What is the Zen and/or Chan assertion of how conventional phenomena exists?

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Tenzintharpa
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What is the Zen and/or Chan assertion of how conventional phenomena exists?

Postby Tenzintharpa » Mon Jan 09, 2017 11:36 am

I am a Gelug practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism and understand Tsongkhapa’s view but am a little confused on the different views of conventional phenomena held by other schools of Buddhism.
According to the Zen and/or Chan does conventional phenomena:
A) Exist as Illusion, existing only as a projection of the mind, (literally unreal).
B) Exist as Illusion ‘like’; real but existing in an ethereal manner, lacking any inherent true essence; nominally existent.
C) Do Zen and/or Chan deny the existence of conventional phenomena and/or matter?

Gelug presentation
The Buddha often described life as dream-like but he never asserted that life was a dream or that phenomenon did not actually exist.

Observed phenomenon don’t exist as mere images, projections or visions in the mind but rather exists as separate entities from the mind. The mind and matter are two separate things. Matter is separate from the mind that cognizes and dominates it. And although observed phenomenon are not simply created by a mind, their ultimate mode of existence is dependent upon the mind, so the mind doesn’t create the matter but the matter is dependent on the mind that imputes it as the imputer. Therefore, their mode of existence is separate from the imputer but their existence is dependent upon the imputer. Their mode of existence is separate but their existence is dependent. Nothing can exist independently from the mind which perceives it. ~ Dalai Lama

Thanks all

White Lotus
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Re: What is the Zen and/or Chan assertion of how conventional phenomena exists?

Postby White Lotus » Mon Jan 09, 2017 4:56 pm

This is a conceptual question Zen seems to avoid. Things are just as they are is one answer. Every thing is just so/thus is another. It depends on the depth of your realisation. Also, Zen has known for a long time that what you look for determines what you find. Idealism and realism are binary dualities and mutually interdependent as well as exclusive of each other. Tom. :smile:
in any matters of importance. dont rely on me. i may not know what i am talking about. take what i say as mere speculation. i am not ordained. nor do i have a formal training. i do believe though that if i am wrong on any point. there are those on this site who i hope will quickly point out my mistakes.

DGA
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Re: What is the Zen and/or Chan assertion of how conventional phenomena exists?

Postby DGA » Mon Jan 09, 2017 5:03 pm

Tenzintharpa wrote:I am a Gelug practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism and understand Tsongkhapa’s view but am a little confused on the different views of conventional phenomena held by other schools of Buddhism.
According to the Zen and/or Chan does conventional phenomena:
A) Exist as Illusion, existing only as a projection of the mind, (literally unreal).
B) Exist as Illusion ‘like’; real but existing in an ethereal manner, lacking any inherent true essence; nominally existent.
C) Do Zen and/or Chan deny the existence of conventional phenomena and/or matter?

Gelug presentation
The Buddha often described life as dream-like but he never asserted that life was a dream or that phenomenon did not actually exist.

Observed phenomenon don’t exist as mere images, projections or visions in the mind but rather exists as separate entities from the mind. The mind and matter are two separate things. Matter is separate from the mind that cognizes and dominates it. And although observed phenomenon are not simply created by a mind, their ultimate mode of existence is dependent upon the mind, so the mind doesn’t create the matter but the matter is dependent on the mind that imputes it as the imputer. Therefore, their mode of existence is separate from the imputer but their existence is dependent upon the imputer. Their mode of existence is separate but their existence is dependent. Nothing can exist independently from the mind which perceives it. ~ Dalai Lama

Thanks all


There is a spectrum of answers to this question, although generally, one ought not to expect to find an analogy to option "B," which is Lama Tsongkhapa's innovation. See the book Madhyamaka Thought in China, Liu Ming-Wood
DGA's dissertation, a cultural history of mindfulness, here:
https://www.academia.edu/25482900/WHAT_ ... _OF_STRESS

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Astus
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Re: What is the Zen and/or Chan assertion of how conventional phenomena exists?

Postby Astus » Mon Jan 09, 2017 7:02 pm

Tenzintharpa wrote:A) Exist as Illusion, existing only as a projection of the mind, (literally unreal).
B) Exist as Illusion ‘like’; real but existing in an ethereal manner, lacking any inherent true essence; nominally existent.
C) Do Zen and/or Chan deny the existence of conventional phenomena and/or matter?


In a dream Kyõzan Oshõ went to Maitreya's place and was led in to sit in the third seat. A senior monk struck with a gavel and said, "Today the one in the third seat will speak." Kyõzan rose and, striking with the gavel, said, "The truth of Mahayana is beyond the four propositions and transcends the hundred negations. Taichõ! Taichõ!" [Hear the truth!]
(The Gateless Gate, case 25)

A monk asked Grand Master Ma, "Please, Teacher, going beyond the permutations of assertion and denial, directly point out to me the meaning of the coming from the West."
Master Ma said, "I'm tired today and can't explain for you. Go ask Chih Tsang." When the monk asked Chih Tsang,J Tsang said, "Why didn't you ask the Teacher? " The monk said, "The Teacher had me come here to ask you." Tsang said, "I have a headache today and can't explain for you. Go ask Elder Brother Hai." When the monk asked Elder Brother Hai (Pai Chang), Hai said, "At this point, after all, I don't understand."
When the monk related this to Grand Master Ma, Master Ma said, "Tsang's head is white, Hai's head is black."

(Blue Cliff Record, case 73, tr Cleary & Cleary)

The four propositions (四句) are either existence, non-existence, one, many (有無一異) or the catuskoti (being, non-being, both, neither). The hundred negations (百非) are the permutations of the four as that each contains the four possibilities (4x4=16), then multiplied by the three times (16x3=48), then doubled by the options of arisen or about to arise (48x2=96), and the original four added and thus the hundred negations. These are Chinese Madhyamaka teachings regarding the two truths. See more in Shi Changqing's book: "The Two Truths in Chinese Buddhism".

But, as you can see from the above two stories, Zen is not really a follower of Madhyamaka. Furthermore, Zen was influenced more by Tiantai and especially by Huayan teachings. So, on the subject of two truths, the teaching of the four dharmadhatus seems more appropriate. Although that's still just background information, the two terms of essence and function are often used in the fashion of two truths. You might check on it this essay: East Asia's Unexplored Pivot of Metaphysics and Hermeneutics: Essence-Function/Interpenetration.

Finally, there is no such thing as "according to Zen", simply because Zen is not a single church or a unified tradition, but a very generic term for loosely connected groups of people, texts, and traditions. But, to give a straightforward answer finally, I'd say the most common interpretation of conventional phenomena is that they are not different from buddha-nature.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

White Lotus
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Re: What is the Zen and/or Chan assertion of how conventional phenomena exists?

Postby White Lotus » Tue Jan 10, 2017 3:17 pm

The proposition that i can make no propositions is an impossible attachment to emptiness. The proposition that things are thus is an attachment to suchness. The proposition that zen is non attachment is an attachment. In the words of Shunryu Suzuki: just be yourself, since you are already yourself, you are free. Respect for all views. Choosing some: rejecting others. Freedom and constraint. Rgds, Tom. :)
in any matters of importance. dont rely on me. i may not know what i am talking about. take what i say as mere speculation. i am not ordained. nor do i have a formal training. i do believe though that if i am wrong on any point. there are those on this site who i hope will quickly point out my mistakes.

White Lotus
Posts: 887
Joined: Sat Jan 23, 2010 12:56 pm

Re: What is the Zen and/or Chan assertion of how conventional phenomena exists?

Postby White Lotus » Wed Jan 11, 2017 12:09 am

If we look at the case of Master Ma, he follows the proposition that "as soon as you utter a word about it you have either missed it or said too much." emptiness is nameless, wordless, beyond thought and formless. He expresses this proposition, through function (a random or spontaneous act or un/natural statement). Still this is at the level of emptiness. It shows that he is within the shell of emptiness/form. He follows a proposition in order to avoid making propositions. Its fine to say that all "this" is dreamlike, but that is because it is thus: neither a dream nor real. Neither emptiness nor form. Just "thus". Thus is my proposition. Empty of emptiness. Please be patient with my arrogance and kindly correct my delusion if i am wrong. Tom. :?: :?:
in any matters of importance. dont rely on me. i may not know what i am talking about. take what i say as mere speculation. i am not ordained. nor do i have a formal training. i do believe though that if i am wrong on any point. there are those on this site who i hope will quickly point out my mistakes.


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