This simply doesn't make any sense.....

Justmeagain
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This simply doesn't make any sense.....

Post by Justmeagain »

The fact remains that no matter what Dogen says or anyone else propagating original enlightenment, I experience the banality, normal anxieties and concerns that someone who had never even come across the word Buddha does, even when on the Zafu. So whats the difference between me (unenlightened) and my friend (also unenlightened) other than I can tell myself that I really am enlightened but just don't know it (delusional?) and you are also enlightened but you don't know or remember it (tediously convenient). I am really trying to understand this. But I can't, despite many years of trying to reconcile what seems (and I apologise in advance) nonsense.....literally, no sense. I read the following recently:

"...practice and realization are completely one and the same. Because it is a practice based on being spiritually awake at this very moment" But I am not!!!

"...practice and enlightenment are one and the same..." No they're not, practice is the repetitive practice of something to gain results. I practice the violin to get better and to be able to play complex pieces of music - me as a beginner is very different to a concert violinist

"Because it is the practice of enlightenment" Or just pretending to be?

".....a beginner’s wholehearted practice of the Way is exactly the totality of original enlightenment..." Words....but not meaning anything????

Our Theravadin brothers practice (some) practice to experience Vipassana (insight into the nature of reality) and for this to become an inherent experience, thus removing suffering. Others practice Jhana to experience ever deepening levels of mind to see through the coarse mental misinterpretations of 'realities' as being permanent phenomena. The Tibetans can be analytical searching to the object of negation again to experience the Emptiness of self........all the above are definitive and robust techniques with a goal, that goal often being the antithesis of their everyday experience of mind.

Its frustrating to hear the following:

"...you are already enlightened but just ignorant to the fact. There is nowhere to go and nothing to do but equally Zazen needs to be done in order for you to experience the fact that you are enlightened..." This is riddled with contradictions and fundamentally flawed and the latter part of the statement no different that any other tradition.

I really am not trying to be provocative, but I am finding the lack of a coherent and rationale explanation to this without ambiguity hugely frustrating, to the extent that I am on the verge of abandoning this practice altogether.

Thanks for your time all clarification welcomed! :namaste:
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Dan74
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Re: This simply doesn't make any sense.....

Post by Dan74 »

I would avoid tying myself in knots. If the teaching doesn't resonate with you, why do you keep hacking at it? Makes more sense to practice what works for you.

On the other hand, if you do have faith in what Master Dogen taught, and take this on as a koan, that's a different story. But I don't get a sense that you do.

Seems to me that Dogen teaches us to have faith in our Buddha Nature and not look outside. Turning to recognise what is already here, rather than casting around for something new makes a world of difference. This is neither new in Zen nor in Mahayana.

Just because it is there, doesn't mean we realise it. So we practice. For practice-realisation to actually take place, there are preconditions. Someone sitting on a cushion thinking how dumb this whole thing is, is not engaging in practice-realisation.
Last edited by Dan74 on Tue Sep 08, 2020 12:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Justmeagain
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Re: This simply doesn't make any sense.....

Post by Justmeagain »

Dan74 wrote: Tue Sep 08, 2020 12:43 pm I would avoid tying myself in knots. If the teaching doesn't resonate with you, why do you keep hacking at it?

Thanks Dan, because if he is right then I am missing something fundamental that means I need help reconciling it....Aeons before another opportunity (or so I am told?) provokes an anxiety and need to know now!
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Dan74
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Re: This simply doesn't make any sense.....

Post by Dan74 »

They say there are 84000 dharma doors. No point to keep banging your head against one of them, while other ones open more easily for you. In another lifetime, perhaps.

As to missing something fundamental, we all miss something. The key question to me is whether one has enough to begin practicing in earnest.
Last edited by Dan74 on Tue Sep 08, 2020 3:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Justmeagain
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Re: This simply doesn't make any sense.....

Post by Justmeagain »

Plus, drinking heavily, or taking drugs and anti-depressants can also make some people feel better.....they could 'resonate' with that - doesn't mean its right or helpful?
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Astus
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Re: This simply doesn't make any sense.....

Post by Astus »

Justmeagain wrote: Tue Sep 08, 2020 12:29 pm"Because it is the practice of enlightenment" Or just pretending to be?
It is 'enlightenment' that one has to practise, that is, not grasping at body and mind. How so?

'Our zazen is letting go of thought. As Dogen said in Fukan Zazengi it is the negation of everything arising from human mind. And zazen is also embracing everything, including delusions and distorted thoughts. But because we let go of delusion, it cannot harm us. When we see delusion as delusion, we are not deceived by delusion.'
(A Path of Just Sitting: Zazen as the Practice of the Bodhisattva Way, p 22-23)

'Just leave thoughts alone, allowing them to come up and go away freely.'
(How to do Zazen)

The various afflictions (klesa/bonno), like anxieties and concerns, originate from clinging to ideas, in particular clinging to ideas involving one's self, taking them as 'this is me' or 'this is mine'. But if one does not pursue the first thought, then there will be no continuation into a second, and a third, and so on, to develop into something overwhelming and unmanageable.

"If one thinks of the previous thought, the present thought, and the later thought, one’s thoughts will be continuous without cease. This is called ‘fettered.’ If one’s thoughts do not abide in the dharmas, this is to be ‘unfettered.’"
(Platform Sutra, ch 4, BDK ed, p 43)

'Mumyo (fundamental delusion) is called illusory mind. It is the source of the rounds of delusory life and death from the immeasurable past. It is our discriminating mind which obstinately clings to body, mind, the world, and all things, as being the way we have perceived and recognized them until now. For example, although something good is not always good, we hold stubbornly to what we think is good. Something evil is not always evil, yet we become attached to our own judgment and make it a preconception. Even if you think something is good, others may think it is evil. Even if you think something is evil, others may think it good. And, even if both you and others think something may be good or evil today, fundamentally such judgments merely accord with illusory mind which manifests itself in the form of one’s own knowledge, views, and experiences. This is true not only of our judgments about good and evil, but also our views about being and non-being, hatred and love, etc. All these differentiations in regarding all existence arise from illusory mind.'
(Jijuyu-Zanmai, p 45-46)

So, practising enlightenment is seeing through our very thoughts, emotions, feelings, etc., not by disregarding, suppressing, or analysing them, but simply with being aware of how they arise and pass. When there is awareness without complications, that is the enlightened outlook free from the entanglements of the fabrications of ignorance.
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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Dan74
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Re: This simply doesn't make any sense.....

Post by Dan74 »

Justmeagain wrote: Tue Sep 08, 2020 3:11 pm Plus, drinking heavily, or taking drugs and anti-depressants can also make some people feel better.....they could 'resonate' with that - doesn't mean its right or helpful?
Depends on what your priorities are. These things may be more helpful in the short term. But I don't know if Buddhadharma is primarily about helping us. Yes, on the blurb it say "ending suffering", and we often come to it because we suffer, but if we stay with this same mindset "when is my suffering going to end? which dharani should I chant to feel better? etc etc", I don't think it will work.

We need to have some interest in figuring it all out, I think, rather than to keep running away from what's unpleasant.
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Re: This simply doesn't make any sense.....

Post by Schrödinger’s Yidam »

Enlightenment is retroactive. Once achieved you can look back and see it was there the entire time. Until then it is present, but inaccessible.
It’s frustrating to hear the following:

"...you are already enlightened but just ignorant to the fact. There is nowhere to go and nothing to do but equally Zazen needs to be done in order for you to experience the fact that you are enlightened..."
Some schools primarily speak of it as it is seen retroactively. That gets confusing.

I’m particularly fond of the analogy where there’s a treasure hidden underneath a poor man’s house. First he must be told it is there, and next how and where to dig for it. But it already his.

There are a number of such analogies in the Uttaratantra, like the sun behind the clouds, and a Buddha statue wrapped in rags. You should check them out.
1.The problem isn’t ‘ignorance’. The problem is the mind you have right now. (H.H. Karmapa XVII @NYC 2/4/18)
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 Fortyeightvows)
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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: This simply doesn't make any sense.....

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

Are you asking,
“Why hasn’t enlightenment happened to ME yet?”
Be kindness
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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: This simply doesn't make any sense.....

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

Your post reminds me of a quote by the artist Salvador Dali:
“The only difference between a madman and myself...
...is that I am not mad!”


Among buddhist traditions, there are two ways of expressing ‘original mind’ (Tathâgata-gharba) Both are accurate, but each needs to be understood correctly.

Mahayana schools in general assert that all beings possess Buddha nature, but that it is obscured, covered up by lifetimes of kleshas, clinging and attachment to illusions and so on. In those schools, various methods are prescribed for the hard task of removing all that crap.

The Zen approach is that since all the kleshas and crap is illusion, the true mind itself has never been hidden to begin with, and all you need to do is to see that it has never been hidden, that it’s functioning right now (read Bankai) and that this itself is realization.

No doubt, you are familiar with Hui Neng, and the contest to see who would be his master’s successor. One monk wrote on the wall that the mind is like a dirty mirror, and diligence in cleaning will reveal its bright reflection. Hui Neng argues that the mirror’s bright reflection, itself has never been hidden, and that you only have to determine that fully, and you will be enlightened immediately.

Every Buddhist tradition has a variation on this understanding. In Tibetan (Vajrayana) Buddhism the way to realize Tathâgata-Gharba is to visualize it within yourself as various deities. There are 84,000 ways to express this idea and 84,000 metaphors: the lotus which is not dirtied by the stagnant water in which it grows; the pond whose natural clarity returns once the mud and silt settles at the bottom. So on and so on. Whatever the tradition, always there is the understanding that the ‘original mind’ itself is right here staring you in the face, as big as a billboard on Times Square, and you just don’t see it.

And if I understand what you are saying is that, you see that big “billboard”, you see your true nature, your original mind, but somehow here you are, still stuck in samsaric suffering and confusion, same as always. So, there’s a sense of frustration.

I think a zen master (which I am not) would ask you, “So, you can see the mind’s original true nature? Tell me, where is it?”

I think a Lama (which I am not) would ask you to look at the mind which is experiencing the frustration, and look at the frustration itself to see if it has any substance to it.

A priest in the Pure Land tradition (which I am not) might tell you to abandon all your ‘foolish’ efforts, as these are all ego-based and thus useless, and to instead just recite the name of Amitabha Buddha, whose infinite light is the nature of your true original mind.

Regardless of which path one follows, gradual or sudden, there is the fact that all results arise from causes. Although Tathágata-Gharba itself does not arise conditionally, realization of Tathágata-Gharba arises conditionally, even in zen. To say we are “already” enlightened is a bit misleading. It’s like having a treasure box but not the key. Yes, you can hold the box in your hands. But no, you can’t yet open it. So, I think it’s important not to confuse one for the other, Tathâgata-Gharba itself, which is unconditional, and realization of Tathâgata-Gharba, which is conditional.

Then the question becomes how to develop the conditions such that realization is the result. That’s really the essence of the path in all Buddhist traditions, isn’t it? I think almost every Buddhist practitioner thinks about that at least once: “I’m following the cookie recipe. Why don’t I have any cookies yet?”
And if I’m not mistaken, it always comes back to: “why hasn’t enlightenment, realization of no-self, happened to ME yet?” ...Which has the obvious answer within that question.

Wanting it is the manifestation of self-grasping which prevents the realization of no-self-grasping. If that’s all it is, then all you should need to do to attain realization is to stop wanting to. If that’s not all there is, then you will probably need to look at other manifestations of self-grasping as they arise.
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Justmeagain
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Re: This simply doesn't make any sense.....

Post by Justmeagain »

PadmaVonSamba wrote: Tue Sep 08, 2020 4:47 pm Are you asking,
“Why hasn’t enlightenment happened to ME yet?”
Do YOU expect ME to answer that?
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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: This simply doesn't make any sense.....

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

Justmeagain wrote: Tue Sep 08, 2020 7:12 pm
PadmaVonSamba wrote: Tue Sep 08, 2020 4:47 pm Are you asking,
“Why hasn’t enlightenment happened to ME yet?”
Do YOU expect ME to answer that?
:rolling:
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Genjo Conan
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Re: This simply doesn't make any sense.....

Post by Genjo Conan »

At the risk of sounding insufferably Zen: why don't you keep sitting with it?

The "arouse the great ball of doubt" line gets used most often by Rinzai practitioners, but I think it extends equally to Soto practice--it's just that our entire practice is the great ball of doubt; is the koan. This question--why do we need to practice if we already possess Buddha nature--was the key question that Dogen sought to address in his practice. In one respect, Dogen's answer--practice is no different from enlightenment--seems like a straightforward, almost simplistic approach. But then, as you say, we get on the cushion, and our nose itches, and we start thinking about what to cook for dinner, and this is enlightenment? Sometimes it can seem like a bad joke.

So I think we have two options. One, we can write it off as nonsense and find another practice. I personally think Zen practice is beautiful, but we don't have inquisitors; no one's going to get mad if you say "this is stupid, Thai Forest is the way," or whatever. Option two is to balance your doubt with some faith in the practice and in the lineage, and to arose great determination to answer the koan.

Dogen also writes: "When dharma does not fill your whole body and mind, you may assume it is already sufficient. When dharma fills your body and mind, you understand that something is missing." So--what is it that's missing?
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Re: This simply doesn't make any sense.....

Post by Schrödinger’s Yidam »

...why do we need to practice if we already possess Buddha Nature...
We experience our Buddha Nature as delusion and suffering. We practice Dharma so we can experience it as enlightenment.

Big difference.
Last edited by Schrödinger’s Yidam on Wed Sep 09, 2020 3:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
1.The problem isn’t ‘ignorance’. The problem is the mind you have right now. (H.H. Karmapa XVII @NYC 2/4/18)
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 Fortyeightvows)
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Re: This simply doesn't make any sense.....

Post by cjdevries »

Schrödinger’s Yidam wrote: Tue Sep 08, 2020 4:06 pm Enlightenment is retroactive. Once achieved you can look back and see it was there the entire time. Until then it is present, but inaccessible.
It’s frustrating to hear the following:

"...you are already enlightened but just ignorant to the fact. There is nowhere to go and nothing to do but equally Zazen needs to be done in order for you to experience the fact that you are enlightened..."
Some schools primarily speak of it as it is seen retroactively. That gets confusing.

I’m particularly fond of the analogy where there’s a treasure hidden underneath a poor man’s house. First he must be told it is there, and next how and where to dig for it. But it already his.

There are a number of such analogies in the Uttaratantra, like the sun behind the clouds, and a Buddha statue wrapped in rags. You should check them out.
:good:
"Please call me by my true names so I can wake up; so the door of my heart can be left open: the door of compassion." -Thich Nhat Hanh
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Re: This simply doesn't make any sense.....

Post by Justmeagain »

Schrödinger’s Yidam wrote: Tue Sep 08, 2020 4:06 pm Enlightenment is retroactive. Once achieved you can look back and see it was there the entire time. Until then it is present, but inaccessible.
It’s frustrating to hear the following:

"...you are already enlightened but just ignorant to the fact. There is nowhere to go and nothing to do but equally Zazen needs to be done in order for you to experience the fact that you are enlightened..."
Some schools primarily speak of it as it is seen retroactively. That gets confusing.

I’m particularly fond of the analogy where there’s a treasure hidden underneath a poor man’s house. First he must be told it is there, and next how and where to dig for it. But it already his.

There are a number of such analogies in the Uttaratantra, like the sun behind the clouds, and a Buddha statue wrapped in rags. You should check them out.
Thanks, I'll do that 🙏
Justmeagain
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Re: This simply doesn't make any sense.....

Post by Justmeagain »

Genjo Conan wrote: Tue Sep 08, 2020 11:06 pm So--what is it that's missing?
Clarity and an unambiguous rationale for sitting on the cushion if there's nothing to gain and nowhere to go.
ItsRaining
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Re: This simply doesn't make any sense.....

Post by ItsRaining »

Most of your concerns would be resolved if you read the Awakening of Faith and Sutra of Perfect Awakening. Studying Zen can be difficult without a background in the Mahayana.
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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: This simply doesn't make any sense.....

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

Justmeagain wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 6:49 am
Genjo Conan wrote: Tue Sep 08, 2020 11:06 pm So--what is it that's missing?
Clarity and an unambiguous rationale for sitting on the cushion if there's nothing to gain and nowhere to go.
Regarding this concern about rationale and destination, What is your motivation?
It can be helpful, before doing any practice, to remind oneself of the purpose, or motivation for one’s practice, which in Mahayana Buddhism is to attain perfect realization for the benefit of all sentient beings.
Doing this will help to resolve the two conflicts you mention here, (clarity and rationale)
and will address your original concern about already being enlightened (Tathâgata Garba) but not yet experiencing it.
Why will establishing your motivation have that result? Because:
The rationale will be specific,
and
When the selfless motivation (to liberate all beings) is inseparable from the destination (enlightenment), then, during your practice, you begin to rely on the functioning of the mind’s enlightened quality itself.
In other words, when you are doing zazen
to attain some type of self-realization,
this in itself is an impossibility because
realization is free from self-grasping, it is selfless.

But, your motivation has to come from somewhere,
doesn’t it?

If your destination is to experience
your already-existing Buddha nature,
And the essence of your already-existing Buddha nature
is freedom from self-grasping,
Then if your motivation is free of self-grasping,
That motivation can only be drawn from
your already-existing Buddha-nature.

So, maybe try to firmly establish in your own mind your motivation for zazen practice, even before you sit down on the cushion.
Be kindness
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Re: This simply doesn't make any sense.....

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

Relatively there is samsara and nirvana, so keep practicing. It’s easy to confuse statements on the absolute as some kind of instruction to do nothing. Obviously, the answer is keep practicing and don’t make such statements into intellectual games that discourage practice.

You asking this question is enough to show that relatively speaking, you are in samsara and should practice Dharma.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

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