Zazen and liberation

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Zafutales
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Zazen and liberation

Post by Zafutales » Mon Jan 29, 2018 1:17 pm

Hi there,

Can someone help me understand how ‘Silent Illumination’ (Shikantaza) can help bring about an end to suffering? Forgive me for bringing in a separate teacher but my understanding of what Eckhart Tolle teaches is that if we can sit quietly allowing thoughts to drop away then we will experience our true nature – is it a similar ‘method’ when using Silent Illumination and Shikantaza?

Thanks….

<also posted in the Ch'an forum for a Ch'an take on this....>

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Fu Ri Shin
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Re: Zazen and liberation

Post by Fu Ri Shin » Tue Jan 30, 2018 2:35 am

Shikantaza is more subtle than simply letting thoughts drop away. As for ending suffering, if we sit quietly and allow thoughts to drop away, practice shikantaza, or use some other method, we may see our true nature (kensho) and begin that journey. Confirmation of whether this has happened or whether we are anywhere close to it is given by a qualified teacher. Shikantaza deepens as we see and further clarify our true nature. Unfortunately, much of modern Soto has become disconnected from the necessity of kensho, except where a Rinzai lineage has been incorporated (i.e., Sanbo Kyodan, Diamond Sangha, White Plum Asanga, etc.) and perhaps elsewhere.
Know that in a remote place in a cloud-covered valley
There is still a sacred pine that passes through the chill of ages.

— Taiso Josai Daishi

SunWuKong
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Re: Zazen and liberation

Post by SunWuKong » Tue Jan 30, 2018 4:46 am

Zafutales wrote:
Mon Jan 29, 2018 1:17 pm
Hi there,

Can someone help me understand how ‘Silent Illumination’ (Shikantaza) can help bring about an end to suffering? Forgive me for bringing in a separate teacher but my understanding of what Eckhart Tolle teaches is that if we can sit quietly allowing thoughts to drop away then we will experience our true nature – is it a similar ‘method’ when using Silent Illumination and Shikantaza?

Thanks….

<also posted in the Ch'an forum for a Ch'an take on this....>
Buddha taught attaining deathlessness, Liberation beyond birth, death, rebirth , etc. Zazen might help you get. It’s slippery however, it’s relying on letting go rather than grasping
"We are magical animals that roam" ~ Roam

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Wayfarer
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Re: Zazen and liberation

Post by Wayfarer » Tue Jan 30, 2018 5:42 am

It takes patience. It seems easy when you read books by Eckhart Tolle and others, but our minds and lives are more complicated than any book. It takes patience, persistence, and also dedication. Also, and this is sometimes a contested point, don't expect any 'experience of the true nature'. I think such experiences, if they occur, are often very subtle. Patience, application, is what it takes, but if you stick with it, you will understand in due course.

:namaste:
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Dan74
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Re: Zazen and liberation

Post by Dan74 » Tue Jan 30, 2018 7:58 am

Well, Silent Illumination is the end to suffering, as there is no more need, clinging or desire. Just sitting. Not even a sitter. But how one drops all the manyfold clinging and aversion and just sits, until there is no sitter, is the real question.

Here's some pointers from the great master Hongzhi Zhenjue:
The essential function of all buddhas,
the functional essence of all ancestors,
is to know without touching things
and illuminate without encountering objects.

Knowing without touching things,
this knowledge is innately subtle.
Illuminating without encountering objects,
this illumination is innately miraculous.

The knowledge innately subtle
has never engaged in discriminative thinking.
The illumination innately miraculous
has never displayed the slightest identification.

Never engaging in discriminating thinking,
this knowledge is rare without match.
Never displaying the most minute identification,
this illumination is complete without grasping.

The water is clear right down to the bottom,
fish lazily swim on.
The sky is vast without end,
birds fly far into the distance.
Many more of his teachings here:

https://terebess.hu/zen/Hongzhi.html

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Astus
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Re: Zazen and liberation

Post by Astus » Tue Jan 30, 2018 9:49 am

Zafutales wrote:
Mon Jan 29, 2018 1:17 pm
Can someone help me understand how ‘Silent Illumination’ (Shikantaza) can help bring about an end to suffering?
There are some differences between Mozhao and Shikantaza, mostly that the latter has a special emphasis on posture. But they both teach the same old practice of no-thought and no-mind as you can find it in the Platform Sutra. In other words, when the mind does not grasp at the six senses, there is no abiding anywhere, hence no craving nor suffering emerges. And in order to to grasp, not to abide, one only has to see directly that the six sensory phenomena are absolutely unstable, in other words empty, and that emptiness is the true nature.
if we can sit quietly allowing thoughts to drop away then we will experience our true nature – is it a similar ‘method’ when using Silent Illumination and Shikantaza?
Dogen wrote:

"In recent years, however, stupid unreliable people have said, “In the effort of zazen, to attain peace of mind is everything. Just this is the state of tranquility.” This opinion is beneath even scholars of the Small Vehicle. It is inferior even to the vehicles of humans and gods. How can we call such people students of the Buddha-Dharma?"
(Zazenshin, in SBGZ, BDK ed, vol 2, p 116)
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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Fu Ri Shin
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Re: Zazen and liberation

Post by Fu Ri Shin » Tue Jan 30, 2018 7:49 pm

I noticed the title mentions zazen while the discussion regards shikantaza. Nota bene: zazen and shikantaza are not synonymous. The former is seated meditation in general and the latter is a specific practice.
Know that in a remote place in a cloud-covered valley
There is still a sacred pine that passes through the chill of ages.

— Taiso Josai Daishi

Zafutales
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Re: Zazen and liberation

Post by Zafutales » Tue Jan 30, 2018 8:06 pm

Fu Ri Shin wrote:
Tue Jan 30, 2018 7:49 pm
I noticed the title mentions zazen while the discussion regards shikantaza. Nota bene: zazen and shikantaza are not synonymous. The former is seated meditation in general and the latter is a specific practice.
The topic has developed into discussing Shikantaza.

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Monlam Tharchin
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Re: Zazen and liberation

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Tue Jan 30, 2018 9:34 pm

Isn't shikantaza called practice-enlightenment by Dogen? So to me it seems like the discussion bears directly on the original poster's question since this is the Soto forum.
namu amida butsu
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Everything is in their presence; and I stand in front of them. -- Shantideva

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Fu Ri Shin
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Re: Zazen and liberation

Post by Fu Ri Shin » Tue Jan 30, 2018 9:41 pm

Zafutales wrote:
Tue Jan 30, 2018 8:06 pm
The topic has developed into discussing Shikantaza.
Indeed. Just wanted to contribute to the discussion by getting a common misconception out of the way.

Lots of good comments and quotations here, but I think Astus' Dogen quote is particularly important.


Another commentary on the practice:
Shikan means "nothing but" or "just," while ta means to "hit" and za "to sit." Hence shikan-taza is a practice in which the mind is intensely involved in just sitting. In this type of zazen it is all too easy for the mind, which is not supported by such aids as counting the breath or by a koan, to become distracted. The correct temper of mind therefore becomes doubly important. Now, in shikan-taza the mind must be unhurried yet at the same time firmly planted or massively composed, like Mount Fuji let us say. But it must also be alert, stretched, like a taut bowstring. So shikan-taza is a heightened state of concentrated awareness wherein one is neither tense nor hurried, and certainly never slack. It is the mind of somebody facing death. Let us imagine that you are engaged in a duel of swordsmanship of the kind that used to take place in ancient Japan. As you face your opponent you are unceasingly watchful, set, ready. Were you to relax your vigilance even momentarily, you would be cut down instantly. A crowd gathers to see the fight. Since you are not blind you see them from the comer of your eye, and since you are not deaf you hear them. But not for an instant is your mind captured by these sense impressions.

This state cannot be maintained for long - in fact, you ought not to do shikan-taza for more than half an hour at a sitting. After thirty
minutes get up and walk around in kinhin and then resume your sitting. If you are truly doing shikan-taza, in half an hour you will be sweating, even in winter in an unheated room, because of the heat generated by this intense concentration. When you sit for too long your mind loses its vigor, your body tires, and your efforts are less rewarding than if you had restricted your sitting to thirty-minute periods.

Compared with an unskilled swordsman a master uses his sword effortlessly. But this was not always the case, for there was a time when he had to strain himself to the utmost, owing to his imperfect technique, to preserve his life. It is no different with shikan-taza. In the beginning tension is unavoidable, but with experience this tense zazen ripens into relaxed yet fully attentive sitting. And just as a master swordsman in an emergency unsheathes his sword effortlessly and attacks single-mindedly, just so the shikan-taza adept sits without strain, alert and mindful. But do not for one minute imagine that such sitting can be achieved without long and dedicated practice.
Hakuun Yasutani Roshi in The Three Pillars of Zen
Know that in a remote place in a cloud-covered valley
There is still a sacred pine that passes through the chill of ages.

— Taiso Josai Daishi

SunWuKong
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Re: Zazen and liberation

Post by SunWuKong » Sun Feb 04, 2018 7:40 am

In theory, enlightenment isn't necessarily possible. That's because it isn't a theory. It's not about fancy mental gymnastics, nor is about non-attaining or non-trying. It's not found in books. It's not found online. No explanation will ever suffice. If you are expecting an explanation, you won't get one from me. It will only make your problem worse.

Dogen says those who get it do so by having great will. Persistence. Sacrifice.

It's not about one technique vs. another. You might actually have to make some adjustments, change position, change focus. There is no magic pill. Be flexible.

In the analogy of the rock climber, every rock climber has a different set of rocks to climb. What we offer is basic training of the fundamental principles of rock climbing in general. What you have to do is figure out with the skill set you've learned how to scale the wall; your mind, heart, body. Maybe today its Shikantaza. But maybe tomorrow it is Why did Bodhidharma leave for the East? Maybe its in the Heart Sutra, the best meditation guide I personally know of. Or maybe elsewhere? Only you and those you share with will know.

But good luck! You might need it!! I know I did !!!

:yinyang:
"We are magical animals that roam" ~ Roam

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Re: Zazen and liberation

Post by BeyondNames » Wed Sep 05, 2018 9:13 pm

A special transmission outside the scriptures, With no reliance on words and letters. A direct pointing to the human mind

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