James Ford on kensho, from Pathos

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James Ford on kensho, from Pathos

Post by kirtu » Mon May 15, 2017 3:10 am

Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"Even if you practice only for an hour a day with faith and inspiration, good qualities will steadily increase. Regular practice makes it easy to transform your mind. From seeing only relative truth, you will eventually reach a profound certainty in the meaning of absolute truth."
Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche

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Re: James Ford on kensho, from Pathos

Post by kirtu » Mon May 15, 2017 3:31 am

Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"Even if you practice only for an hour a day with faith and inspiration, good qualities will steadily increase. Regular practice makes it easy to transform your mind. From seeing only relative truth, you will eventually reach a profound certainty in the meaning of absolute truth."
Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche

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Re: James Ford on kensho, from Pathos

Post by Astus » Mon May 15, 2017 11:00 am

"I suggest if we want Zen to be more than a mindfulness practice that will get us an edge in whatever project we want an edge in, we need to reclaim awakening as the central purpose of the project."
(Reclaiming Enlightenment in Zen)

Reclaiming awakening should start with a definition of what that is. And the one provided in the following article:

"The deepest thing is a collapsing of one’s sense of self and other and finding a place of radical openness.
...
What awakening is, is an existential stance of radical openness. It does not mean there are no blind spots. It does not mean one is free of the play of those endlessly arising constellations of grasping, aversion, and death-grasping certainties. But, it does mean some part of the person who has had this experience sees or knows the freedom as well as being fully in the play of life and death. So, yes, once and forever. And, no, not free from karma or even stupid or possibly evil actions."

(Awakening and Zen)

What is "radical openness"? Open for what? Since it apparently does not mean freedom from afflictions and delusions, how is it related to any level of realisation as understood in Mahayana? If it were the cessation of the false assumption of subject and object, that would mean attaining at least the first bhumi according to Asanga (Great Vehicle Summary, ch 3, BDK ed p 65-66), but the qualities of one with "radical openness" falls short of an arya-bodhisattva, consequently it is really far from calling it buddhahood. Then how can this kind of awakening be anything related to the teachings of Bodhidharma, Mazu, Linji, and Hakuin?
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: James Ford on kensho, from Pathos

Post by Anonymous X » Mon May 15, 2017 12:21 pm

Astus wrote:"I suggest if we want Zen to be more than a mindfulness practice that will get us an edge in whatever project we want an edge in, we need to reclaim awakening as the central purpose of the project."
(Reclaiming Enlightenment in Zen)

Reclaiming awakening should start with a definition of what that is. And the one provided in the following article:

"The deepest thing is a collapsing of one’s sense of self and other and finding a place of radical openness.
...
What awakening is, is an existential stance of radical openness. It does not mean there are no blind spots. It does not mean one is free of the play of those endlessly arising constellations of grasping, aversion, and death-grasping certainties. But, it does mean some part of the person who has had this experience sees or knows the freedom as well as being fully in the play of life and death. So, yes, once and forever. And, no, not free from karma or even stupid or possibly evil actions."

(Awakening and Zen)

What is "radical openness"? Open for what? Since it apparently does not mean freedom from afflictions and delusions, how is it related to any level of realisation as understood in Mahayana? If it were the cessation of the false assumption of subject and object, that would mean attaining at least the first bhumi according to Asanga (Great Vehicle Summary, ch 3, BDK ed p 65-66), but the qualities of one with "radical openness" falls short of an arya-bodhisattva, consequently it is really far from calling it buddhahood. Then how can this kind of awakening be anything related to the teachings of Bodhidharma, Mazu, Linji, and Hakuin?
Jokingly, is this what is meant by 'A special transmission outside of the scriptures?

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Re: James Ford on kensho, from Pathos

Post by DGA » Mon May 15, 2017 2:13 pm

Astus wrote:"I suggest if we want Zen to be more than a mindfulness practice that will get us an edge in whatever project we want an edge in, we need to reclaim awakening as the central purpose of the project."
(Reclaiming Enlightenment in Zen)

Reclaiming awakening should start with a definition of what that is. And the one provided in the following article:

"The deepest thing is a collapsing of one’s sense of self and other and finding a place of radical openness.
...
What awakening is, is an existential stance of radical openness. It does not mean there are no blind spots. It does not mean one is free of the play of those endlessly arising constellations of grasping, aversion, and death-grasping certainties. But, it does mean some part of the person who has had this experience sees or knows the freedom as well as being fully in the play of life and death. So, yes, once and forever. And, no, not free from karma or even stupid or possibly evil actions."

(Awakening and Zen)

What is "radical openness"? Open for what? Since it apparently does not mean freedom from afflictions and delusions, how is it related to any level of realisation as understood in Mahayana? If it were the cessation of the false assumption of subject and object, that would mean attaining at least the first bhumi according to Asanga (Great Vehicle Summary, ch 3, BDK ed p 65-66), but the qualities of one with "radical openness" falls short of an arya-bodhisattva, consequently it is really far from calling it buddhahood. Then how can this kind of awakening be anything related to the teachings of Bodhidharma, Mazu, Linji, and Hakuin?
:good:

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Re: James Ford on kensho, from Pathos

Post by boda » Mon May 15, 2017 11:26 pm

Astus wrote:"I suggest if we want Zen to be more than a mindfulness practice that will get us an edge in whatever project we want an edge in, we need to reclaim awakening as the central purpose of the project."
(Reclaiming Enlightenment in Zen)

Reclaiming awakening should start with a definition of what that is. And the one provided in the following article:

"The deepest thing is a collapsing of one’s sense of self and other and finding a place of radical openness.
...
What awakening is, is an existential stance of radical openness. It does not mean there are no blind spots. It does not mean one is free of the play of those endlessly arising constellations of grasping, aversion, and death-grasping certainties. But, it does mean some part of the person who has had this experience sees or knows the freedom as well as being fully in the play of life and death. So, yes, once and forever. And, no, not free from karma or even stupid or possibly evil actions."

(Awakening and Zen)

What is "radical openness"? Open for what? Since it apparently does not mean freedom from afflictions and delusions, how is it related to any level of realisation as understood in Mahayana? If it were the cessation of the false assumption of subject and object, that would mean attaining at least the first bhumi according to Asanga (Great Vehicle Summary, ch 3, BDK ed p 65-66), but the qualities of one with "radical openness" falls short of an arya-bodhisattva, consequently it is really far from calling it buddhahood. Then how can this kind of awakening be anything related to the teachings of Bodhidharma, Mazu, Linji, and Hakuin?
This sounds confused to me. He's admits that an awakening experience doesn't free one of the play of those endlessly arising constellations of grasping, aversion, and death-grasping certainties, nor does it offer freedom from karma or even stupid or evil actions, yet he laments the fact that awakening is losing focus in Zen. From what he describes it seems perfectly appropriate that it would lose focus.

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Re: James Ford on kensho, from Pathos

Post by Anonymous X » Tue May 16, 2017 3:18 am

boda wrote:
Astus wrote:"I suggest if we want Zen to be more than a mindfulness practice that will get us an edge in whatever project we want an edge in, we need to reclaim awakening as the central purpose of the project."
(Reclaiming Enlightenment in Zen)

Reclaiming awakening should start with a definition of what that is. And the one provided in the following article:

"The deepest thing is a collapsing of one’s sense of self and other and finding a place of radical openness.
...
What awakening is, is an existential stance of radical openness. It does not mean there are no blind spots. It does not mean one is free of the play of those endlessly arising constellations of grasping, aversion, and death-grasping certainties. But, it does mean some part of the person who has had this experience sees or knows the freedom as well as being fully in the play of life and death. So, yes, once and forever. And, no, not free from karma or even stupid or possibly evil actions."

(Awakening and Zen)

What is "radical openness"? Open for what? Since it apparently does not mean freedom from afflictions and delusions, how is it related to any level of realisation as understood in Mahayana? If it were the cessation of the false assumption of subject and object, that would mean attaining at least the first bhumi according to Asanga (Great Vehicle Summary, ch 3, BDK ed p 65-66), but the qualities of one with "radical openness" falls short of an arya-bodhisattva, consequently it is really far from calling it buddhahood. Then how can this kind of awakening be anything related to the teachings of Bodhidharma, Mazu, Linji, and Hakuin?
This sounds confused to me. He's admits that an awakening experience doesn't free one of the play of those endlessly arising constellations of grasping, aversion, and death-grasping certainties, nor does it offer freedom from karma or even stupid or evil actions, yet he laments the fact that awakening is losing focus in Zen. From what he describes it seems perfectly appropriate that it would lose focus.
But, he's not equating these 'awakenings' to the original Chan/Zen teachings. He's trying to move the attention away from this to what he is calling 'radical openness' which is really not the central teaching of Zen, either.

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Re: James Ford on kensho, from Pathos

Post by anjali » Tue May 16, 2017 5:45 am

(Reclaiming Enlightenment in Zen)
...
"The deepest thing is a collapsing of one’s sense of self and other and finding a place of radical openness."
Regarding radical openness. I have no idea what Ford means by this, but one possible understanding is Dogen's comment about forgetting the self and becoming one with the ten thousand things.

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Re: James Ford on kensho, from Pathos

Post by Anonymous X » Tue May 16, 2017 8:43 am

anjali wrote:
(Reclaiming Enlightenment in Zen)
...
"The deepest thing is a collapsing of one’s sense of self and other and finding a place of radical openness."
Regarding radical openness. I have no idea what Ford means by this, but one possible understanding is Dogen's comment about forgetting the self and becoming one with the ten thousand things.
Dogen said: To know the self is to forget the self. There is no becoming one with any 'thing'. Language has a way of leading to trouble. I think we must choose carefully what we are putting forth especially if you are a teacher.

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Re: James Ford on kensho, from Pathos

Post by HePo » Tue May 16, 2017 10:59 am

Anonymous X wrote: Dogen said: To know the self is to forget the self. There is no becoming one with any 'thing'. Language has a way of leading to trouble. I think we must choose carefully what we are putting forth especially if you are a teacher.
"Language has a way of leading to trouble. I think we must choose carefully what we are putting forth especially if you are a teacher."

- Agreed, so did Dogen say "To know the self is to forget the self" or did he say "To study the self is to forget the self"?

8 English Translations of Genjokoan

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Re: James Ford on kensho, from Pathos

Post by Matylda » Tue May 16, 2017 11:07 am

Openness or whatever one calls it, means just state of selflesness... kensho, satori etc. are most importnat milestones. In soto this was lost in the end of the XIX century... many soto monks went then to rinzai teachers to continue their training. Today it happens as wel, but not so often. Hosshinji master Daiun Sogau or Harada Roshi made big stress on this experience, as well as his disciple Yautani Hakuun Roshi. It is not a ponit what has happened later on, and how does it look in the West at the moment. The message was clear, zen practice cannot be void of pivotal experience or realization.
It was stressed in a different way in rinzai and soto, but still it is a root of zen.
Some oppose that soto practice is not concenred with satori etc. however we have to take under consideration that even such illustrious soto masters like Sawaki Kodo was granted inka, or confirmation of satori, by his teacher Oka Sotan Roshi after 8 years of strict pratice in Shuzenji with Oka Sotan. One may read about it in Japanese version of Sawaki's authobiography.

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Re: James Ford on kensho, from Pathos

Post by Wayfarer » Tue May 16, 2017 11:28 am

Astus wrote: What is "radical openness"?
I would think 'openness' is another word for 'empty of own-being'.

I like James Ford a lot, I read his column regularly and drop him a line from time to time. And from what I read about him he's a very dedicated practitioner and teacher.
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few ~ Suzuki-roshi

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Re: James Ford on kensho, from Pathos

Post by Anonymous X » Tue May 16, 2017 11:52 am

HePo wrote:
Anonymous X wrote: Dogen said: To know the self is to forget the self. There is no becoming one with any 'thing'. Language has a way of leading to trouble. I think we must choose carefully what we are putting forth especially if you are a teacher.
"Language has a way of leading to trouble. I think we must choose carefully what we are putting forth especially if you are a teacher."

- Agreed, so did Dogen say "To know the self is to forget the self" or did he say "To study the self is to forget the self"?

8 English Translations of Genjokoan
I believe I've seen it quoted both ways. Either way is fine with me.

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Re: James Ford on kensho, from Pathos

Post by Astus » Tue May 16, 2017 12:09 pm

anjali wrote:one possible understanding is Dogen's comment about forgetting the self and becoming one with the ten thousand things.
Dogen doesn't really fit into the whole idea of working for enlightenment, because in his teachings practice is enlightenment itself. ("The thought that practice and experience are not one thing is just the idea of non-Buddhists." - Bendowa, SBGZ vol 1, BDK ed, p 12 / T82n2582p18b26-28)

仏道をならふといふは,自己をならふなり。 自己をならふといふは,自己をわするるなり。自己をわするるといふは,万法に証せらるるなり。万法に証せらるるといふは,自己の身心および他己の身心をして脱落せしむるなり。
(現成公案 / T82n2582p23c19-c25)

"To learn the Buddha’s truth is to learn ourselves. To learn ourselves is to forget ourselves. To forget ourselves is to be experienced by the myriad dharmas. To be experienced by the myriad dharmas is to let our own body and mind, and the body and mind of the external world, fall away."
(Genjokoan, SBGZ vol 1, BDK ed, p 42)
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: James Ford on kensho, from Pathos

Post by Astus » Tue May 16, 2017 12:14 pm

Wayfarer wrote:I would think 'openness' is another word for 'empty of own-being'.
If it were so, then one should qualify for the level of an arya-bodhisattva, hence stop committing evil things. But since that is not how it's defined, it sounds rather like a temporary experience of oneness that is neither wisdom nor compassion, just an elevated state of mind, i.e. dhyana.
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: James Ford on kensho, from Pathos

Post by Meido » Tue May 16, 2017 3:11 pm

Astus wrote:Dogen doesn't really fit into the whole idea of working for enlightenment, because in his teachings practice is enlightenment itself.


If indeed "practice is enlightenment itself" accurately captures Dogen's meaning.

Another take on translation [from http://wonderwheels.blogspot.com/2015/1 ... ce-is.html]:
The oft quoted Dogenism, “Practice is enlightenment,” or its variation “practice and enlightenment are one,” appears to be a misnomer and misunderstanding created by translators and was never actually stated by Dogen as far as I can tell.

The original term is 修證, pronounced in Japanese as shusho, The first character shu 修 means cultivation, practice, to cultivate, to practice, etc.. The second term sho 證 means to confirm, evidence, testify, witness, and proof and also includes both the noun and verb forms such as the nouns confirmation, evidence, proof, verification, testimony, witness, etc., and the verbs to confirm, to give evidence, to prove, to verify, to testify, to witness, etc. Some accurate or valid translations when used as a single idea would be cultivation-confirmation, practice-proof, practice-evidence, etc. When used as two words of one phrase it could be translated as the confirmation of cultivation, the proof of practice, the evidence of practice, verification of practice, etc.

So the emphasis on the two being one is not at all a strange concept. Dogen is simply saying that practice and the confirmation of practice are one.
Much greater detail RE this on the linked page.

~ Meido
Even though you have attained insight into the True Nature (kensho), there is yet the barrier of differentiation, and there is the One Path of Advanced Practice. If you have not yet even seen into the True Nature, what a lot there is yet to do! - Torei

The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice
Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺] - http://www.korinji.org
Madison, WI Rinzai Zen Community [機山龍源寺] - http://www.madisonrinzaizen.org
The Rinzai Zen Community - http://www.rinzaizen.org

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Re: James Ford on kensho, from Pathos

Post by Meido » Tue May 16, 2017 3:33 pm

Matylda wrote:In soto this was lost in the end of the XIX century... many soto monks went then to rinzai teachers to continue their training. Today it happens as wel, but not so often.
Recently in the USA I have spoken with several Soto unsui and teachers who are thinking of going to other teachers in this way. They claim there is a growing suspicion among a significant number of Soto practitioners here that something has been lost or missed in practice, and a disillusionment with the instructions to "just sit" as commonly interpreted: they worry that what they are doing is, in fact, just sitting there.

I can't speak to it myself since I have not trained under Soto teachers. But if there is kensho, there is not this kind of lack of faith.

~ Meido
Even though you have attained insight into the True Nature (kensho), there is yet the barrier of differentiation, and there is the One Path of Advanced Practice. If you have not yet even seen into the True Nature, what a lot there is yet to do! - Torei

The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice
Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺] - http://www.korinji.org
Madison, WI Rinzai Zen Community [機山龍源寺] - http://www.madisonrinzaizen.org
The Rinzai Zen Community - http://www.rinzaizen.org

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Re: James Ford on kensho, from Pathos

Post by Astus » Tue May 16, 2017 4:25 pm

Meido wrote:If indeed "practice is enlightenment itself" accurately captures Dogen's meaning.
I think Dogen is quite clear on the matter in his Bendowa, where the matter of "practice-enlightenment" is brought up in the context of the use of zazen after enlightenment. The term goes back to the story of Huairang meeting Huineng (Platform Sutra, ch 7, BDK ed p 67 / T2008p357):

When Huairang arrived and did his obeisance, the master asked “Where have you come from?”
[Huairang] said, “Mount Song.”
The master said, “[No matter] what kind of thing, how would it come?”
[Huairang] said, “If you say it’s like a single thing, then you’re off the mark.”
The master said, “Then can it be cultivated and realized (修證)?”
[Huairang] said, “Cultivation and realization (修證) are not nonexistent, but defilement does not occur.”

And this is the explanation of the term from the Soto Zen site's "Basic Key Terms of Soto Zen Teaching" (Shusho Itto (Oneness and equality of practice and realization)):

"Generally speaking, religious practice aims at improving the practitioner’s religious qualities. In that case, the relationship between practice and realization is considered to be that of cause and effect. But shusho itto radically demolishes this generally accepted relationship between practice and realization. It states that they are one and inseparable. This idea is based on the concept of “the self is originally buddha”, the philosophical foundation of the southern school of Ch’an which takes all living beings as originally buddha.
Therefore, we should understand that shusho itto is not merely a philosophical idea unique to Dogen Zenji, but a common view in Zen about practice and realization. In fact, although not expressed explicitly, some other Zen masters, contemporaries of Dogen Zenji, also shared the same philosophical background."


And as Dogen defines zazen:

"The zazen I speak of is not meditation practice. It is simply the dharma gate of joyful ease, the practice-realization (修証) of totally culminated enlightenment." (Fukanzazengi / 普勧坐禅儀)

So, to put it in a larger context, Dogen's neither-thinking (hishiryou 非思量) is not different from Huineng's non-thought (wunian 無念).

"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 ed p 34 / T2008p351a)

So, even if the use of enlightenment for 證 is somewhat questionable, and actually not used that much by translators, it is not misleading.
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: James Ford on kensho, from Pathos

Post by boda » Tue May 16, 2017 5:33 pm

Anonymous X wrote:
boda wrote:
Astus wrote:"I suggest if we want Zen to be more than a mindfulness practice that will get us an edge in whatever project we want an edge in, we need to reclaim awakening as the central purpose of the project."
(Reclaiming Enlightenment in Zen)

Reclaiming awakening should start with a definition of what that is. And the one provided in the following article:

"The deepest thing is a collapsing of one’s sense of self and other and finding a place of radical openness.
...
What awakening is, is an existential stance of radical openness. It does not mean there are no blind spots. It does not mean one is free of the play of those endlessly arising constellations of grasping, aversion, and death-grasping certainties. But, it does mean some part of the person who has had this experience sees or knows the freedom as well as being fully in the play of life and death. So, yes, once and forever. And, no, not free from karma or even stupid or possibly evil actions."

(Awakening and Zen)

What is "radical openness"? Open for what? Since it apparently does not mean freedom from afflictions and delusions, how is it related to any level of realisation as understood in Mahayana? If it were the cessation of the false assumption of subject and object, that would mean attaining at least the first bhumi according to Asanga (Great Vehicle Summary, ch 3, BDK ed p 65-66), but the qualities of one with "radical openness" falls short of an arya-bodhisattva, consequently it is really far from calling it buddhahood. Then how can this kind of awakening be anything related to the teachings of Bodhidharma, Mazu, Linji, and Hakuin?
This sounds confused to me. He's admits that an awakening experience doesn't free one of the play of those endlessly arising constellations of grasping, aversion, and death-grasping certainties, nor does it offer freedom from karma or even stupid or evil actions, yet he laments the fact that awakening is losing focus in Zen. From what he describes it seems perfectly appropriate that it would lose focus.
But, he's not equating these 'awakenings' to the original Chan/Zen teachings. He's trying to move the attention away from this to what he is calling 'radical openness' which is really not the central teaching of Zen, either.
I suggest that you reread what he wrote more carefully.

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Re: James Ford on kensho, from Pathos

Post by boda » Tue May 16, 2017 5:34 pm

Meido wrote:if there is kensho, there is not this kind of lack of faith.
This is an interesting thought. Faith in what exactly?

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