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An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva

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An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva Santiago Jimenez 1/9/12 9:21 PM
RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva josh r s 1/10/12 6:43 AM
RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva Santiago Jimenez 1/10/12 9:35 AM
RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva End in Sight 1/10/12 9:50 AM
RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva m m a 1/10/12 10:01 AM
RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva Santiago Jimenez 1/10/12 10:15 AM
RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva Santiago Jimenez 1/10/12 10:25 AM
RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva Nikolai . 1/10/12 2:38 PM
RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva tarin greco 1/10/12 3:30 PM
RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva Santiago Jimenez 1/11/12 10:53 AM
RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva End in Sight 1/11/12 11:13 AM
RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva Santiago Jimenez 1/11/12 2:38 PM
RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva (D Z) Dhru Val 1/11/12 6:27 PM
RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva Santiago Jimenez 1/12/12 8:49 AM
RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva End in Sight 1/11/12 7:52 PM
RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva Santiago Jimenez 1/12/12 8:47 AM
RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva End in Sight 1/12/12 9:07 AM
RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva Santiago Jimenez 1/12/12 9:52 AM
RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva N A 1/12/12 10:58 AM
RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva Santiago Jimenez 1/12/12 12:41 PM
RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva End in Sight 1/12/12 11:41 AM
RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva Santiago Jimenez 1/12/12 12:55 PM
RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva End in Sight 1/12/12 3:58 PM
RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva Santiago Jimenez 1/12/12 7:00 PM
RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva End in Sight 1/12/12 7:13 PM
RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva Santiago Jimenez 1/12/12 7:24 PM
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RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva Santiago Jimenez 1/12/12 7:48 PM
RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva End in Sight 1/12/12 8:31 PM
RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva Santiago Jimenez 1/12/12 8:40 PM
RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva tarin greco 1/12/12 11:00 PM
RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva Santiago Jimenez 1/13/12 3:33 PM
RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva End in Sight 1/14/12 11:21 AM
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RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva tarin greco 1/13/12 12:09 AM
RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva Change A. 1/15/12 1:37 AM
Here's an Essay expressing my own understanding and progress in the path (which comes from a Zen tradition that doesn't include the 4 paths model). I just started studying the Theravada teachings.

I would love to hear the opinions of Theravada practitioners on the similarities and/or differences between this two models.

NOTE: I see that the tendency in the posts here is more about specific questions and specific experiences. This essay was directed to seekers in general with a more general description of Samsara, Nirvana and a very general outline of the path (including the motivation to start and how it unfolds from a Zen perspective). Sorry if this is out of the context of the site.

THE WORLD OF THE BODHISATTVA
Santiago Santai Jiménez

During the course of history our human race has accomplished truly wonderful things. Our life expectancy has more than doubled in the last century, we have found cures to numerous diseases and we have developed means to travel around the world and to connect with each other at the distance of just a few clicks.

All this has been made possible thanks to one of evolution's most wonderful creations, the human intellect.
The motivation behind this accomplishments was obviously a desire to fix the many problems we have faced through the ages both individually and collectively, whether it is disease, poverty, aging, etc.

However, there can come a time when this "fixing of life" starts to become a burden too heavy to carry around. No matter how many problems we fix and how good we get at it, there's always something else that gets broken.

Maybe we are poor, so we start to work really hard until we get wealthy, but in doing so we might push ourselves so much that we become ill, so we start to take care of that in order to get healthy again. But now all of a sudden we are feeling lonely, so we try to find a partner, and once we find and "conquer" it we might realize that we have spent all of our money in the process, becoming poor again. Even more so, he or she might inevitably turn out not to be what we expected them to be ... I think you get the point, the world is forever imperfect. This is the mind of Samsara.

Once this fact becomes truly evident, we naturally embark on a journey to fix the ultimate problem, to find the answer to life's deepest questions: Who am I? What's this all about?
This is the beginning of the Bodhisattva's path. We start a practice that hopefully will lead us to transcend this never ending fixing that seems to take us nowhere, we want to find ultimate truth, ultimate liberation. And as our practice develops we gradually start to change the eyes with which we see the world, the distortions created by our intellect start to come into a different focus and our consciousness arrives at a new place.
Once there we can understand what Einstein meant when he said that "you can't solve a problem from the same level of consciousness that created it".

This is the transcending of the ordinary intellect, and from this place we realize that there was never a problem to begin with. The problem of life does not exist by itself, it arises only when our intellectual mind decides to make it up; the mind that is trying to solve the problem is the problem, we created the problem ourselves and now we are like a dog chasing its tale - and usually it is only after this seeking/fixing mind gets to a point where it is so exhausted that it finally drops off (in Zen this is called "Dropped of body mind") the dog has been chasing its tale so fiercely for so long that now its only choice is to give up.
And in giving up we see that there never was anything to find in the first place and our mind is now free from all seeking. The world is already perfect, it always has been, there's nothing to fix. This is the mind of Nirvana.
As wonderful as this is, however it is not the end of the journey. To say that would be to affirm that there is a final destination or fixed place. And it turns out that this is not the case.

The next step in the Bodhisattva's journey is to realize that the world of Samsara and the world of Nirvana are not really separate. To see them as separate would be to create a new artificial or conceptual duality, to live in an incomplete reality. He/she then starts to naturally transcend this new duality and to find a deeper oneness. A oneness that is beyond the one and the many, beyond unity and separation.

As the seed of this realization grows, the Bodhisattva learns to be equally at home with the seeking and the non - seeking mind. He is then free to love Samsara just as much as he loves Nirvana, transcending and including them both in a cosmic non - dual embrace. Having realized his unlimited and yet limited nature, his perfect divinity starts to be effortlessly expressed through his imperfect humanity, and he is aware of this divinity/humanity in everyone.

To see that the world is imperfect and yet perfect, perfect and yet imperfect. Beyond both perfect and imperfect is to live in the world of the Bodhisattva, who sees that everything is broken and that there is nothing to fix. And this world is so big that it has more than enough room to accommodate all of humanity.

RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva
Answer
1/10/12 6:43 AM as a reply to Santiago Jimenez.
This is the mind of Nirvana.
As wonderful as this is, however it is not the end of the journey. To say that would be to affirm that there is a final destination or fixed place. And it turns out that this is not the case.


I've heard this a few times, it seems to conflict directly with the pali suttas, what experiential or textual reason is there to think this is true?

The next step in the Bodhisattva's journey is to realize that the world of Samsara and the world of Nirvana are not really separate.


same as above

A oneness that is beyond the one and the many, beyond unity and separation.


what do you mean by a oneness beyond unity/one?
it seems that experientially "oneness" is a sort of enlarged, non-separate sense of self, and it can still cause suffering

To see that the world is imperfect and yet perfect, perfect and yet imperfect.

I think this is a downside of "oneness," it would seem that there are different parts of "the world" and samsara is imperfect and nirvana is perfect.

RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva
Answer
1/10/12 9:35 AM as a reply to josh r s.
Thanks Josh, this is the kind of reply I was looking for, here are my answers:

1. I've heard this a few times, it seems to conflict directly with the pali suttas, what experiential or textual reason is there to think this is true?

I speak from my own experience here (unfortunately I haven't read those suttas). After my permanent realization of No - Self (My best description would be - Seeing clearly that there is no permanent or solid entity inside me or anyone or anything) there was a tendency to try to stay in a state of no self and a "denial" of the conditioned self (not caring about the body, the mind and their conditions) This caused much suffering in the relative conditioned plane.

Discussing this with my teachers, they called it "The fall from grace" or "Return of the self" and said it was a natural cycle. Like day and night. One of them (Shinzen Young) told me, there's only one cure for this, learn to love the relative self.

In Zen this phase is also called the "Stink of Zen."

2. same as above

Again from my experience (and that of my teachers, also Zen literature - The 5 Ranks of Tozan - and oral tradition) this tends to happen, creating a distinction between this two "Worlds" which then start to integrate in the next stage.

3. what do you mean by a oneness beyond unity/one?
it seems that experientially "oneness" is a sort of enlarged, non-separate sense of self, and it can still cause suffering

Yes, I agree. I don't know how else to describe it.

4. I think this is a downside of "oneness," it would seem that there are different parts of "the world" and samsara is imperfect and nirvana is perfect.

I see this as an illustration of co-dependent origination. Whenever something manifests it does so in terms of it's opposite. Unfortunately language can't provide a clear description of "Oneness" since its very structure is on the basis of subject - object

* Again: I'm just starting to study the Theravada Path. In Zen there's not much reading of Suttas or such emphasis on precise stages of insight - at least in my experience. That's what attracted me to Theravada. I would guess that the realizations are the same.

Thanks for sharing.

RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva
Answer
1/10/12 9:50 AM as a reply to Santiago Jimenez.
Santiago Jimenez:
I see this as an illustration of co-dependent origination. Whenever something manifests it does so in terms of it's opposite.


I have spent a fair amount of time wondering about the Mahayana take on dependent origination. From my (Pali sutta-based) perspective, I can't see what dependent origination has to do with what you've said.

As you have practiced in the Zen tradition, could you explain how dependent origination is understood in that tradition? I am curious how perspectives on it may have changed or not changed in the course of the evolution of Buddhism.

That's what attracted me to Theravada. I would guess that the realizations are the same.


Beginner's mind! Don't assume anything! emoticon

RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva
Answer
1/10/12 10:01 AM as a reply to End in Sight.
I wrote a similar essay once - http://dreaminginfocus.com/2011/06/25/two-cant-win/


but i've come to understand it as a regurgitation of teachings, even though it FELT good. It got high marks from my zen teacher, but I've moved past it nonetheless. That being said, writing it was important to my development as a student of zen. Still, though, its totally empty.

Hanging over a cliff, hands bound, the only thing keeping you from death is a mouth clenched on a vine.... what is the one word that saves your life?

If the target audience is lay-people, you've misled them. If the target audience is monks, you cannot convey the emptiness.

There's nothing to say! zen can't be explicated, its fundamentally ineffable. The teachings are all empty.

Do you have recognition of true self? No, you don't! There's nothing to realize. Yet, you've realized it already.

Its all upaya, white lies that incline the mind toward nirvana. Or not nirvana.

You'll know it when you see it. But there is nothing to see.

Not one, not two.

Why did you write this? What is your true nature? what is THIS?

RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva
Answer
1/10/12 10:15 AM as a reply to m m a.
"That being said, writing it was important to my development as a student of zen. Still, though, its totally empty"

Couldn't agree more !!

Thanks !

RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva
Answer
1/10/12 10:25 AM as a reply to End in Sight.
"I have spent a fair amount of time wondering about the Mahayana take on dependent origination. From my (Pali sutta-based) perspective, I can't see what dependent origination has to do with what you've said.

As you have practiced in the Zen tradition, could you explain how dependent origination is understood in that tradition? I am curious how perspectives on it may have changed or not changed in the course of the evolution of Buddhism"

Good question: It's funny how to me it's obvious that co-dependent origination is clearly explained in what I said: Co-dependent origination simply states that everything that "exists" or "manifests" does so in terms of it's opposite. If there is night, there has to be day, if there is sadness there has to be happiness, if there is Samsara there has to be Nirvana. If there is Me there has to be Other. Nothing exists without it's opposite. Realizing this is a huge liberation from trying to make reality different that what it is.

Now I'm the one curious on the Pali Sutta explanation of it, could you point it out please ?

And thanks for the beginner's mind reminder ;)

RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva
Answer
1/10/12 2:38 PM as a reply to Santiago Jimenez.
Could you add more detail to your take on co-dependent origination talking about the 12 links? I am also interested on the zen take on it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prat%C4%ABtyasamutp%C4%81da


I do not see, in my current experience, where it indicates that the 'opposite' of something must exist along with that mentioned something. Unless you are talking of affective feelings (which i think arise after the vedana link), then perhaps I would say yes, an affective happiness arises contrasted by its opposite, i.e. sadness, which also arises due to the dependent origination sequence after vedana. An affective hatred and an affective love all result , in my own opinion and experience, from the same DO sequence. You can't have one without the other as the sequence that gives birth to both experiences is the very same one.

What would you say to doing away with the entire sequence that leads to both?

I personally think the 'co' part in 'co-dependant' is referring to the links (nidanas) that precede one another. Each link is 'co-dependent' on the previous link in order to arise. For example, sense contact occurs, which gives rise to vedana which gives rise to craving which gives rise to clinging which then gives rise to the becoming link. Becoming would not occur without the 'co-supporters' that preceded it.

RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva
Answer
1/10/12 3:30 PM as a reply to Nikolai ..
the 'co-dependent origination' of zen that the OP is referring to has a lot more to do with the taoist conception of simultaneous arising than with the early (original) buddhist idea of paticcasamuppada (dependent origination). see the tao te ching for a better idea of what he's getting at; a good example is the second verse. it is a poetic work, and quite short on the whole, so be sure to compare a number of different translations, for the english texts vary greatly, and quite understandably: as difficult as it already is to translate poetry 'accurately', it is presumably that much more difficult to translate from an ancient non-alphabetic language written in allusive, culturally-contextual pictographs with no inflection and grammar that is difficult to be certain about.

tarin

RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva
Answer
1/11/12 10:53 AM as a reply to Nikolai ..
This is from the wikipedia link you posted:

"Mahayana Buddhism (particularly the Hua Yen school) - states that all phenomena are arising together in a mutually interdependent web of cause and effect"

Like Train says, I think this has to do more with the Taoist notion - which IMO is pretty much the same as the Mahayana - that all phenomena arise together with it's opposite (beautifully represented by the Yin Yang symbol) than with the chain explained by the paticcasamuppada (dependent origination). I believe they are actually two different concepts.

"What would you say to doing away with the entire sequence that leads to both?"

I would say that the key here is the realization that both of this opposites are essentially empty and impermanent. ie, there is no such "thing" as happiness or sadness, me or other, nirvana or samsara, day or night.

RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva
Answer
1/11/12 11:13 AM as a reply to Santiago Jimenez.
Santiago Jimenez:
I would say that the key here is the realization that both of this opposites are essentially empty and impermanent. ie, there is no such "thing" as happiness or sadness, me or other, nirvana or samsara, day or night.


What is the correspondence between your behavior in the world and this realization? I.e. do happiness and sadness arise for you? Do they control your behavior? If you feel angry, do you act on it? Do you not act on it due to restraint?

RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva
Answer
1/11/12 2:38 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
Great question,

The way it has progressed - as this was a few years ago - is like this. I passed some times with extremely big swings between bliss - and the kinds of emotions someone would usually love to have - and pure terror/confusion - or all the emotions you would never wish even on your worst enemy.

Also the swings where from what I would call a state of deep release (no self) and huge contraction (very primitive levels of the self).

So as time progressed it was like I became more and more painfully aware of behaviors that where harmful or unproductive but also very deeply rooted. It's like I could feel in the core of my being the suffering this behaviors where creating. I could also feel something I would describe as the suffering of the whole world in an extremely intense way. Having studied Theravada more recently I understand that there is a natural cycling between A&P, Dark Night, Attainment - even after stream entry. This is really useful info since I wasn't really expecting such a kick in the ass after enlightenment.

In Zen this is called the "Fall from grace" which is the stage that comes after the "Stink of zen" and it implies the integration of the relative and the absolute. This also felt as a coming back to square one, a sort of rebuilding of the relative self with the awareness of the absolute perspective. It was like a rebirth of the relative self.

This has "force" me to evaluate my behaviors and in short, try to become a better person.

All the emotions continue to arise, I also feel a strong attraction to the opposite sex and sometimes act on it and on things like anger. I would say that the difference consists in an enhanced ability to let the emotions move more and more freely without repressing or clinging to them in excess, an ability to perceive them more like vibrating energy, thus reducing the apparent suffering and reducing the automatic response behaviors, an ability to act more appropriately according to real time conditions.

I realize that this "improvement of the relative self" continues accordingly to the trainings in morality, the "first and last" of the 3 trainings and it's not necessarily supposed to arrive at a permanent place, but to continue endlessly.

In Zen what sometimes is called a higher stage of "Enlightenment" is getting to a place when we have no preference between the experience of No - Self and the experience of Self. No preference between Samsara and Nirvana, the impersonal and the personal, they move freely in our day to day experience, it's a transcendence of the human condition and also an increased improvement and love for the human condition.

RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva
Answer
1/11/12 6:27 PM as a reply to Santiago Jimenez.
Santiago Jimenez:

All the emotions continue to arise, I also feel a strong attraction to the opposite sex and sometimes act on it and on things like anger. I would say that the difference consists in an enhanced ability to let the emotions move more and more freely without repressing or clinging to them in excess, an ability to perceive them more like vibrating energy, thus reducing the apparent suffering and reducing the automatic response behaviors, an ability to act more appropriately according to real time conditions.

I realize that this "improvement of the relative self" continues accordingly to the trainings in morality, the "first and last" of the 3 trainings and it's not necessarily supposed to arrive at a permanent place, but to continue endlessly.

In Zen what sometimes is called a higher stage of "Enlightenment" is getting to a place when we have no preference between the experience of No - Self and the experience of Self. No preference between Samsara and Nirvana, the impersonal and the personal, they move freely in our day to day experience, it's a transcendence of the human condition and also an increased improvement and love for the human condition.


Seems quite similar to progress under Burmese Vipassana meditation.

Does this seem familiar to you, it is about a Theravada teacher who went to study under a zen master ?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdP1gQBlvAE

RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva
Answer
1/11/12 7:52 PM as a reply to Santiago Jimenez.
Santiago Jimenez:
In Zen what sometimes is called a higher stage of "Enlightenment" is getting to a place when we have no preference between the experience of No - Self and the experience of Self. No preference between Samsara and Nirvana, the impersonal and the personal, they move freely in our day to day experience, it's a transcendence of the human condition and also an increased improvement and love for the human condition.


What do you think of this? Is it related to what you're saying?

Heart Sutra:
When Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva was practicing the profound prajna paramita, he illuminated the five skandhas and saw that they are all empty, and he crossed beyond all suffering and difficulty.

Shariputra, form does not differ from emptiness; emptiness does not differ from form. Form itself is emptiness; emptiness itself is form. So, too, are feeling, cognition, formation, and consciousness...

RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva
Answer
1/12/12 8:47 AM as a reply to End in Sight.
Yes I think it does, I would say that after discovering emptiness - the un manifest - there's a tendency to deny form - the world of manifestation - Who in their right mind would want to come back to form (to experience painful emotions or body sensations) after being free from it ? And yet there seems to be no other way. For me it's been an awakening of the heart. The realization of form is emptiness/emptiness is form. And it is an ongoing and many times challenging moment by moment surrender to what is.

RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva
Answer
1/12/12 8:49 AM as a reply to (D Z) Dhru Val.
I have been studying with Shinzen and it has helped me tremendously, I'll be in one of his phone retreats this coming sunday.

Thank you for this reply !

RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva
Answer
1/12/12 9:07 AM as a reply to Santiago Jimenez.
The Heart Sutra seems to claim that (as a relative truth) there is no suffering for one who realizes emptiness fully, i.e. no painful things that one could come back to. Perhaps because suffering is caused by a delusion:

Heart Sutra:
...the Bodhisattva, through reliance on Prajna paramita, is unimpeded in his mind because there is no impediment, he is not afraid, and he leaves distorted dream-thinking far behind.


Further, Avalokitesvara's understanding of emptiness does not leave a manifest world that one can choose to go back to or not go back to:

Heart Sutra:
Shariputra, form does not differ from emptiness; emptiness does not differ from form. Form itself is emptiness; emptiness itself is form. So too are feeling, cognition, formation, and consciousness....therefore, in emptiness there is no form, feeling, cognition, formation, or consciousness...


So, are you sure that what you discovered is what the Heart sutra means by "emptiness"? Why / why not?

RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva
Answer
1/12/12 9:52 AM as a reply to End in Sight.
I don't really know if I'll ever be sure about such a claim (or that someone can). In Zen there is the frase "Enlightenment is Delusion/Delusion is Enlightenment" My understanding of this is that when one experiences emptiness as stated in:

"...the Bodhisattva, through reliance on Prajna paramita, is unimpeded in his mind because there is no impediment, he is not afraid, and he leaves distorted dream-thinking far behind"

Which can be a tangible realization, the world as we have come to know it is experienced more like dream, there is no me, there is no other, there is no fear, there is no impediment. This are all seen as concepts, as ways to try to freeze or pin down a moment by moment ever changing reality using language, we realize that it's all a distorted dream.

But then we might try to make THAT the ultimate reality (that it's all an empty dream) So we just found a new way to "delude" ourselves into thinking there is such a "thing" as enlightenment.

If we are able to see this we might then leave "enlightenment" behind, realizing that it was just another (and more subtle) way to try to pin down reality. Dogen puts it like this:

“ To study the Way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be enlightened by all things of the universe. To be enlightened by all things of the universe is to cast off the body and mind of the self as well as those of others. Even the traces of enlightenment are wiped out, and life with traceless enlightenment goes on forever and ever. ”

That's why I think Zen puts such emphasis in living an "ordinary" life that is not bounded by ideas such as enlightenment or delusion. Such an ordinary life can be quite extraordinary.

So to say that someone can discover what the Heart sutra means by "emptiness" is really hard, because the sutra itself is empty and devoid of meaning. And yet to deny it's meaning is also delusion. That's the thing with language, we use it to try to express something that is beyond language.

"Enlightenment is Delusion/Delusion is Enlightenment"

RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva
Answer
1/12/12 10:58 AM as a reply to Santiago Jimenez.
Santiago Jimenez:
So to say that someone can discover what the Heart sutra means by "emptiness" is really hard, because the sutra itself is empty and devoid of meaning. And yet to deny it's meaning is also delusion. That's the thing with language, we use it to try to express something that is beyond language.

"Enlightenment is Delusion/Delusion is Enlightenment"

This kind of intellectual surrender just doesn't seem useful compared to actually trying to talk about stuff, even when the concepts being discussed are difficult to understand. Everything is its opposite, language is worthless, let's all shut up and meditate - but then why have a forum? There're obvious ways in which enlightenment is not delusion, samsara is not nirvana, the heart sutra does have a meaning, etc, and language serves well in describing those. Is there any additional benefit to emphasizing the ways in which language fails over the ways in which it works? I will grant that things like "Enlightenment is Delusion" sound profound and cute, and this has attracted a lot of innocent (no meditative experience) people to Zen.

RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva
Answer
1/12/12 11:41 AM as a reply to Santiago Jimenez.
Santiago Jimenez:
"...the Bodhisattva, through reliance on Prajna paramita, is unimpeded in his mind because there is no impediment, he is not afraid, and he leaves distorted dream-thinking far behind"

Which can be a tangible realization, the world as we have come to know it is experienced more like dream, there is no me, there is no other, there is no fear, there is no impediment. This are all seen as concepts, as ways to try to freeze or pin down a moment by moment ever changing reality using language, we realize that it's all a distorted dream.


How does that (no fear, no impediment) square with this?

The way it has progressed - as this was a few years ago - is like this. I passed some times with extremely big swings between bliss - and the kinds of emotions someone would usually love to have - and pure terror/confusion - or all the emotions you would never wish even on your worst enemy.

Also the swings where from what I would call a state of deep release (no self) and huge contraction (very primitive levels of the self).

So as time progressed it was like I became more and more painfully aware of behaviors that where harmful or unproductive but also very deeply rooted. It's like I could feel in the core of my being the suffering this behaviors where creating.


In my opinion (as a non-Zen practitioner, albeit one with an interest in the Heart sutra), I would offer that these moments are "distorted dream-thinking" which are a form of conceptualization (or mental representation), and without that conceptualization, the illusion of distinct separation between the five skandhas drops away, along with all the imaginary qualities they seemed to have...and with that, all the suffering inherent in that form of thinking.

But then we might try to make THAT the ultimate reality (that it's all an empty dream) So we just found a new way to "delude" ourselves into thinking there is such a "thing" as enlightenment.


I agree that to think "it's an empty dream!" or to experience the world in that way would be more conceptualization.

If we are able to see this we might then leave "enlightenment" behind, realizing that it was just another (and more subtle) way to try to pin down reality.


In your view, is it enlightenment that's a way to try to pin down reality, or thinking about oneself as enlightened or thinking about one's enlightened state?

RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva
Answer
1/12/12 12:41 PM as a reply to N A.
I should have completed the sentence:

"Enlightenment is Delusion/Delusion is Enlightenment" and yet "Enlightenment is Enlightenment and Delusion is Delusion"

It's true that it is sometimes necessary to talk about it, but I believe the fundamental thing here is practice, and many times the presentation of concepts can inspire one to do so. So it IS important to have a forum and language is not worthless, thought it can get in the way and become just mental masturbation, especially for the innocent (no meditative experience) people.

That's why I said that "the sutra itself is empty and devoid of meaning. And yet to deny it's meaning is also delusion"

I would say that it depends on real time circumstances to decide whether we emphasize the useful side of language or the useless side of language.

RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva
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1/12/12 12:55 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
In my opinion (as a non-Zen practitioner, albeit one with an interest in the Heart sutra), I would offer that these moments are "distorted dream-thinking" which are a form of conceptualization (or mental representation), and without that conceptualization, the illusion of distinct separation between the five skandhas drops away, along with all the imaginary qualities they seemed to have...and with that, all the suffering inherent in that form of thinking


Do you mean that perceiving the skandhas as separate from each other is a conceptualization that creates suffering and that this suffering drops away when seeing that the skandhas themselves are imaginary?

RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva
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1/12/12 3:58 PM as a reply to Santiago Jimenez.
Close...I think myriad conceptual things are projected onto the skandhas, one of the most prominent things being "separateness / distinction", and when there is no projection, there is no perception of separation or boundaries (nor any of the other imaginary stuff commonly projected onto them)...and according to my understanding of the Heart sutra, this is the perfection of wisdom and ends suffering.

(EDIT: In other words, each experience is seen to be whatever each one uniquely is...form / feeling / perception / formation / consciousness are not inherent natures that particular experiences have, nor are any of the other things that are projected onto them...but the linguistic convention remains, and for the enlightened person, they are free to classify and separate experiences without being limited by those conventions, and without suffering on account of believing those conventions to be more than they are for even a moment.)

That's what I think. What do you think?

RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva
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1/12/12 7:00 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
End in Sight:
but the linguistic convention remains, and for the enlightened person, they are free to classify and separate experiences without being limited by those conventions, and without suffering on account of believing those conventions to be more than they are for even a moment.)


I mostly agree, the sutra describes IMO the experience of great liberation. The experience of having no center, and realizing that no one and no thing has a center, its all impersonal and therefore free from suffering.

In this place if someone we love dearly dies we might not experience any stress, we might just see the whole event as the play of changing empty and meaningless form. Nothing can touch us because we are empty and so is everything else. However according to the tradition (also my personal experience and that of my teachers) there is a next step, which might come years or even decades after.

In the Zen tradition, after this is deeply experienced and truly embodied, something happens, it's called the "Return of the self" or "Fall from grace". This is the return of the relative stuff and it's when we experience our humanity in a deep and raw manner, this is also the arising of deep compassion, a compassion that we feel deep in our bones.

Then we gradually integrate this 2 aspects of our being, the personal and the impersonal (described in the heart sutra) and we are able to experience and love both. Seeing that this cycle is a natural process. Impersonal/personal like breathing in/out. Paraphrasing one of my teachers - Shinzen Young: Mahayana Buddism is about saving and loving a world that is not really there.

I was browsing to the site and found that someone had posted this link, I find it right on with what I'm talking about.

http://freestyleawakening.wordpress.com/2011/12/04/disintegration-and-reintegration-the-path-of-awakening-from-beginning-to-end/#comment-279

Thanks for all your posts End in Sight.

RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva
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1/12/12 7:13 PM as a reply to Santiago Jimenez.
Santiago Jimenez:
End in Sight:
but the linguistic convention remains, and for the enlightened person, they are free to classify and separate experiences without being limited by those conventions, and without suffering on account of believing those conventions to be more than they are for even a moment.)


I mostly agree, the sutra describes IMO the experience of great liberation. The experience of having no center, and realizing that no one and no thing has a center, its all impersonal and therefore free from suffering.

In this place if someone we love dearly dies we might not experience any stress, we might just see the whole event as the play of changing empty and meaningless form. Nothing can touch us because we are empty and so is everything else.


In my opinion that's called "dissociation", not enlightenment or liberation. emoticon

RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva
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1/12/12 7:24 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
End in Sight:
Santiago Jimenez:
[quote= In my opinion that's called "dissociation", not enlightenment or liberation. emoticon


Yes I agree ... thought I think this is something not so uncommon for people on the path. I would say that liberation implies experiencing humanity fully, not dissociate from it.

RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva
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1/12/12 7:40 PM as a reply to Santiago Jimenez.
What I meant was, the dissociative response (caused by an insight into no-self) is not liberation in my opinion, and so the return to not dissociating is not liberation either, but merely a return to being a regular and psychologically healthier person.

Why dissociate? In my opinion, based on my experience of this, and based on my observations about others' experiences, one generally approaches spirituality with the hope that something about one's life will change for the better. Specifically, one dislikes one's experience and is afraid to face it. Once there's a big insight into no-self, a person can easily run with that fear and use the no-self insight to separate themselves from experience, calling the act of hiding from it "understanding emptiness", and recognizing that, in this dissociated state, unpleasant things don't seem so unpleasant.

Does this have something do with liberation? I don't know; perhaps it depends on your tradition. Opinions do seem to vary. But to me it's a far cry from what the Heart sutra is talking about.

RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva
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1/12/12 7:48 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
Agree. So according to your experience/knowledge, after a big insight into no-self, what is the best way to avoid this dissociation trap ?

RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva
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1/12/12 8:31 PM as a reply to Santiago Jimenez.
I would suggest reflecting on how the fear that motivates (or motivated) one to dissociate is just the same-old delusion of self as existed before...'me' trying to protect 'myself' from unpleasant experience, either (in the pre-dissociated state) by chasing desires, or (in the dissociated state) by 'me' convincing 'myself' that 'I' am not there to be touched by unpleasant experience.

Then, recognize that whenever there is suffering, there is some kind of delusion going on...face your suffering with honesty (let 'yourself' be touched by it; as far as possible, don't hide), but simultaneously continue on with the path by looking for the distorted dream-thinking that is causing suffering in the first place so it can be abandoned.

"Face your suffering with honesty" is an extremely important point...it means a lot of things...one of the most significant aspects of it is taking a good hard look at what is suffering and what isn't. It's easy to say that there isn't suffering at all, but actually not suffering means that no ignorance remains. And if you can't or won't see that ignorance remains, that stands in the way of actually doing something about it.

Another way to say "face your suffering with honesty" is "beginner's mind". Dissociation requires guile...so to the extent that you really have no opinions, you are too simple-minded for dissociation (EDIT: or convincing yourself that you're not suffering) to find a foothold. (EDIT: It also helps with the path in general.) But, don't convince yourself that you have no opinions when you have plenty!

RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva
Answer
1/12/12 8:40 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
Thanks, loved that answer.

So in the Theravada path, what we are calling here a big (and by that I would mean irreversible) insight into no self would be Stream Entry?

And the subsequent examinations of the reappearance of the self is the continuing of the path all the way to Arahantship where there is no more reappearance of the self?

RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva
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1/12/12 11:00 PM as a reply to Santiago Jimenez.
Santiago Jimenez:
Thanks, loved that answer.

So in the Theravada path, what we are calling here a big (and by that I would mean irreversible) insight into no self would be Stream Entry?

And the subsequent examinations of the reappearance of the self is the continuing of the path all the way to Arahantship where there is no more reappearance of the self?

that is one way of understanding it, and probably a useful one at that ... particularly, to the extent that ' of the self' are understood to be occurrences of greed, hatred, and delusion.

RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva
Answer
1/13/12 12:09 AM as a reply to Santiago Jimenez.
Santiago Jimenez:
End in Sight:
but the linguistic convention remains, and for the enlightened person, they are free to classify and separate experiences without being limited by those conventions, and without suffering on account of believing those conventions to be more than they are for even a moment.)


I mostly agree, the sutra describes IMO the experience of great liberation. The experience of having no center, and realizing that no one and no thing has a center, its all impersonal and therefore free from suffering.

In this place if someone we love dearly dies we might not experience any stress, we might just see the whole event as the play of changing empty and meaningless form. Nothing can touch us because we are empty and so is everything else. However according to the tradition (also my personal experience and that of my teachers) there is a next step, which might come years or even decades after.

In the Zen tradition, after this is deeply experienced and truly embodied, something happens, it's called the "Return of the self" or "Fall from grace". This is the return of the relative stuff and it's when we experience our humanity in a deep and raw manner, this is also the arising of deep compassion, a compassion that we feel deep in our bones.

Then we gradually integrate this 2 aspects of our being, the personal and the impersonal (described in the heart sutra) and we are able to experience and love both. Seeing that this cycle is a natural process. Impersonal/personal like breathing in/out. Paraphrasing one of my teachers - Shinzen Young: Mahayana Buddism is about saving and loving a world that is not really there.


as the tenth chapter of the sutra of hui-neng (also called the platform sutra) contains this story about this sixth, and arguably most influential, patriarch of ch'an/zen[1]:

On the 1st day of the 7th Moon, the Patriarch [Hui-neng] assembled his disciples and addressed them as follows:--

"I am going to leave this world by the 8th Moon. Should you have any doubts (on the doctrine) please ask me in time, so that I can clear them up for you. You may find no one to teach you after my departure."

The sad news moved Fa Hai and other disciples to tears. Shen Hui, on the other hand, remained unperturbed. Commending him, the Patriarch said, "Young Master Shen Hui is the only one here who has attained that state of mind which sees no difference in good or evil, knows neither sorrow nor happiness, and is unmoved by praise or blame. After so many years' training in this mountain, what progress have you made? What are you crying for now? Are you worrying for me because I do not know whither I shall go? But I do know; otherwise I could not tell you beforehand what will happen. What makes you cry is that you don't know whither I am going. If you did, there would be no occasion for you to cry. In Suchness (Tathata) there is neither coming nor going, neither becoming nor cessation. Sit down, all of you, and let me read you a stanza on reality and illusion, and on Motion and Quietude. Read it, and your opinion will accord with mine. Practice it, and you will grasp the aim and object of our School."


..and further, as the (hagiographical) account of liang-chieh of tung-shan himself (liangjie of dongshan; tozan) relates his death as follows[2]:

He then had his attendants to help him shave his hair, bathe, and put on the robes. He then sat and had the bell sounded to bid farewell to the monks and appeared to have passed away. The disciples wailed for a long time without stopping. The master suddenly opened his eyes and told the assembly, “The mind of the monastics should not get attached to anything. That is authentic practice. What is the use in laboring for life and resisting death, feeling sad and mourning?” He asked the monks in charge to prepare a final “banquet of foolishness.” The disciples still are reluctant to let the master be gone, and it took seven days to complete the preparation of the banquet. The master then finished the meal with the assembly, and said, “The monastics should have nothing on their mind. Be sure not to be noisy or make a stir when I’m going.” He then returned to the abbot’s quarter, sat upright and was gone.


..it is clear then - at least in early zen - that there is/was a next step further still.

tarin

[1]http://www.sinc.sunysb.edu/Clubs/buddhism/huineng/huineng10.html

[2] according to a lecture given by a ven. jian hu on the founding patriarchs of the caodong (soto) house: ctzen.org/sunnyvale/download/enChineseZenMasterLec5.pdf

RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva
Answer
1/13/12 11:21 AM as a reply to Santiago Jimenez.
Santiago Jimenez:
So in the Theravada path, what we are calling here a big (and by that I would mean irreversible) insight into no self would be Stream Entry?

And the subsequent examinations of the reappearance of the self is the continuing of the path all the way to Arahantship where there is no more reappearance of the self?


It is actually hard to say. There are many different groups that classify themselves as "Theravada", and they potentially have different views on the meanings of the same nominal attainments.

In order to keep things non-speculative, we can talk about MCTB: the big irreversible insight is likely MCTB 1st path, and (if that caused dissociation) the return to being a psychologically healthier person may be associated with or initiated by MCTB 4th path (as a sudden or gradual effect of it). On the other hand, it's possible that MCTB 4th path would not end the dissociated state, but simply lead to a more refined form of dissociation.

When there is no re-appearance of the self, that would seem to qualify as Arahantship according to a strict interpretation of that condition, but it is unclear to me how to know which groups hold the strict interpretation.

I am confident that what I described is one form of practice that leads to arahantship (in the strict intrepretation), but, as I am not an arahant, I cannot be certain. But from my experience, it does lead one pretty far.

RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva
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1/13/12 3:33 PM as a reply to tarin greco.
that is one way of understanding it, and probably a useful one at that ... particularly, to the extent that ' of the self' are understood to be occurrences of greed, hatred, and delusion.

So then for the Arhant there is no more arising of greed, hatred or delusion ?

What I don't understand is how some one can determine if any of these will arise in the future, or they do arise but are dealt with easily ? Is it the result of a particular experience that some one just intuits this ?

RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva
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1/14/12 11:21 AM as a reply to Santiago Jimenez.
According to the doctrine, completely comprehending the causes of greed, hatred, and delusion brings them to a permanent end. Presumably this comprehension is self-evident when it occurs.

RE: An Essay on Zen and the Path of the Bodhisattva
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1/15/12 1:37 AM as a reply to tarin greco.
tarin greco:

//Shen Hui, on the other hand, remained unperturbed. Commending him, the Patriarch said, "Young Master Shen Hui is the only one here who has attained that state of mind which sees no difference in good or evil, knows neither sorrow nor happiness, and is unmoved by praise or blame.//

..it is clear then - at least in early zen - that there is/was a next step further still.


What about Shen Hui? Did he need to take the next step? If yes, why?