If all is mind then how is Zen not monistic?

Dgj
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If all is mind then how is Zen not monistic?

Post by Dgj » Thu Feb 14, 2019 4:46 am

I've had it explained to me by highly intelligent and reliable individuals that Zen is not monistic, but in Zen all is mind. The definition of "monism" runs thusly:
mon·ism
/ˈmäˌnizəm,ˈmōˌnizəm/Submit
nounPHILOSOPHY•THEOLOGY
a theory or doctrine that denies the existence of a distinction or duality in some sphere, such as that between matter and mind, or God and the world.
So how is Zen not monistic?

While we're at it, I've also been told that Zen is not solipsism but if all is mind then how can it be defined as not solipsistic?
Solipsism is the philosophical idea that only one's own mind is sure to exist. As an epistemological position, solipsism holds that knowledge of anything outside one's own mind is unsure; the external world and other minds cannot be known and might not exist outside the mind.
So how is Zen not solipsistic nor monistic when "all is mind" necessarily includes both?

Monistic because monism can be defined as mind and matter having no distinction.

Solipsistic because if all is mind then there is no division between one's own mind, the external world and the minds of others and so other minds and the external world do not exist outside the mind, by definition, because they are mind. If everything is mind then there is no external world or other minds, only "all is mind" and so we are firmly in solipsism, no?

I am confident that the people who explained this to me are very knowledgeable and so I assume I am simply incorrect and I hope someone can explain.
I wish I knew what I was talking about but, let's face it, I probably don't.

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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: If all is mind then how is Zen not monistic?

Post by PadmaVonSamba » Thu Feb 14, 2019 5:05 am

1. On one level, you can say the zen teaching is monistic in so far as all dualities are transcended.
However, zen goes even beyond that, because if you say, "all one", then you have to ask, "all one, as compared to what?"
...in other words, at this point you are only establishing oneness in relative comparison to duality,
which thus negates oneness.
If oneness ("monism") depends on a relative comparison to duality for its "existence",
then it isn't really oneness, is it?

This is better expressed by the famous zen poem teaching, Faith In Mind:
In the higher realm of True Suchness
There is neither "other" nor "self":
When a direct identification is asked for,
We can only say, "Not two."


source:
https://selfdefinition.org/zen/hsin-hsi ... lation.htm
https://selfdefinition.org/zen/hsin-hsi ... lation.htm

2. Only two things exist which can absolutely not be refuted (denied):
awareness, and awareness as an object of awareness.
You can argue that nothing is really happening,
that maybe all of experience is in a dream lasting only a millionth of a second or whatever
but there is no denying your own awareness of it.
Even if you deny awareness of it, you are still aware of that .
.
.
.
Last edited by PadmaVonSamba on Thu Feb 14, 2019 5:08 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: If all is mind then how is Zen not monistic?

Post by Thomas Amundsen » Thu Feb 14, 2019 5:07 am

Mind is empty.

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Caoimhghín
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Re: If all is mind then how is Zen not monistic?

Post by Caoimhghín » Thu Feb 14, 2019 5:12 am

Dgj wrote:
Thu Feb 14, 2019 4:46 am
I've had it explained to me by highly intelligent and reliable individuals that Zen is not monistic
It depends whether or not they observe the Dharmaguptaka four-part vinaya. If they do, they are monastic.

Do ALL Zen sects not follow vinaya, but follow bodhisattva precepts instead? I know that vinaya observance was banned in Japan for a time, does that still apply?
歸命本覺心法身常住妙法心蓮臺本來莊嚴三身徳三十七尊住心
城遠離因果法然具普門塵數諸三昧無邊徳海本圓滿還我頂禮心諸佛

In reverence for the root gnosis of the heart, the dharmakāya,
for the ever present good law of the heart, the lotus terrace,
for the inborn adornment of the trikāya, the thirty-seven sages dwelling in the heart,
for that which is removed from seed and fruit, the upright key to the universal gate,
for all boundless concentrations, the sea of virtue, the root perfection,
I prostrate, bowing to the hearts of all Buddhas.

胎藏金剛菩提心義略問答鈔, Treatise on the teaching of the gnostic heart of the womb and the diamond, T2397.1.470c5-8

ItsRaining
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Re: If all is mind then how is Zen not monistic?

Post by ItsRaining » Thu Feb 14, 2019 5:21 am

Dgj wrote:
Thu Feb 14, 2019 4:46 am
I've had it explained to me by highly intelligent and reliable individuals that Zen is not monistic, but in Zen all is mind. The definition of "monism" runs thusly:
mon·ism
/ˈmäˌnizəm,ˈmōˌnizəm/Submit
nounPHILOSOPHY•THEOLOGY
a theory or doctrine that denies the existence of a distinction or duality in some sphere, such as that between matter and mind, or God and the world.
So how is Zen not monistic?

While we're at it, I've also been told that Zen is not solipsism but if all is mind then how can it be defined as not solipsistic?
Solipsism is the philosophical idea that only one's own mind is sure to exist. As an epistemological position, solipsism holds that knowledge of anything outside one's own mind is unsure; the external world and other minds cannot be known and might not exist outside the mind.
So how is Zen not solipsistic nor monistic when "all is mind" necessarily includes both?

Monistic because monism can be defined as mind and matter having no distinction.

Solipsistic because if all is mind then there is no division between one's own mind, the external world and the minds of others and so other minds and the external world do not exist outside the mind, by definition, because they are mind. If everything is mind then there is no external world or other minds, only "all is mind" and so we are firmly in solipsism, no?

I am confident that the people who explained this to me are very knowledgeable and so I assume I am simply incorrect and I hope someone can explain.
Zen doesn’t assume Mind is ultimately real which is why the words “Not Two” is used as opposed to simply saying everything is one. A “One” is not proposed by Zen. Zen teaches the existence of individual minds so it’s not solipsistic and it doesn’t assume things outside of the mind cannot be known.

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Re: If all is mind then how is Zen not monistic?f

Post by Wayfarer » Thu Feb 14, 2019 7:46 am

So how is Zen not solipsistic nor monistic when "all is mind" necessarily includes both?
Because expressions that are translated as ‘all is mind’ are not propositions or terms in a logical syllogism. They are suggestive aphorisms that are meaningful in the broader context of Buddhist culture and practice.
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Astus
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Re: If all is mind then how is Zen not monistic?

Post by Astus » Thu Feb 14, 2019 9:09 am

Dgj wrote:
Thu Feb 14, 2019 4:46 am
in Zen all is mind. The definition of "monism"
Should start with the definition of mind. See what Mazu said (Sun-Face Buddha, p 62):

"'Those who seek the Dharma should not seek for anything.' Outside of mind there is no other Buddha, outside of Buddha there is no other mind. Not attaching to good and not rejecting evil, without reliance on either purity or defilement, one realizes that the nature of offence is empty: it cannot be found in each thought because it is without self-nature. Therefore, the three realms are mind-only and 'all phenomena in the universe are marked by a single Dharma.' Whenever we see form, it is just seeing the mind. The mind does not exist by itself; its existence is due to form. Whatever you are saying, it is just a phenomenon which is identical with the principle."

And Huangbo (Zen Texts, BDK ed, p 13):

"The Buddhas and all the sentient beings are only the One Mind—there are no other dharmas. Since beginningless time, this mind has never been generated and has never been extinguished, is neither blue nor yellow, is without shape and without characteristic, does not belong to being and nonbeing, does not consider new or old, is neither long nor short, and is neither large nor small. It transcends all limitations, names, traces, and correlations. It in itself—that’s it! To activate thoughts is to go against it! It is like space, which is boundless and immeasurable."

The mind they talk of is the emptiness of the common consciousness of thoughts and feelings. All is mind means all is fabricated and empty.

"if you realize that the ten thousand dharmas never come into being, that mind is like a phantom, that not a speck of dust nor a single thing exists, that there is no place that is not clean and pure—this is Buddha."
(Record of Linji, tr Sasaki, p 12)
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"

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Re: If all is mind then how is Zen not monistic?

Post by Wayfarer » Thu Feb 14, 2019 9:49 am

That doesn’t seem to put the case for why Zen is not monistic. Perhaps you might comment on that particular point?
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: If all is mind then how is Zen not monistic?

Post by Astus » Thu Feb 14, 2019 10:21 am

Wayfarer wrote:
Thu Feb 14, 2019 9:49 am
That doesn’t seem to put the case for why Zen is not monistic. Perhaps you might comment on that particular point?
If there is no singular entity upheld as the substrate of everything, then it cannot be monistic. So, not all is mind, because there is no mind.
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"

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Re: If all is mind then how is Zen not monistic?

Post by seeker242 » Thu Feb 14, 2019 2:01 pm

Monism posits oneness of things. In other words, one "thing" as opposed to many "things". Zen is not monistic because it does not assert any notion of a "thing" to begin with.
One should not kill any living being, nor cause it to be killed, nor should one incite any other to kill. Do never injure any being, whether strong or weak, in this entire universe!

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Re: If all is mind then how is Zen not monistic?

Post by Caoimhghín » Thu Feb 14, 2019 2:11 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:
Thu Feb 14, 2019 5:12 am
Dgj wrote:
Thu Feb 14, 2019 4:46 am
I've had it explained to me by highly intelligent and reliable individuals that Zen is not monistic
It depends whether or not they observe the Dharmaguptaka four-part vinaya. If they do, they are monastic.

Do ALL Zen sects not follow vinaya, but follow bodhisattva precepts instead? I know that vinaya observance was banned in Japan for a time, does that still apply?
Lol. Monastic-monistic. I just figured out why all the other posts seemed off-topic! :sage:
歸命本覺心法身常住妙法心蓮臺本來莊嚴三身徳三十七尊住心
城遠離因果法然具普門塵數諸三昧無邊徳海本圓滿還我頂禮心諸佛

In reverence for the root gnosis of the heart, the dharmakāya,
for the ever present good law of the heart, the lotus terrace,
for the inborn adornment of the trikāya, the thirty-seven sages dwelling in the heart,
for that which is removed from seed and fruit, the upright key to the universal gate,
for all boundless concentrations, the sea of virtue, the root perfection,
I prostrate, bowing to the hearts of all Buddhas.

胎藏金剛菩提心義略問答鈔, Treatise on the teaching of the gnostic heart of the womb and the diamond, T2397.1.470c5-8

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Re: If all is mind then how is Zen not monistic?

Post by smcj » Thu Feb 14, 2019 3:04 pm

Astus wrote:
Thu Feb 14, 2019 10:21 am
Wayfarer wrote:
Thu Feb 14, 2019 9:49 am
That doesn’t seem to put the case for why Zen is not monistic. Perhaps you might comment on that particular point?
If there is no singular entity upheld as the substrate of everything, then it cannot be monistic. So, not all is mind, because there is no mind.
I like to say it is monism, only without the “mon” (one “thing”)—or for that matter without the “ism” either!

Cute, huh?

Lol. Monastic-monistic. I just figured out why all the other posts seemed off-topic! :sage:
:jumping:
1. No traditional Buddhist sect, Tibetan or otherwise, considers deities to be fictional. (DW post/Seeker242)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post/by ?)
4. Shentong] is the completely pure system that,
Through mainly teaching the luminous aspect of the mind, holds that the fruitions--kayas and wisdoms--exist on their own accord. (Karmapa XIII)

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Re: If all is mind then how is Zen not monistic?

Post by Dan74 » Thu Feb 14, 2019 3:22 pm

CASE 30: Mind is Buddha Case: Daibai asked Baso in all earnestness, “What is Buddha?” Baso answered, “Mind is Buddha.”

Mumon's Commentary: If you grasp it on the spot, you wear Buddha's clothes, eat Buddha's food, speak Buddha's words, do Buddha's deeds; you are Buddha himself. Though this may be so, Daibai has, alas, misled not a few people into mistaking the mark on the balance for the weight itself. How can he realize that even the mere mention of the word “Buddha” should make a man rinse his mouth for three days? If one is such a man, when he hears someone say, “The very mind is Buddha,” he will cover his ears and run away.

CASE 33: No Mind, No Buddha Case: A monk asked Baso in all earnestness, “What is Buddha?” Baso replied, “No mind, no Buddha.”

Mumon's Commentary: If you can see and grasp what was said here, your Zen study is finished.

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Re: If all is mind then how is Zen not monistic?

Post by KeithA » Thu Feb 14, 2019 4:44 pm

Dan74 wrote:
Thu Feb 14, 2019 3:22 pm
CASE 30: Mind is Buddha Case: Daibai asked Baso in all earnestness, “What is Buddha?” Baso answered, “Mind is Buddha.”

Mumon's Commentary: If you grasp it on the spot, you wear Buddha's clothes, eat Buddha's food, speak Buddha's words, do Buddha's deeds; you are Buddha himself. Though this may be so, Daibai has, alas, misled not a few people into mistaking the mark on the balance for the weight itself. How can he realize that even the mere mention of the word “Buddha” should make a man rinse his mouth for three days? If one is such a man, when he hears someone say, “The very mind is Buddha,” he will cover his ears and run away.

CASE 33: No Mind, No Buddha Case: A monk asked Baso in all earnestness, “What is Buddha?” Baso replied, “No mind, no Buddha.”

Mumon's Commentary: If you can see and grasp what was said here, your Zen study is finished.
:good:

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Re: If all is mind then how is Zen not monistic?

Post by Wayfarer » Thu Feb 14, 2019 8:46 pm

Astus wrote:
Huangbo wrote:Since beginningless time, this mind has never been generated and has never been extinguished, is neither blue nor yellow, is without shape and without characteristic, does not belong to being and nonbeing, does not consider new or old, is neither long nor short, and is neither large nor small. It transcends all limitations, names, traces, and correlations. It in itself—that’s it! To activate thoughts is to go against it! It is like space, which is boundless and immeasurable."
The Buddha wrote:There is, monks, an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated. If there were not that unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, there would not be the case that escape from the born — become — made — fabricated would be discerned. But precisely because there is an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, escape from the born — become — made — fabricated is discerned.
ud 8.03

However this is never depicted as ‘substance’ or ‘one’ or ‘essence’ in Buddhism, because to do so is to re-ify (‘make into a thing’). All such reification or ‘objectification’ is dualistic, grounded in ‘self and other’ which is the almost irresistible tendency of discursive reason. That is the sense in which Zen differs from monism, which by definition posits the ‘One’ in terms of which everything can be explained.
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: If all is mind then how is Zen not monistic?

Post by Wayfarer » Thu Feb 14, 2019 8:59 pm

In that sense, Zen is much nearer to modern philosophical movements such as phenomenology or deconstructivism, whereas classical monisms are often theistic in orientation (for obvious reasons).

The OP might find this title interesting - Zen and the Art of Postmodern Philosophy, Carl Olsen, and also this brief review by Linda Heuman on Buddhism and phenomenology, A New Way Forward.
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Astus
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Re: If all is mind then how is Zen not monistic?

Post by Astus » Thu Feb 14, 2019 9:05 pm

Wayfarer wrote:
Thu Feb 14, 2019 8:46 pm
The Buddha wrote:There is, monks, an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated.
ud 8.03
Of course there is. In Theravada there is only one such dharma (nirvana), while in Yogacara there are up to eight asamskrta dharmas. And how did the Buddha define it? Check out the Asankhata Samyutta. It gives a straightforward definition (e.g. SN 43.1, tr Bodhi):

"And what, bhikkhus, is the unconditioned? The destruction of lust, the destruction of hatred, the destruction of delusion: this is called the unconditioned."
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"

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Sherab
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Re: If all is mind then how is Zen not monistic?

Post by Sherab » Fri Feb 15, 2019 10:41 am

Astus wrote:
Thu Feb 14, 2019 9:05 pm
"And what, bhikkhus, is the unconditioned? The destruction of lust, the destruction of hatred, the destruction of delusion: this is called the unconditioned."
Is there a holder for the lust, the hate and delusion?

If there is a holder, is the holder destroyed together with the lust, hate and delusion? If yes, then there is complete, perfect annihilation. But wouldn't this be one extreme that the Buddha taught that we should avoid, the extreme of complete annhilation, no continuity?

If there is a holder, what is this holder that is left behind with the destruction of lust, hate and delusion? What is the nature of this holder? We know what is holder cannot be. It cannot be an overarching mind or a One Mind, as that would be the other extreme that the Buddha taught that we should avoid, a permanent unchanging something.

If there is no holder, then with the destruction of lust, hate and delusion, nothing is left behind. And we have complete perfect annihilation.

If there is no holder and with the destruction of lust, hate and delusion, and there is the unborn etc., then what is the relation between the unborn, etc.... and lust, hate and delusion?

So, is there a holder or not?

I personally think there is no holder, but that there is the unborn, etc.

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Re: If all is mind then how is Zen not monistic?

Post by Astus » Fri Feb 15, 2019 11:32 am

Sherab wrote:
Fri Feb 15, 2019 10:41 am
Is there a holder for the lust, the hate and delusion?
See the Khandha Sutta that talks in brief of the difference between the five aggregates and the five clinging aggregates. It is clinging to the aggregates that is removed with liberation, not the aggregates themselves. The Kotthita Sutta also states clearly how it is clinging that brings about suffering, not the senses and their objects. So, if you want to name a holder of afflictions, that is the aggregates and elements, but calling them holders is quite misleading, since afflictions themselves are mental phenomena, so they operate in that context, but they are not the only mental phenomena.
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"

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Re: If all is mind then how is Zen not monistic?

Post by Sherab » Fri Feb 15, 2019 10:54 pm

Astus wrote:
Fri Feb 15, 2019 11:32 am
Sherab wrote:
Fri Feb 15, 2019 10:41 am
Is there a holder for the lust, the hate and delusion?
See the Khandha Sutta that talks in brief of the difference between the five aggregates and the five clinging aggregates. It is clinging to the aggregates that is removed with liberation, not the aggregates themselves. The Kotthita Sutta also states clearly how it is clinging that brings about suffering, not the senses and their objects. So, if you want to name a holder of afflictions, that is the aggregates and elements, but calling them holders is quite misleading, since afflictions themselves are mental phenomena, so they operate in that context, but they are not the only mental phenomena.
But are the five aggregates unborn, unmade etc?

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