Dhyana in Zen

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Astus
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Dhyana in Zen

Post by Astus » Tue Dec 15, 2015 12:33 am

What role do dhyanas have in Zen?

In the teachings by Huineng, Mazu, Linji and other classical teachers there is little talk of any kind of meditation, and no discussion of cultivating absorption. Although Dogen did emphasise seated practice, but definitely not in a gradual manner. In the teachings of later Chinese masters from Dahui Zonggao through Hanshan Deqing to Xuyun the method of huatou is the preferred way to enlightenment.

In whose teachings can we find something on the dhyanas?
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: Dhyana in Zen

Post by tingdzin » Tue Dec 15, 2015 3:25 am

I don't know about famous masters and book teachings right off the top of my head, but my own Zen teacher would definitely sometimes recommend cultivating absorption under certain circumstances, and he was about as traditional as they come.

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Re: Dhyana in Zen

Post by dharmagoat » Tue Dec 15, 2015 3:47 am

The Ten Oxherding Pictures suggest a graduated approach in Zen. Is it possible that these have a correspondence with levels of Dhyana?

The equivalent Nine Stages of Tranquility found in the in the Mahamudra tradition (depicting an elephant instead of an ox) definitely illustrate a graduation of meditation states.

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Re: Dhyana in Zen

Post by steve_bakr » Tue Dec 15, 2015 4:02 am

Astus wrote:What role do dhyanas have in Zen?

In the teachings by Huineng, Mazu, Linji and other classical teachers there is little talk of any kind of meditation, and no discussion of cultivating absorption. Although Dogen did emphasise seated practice, but definitely not in a gradual manner. In the teachings of later Chinese masters from Dahui Zonggao through Hanshan Deqing to Xuyun the method of huatou is the preferred way to enlightenment.

In whose teachings can we find something on the dhyanas?
I have wondered about this question. As it always happens with a sect or religion, formalized rites and practices and systemization are later developments, ultimately resulting in institutionalization. There are a lot of early stories in which sitting meditation is criticicized or ridiculed. Whether or not this criticism refers only to scrupulous formal meditation or sitting meditation in its entirety is the subject of debate.

On the other hand, there is a scholarly, albeit narrowly researched, theory that Chan developed specifically out of dhyana practice and transformed dhyana into a way of life, thereby making "chan" become "Chan."

This is a very interesting question. I hope to see a lot of contributions to this discussion.

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Re: Dhyana in Zen

Post by steve_bakr » Tue Dec 15, 2015 4:09 am

dharmagoat wrote:The Ten Oxherding Pictures suggest a graduated approach in Zen. Is it possible that these have a correspondence with levels of Dhyana?

The equivalent Nine Stages of Tranquility found in the in the Mahamudra tradition (depicting an elephant instead of an ox) definitely illustrate a graduation of meditation states.
This is an interesting point. Even sudden illumination can sometimes be seen as resulting from graduated stages of preparation. On the other hand, sudden enlightenment very often comes about spontaneously without such preparation.

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Re: Dhyana in Zen

Post by dharmagoat » Tue Dec 15, 2015 4:15 am

steve_bakr wrote:There are a lot of early stories in which sitting meditation is criticicized or ridiculed.
Just as an aside, what I understand is being discouraged here is a gain-oriented, future-focused "sitting to ultimately attain enlightenment" attitude to sitting meditation.

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Re: Dhyana in Zen

Post by pueraeternus » Tue Dec 15, 2015 4:20 am

steve_bakr wrote:
dharmagoat wrote:The Ten Oxherding Pictures suggest a graduated approach in Zen. Is it possible that these have a correspondence with levels of Dhyana?

The equivalent Nine Stages of Tranquility found in the in the Mahamudra tradition (depicting an elephant instead of an ox) definitely illustrate a graduation of meditation states.
This is an interesting point. Even sudden illumination can sometimes be seen as resulting from graduated stages of preparation. On the other hand, sudden enlightenment very often comes about spontaneously without such preparation.
Silent illumination is like a form of conjoined dhyana and vipashyana.
"Men must want to do things out of their own innermost drives. People, not commercial organizations or chains of command, are what make great civilizations work. Every civilization depends upon the quality of the individuals it produces. If you over-organize humans, over-legalize them, suppress their urge to greatness - they cannot work and their civilization collapses."
- A letter to CHOAM, attributed to the Preacher

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Re: Dhyana in Zen

Post by dharmagoat » Tue Dec 15, 2015 4:26 am

pueraeternus wrote:Silent illumination is like a form of conjoined dhyana and vipashyana.
I understand that Silent illumination and Shikantaza combine shamatha and vipashyana.

What is the relationship between dhyana and shamatha?

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Re: Dhyana in Zen

Post by jundo cohen » Tue Dec 15, 2015 5:07 am

Hi,

In our cornerless corner of the Zen Woods, Master Dogen had this to say in Bendowa's Q&A [Anzan-Yasuda Translation] ...
FIVE:

Question: Samadhi is one of the three practices,83 and dhyana paramita is one of the six perfections.84 All [Bodhisattvas] study them from the beginning, without discriminating between the clever and the stupid. Even this zazen is just a part of those. Why do you say that the Thus Come One’s Complete Dharma is all gathered in zazen?

[Dogen's] Answer: This question comes from giving the name the "Zen school" to the Treasury of the Eye of the Complete Dharma, the unsurpassed and vast means which is the single great matter88 of the Thus Come Ones. You should understand that the name "Zen school" began in China and the east; it was never heard in India. When Great Master Bodhidharma stayed at Shaolin ssu in Sung-shan, sat wall-gazing for nine years, the monastics and laypeople did not understand the Complete Dharma of the Buddha; they called him a Brahmin who made "a religion out of"89 of zazen. Since then, every Ancestor of succeeding generations has constantly practised zazen. Worldly people who saw them carelessly referred to them as the “Zazen School” without understanding the truth. Today the "Za" has been dropped and people just say the "Zen School". This is clear from the records of the Ancestors. Do not equate zazen with the practice in the six paramitas and the three practices. ...

83 Sangaku 三學 : kai, jo, e or sila, samadhi, prajna.
84 Ropparamitsu 六波羅蜜 : generosity, discipline, flexibility, exertion, harmonization or practice, and
wisdom.
...
87 Shobogenzo 正法眼蔵. Of course Dogen would later use this as the overarching title of his collected Teachings.
88 Ichidaiji 一大事 . This refers to the Lotus Discourse 1.88-90.
89 Shu 宗 . School or essence. The words "made a religion out of" are a gloss to indicate the intention.

http://www.wwzc.org/sites/default/files ... a-book.pdf
Dogen also had a rather special interpretation of "Zazen Samadhi" that is not quite about the usual meaning of "Samadhi" as a state of deep concentration. Historian and Zen Priest Taigen Leighton writes ...
This just sitting is not a meditation technique or practice, or any thing at all. ... Dogen describes this meditation as the samadhi of self-fulfillment (or enjoyment), and elaborates the inner meaning of this practice. Simply just sitting is expressed as concentration on the self in its most delightful wholeness, in total inclusive interconnection with all of phenomena. Dogen makes remarkably radical claims for this simple experience. "When one displays the buddha mudra with one's whole body and mind, sitting upright in this samadhi for even a short time, everything in the entire dharma world becomes buddha mudra, and all space in the universe completely becomes enlightenment."[13] Proclaiming that when one just sits all of space itself becomes enlightenment is an inconceivable statement, deeply challenging our usual sense of the nature of reality, whether we take Dogen's words literally or metaphorically. Dogen places this activity of just sitting far beyond our usual sense of personal self or agency. He goes on to say that, "Even if only one person sits for a short time, because this zazen is one with all existence and completely permeates all times, it performs everlasting buddha guidance" throughout space and time.[14] At least in Dogen's faith in the spiritual or "theological" implications of the activity of just sitting, this is clearly a dynamically liberating practice, not mere blissful serenity.
http://www.wisdompubs.org/book/art-just ... troduction
This is not really a matter of "mental concentration" and is even wider than the states of concentration often thought of as "Samadhi", because it holds all the world and everything else, wholly and omitting nothing. By my eyes, I do not see anywhere in Dogen's writings an emphasis on attaining deep Samadhi states, and Dogen is more about "sitting with all phenomena in the universe as sacred, whole, and each the universe's 'total exertion' of Buddha in each grain of sand.

Anyway .. just folks trying to use words to describe something hard to describe.

Finally, I often tell folks that Shikantaza holds both Samatha (calming thoughts and emotions, illuminating and dropping body-mind) and awareness and understanding of vipassana (insight and awareness primarily into the nature and workings of 'self' and mental functions), Unlike some schools of Buddhism, in Shikantaza we do not pursue any particular practices --during-- Zazen itself in order to cultivate such vipassana insight ... and much insight naturally arises from Zazen as "Zazen does its thing". Perhaps we might say that, just in "just sitting" Shikantaza ... dropping thoughts of this and that, thus quieting the mind's "mind games" ... we develop a natural sensitivity and understanding of the mind's "mind games" (much like one first comes to really appreciate what "urban noise" is when one first drives out of the city to the middle of the desert or some other truly quiet place).

Gassho, Jundo
Priest/Teacher at Treeleaf Zendo, a Soto Zen Sangha. Treeleaf Zendo was designed as an online practice place for Zen practitioners who cannot easily commute to a Zen Center due to health concerns, living in remote areas, or work, childcare and family needs, and seeks to provide Zazen sittings, retreats, discussion, interaction with a teacher, and all other activities of a Zen Buddhist Sangha, all fully online. The focus is Shikantaza "Just Sitting" Zazen as instructed by the 13th Century Japanese Master, Eihei Dogen. http://www.treeleaf.org

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Re: Dhyana in Zen

Post by pueraeternus » Tue Dec 15, 2015 6:04 am

dharmagoat wrote:
pueraeternus wrote:Silent illumination is like a form of conjoined dhyana and vipashyana.
I understand that Silent illumination and Shikantaza combine shamatha and vipashyana.

What is the relationship between dhyana and shamatha?
In most contexts dhyana and shamatha refer to the same goal - absorption or meditative stabilization. With dhyana, one could talk about deeper levels of absorption.

In Silent Illumination, it is basically the state where one is silent (quiescence) and luminously aware.
"Men must want to do things out of their own innermost drives. People, not commercial organizations or chains of command, are what make great civilizations work. Every civilization depends upon the quality of the individuals it produces. If you over-organize humans, over-legalize them, suppress their urge to greatness - they cannot work and their civilization collapses."
- A letter to CHOAM, attributed to the Preacher

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Re: Dhyana in Zen

Post by Aemilius » Tue Dec 15, 2015 2:14 pm

Astus wrote:What role do dhyanas have in Zen?

In the teachings by Huineng, Mazu, Linji and other classical teachers there is little talk of any kind of meditation, and no discussion of cultivating absorption. Although Dogen did emphasise seated practice, but definitely not in a gradual manner. In the teachings of later Chinese masters from Dahui Zonggao through Hanshan Deqing to Xuyun the method of huatou is the preferred way to enlightenment.

In whose teachings can we find something on the dhyanas?
For example Faith in the Mind, verse 8 : "Stop speaking, stop thinking", which implies the second or above dhyanas, that are without thoughts or thinking.
And in verse 1: "stop loving and hating" means overcoming two of the five hindrances to dhyana. The practice of Dhyana is implied in the Faith in the Mind, otherwise it makes little or no sense.

The Sutra of Hui Neng is speaking of unified Prajña contemplation, does this not mean unified Dhyana & Prajña?
The Chapter Six in Hui Neng Sutra is called [i]Sitting Chan[/i], ie Sitting Dhyana! This chapter is certainly about sitting meditation and nothing else.
It may seem that "there is no talk about meditation" only because it is as self evident as are eating and sleeping.
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)

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Re: Dhyana in Zen

Post by Astus » Tue Dec 15, 2015 3:35 pm

Aemilius wrote:For example Faith in the Mind, verse 8 : "Stop speaking, stop thinking", which implies the second or above dhyanas, that are without thoughts or thinking.
Thinking for the dhyanas are vitarka (尋) and vicara (伺), while the verse says 慮. Also, it seems meaningless to talk about speaking in the context of calming meditation. And there are other problems with interpreting that line in your way.
And in verse 1: "stop loving and hating" means overcoming two of the five hindrances to dhyana. The practice of Dhyana is implied in the Faith in the Mind, otherwise it makes little or no sense.
Hate (憎) and love (愛) mean general preferences, something that's not come over until enlightenment.
The Sutra of Hui Neng is speaking of unified Prajña contemplation, does this not mean unified Dhyana & Prajña?
Not unified but one. The chapter on samadhi and prajna (chapter 4) explicitly criticises both the view that there is samadhi and prajna separately, and the view that one should sit calmly and attain tranquillity.
The Chapter Six in Hui Neng Sutra is called [i]Sitting Chan[/i], ie Sitting Dhyana! This chapter is certainly about sitting meditation and nothing else.
That chapter is actually not about any formal meditation in a seated posture but rather that "seated meditation" (zuochan/zazen) means the mind's nature.

"In this teaching of seated meditation, one fundamentally does not concentrate on mind, nor does one concentrate on purity, nor is it motionlessness. ... To have such a view is to obscure one’s own fundamental nature, and only to be fettered by purity."
(Platform Sutra, ch 5, BDK Edition, p 45)
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: Dhyana in Zen

Post by steve_bakr » Tue Dec 15, 2015 4:01 pm

dharmagoat wrote:
steve_bakr wrote:There are a lot of early stories in which sitting meditation is criticicized or ridiculed.
Just as an aside, what I understand is being discouraged here is a gain-oriented, future-focused "sitting to ultimately attain enlightenment" attitude to sitting meditation.
This is a very plausible explanation and I think you are correct about that.

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Re: Dhyana in Zen

Post by steve_bakr » Tue Dec 15, 2015 4:41 pm

jundo cohen wrote:Hi,

In our cornerless corner of the Zen Woods, Master Dogen had this to say in Bendowa's Q&A [Anzan-Yasuda Translation] ...
FIVE:

Question: Samadhi is one of the three practices,83 and dhyana paramita is one of the six perfections.84 All [Bodhisattvas] study them from the beginning, without discriminating between the clever and the stupid. Even this zazen is just a part of those. Why do you say that the Thus Come One’s Complete Dharma is all gathered in zazen?

[Dogen's] Answer: This question comes from giving the name the "Zen school" to the Treasury of the Eye of the Complete Dharma, the unsurpassed and vast means which is the single great matter88 of the Thus Come Ones. You should understand that the name "Zen school" began in China and the east; it was never heard in India. When Great Master Bodhidharma stayed at Shaolin ssu in Sung-shan, sat wall-gazing for nine years, the monastics and laypeople did not understand the Complete Dharma of the Buddha; they called him a Brahmin who made "a religion out of"89 of zazen. Since then, every Ancestor of succeeding generations has constantly practised zazen. Worldly people who saw them carelessly referred to them as the “Zazen School” without understanding the truth. Today the "Za" has been dropped and people just say the "Zen School". This is clear from the records of the Ancestors. Do not equate zazen with the practice in the six paramitas and the three practices. ...

83 Sangaku 三學 : kai, jo, e or sila, samadhi, prajna.
84 Ropparamitsu 六波羅蜜 : generosity, discipline, flexibility, exertion, harmonization or practice, and
wisdom.
...
87 Shobogenzo 正法眼蔵. Of course Dogen would later use this as the overarching title of his collected Teachings.
88 Ichidaiji 一大事 . This refers to the Lotus Discourse 1.88-90.
89 Shu 宗 . School or essence. The words "made a religion out of" are a gloss to indicate the intention.

http://www.wwzc.org/sites/default/files ... a-book.pdf
Dogen also had a rather special interpretation of "Zazen Samadhi" that is not quite about the usual meaning of "Samadhi" as a state of deep concentration. Historian and Zen Priest Taigen Leighton writes ...
This just sitting is not a meditation technique or practice, or any thing at all. ... Dogen describes this meditation as the samadhi of self-fulfillment (or enjoyment), and elaborates the inner meaning of this practice. Simply just sitting is expressed as concentration on the self in its most delightful wholeness, in total inclusive interconnection with all of phenomena. Dogen makes remarkably radical claims for this simple experience. "When one displays the buddha mudra with one's whole body and mind, sitting upright in this samadhi for even a short time, everything in the entire dharma world becomes buddha mudra, and all space in the universe completely becomes enlightenment."[13] Proclaiming that when one just sits all of space itself becomes enlightenment is an inconceivable statement, deeply challenging our usual sense of the nature of reality, whether we take Dogen's words literally or metaphorically. Dogen places this activity of just sitting far beyond our usual sense of personal self or agency. He goes on to say that, "Even if only one person sits for a short time, because this zazen is one with all existence and completely permeates all times, it performs everlasting buddha guidance" throughout space and time.[14] At least in Dogen's faith in the spiritual or "theological" implications of the activity of just sitting, this is clearly a dynamically liberating practice, not mere blissful serenity.
http://www.wisdompubs.org/book/art-just ... troduction
This is not really a matter of "mental concentration" and is even wider than the states of concentration often thought of as "Samadhi", because it holds all the world and everything else, wholly and omitting nothing. By my eyes, I do not see anywhere in Dogen's writings an emphasis on attaining deep Samadhi states, and Dogen is more about "sitting with all phenomena in the universe as sacred, whole, and each the universe's 'total exertion' of Buddha in each grain of sand.

Anyway .. just folks trying to use words to describe something hard to describe.

Finally, I often tell folks that Shikantaza holds both Samatha (calming thoughts and emotions, illuminating and dropping body-mind) and awareness and understanding of vipassana (insight and awareness primarily into the nature and workings of 'self' and mental functions), Unlike some schools of Buddhism, in Shikantaza we do not pursue any particular practices --during-- Zazen itself in order to cultivate such vipassana insight ... and much insight naturally arises from Zazen as "Zazen does its thing". Perhaps we might say that, just in "just sitting" Shikantaza ... dropping thoughts of this and that, thus quieting the mind's "mind games" ... we develop a natural sensitivity and understanding of the mind's "mind games" (much like one first comes to really appreciate what "urban noise" is when one first drives out of the city to the middle of the desert or some other truly quiet place).

Gassho, Jundo
Thank you very much. If I remember correctly, Dogen describes enlightenment as "dropping body and mind." I love this phrase because it is beyond all concerns of thoughts and perception and sensation. It reminds me also of working on a Koan, in which we break through by going beyond thinking and perceiving and every other way we normally understand something. This means the "answer" comes through unmediated direct experience, but not in any way we normally experience, and thus cannot be directly described with words, accounting for the spontaneous and unconvential behavior by which an "answer" might be given (and also the behavior of the classical Zen Masters). Anyway, if I drop body and mind, I don't have to be concerned about what I do about thoughts or what kind of concentration I have. But I nevertheless make use of instruction and skilfull means. I think that Koan practice and Shikantaza are paths that both lead to the same place. Perhaps in Shikantaza, the means and the goal are the same.

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Re: Dhyana in Zen

Post by jundo cohen » Wed Dec 16, 2015 3:14 am

By the way, the historians here will correct me, but it is my understanding that there are some very early rejections of traditional Dhyana in early Chan and "proto-Chan". For example, Jeffrey Broughton has this from "Record II" of the Long Scroll, which he attributes to a close follower or heir of Bodhidharma.
Question: What if I gather the mind into dhyana so that it does not move?"

Answer: "This is bondage samadhi. It is useless. This holds even for the four dhyanas, each of which is merely a state of quiescence from which you will return to disturbance again. They are not to be valued. These are created dharmas, dharmas that will be destroyed again, not ultimate Dharma. If you can understand that intrinsically there is neither quiescence nor disturbance, then you will be able to exist of yourself. The one who is not drawn into quiescence and disturbance is the man of spirit." Further: "If one is capable of not seizing on interpretations, not creating the mind of delusion, and not esteeming profound knowledge, then he will be a peaceful person. If there is one dharma to be esteemed or valued, this dharma will be the one most capable of binding and killing you, and you will fall into having mind. This is an unreliable state of affairs. There are innumerable common men throughout the world who are bound by terminology and the written word."
http://www.scribd.com/doc/52809132/Brou ... enBuddhism

Gassho, Jundo
Priest/Teacher at Treeleaf Zendo, a Soto Zen Sangha. Treeleaf Zendo was designed as an online practice place for Zen practitioners who cannot easily commute to a Zen Center due to health concerns, living in remote areas, or work, childcare and family needs, and seeks to provide Zazen sittings, retreats, discussion, interaction with a teacher, and all other activities of a Zen Buddhist Sangha, all fully online. The focus is Shikantaza "Just Sitting" Zazen as instructed by the 13th Century Japanese Master, Eihei Dogen. http://www.treeleaf.org

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Re: Dhyana in Zen

Post by Aemilius » Wed Dec 16, 2015 9:40 am

Astus wrote:
Aemilius wrote:For example Faith in the Mind, verse 8 : "Stop speaking, stop thinking", which implies the second or above dhyanas, that are without thoughts or thinking.

Thinking for the dhyanas are vitarka (尋) and vicara (伺), while the verse says 慮. Also, it seems meaningless to talk about speaking in the context of calming meditation. And there are other problems with interpreting that line in your way.


And in verse 1: "stop loving and hating" means overcoming two of the five hindrances to dhyana. The practice of Dhyana is implied in the Faith in the Mind, otherwise it makes little or no sense.
Hate (憎) and love (愛) mean general preferences, something that's not come over until enlightenment.
The Sutra of Hui Neng is speaking of unified Prajña contemplation, does this not mean unified Dhyana & Prajña?
Not unified but one. The chapter on samadhi and prajna (chapter 4) explicitly criticises both the view that there is samadhi and prajna separately, and the view that one should sit calmly and attain tranquillity.
The Chapter Six in Hui Neng Sutra is called [i]Sitting Chan[/i], ie Sitting Dhyana! This chapter is certainly about sitting meditation and nothing else.
That chapter is actually not about any formal meditation in a seated posture but rather that "seated meditation" (zuochan/zazen) means the mind's nature.

"In this teaching of seated meditation, one fundamentally does not concentrate on mind, nor does one concentrate on purity, nor is it motionlessness. ... To have such a view is to obscure one’s own fundamental nature, and only to be fettered by purity."
(Platform Sutra, ch 5, BDK Edition, p 45)
That is misleading. The true path consist of ethics (shila), meditation (dhyana) and wisdom (prajña). Zen is a true (Mahayana) path. You must understand that it necessarily consist of the three trainings. But You have constructed a fantasy that is divorced from the three trainings, that does not contain them, that is contrary to reality.

Even Indian languages have a huge vocabulary with tens and hundreds of synonyms, they are not restricted to one or two words for thinking!
Moreover, Zen/Chan tradition is known for its poetic style and poetic liberties, they often try to express the path in a fresh and poetic manner. They are not bound to a limited abhidharmic technical vocabulary!

Mahayana dhyana is distinct from the sravakayana dhyana. You must not take the sravakayana tradition as a basis for evaluating the Mahayana dhyana, because they are not similar.

In the explanation of tripitaka master Hsuan Hua the Fifth Chapter of the Sutra of Hui Neng is unambiguously about sitting meditation:
http://www.zen-ua.org/wp-content/upload ... nglish.pdf
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)

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Re: Dhyana in Zen

Post by Astus » Wed Dec 16, 2015 11:36 am

Aemilius wrote:That is misleading. The true path consist of ethics (shila), meditation (dhyana) and wisdom (prajña). Zen is a true (Mahayana) path. You must understand that it necessarily consist of the three trainings. But You have constructed a fantasy that is divorced from the three trainings, that does not contain them, that is contrary to reality.
There is a difference between gradual and sudden. What you talk about is the gradual method, the one attributed to Shenxiu in the following paragraph:

The master said, “I have heard that your master teaches students about morality, meditation, and wisdom, but I don’t know how he explains them. What are the characteristics of his practice? Tell them to me.”
Zhicheng said, “Great Master Shenxiu teaches that ‘not to do evil is called morality, to practice good is wisdom, and to purify one’s own intentions is called meditation.’ Thus does he teach. I wonder, with what Dharma does Your Reverence teach people?”
The master said, “To say that I have a Dharma for people would be to deceive you. I simply release people’s fetters according to the situation. The samādhi of provisional names, such as your master’s explanation of morality, meditation, and wisdom, is truly inconceivable. [But] my view of morality, meditation, and wisdom is different.”

(Platform Sutra, ch 8, p 73, BDK Edition)

See also what Keizan wrote in Zazen Yojinki:

Zazen is also not based upon discipline, practice, or wisdom. These three are all contained within it.
Discipline is usually understood as ceasing wrong action and eliminating evil. In zazen the whole thing is known to be non-dual. Cast off the numberless concerns and rest free from entangling yourself in the "Buddhist way" or the "worldly way." Leave behind feelings about the path as well as your usual sentiments. When you leave behind all opposites, what can obstruct you? This is the formless discipline of the ground of mind.
Practice usually means unbroken concentration. Zazen is dropping the bodymind, leaving behind confusion and understanding. Unshakeable, without activity, it is not deluded but still like an idiot, a fool. Like a mountain, like the ocean. Without any trace of motion or stillness. This practice is no-practice because it has no object to practice and so is called great practice.
Wisdom is usually understood to be clear discernment. In zazen, all knowledge vanishes of itself. Mind and discrimination are forgotten forever. The wisdom-eye of this body has no discrimination but is clear seeing of the essence of awakening. From the beginning it is free of confusion, cuts off concept, and open and clear luminosity pervades everywhere. This wisdom is no-wisdom; because it is traceless wisdom, it is called great wisdom.


It agrees with Dazhu's teaching in the Treatise On Entering The Tao of Sudden Enlightenment:

Discipline is centered upon purity and non-defilement. Meditation is centered upon stilling the mind so that it is moved by no object whatsoever. Wisdom is reached when the knowing mind is agitated by no object, but yet does not hold any thought of being unagitated. Wisdom is reached only when the knowing mind is clear and pure but has no thought of being clear and pure. Wisdom is reached when you can discriminate between good and evil, as well as other dualities, but, grasping none if them, remain free. Finally, if you realize that the "substances" of discipline, of meditation and of wisdom, none of which can be possessed, are indistinguishable -- i.e., are of only one substance -- this, in itself, is equal to the three studies undertaken and completed separately.
Moreover, Zen/Chan tradition is known for its poetic style and poetic liberties, they often try to express the path in a fresh and poetic manner. They are not bound to a limited abhidharmic technical vocabulary!
And what Zen is even more famous about is sudden enlightenment, that is, immediate realisation.

[The teaching that one can] cultivate the six perfections and the myriad practices in order to achieve Buddhahood—this is the progressive [approach to Buddhahood]. Since beginningless time, there has never been a Buddha [who achieved that state] progressively.
(Huangbo, in "Zen Texts", BDK Edition, p 14)
Mahayana dhyana is distinct from the sravakayana dhyana. You must not take the sravakayana tradition as a basis for evaluating the Mahayana dhyana, because they are not similar.
What are the differences between the 8/9 dhyanas of sravakas and bodhisattvas, and where are they described?
In the explanation of tripitaka master Hsuan Hua the Fifth Chapter of the Sutra of Hui Neng is unambiguously about sitting meditation
From his commentaries:

"Ch’an is not necessarily just sitting in meditation. One may practice Ch’an while walking, standing, sitting, and lying down."

"If you know how, you can practice Ch’an at all times, not just while sitting in meditation. "

"You shouldn’t just sit there and not move. You should cultivate nonmovement in the midst of movement; in the midst of your daily activities, do not move."

"Sitting in one place is not necessarily “sitting.” You are said to be “sitting” when your mind is no longer disturbed by external conditions, be they good or bad."
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: Dhyana in Zen

Post by Dan74 » Wed Dec 16, 2015 12:52 pm

Astus, I doubt that Shenxiu and Huineng are truly two different paths. Rather, I believe they are parts of the same training. The error many of us make, IMO, is becoming seduced by the nondual teachings, while our dualistic habits and deep-seated clinging still rule the roost.

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Re: Dhyana in Zen

Post by Astus » Wed Dec 16, 2015 2:46 pm

Dan74 wrote:Astus, I doubt that Shenxiu and Huineng are truly two different paths. Rather, I believe they are parts of the same training. The error many of us make, IMO, is becoming seduced by the nondual teachings, while our dualistic habits and deep-seated clinging still rule the roost.
On one hand, I agree, and in that way I agree with Aemilius as well in that there is just morality, meditation, and wisdom. On the other hand, it is a cardinal point of the Zen teachings that unlike the so called gradual path, it is a direct one.

If we just go and break down the immediate path to the bodhisattva way, that's basically calling Zen's bluff and bursting its bubble of fancy rhetoric. That is, in my view, perfectly fine, but then it should also be accepted that once the veneer is blown away the whole Zen set up is untenable, and the so called masters of present and past are nothing more than clowns.

Or we can take the message seriously and consider the possibility that there is more to Bodhidharma's arrival than entertaining words. If the mind transmission actually means something, this is not found in historical records, written words, meditation practice, or nice robes with cool titles. It is simply realising for oneself that all experiences are empty and unattainable. That insight is of course no different from what the sutras and the gradual path teaches. The question then is: how can one go directly instead of by stages? That's what all the Zen teachings are the answer for. Anyone can easily confirm that no bodily or mental occurrence remains for a moment, and it is only out of ignorance of this simple truth that one pointlessly attempts to hold on to something and experience dissatisfaction. So the mind is indeed originally pure and can never be tainted. Therefore, engaging in any kind of cultivation is not only meaningless but actually contra-productive and misleading.

What may be lacking to put a finger on the subitism of Zen is the general context of everyday life either in a monastery or as a lay person. That's a false impression texts (and films) can make, as inevitably the whole picture cannot be included into a few pages, not to mention all the things that were evident for contemporary readers. Basically, Zen is not a separate school or organisation, but exists as a (small) part of the larger East Asian tradition where monastics follow the precepts and perform rituals, and the laity visits the monastery to gain merit and hear some chanting. It's like high brow theology for everyday church goers and parish priests.
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: Dhyana in Zen

Post by Dan74 » Wed Dec 16, 2015 3:10 pm

I don't see the dualism, Astus. You can go gradually. You can go directly. Typically a lot of gradual is required before direct works, but not always. Maybe almost always these days. Gradual doesn't really get you all the way, so sudden/direct is essential in some form. Maybe I am missing the point. Hopefully knowledgeable people weigh in.

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