Showing posts with label Philip Kapleau Roshi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Philip Kapleau Roshi. Show all posts

Someone was into Zen and talked about I AM realization. I told him: 

I have sent you some links on private chat. What you realised sounds like the I AM realization of these links:

On anatta realisation:

I AM is also just a starting point for zen

Eventually the zen masters guide you to the anatman realization


Some Zen Masters’ Quotations on Anatman

 Zen masters on Anatman and No Mind

A monk asked, ‘Master, why do you say that mind is Buddha?’

Mazu said, ‘To stop babies from crying.’

The monk said, ‘What do you say when they stop crying?’

Mazu said, ‘No mind, no Buddha.’

Zen master Munan said, “There is nothing to Buddhism—just see directly, hear directly.  When seeing directly, there is no seer; when hearing directly, there is no hearer.”

>Shidō Munan (至道無難, 1602-1676) was an early Tokugawa Zen master mostly active in Edo. He was the teacher of Shōju Rōjin, who is in turn considered the main teacher of Hakuin Ekaku. He is best known for the phrase that one must "die while alive," made famous by D.T. Suzuki.


Another Zen Master said,

'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 Qingyuan, in Instant Zen, p 70)


At the time of his enlightenment, Zen Master Huangpo said, "When I hear the sound of the bell ringing, there is no bell, and also no I, only ringing-sound."


The myriad forms of the entire universe are the seal of the single Dharma. Whatever forms are seen are but the perception of mind. But mind is not independently existent. It is co-dependent with form.

- Zen Master Mazu


“But how could one [even] gain the ability to know that it is no-mind [that sees, hears, feels, and knows]?"

"Just try to find out in every detail: What appearance does mind have? And if it can be apprehended: is [what is apprehended] mind or not? Is [mind] inside or outside, or somewhere in between? As long as one looks for mind in these three locations, one's search will end in failure. Indeed, searching it anywhere will end in failure. That's exactly why it is known as no-mind."”

“At this, the disciple all at once greatly awakened and realized for the first time that there is no thing apart from mind, and no mind apart from things. All of his actions became utterly free. Having broken through the net of all doubt, he was freed of all obstruction.”

Doctrine of No Mind by Bodhidharma, see and

“Dissolving the Mind


Though purifying mind is the essence of practicing the Way, it is not done by clinging at the mind as a glorified and absolute entity. It is not that one simply goes inward by rejecting the external world. It is not that the mind is pure and the world is impure. When mind is clear, the world is a pure-field. When mind is deluded, the world is Samsara. Bodhidharma said,

Seeing with insight, form is not simply form, because form depends on mind. And, mind is not simply mind, because mind depends on form. Mind and form create and negate each other.  …  Mind and the world are opposites, appearances arise where they meet. When your mind does not stir inside, the world does not arise outside. When the world and the mind are both transparent, this is the true insight.” (from the Wakeup Discourse)

Just like the masters of Madhyamaka, Bodhidharma too pointed out that mind and form are interdependently arising. Mind and form create each other. Yet, when you cling to form, you negate mind. And, when you cling to mind, you negate form. Only when such dualistic notions are dissolved, and only when both mind and the world are transparent (not turning to obstructing concepts) the true insight arises.

In this regard, Bodhidharma said,

Using the mind to look for reality is delusion. 

Not using the mind to look for reality is awareness.

(from the Wakeup Discourse)

So, to effectively enter the Way, one has to go beyond the dualities (conceptual constructs) of mind and form. As far as one looks for reality as an object of mind, one is still trapped in the net of delusion (of seeing mind and form as independent realities), never breaking free from it. In that way, one holds reality as something other than oneself, and even worse, one holds oneself as a spectator to a separate reality!

When the mind does not stir anymore and settles into its pristine clarity, the world does not stir outside. The reality is revealed beyond the divisions of Self and others, and mind and form.  Thus, as you learn not to use the mind to look for reality and simply rests in the natural state of mind as it is, there is the dawn of pristine awareness –  knowing reality as it is, non-dually and non-conceptually.

When the mind does not dissolve in this way to its original clarity, whatever one sees is merely the stirring of conceptuality. Even if we try to construct a Buddha’s mind, it only stirs and does not see reality. Because, the Buddha’s mind is simply the uncompounded clarity of Bodhi (awakening), free from stirring and constructions. So, Bodhidharma said,

That which ordinary knowledge understands is also said to be within the boundaries of the norms. When you do not produce the mind of a common man, or the mind of a sravaka or a bodhisattva, and when you do not even produce a Buddha-mind or any mind at all, then for the first time you can be said to have gone outside the boundaries of the norms. If no mind at all arises, and if you do not produce understanding nor give rise to delusion, then, for the first time, you can be said to have gone outside of everything. (From the Record #1, of the Collection of Bodhidharma’s Works3 retrieved from Dunhuang Caves)


From Bendowa, by Zen Master Dogen

Question Ten:

Some have said: Do not concern yourself about birth-and-death. There is a way to promptly rid yourself of birth-and-death. It is by grasping the reason for the eternal immutability of the 'mind-nature.' The gist of it is this: although once the body is born it proceeds inevitably to death, the mind-nature never perishes. Once you can realize that the mind-nature, which does not transmigrate in birth-and-death, exists in your own body, you make it your fundamental nature. Hence the body, being only a temporary form, dies here and is reborn there without end, yet the mind is immutable, unchanging throughout past, present, and future. To know this is to be free from birth-and-death. By realizing this truth, you put a final end to the transmigratory cycle in which you have been turning. When your body dies, you enter the ocean of the original nature. When you return to your origin in this ocean, you become endowed with the wondrous virtue of the Buddha-patriarchs. But even if you are able to grasp this in your present life, because your present physical existence embodies erroneous karma from prior lives, you are not the same as the sages.

"Those who fail to grasp this truth are destined to turn forever in the cycle of birth-and-death. What is necessary, then, is simply to know without delay the meaning of the mind-nature's immutability. What can you expect to gain from idling your entire life away in purposeless sitting?"

What do you think of this statement? Is it essentially in accord with the Way of the Buddhas and patriarchs?

Answer 10:

You have just expounded the view of the Senika heresy. It is certainly not the Buddha Dharma.

According to this heresy, there is in the body a spiritual intelligence. As occasions arise this intelligence readily discriminates likes and dislikes and pros and cons, feels pain and irritation, and experiences suffering and pleasure - it is all owing to this spiritual intelligence. But when the body perishes, this spiritual intelligence separates from the body and is reborn in another place. While it seems to perish here, it has life elsewhere, and thus is immutable and imperishable. Such is the standpoint of the Senika heresy.

But to learn this view and try to pass it off as the Buddha Dharma is more foolish than clutching a piece of broken roof tile supposing it to be a golden jewel. Nothing could compare with such a foolish, lamentable delusion. Hui-chung of the T'ang dynasty warned strongly against it. Is it not senseless to take this false view - that the mind abides and the form perishes - and equate it to the wondrous Dharma of the Buddhas; to think, while thus creating the fundamental cause of birth-and-death, that you are freed from birth-and-death? How deplorable! Just know it for a false, non-Buddhist view, and do not lend a ear to it.

I am compelled by the nature of the matter, and more by a sense of compassion, to try to deliver you from this false view. You must know that the Buddha Dharma preaches as a matter of course that body and mind are one and the same, that the essence and the form are not two. This is understood both in India and in China, so there can be no doubt about it. Need I add that the Buddhist doctrine of immutability teaches that all things are immutable, without any differentiation between body and mind. The Buddhist teaching of mutability states that all things are mutable, without any differentiation between essence and form. In view of this, how can anyone state that the body perishes and the mind abides? It would be contrary to the true Dharma.

Beyond this, you must also come to fully realize that birth-and-death is in and of itself nirvana. Buddhism never speaks of nirvana apart from birth-and-death. Indeed, when someone thinks that the mind, apart from the body, is immutable, not only does he mistake it for Buddha-wisdom, which is free from birth-and-death, but the very mind that makes such a discrimination is not immutable, is in fact even then turning in birth-and-death. A hopeless situation, is it not?

You should ponder this deeply: since the Buddha Dharma has always maintained the oneness of body and mind, why, if the body is born and perishes, would the mind alone, separated from the body, not be born and die as well? If at one time body and mind were one, and at another time not one, the preaching of the Buddha would be empty and untrue. Moreover, in thinking that birth-and-death is something we should turn from, you make the mistake of rejecting the Buddha Dharma itself. You must guard against such thinking.

Understand that what Buddhists call the Buddhist doctrine of the mind-nature, the great and universal aspect encompassing all phenomena, embraces the entire universe, without differentiating between essence and form, or concerning itself with birth or death. There is nothing - enlightenment and nirvana included - that is not the mind-nature. All dharmas, the "myriad forms dense and close" of the universe - are alike in being this one Mind. All are included without exception. All those dharmas, which serves as "gates" or entrances to the Way, are the same as one Mind. For a Buddhist to preach that there is no disparity between these dharma-gates indicates that he understands the mind-nature.

In this one Dharma [one Mind], how could there be any differentiate between body and mind, any separation of birth-and-death and nirvana? We are all originally children of the Buddha, we should not listen to madmen who spout non-Buddhist views.

Labels: Anatta, Zen |

Also, Phillip Kapleau Roshi mentioned in his book "Straight to the Heart of Zen: Eleven Classic Koans & Their Inner Meanings", the two distinct phases of realization in Zen practice that corresponds to what I personally term "I AM realization" and "anatta~total exertion": "...A shallow kensho is not fully satisfying. One has seen into constant change, it is true, and into the formless Self as well - that which makes change possible. One has caught a glimpse of both change and changelessness. But it's only a glimpse, and it is not enough, because in reality, the two worlds of change and changelessness are not really two at all. After a time this initial seeing makes us want to go further, deeper. Instinctively we know that it's only well-chewed food that nourishes and satisfies. This we might take as meaning long training through which we more fully integrate our understanding into our daily lives. Our enlightenment is fully digested. Now change is Changelessness. This is what keeps away hunger and uncertainty, anxiety, fear, and above all unsatisfactoriness, the constant feeling of being on edge, alienated, separated - 'a stranger and afraid', as the poet A. E. Housman wrote, 'in a world I never made.' At last we know real peace. The verse says: 'This one instant, as it is, is an infinite number of kalpas.' What is a kalpa? The sutras describe a kalpa as the length of time it would take a heavenly being, adeva, sweeping its gossamer wings across the top of the mile-high mountain once each year to wear that mountain down to the ground. This one instant is a kalpa. All time is in this instant, and an infinite number of kalpas are, at the time, this one instant. All time means past, present, and future.... ...if our mind is entirely free from both time and timelessness, it we are living fully and wholly every moment, every moment is everything; all of time is in each full, vitally alive moment. If one has truly seen into time and timelessness - if one has really become time itself - then there is no notion of time or timelessness to hinder or bind..."”

The anatman realization was also described as the ninth oxherding picture in


Ten Ox-herding Pictures

Stage 9




It is originally pure and clean without a speck of dust clinging.

He observes the flourishing and dying of form while remaining in the silence of no-action.

This is not the same as illusion; what need is there for striving or planning?

The water is blue and the mountains green; he sits and watches phenomena take form and decay.


Having come back to the origin and returned to the source, you see that you have expended efforts in vain.

What could be superior to becoming blind and deaf in this very moment?

Inside the hermitage, you do not see what is in front of the hermitage.

The water flows of itself and the flowers are naturally red.

How much time and pain it took to come to the eighth stage of "Person and Ox Both Forgotten"! Now you have reached at last the stage where you realize the fact of "Person is empty, so is the dharma," that is, the subject (person) and the object (dharma) are both totally empty. Since this is the fruit of extremely long and hard labor, you tend to stick to this stage and to cherish it endlessly - the last residue of enlightenment. If you succeed in washing it away by constant and persistent sitting, you come to a state of realization that the fact of "Person is empty, so is the dharma" is the essential state of human beings, signifying nothing special at all. Through this realization you return to your original starting point. This is the stage of "Returning to the source," where not a trace of such things as "Buddhism" or "Tathagata" is found anywhere. It is true that "the state after enlightenment is exactly the same as that of before enlightenment." It is the state of mind of "a leisurely person of the Way, who, having finished learning, has nothing more to do."

At this stage you can observe that all the highs and lows and vacillations of this world are, as they are, void of substance and are manifestations of the world of perfect stillness and non-being. Expressed in these terms it sounds as if there were two things - being and non-being. But in fact, being is non-being; the aspect of being is, as it is, non-being itself. There is no distinction between the two at all.

This proposition "Being is non-being" is a crude fact, not a temporary illusion or a dream. At this point you can realize and affirm that it has been entirely unnecessary to be consciously engaged in practicing the way or trying to attain enlightenment. This is a very important point: you start with the first stage of "Searching the Ox," and, spending many years in practice, you come at last to the ninth level of "Returning to the Source," and as a result of this entire process you can say that practice and enlightenment were unnecessary. It is totally wrong to maintain from the very beginning that practice and enlightenment are of no use. Such an attitude is called "inactive zen" [buji-zen] . Today, almost all Zen schools in Japan have degenerated to this "inactive zen." They maintain that just sitting is enough, not appreciating the experience of enlightenment or even ignoring it. On the other hand, you must bear in mind: No matter how strongly you argue that enlightenment is important, if it's nothing more than just propagating a conceptional zen or if you take pride in your experience (if it was an authentic experience), you are only mid-way. There is no other way than to sit and sit and sit, until you can very clearly say that practice and enlightenment were intrinsically unnecessary.

Let's now appreciate the verse by Master Kakuan:

Having come back to the origin and returned to the source,

you see that you have expended efforts in vain.

You are now back to your starting point. How much effort you needed for that! Occasionally you encouraged yourself washing your face with the ice-chilly basin water, or you sank into desperation listening to frogs croaking in the dusk outside, or you kept sitting in defiance of the pains in the legs or of unbearable fatigue. Many times you have felt, "Now, this time I've come to a true experience!" but soon that experience is covered with anxiety and discontent. How many times you have determined to stop doing zazen altogether!.

What could be superior to becoming blind and deaf

in this very moment?

Come to think of it now, why didn't I become like a blind and deaf person right away? "Blind and deaf" here means a state of mind where there is nothing to see and nothing to hear. When you see, there's only the seeing, and the subject that sees doesn't exist. When you hear, there's only the hearing, and the subject that hears doesn't exist. The objects which are seen or heard are, just as they are, without substance. But understanding the logic of this will not do. When this is realized as a fact, you become like a "blind and deaf" person.

Inside the hermitage,

you do not see what is in front of the hermitage.

The late YAMADA Kôun Roshi comments that this line comes from a dialogue between Unmon [864-949] and Master Kempô [dates unknown]: Unmon visited Master Kempô and asked, "Why doesn't a person inside the hermitage know anything outside the hermitage?" To this, Kempô burst out into laughter. The point is why the person inside the hermitage (subject) cannot see the things "in front of the hermitage" (object). That's because there isn't anything in front of the hermitage. You may say that there is only the subject, there being no object at all. Yet, in actual truth, that "subject" doesn't exist either.

The water flows of itself and the flowers are naturally red.

The water runs smoothly, the flowers are colored scarlet. This line seems to imply that there are only the objects and there's no subject at all. However, as a matter of fact, those objects do not exist at all. It's simply that the water is running smoothly, and flowers are scarlet. Everything is just as it is [tada korekore], and everything is void as it is now [arugamama no aritsubure]. The fact that there is no distinction between self and others simply continues without end - "The water flows of itself and the flowers are naturally red.".

Also, this might interest you too, 

Zen teacher Alex Weith, who went through Atman-Brahman realization before realizing anatman, said well in his well written writings that I compiled here

"What I realized also is that authoritative self-realized students of direct students of both Ramana Maharishi and Nisargadatta Maharaj called me a 'Jnani', inviting me to give satsangs and write books, while I had not yet understood the simplest core principles of Buddhism. I realized also that the vast majority of Buddhist teachers, East and West, never went beyond the same initial insights (that Adhyashanti calls "an abiding awakening"), confusing the Atma with the ego, assuming that transcending the ego or self-center (ahamkara in Sanskrit) was identical to what the Buddha had called Anatta (Non-Atma).

It would seem therefore that the Buddha had realized the Self at a certain stage of his acetic years (it is not that difficult after all) and was not yet satisfied. As paradoxical as it may seem, his "divide and conquer strategy" aimed at a systematic deconstruction of the Self (Atma, Atta), reduced to -and divided into- what he then called the five aggregates of clinging and the six sense-spheres, does lead to further and deeper insights into the nature of reality. As far as I can tell, this makes me a Buddhist, not because I find Buddhism cool and trendy, but because I am unable to find other teachings and traditions that provide a complete set of tools and strategies aimed at unlocking these ultimate mysteries, even if mystics from various traditions did stumble on the same stages and insights often unknowingly. 


This also means that  the first step is to disembed from impermanent 

phenomena until the only  thing that feels real is this all pervading 

uncreated all pervading  awareness that feels like the source and 

substance of phenomena. Holding  on to it after this realization can 

hower become a subtle form of  grasping diguised as letting go.

The second step is therefore to  realize that this brightness, awakeness or

 luminosity is there very  nature of phenomena and then only does the 

duality between the True Self  and the appearences arising and passing 

within the Self dissolve,  revealing the suchness of what is.

The next step that I found  very practical is to push the process of 

deconstruction a step further,  realizing that all that is experienced 

is one of the six consciousness.  In other words, there is neither a 

super Awareness beyond phenomena, not  solid material objects, but only 

six streams of sensory experiences.  The seen, the heard, the sensed, 

the tasted, the smelled and the  cognized (including thoughts, emotions,

 and subtle thougths like  absorbtion states, jhanas).

At this point it is not difficult to see how relevent the Bahiya Sutta can become.


Just for the sake of clarification, I would like to make it clear that I never said that "these luminous self-perceiving phenomena which are craving-free and nondual are the Ultimate", if there could still be any ambiguity about that.

On the contrary, I said that what I used to take for an eternal, empty, uncreated, nondual, primordial awareness, source and substance of all things, turned out to be nothing more than the luminous nature of phenomena, themselves empty and ungraspable, somehow crystallized in a very subtle witnessing position. The whole topic of this thread is the deconstruction of this Primordial Awareness, One Mind, Cognizing Emptiness, Self, Atman, Luminous Mind, Tathagatgabha, or whatever we may call it,

As shocking as it may seem, the Buddha was very clear to say that this pure impersonal objectless nondual awareness (that Vedantists called Atma in Sanskrit, Atta in Pali) is still the aggregate of consciousness and that consciousness, as pure and luminous as it can be, does not stand beyond the aggregates.

"Any kind of consciousness whatever, whether past, future or presently arisen, whether gross or subtle, whether in oneself or external, whether inferior or superior, whether far or near must, with right understanding how it is, be regarded thus: 'This is not mine, this is not I, this is not my self.'" (Anatta-lakkhana Sutta)."

So what is this pure, unborn, empty, timeless and nondual Awareness? As I see it now, it is just the non-arising, unsupported, empty and self-luminous nature of what is that the mind grasps and imagines to be an essential sustancial inherhent ultimate reality beyond phenomena. Seeing a white ox on a while empty field covered with snow (common Zen simile for the experience of the One Mind), the mind assumes that there is a pure "Whiteness" beyond all white objects.

Why? Because when the mind is not yet freed from ignorance, it needs to hold on to some kind of stable reference point, reifying its unconditioned and nonabiding nature realized in a moment of total surrender into seeing the eternal Source and substance of all things.

As I am starting to see it now, there is no clean mirror behind the images reflected in the mirror.The mirror cannot be separated from its reflected images. The reflected images are the mirror. Reality is like a lucid dream, but there is no dreamer, nor dreamed reality beyond the dream. There is just an timeless flow of dream images dreaming themselves within the dream. In dreaming, only the dream / in seeing, only the seen / in hearing, only the heard.

Another dharma teacher who underwent similar journey from Vedanta realization (confirmed to be deep and profound by his Vedanta teachers and asked to teach) before going into Buddhist realization is Archaya Mahayogi Shridhar Rana Rinpoche, you can read about his bio and articles here: