Did zen masters teach seated meditation?

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Wayfarer
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Re: Did zen masters teach seated meditation?

Post by Wayfarer » Mon Oct 15, 2018 9:28 am

Sorry if I was unclear, I will try and put it another way. To practice without a sense of personal gain, is not the same as practicing without any sense of purpose.
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: Did zen masters teach seated meditation?

Post by Astus » Mon Oct 15, 2018 9:36 am

Wayfarer wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 9:28 am
To practice without a sense of personal gain, is not the same as practicing without any sense of purpose.
That still sounds like a high level aim, that would require insight into no-self. Why not go with bodhicitta?
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: Did zen masters teach seated meditation?

Post by Temicco » Mon Oct 15, 2018 2:39 pm

Astus wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 8:20 am
Temicco wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 11:19 pm
Yes, I agree. So do the later texts that I mention.
Those later texts are hundreds of years apart from the early ones, so there is actually a big gap during the Tang era.
That is true.
Even Huango arguably does, too.
He does not. He merely mentions sitting peacefully. But throughout the text he denigrates all effort and all practice as deluded attempts of the gradual path.
I've mostly read Blofeld, whose translation differs from McRae's. Where McRae has, Sitting peacefully upright,
letting things happen as they will—only then may you be called liberated.
, Blofeld has, When you practise mind-control, sit in the proper position, stay perfectly tranquil, and do not permit the least movement of your minds to disturb you. This alone is what is called liberation. This latter line sounds much more like an instruction. I've found Blofeld to be inaccurate in the past, so I would not be surprised if McRae is more reliable here. If so, then you are correct.
Yes, but the term dhyana was used in specific ways in the sutras, and can't necessarily be equated with the "chan" in "zuochan" just because the words are the same. The perfection of dhyana always occurs in discussions of the 6 paramitas, but the term "zuochan" is not used like this nor associated with the paramitas in any Chan literature I've ever read. So, I think it is a misreading to think that the meaning is the same.
That might be so. But then it should be also mentioned that not only chan has a different meaning, but so does zuo, hence it is not about any cultivation, nor any posture.

"Externally, for the mind to refrain from activating thoughts with regard to all the good and bad realms is called ‘seated’ (zuo). Internally, to see the motionlessness of the self-nature is called ‘meditation’ (chan)."
(Platform Sutra, ch 5, BDK ed, p 45)
I think that view is over-applied. That is "Huineng"'s view, and Shenhui's, but neither Huangbo nor Linji nor Zhaozhou say that their own mention of "sitting" is not meant literally.

Clearly Zen is not inescapably about sitting -- there are plenty of quotes dismissing such an idea, including the Platform sutra quote -- but I don't think that attitude should be brought as an interpretive lens to every mention of "sitting" in Zen texts.
"Deliberate upon that which does not deliberate."
-Yaoshan Weiyan

"Right now if students are in fact truly genuine, source teachers can contact their potential and activate it with a single word or phrase, or a single act or scene."
-Yuanwu Keqin

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Re: Did zen masters teach seated meditation?

Post by Astus » Tue Oct 16, 2018 10:31 am

Temicco wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 2:39 pm
That is "Huineng"'s view, and Shenhui's, but neither Huangbo nor Linji nor Zhaozhou say that their own mention of "sitting" is not meant literally.
For Huangbo, here's Lok To's translation: "Sitting properly and peacefully, not bound by the world - this alone is called liberation!"

For Linji, he mentions sitting twice in a positive context, and three times in negative. There is also a significant difference between them, as the positive statements regarding sitting do not really refer to meditation. One is about Linji himself sitting quietly (穩坐, p 11 in Sasaki), and interviewing visitors, and the other is about the enlightened monk sitting leisurely in the monastery hall (不如無事、向叢林中、床角頭交腳坐, p 21 in Sasaki). On the other hand, the three negative mentions are specifically about meditation practice. The first one (p 17) calls it heretical, and talks of the practice of stillness and illumination, the second one (p 24) talks of the motionless posture as mistaken for the patriarchal way, and the third one (p 29) talks of the dedicated solitary practitioner who sits for long periods of time as mere karma generation. So from this it is quite clear that Linji did not talk of sitting meditation as something related to Zen (in the sense of sudden enlightenment).
Clearly Zen is not inescapably about sitting -- there are plenty of quotes dismissing such an idea, including the Platform sutra quote -- but I don't think that attitude should be brought as an interpretive lens to every mention of "sitting" in Zen texts.
Agreed. I merely brought it up with relation to how the word zen can be interpreted.
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: Did zen masters teach seated meditation?

Post by Naawoo » Wed Oct 17, 2018 5:06 am

Zen is a practice of turning your 'mind' into its original state of calmness and brightness(radiance). So Zen, literally, has nothing to do with any bodily postures.

However, in order to calm down your mind first, the easiest way is sitting down still. So Buddhist practitioner is generally at first guided with the instruction of Sitting meditation(Zazen).

But as Zen is a practice of restoring your original mind of calm and bright state, and is not anything directly pertaing to your bodily posture, the Sixth Patriarch Huineng preached on Sitting meditation with ‘sitting’ and ‘meditation’ separately in double entendres, based on the original meaning of Zen practice.

Therefore, as long as Zen practitioners keep in mind that Zen is a practice of ‘mind’ and not of body, no confusions or pros and cons about Sitting meditation will arise.

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Re: Did zen masters teach seated meditation?

Post by passel » Thu Oct 18, 2018 4:50 am

Important koan, from an important early master who's the student in the story:

"Reverend Ma was sitting in a spot, and Reverend Rang took a tile and sat on the rock facing him, rubbing it. Master Ma asked, "What are you doing?" Master [Huairang] said, "I'm rubbing the tile to make it a mirror." Master Ma said, "How can you make a mirror by rubbing a tile?" Master [Huairang] said, "If I can't make a mirror by rubbing a tile, how can you achieve buddhahood by sitting in meditation?"

There's a Japanese oral tradition, or my old teacher made it up, that Ma's "spot" was a meditation cave on a mountain dotted with meditation caves full of hermit yogis, and Ma was the most ardent. So the master in the story knocks meditation at the end of it: but he doesn't start talking to just anybody. He goes to the dropout yogis.

(There's a cool line in the commentary- "When the cart won't move, do you whip the cart or whip the horse?")

[Ma= Mazu, Rang= Nanyue]

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mazu_Daoyi - go to the subitism and dhyana section for an algorithm's take on the topic)
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Re: Did zen masters teach seated meditation?

Post by seeker242 » Thu Oct 18, 2018 12:59 pm

Naawoo wrote:
Wed Oct 17, 2018 5:06 am

Therefore, as long as Zen practitioners keep in mind that Zen is a practice of ‘mind’ and not of body, no confusions or pros and cons about Sitting meditation will arise.
Someone once asked my teacher how long they should sit for each day. Like 20 min? 1/2 hour? 45 min? He said "24/7!" :lol:
One should not kill any living being, nor cause it to be killed, nor should one incite any other to kill. Do never injure any being, whether strong or weak, in this entire universe!

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Re: Did zen masters teach seated meditation?

Post by Meido » Thu Oct 18, 2018 2:28 pm

Naawoo wrote:
Wed Oct 17, 2018 5:06 am
Therefore, as long as Zen practitioners keep in mind that Zen is a practice of ‘mind’ and not of body, no confusions or pros and cons about Sitting meditation will arise.
Zen is a practice founded upon discovering the nature of mind, but that path of practice in fact has quite a lot to do with the body. Jikke manifests as psycho-physical distortion, not merely intellectual or psychological. If practice was not psycho-physical, Zen could not live up to its promise of being a path of liberation one can complete within this very life and this body. As the saying goes, one cannot wash off blood with blood: one cannot easily transform the mind with the mind.

Having all agreed that Zen has no ultimately fixed methods, it is enough I think to acknowledge that zazen is among the most universally useful and rapid methods to cultivate the samadhi that a) dissolves obstructions to awakening, and b) post-awakening, makes possible its seamless actualization and the penetration of insight into the body.
seeker242 wrote:
Thu Oct 18, 2018 12:59 pm
Someone once asked my teacher how long they should sit for each day. Like 20 min? 1/2 hour? 45 min? He said "24/7!"
Yes, indeed! The fastest way to actualize the 24/7 seamless sitting is, of course, to sit a lot in zazen. Two hours a day is a standard for serious laypersons, with the rest of daily activity done in a manner encompassing it within practice. There is a tremendous amount of oral instruction RE how to accomplish that encompassing...much of it body-centered.

Not speaking of anyone here, but in general: there seem to be two conceits held by adherents to a kind of Buddhist modernism that is common in Zen circles at least.

First, that that the fruition of practice is primarily a psychological revolution rather than one that engages - and manifests transformation within - the entire body-mind. The insight that results from such practice is shallow and primarily conceptual, lacking the power to cut habitual delusion in a lasting manner. The goal of practice in this case is also commonly seen as a kind of short-term (i.e. this lifetime only) psychological resilience in the face of inevitable suffering, rather than liberation.

Second, that one need not practice in the manner of past practitioners (i.e., what amounts, even as a layperson, to a tremendous amount). It is for these reasons that someone like Omori Sogen needed to say that beginning practitioners should initially sit in zazen to such an extent that is appears they are training in sitting, rather than in Zen. This is something that has become even more the case in light of modern life: people who essentially no longer know how to breathe, walk, make eye contact, use their senses, and so on need more physically-oriented practice, not less.
It is relatively easy to accomplish the important matter of insight into one’s true nature, but uncommonly difficult to function freely and clearly [according to this understanding], in motion and in rest, in good and in adverse circumstances. Please make strenuous and vigorous efforts towards this end, otherwise all the teachings of Buddhas and patriarchs become mere empty words. - Torei

The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice

Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺] - http://www.korinji.org

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Re: Did zen masters teach seated meditation?

Post by Astus » Thu Oct 18, 2018 3:36 pm

Meido wrote:
Thu Oct 18, 2018 2:28 pm
that path of practice in fact has quite a lot to do with the body.
Do you know sutras that discuss physical practice? Or is it discussed only in Rinzai works?
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: Did zen masters teach seated meditation?

Post by Meido » Thu Oct 18, 2018 3:58 pm

Astus wrote:
Thu Oct 18, 2018 3:36 pm
Do you know sutras that discuss physical practice? Or is it discussed only in Rinzai works?
Not in terms of specifics. There are sutra passages that - in Zen oral instruction - are used to point out specific body usage, yes. But that is not in the sutra itself...it's just Zen.

This is not the case for just Rinzai Zen (though Soto Zen post-Meiji seems to me from the outside to be a different animal...however as I haven't passed through the course of Soto practice and so am not able to see it from the "top down" so to speak, there's nothing I can say with confidence).

Most of what is relevant to actual Zen practice is transmitted orally or in non-public documents. This is something that causes scholars to go far off track when they venture into speculation RE practice.
It is relatively easy to accomplish the important matter of insight into one’s true nature, but uncommonly difficult to function freely and clearly [according to this understanding], in motion and in rest, in good and in adverse circumstances. Please make strenuous and vigorous efforts towards this end, otherwise all the teachings of Buddhas and patriarchs become mere empty words. - Torei

The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice

Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺] - http://www.korinji.org

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Re: Did zen masters teach seated meditation?

Post by Matylda » Thu Oct 18, 2018 4:13 pm

Meido wrote:
Thu Oct 18, 2018 3:58 pm
Astus wrote:
Thu Oct 18, 2018 3:36 pm
Do you know sutras that discuss physical practice? Or is it discussed only in Rinzai works?
Not in terms of specifics. There are sutra passages that - in Zen oral instruction - are used to point out specific body usage, yes. But that is not in the sutra itself...it's just Zen.

This is not the case for just Rinzai Zen (though Soto Zen post-Meiji seems to me from the outside to be a different animal...however as I haven't passed through the course of Soto practice and so am not able to see it from the "top down" so to speak, there's nothing I can say with confidence).

Most of what is relevant to actual Zen practice is transmitted orally or in non-public documents. This is something that causes scholars to go far off track when they venture into speculation RE practice.
Hara Tanzan of soto zen, abbot of Saijoji was more then specific about body instructinons with many details, though he was very concentrated on ki-energy flow, its channels etc. his work is one of most famous in Japan for both soto and rinzai. However he drew some critics, since he really published it. I do not know how many copies were printed. Today his work costs fortune and it can be purchased only in special bookstores with old buddhist books. At Komazawa I have seen it, but in a bookshop only once. Price was too high to buy it. But there were many other experienced soto masters who transmitted detailed instructions.
People like Oka Sotan and others.

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Re: Did zen masters teach seated meditation?

Post by passel » Thu Oct 18, 2018 5:55 pm

Good discussion, two stray thoughts:

1) 7-point Vairocana posture and Dogen hit identical points- Fukanzazengi hits most of them I think, but I distinctly remember once reading some Dogen than presented all 7 of the points covered under the Vairocana rubric (sorry- can't remember where! see my signature).

Seems like there could be two reasons for this:

a) convergent evolution- independent developments (based at least partly on transmission of artwork and human bodies across greater Asia, in combination with the relatively limited [ha] possibilities of human anatomy)

b) divergent evolution- a common body of probably early Indian textual sources that both are drawing from. Seems like you could come up with a book-length study of this question if you had the time and training and a decent grant.

And...

2) with full respect to the OP- this is a question that get asks a fair amount, I think going way back, that to me seems like a beard for another question: "Do I have to sit zazen?" The answer is of course not. Sit because you love it, or don't sit because you really believe you have something better to do. I lead a simple life and zazen captures my heart, and teachers I respect encouraged me, so I sit a bunch, and if a zen master told me not to, I probably would not take her or his advice. But the universe is a big mysterious thing, there's no final word on anything.
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Re: Did zen masters teach seated meditation?

Post by Sentient Light » Thu Oct 18, 2018 10:02 pm

Meido wrote:
Thu Oct 18, 2018 2:28 pm

It is for these reasons that someone like Omori Sogen needed to say that beginning practitioners should initially sit in zazen to such an extent that is appears they are training in sitting, rather than in Zen. This is something that has become even more the case in light of modern life: people who essentially no longer know how to breathe, walk, make eye contact, use their senses, and so on need more physically-oriented practice, not less.
:good:

Nam mo A di da Phat!

An excellent post altogether, ven.
:buddha1: Nam mô A di đà Phật :buddha1:
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:buddha1: Nam mô Bổn sư Thích ca mâu ni Phật :buddha1:
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Re: Did zen masters teach seated meditation?

Post by Temicco » Fri Oct 19, 2018 1:05 am

passel wrote:
Thu Oct 18, 2018 5:55 pm
b) divergent evolution- a common body of probably early Indian textual sources that both are drawing from.
Or, oral instructions.

(You raise some interesting points.)
"Deliberate upon that which does not deliberate."
-Yaoshan Weiyan

"Right now if students are in fact truly genuine, source teachers can contact their potential and activate it with a single word or phrase, or a single act or scene."
-Yuanwu Keqin

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Re: Did zen masters teach seated meditation?

Post by Astus » Fri Oct 19, 2018 7:45 am

Temicco wrote:
Fri Oct 19, 2018 1:05 am
passel wrote:
Thu Oct 18, 2018 5:55 pm
b) divergent evolution- a common body of probably early Indian textual sources that both are drawing from.
Or, oral instructions.
Meditation texts were translated to Chinese very early: Dhyāna sutras.

For Dogen's sources, see "Dogen's Manuals of Zen Meditation" by Carl Bielefeldt. The "manuals" themselves are mostly a copy-paste job from Zongze, and a little further Zen rework on them. But this small collection of Song era zazen instructions are not like the traditional Buddhist manuals, and it is telling that Zongze refers his readers to more extensive sources (see: The Baizhang Zen Monastic Regulations, BDK ed, p 257). In other words, it should be kept in mind that Zen was not a school closed of from the larger Buddhist tradition, and it should not be treated separately from Mahayana.
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: Did zen masters teach seated meditation?

Post by passel » Fri Oct 19, 2018 6:53 pm

Astus wrote:
Fri Oct 19, 2018 7:45 am
Temicco wrote:
Fri Oct 19, 2018 1:05 am
passel wrote:
Thu Oct 18, 2018 5:55 pm
b) divergent evolution- a common body of probably early Indian textual sources that both are drawing from.
Or, oral instructions.
Meditation texts were translated to Chinese very early: Dhyāna sutras.

For Dogen's sources, see "Dogen's Manuals of Zen Meditation" by Carl Bielefeldt. The "manuals" themselves are mostly a copy-paste job from Zongze, and a little further Zen rework on them. But this small collection of Song era zazen instructions are not like the traditional Buddhist manuals, and it is telling that Zongze refers his readers to more extensive sources (see: The Baizhang Zen Monastic Regulations, BDK ed, p 257). In other words, it should be kept in mind that Zen was not a school closed of from the larger Buddhist tradition, and it should not be treated separately from Mahayana.
Good. I don’t have time to comb through just now- are you aware of detailed postural instruction in any of those texts, and if so, can you nail down any probable dates?
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Re: Did zen masters teach seated meditation?

Post by Astus » Sat Oct 20, 2018 9:32 am

passel wrote:
Fri Oct 19, 2018 6:53 pm
detailed postural instruction in any of those texts, and if so, can you nail down any probable dates?
The Discourse on the Essential Secrets of Meditation (Chan Miyao Fa Jing 禪祕要法經, T15n613) is dated to the 2nd or 3rd century in origin by Ven. Dr. Yuanci, and it does have a description of posture at p243b24-27.

Here are Zongze's Zuochanyi and the Chan Miyao Fa Jing's relevant sections:
sit in the full cross-legged (lotus) position or in the half-lotus position. The left hand is placed on the right hand and the thumbs of both hands touch. The body is held straight in sitting, with [the ears balanced in line with the shoulders] and the nose and abdomen vertically aligned. The tongue rests on the upper palate, the lips and teeth are firmly closed, and the eyes remain slightly open so as to avoid falling asleep.

結跏趺坐。或半跏趺。以左掌安右掌上。兩大拇指相拄。正身端坐。令耳與肩對。鼻與臍對。舌拄上腭唇齒相著。目須微開。免致昏睡。

結跏趺坐,齊整衣服,正身端坐,偏袒右肩,左手著右手上閉目舌拄腭

Sit in the full cross-legged position, have the robe in order, the body is held straight in sitting, bare the right shoulder, the left hand rests on the right hand, eyes closed and tongue against the palate.
Note that those two texts are separated by around a thousand years, and still you find that a significant portion matches word by word.
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: Did zen masters teach seated meditation?

Post by passel » Fri Nov 02, 2018 1:25 am

Astus wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 9:32 am
passel wrote:
Fri Oct 19, 2018 6:53 pm
detailed postural instruction in any of those texts, and if so, can you nail down any probable dates?
The Discourse on the Essential Secrets of Meditation (Chan Miyao Fa Jing 禪祕要法經, T15n613) is dated to the 2nd or 3rd century in origin by Ven. Dr. Yuanci, and it does have a description of posture at p243b24-27.

Here are Zongze's Zuochanyi and the Chan Miyao Fa Jing's relevant sections:
sit in the full cross-legged (lotus) position or in the half-lotus position. The left hand is placed on the right hand and the thumbs of both hands touch. The body is held straight in sitting, with [the ears balanced in line with the shoulders] and the nose and abdomen vertically aligned. The tongue rests on the upper palate, the lips and teeth are firmly closed, and the eyes remain slightly open so as to avoid falling asleep.

結跏趺坐。或半跏趺。以左掌安右掌上。兩大拇指相拄。正身端坐。令耳與肩對。鼻與臍對。舌拄上腭唇齒相著。目須微開。免致昏睡。

結跏趺坐,齊整衣服,正身端坐,偏袒右肩,左手著右手上閉目舌拄腭

Sit in the full cross-legged position, have the robe in order, the body is held straight in sitting, bare the right shoulder, the left hand rests on the right hand, eyes closed and tongue against the palate.
Note that those two texts are separated by around a thousand years, and still you find that a significant portion matches word by word.
Cool. So if those are 2nd-3rd century, and Chinese, that means we have three possibilities now for the overlap w 7pt Vairocana.

1. Independent developments (convergent evolution)

2. Indian antecedent(s) (divergent evolution), or

3. cultural diffusion from China to Tibet
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