Dan74 wrote:As for jhanas vs shikantaza, I think there is a lot of evidence to show that shikantaza is an advanced practice and the practitioner would have reached a level of maturity before practicing silent illumination.
The practice of silent illumination as Master Sheng Yen explained (in stages) starts from allowing the full body to relax well. And then goes some breath contemplation.
Sheng Yen Shifu didn't encourage to engage in the breath meditation too much, because it could guide to losing the balance of calmness and alertness (shifting to more calmness but less clarity). But of course it's up to the practitioner to regulate his practice, as he feels his needs and his state.
Next stages involve the widening and integrating of all our perceptions in one mass. If you are not very successful with the current stage, you return to previous stages. So this method as a whole does not require much preparations, it is taught to novices too. Then they progress gradually.
(I don't mean that the practitioner doesn't need to learn principles, like the explanations on the nature of mind).
http://chancenter.org/cmc/1995/02/01/sh ... umination/
Dan74 wrote:What is silent illumination? It's when formations have already been silenced to a great extent, so that awareness is spacious and luminous and as Honzhi taught formations and old habits can be seen and swept away.
Sheng Yen says:
While you maintain the sitting posture, you should also try to establish the “silent” state of the mind. Eventually you reach a point where the mind does not move and yet is very clear.
When we meditate or work, we may fall into a worldly samadhi state and feel that time passes very quickly. In an ordinary state we may feel that time passes quickly or slowly. However, in the mind of wisdom there is no such thing as slow or hurried time. If we can say there is thought in the mind of wisdom, it is an endless thought which never changes. This unchanging thought is no longer thought as we usually understand it. It is the unmoving mind of wisdom.
With this kind of concentration, the mind is unified and there is no hurried time, no slow. The difference between the previous thought and the next one goes away. The mind becomes unmoved.
See also about the stages of Chan practice:http://chancenter.org/cmc/2011/10/13/what-is-chan-1/
johnny wrote:i don't know what he meant, but i think he left many statements like that open and he often wrote in vague and ethereal speech.
Most easily to say is that Dogen meant by "just sitting" not to engage in expectations or efforts to do something with your mind. They would lead away from the pure and natural quality of awareness.
This way you gradually diminish all the phenomena that come to interrupt your meditation. You attentively and calmly let them go, and the inner struggles and concerns come to the rest. Until, more and more, "just sitting" becomes easy and comfortable, without hurries and worries.
This way the nature of mind could reveal itself more and more easily. With this revelation, we really enter the reality. (Earlier "I myself" was a bit "separate" from the reality).
johnny wrote:in the pali canon it says that one may go into the forth jhana and then up too the fourth of the formless realms and develop insight into reality
jhana is required according too the buddha. it is indispensable. so if you decide not too develop the jhanas, you may be missing out, at least according too theravada.
According to Yuganaddha Sutta etc., the arahantship comes as the unity of tranquility and insight. It must be true for Zen methods too.
johnny wrote:that's why it matters which one you practice. many zen masters will say you don't need jhana, most theravada say you do.
i'm positive it is a "thing" in zen that jhana is not often taught or recommended.
most part. other traditions may practice it by default, but they generally don't use the theravada systematized explanation and progression.
Yes. However in the "Hoofprint of the Ox"http://www.amazon.com/Hoofprint-Ox-Prin ... 0195152484
Sheng Yen discusses early Buddhism methods (during several chapters), and only then goes to Chan methods.
I believe there are some explanations about jhana, samadhi, "Mahayana samadhi" and non-attachment to samadhi.