Soh: "...Even in Zen there are stages of enlightenment - the Ten Oxherding Pictures https://terebess.hu/english/oxherding.html (this webpage has the best commentaries on the old text by a modern Zen master yet) and Tozan's Five Ranks http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2008/02/tozan-ryokais-verses-on-five-ranks.html for example.
And in Mahayana there are the 10 bhumis, in Dzogchen there is the Four Visions, in Mahamudra there is the Four Yogas, in Theravada there is the Four Paths to Arahantship, so on and so forth.
Different Buddhist traditions have different approaches to triggering
insights. Likewise, in Zen, there are different categories of koan
triggering different level of insights -- From direct realization of the
Absolute to the full integration of the Absolute and Relative. The
experience derived from the koan “before birth who are you?” only allows
the initial realization of our nature. It is also not the same as the
Hakuin’s koan of “what is the sound of one hand clapping?”, and others.
The five categories of koan in Zen ranges from hosshin that give
practitioner the first glimpse of ultimate reality to five-ranks that
aims to awaken practitioner the spontaneous unity of relative and
Mr A said: "So here's my question, how can you speak of stages when Zen is the school of instant enlightenment?"
"Nobody denies instantaneous awakening.
But awakening is not an end. Usually it's just Thusness Stage 1 realization, or the First Rank of Tozan. It needs to be matured and deepened.
"Nice explanation. Meido Moore, who is a Rinzai Zen master says the same, he writes: 'From a practice standpoint, the crucial point is contained in the words, "one should just constantly activate correct views in one’s own mind." This has nothing to do with theoretical certainty that defilements are empty and do not bind; it refers to the seamless, sustained upwelling of the unity of samadhi/prajna. Departing from but then returning to this, again and again, describes the post-awakening practice to dissolve jikke. If one experiences departure from this samadhi, even for a moment, the path is not completed at all. If one does not know what is actually meant by that samadhi, then even with kensho the path is still barely begun in terms of actualization.' This process, dovetailing the “sudden” and “gradual” is identical for Dzogchen and Mahāmudrā as well." - Kyle Dixon, 2021
Meido Moore also said,
"In Rinzai practice, the process of establishing continuity is what is meant by practice of Hokyo Zanmai (jewel mirror samadhi) and Sho Hen Ego Zanmai (alternating samadhi of sameness and difference), taken up well after the initial awakening. Once the meaning of these is penetrated within sanzen (encounter with the teacher), the traditional instruction is to secretly practice them for a minimum of three years in order to establish sufficient continuity within daily activities.
I posted a famous text by Hakuin, which also is the source for koans that serve within the structure of Rinzai practice to point out this crucial stage of training, in this topic: viewtopic.php?f=69&t=29215&p=461314#p461314 " - https://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=69&t=29188&hilit=bhumi&start=20
Anyone who thinks that an instantaneous awakening or kensho does not need to be followed up by years of deepening and stabilizing one's practice and insight would be quite naive and misguided."
Mr. A said: “That’s another thing, what would you need to practice for? your true nature is lacking nothing, so why supplement it with these meaningless practices? “
Your question is a good one, and since this is precisely the paramount question which drove Zen Master Dogen's search to China and which culminated his great awakening, I'll paste this famous text as a response to your question as it seems appropriate:
Zen Master Dogen’s teachings on Zazen:
Fukan Zazengi (Universally Recommended Instructions for Zazen)
The way is originally perfect and all-pervading. How could it be contingent on practice and realization? The true vehicle is self-sufficient. What need is there for special effort? Indeed, the whole body is free from dust. Who could believe in a means to brush it clean? It is never apart from this very place; what is the use of traveling around to practice? And yet, if there is a hairsbreadth deviation, it is like the gap between heaven and earth. If the least like or dislike arises, the mind is lost in confusion. Suppose you are confident in your understanding and rich in enlightenment, gaining the wisdom that knows at a glance, attaining the Way and clarifying the mind, arousing an aspiration to reach for the heavens. You are playing in the entranceway, but you are still short of the vital path of emancipation.
Consider the Buddha: although he was wise at birth, the traces of his six years of upright sitting can yet be seen. As for Bodhidharma, although he had received the mind-seal, his nine years of facing a wall is celebrated still. If even the ancient sages were like this, how can we today dispense with wholehearted practice?
Therefore, put aside the intellectual practice of investigating words and chasing phrases, and learn to take the backward step that turns the light and shines it inward. Body and mind of themselves will drop away, and your original face will manifest. If you want to realize such, get to work on such right now.
For practicing Zen, a quiet room is suitable. Eat and drink moderately. Put aside all involvements and suspend all affairs. Do not think "good" or "bad." Do not judge true or false. Give up the operations of mind, intellect, and consciousness; stop measuring with thoughts, ideas, and views. Have no designs on becoming a buddha. How could that be limited to sitting or lying down?
At your sitting place, spread out a thick mat and put a cushion on it. Sit either in the full-lotus or half-lotus position. In the full-lotus position, first place your right foot on your left thigh, then your left foot on your right thigh. In the half-lotus, simply place your left foot on your right thigh. Tie your robes loosely and arrange them neatly. Then place your right hand on your left leg and your left hand on your right palm, thumb-tips lightly touching. Straighten your body and sit upright, leaning neither left nor right, neither forward nor backward. Align your ears with your shoulders and your nose with your navel. Rest the tip of your tongue against the front of the roof of your mouth, with teeth together and lips shut. Always keep your eyes open, and breathe softly through your nose.
Once you have adjusted your posture, take a breath and exhale fully, rock your body right and left, and settle into steady, immovable sitting. Think of not thinking, "Not thinking --what kind of thinking is that?" Nonthinking. This is the essential art of zazen.
The zazen I speak of is not meditation practice. It is simply the dharma gate of joyful ease, the practice realization of totally culminated enlightenment. It is the koan realized; traps and snares can never reach it. If you grasp the point, you are like a dragon gaining the water, like a tiger taking to the mountains. For you must know that the true dharma appears of itself, so that from the start dullness and distraction are struck aside.
When you arise from sitting, move slowly and quietly, calmly and deliberately. Do not rise suddenly or abruptly. In surveying the past, we find that transcendence of both mundane and sacred, and dying while either sitting or standing, have all depended entirely on the power of zazen.
In addition, triggering awakening with a finger, a banner, a needle, or a mallet, and effecting realization with a whisk, a fist, a staff, or a shout --these cannot be understood by discriminative thinking; much less can they be known through the practice of supernatural power. They must represent conduct beyond seeing and hearing. Are they not a standard prior to knowledge and views?
This being the case, intelligence or lack of it is not an issue; make no distinction between the dull and the sharp-witted. If you concentrate your effort single-mindedly, that in itself is wholeheartedly engaging the way.
Practice-realization is naturally undefiled. Going forward is, after all, an everyday affair.
In general, in our world and others, in both India and China, all equally hold the buddha-seal. While each lineage expresses its own style, they are all simply devoted to sitting, totally blocked in resolute stability. Although they say that there are ten thousand distinctions and a thousand variations, they just wholeheartedly engage the way in zazen. Why leave behind the seat in your own home to wander in vain through the dusty realms of other lands? If you make one misstep, you stumble past what is directly in front of you.
You have gained the pivotal opportunity of human form. Do not pass your days and nights in vain. You are taking care of the essential activity of the buddha-way. Who would take wasteful delight in the spark from a flintstone? Besides, form and substance are like the dew on the grass, the fortunes of life like a dart of lightning --emptied in an instant, vanished in a flash.
Please, honored followers of Zen, long accustomed to groping for the elephant, do not doubt the true dragon. Devote your energies to the way of direct pointing at the real. Revere the one who has gone beyond learning and is free from effort. Accord with the enlightenment of all the buddhas; succeed to the samadhi of all the ancestors. Continue to live in such a way, and you will be such a person. The treasure store will open of itself, and you may enjoy it freely.
Original Enlightenment vs Practice-Enlightenment
- John Tan
When Dogen was still a monk in Tendai School, he was puzzled and couldn't understand the teaching of "original enlightenment". If we were originally enlightened, how can we be lost? Unsatisfied he traveled to China in search for answers and when he returned back to Japan, he began promoting "practice-enlighthment". What did Dogen realize from this koan of "original enlightenment" into "practice-enlightenment"?
Those that went for the ATR gathering don't answer ah🤣.
· 22h · Edited
Robert Dominik Tkanka
anatta is a seal. Its permament in the sens it is always already so, originally so. Its not permament substance but more like - impermanence is permament.
Not seeing that however one suffers like a beggar who sleeps on a rock with precious stone inside. He is free of poverty altough his ignorance covers that. Or like water. Water is pure, limpid and clear. It can look though as if water is unclear due to the mud of obscurations. Practice is resting (samatha) so the mud settles down and seeing (vipassana) so one recognises the natural state of water.
Also koan about wind being permament and penetrating everywhere comes to mind. One still practises fanning to cool the suffering and refresh the mind distracted with it.
Just some ramblings that came to me when I saw your comment 🙂
· 22h · Edited
Robert Dominik Tkanka
is this the first time u hear this koan and and has an intuitive immediate direct recognition? Or u have heard of this koan and had contemplated it before?
· 22h · Edited
Robert Dominik Tkanka
about your comment its the first time I see it worded like that.
Though Ive contemplated similar themes and pointers. I think most of all your pointer of Anatta being a seal has triggered the recognition.
Post-anatta Ive came to see Buddha nature teachings as hinting at that.
· 22h · Edited
Robert Dominik Tkanka
well said. When I heard of this koan shortly after anatta insight, I too have a direct immediate recognition and I was telling the ATR gathering yesterday that Soh Wei Yu
was too lazy to contemplate when I asked him abt this koan post his anatta insight 🤣🤣🤣.
Indeed this is similar to anatta insight. When no self/Self is seen through, seen is just seen and heard is just heard. When original enlightenment is seen through, sitting is just sitting, walking is just walking, and sleeping is just sleeping -- practice enlightenment!
· 21h · Edited
Soh Wei Yu
I can't remember when I first read about practice-enlightenment, but it has resonated with me from the very early years... I also like this one:
No Buddha is Conscious of its Existence [of having a Perfect-nature]
"By his fifteenth year one burning question became the core around which his spiritual strivings revolved: "If, as the sutras say, our Essential-nature is Bodhi (perfection), why did all Buddhas have to strive for enlightenment and perfection?" His dissatisfaction with the answers he received at Mount Hiei led him eventually to Eisai-zenji, who had brought the teachings of the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism from China to Japan. Eisai's reply to Dogen's question was: "No Buddha is conscious of its existence [that is, of this Essential-nature], while cats and oxen [that is the grossly deluded] are aware of it." In other words, Buddhas, precisely because they are Buddhas, no longer think of having or not having a Perfect-nature; only the deluded think in such terms. At these words Dogen had an inner realization which dissolved his deep-seated doubt."
-- recommended reading, Yasutani-roshi's Introductory Lectures on Zen Training (it's a practical text on Zazen and Koan training)
Soh Wei Yu
My journal entry 25th February 2012
I see Shikantaza (The Zen meditation method of “Just Sitting”) as the natural expression of realization and enlightenment.
But many people completely misunderstand this... they think that practice-enlightenment means there is no need for realization, since practicing is enlightenment. In other words, even a beginner is as realized as the Buddha when meditating.
This is plain wrong and thoughts of the foolish.
Rather, understand that practice-enlightenment is the natural expression of realization... and without realization, one will not discover the essence of practice-enlightenment.
As I told my friend/teacher 'Thusness', “I used to sit meditation with a goal and direction. Now, sitting itself is enlightenment. Sitting is just sitting. Sitting is just the activity of sitting, air con humming, breathing. Walking itself is enlightenment. Practice is not done for enlightenment but all activity is itself the perfect expression of enlightenment/buddha-nature. There is nowhere to go."
I see no possibility of directly experiencing this unless one has clear direct non-dual insight. Without realizing the primordial purity and spontaneous perfection of this instantaneous moment of manifestation as Buddha-nature itself, there will always be effort and attempt at 'doing', at achieving something... whether it be mundane states of calmness, absorption, or supramundane states of awakening or liberation... all are just due to the ignorance of the true nature of this instantaneous moment.
However, non-dual experience can still be separated into:
1) One Mind
- lately I have been noticing that majority of spiritual teachers and masters describe non-dual in terms of One Mind. That is, having realized that there is no subject-object/perceiver-perceived division or dichotomy, they subsume everything to be Mind only, mountains and rivers all are Me - the one undivided essence appearing as the many.
Though non-separate, the view is still of an inherent metaphysical essence. Hence non-dual but inherent.
2) No Mind
Where even the 'One Naked Awareness' or 'One Mind' or a Source is totally forgotten and dissolved into simply scenery, sound, arising thoughts and passing scent. Only the flow of self-luminous transience.
However, we must understand that even having the experience of No Mind is not yet the realization of Anatta. In the case of No Mind, it can remain a peak experience. In fact, it is a natural progression for a practitioner at One Mind to occasionally enter into the territory of No Mind... but because there is no breakthrough in terms of view via realization, the latent tendency to sink back into a Source, a One Mind is very strong and the experience of No Mind will not be sustained stably. The practitioner may then try his best to remain bare and non-conceptual and sustain the experience of No Mind through being naked in awareness, but no breakthrough can come unless a certain realization arises.
In particular, the important realization to breakthrough this view of inherent self is the realization that Always Already, never was/is there a self - in seeing always only just the seen, the scenery, shapes and colours, never a seer! In hearing only the audible tones, no hearer! Just activities, no agent! A process of dependent origination itself rolls and knows... no self, agent, perceiver, controller therein.
It is this realization that breaks down the view of 'seer-seeing-seen', or 'One Naked Awareness' permanently by realizing that there never was a 'One Awareness' - 'awareness', 'seeing', 'hearing' are only labels for the everchanging sensations and sights and sounds, like the word 'weather' don't point to an unchanging entity but the everchanging stream of rain, wind, clouds, forming and parting momentarily...
Then as the investigation and insights deepen, it is seen and experienced that there is only this process of dependent origination, all the causes and conditions coming together in this instantaneous moment of activity, such that when eating the apple it is like the universe eating the apple, the universe typing this message, the universe hearing the sound... or the universe is the sound. Just that... is Shikantaza. In seeing only the seen, in sitting only the sitting, and the whole universe is sitting... and it couldn't be otherwise when there is no self, no meditator apart from meditation. Every moment cannot 'help' but be practice-enlightenment... it is not even the result of concentration or any form of contrived effort... rather it is the natural authentication of the realization, experience and view in real-time.
Zen Master Dogen, the proponent of practice-enlightenment, is one of the rare and clear jewels of Zen Buddhism who have very deep experiential clarity about anatta and dependent origination. Without deep realization-experience of anatta and dependent origination in real time, we can never understand what Dogen is pointing to... his words may sound cryptic, mystical, or poetic, but actually they are simply pointing to this.
Someone 'complained' that Shikantaza is just some temporary suppressing of defilements instead of the permanent removal of it. However if one realizes anatta then it is the permanent ending of self-view, i.e. traditional stream-entry.
Soh Wei Yu
din know u wrote this. Means u did put in some effort🤣.
· 21h · Edited
- Anurag Jain
Thanks Geovani Geo
I get your point. Was the original face not manifest then is the point I was making 😉
I wrote "original self" instead of "original face". Corrected.
I think everything is always manifested but mind fabrications stir and infuse mud into de clean pure water making one believe that the clean water has disappeared.
If original face is always manifested, then there is no orignal face other than the zillions of manifested faces. Each face is is neither same nor different, pure in every manifestion.
All along there is no dust on the mirror, all dusts r mirrors; only when a particular speck of dust claimed to b special and pure, all other mrriors suddenly become dusts.
Also to answer ur below post since it is related:
Take everything away, strip it empty. No colors, no taste, no sensations, so that colors, tastes and sensations can arise. Empty of knowing, so that knowing can abide. Empty it from everything imaginable or not. Empty it even from the idea of no-thingness that is still there: nothing. That is the Ground. So, is there a Ground? If yes, than its not yet empty enough. If no, how come we are talking? Good morning children... 😉
· 1h · Edited
- Also see: Original Enlightenment and Original Nature is a wrong view / How did Ignorance originate etc