a conversation between master xuyun and grandmaster lingyuan

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a conversation between master xuyun and grandmaster lingyuan

Post by guo gu » Fri Aug 03, 2018 1:24 am

hi all,
haven't posted for a while. thought i start off with this conversation between my grandmaster lingyuan (1902-1988) and great grandmaster xuyun (1840-1959) in 1947 during a winter 7-day chan retreat. lingyuan was ordained by xuyun. this conversation took place about 13 years after lingyuan's ordination. it was recorded down by him and included in his published discourse record, and republished by my teacher master shengyen.

enjoy!
guo gu

------------

Xuyun asked me [Ling Yuan]: “What method are you using?”

I [Ling Yuan] said: “Reciting the buddha’s name and investigating Chan. Both Chan and Pureland are practiced.”

Question: “How can you be investigating Chan when you are reciting buddha’s name?”

I said: “When I recite the Buddha’s name, there is this wonderment as to who is reciting the Buddha’s name hidden in my consciousness. So even though I’m reciting the buddha’s name, I’m also investigating Chan.”

Question: “Are there wandering thoughts or not?”

Answer: “When the right thought [i.e., method] are brought forth, often wandering thoughts are there along with it. However, when the right thought is put down there are no wondering thoughts; it feels pure and at ease.”

Xuyun said: “Your so-called pure and at ease state is laziness, like a rock soaking in cold water! If one is like this, even if he practices for one thousand years it is still useless. You must bring forth the right thought with a bold and persevering mind investigating till the end and determined to see through just who is reciting the buddha’s name. Only then can the investigation be shattered. You must practice with great determination.”

Question: “I have heard that, master, you had entered samādhi for eighteen days in Zhongnan Mountain. Was there a mind that entered? or no mind that entered?”

Answer: “If there was a mind to enter samādhi then one cannot be in samādhi. If there’s no mind to enter samādhi then one would be like a statue made out of wood or mud. When the mind is at one point, there’s not a single thing that cannot be accomplished.”

Question: “I want to be like master and enter samādhi. Please teach me!”

Answer: “Then you must watch the huatou.”

Question: “What do you call this huatou?”

Answer: “Hua is actually a wandering thought. You’re actually talking to yourself. Before a wandering thought arises, you must illuminate on it. Look to see just what is the original face? This is called ‘observing the huatou.’ If a wandering thought had already arisen, you must still bring forth the right thought [of the huatou method] so the erroneous thought can perish by itself. If one goes around following with wandering thoughts, then sitting meditation is useless. However, if you bring forth this right thought and it’s not serious or firm enough, then the huatou is powerless and wandering thoughts will surely arise continuously. When practicing, you need to have a bold and persevering mind as if your parents have died (and you have countless things that you have to do). The ancient ones said: ‘[Practice] is like guarding the emperor’s palace; astutely standing [and guarding] above the palace wall.’ Also, consider the saying, “If you haven’t endured the bone-chilling winter, how do you expect to smell the fragrance of plum blossoms?”

Comment by Lingyuan: These words are always said by the grandmaster in seven day retreats.) If there are neither wondering thoughts nor the huatou, then sitting there with an empty mind is like a rock soaking in cold water. One can sit through innumerable kalpas and still be useless. If you want to investigate Chan, then this is the only way. If you don’t want to do it this way, then don’t investigate Chan. One has to have this bold and persevering mind, like one person fighting off ten thousand people; going straight forward without regressing and letting loose. Reciting buddha’s name, reciting mantras, should all be like this. The “mind of birth and death” is firm and determined, day by day increasing. If one can be like this, practice will progress.

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Re: a conversation between master xuyun and grandmaster lingyuan

Post by Dan74 » Fri Aug 03, 2018 3:00 pm

Dear Guo Gu, thank you for posting this. I did indeed spend some years just 'a rock soaking in cold water'. I guess it felt like a respite after all the daily stresses. Which can be a good thing, except that I noticed I was becoming even more irritable and less capable of facing them and kinda wishing for the "pure and easy" state while all those imperfect and annoying things were bothering me.

Sometimes people refer to this as "emptiness sickness" and maybe there is a bit of that, since for the vexations to let up, there's got to be a little bit of understanding of their empty nature, but I don't think there was really any deep realisation of emptiness, more of a zonking out with the subtle vexations all still there.

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Re: a conversation between master xuyun and grandmaster lingyuan

Post by [james] » Sat Aug 04, 2018 9:48 pm


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Re: a conversation between master xuyun and grandmaster lingyuan

Post by guo gu » Tue Aug 07, 2018 12:55 pm

thanks for posting that, [james].
i also wanted to correct a typo in the subject of this thread: linyuan should be lingyuan. i don't know how to change it (maybe a moderator can do that?).

dan, the "zoning out" you mentioned is quite common among practitioners. zoning out comes in different forms and depths. often it's mistaken to be "emptiness," but the word here has a different valence. it's not referring to the wisdom of emptiness or selflessness but to a kind of dullness, lost of consciousness, or blank-mindedness. that said, these states are psychosomatic reactions to practice and are part of the path, natural... but not to be suppressed or encouraged.
be well,
guo gu

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Re: a conversation between master xuyun and grandmaster lingyuan

Post by Fruitzilla » Tue Aug 07, 2018 2:18 pm

Title changed :556:

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Re: a conversation between master xuyun and grandmaster lingyuan

Post by Meido » Tue Aug 07, 2018 9:49 pm

Great quote. It brought to my mind something from Suzuki Shosan, the early-edo period Soto monk, commenting on the "sinking" (energy-less) zazen that he often critiqued, and urging his students to give rise day by day to an increasingly vital practice energy:
Although non-thought zazen is practiced everywhere, I practice thought-arousing zazen. I give rise to a thought as great as Mt. Sumeru.
The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice
Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺] - http://www.korinji.org
Madison, WI Rinzai Zen Community [機山龍源寺] - http://www.madisonrinzaizen.org
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Re: a conversation between master xuyun and grandmaster lingyuan

Post by fuki » Tue Aug 07, 2018 10:48 pm

Meido wrote:
Tue Aug 07, 2018 9:49 pm
Great quote. It brought to my mind something from Suzuki Shosan, the early-edo period Soto monk, commenting on the "sinking" (energy-less) zazen that he often critiqued, and urging his students to give rise day by day to an increasingly vital practice energy:
Although non-thought zazen is practiced everywhere, I practice thought-arousing zazen. I give rise to a thought as great as Mt. Sumeru.
It reminded me of the The Tsung Ching Record;

A Master of The Samatha-Vipasyana (Chinese: Chih-Kuan) Doctrine asked: "Ch'an Master, can you distinguish among the various kinds of demons?"

The Master answered: "The arising of a single thought in the mind is the heavenly demon, while the non-arising of a single thought is the demon of the five aggregates. A mind in which there are both the arising and the non-arising of thoughts is the demon of defilement. These conditions and demons can never exist in my Right Dharma."

The Samatha-Vipasyana Master asked: "What is the meaning of the concept of non-existence of the three time periods in the one Mind?"

The Master answered: "The past mind is already past; the future mind has not yet come; the present mind does not stay. Besides the minds of these three time periods, which mind do you employ for Vipasyana?"

The Samatha-Vipasyana Master declared: "Ch'an Master, you seem not to understand The Samatha-Vipasyana Doctrine."

The Master inquired pointedly: "Do you understand it yourself?! "

The Samatha-Vipasyana Master asserted: "Yes, I do!"

The Master responded: "The T'ien-T'ai Master Chih-Che said, 'Speak about Chih (ceasing thought) to remove Chih; speak about Kuan (clear awareness) to remove Kuan. To grasp Chih is to sink into the condition of birth-and-death; to grasp Kuan is to confuse the mind. Can one reasonably use the mind to achieve the cessation of mind (Chih) or stir up the mind to meditate on or observe clear mind (Kuan)? If one thinks he has a mind to observe, that is clinging to the view of permanence. On the other hand, if one thinks there is no mind to observe, that is clinging to the view of annihilation. Finally, if one thinks there is both existence and non-existence, that is clinging to the view of dualism. Would you, please, try to explain all of this clearly for me."

The Samatha Vipasyana Master answered: "If all this is as you show it to be, I really have nothing whatsoever to say."

The Master, concluding, asked: "Where, then, is Chih-Kuan?"
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Re: a conversation between master xuyun and grandmaster lingyuan

Post by desert_woodworker » Thu Aug 09, 2018 1:22 am

One can get lucky on retreat, and not be someone who does this-or-that, by some kind of "intention".

Be careful with this kind of post! It may give the wrong impression about "how" to practice.

Just GO there, BE there, and follow the daily schedule of the retreat. That is all.

Do not compare yourself to others, especially not to masters in the tradition. THEY are not special, nor ever were. Our basic Human nature is what is our greatest asset, and we ALL have it. In virtue of it, we may all awaken. Make no mistake.

Strong practice!,

(but it has to be strong, you see),

--Joe / Guo Xiang

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Re: a conversation between master xuyun and grandmaster lingyuan

Post by [james] » Thu Aug 09, 2018 4:24 am

Meido wrote:
Tue Aug 07, 2018 9:49 pm
Great quote. It brought to my mind something from Suzuki Shosan, the early-edo period Soto monk, commenting on the "sinking" (energy-less) zazen that he often critiqued, and urging his students to give rise day by day to an increasingly vital practice energy:
Although non-thought zazen is practiced everywhere, I practice thought-arousing zazen. I give rise to a thought as great as Mt. Sumeru.
This Shosan quote is inspiring and invigorating even though my understanding of it may be askew. In zazen, I appreciate every arising thought as a gift and as a challenge to my views of myself. Useful, necessary tools always at hand, never in short supply.

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Re: a conversation between master xuyun and grandmaster lingyuan

Post by fuki » Thu Aug 09, 2018 10:58 am

desert_woodworker wrote:
Thu Aug 09, 2018 1:22 am
One can get lucky on retreat, and not be someone who does this-or-that, by some kind of "intention".

Be careful with this kind of post! It may give the wrong impression about "how" to practice.

Just GO there, BE there, and follow the daily schedule of the retreat. That is all.

Do not compare yourself to others, especially not to masters in the tradition. THEY are not special, nor ever were. Our basic Human nature is what is our greatest asset, and we ALL have it. In virtue of it, we may all awaken. Make no mistake.

Strong practice!,

(but it has to be strong, you see),

--Joe / Guo Xiang
Thank You Sir.

:111:
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Re: a conversation between master xuyun and grandmaster lingyuan

Post by lindama » Thu Aug 09, 2018 3:23 pm

I've always liked this koan: this is the stone, soaked with rain, that points the way


ps... as far as I know koan and huatou can be used interchangeably, is that so?

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Re: a conversation between master xuyun and grandmaster lingyuan

Post by fuki » Thu Aug 09, 2018 3:45 pm

lindama wrote:
Thu Aug 09, 2018 3:23 pm
I've always liked this koan: this is the stone, soaked with rain, that points the way


ps... as far as I know koan and huatou can be used interchangeably, is that so?
The koan is the case and the Huatou is the turning point or critical point(before words)
Playing with metaphors the koan is the butter and the Huatou the cutter through the butter :lol:

The Cutter in the story about a monk asking if a dog has Buddha-nature is the "mu/wu" for instance, the story/case is just a container or milk box :D
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Re: a conversation between master xuyun and grandmaster lingyuan

Post by lindama » Thu Aug 09, 2018 7:00 pm

do you mean that the cutter is drenched with butter?

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Re: a conversation between master xuyun and grandmaster lingyuan

Post by fuki » Thu Aug 09, 2018 7:39 pm

lindama wrote:
Thu Aug 09, 2018 7:00 pm
do you mean that the cutter is drenched with butter?
Depends how sharp the tool is.
1.jpg
1.jpg (22.45 KiB) Viewed 396 times
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Re: a conversation between master xuyun and grandmaster lingyuan

Post by KeithA » Sat Aug 11, 2018 9:29 pm

The juxtaposition between effort and non-effort is always an interesting topic. I think it highlights why Zen is a mystical pursuit, versus a philosophical one. The philosopher seeks to explain the unexplainable via ideas and concepts. The mystic seeks those same answers via experience.

Step carefully:
Twelfth Gate: Man Gong's Net
From the Summer 1999 issue of Primary Point:

One day, Zen Master Man Gong sat on the high rostrum and gave the speech to mark the end of the three month winter retreat. "All winter long you monks practiced very hard. That's wonderful! As for me, I had nothing to do, so I made a net. This net is made out of a special cord. It is very strong and can catch all Buddhas, Patriarchs and human beings. It catches everything. How do you get out of this net?

Some students shouted, "KATZ!" Others hit the floor or raised a fist. One said, "The sky is blue, the grass is green." Another said, "Already got out; how are you, great Zen Master?" From the back of the room a monk shouted, "Don't make net!"

Many answers were given, but to each Man Gong only replied, "Aha! I've caught a BIG fish!"

1. How do you get out of Man Gong's net?
_/|\_
You make, you get.

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Re: a conversation between master xuyun and grandmaster lingyuan

Post by fuki » Sat Aug 11, 2018 11:02 pm

KeithA wrote:
Sat Aug 11, 2018 9:29 pm
The juxtaposition between effort and non-effort is always an interesting topic.
I shared this quote in another thread where the topic was about "non-effort" (or became the topic, seems to be a "hot topic" for many, "non-seeking, "non-doing" and all, which I've never seen a "Taoist" confused about interestingly)

“When effort is needed, effort will appear. When effortlessness becomes essential, it will assert itself. You need not push life about.
Just flow with it and give yourself completely to the task of the present moment...”
~Sri Niz
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Re: a conversation between master xuyun and grandmaster lingyuan

Post by KeithA » Sat Aug 11, 2018 11:09 pm

fuki wrote:
Sat Aug 11, 2018 11:02 pm
KeithA wrote:
Sat Aug 11, 2018 9:29 pm
The juxtaposition between effort and non-effort is always an interesting topic.
I shared this quote in another thread where the topic was about "non-effort" (or became the topic, seems to be a "hot topic" for many, "non-seeking, "non-doing" and all, which I've never seen a "Taoist" confused about interestingly)

“When effort is needed, effort will appear. When effortlessness becomes essential, it will assert itself. You need not push life about.
Just flow with it and give yourself completely to the task of the present moment...”
~Sri Niz
As our friend Genkaku was always suggesting: "Practice and see what happens" :)
You make, you get.

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Re: a conversation between master xuyun and grandmaster lingyuan

Post by fuki » Sat Aug 11, 2018 11:11 pm

KeithA wrote:
Sat Aug 11, 2018 11:09 pm
As our friend Genkaku was always suggesting: "Practice and see what happens" :)
Ah Adam yes, one of the first sober ones I've had the pleasure of meeting on the interweb, I remember him often,
particulary when I see thorns (roses) :)
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Re: a conversation between master xuyun and grandmaster lingyuan

Post by KeithA » Sat Aug 11, 2018 11:13 pm

fuki wrote:
Sat Aug 11, 2018 11:11 pm
KeithA wrote:
Sat Aug 11, 2018 11:09 pm
As our friend Genkaku was always suggesting: "Practice and see what happens" :)
Ah Adam yes, one of the first sober ones I've had the pleasure of meeting on the interweb, I remember him often,
particulary when I see thorns (roses) :)
I was up in his neighborhood recently. One of these days, I would like to take a ride up to practice with him. I am not all that far away.
You make, you get.

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Re: a conversation between master xuyun and grandmaster lingyuan

Post by fuki » Sat Aug 11, 2018 11:14 pm

KeithA wrote:
Sat Aug 11, 2018 11:13 pm
I was up in his neighborhood recently. One of these days, I would like to take a ride up to practice with him. I am not all that far away.
That would be wonderful! :)
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