Tiantai Meditation

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Yuren
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Re: Tiantai Meditation

Post by Yuren » Sun Jul 29, 2018 1:27 pm

Ziporyn has written a text with his own approach to applying his "Neo-Tiantai" philosophy - a kind of a method for self-therapy.
I cannot find it now, but it existed in the form of a PDF

SilenceMonkey
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Re: Tiantai Meditation

Post by SilenceMonkey » Tue Jul 31, 2018 10:48 am

SunWuKong wrote:
Mon Feb 26, 2018 2:43 am
DGA wrote:
Sat Feb 24, 2018 9:55 pm
SunWuKong wrote:
Sat Feb 24, 2018 8:40 pm


Assuming that this is the case, how do we propose that a history of a single practice such as shikantaza or koan introspection arises? Does this only happen in Japan or does it also happen elsewhere in Zen/Ch’an/Seon/Thein? Or does it fact arise? Could it be omissions in translation or understanding? Or does a unified practice simply encompass what both practices previously encompass? It’s an interesting question from a historical perspective, because one could assume no teacher from India could have proposed it? It could simply be that Zen represents a mashup of things on more than one level?
Does shikantaza involve the simultaneity of samatha and vipasyana? I don't know the answer to this question.
I’ve never seen it described that way, but the traditions that are said to have been the inspiration for it are on record as saying this. To be honest, instructions for shikantaza never make any sense to me. Dogen explicitly states that non-thought means no thought, and that those with will prevail, that it’s not about slumber, absentmindedness, or lack of focus. Normally I just sit as I would using an object of meditation, minus the object. Minus any object at all in fact.
Master Sheng Yen of the Ch'an tradition has written books about this. I recently did a translation of one of his books and got a chance to study the Dharma Drum system. His books make the theory of Ch'an so understandable. He repopularized the technique called Silent Sillumination 默照, which is the forerunner to Shikantaza. Two good books about it are "Silent Illumination" and "The Method of No-Method." The idea is that Samatha is stillness of the mind, when the afflictions become quiet. Vipasyana is the natural luminosity of the mind that is always there, but begins to shine or illumine objects of perception with no point of reference, no center. Master Sheng Yen explains that this 止觀 (zhiguan, samatha-vipasyana, stopping and observing) is exactly what is taught by the Tiantai Masters on the ultimate level, and is how to practice the non-duality of Dharmakaya. No object, just awareness.

If you think of samatha and vipasyana in terms of their objects of perception, it will always be limited to the relative. Shikantaza and Mozhao (Silent Illumination) are both object-less practice. From what I learned at Dharma Drum, samatha is any function of the mind that will still the noise and activity of afflictions, while vipasyana is the awareness of phenomena without defining it or reacting to it in any way. Samatha is the taming, vipasyana is the luminous awareness that illumines forms as a mirror would.

The whole thing about Ch'an is non-discrimination, non-differentiation, awareness without discernment. 不分別. True equanimity is a mind at rest, empty of all concepts. All attachments and concepts disturb the mind, causing it to move. Equanimity is non-movement. It is free of even the concepts of movement and stillness. When the mind is unmoving and aware, there is "union" of samatha and vipasyana. But from a Ch'an perspective, to say it is union would not be accurate because there was only illusory separateness to begin with. The illusion of separateness is the 分別, the function of differentiation in the mind between this and that. So once you let go of all this differentiation, "union" happens. But even to understand it in terms of union or one-ness is not ultimately accurate because that presupposes a concept of existence of a new "state" .

Anyway... I haven't studied japanese zen, but the sense I get is that they don't explain very much theory. Master Sheng Yen does a great job of providing the theoretical framework from sutras and shastras to show how ch'an works and how to practice. I think reading his work and applying the understanding, shikantaza would make a lot more sense to people. (Even though "sense" should not be made of practice... while you are practicing.)

The Platform Sutra also explains the non-duality of samatha and vipasyana (concentration and prajna) very clearly.

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Queequeg
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Re: Tiantai Meditation

Post by Queequeg » Tue Jul 31, 2018 4:23 pm

WeiHan wrote:
Wed Jun 06, 2018 4:45 pm
From my limited understanding of the Tiantai school from reading chinese materials, Master Zhi Yi wrote a practical repentance practice based on the last fascicle of Lotus sutra and The Samantabhadra Contemplation Sutra. The practice is indeed elaborated and detailed as someone has mentioned which very few people can keep to it these days. The interesting thing about this repentance practice that is not mentioned anywhere else except in the above two sutras mentioned is the confession of the sins of the six senses (six roots as the chinese translated it). This is then followed by meditation ( there are four types of meditation as someone already mentioned) or this can also be replaced by reciting one fascicle in Lotus Sutra. there can be a few sessions each day. It is will repeated until the entire 28 fascicles in the Lotus sutra are completed.

It seems that other than sitting meditation, the Tiantai masters believed that "Dharma flower samadhi" can be achieved by the above method. In fact, Zhi Yi emphasized in Mohe ZhiGuan that this repentance practice should be practiced as long as one has not attained the 'Dharma flower samadhi" yet. The name of this practice is called "Dharma Flower Repentance".
As I understand, in the Tiantai scheme, there are five preliminary stages before one undertakes the Sudden and Perfect contemplation proper. The practice at the five preliminary stages includes the repentance practices, but also includes other types of practice such as Buddha recollection (exemplified by contemplation on Amitabha, but inclusive of any Pure Land type practice; in Japan, at least, contemplation of Avalokiteshvara and his pure land of Potalaka was a popular practice). Zhiyi outlines these practices under the headings of Sitting, Walking, Sitting and Walking, and Neither Sitting nor Walking meditations in Mohezhikuan.

The Lotus Samadhi has been translated, at least in part, and published. You can find it in the Sources of the Chinese Tradition - a text book used at Columbia University. It may be republished in the appendix volume of Swanson's translation of Mohezhikuan. I don't have the books in front of me at the moment.

The Samantabhadra contemplation sutra has been translated at least twice and the Burton Watson translation is available here: https://www.nichirenlibrary.org/en/lsoc/Epilogue/1

The confession of the six senses is something I find quite helpful. Even if you don't actually practice it, its worth reading as a way to be aware of how we perpetuate samsara.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

I think each human being has things to find out in his own life that are inescapable. They’ll find them out the easy way or the hard way, or whatever.
-Jerry Garcia

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Queequeg
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Re: Tiantai Meditation

Post by Queequeg » Tue Jul 31, 2018 4:37 pm

SunWuKong wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2018 3:05 am
the early suttas only mention Dhyana, before the split into "śamatha and vipaśyanā", two forms of meditation, which in my opinion, the one always relies on the other. So to join them only makes sense especially in view of the 14th Chapter of Lotus Sutra where its all laid out in bare terms
In Zhiyi's earlier works, he generally discussed dhyana, not samatha and vipasyana. Later, in the works where the teachings that we think of as Tiantai Buddhism are laid out, he refers to samatha and vipasyana. However, he seems to have seen them as very much related.

In several works - I can think of Six Sublime Gates off the top of my head, but I am sure I read similar passages elsewhere - maybe Mohezhikuan and/or Fahua Xuani. He explains that at times the Buddha taught in terms of one Dharma, for instances, Dhyana. At other times he taught in terms of two, Samatha and Vipasyana. Sometimes in terms of three, four, five... 100, 1000, 84,000... Immeasurable. All of these are upaya taught in accord with the capacities of the listener. In the Six Sublime Gates he also explains how the meditation can be done in six stages, in order, backward and forward, inclusively, all at once, etc. At the heart of Zhiyi's teaching is this dynamic relationship between all dharmas, perhaps captured in its most basic form through the Threefold Inclusive Truth.

Point is, you're not wrong and what you are getting at is actually discussed in detail throughout Zhiyi's works.

The man is one of the greatest thinkers of all time, IMO.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

I think each human being has things to find out in his own life that are inescapable. They’ll find them out the easy way or the hard way, or whatever.
-Jerry Garcia

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Queequeg
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Re: Tiantai Meditation

Post by Queequeg » Tue Jul 31, 2018 5:07 pm

SunWuKong wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 10:59 pm
What I'm suggesting is that while outwardly he argued against ch'an, at the same time he transmitted some insights to his debate opposites, resulting in a kind of syncretism. Its only a theory, and I may never get a chance to explore it fully,
I have no idea how Tiantai influenced Zen, but Zhiyi was very clear about criticizing those who overemphasized meditation over study, as well as those who overemphasized study over meditation (he referred to the Northern Schools that seemed to refer to Ch'an or its progenitors as overly concerned with meditation, and Southern Schools, which he characterized as excessively scholastic - I may have those designations North and South backwards). Both according to Zhiyi are extreme and wrong. The correct teaching is found in the balance between the two which he compared to the two wings of a bird.

As for the relationship between opposites, integral to Zhiyi is the dynamic tension between extremes (which provides the basic architecture of his Threefold Inclusive Truth). Each extreme defines the other, and is in turn defined. Remove one extreme, and there is nothing to consider. Ignorance defines awakening, and awakening is discernible only in relation to ignorance. If you have one, you have the other. If you don't have one, you have neither. Notwithstanding, there is a True Aspect that is inclusive of both extremes, and the True Aspect is the point of Buddhism, if there is any point.

The True Aspect is in one way revealed through the dynamic tension of the extremes. Each time an extreme prevails, its opposite cancels it out, leading to another extreme, which is then cancelled out by its opposite, etc. In the process, one's understanding becomes increasingly refined. This is described in Fahua Xuani as the relative sublime. In the relative sublime, each dharma is refined in contrast to an even more sublime dharma. This continues infinitely. It is only brought to an end through the Absolute Sublime. This is why in Tiantai the Gradual Path is said to never lead to full blown, perfect enlightenment. Only the Sudden introduction to the Buddha Nature by the Buddha leads to full blown enlightenment - only the poison of awakening kills the self. The gradual path just refines the self.

But returning to your point, Zhiyi is very much aware of the process by which the object you critique defines you, and then that definition must then be critiqued, but which defines this new critique. There is a meditation described in Fahuaxuani in which one progresses through the 25 realms of existence from hell up to the realm of Neither Thought nor No Thought, at which point one treats the illness of Neither Thought nor No Thought with meditation on the Self. (this hearkens to the parable of the doctor who outlaws milk in the Nirvana Sutra). In the gradual path, each cure becomes the cause of illness, which must then be cured. There is no end to this; its something like being caught in Madhyamika analysis and never wising up that it has no end. Just eternal emptiness analysis. "Uh, duh."
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

I think each human being has things to find out in his own life that are inescapable. They’ll find them out the easy way or the hard way, or whatever.
-Jerry Garcia

Yuren
Posts: 162
Joined: Thu Aug 08, 2013 1:39 am

Re: Tiantai Meditation

Post by Yuren » Wed Aug 01, 2018 2:04 pm

Yuren wrote:
Sun Jul 29, 2018 1:27 pm
Ziporyn has written a text with his own approach to applying his "Neo-Tiantai" philosophy - a kind of a method for self-therapy.
I cannot find it now, but it existed in the form of a PDF
(I found the text, it's called "Ineradicable Frustration and Liberation in Tiantai Buddhism"
If anyone wants it but cannot find it online, I can send it if you PM me)

Yuren
Posts: 162
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Re: Tiantai Meditation

Post by Yuren » Wed Aug 01, 2018 2:11 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Tue Jul 31, 2018 5:07 pm

As for the relationship between opposites, integral to Zhiyi is the dynamic tension between extremes (which provides the basic architecture of his Threefold Inclusive Truth). Each extreme defines the other, and is in turn defined. Remove one extreme, and there is nothing to consider. Ignorance defines awakening, and awakening is discernible only in relation to ignorance. If you have one, you have the other. If you don't have one, you have neither. Notwithstanding, there is a True Aspect that is inclusive of both extremes, and the True Aspect is the point of Buddhism, if there is any point.

The True Aspect is in one way revealed through the dynamic tension of the extremes. Each time an extreme prevails, its opposite cancels it out, leading to another extreme, which is then cancelled out by its opposite, etc. In the process, one's understanding becomes increasingly refined. This is described in Fahua Xuani as the relative sublime. In the relative sublime, each dharma is refined in contrast to an even more sublime dharma. This continues infinitely. It is only brought to an end through the Absolute Sublime. This is why in Tiantai the Gradual Path is said to never lead to full blown, perfect enlightenment. Only the Sudden introduction to the Buddha Nature by the Buddha leads to full blown enlightenment - only the poison of awakening kills the self. The gradual path just refines the self.
Most excellent explanation! - I am going to save these two paragraph, I will return to them later and reflect upon them more than once.

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Queequeg
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Re: Tiantai Meditation

Post by Queequeg » Wed Aug 01, 2018 7:15 pm

Yuren wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 2:04 pm
Most excellent explanation! - I am going to save these two paragraph, I will return to them later and reflect upon them more than once.
Can't take credit - its Tiantai - except for what I got wrong. I take credit for mistakes.
:)
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

I think each human being has things to find out in his own life that are inescapable. They’ll find them out the easy way or the hard way, or whatever.
-Jerry Garcia

WeiHan
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Re: Tiantai Meditation

Post by WeiHan » Thu Aug 02, 2018 5:13 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Tue Jul 31, 2018 4:23 pm
WeiHan wrote:
Wed Jun 06, 2018 4:45 pm
From my limited understanding of the Tiantai school from reading chinese materials, Master Zhi Yi wrote a practical repentance practice based on the last fascicle of Lotus sutra and The Samantabhadra Contemplation Sutra. The practice is indeed elaborated and detailed as someone has mentioned which very few people can keep to it these days. The interesting thing about this repentance practice that is not mentioned anywhere else except in the above two sutras mentioned is the confession of the sins of the six senses (six roots as the chinese translated it). This is then followed by meditation ( there are four types of meditation as someone already mentioned) or this can also be replaced by reciting one fascicle in Lotus Sutra. there can be a few sessions each day. It is will repeated until the entire 28 fascicles in the Lotus sutra are completed.

It seems that other than sitting meditation, the Tiantai masters believed that "Dharma flower samadhi" can be achieved by the above method. In fact, Zhi Yi emphasized in Mohe ZhiGuan that this repentance practice should be practiced as long as one has not attained the 'Dharma flower samadhi" yet. The name of this practice is called "Dharma Flower Repentance".
As I understand, in the Tiantai scheme, there are five preliminary stages before one undertakes the Sudden and Perfect contemplation proper. The practice at the five preliminary stages includes the repentance practices, but also includes other types of practice such as Buddha recollection (exemplified by contemplation on Amitabha, but inclusive of any Pure Land type practice; in Japan, at least, contemplation of Avalokiteshvara and his pure land of Potalaka was a popular practice). Zhiyi outlines these practices under the headings of Sitting, Walking, Sitting and Walking, and Neither Sitting nor Walking meditations in Mohezhikuan.

The Lotus Samadhi has been translated, at least in part, and published. You can find it in the Sources of the Chinese Tradition - a text book used at Columbia University. It may be republished in the appendix volume of Swanson's translation of Mohezhikuan. I don't have the books in front of me at the moment.

The Samantabhadra contemplation sutra has been translated at least twice and the Burton Watson translation is available here: https://www.nichirenlibrary.org/en/lsoc/Epilogue/1

The confession of the six senses is something I find quite helpful. Even if you don't actually practice it, its worth reading as a way to be aware of how we perpetuate samsara.
Thankyou for the sutra link.

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