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ZEN - Teacherless Knowledge and the Ocean of Your Own Essence

 
unsmoked
 
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unsmoked
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25 July 2017 11:24
 
NL. - 24 July 2017 06:09 PM
unsmoked - 24 July 2017 11:07 AM
NL. - 23 July 2017 01:40 PM
unsmoked - 23 July 2017 11:18 AM
NL. - 22 July 2017 08:32 PM

If I have to go through withdrawal symptoms from thought-addiction, I kinda want to know there’s a prize at the end of the tunnel, ha ha!

What kind of prize do you have in mind?


Like I said in my post, energy.  smile

As you know, when you heat water, once it gets to a certain temperature you can’t make it any hotter by turning up the heat.  We’re not talking about a pressure cooker are we?  (Some people like to turn their mind into a pressure cooker).


I dunno, I’ve certainly always had a bit of an obsession with self-improvement, going back to when I was a kid, even. But since I don’t know what it’s like in other people’s heads, I don’t know how much pressure, relatively speaking, I put on myself compared to the average person.

 

As you know, under certain conditions water turns to vapor and ‘disappears’.  This happens when your clothes dry while hanging on the line, or as the tea kettle boils on the stove.  There’s a natural state of the normal mind when thinking subsides and consequently the self vanishes..

We all reach this state when falling into a dreamless sleep, but it is also natural for the mind to ‘take a break’ while still awake and attentive.  This can happen in a crowded bus, or when performing a familiar task.  Maybe you’re kneading dough, or maybe, like an ancestor 100,000 years ago, chipping a stone to make a tool - just focused on the task - not daydreaming about something else . . . just the chipping.  If it never happens during the day and if our sleep is never peaceful, we’re probably headed for a nervous breakdown.

Yongjia said, “If you search for it, you know you cannot see it.”  (if you search for your hand, you know you can’t see it)

Your dichotomy seems to be that you love searching for your hand?

(Yonggia quoted from the book, ‘ZEN LETTERS - Teaching of Yuanwu’ - translated by J.C. Cleary and Thomas Cleary)

 
 
sojourner
 
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25 July 2017 16:51
 
unsmoked - 25 July 2017 11:24 AM

As you know, under certain conditions water turns to vapor and ‘disappears’.  This happens when your clothes dry while hanging on the line, or as the tea kettle boils on the stove.  There’s a natural state of the normal mind when thinking subsides and consequently the self vanishes..


Hypothetically, yes. I don’t get the idea that either one of us has fully experienced this personally, though, so we’re talking through second hand experience, “relatively closer” personal experiences, and so on, which is why I hedge a good bit on this topic. I’m a believer in ‘practice’ but I can’t in good faith go around extolling the virtues of something I haven’t personally experienced - I can only speak to what I have experienced in practice. “Oh ye of little faith”, ha ha!

 

We all reach this state when falling into a dreamless sleep, but it is also natural for the mind to ‘take a break’ while still awake and attentive.  This can happen in a crowded bus, or when performing a familiar task.  Maybe you’re kneading dough, or maybe, like an ancestor 100,000 years ago, chipping a stone to make a tool - just focused on the task - not daydreaming about something else . . . just the chipping.  If it never happens during the day and if our sleep is never peaceful, we’re probably headed for a nervous breakdown.


That seems a bit dramatic. I imagine most people have a good bit of stress in their lives, and if it’s not well managed, most of them end up with ulcers or heart disease, not nervous breakdowns. I mean geez, when I want to kvetch, I remember that many of the women I work with in schools or nursing homes are single mothers working two jobs well into the late evening (and that’s people in my general paradigm, I can’t begin to imagine the life of a mother who just went through the famine in Sudan, for example) - if simply not having moments of selflessness were enough to totally break the average person, humankind would have died off long ago. I agree it probably does lead to less dramatic ailments such as hypertension, though.

 

Yongjia said, “If you search for it, you know you cannot see it.”  (if you search for your hand, you know you can’t see it)

Your dichotomy seems to be that you love searching for your hand?

(Yonggia quoted from the book, ‘ZEN LETTERS - Teaching of Yuanwu’ - translated by J.C. Cleary and Thomas Cleary)


This statement is not clear to me, I don’t think I’ve proposed any dichotomies - I feel I’ve framed my ‘failure / success’ (for want of a more appropriate word there, hopefully you get the gist) or lack of therein as more lack of expertise, which is not a dichotomy any more than, say, being bad at painting is a dichotomy. There’s no dynamic tension between two mutually incompatible concepts, you’re just bad at it, ha ha!


Granted, while I don’t think I’ve talked about it in this specific threads, I do in fact one could see ‘worldly pursuits’ and ‘spiritual pursuits’ as a sort of dichotomy, and I do get into that thinking sometimes, as if ‘enlightenment’ is a linear path and the only ‘really’ important thing. Again, though, I realize this is just me ‘being bad at painting’, in that holding this conceptual understanding is certainly not my intention and goal, it’s just an error I tend to make, as Buddhism itself contradicts this in places. There is the famous quote, for example, that nirvana and samsara are one - although to be fair, I think there are also schools of thought in Buddhism that lean more towards “enlightenment is the only worthwhile pursuit”, so it’s not as if global Buddhism as a whole totally affirms this view - there is a good bit of emphasis on ‘escaping samsara’. Personally, I think this is an area where some concepts just don’t translate well to words, and the emphasis on ‘escaping samsara’ is a bit of a ‘mistranslation’, but that’s just my opinion.


On a related note, btw, I recently read a passage from Sapiens that I really like on the topic of seeing the good in ‘samsara’ and not getting too caught up in thinking even the religions that are currently seen as liberally enlightened, such as Buddhism, have all the answers, even though there is always the temptation to do that. I do think that spiritual paths can contain wisdom that is truly timeless, but it is hard not to confuse ‘timeless’ with ‘ok, wisdom found, stop here, nothing else to see or know here people!’. I think a big part of spirituality is integrating curious openness with a base of unchanging truth, which means there is no ultimate enlightenment or ultimate goal - including the subjective sensation of selflessness, even - and simultaneously, there is nothing but ultimate truth, whatever one’s subjective state, selfless or otherwise, no matter what transient goals one overlays on this backdrop.

The Scientific Revolution has not been a revolution of knowledge. It has been above all a revolution of ignorance. The great discovery that launched the Scientific Revolution was the discovery that humans do not know the answers to their most important questions.


Premodern traditions of knowledge such as Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and Confucianism asserted that everything that is important to know about the world was already known. The great gods, or the one almighty God, or the wise people of the past possessed all-encompassing wisdom, which they revealed to us in scriptures and oral traditions. Ordinary mortals gained knowledge by delving into these ancient texts and traditions and understanding them properly. It was inconceivable that the Bible, the Qur’an or the Vedas were missing out on a crucial secret of the universe – a secret that might yet be discovered by flesh-and-blood creatures.


Ancient traditions of knowledge admitted only two kinds of ignorance. First, an individual might be ignorant of something important. To obtain the necessary knowledge, all he needed to do was ask somebody wiser. There was no need to discover something that nobody yet knew. For example, if a peasant in some thirteenth-century Yorkshire village wanted to know how the human race originated, he assumed that Christian tradition held the definitive answer. All he had to do was ask the local priest.


Second, an entire tradition might be ignorant of unimportant things. By definition, whatever the great gods or the wise people of the past did not bother to tell us was unimportant. For example, if our Yorkshire peasant wanted to know how spiders weave their webs, it was pointless to ask the priest, because there was no answer to this question in any of the Christian Scriptures. That did not mean, however, that Christianity was deficient. Rather, it meant that understanding how spiders weave their webs was unimportant. After all, God knew perfectly well how spiders do it. If this were a vital piece of information, necessary for human prosperity and salvation, God would have included a comprehensive explanation in the Bible.

........


Modern-day science is a unique tradition of knowledge, inasmuch as it openly admits collective ignorance regarding the most important questions. Darwin never argued that he was ‘The Seal of the Biologists’, and that he had solved the riddle of life once and for all. After centuries of extensive scientific research, biologists admit that they still don’t have any good explanation for how brains produce consciousness. Physicists admit that they don’t know what caused the Big Bang, or how to reconcile quantum mechanics with the theory of general relativity.


In other cases, competing scientific theories are vociferously debated on the basis of constantly emerging new evidence. A prime example is the debates about how best to run the economy. Though individual economists may claim that their method is the best, orthodoxy changes with every financial crisis and stock-exchange bubble, and it is generally accepted that the final word on economics is yet to be said.

 
 
unsmoked
 
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26 July 2017 10:04
 
NL. - 25 July 2017 04:51 PM
unsmoked - 25 July 2017 11:24 AM

As you know, under certain conditions water turns to vapor and ‘disappears’.  This happens when your clothes dry while hanging on the line, or as the tea kettle boils on the stove.  There’s a natural state of the normal mind when thinking subsides and consequently the self vanishes..


Hypothetically, yes. I don’t get the idea that either one of us has fully experienced this personally, though, so we’re talking through second hand experience . . .

Zen master Dazhu said:

“You are luckily all right by yourself, (the ‘ocean of your own essence’ in the topic title), yet you struggle artificially.  Why do you want to put on fetters and go to prison?  You are busy every day claiming to study Zen, learn the Way, and interpret Buddhism, but this alienates you even further.  It is just chasing sound and form.  When will you ever stop?”

(Dazhu quoted from the book, ‘ZEN ESSENCE - The Science of Freedom’ - translated and edited by Thomas Cleary)

NL, in your opinion, what were Buddhist artists attempting to portray when they painted or carved the face of Buddha?

 

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sojourner
 
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26 July 2017 19:57
 
unsmoked - 26 July 2017 10:04 AM

Zen master Dazhu said:

“You are luckily all right by yourself, (the ‘ocean of your own essence’ in the topic title), yet you struggle artificially.  Why do you want to put on fetters and go to prison.


Well, we’re both human, so you don’t really need to ask this question, do you? For the same reasons you do, obviously.

 

NL, in your opinion, what were Buddhist artists attempting to portray when they painted or carved the face of Buddha?


Youthful rebelliousness, I suppose, as I think the Buddha forbid images of himself being made while he was alive. Daggone rebel kids!

 
 
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