This course starts from a very simple double-premise, and that is that the phenomenon known as
Enlightenment in the Zen tradition
IS, and in so being, because of the history of Zen and what it professes, can be realized outside the doctrine, that is, beyond the scriptures and any ritualized formulas or patterns layed down therein.
True Enlightenment, as experienced by the Buddha and transmitted through the patriarchs, is independent of verbal explanations, including the record of the Buddha's teachings (i.e., scriptures) and later doctrinal elaborations. (source)
IN OTHER WORDS:
A special transmission outside the scriptures;
No dependence upon words and letters;
Direct pointing to the soul of man:
Seeing into one's own nature and attainment of Buddhahood
Thus said, if you are here as a layperson, a fellow wanderer, a seeker along the path, or even a skeptic and want to experience, that's well and good, but if you are here to argue, lambast, debunk or carry on against the above premise then there is a very good chance this is not the place for you. Such an individual with such views would probably be better served by expressing themselves on one of the online newsgroups such as alt.zen or one of the various message boards offered by Yahoo, Lycos, Excite, etc. So too, if you are here to promote, push, or champion some unrelated personal cause, religion, religious figure, or doctrine this is not the place for you.
Enlightenment as used here IS NOT based of faith or "something out there," but on personal experience.
As the modern day Zen master Luangpor Teean pointed out and I am in agreement with:
"The Buddha's Teaching was recorded in the Tipitaka several hundred years after the Buddha passed away, and this text was then copied and recopied over a period of thousands of years. The teachings were probably recorded very well, but it is possible to doubt that the reader will now understand what those who recorded the teachings meant. For me to refer merely to the texts all the time would be like guaranteeing the truth of the claims of another, claims of which I am not certain. But the things that I tell you I am able to guarantee, because I speak from my own direct experience." (source)
There is no fee for this course and no charges. There is a suggested book list and some highly suggested books, but nothing, books, audio tapes, speaking tours, tee shirts, caps or anything else, will be sold, hawked or marketed through or by me or any associate.
This is not a commercial venture. You will be on your own to obtain and read any books suggested from whatever source you may so chose, be it your local library, used book store, major chain or online vendor. As many of the reading materials that I can possibly suggest will come from freely available internet access and easily linked through to you from course sources.
WORDS AND THEIR MEANING:
Reaching a Mutual Understanding
With the help of similes, metaphors, and comparisons as an effective part of his teaching method, the Buddha explains his ethico-philosophical concepts to his audience. These figures of speech are significant and important both from the preaching point of view and literary point of view.
For the preaching point of view, the Buddha has utilized comparisons, similes and metaphors to enable the hearer understanding the "Dharma which is profound, difficult to realize, hard to understand, not to grasped by mere logic, subtle and comprehensible only by the wise." Without these figurative images the hearer may have difficulties in understanding the meaning of his teachings.
With reference to literary point of view, these figurative images used by the Buddha are to make the little-known and unfamiliar, the Upamana, of an unfamiliar abstract object, familiar. Upamanas thus presented sometimes illuminate and beautify the object to be compared, and sometimes vividly present before us the unfamiliar. In short, we can say that similes (and metaphors) concretize the most abstract things (source).
Throughout history, Zen masters, and more recently contempory Zen masters, Sangha leaders, and Zen-wanabees have used words to set traps and snare the unsuspecting victim in an attempt to ascertain the level of the other person's attainment, put them on the spot, or to enhance their own position. In a famous Zen verbal confrontation one master questions a Zen adept if he "entered" Samadhi, then makes a big deal over "entered." If the questioned Zen adept had been able to have the question phrased differently initially, to use "reposing effortly" for example, then springing the trap might have been more difficult. This course will use several Sanskrit, Chinese and Japanese words as well as words in quotes such as "enter" as used above, and their use thereof will be explained as we go on. When a word is in quotes, however, it is to be understood that yes, we know it may not be correct Zen-wise, but for our purposes it is acceptable. To argue on-and-on-and-on for hours-and-hours over the subtle nuances of a given word when what is really wanted is an innate grasping of the overall concept, is nothing short of wasting everybody's "time" and artificially creating unnecessary roadblocks along one's path toward Enlightenment.
Most people think of Zen as being "Zen," that is, basically that and nothing more. As with most things not everything you see is what you get. Many seekers seem to be unaware
of a very simple fact that there are actually many levels of
Self-realization as exemplified in the Eight Jhana States, the Wu Keng Chuan (Five Degrees of Tozan) and the Five Varieties of Zen. There is an enormous difference between say something like a rather uncomplicated early stage such as as Laya to the somewhat deeper initial step Kensho and the actual State of Enlightenment at the level of the Buddha. In the end it is not terribly complicated to be sure, but we are not at the end yet, we are just at the beginning. In so saying, please click through and read:
FIVE VARIETIES OF ZEN
A BIT MORE REGARDING ZEN
The question also arises: Is the practice of Zen, which by its own nature explores or professes the Enlightenment experience as attained by the Buddha and the ancient masters Outside the Doctrine, in direct contrast with or violate the premises of the Buddhist concept of Wrong Practice, known in the sutras as silabbata paramasa? My first response would be who cares, let it drop, after all what we are interested in is the end result of full Attainment, Enlightenment, not some perpetrated or concocted excessive overwrought outside doctrinal concerns. However, so said, an interest in same is not totally invalid. An approach to that question is explored somewhat in depth by the Wanderling in the following paper:SILABBATA PARAMASA DITTHI
THE COURSE IN A NUTSHELL
Over and over I have been asked "How does one attain Enlightenment?" The
Tying Your Shoes link below, which you should read even if you go no further, probably gives the most succulent answer. Otherwise however, I have unfolded a variety of "responses" on occasion depending on the person and their level of "abilities." For the most part it usually boils down to a fairly simple Nutshell of a procedure which I present here and will elaborate on as the course goes on:
First, until you have developed some expertise and knowledge of the Way, it is suggested you shy away from any formal or established group, Zendo, Sangha, or person with or without a following claiming to be a Guru of one sort or another...and especially so if they want you to put in any free labor, time, money, or buy something from them.
- Second, take some time and seriously consider the possibility of enrolling in a secular yoga class in a community college, recreation department, or adult education setting to learn proper breathing and sitting without all the bells, candles, and rituals, find a convenient power spot (discussed later), and practice meditation on your own.
- Third, search out read, ingest, and absorb anything written by
Dogen because all of their works were written post-Enlightenment. According to tradition Nagarjuna is the fourteenth in succession in linage from the Buddha and Dogen is the Twentyfourth Zen Patriarch in succession from Bodhidharma, which is neither here nor there. Both Nagarjuna and Dogen are cited extensively throughout the offerings presented in Awakening 101 (the above two links you can click through).
- Fourth, read all one-hundred koans and their commentaries in the Blue Cliff Record and all forty-eight koans and their commentaries in the Mumonkan over and over until you are blue in the face...but ALWAYS read them by never taking your mind's eye off what you find by going to and reading Mu.
- Finally, read the following three books on Sri Maharshi Ramana titled
because for the most part, in easy question and answer format they get around all the typical Zen bull. (see)
- Be As You Are: The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi
- Ramana Maharshi and the Path of Self-Knowledge
- The Spiritual Teaching of Ramana Maharshi
An old saying goes: We are the results of what we were; we will be the results of what we are. If the above endeavors are coupled with an escort of the right intent the outcome WILL be favorable. A Pali text called The Anguttara says it best:
"It cannot come to pass that the fruit of a deed well-done by the body, speech, and thought should have for a result that which is unpleasant, hateful or distasteful. But that it should be otherwise is quite possible."
That, my friend, is about it in a Nutshell. From here we continue in a more indepth fashion. Hope you are looking forward to it as much as I am. One thing before proceeding, however, I would ask you to go to the links below, click through, and read what they have to say. It correlates very close to my views expressed above regarding commericial ventures, gurus, et al. This is NOT a reflection of some holier than thou attitude either as I fully well know that
the right livelihood is one of the Buddha's Eight Noble Paths. However, in that
it resides in you then it follows you must already have it. If you already have it, how then would it be possible for another individual, organization, or anybody or anything else to expect some sort of payment or compensation in exchange for something you already have, or at the very least, they have no power in giving or producing in the first place? If it is because, before the Enlightenment-experience, you feel grateful for an assist in some fashion, there would be no need, as Attainment would not have unfolded yet. If it is post Enlightenment there would be no need because it resided in you in the first place, so what would you have received?
The Buddha said that neither the repetition of scriptures, nor self-torture, nor sleeping on the ground, nor the repetition of prayers, penances, hymns, charms, mantras, incantations and invocations can bring the real happiness of Nirvana. Instead the Buddha emphasized the importance of making individual effort in order to achieve spiritual goals.
ANGUTTARA-NIKAYA V 159, Udayi Sutra
How Should the Dharma Be Taught
ASSOCIATION WITH THE WISE
THE PARABLE OF THE FERRYBOAT
ON FINDING A ZEN TEACHER
CODE OF ETHICS FOR SPIRITUAL GUIDES
- ABSORPTION, DIGESTION, AND THE SEARCH
A MORE INDEPTH LOOK
Before continuing please go to the folders below.
TYING YOUR SHOE
ENLIGHTENMENT KNOWS NO MASTER
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION REGARDING TEACHERS
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION REGARDING AWAKENING 101
ADVANCE TO FOLDER ONE:
THE FIRST STEP ALONG THE PATH
OR RETURN TO THE:
CLICK HERE TO ACCESS CONTENTS PAGE