Is Shikantaza a requisite of being a Soto Zennie?

Matylda
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Re: Is Shikantaza a requisite of being a Soto Zennie?

Post by Matylda » Wed Apr 12, 2017 9:27 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Matylda wrote:

Well we may look into all sorts of traditions within buddhism.. however it does not really reflect the point. As I rote before none of soto masters ever mentioned any similarity to s/v or its unity.. as we know none of the other traditions made similar comparisons of their own distinctive practices with shikan taza... so still I do not know what is the point in such search.
Just because it's interesting, and because Shamatha and Vipaysana typically one can find as the bedrock of many Buddhist practices, for hopefully obvious reasons, and even if they are otherwise named. Traditions may be autonomous, but I also think they are often consistent. You don't need to understand why other people do things, nor are things you don't understand necessarily pointless.
Anyway each tradition is authonomus within its borders, therefore it was never any need to look at others or to use others instructions.. to train within one tradition of practice is life long pursue, there is very little time to cut a lice of bread from others before mastering its own way. It is nothing sectarian though.
I wasn't really asking for advice, I already have teachers. Additionally, this is a nice, standard thing to say, but in the modern experience of Buddha dharma most have had experience of more than one school's teaching, so these questions will arise. You can be dismissive, and think they are not worthy questions if you want, that's certainly your right, but that opinion doesn't concern me.
To sum up.. shikan taza definitely has nothing to do with shamatha and vipassana neither with their union. It actually applies to zazen in general.. even if there are some similarities... and of course there are many interesting things within buddha dharma in general.

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Re: Is Shikantaza a requisite of being a Soto Zennie?

Post by Justmeagain » Wed Apr 12, 2017 2:36 pm

Ok. That said, I am very aware of a deep psychological 'process' when I sit. This has been my experience over recent months and as I am practising Shiktantaza I guess I am after some reassurance that the potential outcome of what I am doing is 'safe'. By safe I mean that I can have faith that the process is an wholesome one. When i was practising Samatha (Anapanasati) or Vipassana there was a faith that the potential outcome of the practice - short or long term - was that I would deepen my experience and understanding of my(self). I understood the mechanics, the wiring behind the board as it where. Currently I don't have that understanding of Shikantaza and often find myself concerned that I am just zoning out, or perfecting some sort of mental anaesthetic.

You might ask 'why do it then'?

I have asked myself this and I can't answer from my intellect or mind. Only that I have a feeling that this is what I should be doing now.

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Re: Is Shikantaza a requisite of being a Soto Zennie?

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Wed Apr 12, 2017 3:28 pm

Matylda wrote: To sum up.. shikan taza definitely has nothing to do with shamatha and vipassana neither with their union. It actually applies to zazen in general.. even if there are some similarities... and of course there are many interesting things within buddha dharma in general.

Summarizing something usually means you bring together data, arguments etc...you haven't provided any of those, you've simply rejected the comparison out of hand. That's your right, but I don't see any reason to follow suit. Given some of what Astus has posted (unless I'm completely misunderstanding), it seems like you are being hasty, and that I am not the first person to ask the question.
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Re: Is Shikantaza a requisite of being a Soto Zennie?

Post by rory » Thu Apr 13, 2017 7:58 pm

[quote="Astus"][/quote]

I have not found that part of Bendowa. What he writes there regarding shikan:

"[Someone] asks, “Is there nothing to prevent a person who practices this zazen from also performing mantra and quiet-reflection practices?”
I say: When I was in China, I heard the true essence of the teachings from a true master; he said that he had never heard that any of the patriarchs who received the authentic transmission of the Buddha-seal ever performed such practices additionally, in the Western Heavens or in the Eastern Lands, in the past or in the present. Certainly, unless we devote ourselves to one thing, we will not attain complete wisdom."

(SBGZ, vol 1, p 16)

And the footnote to the question states for "quiet-reflection" (although I do not completely agree with it):

"Shikan, lit., “ceasing and reflecting,” representing the Sanskrit words śamatha (quietness) and vipaśyanā (insight, reflection), is a practice of the Tendai sect: the method of practice is almost the same as the practice of zazen explained by Master Dōgen, but in the Tendai sect the practice is not regarded as sufficient in itself."
(p28n85)

Fascinating, which translation are you using and whose footnotes?
gassho
Rory
Namu Kanzeon Bosatsu
Chih-I:
The Tai-ching states "the women in the realms of Mara, Sakra and Brahma all neither abandoned ( their old) bodies nor received (new) bodies. They all received buddhahood with their current bodies (genshin)" Thus these verses state that the dharma nature is like a great ocean. No right or wrong is preached (within it) Ordinary people and sages are equal, without superiority or inferiority
Paul, Groner "The Lotus Sutra in Japanese Culture"eds. Tanabe p. 58
https://www.tendai-usa.org/

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Re: Is Shikantaza a requisite of being a Soto Zennie?

Post by WuMing » Thu Apr 13, 2017 10:36 pm

rory wrote:
Astus wrote:
I have not found that part of Bendowa. What he writes there regarding shikan:

"[Someone] asks, “Is there nothing to prevent a person who practices this zazen from also performing mantra and quiet-reflection practices?”
I say: When I was in China, I heard the true essence of the teachings from a true master; he said that he had never heard that any of the patriarchs who received the authentic transmission of the Buddha-seal ever performed such practices additionally, in the Western Heavens or in the Eastern Lands, in the past or in the present. Certainly, unless we devote ourselves to one thing, we will not attain complete wisdom."

(SBGZ, vol 1, p 16)

And the footnote to the question states for "quiet-reflection" (although I do not completely agree with it):

"Shikan, lit., “ceasing and reflecting,” representing the Sanskrit words śamatha (quietness) and vipaśyanā (insight, reflection), is a practice of the Tendai sect: the method of practice is almost the same as the practice of zazen explained by Master Dōgen, but in the Tendai sect the practice is not regarded as sufficient in itself."
(p28n85)
Fascinating, which translation are you using and whose footnotes?
gassho
Rory
see Master Dogen's SHOBOGENZO Book 1, translated by Nishijima & Cross
今以佛眼觀之佛與眾生同住解脫之床。無此無彼無二平等。
Now, observing with the eye of the Buddha, both the Buddha and ordinary beings are in the same liberated state. There is neither this nor that: there is only non-duality and identity.
- 空海 Kūkai in Unjigi 吽字義 The Meaning of the Letter Hūṃ
- Kūkai on the Philosophy of Language by Takagi Shingen and Dreitlein Eijō
_______
Śrī Singha said to Padmasambhava:
Since buddhas and sentient beings are inseparable and the same, it is necessary to respect all sentient beings as being on the same level with the buddhas. Can you?
- translated by Malcolm N. Smith

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Re: Is Shikantaza a requisite of being a Soto Zennie?

Post by Matylda » Fri Apr 14, 2017 6:23 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Matylda wrote: To sum up.. shikan taza definitely has nothing to do with shamatha and vipassana neither with their union. It actually applies to zazen in general.. even if there are some similarities... and of course there are many interesting things within buddha dharma in general.

Summarizing something usually means you bring together data, arguments etc...you haven't provided any of those, you've simply rejected the comparison out of hand. That's your right, but I don't see any reason to follow suit. Given some of what Astus has posted (unless I'm completely misunderstanding), it seems like you are being hasty, and that I am not the first person to ask the question.

Well I understand what you mean... but there is one very simple thing. If we cannot find anywhere in the vast literature of soto tradition any remark on similarity of shamatha/vipasana and shikan taza, we have to assume, that there is nothing to compare. Moreover most of the first generations of soto teachers mostly came from tandai school where makashikan, is very well known.. and their knowledge was vast and profound. It was not only Dogen who was briliant. So my guess is that simply people may not know what shikan taza of soto school is, or they cannot make distintion... I would rather rely on some old masters of soto, than give ear to not well experienced modern practitioners.

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Re: Is Shikantaza a requisite of being a Soto Zennie?

Post by Astus » Fri Apr 14, 2017 8:24 am

rory wrote: Fascinating, which translation are you using and whose footnotes?
gassho
Rory
It's from the BDK edition (Nishijima & Cross translation) that you can find online on their site. It is also connected to the online Taisho, so you can compare it with the original easily.
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: Is Shikantaza a requisite of being a Soto Zennie?

Post by rory » Sat Apr 15, 2017 4:33 am

Astus wrote: It's from the BDK edition (Nishijima & Cross translation) that you can find online on their site. It is also connected to the online Taisho, so you can compare it with the original easily.
Thank you Astus and WuMing, I appreciate the references. But as Matylda rightly points out, the footnote and equivalence is by a modern Soto priest, not relying on any Soto tradition. Nor is he a scholar of Buddhism, so I wouldn't give that much credence - not without evidence. We really need more material on Tendai and it's influence on the Japanese sects that derived from it.
gassho
Rory
Namu Kanzeon Bosatsu
Chih-I:
The Tai-ching states "the women in the realms of Mara, Sakra and Brahma all neither abandoned ( their old) bodies nor received (new) bodies. They all received buddhahood with their current bodies (genshin)" Thus these verses state that the dharma nature is like a great ocean. No right or wrong is preached (within it) Ordinary people and sages are equal, without superiority or inferiority
Paul, Groner "The Lotus Sutra in Japanese Culture"eds. Tanabe p. 58
https://www.tendai-usa.org/

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Re: Is Shikantaza a requisite of being a Soto Zennie?

Post by narhwal90 » Sat Apr 15, 2017 2:51 pm

It is tempting to try and relate zazen to shikan and vipassana/samatha- a reading of some of the Tibetan traditions offers practices that also sound similar, but I am starting to be inclined to the idea that equating disciplines on the basis of similarity of description is a conclusion that goes beyond the evidence and to my mind, syncretic.

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Re: Is Shikantaza a requisite of being a Soto Zennie?

Post by Matylda » Sun Apr 16, 2017 7:43 pm

narhwal90 wrote:It is tempting to try and relate zazen to shikan and vipassana/samatha- a reading of some of the Tibetan traditions offers practices that also sound similar, but I am starting to be inclined to the idea that equating disciplines on the basis of similarity of description is a conclusion that goes beyond the evidence and to my mind, syncretic.
Probably problem appears from fact, that most people think of shikan taza as a way of practice. But in fact shikan taza is rather a state -one may say it is state of realisation.. therefore a teaacher is most crucial since he has to manifest or show to disciple this state of shikan taza in the process of passing key instructions... actually for most teachers will describe something like 'conditions' of shikan taza for beginners and intermidate practitioners, not exactly the state itself. However they should show the state. And when understanding arises, then one has to be examined meticulously by experienced teacher... difficult koan might be used or anythhong what teacher decides... shamatha/vipassana is far away from it.

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Re: Is Shikantaza a requisite of being a Soto Zennie?

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Sun Apr 16, 2017 9:53 pm

Probably problem appears from fact, that most people think of shikan taza as a way of practice. But in fact shikan taza is rather a state -one may say it is state of realisation..


this is a nice rhetorical device, but it is true of many different modes pf 'practice', and not a unique idea to Zen at all.
shamatha/vipassana is far away from it.
Really? can you qualify that please? How exactly is what you describe "far away from shamatha and vipsayana", it's worth noting that the amount of writing and instruction which exists on shamatha and vipaysana (especially on the union of the two - the relevant part here) is huge, and ranges from gradual, stepped approaches, to ones whichcould be seen as nearly subitist as Zen, and contextualize "practice" in a different way.

I'm not trying to be syncretic at all BTW, individual traditions go deep, and no one need feel they should look elsewhere. If you wanna be so automatically dismissive of a topic though, you need to come with something a little more convincing than "they're different because I say they are", if you want me to take you seriously.

Don't know if this matters, but i've actually practiced Zen and had Zen teachings, so it's not like I'm jumping into someone else's area to say "hey your tradition is just this", I'm just poking at what look like some pretty obvious parallels to me. If you don't like it, then provide something other than repetition of your opinion that I'm wrong, Astus posted some interesting stuff earlier, if anyone has more references such as those I'd love to read them.

As I mentioned, it seems like I am not the first person to ask the question, and it would be cool to hear from actual historical figures etc. rather than simply modern platitudes on the subject.
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Re: Is Shikantaza a requisite of being a Soto Zennie?

Post by Anonymous X » Mon Apr 17, 2017 5:53 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Probably problem appears from fact, that most people think of shikan taza as a way of practice. But in fact shikan taza is rather a state -one may say it is state of realisation..


this is a nice rhetorical device, but it is true of many different modes pf 'practice', and not a unique idea to Zen at all.
shamatha/vipassana is far away from it.
Really? can you qualify that please? How exactly is what you describe "far away from shamatha and vipsayana", it's worth noting that the amount of writing and instruction which exists on shamatha and vipaysana (especially on the union of the two - the relevant part here) is huge, and ranges from gradual, stepped approaches, to ones whichcould be seen as nearly subitist as Zen, and contextualize "practice" in a different way.

I'm not trying to be syncretic at all BTW, individual traditions go deep, and no one need feel they should look elsewhere. If you wanna be so automatically dismissive of a topic though, you need to come with something a little more convincing than "they're different because I say they are", if you want me to take you seriously.

Don't know if this matters, but i've actually practiced Zen and had Zen teachings, so it's not like I'm jumping into someone else's area to say "hey your tradition is just this", I'm just poking at what look like some pretty obvious parallels to me. If you don't like it, then provide something other than repetition of your opinion that I'm wrong, Astus posted some interesting stuff earlier, if anyone has more references such as those I'd love to read them.

As I mentioned, it seems like I am not the first person to ask the question, and it would be cool to hear from actual historical figures etc. rather than simply modern platitudes on the subject.
Johnny, the reigning authority on Japanese Shikantaza is undoubtedly Dogen who was a student of Hongzhi, the Chan master from China. One of the facets of Dogen's teaching is just sitting, not sitting to attain something, but sitting that is an expression of Buddha Mind. To assume the posture, is to be in accord with Buddha nature already.

Another famous quote from Dogen is: 'To know the self, is to forget the self.' Because Shyamata and Vipassana practice are 'provisional' to focus and concentrate attention, they don't represent 'just sitting', which is effortless in its nature. This is in accord with 'forgetting one's self'. This has its parallels in Dzogchen and Mahamudra teachings. Hongzhi's Silent Illumination is worth a study to understand the principles of the Chan gate. Another book that is helpful in understanding the Hongzhi/Dogen line is Sheng Yen's 'The Method of No-Method'. It discusses the actual practice and principles of sitting.

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Re: Is Shikantaza a requisite of being a Soto Zennie?

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Mon Apr 17, 2017 6:57 am

ok, I give up. It feels like I try to clarify the question, only to have the same platitudes repeated at me.

Here's a related thread for reading though:

https://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?t=9150

You can see that some Zen folk are willing to field the question without simply reaching into a bag stock sayings, nor repeat things everyone is probably already familiar with, like what the term Shikan taza actually means. Again, i've studied and practiced Zen, I know who Dogen is, and my question is not some attempt at syncretism.

For instance, Meido Roshi in this thread says
meido wrote: know shikantaza is usually thought of as a Soto thing, but FWIW from the Rinzai point of view (as I've experienced it): Tom's statement above is certainly correct. We would say that shikantaza - in its fruition - is an expression of true Zen samadhi encompassing the qualities of shamatha and vipashyana. It is the fulfillment of vipashyana because of the seeing of the true nature (kensho); it is the fulfillment of shamatha because of the stabilization/continuous arising of that recognition. At that point it can be said that shikantaza does indeed manifest "the oneness of practice and enlightenment".

Which is not to say that "just sitting" as a method of practice is not one of the many that might be given to a beginning student, even before the recognition of kensho. That depends on individual capacity and needs.

~ Meido
This is exactly the sort of explanation I was looking for, and IMO seems to the answer the question pretty succinctly, so a very belated thanks to Meido for this post, and you guys enjoy the rest of the discussion!
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Re: Is Shikantaza a requisite of being a Soto Zennie?

Post by Astus » Mon Apr 17, 2017 10:08 pm

Comparing shikantaza to the unity of samatha and vipasyana is not saying that it is like the gradual path of practising calm and insight, but it is like the accomplishing of both concentration and wisdom. That oneness of samadhi and prajna as the essence of Zen is explicitly stated in the Platform Sutra. It is no different from the inseparability of silence and illumination in Hongzhi's teachings.
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: Is Shikantaza a requisite of being a Soto Zennie?

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Mon Apr 17, 2017 10:41 pm

Comparing shikantaza to the unity of samatha and vipasyana is not saying that it is like the gradual path of practising calm and insight
Zen being subitist, I thought the above kind of goes without saying.
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Re: Is Shikantaza a requisite of being a Soto Zennie?

Post by Astus » Mon Apr 17, 2017 11:10 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:Zen being subitist, I thought the above kind of goes without saying.
I think so far objections were about taking samath-vipasyana to be a step by step method, that is, it doesn't go without saying. As probably with any comparison, the first step is to define the elements compared.
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: Is Shikantaza a requisite of being a Soto Zennie?

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Mon Apr 17, 2017 11:30 pm

Astus wrote:
Johnny Dangerous wrote:Zen being subitist, I thought the above kind of goes without saying.
I think so far objections were about taking samath-vipasyana to be a step by step method, that is, it doesn't go without saying. As probably with any comparison, the first step is to define the elements compared.

Not really, a number of people were simply denying any comparison outright, immediately associating it with being pure prapanca, syncretic interpretation, etc. This is after I mentioned that the gradual path was not the context in which I intended the question, so not sure what else I could add.

I made a statement about it being the same animal as "the union of shamatha and vipaysana", not of it being the same as a gradual program of shamatha/vipaysana teaching, which clearly has no real analog in Zen..I felt like I was pretty clear on that. It would also be a strange mistake to make, from anyone with even a passing knowledge of Zen. At any rate, it appears the answer to my original question was basically a qualified yes, at least from the people willing to take it up.

Seriously though, if people want to equivocate like that, we can drop it, no problem.
me wrote:While I never got much explanation of what is shikantaza when I was involved in Zen, I will say that it basically sounds like what other teachers describe as the union of shamatha and vipaysana. If it's not, I'd love to know how/why it's different, other than the nomenclature used.
Here's my earlier post that started things off, doesn't seem ambiguous to me.
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Re: Is Shikantaza a requisite of being a Soto Zennie?

Post by Anonymous X » Tue Apr 18, 2017 8:44 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
I made a statement about it being the same animal as "the union of shamatha and vipaysana", not of it being the same as a gradual program of shamatha/vipaysana teaching, which clearly has no real analog in Zen.
I'm not sure what you mean by being the same animal. Could you explain more about how you see either the sameness or the difference?

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Re: Is Shikantaza a requisite of being a Soto Zennie?

Post by White Lotus » Tue Apr 18, 2017 2:22 pm

At an earlier stage if you can see: "this is it" you can see the essence of Shikantaza and yet it goes even beyond "this". Shikantaza is free: whatever comes is it. Daydreaming, awareness, non awareness. Stress, relaxed, resting, struggling, thinking, empty of thoughts, sitting, reclining, walking. All is shikantaza. Whatever comes is it. Dont try to limit it, but you can if you want to. Thats how i see it with my limited view. :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.

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Re: Is Shikantaza a requisite of being a Soto Zennie?

Post by White Lotus » Tue Apr 18, 2017 2:36 pm

Shikantaza is a koan. As such it is just sitting! No more, no less. A very profound koan.
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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