Sudden Enlightenment

Dgj
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Sudden Enlightenment

Post by Dgj » Fri Dec 09, 2016 3:44 pm

I am a very poorly educated Buddhist and I do not have a firm grasp of Zen, but am trying to learn about it, and I undoubtedly have some misconceptions about it, so please read the following with that in mind:

I studied Zen for many years from texts and then recently for a year under a teacher and I am confused by sudden enlightenment. It seems that Shenhui spoke against sitting meditation and yet we all practice it; either sitting with a koan or shikantaza. To my deficient understanding it seems the picture painted of sudden enlightenment was that a teacher could spur a student into awakening with words and deeds, and today we practice sitting in meditation on records of those words and deeds, instead of being spurred into awakening by a teacher's words and deeds alone, as it would seem Shenhui would have preferred.

Clearly I have misconstrued something. What am I missing?
I wish I knew what I was talking about but, let's face it, I probably don't.

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Astus
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Re: Sudden Enlightenment

Post by Astus » Fri Dec 09, 2016 5:30 pm

Sudden enlightenment is to recognise that there is nothing to grasp, nothing to attain. Such recognition is missed because of chasing all sorts of illusory thoughts instead of taking a look at thoughts and seeing them to be completely unreliable. Thus all the teachings and methods to entertain oneself with in the hope of one day gaining something special. And as long as there is hope there is also delusion.

"Then again, if the bodhisattva refrains from taking up the practice of any particular dharma, because he does not apprehend any dharma whatsoever, he may thereby succeed in realizing prajñāpāramitā."
(Nagarjuna on the Six Perfections, ch 30)

"To simply right now suddenly comprehend that one’s own mind is fundamentally Buddha, without there being a single dharma one can attain and without there being a single practice one can cultivate—this is the insurpassable enlightenment, this is the Buddha of suchness."
(Huangbo, Zen Texts, BDK Edition, p 20)

Q: What is Sudden Enlightenment?
A: "Sudden" means instantly stopping false thought. "Enlightenment" means that one attains nothing.

(Treatise On Entering The Tao of Sudden Enlightenment, tr Lok To)
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"

Dgj
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Re: Sudden Enlightenment

Post by Dgj » Fri Dec 09, 2016 8:04 pm

Astus wrote:Sudden enlightenment is to recognise that there is nothing to grasp, nothing to attain. Such recognition is missed because of chasing all sorts of illusory thoughts instead of taking a look at thoughts and seeing them to be completely unreliable. Thus all the teachings and methods to entertain oneself with in the hope of one day gaining something special. And as long as there is hope there is also delusion.

"Then again, if the bodhisattva refrains from taking up the practice of any particular dharma, because he does not apprehend any dharma whatsoever, he may thereby succeed in realizing prajñāpāramitā."
(Nagarjuna on the Six Perfections, ch 30)

"To simply right now suddenly comprehend that one’s own mind is fundamentally Buddha, without there being a single dharma one can attain and without there being a single practice one can cultivate—this is the insurpassable enlightenment, this is the Buddha of suchness."
(Huangbo, Zen Texts, BDK Edition, p 20)

Q: What is Sudden Enlightenment?
A: "Sudden" means instantly stopping false thought. "Enlightenment" means that one attains nothing.

(Treatise On Entering The Tao of Sudden Enlightenment, tr Lok To)
Thank you. This makes perfect sense to me but then, what is practice?
I wish I knew what I was talking about but, let's face it, I probably don't.

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Re: Sudden Enlightenment

Post by Astus » Fri Dec 09, 2016 8:24 pm

Dgj wrote:but then, what is practice?
There is the gradual and there is the sudden path. The gradual practice leading to insight is disciple, meditation, and wisdom, also the six paramitas. The sudden practice is insight itself.
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: Sudden Enlightenment

Post by Dgj » Sat Dec 10, 2016 1:06 am

Astus wrote:
Dgj wrote:but then, what is practice?
There is the gradual and there is the sudden path. The gradual practice leading to insight is disciple, meditation, and wisdom, also the six paramitas. The sudden practice is insight itself.
How does one do the sudden practice?
I wish I knew what I was talking about but, let's face it, I probably don't.

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Re: Sudden Enlightenment

Post by Temicco » Sat Dec 10, 2016 1:40 am

Dgj wrote:
Astus wrote:
Dgj wrote:but then, what is practice?
There is the gradual and there is the sudden path. The gradual practice leading to insight is disciple, meditation, and wisdom, also the six paramitas. The sudden practice is insight itself.
How does one do the sudden practice?
There is no practice, and so long as one thinks in such terms one will be functioning within cause and effect. Just stop seeking and live openly.
Huangbo wrote:Nothing to practice, nothing to attain; this alone is the Supreme Tao, the genuine Dharma.
Huangbo wrote: So long as you are concerned with ‘by means of', you will always be depending on something false. When will you ever succeed in understanding? Instead of observing those who tell you to open wide both your hands like one who has nothing to lose, you waste your strength bragging about all sorts of things.
"Is Tao receptive of the students who come for instruction in cultivation?" "That is for people of dull capacity; the Tao cannot be practiced," said the master. "If this is for people of dull capacity, what is the Dharma for people of superior ability?" asked the bhiksu. The master answered: "If one is of genuine superior ability, there is none for him to follow. Even seeking himself is impossible, so how can he grasp Dharma?"
See also Nanquan's statements in the 19th case of the Wumenguan.
"It is just a matter of never letting there be even a moment's interruption in your awareness of your real nature."
--Yuanwu Keqin

"As long as you let go and entrust with belief, your daily life itself can be meditation."
--Daehaeng Kun Sunim

Dgj
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Re: Sudden Enlightenment

Post by Dgj » Sat Dec 10, 2016 1:51 am

Temicco wrote:
Dgj wrote:
Astus wrote:
There is the gradual and there is the sudden path. The gradual practice leading to insight is disciple, meditation, and wisdom, also the six paramitas. The sudden practice is insight itself.
How does one do the sudden practice?
There is no practice, and so long as one thinks in such terms one will be functioning within cause and effect. Just stop seeking and live openly.
Huangbo wrote:Nothing to practice, nothing to attain; this alone is the Supreme Tao, the genuine Dharma.
Huangbo wrote: So long as you are concerned with ‘by means of', you will always be depending on something false. When will you ever succeed in understanding? Instead of observing those who tell you to open wide both your hands like one who has nothing to lose, you waste your strength bragging about all sorts of things.
"Is Tao receptive of the students who come for instruction in cultivation?" "That is for people of dull capacity; the Tao cannot be practiced," said the master. "If this is for people of dull capacity, what is the Dharma for people of superior ability?" asked the bhiksu. The master answered: "If one is of genuine superior ability, there is none for him to follow. Even seeking himself is impossible, so how can he grasp Dharma?"
See also Nanquan's statements in the 19th case of the Wumenguan.
Thanks for all the quotes!!!
I wish I knew what I was talking about but, let's face it, I probably don't.

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Re: Sudden Enlightenment

Post by Astus » Sat Dec 10, 2016 10:48 am

Dgj wrote:How does one do the sudden practice?
It is the practice of non-abiding and non-thought. In sitting peacefully, whatever bodily or mental experience occurs, there is neither rejection nor attachment, neither suppression nor obsession, neither important nor unimportant. It is immediately recognised that all phenomena of the six senses do not stay even for a moment, thus there is nothing to do, nothing to attain. This is the essential method of all the buddhas and teachers.

"What is nonthought? If in seeing all the dharmas, the mind is not defiled or attached, this is nonthought. [The mind’s] functioning pervades all locations, yet it is not attached to all the locations. Just purify the fundamental mind, causing the six consciousnesses to emerge from the six [sensory] gates, [causing one to be] without defilement or heterogeneity within the six types of sensory data (literally, the “six dusts”), autonomous in the coming and going [of mental phenomena], one’s penetrating function without stagnation This is the samādhi of prajñā, the autonomous emancipation. This is called the practice of nonthought.
If one does not think of the hundred things in order to cause thought to be eradicated, this is bondage within the Dharma. This is called an extreme view.
Good friends, to be enlightened to the Dharma of nonthought is for the myriad dharmas to be completely penetrated. To be enlightened to the Dharma of nonthought is to see the realms of [all] the buddhas. To be enlightened to the Dharma of nonthought is to arrive at the stage of buddhahood."

(Platform Sutra, ch 2, BDK Edition, p 33-34)

"Good friends, since the past this teaching of ours has first taken nonthought as its central doctrine, the formless as its essence, and nonabiding as its fundamental. The formless is to transcend characteristics within the context of characteristics. Nonthought is to be without thought in the context of thoughts. Nonabiding is to consider in one’s fundamental nature that all worldly [things] are empty, with no consideration of retaliation—whether good or evil, pleasant or ugly, and enemy or friend, etc., during times of words, fights, and disputation.
Within continuing moments of thought one should not think of the previous [mental] realm. If one thinks of the previous thought, the present thought, and the later thought, one’s thoughts will be continuous without cease. This is called ‘fettered.’ If one’s thoughts do not abide in the dharmas, this is to be ‘unfettered.’ Thus it is that nonabiding is taken as the fundamental.
Good friends, to transcend all the characteristics externally is called the formless. To be able to transcend characteristics is for the essences of the dharmas to be pure. Thus it is that the formless is taken as the essence.
Good friends, for one’s mind to remain undefiled within the sensory realms is called nonthought. Within one’s own thoughts one should always transcend the realms, one should not generate the mind relative to the realms. If one does not think of the hundred things, then thoughts will be completely eliminated."

(Platform Sutra, ch 4, BDK Edition, p 43-44)
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: Sudden Enlightenment

Post by Wayfarer » Sat Dec 10, 2016 12:22 pm

Dgj wrote:How does one do the sudden practice?
Straight away!
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few ~ Suzuki-roshi

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Re: Sudden Enlightenment

Post by seeker242 » Sat Dec 10, 2016 1:47 pm

Dgj wrote:
How does one do the sudden practice?
As I see it, it's not about what you do, it's about what you don't do! AKA, don't push away, don't hold on, etc. to whatever thing. All of which can take place when you are sitting cross legged on a cushion, or washing the dishes, or drinking tea, etc.

:smile:
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: Sudden Enlightenment

Post by Dgj » Sat Dec 10, 2016 3:42 pm

Astus wrote:
Dgj wrote:How does one do the sudden practice?
It is the practice of non-abiding and non-thought. In sitting peacefully, whatever bodily or mental experience occurs, there is neither rejection nor attachment, neither suppression nor obsession, neither important nor unimportant. It is immediately recognised that all phenomena of the six senses do not stay even for a moment, thus there is nothing to do, nothing to attain. This is the essential method of all the buddhas and teachers.

"What is nonthought? If in seeing all the dharmas, the mind is not defiled or attached, this is nonthought. [The mind’s] functioning pervades all locations, yet it is not attached to all the locations. Just purify the fundamental mind, causing the six consciousnesses to emerge from the six [sensory] gates, [causing one to be] without defilement or heterogeneity within the six types of sensory data (literally, the “six dusts”), autonomous in the coming and going [of mental phenomena], one’s penetrating function without stagnation This is the samādhi of prajñā, the autonomous emancipation. This is called the practice of nonthought.
If one does not think of the hundred things in order to cause thought to be eradicated, this is bondage within the Dharma. This is called an extreme view.
Good friends, to be enlightened to the Dharma of nonthought is for the myriad dharmas to be completely penetrated. To be enlightened to the Dharma of nonthought is to see the realms of [all] the buddhas. To be enlightened to the Dharma of nonthought is to arrive at the stage of buddhahood."

(Platform Sutra, ch 2, BDK Edition, p 33-34)

"Good friends, since the past this teaching of ours has first taken nonthought as its central doctrine, the formless as its essence, and nonabiding as its fundamental. The formless is to transcend characteristics within the context of characteristics. Nonthought is to be without thought in the context of thoughts. Nonabiding is to consider in one’s fundamental nature that all worldly [things] are empty, with no consideration of retaliation—whether good or evil, pleasant or ugly, and enemy or friend, etc., during times of words, fights, and disputation.
Within continuing moments of thought one should not think of the previous [mental] realm. If one thinks of the previous thought, the present thought, and the later thought, one’s thoughts will be continuous without cease. This is called ‘fettered.’ If one’s thoughts do not abide in the dharmas, this is to be ‘unfettered.’ Thus it is that nonabiding is taken as the fundamental.
Good friends, to transcend all the characteristics externally is called the formless. To be able to transcend characteristics is for the essences of the dharmas to be pure. Thus it is that the formless is taken as the essence.
Good friends, for one’s mind to remain undefiled within the sensory realms is called nonthought. Within one’s own thoughts one should always transcend the realms, one should not generate the mind relative to the realms. If one does not think of the hundred things, then thoughts will be completely eliminated."

(Platform Sutra, ch 4, BDK Edition, p 43-44)
Sounds paradoxical but clearly that is because I do not understand. How can one practice non thought while there are thoughts present? I am assuming "cause thought to be eradicated" is referencing traditional samadhi where thoughts are supressed and so without doing this how does one have non thought while thoughts are not supressed?
I wish I knew what I was talking about but, let's face it, I probably don't.

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Re: Sudden Enlightenment

Post by Dgj » Sat Dec 10, 2016 3:42 pm

seeker242 wrote:
Dgj wrote:
How does one do the sudden practice?
As I see it, it's not about what you do, it's about what you don't do! AKA, don't push away, don't hold on, etc. to whatever thing. All of which can take place when you are sitting cross legged on a cushion, or washing the dishes, or drinking tea, etc.

:smile:
That makes sense thank you.
I wish I knew what I was talking about but, let's face it, I probably don't.

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Re: Sudden Enlightenment

Post by Astus » Sat Dec 10, 2016 7:58 pm

Dgj wrote:Sounds paradoxical but clearly that is because I do not understand. How can one practice non thought while there are thoughts present? I am assuming "cause thought to be eradicated" is referencing traditional samadhi where thoughts are supressed and so without doing this how does one have non thought while thoughts are not supressed?
The point is not to proliferate thoughts (i.e. to grasp on an idea and start thinking about it), not to suppress thoughts (i.e. to enforce a blank mind), but to let whatever thought occurs come and then let it pass away by not following up on it or pushing it away. But trying to remain in a state one imagines to be non-thought, that is already an attachment. Rather, it should be clear that no thought can be manipulated, as they always come an go, just like every other appearance. That is how meditation and insight are not different.
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: Sudden Enlightenment

Post by Dgj » Sat Dec 10, 2016 9:57 pm

Astus wrote:
Dgj wrote:Sounds paradoxical but clearly that is because I do not understand. How can one practice non thought while there are thoughts present? I am assuming "cause thought to be eradicated" is referencing traditional samadhi where thoughts are supressed and so without doing this how does one have non thought while thoughts are not supressed?
The point is not to proliferate thoughts (i.e. to grasp on an idea and start thinking about it), not to suppress thoughts (i.e. to enforce a blank mind), but to let whatever thought occurs come and then let it pass away by not following up on it or pushing it away. But trying to remain in a state one imagines to be non-thought, that is already an attachment. Rather, it should be clear that no thought can be manipulated, as they always come an go, just like every other appearance. That is how meditation and insight are not different.
Okay thank you. Does one create a stance of deliberately watching things come and go?
I wish I knew what I was talking about but, let's face it, I probably don't.

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Re: Sudden Enlightenment

Post by Astus » Sun Dec 11, 2016 12:12 am

Dgj wrote:Does one create a stance of deliberately watching things come and go?
Where would that stance be? And why watch them?
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"

Dgj
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Re: Sudden Enlightenment

Post by Dgj » Tue Dec 13, 2016 4:07 pm

Astus wrote:
Dgj wrote:Does one create a stance of deliberately watching things come and go?
Where would that stance be? And why watch them?
Point taken! Thank you.
I wish I knew what I was talking about but, let's face it, I probably don't.

Dgj
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Re: Sudden Enlightenment

Post by Dgj » Fri Dec 16, 2016 3:29 am

Astus wrote:
Dgj wrote:Does one create a stance of deliberately watching things come and go?
Where would that stance be? And why watch them?
Okay I did some more sitting and I have a new question:

Mustn't there be some kind of control deliberately exerted over ones meditative awareness? Otherwise meditation could be sitting and going over lists of things to do, planning, day dreaming, or any such thing. Or am I misunderstanding something?
I wish I knew what I was talking about but, let's face it, I probably don't.

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Re: Sudden Enlightenment

Post by Matylda » Fri Dec 16, 2016 10:45 am

Dgj wrote:
Astus wrote:
Dgj wrote:Does one create a stance of deliberately watching things come and go?
Where would that stance be? And why watch them?
Okay I did some more sitting and I have a new question:

Mustn't there be some kind of control deliberately exerted over ones meditative awareness? Otherwise meditation could be sitting and going over lists of things to do, planning, day dreaming, or any such thing. Or am I misunderstanding something?

it is question one should direct to a teacher... I do not think that it is good idea to give here any instructions..

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Re: Sudden Enlightenment

Post by dreambow » Fri Dec 16, 2016 11:06 am

"Sudden enlightenment is to recognise that there is nothing to grasp, nothing to attain. Such recognition is missed because of chasing all sorts of illusory thoughts instead of taking a look at thoughts and seeing them to be completely unreliable. Thus all the teachings and methods to entertain oneself with in the hope of one day gaining something special" Thoughts are unreliable and its this chasing after something special....its the glue that keep many on the spiritual path for decades.

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Re: Sudden Enlightenment

Post by Astus » Fri Dec 16, 2016 3:40 pm

Dgj wrote:Mustn't there be some kind of control deliberately exerted over ones meditative awareness? Otherwise meditation could be sitting and going over lists of things to do, planning, day dreaming, or any such thing. Or am I misunderstanding something?
You're moving into the gradual method, in which case there are step by step instructions to follow. The only thing to practice on the sudden path is enlightenment itself.

A monk asked, "What is the cultivation of the Way?"
The Patriarch replied, "The Way does not belong to cultivation. If one speaks of any attainment through cultivation, whatever is accomplished in that way is still subject to regress. That is the same as the Sravakas. If one says that there is no need for cultivation, that is the same as the ordinary people."

(Sun Face Buddha, p 63)

Once a Vinaya Master came and asked: "In your practice of the Tao, do you still work hard?"
The Master answered: "Yes, I still work hard."
The Vinaya Master asked: "How hard?"
The Master retorted: "If I'm hungry, I eat. If I'm tired, I sleep. "
The Vinaya Master asked: "Do all other people work hard just as you do?"
The Master answered: "No, not in the same way."
The Vinaya Master asked: "Why not?"
The Master answered: "While they are eating, they are not really eating due to too much thinking. While they are sleeping, they are not really sleeping due to too much mental agitation. Therefore, they do not work in the same way I do."
The Vinaya Master, on hearing this, fell silent.

(The Tsung Ching Record)
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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