Author Topic: Question about hua tou  (Read 222 times)

Offline dyanaprajna2011

  • Member
  • Posts: 66
  • Zen is...
    • View Profile
Question about hua tou
« on: July 06, 2018, 06:20:21 pm »
I've been practicing the Hua tou method of Zen meditation, using the Hua tou "who is it reciting the Buddha's name?" At some point, it changed, of it's own volition, to "who/what am I?" What's weird, is that it seemed to be both gradual, and all at once-I don't know if this makes sense. Is this common? Should I use my original Hua tou, or the one it changed to? How does this happen?
"If you want to travel the Way of Buddhas and Zen masters, then expect nothing, seek nothing, and grasp nothing." -Dogen

Offline zafrogzen

  • Member
  • Posts: 307
  • I've been practicing and studying meditation since
    • View Profile
    • zafrogzen
Re: Question about hua tou
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2018, 08:15:58 pm »
I've been practicing the Hua tou method of Zen meditation, using the Hua tou "who is it reciting the Buddha's name?" At some point, it changed, of it's own volition, to "who/what am I?" What's weird, is that it seemed to be both gradual, and all at once-I don't know if this makes sense. Is this common? Should I use my original Hua tou, or the one it changed to? How does this happen?

I'm not a teacher but I've used the "who" hua tou off and on for decades. I assume you're not working with a zen teacher or you'd ask him/her. I personally think it's good for it to naturally evolve into a simple "who?" and eventually into a nonverbal "turning about" of the mind to "see into one's nature" beyond words.

In zen that Hua tou probably comes from the Surangama Sutra where the Buddha extols the efficacy of Avalokiteshvara's method of meditation on the question "Who hears." Sound is in the present moment and can bring one back from rumination on the past and future. In a famous Koan a monk is told he can "enter right there," in the cascading sound of a nearby stream.

That "who?" hua tou likely existed even prior to Buddhism in one form or another. Ramana Marharshi's use of "Who am I?" is a later Hindu use of "Who." I think the version "who is reciting the Buddha's name?" that you cite, was also later, in response to the popularity of chanting Nembutsu -- an attempt to turn that practice towards traditional zazen.

In zazen I often return to that hua tou when I find myself drifting off into discursive thoughts, which is often. The word "who?" can be silently combined with the outbreath and thus there is less inclination to turn it into an intellectual exercise.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2018, 08:26:34 pm by zafrogzen »
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline stillpointdancer

  • Enlightenment through insight
  • Member
  • Posts: 416
  • Dancing at the Still Point describes my meditation
    • View Profile
    • Enlightenment for Grown Ups
Re: Question about hua tou
« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2018, 03:23:33 am »
I was given this many years ago after a 'meeting'. It wasn't useful at the time, but has been over the years after revisiting a number of times from different perspectives, such as after studying scientific papers on the subject of consciousness and how it may be generated. Looking back, it is one of the basic meditations we all need throughout our lives.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline zafrogzen

  • Member
  • Posts: 307
  • I've been practicing and studying meditation since
    • View Profile
    • zafrogzen
Re: Question about hua tou
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2018, 11:53:17 am »
A "hua tou" can be practiced right in the midst of a busy life, which is especially suitable for lay people, who don't have much time for formal zazen. I was surprised to see this on Wikipedia --
Quote
According to Bhikkhu Analayo, a similar practice is found in the Pali commentaries relating to mindfulness of bodily postures. Analayo writes that according to the Papañcasudani "the difference between simple walking and walking meditation as a Satipatthana is that a meditator keeps in mind the question: "Who goes? Whose is this going?"
« Last Edit: July 09, 2018, 11:56:07 am by zafrogzen »
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

 


SimplePortal 2.3.3 © 2008-2010, SimplePortal