Zen’s stand regarding ‘The Absolute’

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Queequeg
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Re: Zen’s stand regarding ‘The Absolute’

Post by Queequeg » Tue May 26, 2020 5:23 pm

Admittedly, I'm not familiar with Zen and Zen-speak, or what I take to be Zen-speak from what I see in forums like this.

Why the hangup with conventional designations? If you understand that designations are conventional, then what's the need in speaking cryptically about dharma as though its some cute game? I don't see what the problem is with seeking articulate and meaningful explanations of Buddhadharma without resorting to hazy double-speak, puns, and other such nonsensical conventions to undermine subjects being discussed.

Maybe I just need to see myself out.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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Re: Zen’s stand regarding ‘The Absolute’

Post by LastLegend » Tue May 26, 2020 5:37 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 5:23 pm
Admittedly, I'm not familiar with Zen and Zen-speak, or what I take to be Zen-speak from what I see in forums like this.

Why the hangup with conventional designations? If you understand that designations are conventional, then what's the need in speaking cryptically about dharma as though its some cute game? I don't see what the problem is with seeking articulate and meaningful explanations of Buddhadharma without resorting to hazy double-speak, puns, and other such nonsensical conventions to undermine subjects being discussed.

Maybe I just need to see myself out.
That’s yes conventionally there is an absolute and yes there are causes and conditions like this physical body is caused and conditioned by four elements. Is that what you are looking for from me?
Make personal vows.

End of the day: I don’t know.

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Re: Zen’s stand regarding ‘The Absolute’

Post by narhwal90 » Tue May 26, 2020 5:57 pm

Since I'm working with a for-realsies zen guy, perhaps I can play here for a bit.

Sometimes I wonder if all thats needed to practice Zen is to occasionally say paradoxical stuff that sounds like it should mean something.

While I think such stuff can turn into fetish or at least a lifestyle accessory, I find it can also free one from enslavement to concept and thought. How often do you observe a discussion of this vs that, fingers pointing, ever more detailed refinement and dispute? What I see of the zen method that my guy likes to work with is that these behaviors are more readily identified and abandoned. So you find things like smacking the table considered a teaching, questions like "show me a one-sided piece of paper" is instruction. We recognize these as methods to get out of the discursive mind.

My guy took me on a tour of my discursive mind with the one-sided paper thing. I refined my arguments in response, resorting to topographical methods when conventional ones were insufficient- digging into duality like a tick, trapping myself further with each step. The goal is to not get stuck, but to have a goal is to be stuck.

A bit maddening sometimes to be sure :)

So when somebody starts talking about The Absolute- a dualized idea since we're now talking about this vs that, all the "moving mind" alarm bells start going off and zen people start getting edgy.

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Re: Zen’s stand regarding ‘The Absolute’

Post by npr » Tue May 26, 2020 6:21 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 5:23 pm
Admittedly, I'm not familiar with Zen and Zen-speak, or what I take to be Zen-speak from what I see in forums like this.

Why the hangup with conventional designations? If you understand that designations are conventional, then what's the need in speaking cryptically about dharma as though its some cute game? I don't see what the problem is with seeking articulate and meaningful explanations of Buddhadharma without resorting to hazy double-speak, puns, and other such nonsensical conventions to undermine subjects being discussed.

Maybe I just need to see myself out.
---------

Queequeg, I was simply trying to learn how the points raised are explained. If it comes to a point that you cannot explain further, I Respect it.

Accusing me of those things is unnecessary.

I Appreciate your help. :namaste:

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Re: Zen’s stand regarding ‘The Absolute’

Post by el gatito » Tue May 26, 2020 7:04 pm

npr wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 2:01 pm
Hello to you,
A question Please

What is Zen’s stand regarding ‘The Absolute’ ?

Is the ‘One Mind’ considered as The Absolute ? Oneness with the Buddha is Oneness with the Absolute? or is it that **Everything** is Emptiness of self-being ?
If the reply applies to all Mahayana sects, kindly indicate

Thank you.
"Harmony of Relative and Absolute" is one of the translations of the title of the Sandōkai (by the 8th Chinese Zen ancestor). One of the wiki translations* is even worded in such way that one can "encounter" the absolute. The other English versions read differently, though.

__
* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandokai

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Re: Zen’s stand regarding ‘The Absolute’

Post by npr » Tue May 26, 2020 7:15 pm

Thank you el gatito.

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Re: Zen’s stand regarding ‘The Absolute’

Post by el gatito » Tue May 26, 2020 7:41 pm

Dan74 wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 3:06 pm
show it to me right now from the depth of your heart
When asking someone to show "the Absolute" from the depth of their heart, people must be sure to have the true eye to see what is being demonstrated.

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Re: Zen’s stand regarding ‘The Absolute’

Post by el gatito » Tue May 26, 2020 7:45 pm

npr wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 7:15 pm
Thank you el gatito.
A bit more complicated poem, "The Five Ranks of Tozan"*, is said to describe "the interplay of absolute and relative". The ranks are referenced in the "Song of the Precious Mirror Samadhi"** (attributed to the Chinese monk Dongshan Liangjie).

_____________
* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_Ranks
** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Song_of_t ... or_Samadhi

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Re: Zen’s stand regarding ‘The Absolute’

Post by Queequeg » Tue May 26, 2020 8:21 pm

npr wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 6:21 pm
Queequeg wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 5:23 pm
Admittedly, I'm not familiar with Zen and Zen-speak, or what I take to be Zen-speak from what I see in forums like this.

Why the hangup with conventional designations? If you understand that designations are conventional, then what's the need in speaking cryptically about dharma as though its some cute game? I don't see what the problem is with seeking articulate and meaningful explanations of Buddhadharma without resorting to hazy double-speak, puns, and other such nonsensical conventions to undermine subjects being discussed.

Maybe I just need to see myself out.
---------

Queequeg, I was simply trying to learn how the points raised are explained. If it comes to a point that you cannot explain further, I Respect it.

Accusing me of those things is unnecessary.

I Appreciate your help. :namaste:
That comment was not directed at you at all. I'm sorry about that.

I'll check myself out of the forum now.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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Re: Zen’s stand regarding ‘The Absolute’

Post by LastLegend » Tue May 26, 2020 8:33 pm

el gatito wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 7:41 pm
Dan74 wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 3:06 pm
show it to me right now from the depth of your heart
When asking someone to show "the Absolute" from the depth of their heart, people must be sure to have the true eye to see what is being demonstrated.
That question can take people straight to enlightenment but that’s rare.
Make personal vows.

End of the day: I don’t know.

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Re: Zen’s stand regarding ‘The Absolute’

Post by Malcolm » Tue May 26, 2020 8:48 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 4:06 pm
Astus wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 3:48 pm
npr wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 3:25 pm
If you can see the original Chinese text of Huang Po, and see what the original term that was translated to Absolute, was, that can be nice
What translation? Could you please give some refernces?
Blofeld
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Re: Zen’s stand regarding ‘The Absolute’

Post by Meido » Tue May 26, 2020 9:03 pm

el gatito wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 7:45 pm
A bit more complicated poem, "The Five Ranks of Tozan"*, is said to describe "the interplay of absolute and relative". The ranks are referenced in the "Song of the Precious Mirror Samadhi"** (attributed to the Chinese monk Dongshan Liangjie).
I don't know what words have been translated "relative" and "absolute" in various translations of things. But in this case of the 5 ranks, these words are hen and sho [偏,正). It's not a great translation I think, and especially since "absolute" as noted tends toward confusion.

The feeling is more "partial - complete," "differentiation - non-differentiation," "conventional - ultimate (as in manner of seeing)," etc. I have seen "apparent - real" used, but that also is problematic.

Form - emptiness, function - principle (ji/ri), identity - mutuality, etc. all are other words that could unpack aspects of this.

Anyway, the point of the whole 5 ranks framework is not to set up some kind of absolute (or to present a progressive ladder of realization, as is commonly thought), but to point out different ways or facets of seeing (jewel mirror samadhi, alternating samadhi of hen and sho, and so on) that come out from awakening, and the danger of setting up any as a state, position, or view within which one lingers. It is hardly, in other words, to posit some metaphysical absolute.

It's the kind of text - like many, frankly - that honestly doesn't benefit much if read outside the context of training under a teacher who can manifest the states to which is points.
It is relatively easy to accomplish the important matter of insight into one’s true nature, but uncommonly difficult to function freely and clearly [according to this understanding], in motion and in rest, in good and in adverse circumstances. Please make strenuous and vigorous efforts towards this end, otherwise all the teachings of Buddhas and patriarchs become mere empty words. - Torei

The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice

Hidden Zen: Practices for Sudden Awakening and Embodied Realization

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

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Re: Zen’s stand regarding ‘The Absolute’

Post by Dan74 » Tue May 26, 2020 9:19 pm

el gatito wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 7:41 pm
Dan74 wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 3:06 pm
show it to me right now from the depth of your heart
When asking someone to show "the Absolute" from the depth of their heart, people must be sure to have the true eye to see what is being demonstrated.
I am not the one doing the asking.

Just sharing what I have heard, buddy. Take it or leave it.

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Re: Zen’s stand regarding ‘The Absolute’

Post by el gatito » Tue May 26, 2020 9:35 pm

Dan74 wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 9:19 pm

I am not the one doing...
Sounds like a quote from some Taoist classic. :)

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Re: Zen’s stand regarding ‘The Absolute’

Post by Astus » Tue May 26, 2020 9:42 pm

Absolute = tathatā 如如

'The substance of the Absolute is inwardly like wood or stone, in that it is motionless, and outwardly like the void, in that it is without bounds or obstructions.'
(Blofeld, p 31-32)

「如如之體。內如木石不動不搖。外如虛空不塞不礙。」
(CBETA 2020.Q1, T48, no. 2012A, p. 380a17-19)

'The essence of suchness is unmoving like wood or stone within and unhindered like space without.'
(McRae, in Zen Texts, BDK ed, p 15)

'The essence of suchness is internally like wood or stone, which does not move or sway; externally, it is like empty space, which has no boundaries or obstructions.'
(Buswell, in A Bird in Flight Leaves No Trace, PDF p 37)

Absolute = dharmadhātu 法界

'He would just be himself oblivious of conceptual thought and one with the Absolute.'
(Blofeld, p 46)

「但自忘心。同於法界。便得自在。」
(CBETA 2020.Q1, T48, no. 2012A, p. 381c11-12)

'Simply forget your mind and identify yourself with the dharmadhatu, and you will attain autonomy.'
(McRae, p 25)

'If you just forget the mind and become the same as the dharma body, you will gain complete autonomy.'
(Buswell, p 69)

Absolute = tathatā 真如

'In the Absolute, there is nothing at all of this kind.'
(Blofeld, p 56)

「真如之中都無此事。」
(CBETA 2020.Q1, T48, no. 2012A, p. 382c21)

'There is no such [mode of attainment] within true suchness.'
(McRae, p 33)

'In true suchness, none of this is relevant.'
(Buswell, p 89)

Absolute = tathatā 真如

'Even Enlightenment, the Absolute, Reality, Sudden Attainment, the Dharmakaya and all the others down to the Ten Stages of Progress, the Four Rewards of virtuous and wise living and the State of Holiness and Wisdom are - every one of them - mere concepts for helping us through samsara; they have nothing to do with the real Buddha-Mind.'
(Blofeld, p 69)

「設使菩提真如實際解脫法身。直至十地四果聖位。盡是度門。非關佛心。」
(CBETA 2020.Q1, T48, no. 2012B, p. 384b17-18)

'Even though [you may attain] bodhi, suchness, the characteristic of reality, liberation, or the dharma body and directly reach the sanctified ranks of the ten stages or the four fruitions, all these involve the [expedient] gate of salvation. They have nothing to do with the buddha mind.'
(Buswell, p 124)

'[One can] suppose bodhi, thusness, ultimate reality, liberation, and the Dharmakaya, up to and including the ten stages [of the bodhisttva], the four fruits, and the rank of sagehood. All of these are [but] gates to crossing over [to Nirvana]. They do not concern the Buddha-mind.'
(The Wanling Record of Chan Master Huangbo Duanji: A History and Translation of a Tang Dynasty Text (university thesis) by Jeffrey M. Leahy, p 20)

Absolute = anutpattika-dharma-kṣānti 無生法忍

'It is all-pervading, spotless beauty; it is the self-existent and uncreated Absolute.'
(Blofeld, p 93)

「一道清流是自性。無生法忍」
(CBETA 2020.Q1, T48, no. 2012B, p. 387a7-8)

'A clear stream flowing in one direction is the selfnature’s acquiescence to the nonproduction of dharmas.'
(Buswell, p 194)

'The monk of the One Path is by his own nature accepting of this non-arising of dharmas.'
(Leahy, p 52)
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: Zen’s stand regarding ‘The Absolute’

Post by Astus » Tue May 26, 2020 10:26 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 5:23 pm
Zen and Zen-speak, or what I take to be Zen-speak from what I see in forums like this.
There are may things at play here that produces "Zen-speak". On the one hand, Zen is straightforward and to the point. On the other, it's a highly evolved and sophisticated literary genre. Then you mix the two sides and put in front of people who are not familiar with any of that, so it becomes gibberish when they start talking about it.

See how Guifeng Zongmi understood "Zen-speak" as actually the simple and easy one:

'The teachings are the sutras and treatises left behind by the buddhas and bodhisattvas. Chan is the lines of verse related by the various good friends [on the path]. The buddha sutras open outward, catching the thousands of the beings of the eight classes, while Chan verses scoop up an abridgment, being oriented to one type of disposition found in this land [of China].l1 [The teachings,] which catch [the thousands of] beings [of the eight classes], are broad and vast, and hence it is difficult to rely upon them. [Chan,] which is oriented to dispositions, points to the bull's-eye and hence is easy to use.'
(Zongmi on Chan, p 105)

And then consider this:

'There is a profound difference ... between the rhetoric of Zen that plays with language in a clever and calculated way to induce insight, and language that is merely confused and nonsensical. Unfortunately, because readers of Chan and Zen texts are accustomed to sage remarks that appear to be non sequiturs, when they are confronted by the garden variety of nonsense — e.g. the gibberish that results when mechanical translation is employed or quotation marks go missing — they are all too likely to chalk that up as normal for the language of Zen, which (they imagine) is not supposed to be comprehensible in the first place. Such a mode of reading ... is a serious mistake.'
(T. Griffith Foulk: About the Translation, in "Record of the Transmission of Illumination by the Great Ancestor, Zen Master Keizan", p xi-xii)

But at the same time:

'Unfortunately, the majority of the exchanges or anecdotes composed in the encounter dialogue format are not very good stories, in any meaningful sense. In fact, a huge number of Chan stories or exchanges, included in texts such as Jingde chuan deng lu and Bi yan lu, can be viewed as little more than nonessential ramblings, a peculiar type of religious gibberish. Basically, we are confronted with countless examples of mass-produced textual materials that tend to be highly formulaic, numbingly repetitive, and ostensibly pointless. One of the things that keeps amazing me is how otherwise intelligent or sincere people can take this sort of stuff seriously, although the history of religion is filled with blind spots of that sort.'
(Mario Poceski: The Records of Mazu and the Making of Classical Chan Literature, p 170-171)
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: Zen’s stand regarding ‘The Absolute’

Post by Wayfarer » Tue May 26, 2020 10:57 pm

My input is that, from a philosophical perspective, Buddhism has always sought to avoid conceptual absolutes, or ideas or symbols that are taken to represent some purported ‘absolute’. This is because such an effort invariably results in some form of dogmatic view (dṛṣṭi), where the purported ‘absolute’ is held up as the criterion of truth and whatever deviates from or fails to demonstrate the correct conceptual understanding is criticised as a wrong view.

Buddhism requires that the process of verbal discrimination and constructive ideation is seen for what it is, as a mental projection. Philosophers invariably try and attach their framework to some concept of ‘absolute’ to provide it with structural support, but these frameworks are likewise simply mental formations also, no matter how apparently sophisticated.

Finally, there’s a sense in which all Buddhist concepts and teachings and the like are simply skilful means in themselves. As the saying has it, they’re like the stick you use to stoke a fire, but when the fire is well alight, you throw the stick in with it.
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: Zen’s stand regarding ‘The Absolute’

Post by LastLegend » Tue May 26, 2020 11:10 pm

'There is no such [mode of attainment] within true suchness.' (McRae, p 33)

True because enlightened nature, though to recognize this enlightened nature is already difficult let alone to transcend to this enlightened nature. The easiest way to recognize this nature is walk. When feet move to walk, is there anything behind it? If still see there is or there isn’t, that very seeing needs to be transcended. But there it creates doubt. Personal experience there is delusion here. Abyss of ignorance is also here. Nihilism everything! Not for fainted heart.
Make personal vows.

End of the day: I don’t know.

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Re: Zen’s stand regarding ‘The Absolute’

Post by LastLegend » Tue May 26, 2020 11:49 pm

That’s not it: I am told after people transcended, there consciousness needs to be turned into wisdom to freely distinguish without problem because the Buddha made distinction when he talks about anything. Skandhas are still there maybe clean skandhas? I don’t know. A few Siddhis will develop as well. Probably able to hear people’s thoughts and suffering of sentient beings to point where it’s unbearable that function needed to be closed because only Buddhas like Avalokitesvara can bear to hear suffering. It’s very ordinary in human body just like us. But wisdom goes far because of working to benefit sentient beings. Motivated by compassion, stopping wild fire in Australia (raining came) with one thought (in this enlightened nature of no self and no dharma: known as ‘the Buddha’s land.’). The power here is amazing. But until the finest traces of consciousness as dust motes is transcended, this enlightened nature isn’t unveiled.

Take it or leave!
Make personal vows.

End of the day: I don’t know.

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Re: Zen’s stand regarding ‘The Absolute’

Post by tkp67 » Wed May 27, 2020 4:19 am

Queequeg wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 5:23 pm
Admittedly, I'm not familiar with Zen and Zen-speak, or what I take to be Zen-speak from what I see in forums like this.

Why the hangup with conventional designations? If you understand that designations are conventional, then what's the need in speaking cryptically about dharma as though its some cute game? I don't see what the problem is with seeking articulate and meaningful explanations of Buddhadharma without resorting to hazy double-speak, puns, and other such nonsensical conventions to undermine subjects being discussed.

Maybe I just need to see myself out.
I think it appeals to certain kinds of minds.

There are some interesting studies about brain attributes and the correlates to learning.

For example The type of story telling in the LS qas favored by a specific attribute. Placisity iirc.

I think it is actual evidence of the buddha's equanimity as these different traditions trace back to him.

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