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Correctives, Countercorrectives, and Skillful Means - TNH on Heart Sutra

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Was reading through some old Plum Village articles today and came across this gem. TNH makes a good point here that everything except for a direct experience of the stateless state (Hehe) is a corrective. Non-self, emptiness, etc - even stating 'apply' or 'does not apply' to those characteristics are ever more subtle skillful means to correct views biased however subtly toward the poles of being or non-being. The best we can hope for through mere words is to bend each other's trajectory back towards the center and then onwards towards the other pole. Without direct experience, it is not possible to shoot true.

Milo:
Was reading through some old Plum Village articles today and came across this gem. TNH makes a good point here that everything except for a direct experience of the stateless state (Hehe) is a corrective. Non-self, emptiness, etc - even stating 'apply' or 'does not apply' to those characteristics are ever more subtle skillful means to correct views biased however subtly toward the poles of being or non-being. The best we can hope for through mere words is to bend each other's trajectory back towards the center and then onwards towards the other pole. Without direct experience, it is not possible to shoot true.


aloha milo,

   Classic analogies about the use of words refer to removing a thorn with a thorn, or fighting fire with fire. Wittgenstein figured out that the only function of philosophy is to dissolve puzzles created by philosophy. The dhamma is a metaphysics designed as a corrective to wrong metaphysics.

   Not only words, but practices are correctives in the exact same manner. The practice of metta is a corrective for unkindness and indifference; all of the brahmaviharas are correctives.

   Even meditation: it might be said that all practice is a corrective. Attempts to achieve balance.

   I think it is a mistake to separate theory and practice. Each is a corrective for the other. Balance.

   When theory and practice disappear, then you may have the true dhamma, the transcendent dhamma. I think this is what tnh is saying, and what the heart sutra is saying. Dogen also. 


terry



from the diamond sutra


The Lord asked: What do you think, Subhuti, is there any dharma which the Tathagata has fully known as 'the utmost, right and perfect enlightenment, or is there any dharma which the Tathagata has demonstrated? Subhuti replied: No, not as I understand what the Lord has said. And why? This dharma which the Tathagata has fully known or demonstrated it cannot be grasped, it cannot be talked about, it is neither a dharma nor a no-dharma. And why? Because an Absolute exalts the Holy Persons.

The Lord then asked: What do you think, Subhuti, if a son or daughter of good family had filled this world system of 1,000 million worlds with the seven precious things, and then gave it as a gift to the Tathagatas, Arhats, Fully Enlightened Ones, would they on the strength of that beget a great heap of merit? Subbuti replied: Great, O Lord, great, O Well-Gone, would that heap of merit be! And why? Because the Tathagata spoke of the 'heap of merit' as a non- heap. That is how the Tathagata speaks of 'heap of merit'. The Lord said: But if someone else were to take from this discourse on dharma but one stanza of four lines, and would demonstrate and illuminate it in full detail to others, then he would on the strength of that beget a still greater heap of merit, immeasurable and incalculable. And why? Because from it has issued the utmost, right and perfect enlightenment of the Tathagatas, Arhats, Fully Enlightened Ones, and from it have issued the Buddhas, the Lords. And why? For the Tathagata has taught that the dharmas special to the Buddhas are just not a Buddha's special dharmas. That is why they are called 'the dharmas special to the Buddhas'.

The Lord asked: What do you think, Subhuti, does it occur to the Streamwinner, 'by me has the fruit of a Streamwinner been attained'? Subhuti replied: No indeed, O Lord. And why? Because, O Lord, he has not won any dharma. Therefore is he called a Stream-winner. No
sight-object has been won, no sounds, smells, tastes, touchables, or objects of mind. That is why he is called a 'Streamwinner'. If, O Lord, it would occur to a Streamwinner, 'by me has a Streamwinner's fruit been attained', then that would be in him a seizing on a self, seizing on a being, seizing on a soul, seizing on a person. The Lord asked: What do you think, Subhuti, does it then occur to the Once-Returner, 'by me has the fruit of a Once-Returner been attained'? Subhuti replied: No indeed, O Lord. And why? Because there is not any dharma that has won Once-Returnership. That is why he is called a 'Once-Returner'. The Lord asked: What do you think, Subhuti, does it then occur to the Never-Returner 'by me has the fruit of a Never-Returner been attained'? Subhuti replied: No indeed, O Lord. And why? Because there is not any dharma that has won Never Returnership. Therefore is he called a 'Never-Returner'. The Lord asked: What do you think, Subhuti, does it then occur to the Arhat, 'by me has Arhatship been attained'? Subhuti: No indeed, O Lord. And why? Because no dharma is called 'Arhat'. That is why he is called an Arhat. If, O Lord, it would occur to an Arhat. 'by me has Arhatship been attained', then that would be in him a seizing on a self, seizing on a being, seizing on a soul, seizing on a person. And why? I am, O Lord, the one whom the Tathagata, the Arhat, the Fully Enlightened One has pointed out as the foremost of those who dwell in Peace. I am, O Lord, an Arhat free from greed. And yet, O Lord, it does not occur to me, 'an Arhat am I and free from greed'. If, O Lord, it could occur to me that I have attained Arhatship, then the Tathagata would not have declared of me that 'Subhuti, this son of good family, who is the foremost of those who dwell in Peace, does not dwell anywhere; that is why he is called "a dweller in Peace, a dweller in Peace"'.

The Lord asked: What do you think, Subhuti, is there any dharma which the Tathagata has learned from Dipankara, the Tathagata, the Arhat, the Fully Enlightened One? Subhuti replied: Not so, O Lord, there is not.

Thereupon the impact of Dharma moved the Venerable Subhuti to tears. Having wiped away his tears, he thus spoke to the Lord: It is wonderful, O Lord, it is exceedingly wonderful, O Well-Gone, how well the Tathagata has taught this discourse on Dharma. Through it cognition has been produced in me. Not have I ever before heard such a discourse on Dharma. Most wonderfully blest will be those who, when this Sutra is being taught, will produce a true perception. And that which is true perception, that is indeed no perception. Therefore the Tathagata teaches, 'true perception, true perceptions'. It is not difficult for me to accept and believe this discourse on Dharma when it is being taught. But those beings who will be in a future period, in the last time, in the last epoch, in the last 500 years, at the time of the collapse of the good doctrine, and who, O Lord, will take up this discourse on Dharma, bear it in mind, recite it, study it, and illuminate it in full detail for others, these will be most wonderfully blest. In them, however, no perception of a self will take place, or of a being, a soul, or a person. And why? That, O Lord, which is perception of self, that is indeed no perception. That which is perception of a being, a soul or a person, that is indeed no perception. And why? Because the Buddhas, the Lords have left all perceptions behind.




tao te ching, trans mitchell


27.

A good traveler has no fixed plans 
and is not intent upon arriving. 
A good artist lets his intuition 
lead him wherever it wants. 
A good scientist has freed himself of concepts 
and keeps his mind open to what is. 
Thus the Master is available to all people 
and doesn't reject anyone. 
He is ready to use all situations 
and doesn't waste anything. 
This is called embodying the light. 

What is a good man but a bad man's teacher? 
What is a bad man but a good man's job? 
If you don't understand this, you will get lost, 
however intelligent you are. 



to paraphrase lao tzu, "he who knows does not think, and he who thinks does not know..."

ya think?

(wink)

t

terry:
to paraphrase lao tzu, "he who knows does not think, and he who thinks does not know..."

ya think?

(wink)

t


the buddha preached for 49 years and never said a word...

terry:
terry:
to paraphrase lao tzu, "he who knows does not think, and he who thinks does not know..."

ya think?

(wink)

t


the buddha preached for 49 years and never said a word...

from "the way of chuang tzu" trans merton



WHEN THE SHOE FITS

Ch'ui the draftsman
Could draw more perfect circles freehand
Than with a compass.
His fingers brought forth
Spontaneous forms from nowhere. His mind
Was meanwhile free and without concern
With what he was doing.
No application was needed
His mind was perfectly simple
And knew no obstacle.
So, when the shoe fits
The foot is forgotten,
When the belt fits
The belly is forgotten,
When the heart is right
"For" and "against" are forgotten.
No drives, no compulsions,
No needs, no attractions:
Then your affairs
Are under control.
You are a free man.
Easy is right. Begin right
And you are easy.
Continue easy and you are right.
The right way to go easy
Is to forget the right way
And forget that the going is easy.
[xix. I2.]



MEANS AND ENDS

The gatekeeper in the capital city of Sung became such an expert mourner after his father's death, and so emaciated himself with fasts and austerities, that he was promoted to high rank in order that he might serve as a model of ritual observance.

As a result of this, his imitators so deprived themselves that half of them died. The others were not promoted.

The purpose of a fish trap is to catch fish, and when the fish are caught, the trap is forgotten.
The purpose of a rabbit snare is to catch rabbits. When the rabbits are caught, the snare is forgotten.
The purpose of words is to convey ideas. When the ideas are grasped, the words are forgotten.
Where can I find a man who has forgotten words? He is the one I would like to talk to.
[xxvi. II.]

from "the thinkers of the east," idries shah:



HOW AND WHAT TO UNDERSTAND


THIS INTERCHANGE BETWEEN the Sufi mystic Simab and a nobleman named Mulakab is preserved in oral transmission as a dialogue often staged by wandering dervishes:

Mulakab: “Tell me something of your philosophy, so that I may understand.”

Simab: “You cannot understand unless you have experienced.”

Mulakab: “I do not have to understand a cake, to know whether it is bad.”

Simab: “If you are looking at a good fish and you think that it is a bad cake, you need to understand less, and to understand it better, more than you need anything else.”

Mulakab: “Then why do you not abandon books and lectures, if experience is the necessity?”

Simab: “Because ‘the outward is the conductor to the inward.’ Books will teach you something of the outward aspects of the inward, and so will lectures. Without them, you would make no progress.”

Mulakab: “But why should we not be able to do without books?”

Simab: “For the same reason that you cannot think without words. You have been reared on books, your mind is so altered by books and lectures, by hearing and speaking, that the inward can only speak to you through the outward, whatever you pretend you can perceive.”

Mulakab: “Does this apply to everyone?”

Simab: “It applies to whom it applies. It applies above all to those who think it does not apply to them!”

Excellent as always, Terry. Thanks for your insight!

One thing this conversation made me realize: the mystics/wise (wo)men of most traditions often have more in common with each other than with some of their co-religionists, not that you will always get them to admit it haha.

Milo:
One thing this conversation made me realize: the mystics/wise (wo)men of most traditions often have more in common with each other than with some of their co-religionists, not that you will always get them to admit it haha.


My great uncle who chose to become a Catholic priest at an early age articulated to me the difference between insight and oversight in a personal email to me, I'd like to share that here, in the spirit of the Heart Sutra, the Diamond Sutra, Lao Tzu, etc He said this to me years ago, around a time when it first resonated: the Heart Sutra. He, of course, is familiar with the Catholic tradition (less so the Heart Sutra, I dont' even think we mentioned it in the conversation - but it was perhaps there)
"It seems to me that fundamentalism in any sphere is a placing of security
over the willingness to search for truth, a willingness that is
supported by the willingness to trust that there is a Love that inspires
(Jesus was convinced that what people call 'God' is transcendent and
immanent Love). So, as you observe so acutely, it is compassion that
leads to true judgment, and it is choosing to believe that enables one
to see - so long as belief is constantly open to refinement in the light
of experience. When belief is an ideology it leads to blindness
(oversight) not sight (insight). We should take reason and logic as far
as we can, and, within their realm to check everything. At the same time
it is obvious that we are involved in sacred mystery, which is open to
love, and lies beyond logic."

Milo:
Was reading through some old Plum Village articles today and came across this gem. TNH makes a good point here that everything except for a direct experience of the stateless state (Hehe) is a corrective. Non-self, emptiness, etc - even stating 'apply' or 'does not apply' to those characteristics are ever more subtle skillful means to correct views biased however subtly toward the poles of being or non-being. The best we can hope for through mere words is to bend each other's trajectory back towards the center and then onwards towards the other pole. Without direct experience, it is not possible to shoot true.
A gem it is.

In Thay's commentary... this is *epic* He, Thich Nhat Hanh, addresses the reader, you "The nose of the novice monk is still sore, even today. Do you understand?" (Worth reading the whole thing for context) 

This is, in my uncles words, "belief", I believe emoticon 

This post is for you two in the thread emoticon 

RE: Correctives, Countercorrectives, and Skillful Means - TNH on Heart Sutr
Answer
1/23/20 11:44 AM as a reply to Dan Jones.
Dan Jones:
Milo:
Was reading through some old Plum Village articles today and came across this gem. TNH makes a good point here that everything except for a direct experience of the stateless state (Hehe) is a corrective. Non-self, emptiness, etc - even stating 'apply' or 'does not apply' to those characteristics are ever more subtle skillful means to correct views biased however subtly toward the poles of being or non-being. The best we can hope for through mere words is to bend each other's trajectory back towards the center and then onwards towards the other pole. Without direct experience, it is not possible to shoot true.
A gem it is.

In Thay's commentary... this is *epic* He, Thich Nhat Hanh, addresses the reader, you "The nose of the novice monk is still sore, even today. Do you understand?" (Worth reading the whole thing for context) 

This is, in my uncles words, "belief", I believe emoticon 

This post is for you two in the thread emoticon 


aloha dan,

   It is, of course, the novice's sore nose that concerns tnh. The heart sutra, according to thay, is insufficient, confusing, because it lacks the words, "no existence and no non-existence."

   We cannot conceive of emptiness without also conceiving of form. Empty of what? Formed of what? "What is" is neither empty nor formed, but could be said to be both formed and empty.

   Let go of concepts and perceive reality directly, without discrimination.

terry





tao te ching, trans feng:



5.

Heaven and Earth are impartial; 
They see the ten thousand things as straw dogs. 
The wise are impartial; 
They see the people as straw dogs.

The space between heaven and Earth is like a bellows. 
The shape changes but not the form; 
The more it moves, the more it yields. 
More words count less. 
Hold fast to the center.