What the Zennies say...?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
Kabouterke
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Re: What the Zennies say...?

Post by Kabouterke » Fri Jun 07, 2013 5:18 pm

floating_abu wrote:
Beautiful Breath wrote:I recently spoke to a Seon nun who suggested that practices like Anapanasati, Jhana and so on can actually exagerate the ego instead of revealing its nature. She recommended practices like Hwadu/Koan in order to directly address the ego.

Thoughts...?

BB...
But as a semi-accomplished student, I have not heard of this being a common view in Zen Buddhism or Mahayana.
Yeah, I would second that opinion. I have practiced shikantaza in the Soto Zen school for roughly ten years or so, and I have never once heard or read about inflating the ego to expose its nature. It might be because Soto Zen is seen to be a "patient" school, that doesn't try to poke and prod, and "speed up" enlightenment with things like koans. Okay, everything I've read and dealt with was in Soto Zen, and it seems that the person you spoke to may have been practicing Korean Zen (seeing they said Hwado) which does have different traditions than Chinese Ch'an or Japanese Zen schools. So, I can't say definitively that they wouldn't say that. But, it does definitely seem very uncharacteristics of any Zen school, regardless of country.

5heaps
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Re: What the Zennies say...?

Post by 5heaps » Fri Jun 07, 2013 6:02 pm

theres nothing buddhist about jhana. all the meditative nonbuddhist traditions do it also--thats how they realize the eternal self etc, through extremely sophisticated concentrations
what makes jhana a buddhist practice is correct analysis ie. right view
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reflection
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Re: What the Zennies say...?

Post by reflection » Fri Jun 07, 2013 6:12 pm

If a practice is approached from a wrong perspective, it can always turn into a conceit I think. This is just as true for anapanasati as it is for koans. I'd say even the 'basics' such as the five precepts or dana can in a certain way give rise to deceit if practiced incorrectly, for example to generate merit in order to get things in return.

So I think it's all about how we do things, not really what that is exactly. If we do koans in a right way, it'll address the ego. And anapanasati if done correctly also directly addresses the ego. And if it is done correctly, if the path is practiced fully, it'll lead to jhana and according to the suttas the Buddha said not to fear that.

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daverupa
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Re: What the Zennies say...?

Post by daverupa » Fri Jun 07, 2013 6:25 pm

5heaps wrote:theres nothing buddhist about jhana. all the meditative nonbuddhist traditions do it also--thats how they realize the eternal self etc, through extremely sophisticated concentrations
what makes jhana a buddhist practice is correct analysis ie. right view
Since the Buddha discusses satipatthana as a thing unheard of before (SN 47.31), and the awakening factors are spoken of in similar terms (SN 46.53), I think jhana is specifically Buddhist - the term may have had a broad reference-realm, but the jhana factors which comprise samma-samadhi are exclusive to the BuddhaDhamma, and samma-sati - which necessarily precedes this - also appears to be exclusive to the BuddhaDhamma.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

Kabouterke
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Re: What the Zennies say...?

Post by Kabouterke » Fri Jun 07, 2013 6:44 pm

Sekha wrote: Since in Theravada it is through insight that ego is dealt with, it seems logical that Zen teachers would in turn recommend the practice of koans to achieve that same aim.
Zen is not one thing. Zen also has different sects (Jap: Rinzai, Obaku, Soto; China: Caodong, Linji, et al.) and movements within it, just like any other branch of Buddhism.

Certain schools of Zen use koans, some emphasize them more than others, and some don't use them at all. Soto Zen, the most prominent school in the West, is marked by the absence of koans and total reliance on Shikantaza, aka silent illumination.

Ironically enough, koans were historically used (and compiled by Dogen, the founder of the Soto Sect) in Soto, but nowadays they are treated more as commentary to be read and contemplated on.

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Anagarika
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Re: What the Zennies say...?

Post by Anagarika » Fri Jun 07, 2013 6:56 pm

5heaps wrote:theres nothing buddhist about jhana. all the meditative nonbuddhist traditions do it also--thats how they realize the eternal self etc, through extremely sophisticated concentrations
what makes jhana a buddhist practice is correct analysis ie. right view
Bhante Henepola Gunaratana makes clear that in fourth jhana "one sees deeply into impermanence, suffering, and not-self." See Beyond Mindfulness in Plain English. What is very 'Buddhist' about the type of jhana taught by the Buddha is this absorption into intense mindfulness of the reality of anatta. Gautama is understood to have deviated from the Vedic jhanas to teach, rather than a self=based "soul," as was popular in his time, but a very radical idea of jhana as freeing one of the delusion of self or of a permanent surviving self.

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Beautiful Breath
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Re: What the Zennies say...?

Post by Beautiful Breath » Sat Jun 08, 2013 6:19 am

Sekha wrote:
Beautiful Breath wrote:I recently spoke to a Seon nun who suggested that practices like Anapanasati, Jhana and so on can actually exagerate the ego instead of revealing its nature. She recommended practices like Hwadu/Koan in order to directly address the ego.

Thoughts...?
From what I have seen, this kind of thing happens a lot with monks who practice in a way that I would qualify of unbalanced, by practicing only samadhi and not pañña, whether through anapanassati or by other means. I don't want to give names, but it happens in some well-known places where it is believed that samadhi should be mastered thoroughly before practicing vipassana (and where by the way there is a general deprecation of techniques in which vipassana gets started sooner, as "artificial vipassana" and the like). It depends on people though. Some have a proclivity to inflate their ego when they gain jhanas without practicing vipassana, whereas some others don't. So I would totally agree with the first sentence, all the more that it is confirmed by the scriptures imo (see below).

Of course, the second sentence reveals a mahayana perspective. In Theravada, the advice would rather be to practice vipassana. In my experience, there are much less ego problems in places where meditators develop vipassana alongside with concentration.

My stance on this subject is backed by AN 2.32:
Samatho, bhikkhave, bhāvito kam-attham-anubhoti? Cittaṃ bhāvīyati. Cittaṃ bhāvitaṃ kam-attham-anubhoti? Yo rāgo so pahīyati.
When tranquillity is developed, what purpose does it serve? The mind is developed. And when the mind is developed, what purpose does it serve? Passion is abandoned.

Vipassanā, bhikkhave, bhāvitā kam-attham-anubhoti? Paññā bhāvīyati. Paññā bhāvitā kam-attham-anubhoti? Yā avijjā sā pahīyati.
When insight is developed, what purpose does it serve? Discernment is developed. And when discernment is developed, what purpose does it serve? Ignorance is abandoned.

Rāg·upakkiliṭṭhaṃ vā, bhikkhave, cittaṃ na vimuccati, avijj·upakkiliṭṭhā vā paññā na bhāvīyati. Iti kho, bhikkhave, rāga-virāgā cetovimutti, avijjā-virāgā paññāvimuttī.
Defiled by passion, the mind is not released. Defiled by ignorance, discernment does not develop. Thus from the fading of passion is there awareness-release. From the fading of ignorance is there discernment-release.
Those who practice samatha remove raga and dosa (craving and aversion), but not avijja (ignorance). And ego is a matter of avijja.
They need to practice vipassana in order to remove avijja and thereby resolve their ego problems.
:goodpost:

Thanks Sekha...

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BlackBird
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Re: What the Zennies say...?

Post by BlackBird » Sat Jun 08, 2013 7:16 am

Kim OHara wrote:
BuddhaSoup wrote:Her comment is interesting in that jhana et al are the practices that the Buddha taught as recorded in the early suttas. Seems to me that her tossing aside Buddhavacana (and substituting Tang Dynasty origins koan practice) has a bit of unhealthy ego involved. Attachment to koan practice might be unskillful. I am always a bit surprised that some in Mahayana have little idea what is the teaching (as best as we can understand it from the early texts), and what is not.
Hi, BuddhaSoup,
That's a bit harsh, IMO.
Surely "the teaching" for the Mahayanists is "the teaching" they received and "the teaching" they find beneficial?
And surely most of them are not "tossing aside" early teachings but simply - humbly - sticking to the teachings they have received?

See also http://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.ph ... 1136#p7150 for a wise mahayanist's viewpoint on what is Buddhavacana.

:namaste:
Kim

I can't believe to see Ven. Huifeng saying the following:
Nowadays it is popular to talk about the "historical Buddha" (complete with little "scare quotes"), ie. Sakyamuni, the founder of what we now call "Buddhism". However, even before the "Buddha (tm)", this word was used for any "awakened one". In fact, that is precisely what the word "buddha" means, "budh+ta --> buddha", "awake-ened". Some early Mahayana sutras indicate that basically whoever is also "awakened" is also thus qualified to teach the teaching of the "Buddha". This is an ancient idea, not a new one. Rather, the idea of narrowing the sense of "Buddha" to one single person, is the newer idea!

So, when someone asks: "Is the Buddha the author of the Mahayana sutras?" These above points may be worth bearing in mind. It is easy to transpose a more recent criteria of "buddha" onto an ancient question. But that may miss the point, and lead to all sorts of anachronistic problems.
"Rather, the idea of narrowing the sense of "Buddha to one single person, is the newer idea!"

^^

Sorry, that sounds more than a little bit wrong to me. At the very best it's a case of semantics, since the Buddha is an epithet that doesn't usually appear in the Suttas.

But in regard to the sentiment of the post at large, one can apply the label of awakened to whoever one likes, and thus there is no qualification at all beyond one's own predilections. Some Mahayanists seem to see the "awakened'ness" of their sutra propogators as a foregone conclusion and thus something that requires no qualification, when in reality the qualification of such is the most important thing.
Last edited by BlackBird on Sat Jun 08, 2013 8:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta

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Crazy cloud
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Re: What the Zennies say...?

Post by Crazy cloud » Sat Jun 08, 2013 7:29 am

I dont know so much about anything, but has had great fun and experienced new pieces of insight by reading and contemplating poems and koans, written by some of the great zen-masters.

sometimes it all can be so stiff and dry ... :tongue:

A master’s handiwork cannot be measured
But still priests wag their tongues explaining the “Way” and babbling about “Zen.”
This old monk has never cared for false piety
And my nose wrinkles at the dark smell of incense before the Buddha.


:candle:
If you didn't care
What happened to me
And I didn't care for you

We would zig-zag our way
Through the boredom and pain
Occasionally glancing up through the rain

Wondering which of the
Buggers to blame
And watching for pigs on the wing
- Roger Waters

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mikenz66
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Re: What the Zennies say...?

Post by mikenz66 » Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:02 am

BlackBird wrote: I can't believe to see Ven. Huifeng saying the following:
http://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=41&t=1136#p7150
Nowadays it is popular to talk about the "historical Buddha" (complete with little "scare quotes"), ie. Sakyamuni, the founder of what we now call "Buddhism". However, even before the "Buddha (tm)", this word was used for any "awakened one". In fact, that is precisely what the word "buddha" means, "budh+ta --> buddha", "awake-ened". Some early Mahayana sutras indicate that basically whoever is also "awakened" is also thus qualified to teach the teaching of the "Buddha". This is an ancient idea, not a new one. Rather, the idea of narrowing the sense of "Buddha" to one single person, is the newer idea!

So, when someone asks: "Is the Buddha the author of the Mahayana sutras?" These above points may be worth bearing in mind. It is easy to transpose a more recent criteria of "buddha" onto an ancient question. But that may miss the point, and lead to all sorts of anachronistic problems.
"Rather, the idea of narrowing the sense of "Buddha to one single person, is the newer idea!"

^^

Sorry, that sounds more than a little bit wrong to me. At the very best it's a case of semantics, since the Buddha is an epithet that doesn't usually appear in the Suttas.
He is certainly described as "awakened" (buddho), which I think is just a different form of the term.
Arahaṃ sammā-sambuddho bhagavā.
The Blessed One is Worthy & Rightly Self-awakened.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ml#morning
[This line is in many suttas, of course...]
[/quote]
BlackBird wrote: But in regard to the sentiment of the post at large, one can apply the label of awakened to whoever one likes, and thus there is no qualification at all beyond one's own predilections. Some Mahayanists seem to see the "awakened'ness" of their sutra propogators as a foregone conclusion and thus something that requires no qualification, when in reality the qualification of such is the most important thing.
Since Ven Huifeng is explaining a particular Mahayana point of view on a Mahayana forum, I don't see why it should be surprising. And even in Theravada one could point out that the idea of attempting to seek out the "Historical Buddha" in preference to supplementing the canon with advice from ancient and contemporary adepts seems to be quite new and it is clearly far from being a universal approach.

Going back to the OP: Without the context of the conversation I would be cautious about drawing any general conclusions. The comment may have been a response to the strengths and weaknesses that she saw in the people she was addressing. I could certainly imagine teachers from any traditions making similar assessments for particular students.


:anjali:
Mike

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BlackBird
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Re: What the Zennies say...?

Post by BlackBird » Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:55 am

mikenz66 wrote: Since Ven Huifeng is explaining a particular Mahayana point of view on a Mahayana forum, I don't see why it should be surprising. And even in Theravada one could point out that the idea of attempting to seek out the "Historical Buddha" in preference to supplementing the canon with advice from ancient and contemporary adepts seems to be quite new and it is clearly far from being a universal approach.
Historical as opposed to what? The suggestion is that before the modern Western scientific tradition came along the Buddha being a real person wasn't all the important. I see absolutely no evidence of this beyond the opinions of a few.

It is clear throughout the suttas that the Buddha's enlightenment is used to back up the veracity of the Dhamma, even back to the very first sermon at Deer Park - They wouldn't pay him any attention until his position as a Buddha was established. It was important that the Buddha was enlightened, it determined that what he said had merit, that the he had experienced the path that he was setting forth. If he wasn't real then that's entirely negated. So I think this idea that his actuality wasn't that important until recently is quite unfounded.

with metta
Jack
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta

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Dan74
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Re: What the Zennies say...?

Post by Dan74 » Sat Jun 08, 2013 11:14 am

daverupa wrote:
Dan74 wrote:
daverupa wrote:Hwadu and koans; how do they align with satipatthana? How are the hindrances dealt with in these terms? Or, which aspect of the gradual training to these methods embody?
These questions can be answered, Dave, but I don't get the impression that you are particularly interested.
Let's have some answers... except I'm supposed to ask a teacher, which presumably is a role you won't be taking up in this case. Perhaps another will be able to respond to my request to lay these chronologically late materials alongside the earliest available Dhamma for comparison. It's certainly true that I expect a certain result, but this is a defeasible bias on my part; accordingly, I await discussion on these points.
In case I am wrong, let me add that doubts borne of ignorance are best cleared by asking respectfully (of a teacher) rather than poured out in public as a slight on a tradition one does not understand.
Where was the slight? I conveyed an historical fact, asked some questions, and ruminated about Mahayana-style anapanasati pedagogy - this last has been addressed a bit already, leaving the rest unattended as yet.

:popcorn:
Dave, to really do a proper comparative analysis of doctrine and practice of Theravada and various Zen schools is a huge undertaking and I am completely unqualified for it. If you care, you might get some good answers at Dharma Wheel or at ZFI where they have a new Chan teacher, who is also a scholar.

As for the second part, I am sorry but your post sounded to me more than just some questions and ruminations, i thought that it had veered into ill-founded judgments. I apologize if I had misread it.
_/|\_

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Re: What the Zennies say...?

Post by Dinsdale » Sat Jun 08, 2013 1:12 pm

Beautiful Breath wrote:I recently spoke to a Seon nun who suggested that practices like Anapanasati, Jhana and so on can actually exagerate the ego instead of revealing its nature. She recommended practices like Hwadu/Koan in order to directly address the ego.
I would think that progress in most Buddhist practices could be counter-productive if held in the wrong way and viewed as an accomplishment.
Buddha save me from new-agers!

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daverupa
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Re: What the Zennies say...?

Post by daverupa » Sat Jun 08, 2013 2:09 pm

Dan74 wrote:Dave, to really do a proper comparative analysis of doctrine and practice of Theravada and various Zen schools is a huge undertaking and I am completely unqualified for it.
I'm really not asking for that. A quick summary of anapanasati and its steps as related to satipatthana, despite variations, could be conveyed in a forum post. Can shikantaza be described according to a similar sort of comprehensive summary? What about these koan practices?
As for the second part, I am sorry but your post sounded to me more than just some questions and ruminations, i thought that it had veered into ill-founded judgments. I apologize if I had misread it.
Well, it isn't just you, so I'd better pay more attention.

:candle:
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Anagarika
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Re: What the Zennies say...?

Post by Anagarika » Sat Jun 08, 2013 2:40 pm

"Rather, the idea of narrowing the sense of "Buddha to one single person, is the newer idea!"

It's just a wild guess on my part that when the Bhikkhus gathered at the First Council, the Dhamma that they were concerned with capturing was that of Gautama, and only Gautama. It is this fully enlightened man's teachings that we are concerned with as a practice. It was he who shed the Vedic teachings and introduced a new Way. It's that simple.

Sure, there must have been many who claimed in 500 BCE, and thereafter, to be awakened. These claimants may have had communities around them. But none of these individuals were the focus of the First Council, and none of them were the focus of the preservation of a Dhamma / Vinaya.

It's a serious mistake that Mahayana makes when it tries to take new non-Gautama material, and weave new Tatagathas from it. I understand where Mahayana is coming from, and understand to some degree the motivations behind what Mahayana argues (we Hinnie yanees get the joke), but it's just important, IMO, that we keep a focus on what may be historically true and what is fabrication or hybridization.

I respect and value traditional Mahayana. It is a very valuable and authentic vehicle. Just as I love Rumi, I also love the poetry of Walt Whitman. I've never confused the two, though.

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