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Zen vs Theravada attainments

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Zen vs Theravada attainments
Answer
6/29/18 11:59 PM
I have attainments in Zen, which very un-zenly to say but fits this forum.

After 8 years of practice my only attainment in Theravada is getting to equanimity. I have been here for around 4 years...

For a long time I believed that all paths lead to the same place, but now I am questioning that idea.

It is fairy plausible that different techniques develop the mind in different ways.

What do you think?

RE: Zen vs Theravada attainments
Answer
6/30/18 9:49 PM as a reply to FM Cetin.
It is my opinion that there are lots of people doing different things and calling it Buddhism. 

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/bodhi/bps-essay_27.html
One of the most challenging issues facing Theravada Buddhism in recent years has been the encounter between classical Theravada vipassana meditation and the "non-dualistic" contemplative traditions best represented by Advaita Vedanta and Mahayana Buddhism.


The Mahayana schools, despite their great differences, concur in upholding a thesis that, from the Theravada point of view, borders on the outrageous. 



Some people think the commentaries had strayed from Buddha's intent. If you research what scholars have to say about the authenticity of the sutras (even those in Pali - Buddha did not speak Pali.) you might find it interesting.  And there are teachers within the same school that disagree with each other:

https://www.dhammasukha.org/ven-bhante-vimalaramsi.html
Bhante practiced Vipassana very intensely his first 20 years under an American teacher and in Burma, under U Pandita and U Janaka. Finally around 1990 he was told that he had achieved the endpoint of the practice, as it was taught by the Sayadaws, and now he should go teach.  He didn't feel comfortable that he had really found the end of suffering. He felt he did not have the true personality change that awakening should bring, even after going through the 16 levels of Insight or knowledges, as outlined by Mahasi Sayadaw in Progress of Insight.

From 1991 to 2000 he dedicated himself to "direct experience through study of the suttas and meditation practice". At first he stayed with K. Sri Dhammananda in Malaysia and taught Metta meditation. Then he had a real change in direction with his meeting of a Sri Lankan senior monk, Bhante Punnaji, also in Malaysia. His advice was to ‘study the suttas directly and to let go of relying on commentaries like the Visuddhi Magga'. Specifically he said, ‘Read only the suttas, then practice'. This was very significant because the commentaries were influencing how he was seeing the entirety of the Dhamma, at the time. It was suggested to put them aside while he studied the suttas as a standalone system. Nanavira in the early sixties, suggested this and then Stephen Batchelor also talked about just using only the suttas in his book "A Buddhist Atheist".

When Bhante began to do this, he discovered first hand, the interwoven nature of the Teachings. In each sutta he found the elements of the 4 Noble Truths, the 8-Fold Path, and the impersonal process of Dependent Origination. Dependent Origination or Paticcasamupada is the core of the Buddha's teachings. He realized that the word sutta literally meant "thread" and that the threads together, created a finely woven cloth, whereas, one single thread does not equal a cloth! Through his own objective first hand experience, the 8-Fold Path began to come alive. When he realized the secret of the teachings was on his doorstep he took the Majjhima Nikaya to a cave in Thailand and spent 3 months, living with a cobra as company, reading and then practicing just what the suttas said. In very little time, he said, he had gone deeper in his meditation, than ever before. What started as two weeks to study suttas turned into three months of deep practice. Out of this was born TWIM or Tranquil Wisdom Insight Meditation completely based on the suttas in the Majjhima Nikaya. He found the Jhanas had an entirely different explanation and experience. Nibbana was possible!

I described how I practice on my practice log on these forums:

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/8496517

I am probably like a lot of people who each think their own style is the true Buddhism, but I think my style is true Buddhism because my experiences practicing this way led me to understand the sturas in a very literal way - when they previously made no sense.  I also like my style because it can be explained in terms of scientific knowledge about the nervous system and brain chemistry without use of abstruse philosophical concepts. And there is a simple, easy to understand path from begginning to perfection.

I don't have an opinion on which school is best. That probably depends on the individual. I don't mean to imply "true Buddhism" is best, later refinements might be improvements.

I tend to think non-duality is right but it could be an impersonal form of non-duality. But I don't really understand what impersonal means though I don't think it means no-individuality. 

And I am somewhat sympathetic to the claims that Buddha studied yoga and Buddhism is within the school of Yoga.

http://www.swamij.com/faq.htm
Personally, I love the elegant simplicity and straightforwardness of Buddha's outline in the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. The Zen Buddhist Ox Pictures are also a beautiful representation for me. My inclination is to see Buddha as having learned from others, practiced the teachings, and then provided a great service of presenting the pre-existing teachings and practices in very practical, useful ways.



And Brahman has an impersonal aspect (no/not/non - self is not unique to Buddhism).
https://www.iskconpress.com/books/bg/14/27

Bhagavad-gītā » Chapter 14 » Text 27
...
And I am the basis of the impersonal Brahman, which is the constitutional position of ultimate happiness, and which is immortal, imperishable and eternal.

RE: Zen vs Theravada attainments
Answer
6/30/18 6:04 AM as a reply to FM Cetin.
Can you say a bit about your attainment in zen? 


RE: Zen vs Theravada attainments
Answer
6/30/18 1:13 PM as a reply to FM Cetin.
It is clear that different techniques lead to different effects, and then the question become how to draw a line around certain of those effects and label them “awakening”, and how to differentiate and label any other “attainments” that don’t fit within that boundary.

Even within the Theravada, the range of practices is extremely wide, and the range of effects generated by those practices and their various combinations in practitioners with various ranges of talent and variations in how they interpret and apply those techniques is vast.

Still, some generalizations can be made, but that conversation typically takes a long time, requires agreement on a range of complex terms, requires sufficient exposure to real-world examples and reports of what actually happens today when people do various practices to make the conversation informed by reality-testing, and takes open minds. That depth of conversation is rare, unfortunately, and tribalism and contraction are rife. Contraction into the familiar typically occurs as people reach their limits of comprehension.

However, there is a remedy, and that is actually doing the practices themselves well and in sufficient dose with a heartfelt engagement with the techniques over sufficient time and with good guidance, as that cuts through a lot of questions. The vast majority of the debates I see about the dharma could be eleviated by people just going and doing the practices they are talking about for long enough and well enough to see what they actually do. Rare is the situation where ultra-refined theory is going to help someone more than doing simple and straightforward techniques very well.

Still, I understand the reasons and need for the conversation.

I agree with the other poster who asked for more information on the actual phenemonology of the Zen attainments and what interpretations were used to frame these, as well as what practical advice those framings lead to.

é
Answer
7/4/18 8:05 AM as a reply to Noah D.
Noah D:
Can you say a bit about your attainment in zen? 



In Zen parlance, I attained "Don't know", also known as one's true self.

This attainment feels like being at complete peace with not knowing. That feels very familiar and it feels like being home. In sufi terms, one should have faith/belief in the unknown. That's somewhat like my experience.

Also,

Recently I was practicing with the koan "Who am I". I attained this koan, meaning I became one with it. It resulted in an extinction of "I", but I still exist, if that makes sense.

I am very interested in comparing Theravada and Zen attainments, but I am not well versed in the lingo of this forum, that people use so well to describe their attainments. 

RE: é
Answer
7/4/18 6:48 PM as a reply to FM Cetin.
Interesting.

What is the sense of agency like, meaning that sense that you are doing things, controlling things, responsible for things?

What is the senes of observation like, meaning where is awareness, consciousness, the sense of observer, and what is this like?

What is the experience of time like?

How did suffering change when these attainments you mention arose?

What happens when you sit down on a cushion?

If you have read the stages of insight, what is your experience of them and which experiences do you think you have had?

If you read about Fruition, do you think you have ever had one or more, and, if so, what were they like?

If you read about Dependant Origination, what is your understanding of it?

When you read about the Three Characteristics, what is your understanding of those?

What is your practice now and what happens when you practice?

All possible points for discussion...

RE: é
Answer
7/5/18 6:36 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Q1 What is the sense of agency lke, meaning that sense that you are doing things, controlling things, responsible for things?
 
There is a sense of agency, but it is greatly reduced. Most of the time, when I speak, it feels like it happens without "me" doing anything. Sense of control is greatly reduced. 

But when I feel certain emotions, especially difficult ones, it is "me" that feels them. When I am lost in thought, it is me that feels them. But it is fairly  easy to get out of being lost in thought. 

There is also self-referential thoughts, and attachment to them, although there has been reduction. 

Q2 What is the senes of observation like, meaeng where is awareness, consciousness, the sense of observer, and what is this like?
There is a lot of attachment to observation. It is me that observes, it is me that knows, etc.

Awareness is around/near my head, behind the eyes maybe.

Q3 What is the experience of time like?
Feels the way it always has.

How did suffering change when these attainments you mention arose?
I still suffer but greatly reduced

What happens when you sit down on a cushion?
I start agitated, then things settle down. I just sit, thoughts, emotions come and go. I practice "Don't know"

If you have read the stages of insight, what is your experience of them and which experiences do you think you have had?
I very distinctively went through the stages and got to equanimity.

If you read about Fruition, do you think you have ever had one or more, and, if so, what were they like?
No fruition, as far as I know.

If you read about Dependant Origination, what is your understanding of it?
Have not read.

When you read about the Three Characteristics, what is your understanding of those?
Did read. No particular understanding.

What is your practice now and what happens when you practice?
I just sit. Usually start agitated, then it settles down. Nothing happensy really, other than sounds, thoughts, faith, etc.

RE: Zen vs Theravada attainments
Answer
7/17/18 1:08 PM as a reply to FM Cetin.
Joe:
I have attainments in Zen, which very un-zenly to say but fits this forum.

After 8 years of practice my only attainment in Theravada is getting to equanimity. I have been here for around 4 years...

For a long time I believed that all paths lead to the same place, but now I am questioning that idea.

It is fairy plausible that different techniques develop the mind in different ways.

What do you think?

I think it is "peculiar" that there are so many different definitions of "enlightenment" (see Exhibits A, B and C below). Maybe the authentic one is lost. How would we know?

My approach would be to find someone who can tell you what the attainment is like, find out if other people agree, then find out how long it will take to attain at the level of practice you are willing to put in, then decide if you want to work for it. When you get a description of what it is like, you should consider how long the person was meditating before they attained it, because I suspect when someone attains a state in a relatively short time, they may attribute general benefits of meditation (equanimity and lower stress levels) to the attainment. This is important because you can get those without the attainment. So maybe I should add: also consider the benefits of the practice you will reap even if you don't reach the attainment.


Somewhere else in the forums here I wrote that my practice is based on what meditation can do for me today (equanimity, happiness) not what it might do some day in the future. The more disparity I see in definitions of "enlightenment" the more I think that is the best approach for me. 

Exhibit A

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/8713569#_19_message_8739472
Henry wijaya:

A stream enterer cannot be hurt just by words from others, bcause he can lose his identity anytime he want. 

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/8713569#_19_message_8765680
Henry wijaya:

I mean you can drop any identitiy anytime, see you have to hold identities when you talk to people, connect with people, but when nobody around, you’re just a gentle whisper of wind blowing in summer breeze. 
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/8713569#_19_message_8790807
Noah D:

No Self view = complete perceptual nonduality in waking hours 
No doubt = complete confidence that one can operate skillfully in any situation
No attachment to rules = complete fluidity & adaptability of behavior & attitude to be happy in life 

Exhibit B

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/8815678#_19_message_8824987
Noah D:
There are other definitions of SE that are completely valid:

1- completion of 1 cycle of insight 

2- “Fetter lite” 
——a peripheral intuitive sense that the self is an illusion , which can be accessed whenever one turns to it 
——confidence that the dharma will eventually work to transform ones suffering 
——-recognition that the dharma is about actual practice , rather than magical rituals 

...

Exhibit C

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/7146949?_19_delta=20&_19_keywords=&_19_advancedSearch=false&_19_andOperator=true&_19_resetCur=false&_19_cur=3#_19_message_8831413
Phyo Arkar:
Cessation is bodily experience of non_self 
it have to be explained in whole sutta but only  bodily experience of it will tell you clearly what it is. i will try to explain my best as i experienced but you have to experience it directly. 

as human we have
 hear touch sight smell taste mind
we consider that combination as self
we cling to it as self we desire to pursue better taste, better sight, better smell, etc
and we thought it was pleasure.But then if we can't get those, we suffer. those cant be last, those cant be satisfying, they are not always under our control. 

the answer is total ceasing of those
the moment before ceasing :
i will tell you my experience of longest ceasing 
first: hearing doesn't make sense anymore 
then breathing disappears
and then only mind left
after noting the last remaining mind
its like fallen into a  black hole
its like a total void in time and space
then when i am back  i know something happened, but dunno what it is
when i tried to think back what happened, i cease to exist for a moment. 
then after a few noting  alarm rang, 1hr is up. 
all i remember is i sited for 10 mins but already 1 hour is up. and then i realized i was ceased to exist for 50 minutes. 
it waa so liberating and peaceful that there is no I for 50 minutes.

it is glimpse of nibanna, total liberation from 5 senses doors, desire, ego, self. i feel like a new person fill with joy and peace

RE: é
Answer
7/17/18 1:10 PM as a reply to FM Cetin.
Thanks for the details, I appreciate your honesty.

RE: Zen vs Theravada attainments
Answer
11/30/19 6:50 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I too would like to hear an answer for this, as I have found no convincing correlate in any of these Maps for the experience of a low grade kensho and full blown satori.*

How would I define "kensho"? In DhO terms, I would describe it as "a form of fruition preceded by the usual A&P...but requires no second A&P Event to re-access", thus appearing to violate most of the Maps. This is primarily a Rinzai-based approach to satori, with only a dash of traditional Soto or classical vipassana/jhana elements. 

In short, while a full explication would conform quite well in most of not respects to the existing Maps (see NOTE below), the return experience does not. In fact, it is a far, far simpler technique than what DhO is currently using, at least for returning to a No Self/Non-Dual states. In fact, it seems so much simpler to use koans for this purpose I wonder if by ignoring Mahayana refinements to Therevada, DhO isn't unwittingly prescribing an inferior technology.

Let's be honest: If it takes you a weekend retreat to crack the J8 junction ---> High Equanimity and I can do with with a koan in an hour or a succession of three koans in 45 minutes, then you're you're using a screwdriver and I'm using a power tool.

So: What is koan, what is a kensho or a satori, what does it mean in terms of Attainment, fruition, SE? What is your understanding of koans? What is your understanding of the enlightment that results from cracking them open? 

My experiences have led me to develop my own BS detector as to whether or someone has solved a koan or not. For instance: Those former so-called Zen "Masters" who believe it ridiculous to assign different koans on the grounds that "once you've solved one koan, you've solved them all" had obviously only solved for "Mu", which is a kind of "Halt and Catch Fire" command for the brain that initiates a reset to Factory Settings...and were able to go no further. 

This reasoning suffices only for students who have never solved a second or third koan on its own terms, perhaps because they've developed a sort of "Mu Blindness." This is the unfortunate consequence of partial realization; hopefully just a phase.

Nor 
does one solve a koan. I know I said so before, but language is a lying b*tch, if you'll pardon the expression. If you've "solved it", you haven't solved it. I don't care if your answer is clever and 6-D Meta, like saying "Though it rains 3,000 years on Fuji's southern slope, the Lotus taken root there never gets wet" as a response to the koan "Three Thousand Worlds" - which is actually quite clever, given how it:

  • recognizes the link between "3,000 Worlds" and Nichiren and therefore
  • to Nam-Myoho-Renke-Ko, allowing you to
  • plug that jhana back into the process before - savant-like- you
  • seize upon the implied 'Godel,Escher, Bach' recursive aspect of 3,000 worlds and
  • actually manage to "see" the Everett's Many Worlds aspect of the thing before
  • blowing your mind with how similar The Rose in Stephen King's Dark Tower series is to
  • The Lotus (Nichirin) topped off with the impermanent nature of snow (One of the Three Characteristics), your reply of: 

"Thou it rains 3,000 years on Fuji's southern slope, the Lotus that has taken root there never gets wet" 


- will only buy you an enlightenment badge in some down-around-the-ankles Monestary in Japan, because you're still at least two steps away. Head to Osaka. Likewise, if you have the same smirk you had with Mu or burst out with laughter, say "KATZ!", shout, gassho, all that Book of Rinzai, Three Pillars of Zen, Gateless Gate stuff, then I'll know you're BS'ing me: Head to Osaka.

Each koan is a completely different experience of Non-Duality, as distinct as Unbounded Spaciousness and Unbounded Consciousness. 


NOTE: Fortunately, I do have access to a Zen document in which so much formerly guarded information is leaked regarding grades of Attainment and the subjective experience thereof that I believe quick work could be made of cross referencing from Mahayana to Theravada by some of those here. 

This surprising level of granular detail is, I believe, due both to the well meaning nature of the  in Zen Master in question, the perilous decline of the Dharma in Japan, as well as a sort of involuntary tick of this particular Master for explaining all matters explainable as possible due to his former day job as a physicist...give me a chance to sift through a few hundred files; I'll find it.

RE: Zen vs Theravada attainments
Answer
11/30/19 9:50 AM as a reply to FM Cetin.
Great diagnostic questions Daniel. (I'm filing those away for future use...)

FM Cetin, another question that will also help: Have you done multi-day retreats within the Zen tradition? If so, what was your experience on the last retreat?


(For what it's worth, at this point it seems like you haven't fully cracked equanimity and that's what is standing between you and profound kensho. Looking at the sensations of being an observer in equanimity could be an interesting exploration. "What sensations tell me that I am observing?" Basically, if there is a "state" in experience there is also an observer that is being assumed as self, so when things looks externally solid as a state, get curious about where there is also a solidified sense of observer. And yes, it's tricky, equanimity is also a state.)

RE: Zen vs Theravada attainments
Answer
11/30/19 5:33 AM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:
Great diagnostic questions Daniel. (I'm filing those away for future use...)

FM Cetin, another question that will also help: Have you done multi-day retreats within the Zen tradition? If so, what was your experience on the last retreat?


(For what it's worth, at this point it seems like you haven't fully cracked equanimity and that's what is standing between you and profound kensho. Looking at the sensations of being an observer in equanimity could be an interesting exploration. "What sensations tell me that I am observing?" Basically, every if there is a "state" there is an observer that is being assumed as self, so when things looks externally solid as a state, get curious about where there is also a soli)dified sense of observer.)

So in regard to what I just stated above, you associate satori or kensho with fruition/Stream Entry?

RE: Zen vs Theravada attainments
Answer
11/30/19 5:33 AM as a reply to David Kyle Spencer.
David Kyle Spencer:
I too would like to hear an answer for this, as I have found no convincing correlate in any of these Maps for the experience of a low grade kensho and full blown satori.*


It's very very very simple: false kensho is A&P, true kensho is first path (cessation), satori comes much later as fourth path. It's that simple. 

RE: Zen vs Theravada attainments
Answer
11/30/19 5:42 AM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:
David Kyle Spencer:
I too would like to hear an answer for this, as I have found no convincing correlate in any of these Maps for the experience of a low grade kensho and full blown satori.*


It's very very very simple: false kensho is A&P, true kensho is first path (cessation), satori comes much later as fourth path. It's that simple. 

Thank you for your quick reply! But I mean diagnostically. To use the POI map as a reference, a person has passed through the A&P and attained a fruition. I infer from the three part division you just supplied that such a person has gained The First Path, but not Satori. 

This is confusing because in Zen Literature kensho = Enlightenment. In common use, however, kensho and Satori are often used interchangeably, with kensho being described as a kind of "satori-light". You can see how confusing mixing three traditions in four different countries over a period of 2,500 years can become. 

RE: Zen vs Theravada attainments
Answer
11/30/19 9:51 AM as a reply to David Kyle Spencer.
The POI map really only reliably works for First Path. 

The POI map somewhat works for Second Path but the practioner will likely experience more vipassina jhanas than the dry nanas.

The POI map is almost not applicable to 3rd and 4th. These have a lot of different diagnostic aspects, which are all related to Daniel's questions. 


Kensho and Satori are often used interchangably because zen teachers don't like to promote "map mentality" emoticon  They don't mind confusing people because it is for their own good, so the thinking goes... They want you to keep practicing. 

But it's clear that there is:
  • something spiritual that happens that makes people get interested in serious practice but there is much more to do (A&P, or "yeah that's interesting, but that's mayko" in zen)
  • something that is a significant milestone that provides insight into the nature of mind/self (first path, kensho)
  • something that marks the completion of insights into the mind, but of course life goes on (fourth path, satori)
It's really not that confusing. Maybe hard to do, but not confusing.

RE: Zen vs Theravada attainments
Answer
11/30/19 7:34 AM as a reply to shargrol.
Here is the document I was referring to by Inoue Kido's understudy, Atsunobo Tomomatsu. Took me awhile to find, I have so many different files:

https://terebess.hu/zen/mesterek/The_Method_of_Zen.pdf

Tomomatsu's emphasis differs somewhat from Inoue's broader schema. The first box is Tomomatsu, the second Kido's. Italics is mine for greater clarity of the most important concepts, or at least, what Atsunobo concieves them to be.


The scientists who want to study Zen scientifically should reach at least the
stage of methodless-method, which needs vigorous practice of at least three years to
attain. Otherwise, the scientist will not know what Zen is; and, more distressfully,
his superficial understanding becomes a basis for subsequent, misguided scientific
investigation.

Methodless-method is the ultimate way of Zen practice. It is conducted
without the mind utilizing any method or means. In other words, no-method is the
true method of genuine Zen practice.

To reach this stage without needless delay, you must keep your mind at the point
of each, present action—something that is changing each moment. A Zen practitioner
must pay careful attention to the real and
tangible, phenomenal world of the present moment; for instance, to the bottom of
your foot while walking, or your tongue or the touch of tableware while eating.
Zen practice is an effort to concentrate one’s mind completely on the point which is
changing every moment.

To reach what is called the methodless-method, a Zen
practitioner has not only to cut off any thoughts and images that arise suddenly and
unexpectedly, but also transcend all delusion and personal views, which are deeply
rooted in the mind. Such delusions and personal views are the source of the mind’s
strongest attachments and are the most difficult mental habits to eliminate.

As we first embark on Zen practice we almost always give in to our
deeply-rooted delusions and personal views. However, these are the very enemies
or demons we must overcome. Zen practice is to keep fighting them, however hard
it may be, without giving up. Man willfully creates his own delusions and personal
views, and becomes attached to them. Attachment leads to emotional stimulation,
which sometimes—depending on circumstances—leads to emotional outbreaks.
One method of Zen practice has the Zen practitioner cut such emotions off by
asking deeply within himself, “Where does this thing come from?”The Zen
practitioner should continue this battle until the emotion is cut off at the root
whenever and no matter how often the emotion arises. There is no other way to
overcome emotions than cutting them off completely.
There is nobody other than
you yourself who can dispose of delusions and personal views because it is you
yourself who has created them. Your difficulties in overcoming delusion will be
indescribable. Seeking understanding from others will be impossible because others
will not be able to understand even if you try to explain. Will your aspiration to
seek the Way win? Or will the negligent mind triumph?

When your emotions explode, they become violent passion. They cannot be
instantly calmed. We are carried away by them. However, the Zen practitioner
moves the battle line forward to the point before the eruption by perceiving the
awakening of their initial stirrings in the mind, then immediately cuts off any
thoughts or emotions right after they first originate. In other words, he reaches the
mental state where the first thought does not trigger a second—only a single action
takes place instead of chain reaction. He comes to realize that preparation for
conflict in peacetime is much more effective than engaging the enemy after being
harassed. At this stage of Zen practice the fear of phenomena such as emotional
outbursts that grow and burn out of control rapidly disappears, and the emotions
cease from becoming problematic at all.
This is what is called salvation through
Zen practice or the transformation in mental structure.

Reaching the stage of methodless-method is the juncture for Zen practice to
take root in the daily life. If a practitioner is not able to reach this stage, his or her
practice ends up, sooner or later, merely as a temporary experience without the
capacity for salvation
. It would be no exaggeration to say that everything said about
Zen by a person who has never reached the stage of methodless-method is complete
delusion and personal opinion. If you can come to the stage of methodless-method,
your “Way-seeking Mind” endeavoring to live everyday in the Way has
strengthened as much as your delusive mind has weakened.

Arriving at the methodless-method depends upon the strong will to
transcend oneself and the effort to accomplish one’s ideal. In short, it depends on
the quality of the vessel.Depending on wholehearted and extreme effort, one can
attain the capacity to dwell in the present moment where one can clearly see the
arising point which cultivates all random thinking and emotions.
While a
practitioner is still using zazen as a means or method, he or she differentiates zazen
and their present reality. This distinction is a hindrance to practice. One must
realize that all of our functions themselves always have been the Way from the
beginning.

Realizing this, the practitioner discovers that in both quiet sitting and in
daily life any method or means separate from the present moment is unnecessary.

Thereafter, the practitioner’s approach of the necessity of utilizing a method or
means for practice changes. This is methodless-method. Reaching methodless method
he or she becomes able to deepen single-mindedness at any time and place, and in direct
response to the thing itself.
It means that they have attained the ability
to give themselves up to the thing itself becoming intimate, or one, with it. From
this time on, they enjoy the capacity to walk in the Way.

Methodless-method requires extreme efforts to reach. Such effort may
appear odd or strange to people. The practitioner may sit in his room avoiding
conversation with family. He may avoid watching TV and listening to music.
Perhaps he will eat silently with a grave, aloof, and expressionless look. But
through such strenuous efforts in keeping single-mindedness, one can preserve
methodless-method.
At times like these, one can recall and acutely understand the
words of Lao Tzu who said, “When superior leaders hear of the Tao, they diligently
try to practice it. When average leaders hear of the Tao, they appear both aware and
unaware of it. When inferior leaders hear of the Tao, they roar with laughter.
Without sufficient laughter, it could not be the Tao.”
(1) Enlightenment means attaining the Mind of Shakyamuni and mastering the
Buddha-Dharma. In order to attain it, you must: throw away all greed; vow to all
Buddhas and gods your aspiration to attain the True Way; show deep reverence and
esteem for the ancient great Zen Masters; and seek a true teacher.

(2) When you find a true teacher, simply believe in his teaching and practice
accordingly.

(3) Be attentive of the self in the present moment and throw away random thinking.
Continue doing this without interruption. But because the power of the habitual
mind is immense, you instantly lose the present moment. Here you must redouble
your efforts. Practice can become very difficult at these times.

(4) In order to cut off random thinking and to force yourself to return to the present
moment, turn your upper body from side to side after each single breath. This will
also prevent physical stiffness and improve the smooth flow of both body and mind.
This is also an excellent method to prevent drowsiness.

(5) As you come to distinguish the real moment from momentarily arising thoughts,
less strain will be needed to return to your present self. At this point your suffering
and anguish will diminish, the boundary between reality and thought will become
clearer,
and doing zazen will at once become easier.

(6) In due time, scattered thinking will subside. You will no longer be led around
by random thoughts. You will be able to let them alone by ignoring them. At this
point in your practice you will be able to quickly perceive the instant when
thoughts, conception, and consciousness arise. And you will come to realize the
world where thoughts are cut off. This is the world of emptiness. Here is where
zazen becomes extraordinarily interesting. You will gain the ability of continuously
perceiving the overall moment-to-moment movements in your daily life.
The mind
ceases to move toward delusion. But because random thoughts still continue to
flicker tempting you to give in sometimes, you must continually be on guard that
the mind is not distracted.

(7) Then you reach the point of pure thoughtless-thought, cut off from before and
after. You come to realize your original nature confirming there is no need for any
method or approach needed in practicing Zen.
Taking an approach to do something
defiles the world as it is. You only need to be just as you are, leaving yourself to
the world of serene wholeness in absolute uniformity. After that, you only have to
penetrate. True Zen practice is simply the present moment, and nothing else.
There is just each moment. The serenity one experiences is an emotional calm that
appears strange or abnormal to others. One realizes that one already conducts his
life in Buddha Nature; simply seeing, hearing, feeling, and thinking as these
functions operate on their own. One consents to the state of things as they are,
preceding words and concepts. Various doubts melt away. Because you have gained
an understanding of the writings of the ancient great Zen Masters, intellectual
stimulation becomes fascinating. But it is still best to avoid reading them.

(8) Truly and incisively penetrating the thing itself, one plunges into selflessness.
This is the reward of emptiness.
It is a moment of great joy. When the gap collapses,
it becomes clear that the gap itself was just an illusion. This is Enlightenment and
Nirvana. It is the true present. It is the world where the past drops off and concerns
no longer arise. We become the free functioning of all our endowed faculties. They
simply operate according to cause and effect. The mind, too, functions
instantaneously according to the circumstances of the present, so we cannot find
any place where the mind is. This is what manifests the moment the gap disappears.

The glad tidings of “Form is emptiness; emptiness is form.” is conveyed to you, and
you truly understand what single-mindedness is. From then on, even in the mundane
world you never lose the present moment and are able to act simply as all your
endowed faculties operate naturally.But still the ego-self remains to occasionally
arise.


(9) From this time on, one enters post-Enlightenment practice. Awakening itself
brings enormous conviction and strength, which conversely stands before us
blocking the Way to perfect liberation. Post-Enlightenment practice is casting off
even Enlightenment itself. Since originally absolutely nothing exists, perceiving
Enlightenment itself is also delusion. If we possess nothing, it is possible to become
anything according to circumstances. This is called true liberation or freedom. The
way to discard Enlightenment is by acting simply (single-mindedly). Throwing
away even the Buddha-Dharma, Enlightenment, and Buddha, we simply “knead”
the present moment by becoming pure function as it is.
Like a rail stretching ten
thousand miles, one must penetrate simply and solely into single-mindedness. Then
through single-mindedness, single-mindedness consumes itself.
It is essential for
practitioners to keep on preserving the present moment without being neglectful for
even a moment in making reference to the records of the ancient great Zen Masters
and the Masters themselves.

(10) The crowning accomplishment of throwing away both Enlightenment and the
Buddha-Dharma is Great Enlightenment.In True Reality there is neither what is
considered reality nor what is not considered reality. This is the same illuminating
world of our great compassionate teacher Shakyamuni Buddha who declared upon
awakening, “In all of heaven and earth, I alone am the World-honored One.”
A man
of Great Enlightenment engages in his entire life and death in joy and dignity by
giving himself up to the everlasting profoundness of existence; and empowered
with boundless confidence and peace of mind saves others and the world. Even at
this point, the past great Zen Masters endeavored all the more to “knead” singlemindedness.