Free Online Course: Classic Teachings of Zen Buddhism – Lesson 6 – Zen Meditation

Zen Practice Zen Enlightenment: A free course on the essential doctrines and methods of Zen Buddhism.

[Link to Lesson 1] [Link to Lesson 2] [Link to Lesson 3] [Link to Lesson 4] [Link to Lesson 5] [Link to Lesson 6] [Link to Lesson 7] [Link to Lesson 8] [Lesson 9] [Lesson 10] [Lesson 11] [Lesson 12] [Lesson 13] [Lesson 14]

Lesson 6

Zen Meditation Part 6 

Zen Practice Zen Enlightenment: A free course on the essential doctrines and methods of Zen Buddhism.

The goal of this course is to provide a comprehensive presentation of the essential doctrines and methods of Zen Buddhism. To provide the most reliable account possible this course appeals to the greatest authority available; the genuine teachings of the classic Zen masters.

In the interest of maintaining a logical structure and systematic advance, each lesson introduces a specific topic by opening with a brief excerpt from The Flatbed Sutra of Louie Wing: The Second Ancestor of Zen in the West. This is followed with a selection of related passages from the classic literature of Zen Buddhism.

The passages of each lesson offer an array of perspectives from a variety of classic Zen records. This provides a well rounded presentation of the specific subject and introduces the diverse teaching styles of the Zen records that serve as the foundation of Zen Buddhism. The selected passages also present various levels of difficulty. The easier, more accessible passages serve to illumine and bring into relief the significance of the more difficult expressions, while the latter serve to suggest the more subtle implications of the former.

Each lesson is designed to furnish two primary approaches of study; one basic, the other more involved. The basic approach can be followed by applying oneself to the lesson for about 20 minutes or less. The more involved approach will include additional material and references to both online and traditional resources allowing for expanded study suited to individual interests.

While some comment may be offered were clarification seems in order, in attempting to let the Zen masters “speak for themselves” every effort to refrain from “interpretative” commentary will be made. Any interpretive commentary that does seem appropriate will, as far as possible be confined to the “comment” field following each lesson. Please use this “comment” field to offer comments, questions, or suggestions.

Any and all constructive feedback is greatly encouraged and appreciated. If you have a comment, question, or suggestion you want to keep private, please email me at: tedbiringer@flatbedsutra.com

Lesson 6

Zen Meditation Part 6

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Introduction from The Flatbed Sutra of Louie Wing: The Second Ancestor of Zen in the West

For practicing cessation in Zen, there are two primary methods. The first is mindfulness, often called shikantaza (sole sitting). The second method is concentrated focus on an object, such as the breath or an initial type of koan. Once you have become proficient in applying these methods during sitting, they may be carried out during nearly any activity or non-activity. Learned audience, practicing cessation meditation through the method of mindfulness or shikantaza, can be described as mentally stepping back from all your involvements and considerations–that is letting go of all judgments regarding good or bad, right or wrong, abandoning notions about enlightenment and Buddhahood, and simply resting in your own fundamental awareness.

Good friends, this is in accord with the meditation instructions in all schools of Buddhism. Being in accord with the fundamental teaching, the instructions for mindfulness by all the sages and Zen ancestors are nearly indistinguishable from one another.

Learned audience, do not be fooled by teachers that try to draw major distinctions between their own particular sect or lineage and others by reverting to games of semantics. Some like to argue about the differences between Dogen’s term of nonthinking, and Eno’s term of thoughtlessness. Some give long dissertations on how ‘cessation’ differs from ‘no-mind’. While these arguments may be of interest to linguists, they have nothing to do with Zen. The Zen ancestors abstained from indulging themselves in that kind of hairsplitting. Remember, although ‘going for a stroll’ sounds different than ‘taking a walk’ the actual experience is identical. Good friends, Master Dogen was very aware that even the simplest guidelines could be turned into dogmatic formulas or commandments. He often warned students about the dangers of becoming attached to the teachings, which he called “the carved dragon,” that are used to point to reality, and thereby miss that reality itself, which he called “the real dragon.” Learned audience, Dogen, more than many masters, recognized the essential role of the teachings or “carved dragon,” nevertheless, he urged us to “love the real dragon more.” Arguing semantics about minor differences between the terms used by Dogen, Baso, Obaku, Hyakujo, and other Zen ancestors, not only demonstrates a failure to “love the real dragon more,” it demonstrates a disdain for the “carved dragon,” which is the teaching transmitted by the buddhas and Zen ancestors.

Although modern pseudo-Zen teachers, with their authentic looking costume and “bloodline” certificates may obscure the Zen ancestor’s teachings on meditation, with a little effort, you can personally discover the true meaning of authentic meditation. Once you become familiar with the actual practice of meditation, you can apply and compare Dogen’s method of nonthinking and Obaku’s method of cessation of conceptualization for yourselves. Then you will discover on your own that the actual experience is identical. This is how you should test all the teachings: try them and discover for yourself if they work.

The Flatbed Sutra of Louie Wing: The Second Ancestor of Zen in the West

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Turning Words from the Classic Records of Zen

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Mind is Buddha, while the cessation of conceptual thought is the Way.

Huang Po, The Zen Teaching of Huang P0, John Blofeld

The Zen Teaching of Huang-Po: On the Transmission of Mind

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The Master entered the hall and said, “This fact is like a clear jewel in your hand.  If a barbarian comes, it reveals a barbarian. If a Chinese comes, it reveals a Chinese.”

Joshu, The Recorded Sayings of Zen Master Joshu, James Green

The Recorded Sayings of Zen Master Joshu

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Not thinking about anything is zen. Once you know this, walking, standing, sitting, or lying down, everything you do is zen. To know that the mind is empty is to see the buddha. The buddhas of the ten directions have no mind. To see no mind is to see the buddha.

Bodhidharma, The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma, Red Pine

The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma: A Bilingual Edition

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Learned Audience, when we use prajna for introspection we are illumined within and without, and in a position to know our own mind. To know our mind is to obtain liberation. To obtain liberation is to attain samadhi of prajna, which is thoughtlessness. What is thoughtlessness? Thoughtlessness is to see and to know all dharmas [things] with a mind free from attachment. When in use it pervades everywhere, and yet it sticks nowhere. What we have to do is to purify our mind so that the six vijnanas [aspects of consciousness], in passing through the six gates [sense organs] will neither be defiled by nor attached to the six sense objects. When our mind works freely without any hindrance, and is at liberty to come or to go, we attain samadhi of prajna, or liberation. Such a state is called the function of thoughtlessness. But to refrain from thinking of anything, so that all thoughts are suppressed, is to be dharma-ridden, and this is an erroneous view.

The Diamond Sutra & The Sutra of Hui-Neng  A. F. Price & Wong Mou-lam

Diamond Sutra and the Sutra of Hui-neng (Shambhala Classics)

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The self nature is originally complete. If one only does not get hindered by either good or evil things, then that is a person who cultivates the Way. Grasping good and rejecting evil, contemplating sunyata and entering samadhi—all of these belong to activity. If one seeks outside, one goes away from it. Just put an end to all mental conceptions in the three realms. If there is not a single thought, then one eliminates the root of birth and death and obtains the unexcelled treasury of the Dharma king.

Ma-tsu, Sun-Face Buddha,

Sun-Face Buddha: The Teachings of Ma-Tsu and the Hung-Chou School of Ch’an

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A monk asked, “How does one escape hot and cold?”

“Why not go where there is neither hot nor cold?” said the Master.

“What sort of place is neither hot nor cold?” asked the monk.

“When it’s cold, you freeze to death; when it’s hot, you swelter to death.”

Tung-shan, The Record of Tung-shan

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If you want to be free to be born or die, to go or stay as one would put on or take off a garment, then you must understand right now that the person here listening to the Dharma has no form, no characteristics, no root, no beginning, no place he abides, yet he is vibrantly alive. All the ten thousand kinds of contrived happenings operate in a place that is in fact no place. Therefore the more you search the farther away you get, the harder you hunt the wider astray you go. This is what I call the secret of the matter.

Lin-chi, The Zen Teachings of Master Lin-chi, Burton Watson

The Zen Teachings of Master Lin-Chi

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Question: “What is comprehending all dharmas?”

Answer: “When in the midst of things you do not give rise to views, it is called comprehension. Comprehension means not engendering thought in relation to things, not engendering covetousness for things, and not engendering defilements in connection with things. When forms are formless, it is called comprehending forms. When existence is existenceless, it is called comprehending existence. When birth is birthless, it is called comprehending birth. When Dharma is Dharmaless, it is called comprehending Dharma. No matter what he meets, he directly comprehends. This person’s wisdom eye is open. No matter what may come, he is incapable of seeing differences or sameness in characteristics. This is called comprehension.

The Bodhidharma Anthology, Jeffrey L. Broughton

 The Bodhidharma Anthology: The Earliest Records of Zen (Philip E. Lilienthal Book) 

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One day the Master (Fa Ch’ang) said to his pupils, “Those who come are not to be refused, and those who go away are not to be run after.”

The Transmission Of The Lamp, Sohaku Ogata

The Transmission of the Lamp: Early Masters

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A shortcut into the path is to be inwardly empty and outwardly quiet, like water that is clear and still, myriad images reflecting in it, neither sinking nor floating, all things spontaneously so.

Fu-jung, Zen Teachings, Thomas Cleary

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“What is no mind? If there is no mind at all, who sees reality, who awakens to the way? And who can expound the way to teach?”

No mind means that there is no deluded, foolish mind; it does not mean there is no mind to discern false from true. If one doesn’t think of sentient beings, doesn’t long for Buddhas either, doesn’t think of illusion or seek enlightenment, doesn’t go along with the honor of others, does not hope for fame, profit, support or reputation, does not shrink from attacks from those who are resentful or hostile, and does not add any discriminating thoughts about any good or evil, one is called a mindless wayfarer. Thus is it said, “The path is path is mindless of union with man, a mindless man unites with the way.”

Daikaku’s Treatise on Meditation, The Original Face, Thomas Cleary

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You get up in the morning, dress, wash your face, and so on; you call these miscellaneous thoughts, but all that is necessary is that there be no perceiver or perceived when you perceive—no hearer or heard when you hear, no thinker or thought when you think.  Buddhism is very easy and very economical; it spares effort, but you yourself waste energy and make your own hardships.

Foyan, Instant Zen, Thomas Clear

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The field of boundless emptiness is what exists from the very beginning. You must purify, cure, grind down, or brush away all the tendencies you have fabricated into apparent habits. Then you can reside in the clear circle of brightness. Utter emptiness has no image, upright independence does not rely on anything. Just expand and illuminate the original truth unconcerned by external conditions. Accordingly we are told to realize that not a single thing exists.  In this field birth and death do not appear. The deep source, transparent down to the bottom, can radiantly shine and can respond unencumbered to each speck of dust without becoming its partner. The subtlety of seeing and hearing transcends mere colors and sounds. The whole affair functions without leaving traces, and mirrors without obscurations. Very naturally mind and dharmas emerge and harmonize. An Ancient said that non-mind embodies and fulfills the way of non-mind.  Embodying and fulfilling the way of non-mind, finally you can rest. Proceeding you are able to guide the assembly. With thoughts clear, sitting silently, wander into the center of the circle of wonder. This is how you must penetrate and study.

Hongzhi, Cultivating the Empty Field, Dan Taigen Leighton

Cultivating the Empty Field: The Silent Illumination of Zen Master Hongzhi

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Q: As to the gateway of sudden illumination, what are its doctrine, its aim, its substance and its function?”

A: To refrain from thinking (nien) is its doctrine; not to allow wrong thoughts to arise is its aim; purity is its substance, and wisdom is its function.

Q: We have said that its doctrine is to refrain from thinking, but we have not yet examined the meaning of this term. What is it that we must refrain from thinking about?

A: It means that we must refrain from wrong thinking, but not from right thinking.

Q: What are wrong thinking and right thinking?

A: Thinking in terms of being and nonbeing is called ‘wrong thinking’, while not thinking in those terms is called ‘right thinking’. Similarly, thinking in terms of good and evil is wrong; not to think so is right thinking. The same applies to all the other categories of opposites – sorrow and joy, beginning and end, acceptance and rejection, dislikes and likes, aversion and love, all of which are called ‘wrong thinking’, while to abstain from thinking in those categories is called ‘right thinking’.

Hui Hai, The Zen Teaching of Instantaneous Awakening, John Blofeld

Zen Teaching of Instantaneous Awakening

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Do not deceive yourselves with conceptual thinking, and do not look anywhere for the truth, for all that is needed is to refrain from allowing concepts to arise.

Huang Po, The Zen Teaching of Huang Po, John Blofeld

The Zen Teaching of Huang-Po: On the Transmission of Mind

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There was a monk who asked, “How can I become a Buddha?”

The Master replied, “If you throw away both Buddha and sentient beings all at once, you will be liberated in that very moment.”

The monk asked, “How can I respond to it?”

The Master advised, “Thinking of neither good nor bad, you will naturally see the Buddha-nature.”

The Transmission Of The Lamp, Sohaku Ogata

The Transmission of the Lamp: Early Masters

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An ancient worthy had a saying: “To look for the ox, one must seek out its tracks. To study the Path, seek out Mindlessness. Where the tracks are, so must the ox be.” The path of Mindlessness is easy to seek out. So-called “Mindlessness” is not being inert and unknowing like earth, wood, tile, or stone; it means that the mind is settled and imperturbable when in contact with situations and meeting circumstances; that it does not cling to anything, but is clear in all places, without hindrance or obstruction; without being stained, yet without dwelling in the stainlessness; viewing body and mind like dreams or illusions, yet without remaining in the perspective of dreams’ and illusions’ empty nothingness. Only when one arrives at a realm like this can it be called true Mindlessness.

Ta Hui, Swampland Flowers, J.C. Cleary

Swampland Flowers: The Letters and Lectures of Zen Master Ta Hui 

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Zen master Man-an wrote to a lay student of Zen, “If you want to quickly attain mastery of all truths and be independent in all events, there is nothing better than concentration in activity. That is why it is said that students of mysticism working on the Way should sit in the midst of the material world.

“The Third Patriarch of Zen said, ‘If you want to head for the Way of Unity, do not be averse to the objects of the six senses.’ This does not mean that you should indulge in the objects of the six senses; it means that you should keep right mindfulness continuous, neither grasping nor rejecting the objects of the six senses in the course of everyday life, like a duck going into the water without its feathers getting wet.

“If, in contrast, you despise the objects of the six senses and try to avoid them, you fall into escapist tendencies and never fulfill the Way of Buddhahood. If you clearly see the essence, then the objects of the six senses are themselves meditation, sensual desires are themselves the Way of Unity, and all things are manifestations of Reality. Entering into the great Zen stability undivided by movement and stillness, body and mind are both freed and eased.

Man-an, Zen Antics, Thomas Cleary & J.C. Cleary

Zen Antics

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Supplemental Instructions For Advanced Study

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The Dharma Body is formless. Therefore, one sees it by no-seeing. Dharma is soundless. Therefore, one hears it by no-hearing. Insight does not have knowing. Therefore, one knows by no-knowing. If one takes seeing as seeing, then there is something that is not seen. If one takes no-seeing as seeing, then there is nothing that is not seen. If one takes knowing as knowing, then there is something that is not known. If one takes no-knowing as knowing, then there is nothing that is not known. [Insight] is incapable of knowing itself, and so it is not something that has knowing, and yet, because it knows vis-à-vis things, it is not something that lacks knowing. If one takes apprehending as apprehending, there is something that is not apprehended. If one takes no-apprehending as apprehending, then there is nothing that is not apprehended. If one takes is as is, there will be something that is not. If one takes having-no-is as is, there will be nothing that is not. One gate of insight enters one hundred thousand gates of insight. One sees a pillar and makes the interpretation pillar. This is to see the pillar characteristic and make the interpretation pillar. Observe that mind is the pillar dharma and no pillar characteristic exists. Therefore, when one sees a pillar, it is the apprehension of a pillar dharma. The seeing of all forms is like this.

The Bodhidharma Anthology, Jeffrey L. Broughton

The Bodhidharma Anthology: The Earliest Records of Zen (Philip E. Lilienthal Book) 

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On one occasion the sound of the bronze bell blown by the wind could be heard from the hall. The Master (Sanghanandi) asked Gayasata, “Which is ringing, the bell or the wind?”

Gayasata answered, “Neither the wind nor the bell; mind is ringing.”

The Master pursued, “What do you mean by mind?”

Gayasata replied, “When all is quiet [that is to be called mind].”

The Master exclaimed, “Well said! Well said! Who but you will continue my way?”

The Transmission Of The Lamp, Sohaku Ogata

The Transmission of the Lamp: Early Masters

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The Master (Kuei Shan, Ling Yu) said to Yun Yen, “I hear that you stayed a long time at Yo Shan Monastery. Is that right?”

Yun Yen said, “Yes, I did.”

The Master asked, “How does Master Yo Shan look?”

Yun Yen replied, “He is still there after his nirvana.”

The Master asked, “What do you mean by ‘still there after his nirvana’?”

Yun Yen said, “When water pours over him he does not get wet.”

Then Yun Yen asked the Master in return, “How does Master Po Chang look?”

The Master said, “Towering high, grandly imposing, raging fire-like and glittering like stars. Before he speaks there is no sound, and when his colors disappear no color remains. He is an iron bull on whom mosquitoes may settle but can find no place to sting.

The Transmission Of The Lamp, Sohaku Ogata

The Transmission of the Lamp: Early Masters

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Q: There is a sutra which says that not to perceive anything in terms of being or nonbeing is true deliverance. What does it mean?

A: When we attain to purity of mind, that is something which can be said to exist. When this happens, our remaining free from any thought of achievement is called ‘not perceiving anything as existent’; while reaching the state in which no thoughts arise or persist, yet without being conscious of their absence, is called ‘not perceiving anything as nonexistent’. So it is written: ‘Not to perceive anything in terms of being and nonbeing,’ etc. The Shurangama Sutra says: ‘Perceptions employed as a base for building up positive concepts are the origin of all ignorance (avidya);” perception that there is nothing to perceive – that is nirvana, also known as deliverance.’

Q: What is the meaning of ‘nothing to perceive’?

A: Being able to behold men, women and all the various sorts of appearances while remaining as free from love or aversion as if they were actually not seen at all – that is what is meant by ‘nothing to perceive’.

Hui Hai, The Zen Teaching of Instantaneous Awakening, John Blofeld

Zen Teaching of Instantaneous Awakening

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Q: A little while ago you spoke of refraining from thinking (nien), but you did not finish your explanation.

A: It means not fixing your mind upon anything anywhere, but totally withdrawing it from the phenomena surrounding you, so that even the thought (szu) of seeking for something does not remain; it means that your mind, confronted by all the forms composing your environment, remains placid and motionless. This abstaining from all thought whatever is called real thought; but to keep on thinking is deluded thinking and certainly not the right way to think. Why is that? A sutra says: ‘If you teach people to entertain the six meritorious thoughts, that is called ‘teaching them to think in the wrong way’. So, even entertaining those six thoughts is termed ‘deluded thinking’, while abstaining from them is known as ‘real thought’. A sutra says: ‘O virtuous one, it is through abiding in the Dharma of no thought that we obtain this golden colour and these thirty-two bodily marks of Buddhahood which emit an effulgent radiance that penetrates the entire universe.’ Such inconceivable merits even the Buddhas cannot describe in full; how much the less can the devotees of other vehicles know about them! Those who achieve abstention from thought are naturally able to enter upon the Buddha-perception, for their six senses can no longer stain their minds. Such an attainment is called ‘entering the treasury of the Buddhas’, also known as ‘the treasury of the Dharma’, which enables you to perform the Dharmas of all Buddhas. How can that be so? Because of abstention from thought. The same sutra says: ‘All Buddhas are produced by this sutra.’

Hui Hai, The Zen Teaching of Instantaneous Awakening, John Blofeld

Zen Teaching of Instantaneous Awakening

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Q: When the mind reaches this state of not dwelling upon anything, and continues in that state, will there not be some attachment to its not dwelling upon anything?

A: So long as your mind is fixed solely on void, there is nothing to which you can attach yourself. If you want to understand the nondwelling mind very clearly, while you are actually sitting in meditation, you must be cognizant only of the mind and not permit yourself to make judgements – that is, you must avoid evaluations in terms of good, evil, or anything else. Whatever is past is past, so do not sit in judgment upon it; for, when minding about the past ceases of itself, it can be said that there is no longer any past. Whatever is in the future is not here yet, so do not direct your hopes and longings towards it; for, when minding about the future ceases of itself, it can be said that there is no future. Whatever is present is now at hand; just be conscious of your nonattachment to everything – nonattachment in the sense of not allowing any love or aversion for anything to enter your mind; for, when minding the present ceases of itself, we may say that there is no present. When there is no clinging to any of those three periods, they may be said not to exist. Should your mind wander away, do not follow it, whereupon your wandering mind will stop wandering of its own accord. Should your mind desire to linger somewhere, do not follow it and do not dwell there, whereupon your mind’s questing for a dwelling place will cease of its own accord. Thereby, you will come to possess a nondwelling mind – a mind which remains in the state of nondwelling. If you are fully aware in yourself of a nondwelling mind, you will discover that there is just the fact of dwelling, with nothing to dwell upon or not to dwell upon. This full awareness in yourself of a mind dwelling upon nothing is known as having a clear perception of your own mind, or, in other words, as having a clear perception of your own nature. A mind which dwells upon nothing is the Buddha-mind, the mind of one already delivered, bodhi-mind, uncreate mind; it is also called ‘realization that the nature of all appearances is unreal’. It is this which the sutras call ‘patient realization of the uncreate’.If you have not realized it yet, you must strive and strive, you must increase your exertions. Then, when your efforts are crowned with success, you will have attained to understanding from within yourself – an understanding stemming from a mind that abides nowhere, by which we mean a mind free from delusion and reality alike. A mind disturbed by love and aversion is deluded; a mind free from both of them is real; and a mind thus freed reaches the state in which opposites are seen as void, whereby freedom and deliverance are obtained.

Hui Hai, The Zen Teaching of Instantaneous Awakening, John Blofeld

Zen Teaching of Instantaneous Awakening

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The Master said: Only when you minds cease dwelling upon anything whatsoever will you cone to an understanding of the true way of Zen. I may express it thus—the way of the Buddhas flourishes in a mind utterly freed from conceptual thought processes, while discrimination between this and that gives birth to a legion of demons! Finally, remember that from first to last not even the smallest grain of anything perceptible has ever existed or will ever exist.

Huang Po, The Zen Teaching of Huang Po, John Blofeld

The Zen Teaching of Huang-Po: On the Transmission of Mind

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Q: What is meant by relative truth?

A: What would you do with such a parasitical plant as that? Reality is perfect purity; why base a discussion on false terms? To be absolutely without concepts is called the Wisdom of Dispassion. Every day, whether walking, standing, sitting or lying down, and in all your speech, remain detached from everything within the sphere of phenomena. Whether you speak or merely blink an eye, lit it be done with complete dispassion. Now we are getting towards the end of the third period of five hundred years since the time of the Buddha, and most students of Zen cling to all sorts of sounds and forms. Why do they not copy me by letting each thought go as though it were nothing, or as though it were a piece of rotten wood, a stone, or the cold ashes of a dead fire? Or else, by just making whatever slight response is suited to each occasion? If you do not act thus, when you reach the end of your days here, you will be tortured by Yama. You must get away from the doctrines of existence and non-existence, for Mind is like the sun, forever in the void, shining spontaneously, shining without intending to shine. This is not something which you can accomplish without effort, but when you reach the point of clinging to nothing whatever, you will be acting as the Buddhas act. This will indeed be acting in accordance with the saying: ‘Develop a mind which rests on no thing whatever.’ For this is your pure Dharmakaya, which is called supreme perfect Enlightenment. If you cannot understand this though you gain profound knowledge from your studies, though you make the most painful efforts and practice the most stringent austerities, you will still fail to know your own mind. All your effort will have been misdirected and you will certainly join the family of Mara. What advantage can you gain from this sort of practice? As Chih Kung once said: ‘The Buddha is really the creation of your own Mind. How, then, can he be sought through scriptures?’ Though you study how to attain the Three Grades of Bodhisattvahood, the Four Grades of Sainthood, and the Ten Stakes of a Bodhisattva’s Progress to Enlightenment until your mind is full of them, you will merely be balancing yourself between ‘ordinary’ and ‘Enlightened’. Not to see that all METHODS of following the Way are ephemeral is samsaric Dharma.

                Its strength once spent, the arrow falls to earth.

                You build up lives which won’t fulfill your hopes.

                How far below the Transcendental Gate

                From which one leap will gain the Buddha’s realm!

It is because you are not that sort of man that you insist on a thorough study of the methods established by people of old for gaining knowledge on the conceptual level. Chih Kung also said: ‘If you do not meet a transcendental teacher, you will have swallowed the Mahayana medicine in vain!

Huang Po, The Zen Teaching of Huang Po, John Blofeld

The Zen Teaching of Huang-Po: On the Transmission of Mind

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When I bring up one thing and another for you as I do, you think I am explaining Zen; but the minute you go into action you make it into worldly convention.

Only if you keep your attention on it will you be able to make a discovery; but as I see, most of you just remain in eyes ears, seeing and hearing, sensing and feeling—you’ve already missed the point. You must find the nondiscriminatory mind without departing from the discriminating mind; find that which has no seeing or hearing without departing from seeing and hearing.

This does not mean that “no seeing” is a matter of sitting on a bench with your eyes closed. You must have nonseeing right in seeing. This is why it is said, “Live in the realm of seeing and hearing, yet unreached by seeing and hearing; live in the land of thought, yet untouched by thought.”

Foyan, Instant Zen, Thomas Cleary

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Resources For Advanced Study

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 The Zen Site  (Massive Zen/Buddhism Resource Site – Bookmark It!)

[Link to Lesson 1] [Link to Lesson 2] [Link to Lesson 3] [Link to Lesson 4] [Link to Lesson 5] [Link to Lesson 6] [Link to Lesson 7] [Link to Lesson 8] [Lesson 9] [Lesson 10] [Lesson 11] [Lesson 12] [Lesson 13] [Lesson 14]

2 thoughts on “Free Online Course: Classic Teachings of Zen Buddhism – Lesson 6 – Zen Meditation

  1. Good evening.

    Unless realised with every action, the real fruits of the meditation cannot be felt. Hoewever, can i get one answer, what happens when the mind becomes a vaccum? What do v seek to achieve by emptying our mind and making it a vaccum? where do v go after that? what is the bliss in that state? Do v know anybody who has been to that stage? i am available at shillonghite@gmail.com and seek guidance and response from zen meditators.

    1. Hello Hemraj,

      Thank you for your comments.

      I am not sure what you mean by “a vaccum” – perhaps this is a translation of “emptiness” or “void”? If so, the use of “emptiness” in this course is an English translation for “Sunyata” (sometimes spelled, “Shunyata”) – Sunyata does not indicate a “vaccum” but is a reference to the essential nature of all real dharmas. The Buddhist teaching of “emptiness” reveals the truth that all particular things (dharmas) are “empty” of “self nature,” as the Heart Sutra says, “Form is emptiness, emptiness is form.” Emtiness does not mean “non-existence” – it points to the true nature of all real existent things.

      I hope this is helpful. If I misunderstand your question, please elaborate and I will try to clarify if I can.

      Thanks again.

      Peace,
      Ted

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