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Diamond Sutra and Chan masters' teachings - what does it actually mean?

misecmisc1misecmisc1 I am a HinduIndia Veteran
edited May 20 in General Banter

Hi All,

I have been studying the various Chan masters' life story and their teachings from the website https://terebess.hu/zen/zen.html

In Diamond Sutra, in its end, the Buddha says that - Like a meteor, like darkness, as a flickering lamp, An illusion, like hoar-frost or a bubble, Like clouds, a flash of lightning, or a dream: So is all conditioned existence to be seen.

In Bodhidharma's teaching at Bloodstream sermon, the first sentence is - Everything that appears in the three realms comes from the mind.

So what exactly is meant here in the above teachings? The three realms are the desire, form and formless realms - so literally every possible realm. So if everything is coming from mind, does it mean that whatever persons and objects we encounter, do not really exist? But persons are there - correct? I have my father, my mother, my wife and my daughter - these are living human beings - correct? I see table, laptop, mobile phone and I use them - so these things also exist - correct? So what does it mean that everything that appears comes from mind.

Then there are teachings that - mind itself is Buddha and no mind, no Buddha.

What do these teachings actually mean? What do we need to do to realize the above teachings? Please suggest. Thanks.

Comments

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited May 20

    I will be (as usual) blunt): I am a little surprised that having been a mamber for such a long time, that you have not come across our many discussions on Paticca Samuppada - Dependent Origination.

    This is a much-discussed topic on this forum.
    I will merely provide you with a link to a comprehensive study, which makes absorbing reading. Go to section III - Paticca-Samuppada: Dependent Origination

    Kerome
  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran

    In Zen, sometimes "the four propositions" are employed for study:

    It exists.
    It does not exist.
    It both exists and does not exist.
    It neither exists nor does not exist.

    And the teacher the Zen teacher Ummon once observed approximately, "When you can't say it, it's there. When you don't say it, it's missing."

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran

    Cittamatra (mind only) is probably better understood AFTER looking at Sravaka view "empty of self". To understand mind only first it is good to understand that these existing father, mother, wife, and daughter are empty of self.

    So forget about 'mind only' until you have thought about Sravaka empty of self.

  • Lee82Lee82 Veteran
    edited May 20

    There is the conscious mind where objects arise and become, and there is the true, original, everlasting mind.

    This is covered in the Surangama Sutra which I am just starting to study myself.

  • Lee82Lee82 Veteran

    Before you understand, you think: “Oh no, nothing comes into being or ceases to be, and all the myriad mental objects vanish!” A fear arises in your heart; you can't bear the idea of it. But if you actually experience the state of mind in which nothing comes into being or ceases to be, it will not seem at all unusual, and you will be able to bear it because you will have gained patience with the state of mind in which no mental objects arise.... A special experience occurs when you are about to become enlightened. When the special experience happens, the only thing you can do is cherish it in your heart. You yourself know, but you cannot tell people about it. It is inexpressible. That is patience with the state of mind in which no mental objects arise. When you can see that the entire world of perceived objects is within your essential nature, that the three realms of existence are made from the mind alone —when you can see that the entire world of perceived objects is the mind only, that the myriad phenomena are consciousness only —then mental objects will no longer come into being or cease to be.

  • TsultrimTsultrim Hawaii Veteran

    @misecmisc1 said:
    Hi All,

    I have been studying the various Chan masters' life story and their teachings from the website https://terebess.hu/zen/zen.html

    In Diamond Sutra, in its end, the Buddha says that - _Like a meteor, like darkness, as a flickering lamp, An illusion, like hoar-frost or a bubble, Like clouds, a flash of lightning, or a dream: So is all conditioned existence to be seen.

    The Buddha clearly mentions an " illusion" and a "dream", and when such are referred to in the Dharma they usually point to the unrealness the world acquires when seen in the presence of emptiness. Emptiness is one of the two major qualities of enlightened Mind along with self existing awareness.

    In Bodhidharma's teaching at Bloodstream sermon, the first sentence is - Everything that appears in the three realms comes from the mind.
    So what exactly is meant here in the above teachings? The three realms are the desire, form and formless realms - so literally every possible realm. So if everything is coming from mind, does it mean that whatever persons and objects we encounter, do not really exist? But persons are there - correct? I have my father, my mother, my wife and my daughter - these are living human beings - correct? I see table, laptop, mobile phone and I use them - so these things also exist - correct? So what does it mean that everything that appears comes from mind.

    Yes, at some point everything is seen as Mind. "You" are Mind; there is no longer a you ( that has been transcended with egolessness of self), furthermore, at this stage of insight duality no longer applies so there is no longer a separation between the outer world and mind. As a result everything is Mind and Mind is everything, or as the experience truly is : Mind
    Objects exist but they are no longer real, they appear dream-like. If you punch a table it still hurts. Just because we see them as unreal doesn't mean they disappear, only that their appearance has changed.

    Then there are teachings that - mind itself is Buddha and no mind, no Buddha.

    If one is using Buddha in the sense of enlightened, then Mind is Buddha. Our mind is naturally enlightened. The statement is important because it points to the fact that we must not look outside our own mind for enlightenment; we already have it or really are it. We simply need to find it. No mind no Buddha means to me : no Mind no enlightenment.

    What do these teachings actually mean? What do we need to do to realize the above teachings? Please suggest. Thanks.

    To realize the above teachings requires a number of insights: we must see that we don't exist as a self; the world is unreal or dream like in emptiness; there is no difference between what we once considered our inside and outside (nonduality.) Then, we have to find a way not to stray through thoughts and emotions etc from the nothingness inseparable from awareness we have become.
    To accomplish that from my experience and many others, as well, requires an authentic Buddhist teacher, authentic Buddhist teachings, and committed Buddhist practitioner friends.
    Also, it takes a lot of will to find what is needed and to use them appropriately. Finally, i'm sorry to say psychological and even physical pain are necessary to awaken us to the necessity of enlightenment as well as to serve as a way to realize it.

    Your questions brought up what all Buddhists encounter: what do the words mean, and more importantly what are the experiences they point to and how can we experience them. They also uncover Buddhism's unique gift to the world; a structured, time proven approach to the true nature of ourselves and the world.

    All the great Buddhist teachers pledged their lives to answer the questions you have presented here. Maybe, someday you'll be one of them.

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @misecmisc1 said:
    Hi All,

    I have been studying the various Chan masters' life story and their teachings from the website https://terebess.hu/zen/zen.html

    In Diamond Sutra, in its end, the Buddha says that - Like a meteor, like darkness, as a flickering lamp, An illusion, like hoar-frost or a bubble, Like clouds, a flash of lightning, or a dream: So is all conditioned existence to be seen.

    In Bodhidharma's teaching at Bloodstream sermon, the first sentence is - Everything that appears in the three realms comes from the mind.

    So what exactly is meant here in the above teachings? The three realms are the desire, form and formless realms - so literally every possible realm. So if everything is coming from mind, does it mean that whatever persons and objects we encounter, do not really exist? But persons are there - correct? I have my father, my mother, my wife and my daughter - these are living human beings - correct? I see table, laptop, mobile phone and I use them - so these things also exist - correct? So what does it mean that everything that appears comes from mind.

    Then there are teachings that - mind itself is Buddha and no mind, no Buddha.

    What do these teachings actually mean? What do we need to do to realize the above teachings? Please suggest. Thanks.

    @misecmisc1

    A simple answer....Nothing exists from its own side

    In a sense one could say that the Mind is like a mental labelling machine, always slapping conceptual labels on things...Things are things and we who live in the conventional world are in the habit of labelling them for our convenience.... but with this labelling comes craving attachment & belonging...
    It seem to be all in the Mind...Mind is the root from which all things grow Thus have "I" heard ....something like that..... :)

  • TsultrimTsultrim Hawaii Veteran

    @misecmisc1 said:
    Hi All,

    I felt i should add a few things to your post@misecmisc1

    So what exactly is meant here in the above teachings? The three realms are the desire, form and formless realms - so literally every possible realm.

    Ok

    So if everything is coming from mind, does it mean that whatever persons and objects we encounter, do not really exist?

    Exist is a tricky word in the Dharma. They don't exist because they are inseparable from emptiness (form is emptiness) and emptiness doesn't exist as a thing. It is no thing (Nothing) They do exist however because we can relate to them as always: see them, talk, touch etc.

    But persons are there - correct? I have my father, my mother, my wife and my daughter - these are living human beings - correct? I see table, laptop, mobile phone and I use them - so these things also exist - correct? So what does it mean that everything that appears comes from mind.

    It's more like everything that appears is mind, rather than comes from mind. Mind is like a mirror and images from the world appear in it and are inseparable from it. I believe it's easier to think of the images as being the mirror rather than coming from it.

  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    @misecmisc1 said:
    What do we need to do to realize the above teachings?

    Stop thinking.

    The more you talk and think about it,
    the further astray you wander from the truth.
    Stop talking and thinking,
    and there is nothing you will not be able to know.

    The Third Patriarch of Zen
    Verses on the Faith Mind

  • TsultrimTsultrim Hawaii Veteran

    @seeker242 said:

    @misecmisc1 said:
    What do we need to do to realize the above teachings?

    Stop thinking.

    _The more you talk and think about it,
    the further astray you wander from the truth.

    Yes Reverend Sir, that's true until you become the truth

    Stop talking and thinking,
    and there is nothing you will not be able to know._

    We can't stop thinking. I assume you're referring to thinking and talking about enlightenment,
    and nothing is exactly what you will be able to know, without a knower.

    The Third Patriarch of Zen
    Verses on the Faith Mind

  • misecmisc1misecmisc1 I am a Hindu India Veteran

    Thanks all for your responses.

    Another question - this is related to Do nothing meditation - meaning literally just sit and don't do any other thing - no observing of breath, no observing of bodily sensations etc - meaning not try to do anything or control anything. This is what Dogen taught in Fukanzazengi for Shikantaza or zazen. This is also similar to the instructions of Tilopa for Mahamudra as can be seen in this video URL: https://youtube.com/watch?v=tJbUHgbn2e0

    My question is - have you or do you know of somebody who has been practicing this method? If yes, then does this meditation method actually work - i know meditation is not about getting something, but rather meditation is letting go of things - but still I would like to know what results get produced by doing this particular meditation? Since even it is not said that development of concentration is needed in this method, then how to know whether this method actually works? How long after practicing this method do the results come? How to know if the meditation is actually working for me or I am just passing my time by sitting on the cushion and trying to do nothing.

    I have been doing it for sometime now, but literally I do not know if there is any progress in my spiritual journey - even the above method does not need development of concentration, so me not having any concentration in meditation should theoretically not be a problem - what do you think? Please suggest. Thanks.

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited May 21

    misecmisc1 you might get different answers depending who you ask right? At some point you might have to pick one tradition and deeply study what they say including personally talking to them if possible. It's a bit of a gamble but even if you end up disagreeing at the end at least you will have seen the end of one trail right? And perhaps if you see what one is doing then you'll better see what the others are saying and doing and what the differences are. But yeah there are different traditions. Consciousness is empty but emptiness is also consciousness.

  • TsultrimTsultrim Hawaii Veteran

    @misecmisc1 said:
    Thanks all for your responses.

    Another question - this is related to Do nothing meditation - meaning literally just sit and don't do any other thing - no observing of breath, no observing of bodily sensations etc - meaning not try to do anything or control anything. This is what Dogen taught in Fukanzazengi for Shikantaza or zazen. This is also similar to the instructions of Tilopa for Mahamudra as can be seen in this video URL: https://youtube.com/watch?v=tJbUHgbn2e0

    Breath and bodily sensations are there, when you are in the present you will notice them. You may not chose to use them to help you be in the present, however
    Until you see that awareness is self existing and not somethimg you have to do, you will always be doing something including trying not to do something.

    My question is - have you or do you know of somebody who has been practicing this method? If yes, then does this meditation method actually work - i know meditation is not about getting something, but rather meditation is letting go of things - but still I would like to know what results get produced by doing this particular meditation?

    Yes, i practice this method. I don't do anything in meditation. Yes it actually "works" but you have to progress on the path. You practice until your practice shows you enough to make your practice better which encourages you to practice more etc
    Yes, meditation is about letting go of things, but you must also let go of wanting to let go.
    Results: With dedicated practice you may find that no one does the practice, has your thoughts, feels your emotions etc. With a lot of practice over time you may also see where thoughts and emotions come from and go to.
    I'm not making promises i'm just saying what's possible to a really commited meditator who knows the teachings and has some aptitude. If you also have a great teacher then your chances of seeing such things are enhanced.

    Since even it is not said that development of concentration is needed in this method, then how to know whether this method actually works? How long after practicing this method do the results come? How to know if the meditation is actually working for me or I am just passing my time by sitting on the cushion and trying to do nothing.

    I have been doing it for sometime now, but literally I do not know if there is any progress in my spiritual journey - even the above method does not need development of concentration, so me not having any concentration in meditation should theoretically not be a problem - what do you think? Please suggest. Thanks.

    Development of concentration i assume means staying in the present? You feel that your meditation doesn't require any effort to do that so if you drift off it's no problem. Well, it's best to be in the present and you may need aids for that such as breath etc if you feel there is no progress in your spiritual journey. Meditation helps us to be with mind and that only happens in the present.
    You may notice that you spend more time in the present and are more aware of your feelings as well as those of others with successful meditation, and as mentioned there is always the chance for insight such as the absence of self. How long does it take? It varies with people, but i would think in terms of years for the first occurrence of insight. Depends on how committed you are to practice etc.
    I'm saddened that you are not making progress. I suggest you find a Zen teacher who will work with you in meditation. I would stay away from Koans right now, which will only make practice harder on you.
    How much do you want to progress on the path, really? Enough to do a 3 year meditation retreat with guidance? They are out there, you just have to make a call. Like anything else it comes down to commitment.
    Thank you for your questions, they addressed very important issues in the Dharma, some that many are hesitant to ask.
    Your interest in whether Buddhism is working for you shows a critical mind and a desire to spend your life wisely, characteristics that will benefit you on the path.

    misecmisc1
  • FoibleFullFoibleFull Canada Veteran

    In the end, it all comes down to this: meditate more, develop mindfulness.
    The answers you seek will eventually come from within, but not from intellectually playing with concepts nor trying to grasp them cognitively.

    federica
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    @Tsultrim said:
    I assume you're referring to thinking and talking about enlightenment,
    and nothing is exactly what you will be able to know, without a knower.

    Precisely!

    "To see nothing is to perceive the Way, and to understand nothing is to know the Dharma... Only when you understand nothing is it true understanding." ~Bodhidharma Wake Up Sermon

  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    @misecmisc1 said:
    How to know if the meditation is actually working for me or I am just passing my time by sitting on the cushion and trying to do nothing.

    I have been doing it for sometime now, but literally I do not know if there is any progress in my spiritual journey

    This is why zen practice is always recommended to be done with an actual teacher. Or at least visiting with one from time to time.

  • misecmisc1misecmisc1 I am a Hindu India Veteran
    edited May 21

    @seeker242 said:

    @misecmisc1 said:
    How to know if the meditation is actually working for me or I am just passing my time by sitting on the cushion and trying to do nothing.

    I have been doing it for sometime now, but literally I do not know if there is any progress in my spiritual journey

    This is why zen practice is always recommended to be done with an actual teacher. Or at least visiting with one from time to time.

    Unfortunately, even though my city is a religious city in India both from Hinduism and Buddhism perspectives, but still I do not think there is a single monastry here. Getting Zen monastry and a Zen teacher I think is out of question. Moreover, my wife does not want me to get into too much of Buddhism, as she says I think too much and instead of that I should relax, enjoy movies and enjoy life and when I reach the old age, then I should practice spirituality - the common notion of a lay person, who is more towards materialism than spirituality. So anyways even if there is a Zen monastry and a Zen monk in my city, going there occassionally will be a challenge - unless I lie to my wife and go there, but that again would not be a good idea. But since there is no Zen monastry based on my knowledge till now in my city, so going to a Zen monastry to ask a Zen monk some questions is out of scope for me.

    But sometimes when I read the teachings of Chan teachers, it feels strange to me that what actually I am getting frustrated about - after all many Chan teachers teach that there is no thing to attain, no place to go and no one going there. Not knowing is the most intimate. To know that there is nothing to know is the highest knowing. Meditation is for letting go, but why to worry too much about letting go, when actually we haven't really holded anything at the first place. No matter how much clouds are there, the sun is still shining behind them. Do not hold onto any thing.

    But then again after a few moments, my mind becomes crazy thinking that all the above are the insights of others, but not mine. I am not meditating enough and not mindful enough. When will the insight actually develop in my meditation or will it ever develop. How do I know if my meditation is progressing or just passing time. May be I am a stupid and idiot person, who will just pass his life in confusion, without realizing any insight by myself. I am already a failure at worldly aspects as I am not a good son, not a good husband, not a good father, already ended my IT work career and also a failure at spiritual aspects as not able to be mindful enough, not meditating enough, no chance of attending a retreat in future etc.

  • misecmisc1misecmisc1 I am a Hindu India Veteran
    edited May 21

    Hi All,
    I think yesterday I was browsing through the many folders and sub-folders I have created over the last few years and I came across a PDF file. Read few pages of it yesterday and few pages today. I find it insightful. Don't remember if I read it initally when I saved it in that folder because it is an old folder - may be having files of year 2014. If I had read it, then may be I have not read it carefully at that time. But just now when I am reading it, I am finding it insightful, so thought of sharing with you all, so searched on google if there is a web URL for this pdf file and found its below web URL:
    https://www.dhammatalks.net/Books10/Joseph_Goldstein-Settling_Back_into_the_Moment.pdf
    May be you also find the above PDF file insightful.
    May all sentient beings be peaceful, happy, safe, protected, healthy, strong, have ease of well-being and accept all the conditions of the world.

  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    @misecmisc1 said:
    How do I know if my meditation is progressing or just passing time.

    Unfortunately, that is one of the drawbacks to not having access to a teacher. One of the functions of a teacher is to show you how you are progressing, if you are or not, and to direct your practice accordingly.

    Although, more and more zen teachers are making themselves available on the internet. So you don't have to go to a temple as much these days. Connecting with a teacher on the internet is better than doing everything by yourself. Searching Google for "online zen teachers" and most all of them are there.

    lobstermisecmisc1
  • misecmisc1misecmisc1 I am a Hindu India Veteran

    Hi All,
    In the website URL which I posted at the start of this thread, even though many Chan teachers' teachings are listed, but it is not told what they actually did in their meditation. So does someone know based on information from either a book or a teacher that how the Chan masters practiced before they clarified for themselves who they really were -means were they sitting a lot or just being mindful in their daily activities?

    Also it seems on reading the stories of Chan masters that they had a question regarding birth and death in their mind and it seems that it was the only thing in their mind, but then also they practiced for many years before they could settle the great matter of life and death for themselves. Considering this, if I think about myself, I struck spirituality nearly 7 years ago, before that I was not knowing about spirituality, and even for the last 7 years, though I have read teachings of many teachers in various traditions, still that question of life and death is not that prominent in me - meaning, even though theoretically I have read that every human being dies, but still the fact that my death is coming near to me, is not arising in my mind the urgency to settle this matter of life and death for me. So do you have any suggestions on what to do/how to make this question the utmost important question in our mind - some of you may be in contact with your teachers in person and may be you would have asked or you would have heard some teacher talk about it either by themselves in a dharma talk or by answering a question asked by some other person, so what do the teachers say about it? Any information/suggestions please. Thanks.

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