Showing posts with label chan meditation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label chan meditation. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Early Chan Meditation 2: Daoxin (Tao-hsin) — practice, with understanding, and with realization

A Radical Edit of 'Pacifying the Mind' contained in 
'Record of the Lanka Masters and Disciples'

There is no separate Buddha apart from mind, and no other mind apart from Buddha. To be mindful of Buddha is to be mindful of mind. To seek mind is to seek Buddha. Why? Consciousness has no shape, Buddha has no form. Knowing this truth is pacifyng mind. With constant mindfulness of Buddha, grasping at objects does not arise. Then it is totally formless, everywhere equal and without duality. When you enter this station, the mind that [actively] remembers Buddha fades away and no longer has to be summoned. When you witness this type of mind, this is the true reality-nature body of the Tathagata. It is also called the Correct Dharma, buddha-nature, the real identity of all phenomena, reality itself. It is also called the Pure Land. It is also called bodhi, diamond samadhi, fundamental enlightenment, and so on. It is also called the realm of nirvana, and prajna, and the like. Though the names are countless, they all share one and the same essence. There is no sense of the subject observing and the object observed.


There are four kinds of people who study. The highest are those with practice, with understanding, and with realization. Next are those with understanding and realization but without practice. Next are those with practice and understanding but without realization. Lowest are those with practice, but without understanding or realization. Question: In the moment, how should we practice contemplation?

Daoxin said: You must let it roll.


Is it that mind is buddha, or that mind makes buddha? We must realize that mind is buddha-outside of mind there is no other buddha. In brief, there are five types [of approaches to this truth] .

One: by realizing that the mind-essence is by nature pure and clean, that this essence is the same as buddha.

Two: By realizing that the mind-function produces Dharma jewels and creates eternal quiescence, that the myriad forms of delusion are all Thus.

Three: By always awakening without stopping, so that the awakened mind is always present, aware that Reality is formless.

Four: By constantly contemplating bodily existence as empty and still, inner and outer pervaded and equalized, entering bodily into the realm of reality without obstruction.

Fifth: By preserving unity and not stirring, always abiding through motion and stillness, enabling the learner to clearly see buddha-nature and quickly enter the gate of concentration.


Those who hear should practice: don't be doubtful and confused. It is like a person learning archery. At first he shoots at large targets. By and by he can hit smaller and smaller ones. Then he can hit a single feather, then hit and smash it into a hundred pieces, then hit one of the hundredths. Then he can shoot the arrow before with the arrow after, and hit the notch, so the arrows line up one after another and he does not let any arrows fall.

This is a metaphor for practicing the Path, concentrating the mind from thought-instant to thought-instant, going on continuously from mind-moment to mind-moment without any interruptions, so that correct mindfulness is not broken and appears before you.


When beginning students sit in meditation, in undivided stillness they directly contemplate body and mind. They must investigate the four elements and the five skandhas, eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body feeling, and conceptual mind, greed, anger, and ignorance, along with all phenomena, whether good or bad, hostile or friendly, ordinary or holy. They must observe that all these are originally empty and still, unborn and undestroyed, everywhere equal and without duality. Since the beginning there has been nothing at all, just ultimate quiescent extinction. Since the beginning, just pure liberation. You must do this contemplation always, no matter whether day or night, whether you are walking, standing, sitting, or lying down.

If you do, you will realize that your own bodily existence is like the moon in the water, like an image in a mirror, like a mirage when it is hot, like an echo in an empty valley. If you say it exists, wherever you seek it, it cannot be seen. If you say it does not exist, when you comprehend completely, it is always before your eyes. The buddhas' body of reality is also like this. Then you come to know that from countless ages past your own body has ultimately never been born, and that in the future ultimately there is no one who dies. If you can always do this contemplation, this is true repentance: the heavy evil karma of thousands of ages dissipates of itself.


When beginners sit in meditation to contemplate mind: Sit alone someplace. First straighten out your body and sit upright; let your robe be wide and your belt loose. Let your body relax: rub yourself down seven or eight times. Let the exhalations from the belly through the throat cease. Then you will find in abundance the purity, emptiness, and peace of inherent reality-nature.

When body and mind are properly attuned, when mind and spirit are at peace, then in deep mystic fusion, the breath is pure and cool. Slowly gather in mind until the path of the spirit is pure and sharp and the mind-ground is illumined and pure. As you perceive clearly and distinctly, inner and outer are empty and pure-this is the mind's inherent nirvana. With this nirvana, the mind of the sages is manifest. Though its real nature is formless, intent and proportion always remain. Thus, the profound luminous one never ends: it remains forever shining bright. This is called the buddha-nature, the enlightened real identity. Those who see buddha-nature leave behind forever birth and death: they are called people who transcend the world.

 from Zen Dawn translated by J.C. Cleary (bold formatting by aumdada)

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Early Chan Meditation 1: Bodhidharma, Wall-Examining, and Broughton’s Commentary on Tibetan Abiding in Brightness

Bodhidharma - from Two Entrances

Entering by principle means that one awakens to the thesis by means of the teachings, and one deeply believes that all living beings, common and sagely, are identical to the True Nature; that it is merely because of the unreal covering of adventitious dust that the True Nature is not revealed. If one rejects the false and reverts to the real and in a coagulated state abides in wall-examining, then self and other, common man and sage, are identical; firmly abiding without shifting, in no way following after the written teachings-this is mysteriously tallying with principle. It is nondiscriminative, quiescent,  and inactive; we call it entrance by principle.

tr-Jeffrey Broughton (bold formatting by aumdada)

Commentary on Wall-examining (by Jeffrey Broughton)

The elusive term wall-examining has been the subject of countless exegeses, from the most imaginative and metaphorical to the suggestion that it refers to the simple physical act of facing a wall in cross-legged sitting posture. Tibetan Ch'an, a new and exciting subfield of early Ch'an studies, offers us one more. Various Ch'an texts were translated into Tibetan, one of the most important being the Bodhidharma Anthology, which in Tibetan is usually referred to as the Great Chinese Injunctions (Rgya lung chen po). The recently discovered ninth-century Tibetan treatise Dhyana of the Enlightened Eye (Bsam gtan mig sgron) contains translations of some of the Two Entrances, some material from Record I, and the whole of Record III. Early on the Dhyana of the Enlightened Eye gives summaries of four teachings known in early Tibet: the gradualist gate; the all-at-once gate (Chinese Ch'an); Mahayoga; and Atiyoga (Rdzogs-chen).

The summary of Ch'an ends with a series of quotations from Ch'an masters, the first of whom is Bodhidharmatara, the version of the name that is encountered in Tibetan sources: "From the sayings of the Great Master Bodhidharmatara [Bo-dhe-dar-mo-ta-ra]: 'If one reverts to the real, rejects discrimination, and abides in brightness, then there is neither self nor other. The common man and sage are equal. If without shifting you abide in firmness, after that you will not follow after the written teachings. This is the quiet of the principle of the real. It is nondiscriminative, quiescent, and inactive. It is entrance into principle.' " A Tibetan Tunhuang manuscript gives a virtually identical rendering. This understanding of wall-examining must have been widespread in early Tibet.

The Tibetan closely follows T'an-lin's Chinese with one exception, the line "in a coagulated state abides in wall-examining" (ning chu pi-kuan), for which the Tibetan reads: "rejects discrimination and abides in brightness" (rtogs pa spangs te I lham mer gnas na). This is a curious and consistent divergence. Why not a literal rendering, since the Tibetan translations of Chinese Ch'an materials are as a rule quite literal? We have the gloss of a Tibetan commentator.

The subsequent summaries of Mahayoga and Atiyoga give us the context of this gloss, since both of these tantric teachings center on luminosity (gsal ba). Of the Mahayoga thesis it is said: "All dharmas are a self-knowing brightness wherein the two truths do not exist. It is not made by a maker. The universal bright light and the infinity of gnosis are nondual. " Of the Atiyoga thesis it is said: "What is there to cultivate in the bright, bright [lhan ne lhang nge = lham me lham me] primordial light that is self-knowing, does not split, does not move, is undefiled, and does not abide?" The translator most certainly did not see wall-examining as a practice of sitting cross-legged facing a wall-an interpretation that often appears in later Ch' an texts. He saw it not as a physical posture but as an analogue of tantric teachings on all-at-once perfection. 

(bold formatting by aumdada)