bodom wrote: ↑
Mon Oct 16, 2017 2:27 am
Thanks aflatun. Sheng Yen is actually who I have been reading. I have a copy of Silent Illumination sitting next to me. It is the book that sparked my interest in Chan. It is an excellent book. Very simple but very profound. I have another book of his that has been very helpful called Dharma Drum.
I am going to be ordering his book on the 37 bodhi-pakkhiya-dhammas or wings to awakening. I've never heard any Mahayana teachers ever mention them before. Chan is an awesome tradition and I'm glad I came across Sheng Yens books.
Then I am not surprised that you are smitten with Chan! As you say, very simple but profound. He had a brilliant way of getting to the heart of things in a very direct manner. Let us know how the new book goes!
The book on Hua Tou I was thinking of was Knocking Gently on the Door of Chan
by Master Sheng Yen's disciple, master Guo Ru (not to be confused with his other disciple, Guo Gu!). It's a different approach than Silent Illumination but apparently one that Master Sheng Yen taught as well. I was skeptical of this approach for a while because I suspected an eternalist agenda behind this practice, but I was wrong:
During meditation retreats, at first Master Sheng Yen did not restrict us to any one huatou. We were sometimes taught to ask, “Who is being mindful of the Buddha?” or “Who is it before birth?” In the walking meditation period, he thundered, “Who is dragging this corpse along?” In the sitting period, he exhorted, “Who is sitting here with mortal flesh?” Closely related to our lives, each of these questions aroused a sense of doubt.
According to my personal experience, “Who is dragging this corpse along?” was the most useful huatou. Who was I once my breathing stopped? I was more closely connected to such a huatou because I had suffered from a very serious illness and thus feared death. It was easier for this huatou to arouse a sense of doubt in me. After a sense of doubt arose, I often felt “something seemingly appearing before my very eyes.” It was as if a beam of light appeared in my mind, as if there was something or some state I could hold on to or attain. It is inaccessible if we try to get into it. Only when our mind has no intention can we gain access.
Once entering the state, we will find it wonderful, or even believe it to be enlightenment. We will be doomed with such a misconception, for it is merely a physical and mental change in the state of meditative concentration. Many people are stuck in this state, believing they are enlightened, and thus get trapped in the practice of “wild Chan.” Therefore, such a huatou as “Who is dragging this corpse along?” or “Who is sitting here with mortal flesh?” may sometimes make Chan practitioners mistakenly believe that there is something to pursue, to obtain, that there are “a truly existing object,” “a real practitioner,” and even “an attainable state.” In that case, it is impossible to be connected to the true mind of purity. So in his later meditation instruction my master adopted the huatou “wu” (literally, “nonexistent”) advocated by Master Dahui Zonggao.
"People often get too quick to say 'there's no self. There's no self...no self...no self.' There is self, there is focal point, its not yours. That's what not self is."
Senses and the Thought-1, 42:53
"Those who create constructs about the Buddha,
Who is beyond construction and without exhaustion,
Are thereby damaged by their constructs;
They fail to see the Thus-Gone.
That which is the nature of the Thus-Gone
Is also the nature of this world.
There is no nature of the Thus-Gone.
There is no nature of the world."