back in the 13th century than what Sheng Yen presents as his modern version which he created. However, the historical record is not crystal clear, so we cannot be perfectly sure. Further, Dogen certainly put his own twists and "spicing" on Silent Illumination as he developed his Shikantaza back in Japan.

    One thing to note in Guo Gu's essay "You Are Already Enlightened" that is a bit contradictory is that, while he says, "The Chan tradition does not usually refer to steps or stages," he then proceeds to outline very definite "stages" of increasing mental contradiction as his teacher's road map to "silent illumination."

    So, what is unique about Master Dogen's Shikantaza? We also sit with a mind that is centered, in equanimity, allowing thoughts to come and go. We also sometimes attain very profound mental concentration states. However, for us, there is such a radical dropping of all need to attain, that such states are not the point. Sitting is the point, with radically nothing lacking or to be added to sitting itself. If one makes Zazen into a technique to attain these states, it is just one more tool for attainment and achievement which takes us away from the power of being free from all desire and measuring. We believe that the Buddha, under the Bodhi Tree, realized a state free from desire and measures.

    In Shikantaza, sitting itself, with the "room" sometimes empty of "furniture" (thoughts and emotions) or with some "furniture" present is automatically "already Buddha, already enlightenment." Sitting itself is felt in our bones, as a matter of trust, to be "already Buddha," with a dropping of all desire for more ... even to attain such special mental states. Yes, we do not "grab onto thoughts," so the furniture naturally clears from the room, but we really accept deep down that "room" and "furniture" are whole. The empty room is always present, whether empty or filled to the brim with tables and chairs! In this way, they do not become just one more prize to chase after. We no longer consider Zazen "successful" only when there is some pay-off of special, pleasant mental states.

    In this way, we come to realize that the "room" without or without furniture is the same open "Buddha room" all along. It is a kind of Silence which rings through all the ordinary measures of both worldly silence and noise, it is an Illumination which shines through both clear skies and storms. Just by sitting, dropping all desire except for sitting itself, in equanimity, letting thoughts go, allows us to realize this.

    It is a subtle difference, but an important one.

    Gassho, J


    (alas, more than three sentences. )
    Last edited by Jundo; 07-27-2020 at 12:29 AM.

  4. #4

    Thank you for this great explanation, Jundo



    Enviado desde mi PLK-L01 mediante Tapatalk

  5. #5
    Thank you for posting this article Kyōsen. I’ve encountered the reference to Silent Illumination before and wondered how it related to Shikantaza. Thank you for helping compare the two Jundo.

    Sat today and lah
    泰林 - Tai Rin - Peaceful Woods

  6. #6
    Guo Gu is the leader of the Tallahassee Chan center here in town. I used to sit with his group frequently. They have weekly meetings on Monday night with 30 minutes of sitting followed by 10 minutes of what they call Yoga (but which bears no resemblance to hatha Yoga) followed by another 30 minutes of sitting. When you sit there, you can sit shikantaza, sit in silent illumination or sit with a koan. Things are pretty wide open. It's a nice group and I enjoyed my time with them, but I had a big disagreement with something Guo Gu said one night in a dharma talk (he called Japanese Buddhism "weak"). I spoke with Jundo about it several years ago and then spoke to Guo Gu, but he did not back down from his assessment and instead encouraged me to focus on Chan. So I left. All of this is an aside, other than the fact that students in his Sangha do not exclusively use silent illumination.

    So, memories.


    Sat today and lah
    "First you have to give up." Tyler Durden

  7. #7
    Just to clarify, in a nutshell, on the connection of "Silent Illumination" and Shikantaza:

    Shikantaza is certainly Master Dogen's particular twist on "Silent Illumination," and as we sit in equanimity without grabbing and entangling in thoughts and passing emotions, one realizes a Silence which pervades both the world's quiet and its greatest noise, a Light which shines as all of life's bright and in its darkest shadows too. What is unique about Master Dogen's presentation is the powerful emphasis on letting go of all need to attain, the trust that the act is complete in the very action of sitting, with nothing lacking and not one more drop to add but the completion and allowance of just this sitting itself.

    In such sitting, yes, sitting is Silent and Illuminated. There is no particular need or desire to chase after or attain concentrated or extra-ordinary mental states, although such moments will arise among all moments which come and go.

    Gassho, J

    Last edited by Jundo; 07-27-2020 at 11:29 PM.

  8. #8
    What is unique about Master Dogen's presentation is the powerful emphasis on letting go of all need to attain, the trust that the act is complete in the very action of sitting, with nothing lacking and not one more drop to add but the completion and allowance of just this sitting itself.
    Thank you for this wonderful teaching Jundo. The importance of radical goallessness and the oneness of practice and enlightenment cannot be overemphasised. It has helped with my zazen enormously to sit with the fullness and completion of life. It's a shame that many teachers neglect to emphasis these key points.


    Sent from my HD1913 using Tapatalk
    Last edited by vanbui; 07-28-2020 at 07:15 PM.

  9. #9
    I sit silently alone in our basement. Itís been called Shikantaza. Often the pain disappears and there is nothing. I feel nothing. Is this enlightenment? I donít know, but when I return I feel pain just a little less pain.
    sat / lah
    Tai Shi

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    ...Thought and action/ your life would never experience, (even before you were born), But he also being the Devine Cannot, He etched every moment of your existence, With His own hand... Haifiz

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts