Buddha is an Ordinary Fellow

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Astus
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Buddha is an Ordinary Fellow

Post by Astus » Mon Mar 07, 2016 2:40 pm

From Jingde Chuandeng Lu, vol 14 (T51n2076, p311, a4-17):

Zen master Danxia Tianran entered the hall and addressed the monks, saying,
“All of you here must take care of the temple and monastery. Things in this place were not made or named by you, and have they not been given as offerings? Formerly I studied with Shitou, and he taught me that I must personally protect these things. This is not to be discussed further.
Each of you here has a place to put your cushion and sit. Why do you suspect you need something else? Is Zen something you can explain? Is a buddha something you can become? I don’t want to hear a single word about Buddhism.
All of you, look and see! Skillful means and expedience, the unlimited mind of benevolence, compassion, joy, and detachment—these things aren’t received from someplace else. Not an inch of these things is evident. Skillful means is Manjushri Bodhisattva. Expedience is Samantabhadra Bodhisattva. Do you still want to go seeking after something? Don’t go using the Buddhist scriptures to look for emptiness!
These days Zen students are all in a tizzy, practicing Zen and asking about Tao. I don’t have any Dharma for you to practice here! And there isn’t any doctrine to be confirmed. Just eat and drink. Everyone can do that. Don’t harbor doubt. It’s the same everyplace!
Just recognize that Shakyamuni was an ordinary old fellow. You must see for yourself. Don’t spend your life trying to win some competitive trophy, blindly misleading other blind people, all of you marching right into hell, floundering in duality! I’ve nothing more to say. Take care!”
(tr. A. Ferguson: Zen's Chinese Heritage, p 129)

Alternative translation by Beishi Guohan:

Chan Master Danxia Tianran entered the hall and said,
“All of you here have to take good care of your own spiritual treasury, which is not attainable through labeling and describing by the effortful-effort of your deluded mind, and there is even no need to talk about attainment and non-attainment. ... You neither need to rely on the sutras and teachings, nor to fall into nothingness. These days Chan practitioners are all in a tizzy, investigating Chan and inquiring into the Way. Here in my place, there is no Way to be cultivated and no Dharma to be realized. Merely drink when you're thirsty and eat when you're hungry by way of clear awareness without self-referential deluded thinking. Just always act with this Mind in all places in your daily life to realize that Shakyamuni is the ordinary person.”
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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jundo cohen
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Re: Buddha is an Ordinary Fellow

Post by jundo cohen » Mon Mar 07, 2016 6:29 pm

Often in Zen, the "ordinary" is most extra-ordinary and miraculous if properly perceived. The fantastic and extra-ordinary is right at the heart of the most seemingly mundane, commonplace and ordinary.

Doing nothing when properly encountered is doing so much. Doing or not doing both Still beyond Still.

Gassho, J
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: Buddha is an Ordinary Fellow

Post by Astus » Tue Mar 08, 2016 2:19 pm

jundo cohen wrote:Often in Zen, the "ordinary" is most extra-ordinary and miraculous if properly perceived. The fantastic and extra-ordinary is right at the heart of the most seemingly mundane, commonplace and ordinary.
The point of saying that Shakyamuni is an ordinary being is to remove dreamy ideas about the nature of reality. What's the point of calling ordinary fantastic?
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: Buddha is an Ordinary Fellow

Post by DGA » Tue Mar 08, 2016 3:19 pm

jundo cohen wrote:Often in Zen, the "ordinary" is most extra-ordinary and miraculous if properly perceived. The fantastic and extra-ordinary is right at the heart of the most seemingly mundane, commonplace and ordinary.

Doing nothing when properly encountered is doing so much. Doing or not doing both Still beyond Still.

Gassho, J
Hi Jundo,

Is this the same as saying that ordinary people are Buddhas, or different? As I reflect on Astus' post, I think there's sense to be made of it going both directions:

Buddha as ordinary person
ordinary person as Buddha
Buddha as neither Buddha nor ordinary person
ordinary person as both Buddha and ordinary person

&c

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Re: Buddha is an Ordinary Fellow

Post by Jeff H » Tue Mar 08, 2016 3:50 pm

Astus wrote:
jundo cohen wrote:Often in Zen, the "ordinary" is most extra-ordinary and miraculous if properly perceived. The fantastic and extra-ordinary is right at the heart of the most seemingly mundane, commonplace and ordinary.
The point of saying that Shakyamuni is an ordinary being is to remove dreamy ideas about the nature of reality. What's the point of calling ordinary fantastic?
I think the point is that within each ordinary being there is buddha-nature to be realized and Buddha is an ordinary being who realized buddhahood.
Fanatastic! :thumbsup:
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

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Re: Buddha is an Ordinary Fellow

Post by Astus » Tue Mar 08, 2016 5:12 pm

Jeff H wrote:I think the point is that within each ordinary being there is buddha-nature to be realized and Buddha is an ordinary being who realized buddhahood.
That is like the common tathagatagarbha doctrine, where buddha-nature is taught to raise hopes.

Linji says:

There are a bunch of shavepate monks who say to students, ‘The Buddha is the Ultimate; he attained buddhahood only aft er he came to the fruition of practices carried on through three great asaṃkhyeya kalpas.’ Followers of the Way, if you say that the Buddha is the ultimate, how is it that aft er eighty years of life the Buddha lay down on his side between the twin śāla trees at Kuśinagara and died? Where is the Buddha now? We clearly know that his birth and death were not different from ours.
(Record of Linji, tr Sasaki, p 19)

It basically comes down to this:

When one is deluded as to the self-nature, one is a sentient being, but when one realizes the self-nature, one is a buddha.
(Platform Sutra, ch 3, p 39, BDK Edition)

In other words, do not wait for mystical lights and special feelings, just look at your own mind.
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: Buddha is an Ordinary Fellow

Post by jundo cohen » Tue Mar 08, 2016 7:36 pm

Astus wrote:
jundo cohen wrote:Often in Zen, the "ordinary" is most extra-ordinary and miraculous if properly perceived. The fantastic and extra-ordinary is right at the heart of the most seemingly mundane, commonplace and ordinary.
The point of saying that Shakyamuni is an ordinary being is to remove dreamy ideas about the nature of reality. What's the point of calling ordinary fantastic?
Because the ordinary is fantastic. Chopping wood, fetching water, scratching one's nose or taking a breath. Wondrous.
DGA wrote:... I think there's sense to be made of it going both directions:

Buddha as ordinary person
ordinary person as Buddha
Buddha as neither Buddha nor ordinary person
ordinary person as both Buddha and ordinary person

&c
For sure. Thus Zen folks, Dogen, Koans and such often seem to be taking very contradictory positions-non-positions without a sense of contradiction among them though contradictory. I like to say we talk "out of both sides of our no sided mouth".

Ordinary beings are already thoroughly Buddha without the least drop in need of realization to make it so, nothing in need of change. Buddha nature is manifest, realized and fulfilled from the startless start! Nothing to do. Buddha nature is not some thing within or without which can be realized.

And in order to realize so, ordinary beings need to get to work, make changes in word, thoughts and acts. Otherwise Buddha nature is not manifest, neither realized nor fulfilled. There is much to do. Buddha nature must be realized both within and without and beyond all "in and out".

No contradiction.

Some of Astus' quotes only present one side of the mouthless mouth. For example, the same Master Danxia Tianran who said "Shakyamuni was an ordinary old fellow" also is said to be the fellow who burned a Buddha statue on a cold night. However, he bowed to the statue before burning, and also asked "Is a buddha something you can become?" (a rhetorical question, as one cannot become what one already embodies. However, try to chase Buddha, and Buddha seems apart.)

Linji is quoted by Astus ...
Followers of the Way, if you say that the Buddha is the ultimate, how is it that aft er eighty years of life the Buddha lay down on his side between the twin śāla trees at Kuśinagara and died? Where is the Buddha now? We clearly know that his birth and death were not different from ours.
Right on! No different from us, born and died like all the other bozos.

But the same Linji also said ...
If you wish to differ in no way from the patriarch-buddha, just don’t seek outside. The pure light in a single thought of yours—this is the dharmakāya buddha within your own house. The nondiscriminating light in a single thought of yours—this is the saṃbhogakāya buddha within your own house. The nondifferentiating light in a single thought of yours—this is the nirmāṇakāya buddha within your own house. This threefold body is you, listening to my discourse right now before my very eyes. It is precisely because you don’t run around seeking outside that you have such meritorious activities.

...

The Buddha appeared in the world, turned the Wheel of the Great Dharma, then entered nirvana, yet no trace of his coming and going can be
seen. Though you seek his birth and death, you will never find it.

Then, having entered the dharma realm of no-birth and traveled throughout every country, you enter the realm of the lotus-womb, and there
see through and through that all dharmas are characterized by emptiness and that there are no real dharmas whatsoever.

There is only the man of the Way who depends upon nothing, here listening to my discourse—it is he who is the mother of all buddhas. Therefore buddhas are born from nondependence. Awaken to nondependence, then there is no buddha to be obtained. Insight such as this is true insight.
Buddha died between the sala trees, yet his death can never be found.

Gassho, J
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: Buddha is an Ordinary Fellow

Post by barndoor » Tue Mar 08, 2016 10:28 pm

Astus wrote:
jundo cohen wrote:Often in Zen, the "ordinary" is most extra-ordinary and miraculous if properly perceived. The fantastic and extra-ordinary is right at the heart of the most seemingly mundane, commonplace and ordinary.
The point of saying that Shakyamuni is an ordinary being is to remove dreamy ideas about the nature of reality. What's the point of calling ordinary fantastic?
I agree with your first point, Astus, and you raise a very good question. Jundo is claiming to have a particular kind of experience, and by asserting that this is "proper perceiving", he's claiming that his extra-ordinary experiences are 'valid' and that they are in some sense superior to the experiences of those who see the ordinary as merely "ordinary". That's just the kind of position that your opening quotes are aiming to dispel.

bd

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Re: Buddha is an Ordinary Fellow

Post by Caodemarte » Tue Mar 08, 2016 10:57 pm

I see no "personal" claim to "extraordinary experiences" in what seems to be perfectly orthodox Zen phrases that reference traditional Zen literature.

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Re: Buddha is an Ordinary Fellow

Post by Qing Tian » Wed Mar 09, 2016 12:08 am

Is changing the label helpful?
“Not till your thoughts cease all their branching here and there, not till you abandon all thoughts of seeking for something, not till your mind is motionless as wood or stone, will you be on the right road to the Gate.”

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Re: Buddha is an Ordinary Fellow

Post by Astus » Wed Mar 09, 2016 10:50 am

jundo cohen wrote:Because the ordinary is fantastic. Chopping wood, fetching water, scratching one's nose or taking a breath. Wondrous.
When you call it that, it reminds me of this. Still, what is your reason for talking that way? What does it mean to you? Because to me it's just unnecessary embellishment and possibly a source of confusion.
But the same Linji also said ...
What you quote simply says that the real buddha is one's own mind. Not anything to be sought outside (or attained inside), nor something 'fantastic'.
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: Buddha is an Ordinary Fellow

Post by jundo cohen » Wed Mar 09, 2016 1:17 pm

Astus wrote:
Because to me it's just unnecessary embellishment and possibly a source of confusion.
Well, one has to say something! However, I believe that there are so many people in this world who see the ordinary as merely "ordinary", nothing special, tedious, trying, sometimes amusing and often frustrating, sometimes beautiful and frequently very ugly, the source of Dukkha.

Many believe that the "fantastic" must look fantastic,bathed in gold, surrounded by rainbow auras, performing amazing feats of incredible powers such as reading minds and flying through the air.

But it is hard for people to see what a wonder is the so-called "ordinary", how brass or gold is truly Gold, that breathing, an aching back or petting the cat is a more incredible feat than levitation.

Truly, however, it is a Fantastic so Fantastic that it holds and fully embodies both small human weighings of "ordinary vs. fantastic." That is how Fantastic this is, that it need not always be perceived as fantastic.

If one merely describes "ordinary" as just "ordinary", perhaps the point is missed.

Another Linji quote ...
The mind ground can go into the ordinary, into the holy, into the pure, into the defiled, into the real, into the conventional; but it is not your "real" or "conventional," "ordinary" or "holy." It can put labels on all the real and conventional, the ordinary and the holy, but the real and conventional, the ordinary and the holy, cannot put labels on someone in the mind ground. If you can get it, use it, without putting any more labels on it
Folks do not realize how special is this "nothing special", and how much can be attained by this "nothing to attain". From the Komyozo of Eijo ...
The Great Master Bodhidharma was asked by Emperor Wu of China about the first principle of the holy Teachings. Bodhidharma said, Vast emptiness, nothing holy. This is the great ball of flame, the luminosity of the Transmission of our Awakened Ancestors. Clear right through and on all sides with nothing inside of it at all. Outside of this luminosity there is no other practice, no other teaching. So how could there be any objects to know let alone the cultivation of any particular state or trying to cure yourselves of some imaginary disease?

...

So, fools who hear some talk about "luminosity" might think that this is like the light of fireflies, like the light of lanterns, like the light of the sun or moon, the gleaming of gold or jewels. They look around for something that they already know. Looking for the blaze of radiance, they concentrate on their little minds and try to figure it out, trying to turn it into the realm of emptiness and silence. So they freeze and hide in motionlessness. They are unable to give up looking for some kind of thing that they can acquire. Or they think mystical thoughts and go on and on about how special it is. There are only too many like this, sleeping with open eyes, just bags of borrowed rice.

If it were really some inconceivably mysterious thing, why do you think that you can get at it with your thoughts? This is the confusion spread by the Buddha-devil that sets up little states as the same as the practice of the Buddhas. This is why the First Ancestor called it, Vast emptiness, nothing holy and the practice as not knowing. I hope you understand.

...

Tell me, right now: this shitting and pissing, getting dressed and eating...who is it that does this? And what about the sounds of rivers, the colours of the mountains, the coming and going of heat and cold, blossoms in spring, the bright moon in autumn, the thousand changes and numberless appearances? What is it that does this? Truly, this is a wondrous face, its light illumining the ten directions. It is bondage and liberation are like last night's faded dream. It is form is emptiness, emptiness is form.

If you don't know this then you can say it is sitting alone on this great, sublime peak, but this is a lie, it is a corrupted teaching. You might hear about the silent luminosity that pervades all times but never comes and goes, but it will just be babbling without any meaning.

In speaking of the practice of the Single Path, the Buddha taught,

Those who grasp at a self and cling to appearances cannot understand my teaching. Those who cultivate practices to elude life are barren fields. To cultivate the seeds of Awakening to the luminosity that illuminates all worlds you should investigate the truth of all things. They are unborn and ceaseless; are not permanent and yet indestructible; are not one thing and yet not different; do not come and go. Whether on the path of learning or having gone beyond learning, do not contrive fragmented views.

This ancient teaching of the luminosity that illumines all worlds should be engraved on your bones, right through to the marrow. This is the subtle form of the vast activity that manifests the Buddhas of the three times. If you yourself should practise this, you could unfold joy for all beings.

...


Breathing in, breathing out, hearing, touching, without thoughts of separation, is just the silent illumination of luminosity in which body and mind are single. Thus, when someone calls, you immediately answer.

In this luminosity usual people and sages, deluded and enlightened are one. In the midst of impermanence, this luminosity is unobstructed. Forests, flowers, grasses, leaves; humans and animals; large or small, long or short, square or round: all display themselves simultaneously, free of discriminating thoughts or intention. This is luminosity unobstructed in impermanence. Luminosity is its own open brilliance; it does not depend on your mind.

Luminosity has no location. When Buddhas appear in this universe, it does not arise with them. When Buddhas cease, luminosity does not cease. When you are born, luminosity is not born; when you die, luminosity does not die. Buddhas do not have more of it; sentient beings do not have less. If you are deluded, it is not; if you are enlightened, it is not. It has no rank, no form, and no name. This is the Body of Totality of all things.

You cannot grasp it; you cannot throw it away. It is unattainable. Although it is unattainable, it penetrates this whole body. From the highest heaven to the deepest hell, all realms are illuminated perfectly. This is wondrous and inconceivably subtle luminosity.
http://www.wwzc.org/dharma-text/komyozo ... luminosity
There are many people who see shitting and pissing and changing light bulbs as shitting and pissing and changing light bulbs.

There are those who see Grand Shining Buddhas Exhibiting Major and Minor Marks as "Luminous"

But how easy to realize a broken light bulb and all "ordinary" functions as a Grand Shining Buddha's Major and Minor Marks?
Now, about the major and minor marks and the place of realization of Dipamkara Buddha, of Sakyamuni, of the seven Buddhas of this aeon and the successive generations of Awakened Ancestors who have transmitted the lamp of luminosity. Do you consider them to be far from you in time and place? Or do you realise them to be right here and throughout all times? Do you know anything about the jewelled stupa of serene radiance?
Gassho, J
Last edited by jundo cohen on Wed Mar 09, 2016 1:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Buddha is an Ordinary Fellow

Post by seeker242 » Wed Mar 09, 2016 1:23 pm

What's the point of saying he's ordinary? Can "ordinary" even exist without "fantastic"? Ordinary and fantastic are opposites are they not? How can thinking in opposites itself not be "floundering in duality"? In order to make a notion of ordinary, one also has to make a notion of fantastic yes? But if fantastic is an illusion, then it would follow that "ordinary" is also an illusion, would it not? Why make either ordinary or fantastic?
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: Buddha is an Ordinary Fellow

Post by jundo cohen » Wed Mar 09, 2016 1:25 pm

seeker242 wrote:What's the point of saying he's ordinary? Can "ordinary" even exist without "fantastic"? Ordinary and fantastic are opposites are they not? How can thinking in opposites itself not be "floundering in duality"? In order to make a notion of ordinary, one also has to make a notion of fantastic yes? But if fantastic is an illusion, then it would follow that "ordinary" is also an illusion, would it not? Why make either ordinary or fantastic?
Yes! Neither and both, each and either. Truly Fantastic!

Gassho, J
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: Buddha is an Ordinary Fellow

Post by Astus » Wed Mar 09, 2016 2:59 pm

jundo cohen wrote:I believe that there are so many people in this world who see the ordinary as merely "ordinary", nothing special, tedious, trying, sometimes amusing and often frustrating, sometimes beautiful and frequently very ugly, the source of Dukkha.
Such views are certainly problematic, the causes of problems actually. Exchanging it to another view, however, is not a solution, although "positive thinking" may prove helpful in some cases. Rather, it is seeing through every view as a view that brings about release from attachments.
But it is hard for people to see what a wonder is the so-called "ordinary", how brass or gold is truly Gold, that breathing, an aching back or petting the cat is a more incredible feat than levitation.
Appreciation of everyday matters creates a good mood, and I do not doubt its beneficial effects. But it's not the same level as the teaching of the equality of beings and buddhas.
If one merely describes "ordinary" as just "ordinary", perhaps the point is missed.
That is possible.
Folks do not realize how special is this "nothing special", and how much can be attained by this "nothing to attain".
True, it can sound boring, therefore it is usually not recommended for those without motivation. On the other hand, why waste time with building up a nicer view if one can just get rid of one's present concepts? That is, after all, the direct method of Zen.
There are many people who see shitting and pissing and changing light bulbs as shitting and pissing and changing light bulbs.
There are those who see Grand Shining Buddhas Exhibiting Major and Minor Marks as "Luminous"
But how easy to realize a broken light bulb and all "ordinary" functions as a Grand Shining Buddha's Major and Minor Marks?
First of all: great question! :twothumbsup:

While we might be on the same page on this matter as far as the meaning goes, it is about the way it is expressed that I can still raise an issue. My take is that there is no need to get anything grand and luminous put in the equations, rather just start from the broken bulb and point out how it is an essenceless conceptual creation. In other words, in order to drop body and mind, why first build up a magnificent buddha-body?
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: Buddha is an Ordinary Fellow

Post by Malcolm » Wed Mar 09, 2016 3:44 pm

It is pretty clear from these statements, that "Buddha is an ordinary guy" simple means that the conduct of the Buddha, an awakened person, was completely unfabricated. Jeez, you Zen guys make everything so damn complicated and wordy. Must be a Chinese cultural thing.
Astus wrote:From Jingde Chuandeng Lu, vol 14 (T51n2076, p311, a4-17):

Zen master Danxia Tianran entered the hall and addressed the monks, saying,
“All of you here must take care of the temple and monastery. Things in this place were not made or named by you, and have they not been given as offerings? Formerly I studied with Shitou, and he taught me that I must personally protect these things. This is not to be discussed further.
Each of you here has a place to put your cushion and sit. Why do you suspect you need something else? Is Zen something you can explain? Is a buddha something you can become? I don’t want to hear a single word about Buddhism.
All of you, look and see! Skillful means and expedience, the unlimited mind of benevolence, compassion, joy, and detachment—these things aren’t received from someplace else. Not an inch of these things is evident. Skillful means is Manjushri Bodhisattva. Expedience is Samantabhadra Bodhisattva. Do you still want to go seeking after something? Don’t go using the Buddhist scriptures to look for emptiness!
These days Zen students are all in a tizzy, practicing Zen and asking about Tao. I don’t have any Dharma for you to practice here! And there isn’t any doctrine to be confirmed. Just eat and drink. Everyone can do that. Don’t harbor doubt. It’s the same everyplace!
Just recognize that Shakyamuni was an ordinary old fellow. You must see for yourself. Don’t spend your life trying to win some competitive trophy, blindly misleading other blind people, all of you marching right into hell, floundering in duality! I’ve nothing more to say. Take care!”
(tr. A. Ferguson: Zen's Chinese Heritage, p 129)

Alternative translation by Beishi Guohan:

Chan Master Danxia Tianran entered the hall and said,
“All of you here have to take good care of your own spiritual treasury, which is not attainable through labeling and describing by the effortful-effort of your deluded mind, and there is even no need to talk about attainment and non-attainment. ... You neither need to rely on the sutras and teachings, nor to fall into nothingness. These days Chan practitioners are all in a tizzy, investigating Chan and inquiring into the Way. Here in my place, there is no Way to be cultivated and no Dharma to be realized. Merely drink when you're thirsty and eat when you're hungry by way of clear awareness without self-referential deluded thinking. Just always act with this Mind in all places in your daily life to realize that Shakyamuni is the ordinary person.”

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Astus
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Re: Buddha is an Ordinary Fellow

Post by Astus » Wed Mar 09, 2016 4:32 pm

seeker242 wrote:What's the point of saying he's ordinary?
To recognise that one is not a deficient being far from the perfection of buddhas. To see that buddhahood is about this life: one's present actions, words, and thoughts.
Can "ordinary" even exist without "fantastic"? Ordinary and fantastic are opposites are they not? How can thinking in opposites itself not be "floundering in duality"?
There is already a dual idea of ordinary and fantastic in one's mind. The point of showing that buddhahood is not in the category of fantastic is to clarify that realisation is seeing how things are now, not changing into something new. It is not about besmirching the Triple Jewel, dragging the sacred into the dust, but enlightening what holiness actually is in Buddhism.
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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Anders
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Re: Buddha is an Ordinary Fellow

Post by Anders » Wed Mar 09, 2016 5:07 pm

Malcolm wrote:It is pretty clear from these statements, that "Buddha is an ordinary guy" simple means that the conduct of the Buddha, an awakened person, was completely unfabricated. Jeez, you Zen guys make everything so damn complicated and wordy. Must be a Chinese cultural thing.
Astus wrote:From Jingde Chuandeng Lu, vol 14 (T51n2076, p311, a4-17):

Zen master Danxia Tianran entered the hall and addressed the monks, saying,
“All of you here must take care of the temple and monastery. Things in this place were not made or named by you, and have they not been given as offerings? Formerly I studied with Shitou, and he taught me that I must personally protect these things. This is not to be discussed further.
Each of you here has a place to put your cushion and sit. Why do you suspect you need something else? Is Zen something you can explain? Is a buddha something you can become? I don’t want to hear a single word about Buddhism.
All of you, look and see! Skillful means and expedience, the unlimited mind of benevolence, compassion, joy, and detachment—these things aren’t received from someplace else. Not an inch of these things is evident. Skillful means is Manjushri Bodhisattva. Expedience is Samantabhadra Bodhisattva. Do you still want to go seeking after something? Don’t go using the Buddhist scriptures to look for emptiness!
These days Zen students are all in a tizzy, practicing Zen and asking about Tao. I don’t have any Dharma for you to practice here! And there isn’t any doctrine to be confirmed. Just eat and drink. Everyone can do that. Don’t harbor doubt. It’s the same everyplace!
Just recognize that Shakyamuni was an ordinary old fellow. You must see for yourself. Don’t spend your life trying to win some competitive trophy, blindly misleading other blind people, all of you marching right into hell, floundering in duality! I’ve nothing more to say. Take care!”
(tr. A. Ferguson: Zen's Chinese Heritage, p 129)

Alternative translation by Beishi Guohan:

Chan Master Danxia Tianran entered the hall and said,
“All of you here have to take good care of your own spiritual treasury, which is not attainable through labeling and describing by the effortful-effort of your deluded mind, and there is even no need to talk about attainment and non-attainment. ... You neither need to rely on the sutras and teachings, nor to fall into nothingness. These days Chan practitioners are all in a tizzy, investigating Chan and inquiring into the Way. Here in my place, there is no Way to be cultivated and no Dharma to be realized. Merely drink when you're thirsty and eat when you're hungry by way of clear awareness without self-referential deluded thinking. Just always act with this Mind in all places in your daily life to realize that Shakyamuni is the ordinary person.”
Ha. Sums up my thoughts as well.

Although the only Chinese comments we have cited here are pretty plain spoken.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra

Malcolm
Posts: 31061
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: Buddha is an Ordinary Fellow

Post by Malcolm » Wed Mar 09, 2016 5:13 pm

Anders wrote:
Although the only Chinese comments we have cited here are pretty plain spoken.
I was referring to the replies.

Simon E.
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Re: Buddha is an Ordinary Fellow

Post by Simon E. » Wed Mar 09, 2016 5:17 pm

Malcolm wrote:It is pretty clear from these statements, that "Buddha is an ordinary guy" simple means that the conduct of the Buddha, an awakened person, was completely unfabricated. Jeez, you Zen guys make everything so damn complicated and wordy. Must be a Chinese cultural thing.
Astus wrote:From Jingde Chuandeng Lu, vol 14 (T51n2076, p311, a4-17):

Zen master Danxia Tianran entered the hall and addressed the monks, saying,
“All of you here must take care of the temple and monastery. Things in this place were not made or named by you, and have they not been given as offerings? Formerly I studied with Shitou, and he taught me that I must personally protect these things. This is not to be discussed further.
Each of you here has a place to put your cushion and sit. Why do you suspect you need something else? Is Zen something you can explain? Is a buddha something you can become? I don’t want to hear a single word about Buddhism.
All of you, look and see! Skillful means and expedience, the unlimited mind of benevolence, compassion, joy, and detachment—these things aren’t received from someplace else. Not an inch of these things is evident. Skillful means is Manjushri Bodhisattva. Expedience is Samantabhadra Bodhisattva. Do you still want to go seeking after something? Don’t go using the Buddhist scriptures to look for emptiness!
These days Zen students are all in a tizzy, practicing Zen and asking about Tao. I don’t have any Dharma for you to practice here! And there isn’t any doctrine to be confirmed. Just eat and drink. Everyone can do that. Don’t harbor doubt. It’s the same everyplace!
Just recognize that Shakyamuni was an ordinary old fellow. You must see for yourself. Don’t spend your life trying to win some competitive trophy, blindly misleading other blind people, all of you marching right into hell, floundering in duality! I’ve nothing more to say. Take care!”
(tr. A. Ferguson: Zen's Chinese Heritage, p 129)

Alternative translation by Beishi Guohan:

Chan Master Danxia Tianran entered the hall and said,
“All of you here have to take good care of your own spiritual treasury, which is not attainable through labeling and describing by the effortful-effort of your deluded mind, and there is even no need to talk about attainment and non-attainment. ... You neither need to rely on the sutras and teachings, nor to fall into nothingness. These days Chan practitioners are all in a tizzy, investigating Chan and inquiring into the Way. Here in my place, there is no Way to be cultivated and no Dharma to be realized. Merely drink when you're thirsty and eat when you're hungry by way of clear awareness without self-referential deluded thinking. Just always act with this Mind in all places in your daily life to realize that Shakyamuni is the ordinary person.”
I'm glad it's not just me.
I really don't want to badmouth any Dharmic tradition but to me reading Zen stuff is like encountering Freemasonry. There are all sorts of signifiers which are apparently profound to the inner circle, but to me seem like jargon.
And this in a tradition which prides itself on its directness!
“The difference between us and Tara is that she knows she doesn’t exist”.

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