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A Conversation: HH Dalai Lama & Chan Master Sheng-yen

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A Conversation: HH Dalai Lama & Chan Master Sheng-yen

Postby christopher::: on Tue Mar 17, 2009 2:33 am

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Chan Master Sheng-yen & His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Excerpt from a conversation in New York, New York, May 1998


Venerable Master Sheng-yen: The Sixth Ancestral Master Hui-neng was perhaps the most eminent Chan master. His initial enlightenment occurred when he heard a phrase from the Vajracchedika or Diamond Sutra, “Give rise to mind without abiding anywhere”. The Vajracchedika Sutra mainly teaches us to give rise to this bodhimind, the altruistic mind of enlightenment and expounds on the nature of emptiness.

The Lankavatara Sutra also had a great impact on Chan Buddhism. This sutra emphasizes the teaching of Tathagatagarbha or True Suchness also known as Buddhanature. It encourages us to have a conviction that all sentient beings have Tathagatagarbha or Buddhanature. In other words it states that all beings can become Buddhas.

The Sixth Lineage Master Hui-neng taught that in order to perceive your self-nature and reach enlightenment you must be free from dualistic thinking, judging what is good or bad. At that very moment you can look into your original face so to say and find out who you are.

A similar approach can be found in the conversation between the First Master Bodhidharma and his disciple the second disciple the Lineage Master Hui-k’o. One day the story goes Hui-k’o wanted Bodhidharma to pacify his agitated mind for him. He was filled with vexations. Bodhidharma did not give him a particular method instead he asked, “Where is this agitated mind of yours? Find it and give it to me so I can pacify it for you.”

In the Chan tradition there is no specific method to enlightenment. Chan only encourages one to fully investigate this mind of affliction. Traditional early Indian Buddhist practice is indeed very difficult and one must proceed with methods such as contemplation of the Five Points of Steering the Mind, anapannasati or full awareness of breath, the Four Foundations of Mindfulness and so on. On the other hand Chan teaches one not to analyze or engage in intellectual investigation. By contrast Chan teaches the instantaneous casting off of the deluded mind through the search for this mind of delusion.

When one personally experiences the absence of mind one naturally perceives the nature of emptiness. Furthermore to truly engage in Chan practice one must generate the altruistic mind of enlightenment and take Bodhisattva vows which are also known as the Three Inclusive Pure Precepts. If an individual has already experienced a thorough state of enlightenment then forms and patterns will no longer bind their conduct.

The attainment of samadhi in Chan is actually a state that is in perfect accordance with the wisdom of emptiness. Chan does not emphasize the gradual stages of samadhi or one-pointedness of mind. Rather it places great emphasis on the emergence of the wisdom of the nature of emptiness. If an individual has given rise to great wisdom then this is also the attainment of great samadhi. In other words Chan places great emphasis on both the attainment of samadhi and prajna.

To begin the practice one must have genuine faith in what the Buddha said that all sentient beings have Buddhanature, the potential to reach Buddhahood. Thus the Ts’ao-tung school or a sub-school of Chan teaches a method called just sitting where one first experiences one’s own body sitting and become aware of the workings of the mind. Once the mind is sufficiently clear you separate from the clinging to the four elements, the five skandhas, the mind, consciousness and all mental factors. At that very moment one confronts the question, “Who am I?”

There is an easier approach that is when confronted with external situations, things and events with the experience of internal thoughts of this and that, do not conceptualize, label or cling to these phenomena. In this way one will be in accordance with the nature of enlightenment. If one accords with the wisdom of emptiness at that moment that is enlightenment. However this state should not be understood as dull or inert as if someone bashed one over the head.

In Chan sometimes a master would hit a student with a stick or suddenly yell at him. This stops vexations and deluded thoughts from arising. So some foolish people may think that, “Oh it is easy to reach enlightenment. You just have to find someone to hit you over the head and this will free you from conceptualizations and thoughts”. Is this non-arising of afflictions and thoughts the state of enlightenment? I don’t believe it is. It is only a kind of shock. Why? Because it is not in accordance with the nature or insight into emptiness.

The Hua Tou method of the Lingchi School consists of asking investigative questions such as, “Who is having such afflictions?” “Who is clinging?” ”Who is having all of these negative habits?” “Who is it?” “Who?” Continually ask oneself until one reaches a point free from scatteredness and arising thoughts. When one reaches this state perhaps a master’s blow may be quite useful.

In recent years I have engaged in a social movement I call "Building a Pure Land on Earth". We can all do this by purifying our minds. When our minds are pure our actions and conduct will be pure. When our actions are pure we will have a purifying influence on those around us. When this happens a pure land will appear in our world. To reach purity we must experience the wisdom of emptiness.

If we can not do this we should be aware of our afflictions and at least not let them grow into actions, which would cause more harm. When we recognize our afflictions we can subdue then finally sever them. To know or recognize affliction is to be in accordance with the pure mind. One may find this difficult at first but do not despair or feel regret. Once one recognizes the afflictions put them down right away. One can use the Hua Tou method or the awareness of breath method to bring one’s afflicted mind to a settled state where vexations will not easily arise. At this time one will be in accordance with purity.

An ancient Chan master said, “If within a single thought your mind is pure then that is one moment of Buddhahood. When your subsequent thought is in accordance with purity that moment is Buddhahood”. The Saddharmapundarika Sutra or the Lotus Sutra states, “If a person upon entering a temple can say Namo Buddha or Homage to the Buddha then he has attained Buddhahood”.

The Buddha is said to have three bodies; the Body of Reality, the Body of Transformation and the Body of Bliss. One can look upon one’s own body with the conviction that it is the Transformation Body of Buddha. Can’t you see that everyone in this world then is a Buddha? Isn’t this world a Buddha Land?

Dalai Lama: Of course even Lama Tsong Khapa accepts the notion of instantaneous liberation but he makes the point that what seems like an instantaneous realization is actually a culmination of many factors coming into play. It could be a sudden impetus that leads to the instantaneous liberation.

For example he gives an example from a sutra where a king from central India had received a very expensive gift from a king of a distant land. The king did know what was the best kind of gift to give in return, as the gift he received was so valuable so he approached the Buddha asking for advice. Buddha suggested the king send a painting of the Wheel of Life that depicts the Twelve Links of Dependent Origination with a description in verse form at the end. The gift was sent along with a message that the gift should be received with great joy and fanfare. The other king was very curious when he received the message and made arrangements to receive the gift with great festivity and celebration. When he finally opened the gift he was surprised to see a small painting. When he studied the painting and read the description of the Twelve Links of Dependent Origination depicted in the Wheel of Life, it gave rise to an instantaneous realization of the truth. This experience happened out of the blue, instantaneously as a result of the visual perception of the painting with its description.

From Tsong Khapa’s point of view although the actual event may be instantaneous, it is a culmination of many factors coming together. What makes it instantaneous is something that arises as an impetus.

In the Dzogchen teachings, particularly the approach to meditation taught in the Dzogchen path, although I can not say they use a stick as the Chinese master described here, but there is a similar approach. The practitioner shouts the syllable PHAT and it is said that when the syllable is uttered with great force, at that point the whole chain of thought processes is instantaneously cut. It gives rise to a sudden spontaneous experience that is described as a sense of wonder. It is a form of non-conceptuality, a state of the absence of thought.

There is a verse attributed to Sakya Pandita though some Sakya masters dispute the authorship of this, which states that between the gaps of different thought processes the experience of clear light takes place continuously. It suggests that when one shouts PHAT and then experiences the sudden, spontaneous sense of wonder and state of non-conceptuality that is when one experiences the clear light. This is momentary.

It is said for those who have ripened karmic states who has great accumulations of merit and many of the conditions aggregated, it is said at this point such a person can also experience emptiness. To use Dzogchen terminology it is said once one experiences the sense of wonderment as a result of uttering PHAT instantaneously cutting the chain of the thought processes, accompanied by other factors like receiving the blessings and inspiration from one’s guru then it is said one can perfect that experience into what is known as the experience of the true pristine awareness. When one experiences this clear light, this sense of wonder in a non-conceptual state, from the Dzogchen point of view one could say that one experiences the whole world as assimilated into the nature of emptiness.

Venerable Master Sheng-yen: How long can the individual maintain this state of clear light and perceive the nature of emptiness? Does this experience gradually fade away? Does the individual still have afflictions? How does this experience effect his sleep?

Dalai Lama: Using Dzogchen terminology when they talk about the clear light nature of mind they are actually talking about an essential quality of consciousness which is continuous so long as consciousness retains its continuity this clear light would also maintain its continuity. So long as there is water the clarity of water’s nature will remain. Sometimes the water gets muddied and at such times one does not see the clarity of the water’s essential nature. In order to perceive the clear nature of the water one just need to let it be still. Similarly whether one is in a virtuous thought or a non-virtuous thought one is still in a state of mind both of which are pervaded by the clear light nature. From the point of view of the practice of trying to experience the clear light both virtuous and non-virtuous thoughts are obstructions. Emphasis is placed on trying to still one’s consciousness by stopping the thought process both virtuous and non-virtuous so that one can experience the clear light.

Here in these teachings there is quite a lot of similarities or parallels with the instantaneous teachings, the simultaneous teachings of Chan Buddhism. Once an individual is able to have such experiences of clear light of course it would have an immediate effect on the clarity of one’s dreams. However such a Dzogchen approach of instantaneous teachings require preliminary practices which in the Dzogchen terminology is called seeking the true face of mind by means of analyzing its origin, abiding and dissolution. Here the analysis would be quite similar to the Madhyamika dilemma approach, the four-cornered logic of Madhyamika analysis.

What century was the Patriarch of Chan Hui-neng living?

Venerable Master Sheng-yen:
The eighth century.

Dalai Lama: The reason I asked this is that there is some relevance to the development of Tibetan Buddhism. We know that Lama Tsong Khapa had been one of the most vociferous critics of the simultaneous teachings of the Chan tradition in Tibet. However during the eighth century or during the reign of Trisong Deutsen at the Samye Temple if one looks at the temple map there were different wings devoted to different sections of the Order. There was one section devoted to Vajrayana practitioners, one section dedicated to the lotsawas or translators and there was one place called the Place of Dhyana, the place for meditation. This was the residence of the Chinese masters. We are talking about the eighth century when Samye was built and this was the time when the Indian masters Santaraksita and Kamalasila were active in Tibet.

My personal feeling is given that in Santaraksita’s time there was a separate wing in Samye Temple dedicated as the residence of the Chinese masters representing the Chan tradition, Santaraksita must have welcomed and recognized their tradition as part of an important development in Buddhism. However it seems during Kamalasila’s time, who was a disciple of Santaraksita, it seems there were certain followers of the Chan tradition in Tibet who perhaps promoted a slightly different version of the doctrine. A tremendous emphasis was placed on seizing all forms of thought, not just in the context of a specific practice, but even in general terms almost as a philosophical standpoint where all forms of thought were completely rejected. This was the version which Kamalasila attacked. It seems there were two different interpretations of Chan, which came to Tibet.

The master referred to a form of an experience of emptiness where the person remains in the experience uninterruptedly. Such experience or realization can only take place at a much higher stage of development because this involves gaining a mastery over both the experiences of meditative equipoise and the subsequent realizations. In many of the stages before one becomes fully enlightened meditative equipoise and the subsequent realizations are sequential, they alternate sequentially. It is only the state of full enlightenment that experiences of meditative equipoise and single-pointedness in that state and subsequent realizations become simultaneous.

From this point of view anyone who is able to remain in the direct experience of emptiness uninterruptedly in meditative equipoise without ever arising from it can only happen when one is fully enlightened.

Venerable Master Sheng-yen: A state of thorough enlightenment does not end afflictions rather it is a state where doubt in regards to the Dharma is forever terminated. Fully enlightened people may still have afflictions but they would not allow them to manifest verbally or bodily. They are not free from all afflictions but they clearly know the path of practice they must follow.

The Chan tradition does not emphasize a sequential practice of dhyanas. In regards to these practices I myself have studied and experienced them but the personal experience of seeing self-nature is more important. This is another name for enlightenment. Like the first taste of water it is something one must experience for oneself. The experience of the nature of emptiness is the same. One must experience it personally or one will never know it. One may hear of it but that is all one will do.

Thorough enlightenment however differs from seeing self-nature in that one may return to the ordinary state of mind after seeing one’s self-nature and not fully recognize how afflictions operate and manifest. A thoroughly enlightened person is aware of the workings of afflictions at all times. Their minds are extremely clear.

Dalai Lama: What seems to be true is that as the scriptures state from the point of view of practitioners who have directly experienced emptiness their experienced differs from those who haven’t had a direct experience and whose understanding is only at the level of intellectual understanding or conceptual. Emptiness still remains beyond words, beyond language, ineffable and inexpressible. You can not simply describe it as directly experienced by the meditator.

I would like to refer to the Master Sheng-yen’s new initiative, which involves building a purity of society and environment on the basis of the purity of the individual’s mind. I find this very encouraging as it reconfirms my own approach. So far as the liberation from samsara and suffering is concerned in some sense it is a private business, the business of the individual. Perhaps at the level of community and society what is more important is to try and create a nirvana of society, to create a society where there will be less strong negative emotions like hatred, anger and jealousy. Here there is a real meeting of minds. What would be truly wonderful is that some time in the future to have this kind of dialogue and discussion especially related to emptiness at the Five Peaks Mountain in China.
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Re: A Conversation: HH Dalai Lama & Chan Master Sheng-yen

Postby christopher::: on Tue Mar 17, 2009 4:28 am

Also from their meeting...




Master Sheng Yen:
All the difficult questions should be given to His Holiness!

Questioner:
Venerable Sheng-yen, does Chan belong to the Vajrayana teachings or do the Vajrayana teachings belong to Chan?

Master Sheng Yen:
Because I have never studied Tantra, it is better for His Holiness to answer this question. However, if we say that the two, Tantra and Chan, are really the same, and learning either one of the two is like learning both, then I would have to say that there may be a problem with this idea! There are similarities and differences within the two traditions.

His Holiness:
Generally, it is stated that the profundity of the Vajrayana teachings really comes from their sophistication in meditation practices. Therefore, when classifying the Vajrayana teachings within the category of the three baskets or three discourses, we see them as part of the sutras. That is because we view the Vajrayana teachings as sophisticated developments of dhyana practices.

Questioner:
To engage in the practice of Dharma, first you have to listen, then study, and then contemplate. But it seems that in the practice of emptiness, sometimes faith alone can lead to the experience of wisdom. Is that true?

Master Sheng Yen:
Let ms answer this question first. When Chan Buddhists talk about enlightenment, they distinguish between "enlightenment through intellectual understanding" and "actualized enlightenment" or experiential realization. For example, if seeing dependent origination means seeing the Dharma, and that also means seeing the Buddha, is that enlightenment? Personally, I would consider that a kind of "enlightenment through intellectual understanding." It is not the same as actualized enlightenment or true realization. Genuine enlightenment requires personal experience of the wisdom of emptiness-prajna.

His Holiness:
In general, in the Tibetan tradition we tend to use the world enlightenment to refer to the level of superior beings, the noble ones or "aryas."

Questioner:
What is the difference between practicing emptiness and gaining insight into emptiness or gaining enlightenment?

Master Sheng Yen:
What is the difference or relationship between practice and enlightenment? Those with very sharp karmic potential may be able to attain enlightenment very quickly, but they may still lack certain accumulation of merit and virtue. This means that after their enlightenment they need to continue to practice. As for others, before their enlightenment, at the stage of accumulation, they need to amass the necessary factors such as virtue to reach enlightenment.

Questioner:
When you become enlightened, if you are fully enlightened, and if you are a Buddha, then there is no need to practice. If there is no need to practice, why do we recite that last line of the prayer, the prayer that we may always be able to engage in bodhisattva deeds?

His Holiness:
When we talk about the deeds of the bodhisattva, we can discuss it in two aspects. One aspect is engaging in the bodhisattva deeds to perfect one's self, to attain full enlightenment. Once you become fully enlightened, you do not need to engage in the bodhisattva deeds. The second aspect is that, since your vow is to seek the well-being of other sentient beings, even after your full enlightenment, you will engage in the deeds of the bodhisattva.

Questioner:
Master Sheng Yen, in the Chinese Buddhist tradition, is there an understanding of a separate approach to enlightenment outside the framework of the Four Noble Truths; and if so, what is the approach?

Master Sheng Yen:
There is no separate understanding apart from the Four Noble Truths. However, I should clarify that the sudden enlightenment approach does not include any discussion of a sequential or gradual path. So, if you do not want to take the sequential or gradual path, the best thing may be for you to practice Chan! But this approach does not mean it is easy. It does not mean that you are getting something for nothing. Because even if you are enlightened without going through the gradual path, then even after enlightenment, you have to continue to practice!

As we noted before, some people practice on the causal ground and others on the ground of fruition. Even Shakyamuni Buddha, after attaining Buddhahood, practice meditation daily. I ask His Holiness how he practice every day, because His Holiness is a practitioner of great realization, but he told me that every day he still spends over three hours in meditation and prostration. This is the way of many great masters of the Chan tradition.

Questioner:
Master Sheng Yen, what is being negated in the context of understanding emptiness? What, exactly, is being emptied? What is True Suchness?

Master Sheng Yen:
Emptiness means being free from the two extreme of existence and mere nothingness, nor is one attached to the middle! That is the Middle Way, the teaching of Madhyamika. As for True Suchness, it is a teaching from the Consciousness-only and the Tathagatagarbha schools. It is very simple to understand True Suchness. When you truly understand vexation, vexation is not different from True Suchness. Foolish people who are enmeshed in all kinds of afflictions all the time and do not recognize them cannot know True Suchness. If you know your own negative afflictions very well, then you are in accordance with True Suchness. When all afflictions, including the very subtle vexation, have been eliminated, that is Buddhahood. So I have to say that vexation is True Suchness! Without afflictions or vexation, True Suchness has no existence. True Suchness is merely a conventional name. This may be very difficult to understand.

Questioner:
Venerable Sheng-yen, can one attain Buddhahood with just skillful means or wisdom alone?

Master Sheng Yen:
(Comment to the translator) "Why do you always pick out ones for me? Give some to His Holiness!" (Laughter in the audience)

Questioner:
Is there such a thing as clairvoyance and precognition? Can anyone comment on this?

His Holiness:
Often, when I asked questions of my senior tutor Ling Rinpoche, he came up with rather strange, some quite strange answers. One day I began to suspect that he might have other sources of knowledge, so once I asked him directly, "Do you sometimes have clairvoyant experiences? He said, " I don't know, but sometimes certain types of knowledge seem to arise in me that are rather weird." So, clairvoyance or precognition seems to be a real possibility.

Of course, I have met people who claim to have clairvoyance, but I am rather doubtful and quite skeptical, but Ling Rinpoche is someone I have known since childhood, so I can trust him. But I have also met people who claim to have clairvoyance and precognition and act as if they possess such knowledge, but I must say I am rather skeptical in these cases. When I visited Taiwan, I noticed there was quite a sizable community of Tibetan lamas and monks. I warned them not to pretend to have high realization that they do not possess. Particularly, they should not pretend to have clairvoyant powers or precognition, because their pretense might be revealed.

When talking about precognition or clairvoyance, we can say that theoretically, the ability to know is an inherent property of consciousness and mind, and even in our ordinary experiences, we sometimes have certain premonitions of what might happen, We may have premonitions in the morning, sort of a certain sense of intuition. These, I think are indications of the seed for such cognitive powers that lie within us. It seems that through the application of meditative practices, and particularly single-pointedness of mind, we begin to sharpen the focus of our memory and mindfulness. In that way, it seems our recollection or ability to recollect experiences becomes stronger and stronger. Once that power of recollection is sharp, the potential for precognition increase. That is at least the theoretical basis for believing in precognition. So, it seems that precognition or clairvoyance seems to arise in different forms in different people.

During the Seventh Dalai Lama's time, there was a highly realized master named Dag-pu-Lobsang-Denbe-Gyaltsen (1714-1762), who was universally recognized as someone with clairvoyant power. Once a great Gelugpa master, Jang-gya-Rolbay-Dojay (1717-1786), asked him, "how does this knowledge arise in you?" Dag-pu-Lobsang-Denbe-Gyaltsen replied that whenever he had to seriously think about something, a given subject or matter, he would focus on the first image that appear in his mind, which was usually a bell. On top of that bell would appear certain images, and patterns that arose would give him certain premonitions. Of course, in the Highest Yoga Tantra teachings, these are specific practices that are supposed to enable people to develop that kind of power. The sutras do speak of clairvoyance, but usually based on visual and audio perceptions only-never through olfactory perceptions. Even in our ordinary experiences, we can cognition objects at a distance through our visual perception and audio perception, not through scent. Therefore, the power of clairvoyance is limited.

Master Sheng Yen:
There are definitely such supernatural powers as clairvoyance, and for a person with faith in the Dharma to deny the existence of such clairvoyance or supernatural power would be inappropriate. But Shakyamuni Buddha warned his disciples not to use such power carelessly. In fact, the Chinese Chan tradition forbids practitioners and masters to use or even to talk about such powers. Relating this ability to ourselves, we see that foolish people hope to gain such supernatural powers so that they can help themselves. People with wisdom, on the other hand, use their own insights to handle affairs in their lives. To use wisdom to resolve problems, all you have to do is use it once. Dealing with problems through supernatural powers yields only temporary solutions; the problems will not only not be resolved, but they will reemerge. This dialogue is called appropriately the "wisdom teachings," not the supernatural teachings.

His Holiness:
I would like to take this opportunity to express my special appreciation to Venerable Chan Master Sheng Yen.

Master Sheng Yen:
Thank you.
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Re: Discussing Emptiness: HH Dalai Lama & Chan Master Sheng-yen

Postby ReturningToTheSource on Tue Mar 17, 2009 4:33 am

christopher wrote:The Sixth Lineage Master Hui-neng taught that in order to perceive your self-nature and reach enlightenment you must be free from dualistic thinking, judging what is good or bad. At that very moment you can look into your original face so to say and find out who you are.

Sounds like the way.

Traditional early Indian Buddhist practice is indeed very difficult and one must proceed with methods such as contemplation of the Five Points of Steering the Mind, anapannasati or full awareness of breath, the Four Foundations of Mindfulness and so on. By contrast Chan teaches the instantaneous casting off of the deluded mind through the search for this mind of delusion.

When delusion is caste off, this is the beginning (stream-entry) rather than the end (arahantship). A mind with delusion caste off natural practises anapannasati because the breathing in & breathing out naturally becomes the grossest sense object for the stream enterer.

When one personally experiences the absence of mind one naturally perceives the nature of emptiness.

Absence of thought or absence of consciousness? Mind is never "absent".

The attainment of samadhi in Chan is actually a state that is in perfect accordance with the wisdom of emptiness.

Not really. Seeing one's "original face" can often be a form of delusion or the sphere of nothingness. To "find out who you are" is also connected with seeing the empty nature of formations. If one holds emptiness is literally the mind empty of formations that is wrong "emptiness. All things are empty. There is no 'selfhood' anywhere, including when I speak in conversation the words "I" or "mine".

Chan does not emphasize the gradual stages of samadhi or one-pointedness of mind.

One may not emphasise samadhi however if the mind has caste off delusion and is literally empty, the gradual stages of samadhi are inevitable. Casting of delusion is entering the stream. If a log enters the stream, it is inevitable it will reach the great ocean.

Jhanas are not attainments. They are in fact part of the purification process, part of the flow. They actually only occur due to ignorance or incomplete wisdom.

Rather it places great emphasis on the emergence of the wisdom of the nature of emptiness. If an individual has given rise to great wisdom then this is also the attainment of great samadhi. In other words Chan places great emphasis on both the attainment of samadhi and prajna.

Buddha said the Dhammapada: "There is no jhana without wisdom, no wisdom without jhana". Buddha emphasised wisdom however. Regarding the path, the Buddha said: "Right View comes first, it is the forerunner".

To talk of jhanas & anapanasati & gradual stages of one-pointedness without wisdom does not concur with any school of Buddhism.

At that very moment one confronts the question, “Who am I?”

Sounds like Advaita Hinduism. "Who am I?" :)

The Hua Tou method of the Lingchi School consists of asking investigative questions such as, “Who is having such afflictions?” “Who is clinging?” ”Who is having all of these negative habits?” “Who is it?” “Who?” Continually ask oneself until one reaches a point free from scatteredness and arising thoughts. When one reaches this state perhaps a master’s blow may be quite useful.

Sounds OK in theory. However, afflications are rooted in views and often views & behaviours around matters of morality. Developing right views is the best way to sort out afflications. Afflications are basically a moral problem. Buddha said the five hindrances are caused by the three modes of wrong action. Whilst this "who am I?", "who is?" method can work, I doubt it is the right medicine for the problem.

In recent years I have engaged in a social movement I call "Building a Pure Land on Earth". We can all do this by purifying our minds. When our minds are pure our actions and conduct will be pure. When our actions are pure we will have a purifying influence on those around us. When this happens a pure land will appear in our world. To reach purity we must experience the wisdom of emptiness.

Sounds evangelical. Casting off delusion begins with seeing the true nature of worldly & sensual things. In seeing the unsatisfactoriness of the world, the mind can be pure.

:O:
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Re: Discussing Emptiness: HH Dalai Lama & Chan Master Sheng-yen

Postby Carol on Tue Mar 17, 2009 4:39 am

Thanks for the link, Chris. This part really rings the bell for me.
Venerable Master Sheng-yen: A state of thorough enlightenment does not end afflictions rather it is a state where doubt in regards to the Dharma is forever terminated. Fully enlightened people may still have afflictions but they would not allow them to manifest verbally or bodily. They are not free from all afflictions but they clearly know the path of practice they must follow.

The Chan tradition does not emphasize a sequential practice of dhyanas. In regards to these practices I myself have studied and experienced them but the personal experience of seeing self-nature is more important. This is another name for enlightenment. Like the first taste of water it is something one must experience for oneself. The experience of the nature of emptiness is the same. One must experience it personally or one will never know it. One may hear of it but that is all one will do.

Thorough enlightenment however differs from seeing self-nature in that one may return to the ordinary state of mind after seeing one’s self-nature and not fully recognize how afflictions operate and manifest. A thoroughly enlightened person is aware of the workings of afflictions at all times. Their minds are extremely clear.


I have known people who have "seen self-nature" without fully recognizing how afflictions operate and manifest, or so it appeared to me. This leads to a quality of dryness, for lack of a better word.
Practitioners who cultivate the personal realization of buddha knowledge dwell in the bliss of whatever is present and do not abandon their practice.
~Lankavatara Sutra
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Re: Discussing Emptiness: HH Dalai Lama & Chan Master Sheng-yen

Postby Carol on Tue Mar 17, 2009 4:53 am

ReturningToTheSource wrote:When delusion is caste off, this is the beginning (stream-entry) rather than the end (arahantship). A mind with delusion caste off natural practises anapannasati because the breathing in & breathing out naturally becomes the grossest sense object for the stream enterer.


Stream-entry and arahantship are part of the Theravadin understanding, and a good one. But not the Zen/Chan way of mapping the territory.
Practitioners who cultivate the personal realization of buddha knowledge dwell in the bliss of whatever is present and do not abandon their practice.
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