jundo cohen wrote:
Dear "Saraha" does seem to speak of reaching "bliss" ...
take that and perfect
the utmost great bliss
footnote: utmost great bliss: One of the most important characteristics of the enlightened mind, the innate, or one’s inmost nature. ... Tantric Buddhism is particularly notable for its description of the ultimate as blissful (see, e.g., HT 1:8, 44, ST 33:22) and for cultivating techniques that stimulate and utilize bliss—including sexual bliss—to attain that ultimate. “Bliss” (Apa. suha; Skt. sukha) is roughly synonymous with such terms as ecstasy (Skt. a¯nanda), delight (Skt. ra¯ga), and rapture (Skt. sura).
No, you have misunderstood what is being said, though in the footnote it seems pretty clear:
The goal is to realise the enlightened nature of mind. The experience of realisation is blissful. Some techniques utilise common bliss to prime the mind for the experience or to point it towards the true experience. Like all experiences though, bliss can be reified as a phenomenon that one grasps at or desires to attain. At that point the method of cultivation (eg sexual practices) or the samsaric bliss which is taken as an example or pointer, becomes an obstacle.
I am sure that this is all very powerful for those who practice in such way, but Shikantaza does not speak of bliss and ecstacy and rapture. Such will happen, yet we open the hand of thought and let such go with all the rest.
Same with Mahamudra practice: cf what I said in my previous statement. Just because you are taught to not grasp at it does not mean that it will not happen. You are taught not to grasp at it because it WILL happen.
I searched various translations of Soto materials, and I have found no references to "bliss", especially in Dogen. The closest I came was this caution, in the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives translation of Shobogenzo, perhaps the most flowery in its style (p337, 526) ...
p 337 - 4. That is, such befuddled persons take ‘blissing out’ to be the true goal of meditation.
p. 526 - 19. ... the northern continent of Uttarakuru is associated with the world of celestial beings who see no need to train because they are, at the moment, enjoying a constantly easy and blissful existence.
p. 767 - ... This meditative state, however, is not to be confused with a quietistic or blissful condition, which is simply a passing phase that may arise in spiritual practice.
All very good advice, but this is describing not becoming attached to bliss, it is not saying that you will not experinece bliss. The bliss referred to in this advice is temporary (based on causes and conditions) bliss, the bliss of realisation is not based on causes and conditions (it is the very nature of Tathagatagarbha) and so is not temporary nor capable of leading to dissatisfaction.
I usually tell students that one is to move beyond feelings of "bliss" as an immature state, and one very tempting for us to run after. We use words like "Joy" and "Bliss" is a very subtle way. In Zazen (and Kensho) one experiences what may be called a "Joy" that shines behind ordinary human experience of feeling joyful or not joyful in any moment, much as a mirror reflects both scenes of joy or scenes of sadness. It is not some "ecstacy" or "rapture" and, while some will and do occur in Zazen, a good teacher will direct students away from such to a much more subtle insight.
Good advice for some students, not good advice for others (for example those that desire and cling to a dull or vegetative meditative state).
Shikantaza is a "letting go to the bones" (as a friend expressed elsewhere today), dropping goals and demands to the marrow and beyond.
Mahamudra is the same.
Thus, it is very unique among forms of meditation in which (like most of our goal and attainment driven day-to-day lives)
Actually not as unique as you would like to think it is.
This is not about attaining some blissful state.
Neither is Mahamudra, but it is part of the deal whether you like it or not.
In Shikantaza Zazen, we sit with the eyes open because we never leave this world and life behind.
Same in Mahamudra.
We are not looking for a trippy trip.
Neither are we. We are out to see reality exactly as it is.
My understanding is that, even in traditions which emphasize Jhana (which Shikantaza does not, although there are some parallels to the 4th Jnana of equanimity LINK viewtopic.php?f=107&t=22352&p=331626&hilit=shankman#p331626
) in fact "bliss" is something that is left behind in the higher Jhana, and is a lesser attainment. ... however, that is not something here or there for the topic at hand.
The bliss of Mahamudra is not the bliss of the lower jhana, it is full enlightenment itself. It is the realisation of ones enlightened nature.