Master Xuyun's Long-dwelling in Samadhi

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[james]
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Re: Master Xuyun's Long-dwelling in Samadhi

Post by [james] » Thu Nov 30, 2017 5:15 pm

el gatito wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 1:39 am
"An inquiry into Master Xuyun's Experiences of Long-dwelling in Samadhi":

https://www.google.com/search?q=An+inqu ... in+Samadhi

http://chinesebuddhiststudies.org/previ ... huimin.pdf

By Huimin Bhiksu
On page 6 of 23 of your linked document we read:
Moreover, in The Grandmaster’s Teachings (included in Master Xuyun’s Dharma Collection), taken down by Venerable Lingyuan—a disciple of Master Xuyun—the account states that Master Xuyun had dwelled in samādhi for 18 days. A conversation between the grandmaster and the disciple regarding the event was also included as follows:
Q: I heard that Grandmaster had an experience of samādhi for 18 days. Was that an intentional one? Or an unintentional one?
A: One can not enter samādhi intentionally; but neither can one enter unintentionally as one is not insentient like a stone or statue. Rather, it is concentration that brings success to whatever the mind aims at.
Q: I would like to learn from Grandmaster. Please teach me.
A: You must observe the origin of the Head Phrase.
Q: What is the origin of the Head Phrase, please?
A: The phrase is but illusory thought, which you talk to yourself. At the point when the talking is about to arise, watch and observe, see what the original face is like. That is the what it means ‘to observe the origin of the Head Phrase’. At the arising of illusory thought, continue to set up your right mindfulness, and the ill thought will subside by itself. If you have been pulled away by illusory thought, it brings you no benefit to sit meditating. Even when you are mindful again, but if you are not sincere and earnest, the Head Phrase being weak, the illusory thought will certainly arise.
So here the two sentences that I have highlighted have me somewhat confused. In the first, the Head Phrase is illusory thought (which makes sense to me, that the arising of the internal conversation is the point of concentration). In the second, there seems to be a different sense of what the Head Phrase is ... if illusory thought (the Head Phrase) is weak, illusory thought will certainly arise (???).

Further on we have a section of the article titled “Entering into samadhi by Way of a Head Phrase”. The very little I think I know of Chan practice is that a Head Phrase is given to the student by one’s teacher, similar to a koan, as a focus of concentration. This seems very different to “the” Head Phrase that is inherent to one’s own mind activity.

I would appreciate any comments from members here that would help clarify my understanding of the term “Head Phrase”.

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Re: Master Xuyun's Long-dwelling in Samadhi

Post by Anders » Wed Dec 06, 2017 7:59 am

[james] wrote:
Thu Nov 30, 2017 5:15 pm

On page 6 of 23 of your linked document we read:
Moreover, in The Grandmaster’s Teachings (included in Master Xuyun’s Dharma Collection), taken down by Venerable Lingyuan—a disciple of Master Xuyun—the account states that Master Xuyun had dwelled in samādhi for 18 days. A conversation between the grandmaster and the disciple regarding the event was also included as follows:
Q: I heard that Grandmaster had an experience of samādhi for 18 days. Was that an intentional one? Or an unintentional one?
A: One can not enter samādhi intentionally; but neither can one enter unintentionally as one is not insentient like a stone or statue. Rather, it is concentration that brings success to whatever the mind aims at.
Q: I would like to learn from Grandmaster. Please teach me.
A: You must observe the origin of the Head Phrase.
Q: What is the origin of the Head Phrase, please?
A: The phrase is but illusory thought, which you talk to yourself. At the point when the talking is about to arise, watch and observe, see what the original face is like. That is the what it means ‘to observe the origin of the Head Phrase’. At the arising of illusory thought, continue to set up your right mindfulness, and the ill thought will subside by itself. If you have been pulled away by illusory thought, it brings you no benefit to sit meditating. Even when you are mindful again, but if you are not sincere and earnest, the Head Phrase being weak, the illusory thought will certainly arise.
So here the two sentences that I have highlighted have me somewhat confused. In the first, the Head Phrase is illusory thought (which makes sense to me, that the arising of the internal conversation is the point of concentration). In the second, there seems to be a different sense of what the Head Phrase is ... if illusory thought (the Head Phrase) is weak, illusory thought will certainly arise (???).

Further on we have a section of the article titled “Entering into samadhi by Way of a Head Phrase”. The very little I think I know of Chan practice is that a Head Phrase is given to the student by one’s teacher, similar to a koan, as a focus of concentration. This seems very different to “the” Head Phrase that is inherent to one’s own mind activity.

I would appreciate any comments from members here that would help clarify my understanding of the term “Head Phrase”.
Hi James,

In Huatou practise, a distinction is made between examining the "head of the word" (hua-tou) vs following the "tail of the word" (hua-wei). I read it as saying the phrase itself may be illusory thought, but not that the head of the phrase is, since looking into the hua-tou is to look into that which is before the word arises.

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Re: Master Xuyun's Long-dwelling in Samadhi

Post by fuki » Wed Mar 14, 2018 12:03 pm

[james] wrote:
Thu Nov 30, 2017 5:15 pm

I would appreciate any comments from members here that would help clarify my understanding of the term “Head Phrase”.
Best I can "explain" it is that the head phrase (the poison) for instance "what is wu/mu?" generates a sense of (great) doubt by which the scattered mind can break open into "one mind" "samadhi" or even "sudden enlightenment" I assume what is meant by "Even when you are mindful again, but if you are not sincere and earnest, the Head Phrase being weak, the illusory thought will certainly arise" if the sense of "doubt" is weak it isn't great doubt so our "ordinary minds" will be stronger then the method. For instance when you're eating you're not really tasting the food or have dwelling thoughts i.e. eating like we normally do but the focus is solely on the method. When you look in the bathroom mirror you wouldn't recognize your face, only the great doubt remains generated by the head phrase. Its a great method, it might take a day or 6 years to break through but who cares, theres only great doubt, no time. :D
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Re: Master Xuyun's Long-dwelling in Samadhi

Post by Caodemarte » Wed Mar 14, 2018 1:40 pm

Remember that Chinese has no articles so take the “the” out if that makes it clearer. So “the illusory thought” becomes “illusory thought.” “Illusory thought arrises” seems much clearer to me. If your samadhi is weak, then illusory thought arises. Samadhi is a state of concentration of various intensities. As a temporary state, albeit often useful, it can be called illusory (again, no different from absolute truth).

The Head Phrase (a short question or phrase like “Who am I?”) itself is an illusory thought that focuses your internal existential question (your motive for practicing, like the Buddha’s “why is there suffering?”). All phrases can be seen as illusory thoughts or conventional trurth (ultimately no different from absolute truth). It is not resolved by talking about it, but by facing it directly.
Last edited by Caodemarte on Wed Mar 14, 2018 2:20 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Master Xuyun's Long-dwelling in Samadhi

Post by fuki » Wed Mar 14, 2018 1:59 pm

Page 9;

"At the arising of illusory thoughts, one should not stop the mind, since the thoughts
being stopped will become even more active. Just observe the Head Phrase for its
arising and ceasing. Even if the Honorable Sākyamuni or the master Dharma came
forth again, the answer would remain the same."
-----------------------------------

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Re: Master Xuyun's Long-dwelling in Samadhi

Post by Caodemarte » Wed Mar 14, 2018 2:47 pm

Here is a very nice definition of terms and explanation at http://sweepingzen.com/kanhua-chan/

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Re: Master Xuyun's Long-dwelling in Samadhi

Post by fuki » Wed Mar 14, 2018 3:11 pm

Caodemarte wrote:
Wed Mar 14, 2018 2:47 pm
Here is a very nice definition of terms and explanation at http://sweepingzen.com/kanhua-chan/
And Guo Gu's book is a great guide in using koan-hua-tou (the essence/source of koans)
https://www.amazon.com/Passing-Through- ... 1611802814
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Re: Master Xuyun's Long-dwelling in Samadhi

Post by Caodemarte » Wed Mar 14, 2018 5:29 pm

fuki wrote:
Wed Mar 14, 2018 3:11 pm
Caodemarte wrote:
Wed Mar 14, 2018 2:47 pm
Here is a very nice definition of terms and explanation at http://sweepingzen.com/kanhua-chan/
And Guo Gu's book is a great guide in using koan-hua-tou (the essence/source of koans)
https://www.amazon.com/Passing-Through- ... 1611802814
Guo Gu’s book is a very good guide to practice or, better, incitement to practice! Just a note, that attempting to practice Koans (Kung-an) or Hua tou (Hwa du) in whatever language without a personal relationship with a qualified teacher almost always leads to further delusion. I remember the story of Sokei-an, the earliest one of the earliest, Rinzai monks sent to America to live. He recounted how he was separated from his teacher back in Japan for many years. He went through many koans over the years alone. When he finally reunited with his teacher all his great breakthroughs instantly collapsed into the time wasting self-delusions they were.

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Re: Master Xuyun's Long-dwelling in Samadhi

Post by fuki » Wed Mar 14, 2018 6:30 pm

Caodemarte wrote:
Wed Mar 14, 2018 5:29 pm
that attempting to practice Koans (Kung-an) or Hua tou (Hwa du) in whatever language without a personal relationship with a qualified teacher almost always leads to further delusion.
Ah well people do a lot of time wasting self-referential stuff ;) there are worse things then wasting your time on koans. I would always say that a qualified teacher is essential/helpful, but not demotivate ppl from taking up any practise on their own without a teacher. But you said "almost" yet I find further delusion a bit strong, "wrong practise" might lead to a state of blankness or confusion/superimpositions etc, not sure what you mean with further, that would really depend on the individual and situation, their "potential" etc. If the practisioner correctly applies the method and it doesn't lead to further conceptualization I see no harm in it. If koans are thought-objects well then it's never right, with or without a teacher, asking yourself "Before my parents were born, what is my original face?" cannot be answered by/with mind, so even for a "home-student" it "cuts of the thinking mind" or any conceptual designation, perhaps a better waste of time then playing video games all day or roaming at night looking for the next fix. :hatsoff:

And to think you'll get anything out of practising koan with a teacher can itself be the impediment, with or without ;) Be careful with religious conditioning and preconceived notions, but I'll finish as Joe would, that sole practise is no constitute for practising with a sangha. :109:
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Re: Master Xuyun's Long-dwelling in Samadhi

Post by Nothing » Wed Mar 14, 2018 7:50 pm

I like the Sheng Yen's description about the use of Huatou
Huatou is in many respects closely related to gong'an. The term huatou itself literally means "head, or crux, of the saying.
Generally, this has been interpreted as pointing to the most crucial phrase or question in gong'an. Thus, working on a huatou entails singling out the most essential element or issue in a given gong'an and concentrating on this point, repeating it over and over, while disregarding the rest of the narrative. For example, one of the most famous huatou comes from the gong'an in which Zhaozhou is aksed whether dogs havae Buddha-nature.In response to this question, Zhapzhou replies, "Wu" which means, "No"! The Huatou simply consists of asking , "What is Wu?"

Huaotu invariably are concise questions like this. Although they are frequently taken from gong'an, sometimes they are not. Questions such as "Who am I?"; What was I like before I was born?"; Who is it that is practicing?" ; or even "Which came first, the chicken or the egg? " are all huato. If one is a Pure Land pracititoner and has been intoning the Buddha Amitabhas name, one might ask" Who is it that is reciting the Buddha's name? " In that circumstance it becomes a Chan huatou.

Compare to the rather lengthy and diffuse gong'an stories, huatou are poignantly concise. Thus they are powerful tools for summoning up great energy and quickly bringing one's focus to bear on the key issues of practice. As techniques of Chan practice,the function of both gong'an and huatou is to generate what we call "great doubt". This doubt represents an inner uneasiness or anxiety-a feeling that there is something missing or unclear in our lives that we must discover. It a deep tension caused by the feeling that there is something essential that we need to know--that we must know--but that we don't know. This doubt should not be confused with the sort of non-committal waffling that we commonly encounter in our lives. The doubt generated by investigating a huatou is not simple agnosticism or scepticism. Nor is the sort of temporary confusion over moral position or personal identity that we often encounter in our lives . No simple distraction, explanation , or shift in reasoning can appease it."Great doubt" is a state of all-consuming questioning that, at its deepest, is irresistible and relentless, admitting no solution other than one that totally gets to the bottom of the matter. Ultimately, the issue to be solved is the "great matter of birth and death."
--Viktor

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Re: Master Xuyun's Long-dwelling in Samadhi

Post by Larry » Wed Mar 14, 2018 10:39 pm

I also like "Am I aware?".

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Re: Master Xuyun's Long-dwelling in Samadhi

Post by Caodemarte » Wed Mar 14, 2018 11:07 pm

fuki wrote:
Wed Mar 14, 2018 6:30 pm
well people do a lot of time wasting self-referential stuff ;) ...And to think you'll get anything out of practising koan with a teacher can itself be the impediment, with or without ;) ....
Surely true. :hatsoff:

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Re: Master Xuyun's Long-dwelling in Samadhi

Post by [james] » Wed Mar 14, 2018 11:17 pm

Larry wrote:
Wed Mar 14, 2018 10:39 pm
I also like "Am I aware?".
I also like “I am aware”.
Q: I would like to learn from Grandmaster. Please teach me.
A: You must observe the origin of the Head Phrase.
Q: What is the origin of the Head Phrase, please?
A: The phrase is but illusory thought, which you talk to yourself. At the point when the talking is about to arise, watch and observe, see what the original face is like.
I may still be misunderstanding the term “Head Phrase” but when awareness is there at the point when the talking is about to arise, when arising thought and awareness are not separate, this awareness is of origin. Head Phrase, arising thought, thought stream bring awareness to the point of arising. Any old thought will do. What do you think?

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Re: Master Xuyun's Long-dwelling in Samadhi

Post by fuki » Thu Mar 15, 2018 12:18 am

[james] wrote:
Wed Mar 14, 2018 11:17 pm

I may still be misunderstanding the term “Head Phrase” but when awareness is there at the point when the talking is about to arise, when arising thought and awareness are not separate, this awareness is of origin. Head Phrase, arising thought, thought stream bring awareness to the point of arising. Any old thought will do. What do you think?
The "head phrase" is the turning word, i.e. "what is wu" the hua tou is the origin of the head phrase (or the origin/source of language/thinking)

so the head phrase turns to "that" which is prior to words, which is called investigating the hua tou. So the actual hua tou is not the phrase but what is prior to the phrase. The phrase itself could be called reciting the hua tou, but ask "what is wu" once and it "should" cut of all phrases and generate "great doubt" when dwelling thoughts arise dont surpress or try to get rid of them just recognize them and they'll fall away by themselves.

so the hua tou is the "source of words" the phrase is the "what is wu?" which is called hua tou practise, but investigating the hua tou is what is prior to all thought, or the source of words.

just try asking what is the source of words, anything which comes up is a word and ofcourse not the source, hence hua tou practise is using turning words to investigate what is prior to words, and maybe achieve "no-mind" though ofcourse we always say we practise without gaining ideas :jump1: hense this "sense of great doubt" is vital. So there's no head phrase left at all, the doubt generated must by as strong as if the whole universe is only that, nothing else. And it can be there in every daily activity, like doing groceries, just this great doubt. When the cash register worker ask you something you answer, smile and pay. then if the doubt is gone just pick it up again, with or without help of the head phrase.
Last edited by fuki on Thu Mar 15, 2018 12:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Master Xuyun's Long-dwelling in Samadhi

Post by jundocohen » Thu Mar 15, 2018 12:34 am

I wonder if all aspects of Master Xuyun's account, and of his biography in general, must be taken as literal rather than figurative, or whether there might be a bit of embellishment here and there. (I ask, as this posting seems to be in a general section of the Forum).

An interesting book is "The eminent monk: Buddhist ideals in Medieval Chinese hagiography." The title sums up nicely the theme of the book. Although the book is focused on the history of Buddhist and other hagiography in general, the author has a few interesting passages on Master Xuyun's biography as a modern example. The author points to some descriptions as figurative in these biographies. That does not mean that they are "false" (and Master Xuyun is amazing even without any embellishment) but rather that they are not quite literal.
While not doubting Xuyun's sincerity, I have difficulty accepting either·
his account of his birth or his claim to have seen through a wall. Yet to
discount the stories entirely, or, worse, to speculate on possible medical
conditions that approximate his miraculous birth, or the "real"
experience behind Xuyun's belief that he had seen through a wall, is to
abandon the cultural context that makes the stories relevant and to
lose an opportunity to see the monk's world as he saw it, rather than
as a skewed reflection of our own sensibilities. In other words, these
stories illustrate that the themes and limits of Buddhist hagiography
were a part of Xuyun's life. And if we do not always have access to the
actions behind the legends, we can learn to appreciate the far-reaching
consequences of the legends themselves.
https://scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu/b ... chnick.pdf
That may reduce the need to seek physiological explanations for some elements of the long samadhi which Shuyun describes. I present this as one possible explanation for some elements of what is being claimed.

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Re: Master Xuyun's Long-dwelling in Samadhi

Post by Caodemarte » Thu Mar 15, 2018 12:59 am

[james] wrote:
Wed Mar 14, 2018 11:17 pm
I may still be misunderstanding the term “Head Phrase”....
Here are some definitions that can give you a sense of how the word is used, at least academically or in its intellectual sense.

Hwadu 화두 (C = Huàtóu 話頭, J = Watō). Literally "key phrase, principal theme." ...The 'critical phrase,' 'principal theme,' of the larger gōngàn/gong-an/kōan exchange.
https://terebess.hu/zen/mesterek/ganhwa.html

Hwadu is made up of the word hwa, which means speech or story, and du, which is a meaningless suffix. So hwadu is just a word for speech. But we must note that Seon masters use this word in a particular way......
There are also times when the du of hwadu is not used simply as a suffix. At such times, hwadu means “the head of the word,” and indicates the world before the word comes out. One may also see that hwadu means the definition of words preceding daily speech..
http://www.koreanbuddhism.net/bbs/board ... 0&wr_id=37

“In his lectures and letters....., Dahui urged his students..... to use the gong’an as a “topic of meditative inquiry” (huatou, K. hwadu), rather than interpret it from purely intellectual or conceptual perspectives. Perhaps the most famous huatou is the topic “no” (wu) attributed to the Chan master Zhaozhou Congshen: A monk asked Zhaozhou, “Does a dog have buddha-nature (foxing), or not?” to which Zhaozhou replied “wu” (“no”; lit. “it does not have it”).... (Because of the popularity of this one-word meditative topic, kanhua Chan is often interpreted to mean the investigation of the “critical phrase” or “keyword,” in which the “keyword” “wu” is presumed to have been extracted from the longer gong’an exchange.) The investigation of this huatou starts by “investigating the meaning” ...of the huatou: what could Zhaozhou have meant by answering “no” to this question, when the right answer should be “yes”? ....the student is ultimately left with “doubt”,” ...Once doubt arises, there is no longer any conceptual support for the meditation, and the student moves on to “investigating the word” ..., viz., just sitting with the huatou wu and no longer trying to understand Zhaozhou’s motive in offering this response. At this point, the huatou becomes a “live word”...that helps to free the mind from conceptualization and to lead the meditator forward toward liberation. As the sense of doubt becomes more and more intense, it finally “explodes”....bringing an end to the deluded processes of thought....” The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism as excerpted http://sweepingzen.com/kanhua-chan/
Last edited by Caodemarte on Thu Mar 15, 2018 3:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Master Xuyun's Long-dwelling in Samadhi

Post by fuki » Thu Mar 15, 2018 1:11 am

jundocohen wrote:
Thu Mar 15, 2018 12:34 am
I wonder if all aspects of Master Xuyun's account, and of his biography in general, must be taken as literal rather than figurative, or whether there might be a bit of embellishment here and there. (I ask, as this posting seems to be in a general section of the Forum).
I don't care much really, I once OBE'd a few hundred miles away where I saw a family member doing something which should remain censored, next time I saw the member again I shared the event and it was all true. So I suppose seeing through walls etc might be possible, I don't know. I did smoke a lot of pot back then had nothing to do with "zen practise" siddhis are fun though.
:jump:
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Re: Master Xuyun's Long-dwelling in Samadhi

Post by Caodemarte » Thu Mar 15, 2018 3:18 am

Nothing wrote:
Wed Mar 14, 2018 7:50 pm
I like the Sheng Yen's description about the use of Huatou
It is very helpful to me at least. The huatou does not create or cause doubt, but solidifies it or crystalizes it.

“In Zen practice, the essential point is to arouse Doubt. What is this Doubt? For example, when you are born, where do you come from? You cannot help but remain in doubt about this. When you die, where do you go? Again, you cannot help but remain in doubt. Since you cannot pierce this barrier of life-and-death, suddenly the Doubt will coalesce right before your eyes. Try to put it down, you cannot; try to push it away, you cannot. Eventually this Doubt Block will be broken through and you’ll realize what a worthless notion is life-and-death – ha! As the old worthies said: “Great Doubt, Great Awakening; small doubt, small awakening; no doubt, no awakening.” Baoshan.
https://beingwithoutself.files.wordpres ... _doubt.pdf

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Re: Master Xuyun's Long-dwelling in Samadhi

Post by Nothing » Thu Mar 15, 2018 6:49 pm

Caodemarte wrote:
Thu Mar 15, 2018 3:18 am
It is very helpful to me at least. The huatou does not create or cause doubt, but solidifies it or crystalizes it.

“In Zen practice, the essential point is to arouse Doubt. What is this Doubt? For example, when you are born, where do you come from? You cannot help but remain in doubt about this. When you die, where do you go? Again, you cannot help but remain in doubt. Since you cannot pierce this barrier of life-and-death, suddenly the Doubt will coalesce right before your eyes. Try to put it down, you cannot; try to push it away, you cannot. Eventually this Doubt Block will be broken through and you’ll realize what a worthless notion is life-and-death – ha! As the old worthies said: “Great Doubt, Great Awakening; small doubt, small awakening; no doubt, no awakening.” Baoshan.
https://beingwithoutself.files.wordpres ... _doubt.pdf
I agree Cao about the solidifying or crystallizing the doubt or nourishing the doubt.

But I think we can say that although the practice of huatou is not the cause of the doubt, it's function or aim is to generate a "great doubt" or greater doubt or profound and intensely concentrated sense of doubt (by means of investigating the huatou) which is not as shallow as the doubt one has before starting the practice of huatou or in the beginning of the huatou practice.

"For the majority of people using huatou , the essential issue is how to use it to generate and maintain doubt when one feels no real doubt to begin with--how to make the huatou a living issue." - Master Sheng Yen

p.s. Jeff's book Great Doubt is a real gem.

Gassho

Viktor

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Re: Master Xuyun's Long-dwelling in Samadhi

Post by KeithA » Thu Mar 15, 2018 9:39 pm

I have always struggled with the word "doubt". Some years ago, I came across a teaching from Zm Seung Sahn that I found helpful when practicing hwadu:
A student asked Zen Master Seung Sahn, “How can I get beyond just verbalizing the question, ‘What am I?’”

Soen-sa replied, “You want this question to grow. This mind is not good. This is attachment thinking. You must cut off this thinking, and only do hard training. It is not important for the question to grow.
It can be problematic for some to think in terms of keeping the hwadu, expecting the question to become all-consuming. A bit like trying to reproduce a kensho experience. One of our teachers calls this "upside down thinking".

Here is the rest of his answer:
What is important is one moment of clear mind. Clear mind is before thinking. If you experience this mind, you have already attained enlightenment. If you experience this for a short time, even for one moment, this is enlightenment.

All the rest of the time you may be thinking, but you should not worry about this thinking. It is just your karma. You must not be attached to this thinking. You must not force it to stop or force clear mind to grow. It will grow by itself, as your karma gradually disappears.”

“Clear mind is like the full moon in the sky. Sometimes clouds come and cover it, but the moon is always behind them. Clouds go away, then the moon shines brightly. So don’t worry about clear mind: it is always there. When thinking comes, behind it is clear mind. When thinking goes, there is only clear mind. Thinking comes and goes, comes and goes. You must not be attached to the coming or the going.”
From here.

_/|\_
You make, you get.

New Haven Zen Center

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