1 of 3
1
Zen for the Day
Posted: 29 August 2007 09:49 AM   [ Ignore ]  
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2136
Joined  2006-02-20

According to Zen, it is possible for anyone to manifest themselves as Buddha at any moment; no effort, or skill, or knowledge or practice is needed.  One moment we can be miserable, for any of the countless reasons why humans are miserable, and the next moment we can be peaceful and serene.  "A split hair's difference and heaven and earth are set apart."

What, exactly, is this transition from suffering or misery to peace and tranquility?  If we have a choice between the two, why do 99% of the population chose misery?  Why are there so few Zen adepts?

The subject here is about psychological unhappiness.  What is causing the misery or unhappiness, and what is giving this state of mind continuity?

There is no reason to assume that Buddhas or Zen masters are not subject to all the usual irritations and frustrations of human existence.  In every human life, if there isn't reason for one kind of vexation there's another.  In their minds, most people move from one cause of angst or irritation to another, giving each of their problems or frustrations some time on the 'airwaves' of their brain.  Various situations that they experience, things that they see or hear, people that they meet, stir up or trigger a problem that a moment before was dormant or inactive - not troubling them at all.  Who knows how to let original mind function free and clear of useless noise, free of the endless demands and whining of the self?

 Signature 

“The simple fables of the religious of the world have come to seem like tales told to children.”  - Nobel Prize recipient - Francis Crick

“It is time we recognized the boundless narcissism and self-deceit of the saved.” - Sam Harris

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 August 2007 02:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2927
Joined  2006-12-17

[quote author=“unsmoked”]According to Zen, it is possible for anyone to manifest themselves as Buddha at any moment; no effort, or skill, or knowledge or practice is needed.  One moment we can be miserable, for any of the countless reasons why humans are miserable, and the next moment we can be peaceful and serene.  “A split hair’s difference and heaven and earth are set apart.”

What, exactly, is this transition from suffering or misery to peace and tranquility?  If we have a choice between the two, why do 99% of the population chose misery?  Why are there so few Zen adepts?

The subject here is about psychological unhappiness.  What is causing the misery or unhappiness, and what is giving this state of mind continuity?

There is no reason to assume that Buddhas or Zen masters are not subject to all the usual irritations and frustrations of human existence.  In every human life, if there isn’t reason for one kind of vexation there’s another.  In their minds, most people move from one cause of angst or irritation to another, giving each of their problems or frustrations some time on the ‘airwaves’ of their brain.  Various situations that they experience, things that they see or hear, people that they meet, stir up or trigger a problem that a moment before was dormant or inactive - not troubling them at all.  Who knows how to let original mind function free and clear of useless noise, free of the endless demands and whining of the self?

 

Isn’t the Buddhist idea that desires are the source of suffering?  We could classify in that category things like expectations and so on as well.  We can also look into psychology, with some people hanging on to particular attitudes toward the world requiring them to suffer. (I know a philosophy professor, for example, specializing in ethics, who is addicted to the sensations that go with rightous indignation.)  Also, people who are caught up in belief systems that require them to take particular stances toward events in the world.  (I know a woman whose self-image is “I am a sympathetic and caring person” so she believes that she has to suffer some whenever she reads of or sees somebody in distress—she doesn’t listen when I tell her that all that is required is that she act appropriate to the situation.)

As for the switch from bliss to suffering, I have an example of going in the other direction: Back in 1972 I was in Iran, hanging our with a group of peace corp types and indulging some of the local mind-altering substances.  I was sitting quietly and my entire body was filled with energy—it felt fantastic.  Then, as suddenly as a light switch, it became complete terror.  The transition was so fast that it left my awareness hanging in limbo, detached from both the previous and the current physical sensations, wondering what had happened.  After than, I went looking for the switch.  LOL

Profile
 
 
Posted: 30 August 2007 11:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2136
Joined  2006-02-20

burt,

you concluded, “After that I went looking for the switch.”  Any more on this?  I was thinking, the brain isn’t a muscle.

 Signature 

“The simple fables of the religious of the world have come to seem like tales told to children.”  - Nobel Prize recipient - Francis Crick

“It is time we recognized the boundless narcissism and self-deceit of the saved.” - Sam Harris

Profile
 
 
Posted: 30 August 2007 01:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2927
Joined  2006-12-17

[quote author=“unsmoked”]burt,

you concluded, “After that I went looking for the switch.”  Any more on this?  I was thinking, the brain isn’t a muscle.

Well, never found a switch (If I had, I probably would have glued it into the bliss position and wouldn’t be posting here. LOL )  But various meditation practices, tai chi, and so on are a good substitute.  :wink:

Profile
 
 
Posted: 31 August 2007 09:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1587
Joined  2006-10-20

One should be more concerned with one’s reaction to life’s events rather than how the events affect oneself.

 Signature 

“All extremists should be killed!” - neighbor’s bumper sticker

Profile
 
 
Posted: 02 September 2007 08:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2136
Joined  2006-02-20

[quote author=“burt”][quote author=“unsmoked”]burt,

you concluded, “After that I went looking for the switch.”  Any more on this?  I was thinking, the brain isn’t a muscle.

Well, never found a switch (If I had, I probably would have glued it into the bliss position and wouldn’t be posting here. LOL )  But various meditation practices, tai chi, and so on are a good substitute.  :wink:

All Day Zen

Something tells me that the switch glued in the bliss position might not be a good idea.  (“The normal mind is the way.” ) The presence of mind that is (hopefully) attained with t’ai chi and other meditation practices - can that be carried over into the rest of the day?  Can a normal, unperturbed mind be manifested at any time - at a bus stop, at your job, riding in a taxi?

Suppose you are in a taxi on your way to make a presentation you’ve been working on for months.  You take out your cell phone and realize you have picked up your wife’s phone by mistake.  There is a text message on it.  “C U when hubby goes to his meeting - Jack.”  Jack is your best friend.  You are not a swinger.  Your wife has been your faithful, loving companion for 15 years, or so you thought.

However, as a Zen adept you continue on to your meeting, pull off your presentation with aplomb and good humor, your proposal is accepted, and that evening you have a happy, celebratory dinner with your wife.  A week later you find out that Jack and your wife had gotten together to plan a surprise birthday party for you.

A thousand years ago, Zen Master Foyan told this story:

“Once there was a monk who specialized in the Buddhist precepts, and had kept to them all his life.  Once when he was walking at night, he stepped on something.  It made a squishing sound, and he imagined he had stepped on an egg-bearing frog.  This caused him no end of alarm and regret, in view of the Buddhist precept against taking life, and when he finally went to sleep that night he dreamed that hundreds of frogs came to him demanding his life.

“The monk was terribly upset, but when morning came he looked and found that what he had stepped on was an overripe eggplant.  At that moment his feeling of uncertainty suddenly stopped, and for the first time he realized the meaning of the saying that there is no objective world.  Then he finally knew how to practice Zen.”

Foyan’s frog story translated by Thomas Cleary in his book, ‘ZEN ESSENCE - The Science of Freedom’.

 Signature 

“The simple fables of the religious of the world have come to seem like tales told to children.”  - Nobel Prize recipient - Francis Crick

“It is time we recognized the boundless narcissism and self-deceit of the saved.” - Sam Harris

Profile
 
 
Posted: 09 September 2007 05:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2957
Joined  2004-12-02

If the Zen beginner turns attention inward and looks carefully, it is likely they will see that they are trying to DO something, trying to ACCOMPLISH something, trying to ARRIVE at something.  To get on a good footing for Zen practice, this effort, this mental questing has to subside.  Buddha mind is already inherent in everyone - you don’t have to achieve it or arrive at it. 

Relax in a normal state of mind, being simply alert and attentive.  Let all questing subside.  Let the mind rest at peace.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 September 2007 11:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
Administrator
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  480
Joined  2006-12-16
Anonymous - 09 September 2007 09:48 PM

Relax in a normal state of mind, being simply alert and attentive.  Let all questing subside.  Let the mind rest at peace.

Good luck.
What I found was a very deep anxiety, and a million directions to run to try to escape that anxiety.
At one point I decided the whole ‘enlightenment’ endeavor was a crock of bull.
Which of course the ‘endeavor’ itself says that any endeavor is. The endeavor is selling water by the river, etc. etc. It can be truly maddening, very far from restful.
The mind can easily rest in a dream - but resting in emptiness?
Right now my mind is not about to rest in emptiness. But it doesn’t have to rest in anything, because I’m learning to trust the space itself, the space that the mind runs around in.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 September 2007 01:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5404
Joined  2006-09-27
Pat_Adducci - 29 September 2007 03:09 PM

I’m learning to trust the space itself, the space that the mind runs around in.

Finally! Now I understand the meaning of the word “airhead”.

for the first time he realized the meaning of the saying that there is no objective world.

Does that mean nobody knows whether he stepped on a frog or a ripe eggplant? What the bleep do we know?? Why even have the separate words “frog” and “eggplant”? They are just confusing, arbitrary categories. Why say anything at all? Perhaps this is why silence is so valued in Buddhism.

When I have nothing to say, my lips are sealed. Say something once, why say it again? Psycho killer, Qu’est-ce que c’est?

[ Edited: 29 September 2007 01:38 PM by Traces Elk]
 Signature 

INVEST in cynicism!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 30 September 2007 10:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
Administrator
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  480
Joined  2006-12-16
Salt Creek - 29 September 2007 05:29 PM

Does that mean nobody knows whether he stepped on a frog or a ripe eggplant? What the bleep do we know?? Why even have the separate words “frog” and “eggplant”? They are just confusing, arbitrary categories. Why say anything at all? Perhaps this is why silence is so valued in Buddhism.

Note that the frog/eggplant story begins with describing the monk as very serious about following the precepts. This was the source of his alarm about the difference between a frog and an eggplant.

Buddhist psychology wants us to be more aware of how categories, which are arbitrary conceptual boxes, can rule our lives.
Can we learn to use concepts rather than be used by them? This is what might come out of silence.

The question ‘What the bleep do we know?’ is a very good one; unfortunately, it became the title of a very bad movie.
We don’t have to reject knowledge in order to take it less seriously, to view our ‘knowledge’ of the world as a collection of working hypotheses.

Buddhist psychology agrees with modern neuroscience that the nervous system forms concepts pre-consciously. We need to react to a stimulous as ‘danger’ or ‘not-danger’ very quickly. So we can’t control or get rid of these concepts, but we can realize that they are products of a human nervous system and not ultimately real.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 30 September 2007 12:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5404
Joined  2006-09-27

Everybody makes mistakes.

The whole parable of the frog and the eggplant could be condensed, as could your remarks about human reactions to stimuli. Dressing it up in mysticism is a sop to people who cannot think clearly without a lot of lubrication. Trying to think of mistakes as “not really real” comes from the same impulse as that which seeks “redemption”.

I reiterate that the less verbiage applied to elucidating Buddhist teaching, the better.

People toss out Tarot cards, read horoscopes, and ponder I Ching verses as delaying tactics while their gears begin to mesh.

[ Edited: 30 September 2007 12:48 PM by Traces Elk]
 Signature 

INVEST in cynicism!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 30 September 2007 02:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2136
Joined  2006-02-20
Salt Creek - 30 September 2007 04:39 PM

Everybody makes mistakes.

I reiterate that the less verbiage applied to elucidating Buddhist teaching, the better.

“The Tao is originally without words, but we use words to reveal the Tao.  People who truly embody the Tao penetrate it in the mind and clarify it at its very basis.  They strip off thousands and thousands of layers of sweaty shirts sticking to their skin and open through to awaken to the real, true, immutable essence, which is just as it is: originally real and pure and luminous and wondrous, wholly empty and utterly silent.”

(What?  Aren’t Jesus and Buddha there?  Surely the Bible isn’t a sweaty shirt!  How will we know what to do without all of Buddha’s wonderful exhortations?)

“When you reach the point where not a single thought is born and before and after are cut off, you walk upon the scenery of the fundamental ground.  All the wrong perceptions and wrong views of self and others and “is” and “is not” that make up the defiled mind of birth and death are no longer there.  You are completely cleansed and purified, and you have complete certainty.  Then you are no different from all the other enlightened people since time immemorial.

“You are at peace, not fabricating anything, not clinging to anything, freely pervading everything by being empty, perfectly fused with everything, without boundaries.  You eat and dress according to the time and season and have integral realization of true normality.  This is what it means to be a true non-doing, unaffected Wayfarer.”

Quoted from ‘ZEN LETTERS - Teachings of Yuanwu’, translated by J.C. Cleary and Thomas Cleary

 Signature 

“The simple fables of the religious of the world have come to seem like tales told to children.”  - Nobel Prize recipient - Francis Crick

“It is time we recognized the boundless narcissism and self-deceit of the saved.” - Sam Harris

Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 November 2007 03:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2136
Joined  2006-02-20

Where is the true self?

Searching for the true self we go into the wilderness, or we go to Zen masters or gurus.  We read books and practice austerities, sitting for days or years in special postures.

For most of us, the mind is a noisy place and the noble quest for the true self is part of that noise.  This chattering mind is like a TV that turns on the moment we wake up in the morning and continues blaring all day until we fall asleep again, often continuing to blare in the form of dreams.  The channels are always changing, depending on tiny impulses of memory, emotion, external stimuli, and random motives and desires.  There is nothing new on our mental TV.  It is all re-runs - old favorites, old horror shows, the usual opinions, ideas, ambitions, soap operas in which we played a part.  The conflicts and resentments of the old soap operas continue to influence and repeat themselves in our emotional attitude toward the other players even if they are long gone or a thousand miles away.

The TV in our head, with its talking and images, is not the true self, not the original self.  We certainly weren’t born with all that data, all that conditioning, all those ideas and opinions in our brain.  We weren’t born Christians or Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, or atheists, liberals or conservatives.  None of that mental baggage is the true self, though most people think that it is.

When we become aware of the TV, that is, when we are WATCHING it rather than being IN it; watching the old shows for the zillionth time, watching the endlessly changing channels, the endless commercials for our desires and ambitions, then, being attentive to it for what it is - impulsive, habitual, chronic mental activity, then, as we watch it, the volume tends to go down.  It doesn’t like being watched.  It wants you to be part of it.  It wants you to BE it.  ‘HEY!  PAY ATTENTION!  THIS IS YOU!  THIS IS YOUR LIFE!  ARE YOU GOING TO ACHIEVE ENLIGHTENMENT OR AREN’T YOU?  SNAP OUT OF IT!’

Being watched, instead of having you inside it as the central character,it might even turn itself off (it’s going to wait until you become part of the show again).  When the TV goes off there is the true self.  It was always there.  It wasn’t out in the wilderness, or waiting for the wise words of a guru to liberate it.  It was always there behind the noise of the ego-self.  The true self - a quiet nobody - just the world as it is - nobody expecting anything grand - nobody looking for anything.  We see and hear the world around us.  We ‘eat and dress according to the occasion.’

Seeker:  “Where is the Buddha Mind?”  (the true self)

Master:  (pointing to it) “The pine tree in the yard.”

[ Edited: 07 November 2007 01:18 PM by unsmoked]
 Signature 

“The simple fables of the religious of the world have come to seem like tales told to children.”  - Nobel Prize recipient - Francis Crick

“It is time we recognized the boundless narcissism and self-deceit of the saved.” - Sam Harris

Profile
 
 
Posted: 11 November 2007 07:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
Member
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  390
Joined  2006-10-12
Anonymous - 09 September 2007 09:48 PM

If the Zen beginner turns attention inward and looks carefully, it is likely they will see that they are trying to DO something, trying to ACCOMPLISH something, trying to ARRIVE at something.  To get on a good footing for Zen practice, this effort, this mental questing has to subside.  Buddha mind is already inherent in everyone - you don’t have to achieve it or arrive at it.

Well said.

Put another way:

Nirvana is Acceptance of the Present Moment

The Hinayanists looked upon Nirvana as an escape from the pains of life and death, a conception which to the Mahayanists with their Brahmanic background appeared as the old error of dualism. Thus the ideal man of the Hinayana was the arhat, one who simply attained Nirvana and ceased from rebirth, entering into the formless rest, bliss, and impersonality of the eternal. But the Mahayanists gave their philosophy of non-duality practical expression in the ideal of the bodhisattva, who attains liberation but remains in the world of birth and death to assist all other beings to enlightenment. In other words, they refused to make any absolute distinction between Nirvana and Samsara; the two states are the same, seen, as it were, from different points of view. Therefore the Lankavatara Sutra (as translated by D.T. Suzuki) says: “False imagination teaches that such things as light and shade, long and short, black and white are different and are to be discriminated; but they are not independent of each other; they are only different aspects of the same thing, they are terms of relation, not of reality. Conditions of existence are not of a mutually exclusive character; in essence things are not two but one. Even Nirvana and Samsara’s world of life and death are aspects of the same thing, for there is no Nirvana except where is Samsara, and no Samsara except where is Nirvana. All duality is falsely imagined.”

In terms of practical psychology this means that there is no actual distinction between our ordinary, everyday experience and the experience of Nirvana or spiritual freedom. But for some people this experience is binding and for others liberating, and the problem is to achieve what the Lankavatara calls that “turning about in the deepest seat of consciousness” which effects the transformation.

Now the Mahayana was more thoroughgoing in its statement of this problem than even Vedanta. For what is our ordinary, everyday experience? It is not just our awareness of external circumstances or even such ordinary activities as walking, eating, sleeping, breathing, and speaking; it includes also our thinking and feeling: our ideas, moods, desires, passions, and fears. In its most concrete form ordinary, everyday experience is just how you feel at this moment. In a certain sense Buddhism is very much a philosophy and a psychology of the moment, for if we are asked what life is, and if our answer is to be a practical demonstration and not a theory, we can do no better than point to the moment Now! It is in the moment that we find reality and freedom, for acceptance of life is acceptance of the present moment now and at all times.

Acceptance of the moment is allowing the moment to live, which, indeed, is another way of saying that it is to allow life to live, to be what it is now (yathabhutam). Thus to allow this moment of experience and all that it contains freedom to be as it is, to come in its own time and to go in its own time, this is to allow the moment, which is what we are now, to set us free; it is to realize that life, as expressed in the moment, has always been setting us free from the very beginning, whereas we have chosen to ignore it and tried to achieve that freedom by ourselves.

For this reason Mahayana Buddhism teaches that Nirvana or enlightenment cannot really be attained, because the moment we try to attain it by our own power we are using it as an escape from what is now, and we are also forgetting that Nirvana is unattainable in the sense that it already is.

adapted from The Meaning of Happiness, by Alan W. Watts, 1940, New York 1970

 Signature 

“Believe those who seek the truth; doubt those who find it”—Andre Gide

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 November 2007 01:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2136
Joined  2006-02-20

A patched robe Zen monk is invited to go to the pulpit and talk to a congregation of liberal Christians about Zen.

“The object of Zen, the whole intent and purpose of all the teachings, is to help those with affinity to be independent and free.  If you become fascinated with, or dependent on the teacher or the ritual, or the Buddha, you have missed the point.

Since ancient times we of the Zen school have only esteemed forgetting thoughts and feelings and finding independent realization.

We are luckily alright by ourselves but we adopt authority figures and burden ourself with other people’s ideas.  If the wild bird in the forest, or the tiger in the jungle can manifest themselves independently without aberration, why can’t we?  Does a rabbit need another rabbit’s brain?  Why would we need another person’s brain, another person’s so-called insights to manifest our own original nature?  Do we really think humans have been short-changed or have lost their way?

Let’s just be normal.  Let’s just be ordinary and nothing special.  Do we think the aberrant miracles, described in stories to impress the masses, can hold a candle to our present manifestation?”

(The pastor, rather hastily, rises from his chair, puts on a tolerant smile for the congregation, takes the monk gently by the elbow and guides him off the podium, shakes his hand, and, more or less, propels him toward the exit).

 Signature 

“The simple fables of the religious of the world have come to seem like tales told to children.”  - Nobel Prize recipient - Francis Crick

“It is time we recognized the boundless narcissism and self-deceit of the saved.” - Sam Harris

Profile
 
 
Posted: 18 November 2007 12:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2136
Joined  2006-02-20

Zen for the Day or -

UNFORTUNATELY FOR A HUNDRED MILLION MARTYRS AND BILLIONS OF ‘GULLIBLES’ LOST IN SUPERSTITION AND SELF-HYPNOSIS, JESUS DID NOT MEET MOSHAN.

(The following is quoted from ‘ZEN LETTERS - Teachings of Yuanwu”, translated by J.C. Cleary and Thomas Cleary).

“People who study the Way begin by having the faith to turn toward it.  They are fed up with the vexations and filth of the world and are always afraid they will not be able to find a road of entry into the Way.

Once you haave been directed by a teacher or else discovered on your own the ORIGINALLY INHERENTLY COMPLETE REAL MIND, then no matter what situations or circumstances you encounter, you know for yourself where it’s really at.

But then if you hold fast to that real mind, the problem is you cannot get out, and it becomes a nest.  You set up “illumination” and “function” in acts and states, snort and clap and glare and raise your eyebrows, deliberately putting on a scene.

When you meet a genuine expert of the school again, he removes all this knowledge and understanding for you, so you can merge directly with realization of the original uncontrived, unpreoccupied, unminding state.  After this you will feel shame and repentance and know to cease and desist.  You will proceed to vanish utterly, so that not even the sages can find you arising anywhere, much less anyone else.

That is why Yantou said, “Those people who actually realize it just keep serene and free at all times, without cravings, without dependence.”  Isn’t this the door to peace and happiness?

In olden times Guanxi went to Moshan.  Moshan asked him, “Where have you just come from?”  Guanxi said, “From the mouth of the road.”  Moshan said, “Why didn’t you cover it?”  Guanxi had no reply.

The next day Guanxi asked, “What is the realm of Mount Moshan like?”  Moshan said, “The peak doesn’t show.”  Guanxi asked: “What is the man on the mountain like?”  Moshan said, “Not any characteristics like male or female.”  Guanxi said, “Why don’t you transform?”  Moshan said, “I’m not a spirit or a ghost - what would I transform?”

Weren’t the Zen adepts in these stories treading on the ground of reality and reaching the level where one stands like a wall miles high?

Thus it is said: “At the Last Word, you finally reach the impenetrable barrier.  Holding the essential crossing, you let neither holy nor ordinary pass.”

 Signature 

“The simple fables of the religious of the world have come to seem like tales told to children.”  - Nobel Prize recipient - Francis Crick

“It is time we recognized the boundless narcissism and self-deceit of the saved.” - Sam Harris

Profile
 
 
   
1 of 3
1
 
RSS 2.0     Atom Feed