Mechanics of Enlightenment

Justmeagain
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Mechanics of Enlightenment

Postby Justmeagain » Wed Apr 13, 2016 5:37 pm

Hi,


Having come to Zen (Soto) from a very analytical Tibetan background - Prasangika...lost of analysis identifying the object of negation, refuting its existence etc...with the utmost of respect....I am REALLY struggling with how Dogen equates sitting with Enlightenment.

How can NOT doing this analysis bring about an enlightened state or an awareness of an already existent enlightened state?

Thanks :namaste:

PS. If you're curious why I am asking this...because I am utterly seduced by Dogen - something tells me he has it just right!

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Re: Mechanics of Enlightenment

Postby Astus » Wed Apr 13, 2016 6:10 pm

Zazen is where all the analysis leads to. Neither grasping nor rejecting. See for instance Kamalashila:

"In this way, by entering into the suchness of the selflessness of persons and phenomena, you are free from concepts and analysis, because there is nothing to be thoroughly examined and observed. You are free from expression and with single-pointed mental engagement you automatically enter into meditation without exertion. Thus, you very clearly meditate on suchness and abide in it. While abiding in that meditation, the continuity of the mind should not be distracted. ... If and when the mind spontaneously engages in meditation on suchness, free of sinking and mental agitation, it should be left naturally and your efforts should be relaxed."
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"

Justmeagain
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Re: Mechanics of Enlightenment

Postby Justmeagain » Thu Apr 14, 2016 8:55 pm

That's really helpful thanks. I guess it doesn't actually feel like I have had a non-conceptual experience of the empty nature of phenomena when I am just sitting...

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Re: Mechanics of Enlightenment

Postby Astus » Thu Apr 14, 2016 9:11 pm

Justmeagain wrote:I guess it doesn't actually feel like I have had a non-conceptual experience of the empty nature of phenomena when I am just sitting...


Experiences come and go. You cannot stop experiences to stay away. You cannot hold experiences to remain. That's all there is to recognise. Then there is nothing to grasp, nothing to identify with, nothing to gain, nothing to lose. At the same time, there is clear awareness of everything that occurs and disappears. What more do you want?

"When there is nothing to be gained, nothing to be realized, sitting zazen is “body-mind dropping off (shinjin datsuraku).” Body-mind dropping off is not a wonderful psychological state to be gained as a result of sitting zazen. Rather, zazen itself is nothing but “body-mind dropping off.” It is to escape all kinds of clinging. When we sit zazen, our body-mind naturally drops off and the true Dharma manifests."
(Shikantaza)

"When a thought arises during zazen and we become aware of it, it disappears by itself. And when another thought arises, we again become aware of it and it disappears. If we maintain this process, we naturally put aside everything outside and become one with ourselves. This is exactly the state of mind during zazen and the content of hishiryo.
Hishiryo is not to attain a transcendental state of mind through meditation or to enter a state of no thoughts and no images. It is not to remain in a state full of defilements and delusions or to keep discriminative thinking, either. This is what Dogen Zenji meant when he used the word hishiryo. This concept was steadfastly handed down to Keizan Zenji’s Zazen Yojinki. Thus, in the Soto Zen tradition we now emphasize hishiryo as a state of mind during zazen."

(Hishiryo)
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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Malcolm
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Re: Mechanics of Enlightenment

Postby Malcolm » Thu Apr 14, 2016 9:25 pm

Astus wrote:What more do you want?



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Re: Mechanics of Enlightenment

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Thu Apr 14, 2016 9:47 pm

Justmeagain wrote:That's really helpful thanks. I guess it doesn't actually feel like I have had a non-conceptual experience of the empty nature of phenomena when I am just sitting...


What do you expect non-conceptual experience to feel like?
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Re: Mechanics of Enlightenment

Postby Justmeagain » Sat Apr 16, 2016 10:20 am

Ok, let me put it another way. What's the difference between sitting here in the couch and sitting on my cushion? I've asked this question on another forum but often been met with answers that are either too ambiguous or abstract to make any sense at all (apart maybe to an enlightened mind) or simply don't answer the question being asked.

How can, just sitting, with no agenda or method bring about a permanent and transformative experience?

As a friend once suggested, a stone can just sit there doing nothing?

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Re: Mechanics of Enlightenment

Postby AlexMcLeod » Sat Apr 16, 2016 12:38 pm

This is a question much more suitable to ask your teacher. It is a question he or she should be able to answer satisfactorily or you should find a teacher better able to give you the confidence that the method is correct.
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Re: Mechanics of Enlightenment

Postby Astus » Sat Apr 16, 2016 12:47 pm

Justmeagain wrote:Ok, let me put it another way. What's the difference between sitting here in the couch and sitting on my cushion?


From Dazhu's Tsung Ching Record:

Once a Vinaya Master came and asked: "In your practice of the Tao, do you still work hard?"
The Master answered: "Yes, I still work hard."
The Vinaya Master asked: "How hard?"
The Master retorted: "If I'm hungry, I eat. If I'm tired, I sleep. "
The Vinaya Master asked: "Do all other people work hard just as you do?"
The Master answered: "No, not in the same way."
The Vinaya Master asked: "Why not?"
The Master answered: "While they are eating, they are not really eating due to too much thinking. While they are sleeping, they are not really sleeping due to too much mental agitation. Therefore, they do not work in the same way I do."
The Vinaya Master, on hearing this, fell silent.

Similarly, either you accomplish non-thinking (hishiryo), or you are trapped in the extremes of thinking and not thinking. This is what should be clarified first, and that's what sitting on the cushion can help with.

How can, just sitting, with no agenda or method bring about a permanent and transformative experience?


It is not an experience one should look for, it is the ongoing experiences one should look at. See them how they arise and fall, come and go. Delusion is wanting an experience, grasping an experience. Liberation is not being fooled by experiences, seeing them to be impermanent, empty of any substance that one can identify with or hang on to. Then, when it is obvious that experiences are ungraspable, there is no agenda or method.

As a friend once suggested, a stone can just sit there doing nothing?


Humans cannot do that. We need to eat and sleep, we need clothes and sometimes medicine. And from those needs come all sorts of things to do. Not to mention the innumerable desires and cravings we have. So, we are already in this situation called life, where we want peace and happiness, but at the same time we are constantly bombarded by thoughts, feelings, sensory impressions, and all the social elements. The question is how to deal with all of that. And the Buddha's answer is to realise that the cause of dissatisfaction with life is craving, and craving comes from the ignorance about experiences being conditioned and impermanent. Hence zazen is the practice-realisation of what this body-mind (experiences) really is. In other words, as long as we want to manipulate life, we cannot be at peace, so when one sits, one should not manipulate anything, like a stone left at the bottom of a river.
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: Mechanics of Enlightenment

Postby maybay » Sat Apr 16, 2016 9:58 pm

Justmeagain wrote:Ok, let me put it another way. What's the difference between sitting here in the couch and sitting on my cushion? I've asked this question on another forum but often been met with answers that are either too ambiguous or abstract to make any sense at all (apart maybe to an enlightened mind) or simply don't answer the question being asked.


You've asked two questions. The difference between couch and cushion is simply pragmatic. Is your couch in front of your shrine where you can be protected from distraction and inspired by devotion, or is it in front of the TV in a communal space?

Justmeagain wrote:How can, just sitting, with no agenda or method bring about a permanent and transformative experience?

A transformation experience of what? What do you expect to change?

One answer is the ground consciousness, and the karmic seeds that it contains. These seeds, or memories, are the conditions for future existence. Occassionally these memories come to mind, and if we are deluded about their nature, then we act on them, and this creates more seeds (of existence, suffering). So what to do about it? The problem is we don't see the ground consciousness, rather we work with the sense of identity and the other six consciousnesses. How to see the ground consciousness? Imagine a bowl of water. When there are ripples you see the water. When the water settles you see your face. You didn't have to do anything. In fact activity was counterproductive because it made ripples and obscured the image. It doesn't mean that with ripples the water stopped reflecting. It's just that you didn't recognize its reflectivity when it was in an agitated state. Ironically it is only when it is still and you see an image that you understand the reflective characteristic of consciousness. With this realization you should no longer be deceived by appearances, because you understand them to be mere reflections / memories. And when memories arise and you don't act on them, they cease. This is why people often say that you don't need to do anything. Phenomena are self-liberated!

Now you know better. But a stone does not know better. It doesn't know that it is sitting.
People will know nothing and everything
Remember nothing and everything
Think nothing and everything
Do nothing and everything
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Re: Mechanics of Enlightenment

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Sat Apr 16, 2016 11:25 pm

Justmeagain wrote:Ok, let me put it another way. What's the difference between sitting here in the couch and sitting on my cushion? I've asked this question on another forum but often been met with answers that are either too ambiguous or abstract to make any sense at all (apart maybe to an enlightened mind) or simply don't answer the question being asked.


Ok here goes, but with the caveat that if you are now involved in Soto Zen, you should seek a trusted Soto teachers advice:

Ultimately? There isn't a difference, the "state" you are looking for doesn't come and go at all, it just seems like that because right now your discursive mind is seeking for answers and involved in hope and fear regarding meditation. Questions and answers, all that is tunnel vision as far as this kind of meditation goes, by my understanding.

How can, just sitting, with no agenda or method bring about a permanent and transformative experience?

As a friend once suggested, a stone can just sit there doing nothing?


It only seems like a transformation, in reality it's just looking in a mirror, or more accurately being the mirror, the the transformation part is useful, but ultimately it's an illusion, and no transformation is taking place.

I hate to sound cliche here, but the answer is not an answer that comes from the thinking mind, it's experienced, not analyzed, once the analysis of how why, etc. begins, that is no longer the experience, that is an attempt to catalogue it. Not always a bad thing at all, but you have to realize that abstractions of it are just that - and all the discursive mind can ever work with is abstractions. Analysis is a useful tool, but even in Lojong teachings " even the remedy is liberated"...

Here's my experience - when this kind of thing comes up in meditation "is this correct" "what am I feeling", "is this what I'm supposed to feel" etc., I note the chain of thinking, and simply examine the mind that is grasping, not analyze it..just experience it.

One nice thing about Zazen practice (as I experienced it at least) is that it could give two squats about your ideas about how things should be, whatever you think, if you want to engage in dialectics, you will just be sitting watching the dialectics play out. If you want to sit in a quandary regarding meditation, that's what you'll be doing etc. It is not about adjusting or pushing around thoughts, but a relaxed shift of perspective, again just IME.

How Zazen was for me, I would sit and over time basically let my neuroses play out (including thoughts about "proper" meditation), and eventually a spot opens up (open being the operative word) and the neuroses unwind. The best way I can put it is I knew meditation was "working" during the moments (brief and fleeting though they may be) when I stopped caring much about these kinds of questions, even while they were rising in my mind. YMMV.

Do you have a teacher with whom you can do Dokusan?
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Re: Mechanics of Enlightenment

Postby Justmeagain » Thu Jun 16, 2016 11:14 am

I will have a teacher shortly....I think its in the pipeline as it were!

Thanks for all your replies!

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Re: Mechanics of Enlightenment

Postby Anders » Thu Jun 16, 2016 8:42 pm

Justmeagain wrote:Hi,


Having come to Zen (Soto) from a very analytical Tibetan background - Prasangika...lost of analysis identifying the object of negation, refuting its existence etc...with the utmost of respect....I am REALLY struggling with how Dogen equates sitting with Enlightenment.

How can NOT doing this analysis bring about an enlightened state or an awareness of an already existent enlightened state?

Thanks :namaste:

PS. If you're curious why I am asking this...because I am utterly seduced by Dogen - something tells me he has it just right!


I don't think this analysis has ever been 'required'. I think one of the down-sides of Tibetan Madhyamika is that in its present presentation, it is treated as a preliminary dialectic to something else, moreso than as a fullfledged school in its own right, with distinctive Madhyamika practices.

If you take a look at Sengzhao's "wild words" or "Prajna is Not-knowing", you can see an example of a Chinese madhyamika master well schooled in the dialectic analysis of madhyamika, but whose practical conclusions from it do not go in the direction of analysis.

PS. Dogen was also a big fan of Sengzhao, fwiw. He was in general, a bit of a Madhyamika-walla. The work he cites most extensively from in the Shobogenzo is in fact Nagarjuna's Prajnaparamita-upadesha.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra

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Re: Mechanics of Enlightenment

Postby Anders » Thu Jun 16, 2016 9:15 pm

Justmeagain wrote:Ok, let me put it another way. What's the difference between sitting here in the couch and sitting on my cushion? I've asked this question on another forum but often been met with answers that are either too ambiguous or abstract to make any sense at all (apart maybe to an enlightened mind) or simply don't answer the question being asked.

How can, just sitting, with no agenda or method bring about a permanent and transformative experience?

As a friend once suggested, a stone can just sit there doing nothing?


If a stone had consciousness, its not doing anything would indeed be impressive.

Since you've studied Madhymika, you should be familiar with the tenets that there is nothing gained nor lost and that the Bodhisattva's attainment is non-attainment. How then is that different from an ordinary person? He continually engages in thoughts of gain and loss and thus continually obscures non-attainment.

"Just sitting" is simply to discontinue the continuing mind in a way that does not employ the conceptual faults of understanding or direction or coming from one state of delusion and going to another of awakening, even as 'continuance', 'understanding', 'direction', 'coming' and 'going' are experienced as arising when just sitting.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra

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Re: Mechanics of Enlightenment

Postby Astus » Fri Jun 17, 2016 12:14 pm

Anders wrote:I don't think this analysis has ever been 'required'. I think one of the down-sides of Tibetan Madhyamika is that in its present presentation, it is treated as a preliminary dialectic to something else, moreso than as a fullfledged school in its own right, with distinctive Madhyamika practices.


Madhyamika analysis in meditation is very much there in TB, for instance in Mahamudra, even if they pretend it's something different. But if one looks at the sutras where they teach that the unborn nature of the dharmas is what needs to be realised, then looks at MMK, it is easy to see how Nagarjuna gives a straightforward instruction in realisation. However, it is the natural progress of things that what was once a practical teaching becomes mere theory. That's why in the beginning we read that many attained enlightenment just by hearing the teachings, but later generations fail to achieve that. So, the teaching must adapt to the new conditions and must sound live and appropriate.

By the way, even Madhyamaka was once a novel form to correct the formalised teachings, and those formalised teachings themselves were at one point new and practical.
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: Mechanics of Enlightenment

Postby fckw » Fri Jun 17, 2016 3:29 pm

I always loved Sawaki Roshi's quotes: http://antaiji.org/en/dharma/attitude_of_zazen/.
What’s zazen good for? Absolutely nothing! This ‘good for nothing’ has got to sink into your flesh and bones until you actually practice what is truly good for nothing. Until then, your zazen is just good for nothing.

I believe the question what makes the difference between sitting on the cushion and the sofa is kinda wrong.
We don’t practice in order to get satori. It’s satori that pulls our practice. We practice, being dragged around by satori.

Does any practitioner really have a choice not to practice? It's not that I ever really wanted to start with meditation, it's just that I never had a choice not to.

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Re: Mechanics of Enlightenment

Postby Malcolm » Fri Jun 17, 2016 3:35 pm

Astus wrote:Madhyamika analysis in meditation is very much there in TB, for instance in Mahamudra, even if they pretend it's something different.


While it is true that there is some preliminary analysis derived from Madhyamaka reasonings which may be found in Lamdre, Kagyu Mahāmudra and so on, the key distinction is that Madhyamaka offers no method of directly experiencing one's own dharmatā.
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Re: Mechanics of Enlightenment

Postby Astus » Fri Jun 17, 2016 4:34 pm

Malcolm wrote:While it is true that there is some preliminary analysis derived from Madhyamaka reasonings which may be found in Lamdre, Kagyu Mahāmudra and so on, the key distinction is that Madhyamaka offers no method of directly experiencing one's own dharmatā.


It's not merely some preliminary analysis, but the method used to examine the mind and all phenomena, and through that examination can one arrive at genuine realisation. It is just like that in the Bhavanakrama. So, I don't see how Madhyamaka would be lacking in anything, when it can lead to - and it is used as such - to non-conceptual wisdom.
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: Mechanics of Enlightenment

Postby Justmeagain » Mon Jan 09, 2017 4:35 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Justmeagain wrote:That's really helpful thanks. I guess it doesn't actually feel like I have had a non-conceptual experience of the empty nature of phenomena when I am just sitting...


What do you expect non-conceptual experience to feel like?



Haha! Nice...dunno!


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