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"Nor should he be required to give a demonstration that as pure Mind we are all intrinsically unbodied (asarîa) which modern skepticism seems to demand." Not only does so-called "modern skepticism" make this demand, but every Zen teacher throughout history has made and still makes this demand in the zen interview (sanzen).
Toggle Commented May 15, 2010 on Removing the illusion of embodiment at The Zennist
There is constant change. "That which changes" is the "changing Self". What is that which changes? Is it the same or different than the Housebuilder who builds the house (image) of the Self from the rafters and ridgebeam of the aggregates? To the extent that there is a "that which changes" than that is the "changing self." To the extent that there is not a thing which changes then the "changing self" is not a thing. To speak of "the Self" that "is always itself and never other than itself" is to speak of "Self" as any other synonym for Dharmakaya, Sunyata, Tathagata, True Suchness, etc. That "Self" is not a self, and the word "Self" (like the other synonyms) is only used to bring one to the limit of words in order to jump off the 100 foot flagpole of words.
Toggle Commented May 15, 2010 on A changing self, an oxymoron? at The Zennist
"Now, now girls. Cease that name calling and hair pulling." said by the Queen of name calling and hair pulling! LOL!
Toggle Commented May 15, 2010 on Mara the devil is nonself at The Zennist
In Zen, the koan inquiry method known as "huatou" practice is about the relation of thought and Suchness. Huatou means "the head of the word" or "the source of the thought." As described by Huineng Dahui Zonggao, and other Zen masters, the source of words and thoughts is True Suchness. The practice of Zen is to turn the light around to focus on the source (tou) of the thought (hua). This is why Vasubandhu says that Suchness is the object of meditation for those who would reach the ultimate knowledge (jnana).
Toggle Commented May 5, 2010 on Going beyond thought and practice at The Zennist
Aren't words fun? Of course the word "Absolute" is problematic when it conjures up an image that becomes solidified into a noun. The thought-differentiations are the waves of the ocean and "the" absolute is that very ocean itself. Thus, the waves and the ocean are not two separate things. It is just that the waves know themselves as waves and not as the ocean because they look from the peaks of the waves at other peaks and fail to see the inherent connectivity and unity of each wave. It is only for appreciation of the ocean that comes when the waves are stilled and the "surface" becomes a flat mirror that calming or cessation is taught in Buddhist meditation. This "flat-line" state when no waves arise has been called "resetting to zero” or “standing on zero”. This flat-line realization with no peaks or valleys of any wave is the "experience" of the absolute. But this experience is ungraspable by thoughts and beyond the conceptions of time, and so is called timeless. Yet is is time itself, just as the waves are the ocean itself. And because it is ungraspable, there is no such thing as beholding the absolute. Yet, because, when the mirror is shattered and the waves of the ocean are stirred, I can pull your nose, the absolute is able to be grasped and beheld in its activity. This is called rebooting from zero.
Toggle Commented May 5, 2010 on Going beyond thought and practice at The Zennist
I'm still a little unclear why you call your blog "The Zennist" when you are always referencing the Pali Suttas and neither the Mahayana Sutras nor the words of the Zen masters. Be that as it may, you are raising issues that Zennists need to be aware of. In Zen, identifying the goal of transcending our conceptual framework of the commonsense is only the preliminary or prerequisite step of Buddhism. The first elementary step, as the three steps of Zen are described by Zen master Baizhang, is to transcend our conceptual framework. The intermediate second step is to not dwell in the transcendent non-conceptual framework. The final step is to not have a conception of not dwelling in the transcendent. Then we have gone beyond the conceptual framework of going beyond. This is Zen activity that is without any state and is freedom without being dependent on islands or the perception of a need for an insular state. Seeking an insular state is elementary Buddhism but is not yet the matriculation of Zen.
Second, in Mahayana Zen consciousness can be analyzed in many configurations of types, such as two types, three types, eight types of consciousness, etc. When consciousness is analyzed as being of two types, it is often a variation of looking at the Store-consciousness (8th alaya-vijnana) in relation to the other 7 consciousnesses. Here's D.T. Suzuki presenting one such analysis (from the introduction to the Lankavatara Sutra, linked on the right side of this webpage): "The whole system of mental functions is called in the Lanka Cittakalapa or Vijnanakaya; Citta and Vijnana are here used synonymously. In this mental system eight modes of activity are distinguished: Alayavijnana, Manas, Manovijnana, and the five sense-Vijnanas. When these eight Vijnanas are grouped together under two general heads, the one group is known as Khyati-Vijnana (perceiving Vijnanas) and the other as Vastuprativikalpa-vijnana (object-discriminating Vijnana). But in fact the Vijnanas are not separable into these two groups, for perceiving is discriminating. When an individual object is perceived as such, that is, as solid, or as coloured, etc., discrimination has already taken place here; indeed without the latter, the former is impossible and conversely. Every Vijnana performs these two functions simultaneously, which is to say, one functioning is analysable into two ideas, perceiving and discriminating. But it is to be observed that this double activity does not belong to the Alayavijnana." The "perceiving" consciousness (Khyati-Vijnana) is consciousness in its liberated state free of the aggregates because it is in the mirror state in which it freely perceives all things (dharmas) as the appear in the mirror of mind-consciousness (citta-vijnana). As things appear in the mirror, they are discriminated and that process of discrimination is the object-discriminating consciousness (Vastuprativikalpa-vijnana)that engages with (or is itself the engaged) aggregates. Nirvana and samsara are an identity in the Mahayana because the liberated state of perceiving consciusness as the the empty mirror of Nirvana is as Suzuki poinnts out identical with the object discriminating consciousness that appears in the mirror as Samsara. Because there is a subtle objectification remaining in the idea of "two" types of consciousness either conceived as Nirvana and Samsara, or the mirror and the objects appearing in the mirror, in Zen enlightenment is not reached until the mirror is shattered. The process of shattering the mirror is taught (for example by Zen masters Huineng and Hakuin) as the transformation of the Eight Consciuosnesses into the Four Wisdoms. The first wisdom is the transformation that illuminates or manifests the Great Perfect Mirror Wisdom. Hakuin points out that this stage by itself is dark like pure black lacquer. The other three transformation of wisdom "shatter" the mirror's dark uniformity in successive steps leading to full engagement with the aggregates in a liberated, enlightened, and illuminated manifestation of Nirvana in the midst of Samsara.
Toggle Commented May 5, 2010 on Twofold consciousness at The Zennist
First, the word upaya is fun to look at. As "upayA" it means "to come near," "approach," "arrive at," and "to get into any state or condition." So becoming engaged is a good meaning for it as becoming engaged in the five aggregates, or more precisely, the five aggregates becoming engaged in each other in a literal manner, is the source of ignorance. That is, we come to believe that there is some "thing" that we call our "self" that engages with or gets into the condition of the fivbe aggregates. But as "upAya" the word means "coming near" in the sense of "that by which one reaches one's aim, a means or expedient (of any kind), way, stratagem, craft, artifice." This is the "expedient means" that all Mahayana Buddhists know well. Interestingly, upAya also indicates a somewhat different take on "coming near" in the sense of how to come near to an enemy. In this sense it means "a means of success against an enemy (four are usually enumerated, sowing dissension, negotiation, bribery, and open assault)." This makes me laugh to see how politics is the embodiment of these two forms of upaya: expedient means to help people or as one of the four ways to defeat one's perceived enemies. From the Mahayana Buddhist view, we turn ignorance into enlightenment by turning upaya around from upayA to upAya. At first, in the elementary view of Buddhism, upayA seems to be the problem as it rests on the idea that there is something engaging with the aggregates, and in this sense upayA is ignorance and not liberation. However when we awaken to the fundamental nature of reality we see that self is empty, the aggregates by which the self is created are empty, and all the dharmas (thing-events) by which the aggregates are constructed are empty, and thus we don't abandon the aggregates in a literal sense of creating unconsciousness, and instead we engage (upAya) with the aggregates and this is enlightenment and the Way of the Bodhisattva. This is how in the Mahayana we say that ignorance is enlightenment: both are engagement with the agregates, one as upayA the other as upAya. Before enlightenment we engage with the aggregates as simple upayA, and after enlightenment we engage with the aggregates as Bodhisattva upAya.
Toggle Commented May 5, 2010 on Twofold consciousness at The Zennist
I've always taken the word "modern" to me relating to the current or present time. Thus it is only the illusory notion of knowing what is in the future that could be called "postmodern." By definition, there can be no "postmodern" view held today, because if it is held today then it becomes a modern view. Buddhism transcends the notions of the "three times" of past, present, and future to point solidly at the immanent mind which is the unfolding True Suchness. This is expressed in the Zen koan of Deshan going to see Longtan, that is Case 28 of the Gateless Checkpoint. On the way Deshan met an old woman selling tea and dimsum snacks by the wayside. The nickname for such snacks in that day were called "mind refreshment snacks" and Deshan asked for some. In reply, she asked Deshan, who was wearing his traveling monk's attire, what he was carrying in his backpack, and he said commentaries on the Diamond Cutter Sutra. She asked, "Just listening to the Sutra it says, ‘The past mind can’t be obtained; the present mind can’t be obtained; the future mind can’t be obtained.’ Great virtuous one, for which particular mind do you desire refreshment?” Deshan had not yet passed through the Zen checkpoint and so he was flummoxed. Our communion (a pun with eating Christian communion wafers and Buddhist communion of eating Mind Refreshment snacks) with True Mind must take place not just on the meditation cushion but also on the street for it to be really communion. Buddhism is a threat to modernity, post-modernity and pre-modernity because it asks with which mind does the idea of escape from modernity arise?
Toggle Commented May 5, 2010 on Escape from modernity at The Zennist
Of course the problem that surfaces in the stream of consciousness as a "rejection of mysticism" is the inability to distinguish between mystic insight and superstitious belief. This difficulty faces every Westerner who approaches Buddhism and especially Tibetan Buddhism. Zen of course cuts through the difficulty by plainly stating that all the supersticious imaginings are essentially about our own mind. For example, the system of supertitions built up around "Avalokiteshvara" are focused in Zen as being the moment of compassion of our own mind. Now materialistic oriented people will say that the feeling of compassion is not a mystic insight, but that is where they have thrown out the baby with the bathwater. There is no real compassion if it does not present as the manifestation of True Suchness in the world of appearances, that is, compassion is superficial without the mystic insight that all beings are Buddha by nature and it is only our ignorance and delusions that prevent us from realizing it. A superficially samsaric compassion is better than a lack of compassion at all, but the compassion that stands on zero and walks on water is the true compassion of the Tathagata. "Stands on zero" means that it is essetially empty as it appears in the mirror of the mind's emptiness. "Walks on water" means that it is manifested in the waves of consciousness that arise in the ocean of the Alaya-vijnana.
Toggle Commented May 5, 2010 on Misrepresenting Buddhism at The Zennist
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Apr 25, 2010