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Schools of Buddhism => Mahayana => Zen / Ch'an / Seon / Thien => Topic started by: ZenFred on January 08, 2014, 06:32:01 pm

Title: Lankavatra sutra chapter 2: what does this mean?
Post by: ZenFred on January 08, 2014, 06:32:01 pm
"Then there are other scholars who hold a destructive and nihilistic view concerning such subjects as continuation, activity, breaking-up, existence, Nirvana, the Path, karma, fruition and Truth. Why? Because they have not attained an intuitive understanding of Truth itself and therefore they have no clear insight into the fundamentals of things. They are like a jar broken into pieces which is no longer able to function as a jar; they are like a burnt seed which is no longer capable of sprouting. But the elements that make up personality and its environment which they regard as subject to change are really incapable of uninterrupted transformations. Their views are based upon erroneous discriminations of the objective world; they are not based upon the true conception"

So what I think this is saying is that because all form is emptiness and external, physical reality is constantly changing and our thinking minds (ego) cannot stay in constant change, our thoughts can not accurately grasp reality. Is this close or is it talking about something else.
Title: Re: Lankavatra sutra chapter 2: what does this mean?
Post by: Dharmakara on January 08, 2014, 08:04:02 pm
Intuitive understanding means something that's based on what one feels to be true even without conscious reasoning, clearly something on display when it comes to the issue of whether a burnt seed can germanate or not --- in fact, there's more than a few varieties of seed that thrive better after a fire.

"Subjective" refers to something based on personal opinions, interpretations, points of view, emotions and judgment, ect., whereas "objective" refers to something that's fact-based, measurable and observable.

Intuitive understanding is subjective.
Title: Re: Lankavatra sutra chapter 2: what does this mean?
Post by: ZenFred on January 10, 2014, 10:13:33 am
Thanks DK. This 2nd chapter is really difficult.
So "objective" reality or "external" reality is also a product of the ego-mind? Is the sutra saying that physical objects are products of the mind's dillusions, the matrix's there is no spoon then? I think this question is probably the not the right way to think about "reality." In more percise terms when I look at my shoe is there a thing there that is independent existing from the creations of my mind? I know the idea of shoe being something I wear is an illusion, there is no shoeness of the shoe. When I say there is a shoe-thing separate from my mind am I just falling prey to the illusion of discernment and I really I, the shoe, and the floor are all indiscernable?

Then I really don't understand how the nature of Mara is in all things and how nirvana and samsara can't exist without one another.
Thanks and feel free to thump me on the head if needed
Title: Re: Lankavatra sutra chapter 2: what does this mean?
Post by: Dharmakara on January 10, 2014, 10:29:12 am
When former president Bush was in Iraq, a reporter took off his shoes and threw them at his head... were those shoes indiscernable? LOL

http://youtu.be/HWt3-kPBQ4A (http://youtu.be/HWt3-kPBQ4A)
Title: Re: Lankavatra sutra chapter 2: what does this mean?
Post by: ZenFred on January 10, 2014, 07:07:48 pm
Had he been meditating on his true self, he wouldn't have ducked and they wouldn't have hit "him".  He also wouldn't have run for president and thereby prevent suffering!!!
But chapter 4 makes sense of 2 and 3 I think. I'll finish the sutra before I ask more questions.
Thank you for your teaching *bow*
Title: Re: Lankavatra sutra chapter 2: what does this mean?
Post by: Dharmakara on January 10, 2014, 07:23:19 pm
The shoes didn't hit him, so maybe his "true self" did the ducking  :teehee:

As for him running for president: there are many devout Buddhists who run for elected office in various countries, including a few misguided monastics as well --- does this mean that we should set a different standard for non-Buddhists when it comes to "true self"?
Title: Re: Lankavatra sutra chapter 2: what does this mean?
Post by: ZenFred on January 11, 2014, 06:19:55 am
No, of course not. "Buddhists" and "Non-Buddhists" share the same nature.
But, you are right about true self ducking. If Bush was a Buddha he could run for office or duck from a shoe. The difference would be he would not do so as in response to his desires and illusions, which is why Bush did duck and wanted to be president.

Zen teaches that when you are acting in accordance with your true nature, being beyond cause and effect, you will act with compassion naturally and spontaneously. I am no Buddha but I have experienced a taste of this. I can reach a point at times where I can observe my desires that the action they would want me to take, but am not compelled and act freely in any direction. Perhaps because I am not a Buddha and do not realize the interconnectedness/indiscrimination of all things, I do not feel naturally drawn to any course. When I'm in such a state, I feel as if I am passive and have no inclinations towards one course over the other and need to use objective criteria to choose. I usually try to choose what I think will be the most compassionate, yet I feel no compassion. Coming from a Christian tradition with such an emphasis on experiencing compassion, I'm confused as what compassion and right speech/action/livelihood is.
Title: Re: Lankavatra sutra chapter 2: what does this mean?
Post by: ZenFred on January 11, 2014, 07:07:40 pm
I think I spend too much talking and thinking about Zen and not enough doing it. The Lankavatra Sutra is amazing though, beautifully written and is the basis behind the teachings that attracted me to Zen. It's good to know I'm not following just what one temple says or one master made up.
I will keep you all in my prayers and meditations, which I need to do more of.
Title: Re: Lankavatra sutra chapter 2: what does this mean?
Post by: Dharmakara on January 11, 2014, 07:22:29 pm
Unfortunately, Zen is hard enough to grasp via the internet, even more so if there's not a qualified teacher participating and many of them tend to shy away from the internet --- an exception to this rule would be the Treeleaf Zendo, so you might wish to check out their site:

http://www.treeleaf.org/ (http://www.treeleaf.org/)
Title: Re: Lankavatra sutra chapter 2: what does this mean?
Post by: ZenFred on January 12, 2014, 11:33:35 am
DK, This is an excellent suggestion. No funny robes or travel required.   :teehee:  but seriously, thanks.
Title: Re: Lankavatra sutra chapter 2: what does this mean?
Post by: Optimus Prime on January 12, 2014, 06:05:01 pm
Zen is not easy to practice.  Much of the Zen you'll find on the internet is people showing off how cool of an answer they can give.  So you'll see on Zen forums lots of people answer with "mu" nonsense to a genuine question.  Or they'll answer with a nonsense riddle, unrelated to the question.

Zen is not for fun.  It is a method of directly seeing your own True Nature - called your Original face, what you looked like before your parents gave birth to you, the Buddha Nature, the True Self - they all mean the same thing.

But if you want to practice it:
1.  Study and try to understand the Shurangama Sutra - this will be a great foundation for you.
2.  Read the Zen Teachings of Huang Po and the Sudden Enlightenment teachings by Hui Hai - these are extremely practical.

Huang Po helps you drill in deep in 1 spot.  Hui Hai helps you look at the problem from different perspectives.

It's also good to combine Zen with Pureland as well as Pureland will give you a great shamatha base of calm from which to investigate the question, "Who?" - as in "Who is it that is reciting the Buddha's name?  What is it?"  So you observe the aware space before thought arises.
Title: Re: Lankavatra sutra chapter 2: what does this mean?
Post by: ZenFred on January 12, 2014, 08:22:59 pm
Optimus,

 You've recommended the Shurangama Sutra to me before, so I will add it to the reading list after I finish the Lankavatra sutra and the sutra of the 6th patriarch.  After that there's always Thich Nhat Hanh and HH the Dalai Lama to read.  I'm trying to balance study with practice, since both are important but I'm spending most of my time studying and not enough in zazen and mindfulness.

Thanks
Title: Re: Lankavatra sutra chapter 2: what does this mean?
Post by: ZenFred on January 13, 2014, 03:14:53 pm
Unfortunately, Zen is hard enough to grasp via the internet, even more so if there's not a qualified teacher participating and many of them tend to shy away from the internet --- an exception to this rule would be the Treeleaf Zendo, so you might wish to check out their site:

[url]http://www.treeleaf.org/[/url] ([url]http://www.treeleaf.org/[/url])


Treeleaf is absolutely great. They are an online soto zen sangha, but that suits me perfectly. Lots of simple yet profound teachings and the emphasis is what it should be on zazen (at least in my opinion)
Title: Re: Lankavatra sutra chapter 2: what does this mean?
Post by: NoEssentialNature on May 19, 2014, 08:29:58 pm
"Then there are other scholars who hold a destructive and nihilistic view concerning such subjects as continuation, activity, breaking-up, existence, Nirvana, the Path, karma, fruition and Truth. Why? Because they have not attained an intuitive understanding of Truth itself and therefore they have no clear insight into the fundamentals of things. They are like a jar broken into pieces which is no longer able to function as a jar; they are like a burnt seed which is no longer capable of sprouting. But the elements that make up personality and its environment which they regard as subject to change are really incapable of uninterrupted transformations. Their views are based upon erroneous discriminations of the objective world; they are not based upon the true conception"

So what I think this is saying is that because all form is emptiness and external, physical reality is constantly changing and our thinking minds (ego) cannot stay in constant change, our thoughts can not accurately grasp reality. Is this close or is it talking about something else.

If you grasp what a jar is for, you don't break it. Knowing how to grow a seed, you don't begin by burning it. Understanding what you are, why would you engage in destructive or nihilistic views?
Title: Re: Lankavatra sutra chapter 2: what does this mean?
Post by: Vishvavajra on March 04, 2015, 11:51:40 am
So what I think this is saying is that because all form is emptiness and external, physical reality is constantly changing and our thinking minds (ego) cannot stay in constant change, our thoughts can not accurately grasp reality. Is this close or is it talking about something else.
So "objective" reality or "external" reality is also a product of the ego-mind? Is the sutra saying that physical objects are products of the mind's dillusions, the matrix's there is no spoon then? I think this question is probably the not the right way to think about "reality." In more percise terms when I look at my shoe is there a thing there that is independent existing from the creations of my mind? I know the idea of shoe being something I wear is an illusion, there is no shoeness of the shoe. When I say there is a shoe-thing separate from my mind am I just falling prey to the illusion of discernment and I really I, the shoe, and the floor are all indiscernable?

It helps to keep in mind that the Lankavatara Sutra and Chan teachings in general are heavily based on the theories put forth by the Yogacara school, according to which there is one reality that all beings perceive differently because of their karmic tendencies. Indeed, the Yogacara view is that the Six Realms are all the same reality that is merely perceived differently according to the various mental habits of its inhabitants. There is no heaven or hell but the one that the mind imagines, which is precisely how it is possible for Awakening to occur at any time or place, since it's just a matter of cutting through the worlds constructed by our minds.

The idea is that reality-as-such is devoid of conceptualization and is utterly unique in each moment. It is the mind that sees patterns and imposes intelligible structure on that reality, so that we perceive divisions between things, as well as sameness. So we perceive individual things that are separate from other things, while at the same time perceiving the persistence of identity from one moment to the next, with the result that we seem to perceive those individual entities changing before our eyes--when in truth each instance is actually unique and simply bears a conceptual resemblance and/or causal (i.e. karmic) relationship with what appeared to be there a moment before.

This theory does not deny that there is "something" there, but we know it only by the momentary impressions that we perceive. And the theory emphasizes that any attempt to grasp it conceptually based on those impressions will necessarily require the use of certain conceptual models that are not ultimately true, although they can be momentarily useful. The practice of Chan is to discern the difference, as it were, between reality and the fictions we habitually impose on it.

So is there a spoon or not? Well, it's not that there's nothing there, but it is only a "spoon" insofar as the mind chooses to understand it as such, by referencing a particular pattern of similar objects that fulfill that particular purpose. Indeed, it is only the same spoon from moment to moment insofar as it bears a great enough resemblance to "itself" that we don't find it practical to differentiate. And that's fine for the most part, but it's useful to realize that there is no such thing as essential "spoonness": show a spoon to a chimpanzee and see what it does with it. Nor is it ultimately true that even the "same" spoon is utterly identical to "itself" from one moment to the next, even if the differences seem imperceptible.
Title: Re: Lankavatra sutra chapter 2: what does this mean?
Post by: Dharmakara on March 04, 2015, 01:22:11 pm
http://youtu.be/Xy4PtRkTcN8 (http://youtu.be/Xy4PtRkTcN8)
Title: Re: Lankavatra sutra chapter 2: what does this mean?
Post by: NoEssentialNature on February 11, 2016, 12:13:24 am
Great post Vishvavajra.

Emptiness of inherent existence is also interdependence though. Gaze into the spoon, and the spoon also gazes into you. The metaphor of Indra's net suggests this. It has the same kind of reality that self does, which is to say not in the jewels, but in their reflection of each other, their interlinking and interactions. We create spoons, but spoons help create human-ness.
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