Teachings of Ajahns Chan & Buddhadasa:intrinsic mind nature?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
fivebells
Posts: 299
Joined: Thu Mar 12, 2009 12:52 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 6

Teachings of Ajahns Chan & Buddhadasa:intrinsic mind nature?

Postby fivebells » Sat May 25, 2013 5:20 am

I read that Ajahn Chah and Ajahn Buddhadhasa would often talk about just letting go of the objective realm altogether and just being in the knowing, and that they used to use the phrase “sawang sa-aht sangoup” to speak about the mind's intrinsic nature as empty, lucid, awake and bright. If this is true, I'd be grateful for pointers to some supporting translations of their work.

User avatar
cooran
Posts: 7800
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:32 pm
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1
Location: Queensland, Australia

Re: Teachings of Ajahns Chan & Buddhadasa:intrinsic mind nat

Postby cooran » Sat May 25, 2013 5:53 am

Hello fivebells, all,

Quoted from here?:
Being the Knowing
It is also important to extend from the objective realm to the subjective one and to the quality of knowing. Various masters
in Thailand, such as Ajahn Chah, Ajahn Buddhadäsa, and Ajahn Brahmamuni, as well as other leading meditation teachers,
would often talk about letting go of the objective realm altogether and just being the knowing. In Thai, there's an expression, "yoo
gap roo," which literally means" there with the knowing."
It seems that the practice of rigpa deals with something very similar. It includes a specific turning away from the object. We deliberately do not pay much attention to it. Instead we put most of our attention on the nature of the subject. There is an inclining away from the seductive pull of the senses and a focus on, and a nonidentification with, the subject.

Similar to the Thai forest teachings, rigpa is ultimately about emptying out both the subjective and objective realms. The aim
of the practice is subjectless, objectless awareness. The heart rests in rigpa, the quality of open, spacious knowing and there
is the recognition of the mind's own intrinsic nature: it is empty, lucid, awake, and bright. The Thai people love alliterations, and Ajahn Buddhadäsa and Ajahn Chah used to use the phrase II sawang sa-aht sangoup" to speak about this quality.
Sawang means "radiance" or "bright light." Sa-aht means "pure." Sangoup means "peaceful." Sawang sa-aht sangoup: radiance, purity, and peacefulness.

http://archive.org/stream/smallboat00am ... ararch.txt

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

User avatar
Crazy cloud
Posts: 197
Joined: Sun May 12, 2013 8:55 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1001

Re: Teachings of Ajahns Chan & Buddhadasa:intrinsic mind nat

Postby Crazy cloud » Sat May 25, 2013 5:55 am

Hi, not sure if this might suit your needs - just started reading myself ...

http://www.amaravati.org/home

Have i nice day :)
your name Mori means forest like the infinite fresh green distances of your blindness

User avatar
Aloka
Posts: 3818
Joined: Wed Jan 21, 2009 2:51 pm

Re: Teachings of Ajahns Chan & Buddhadasa:intrinsic mind nat

Postby Aloka » Sat May 25, 2013 6:49 am

Hi fivebells,

There's 'Emptiness' (from'Heartwood from the Bo Tree') by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu

http://www.budsas.org/ebud/ebdha196.htm

You might also like to have a look at Ajahn Chah's"A Still Forest Pool"

excerpt from Part I - Studying and Experiencing:

The Buddha saw that whatever the mind gives rise to are just transitory, conditioned phenomena, which are really empty. When this dawned on him, he let go, gave up, and found an end to suffering. You too must understand these matters according to the truth. When you know things as they are, you will see that these elements of mind are a deception, in keeping with. the Buddha's teaching that this mind has nothing, does not arise, is not born, and does not die with anyone. It is free, shining, resplendent, with nothing to occupy it. The mind becomes occupied only because it misunderstands and is deluded by these conditioned phenomena, this false sense of self.

Therefore, the Buddha had us look at our minds. What exists in the beginning? Truly, not anything. This emptiness does not arise and die with phenomena. When it contacts something good, it does not become good; when it contacts something bad, it does not become bad. The pure mind knows these objects clearly, knows that they are not substantial.


and from Part 7

The original heart / mind shines like pure, clear water with the sweetest taste. But if the heart is pure, is our practice over? No, we must not cling even to this purity. We must go beyond all duality, all concepts, all bad, all good, all pure, all impure. We must go beyond self and no self, beyond birth and death. To see a self to be reborn is the real trouble of the world. True purity is limitless, untouchable, beyond all opposites and all creation.

We take refuge in Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. This is the heritage of every Buddha that appears in the world. What is this Buddha? When we see with the eye of wisdom, we know that the Buddha is timeless, unborn, unrelated to any body, any history, any image. Buddha is the ground of all being, the realization of the truth of the unmoving mind.

http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books2/Ajahn_Chah_A_Still_Forest_Pool.htm#Realization




with kind wishes,

Aloka

User avatar
Mr Man
Posts: 1372
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2011 8:42 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1006

Re: Teachings of Ajahns Chan & Buddhadasa:intrinsic mind nat

Postby Mr Man » Sat May 25, 2013 8:14 am

Hi fivebells,
I think it is worth remembering that Ajahn Chah was always just teaching dhamma rather than creating "work". His teaching was about a way of practice rather than about a doctrine.
Last edited by Mr Man on Sat May 25, 2013 2:35 pm, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
Zenainder
Posts: 146
Joined: Fri May 17, 2013 11:10 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1001

Re: Teachings of Ajahns Chan & Buddhadasa:intrinsic mind nat

Postby Zenainder » Sat May 25, 2013 12:04 pm

How does the Theravada tradition understand the concept of Rigpa?

User avatar
Aloka
Posts: 3818
Joined: Wed Jan 21, 2009 2:51 pm

Re: Teachings of Ajahns Chan & Buddhadasa:intrinsic mind nat

Postby Aloka » Sat May 25, 2013 12:45 pm

Zenainder wrote:How does the Theravada tradition understand the concept of Rigpa?


In "Small Boat, Great Mountain" by Ajahn Amaro (Theravada Thai Forest Tradition), in the glossary. it says that the Pali word "vijja" is the equivalent to "rigpa".

Vijja = transcendent knowing, true knowledge.

"Rigpa" and similarities in Theravada are also mentioned in the book " The Island - An Anthology of the Buddha's Teachings on Nibbana" by Ajahn Passano & Ajahn Amaro.

User avatar
Zenainder
Posts: 146
Joined: Fri May 17, 2013 11:10 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1001

Re: Teachings of Ajahns Chan & Buddhadasa:intrinsic mind nat

Postby Zenainder » Sat May 25, 2013 1:15 pm

Aloka wrote:
Zenainder wrote:How does the Theravada tradition understand the concept of Rigpa?


In "Small Boat, Great Mountain" by Ajahn Amaro (Theravada Thai Forest Tradition), in the glossary. it says that the Pali word "vijja" is the equivalent to "rigpa".

Vijja = transcendent knowing, true knowledge.

"Rigpa" and similarities in Theravada are also mentioned in the book " The Island - An Anthology of the Buddha's Teachings on Nibbana" by Ajahn Passano & Ajahn Amaro.


Thanks for the info! How does the concept of rigpa compare with Tibetan Buddhism (that's originally where I became familiar with term). I've read Sogyal Rinpoche's book "The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying" and that's where I've learned of it since. Curious as to how it is different from how Theravada teaches it.

User avatar
Aloka
Posts: 3818
Joined: Wed Jan 21, 2009 2:51 pm

Re: Teachings of Ajahns Chan & Buddhadasa:intrinsic mind nat

Postby Aloka » Sat May 25, 2013 1:36 pm

Zenainder wrote:
Thanks for the info! How does the concept of rigpa compare with Tibetan Buddhism (that's originally where I became familiar with term). I've read Sogyal Rinpoche's book "The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying" and that's where I've learned of it since. Curious as to how it is different from how Theravada teaches it.


In Tibetan Buddhism, ' rigpa' is a Tibetan word refering to the true nature of the mind. I'm not quite sure what you mean when you say how does the concept of rigpa compare with Tibetan Buddhism.

I was a Tibetan Buddhist practitioner myself for a long time, until I gave it up after discovering the teachings of Ajahn Chah and then the western branch of the Theravada Thai Forest Tradition.

User avatar
Zenainder
Posts: 146
Joined: Fri May 17, 2013 11:10 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1001

Re: Teachings of Ajahns Chan & Buddhadasa:intrinsic mind nat

Postby Zenainder » Sat May 25, 2013 1:43 pm

Aloka wrote:
Zenainder wrote:
Thanks for the info! How does the concept of rigpa compare with Tibetan Buddhism (that's originally where I became familiar with term). I've read Sogyal Rinpoche's book "The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying" and that's where I've learned of it since. Curious as to how it is different from how Theravada teaches it.


In Tibetan Buddhism, ' rigpa' is a Tibetan word refering to the true nature of the mind. I'm not quite sure what you mean when you say how does the concept of rigpa compare with Tibetan Buddhism.

I was a Tibetan Buddhist practitioner myself for a long time, until I gave it up after discovering the teachings of Ajahn Chah and then the western branch of the Theravada Thai Forest Tradition.


I am sorry I was not clear. How is the concept of "rigpa" reflected upon in the Theravada tradition?

User avatar
Aloka
Posts: 3818
Joined: Wed Jan 21, 2009 2:51 pm

Re: Teachings of Ajahns Chan & Buddhadasa:intrinsic mind nat

Postby Aloka » Sat May 25, 2013 1:54 pm

Zenainder wrote:I am sorry I was not clear. How is the concept of "rigpa" reflected upon in the Theravada tradition?


I think that this might takes us back to the OP #1 again ;)

User avatar
reflection
Posts: 1115
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2011 9:27 pm
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1006

Re: Teachings of Ajahns Chan & Buddhadasa:intrinsic mind nat

Postby reflection » Sat May 25, 2013 4:27 pm

I don't know Thai, and I don't think many here can, so your question could be a bit specific in asking us to provide specific talks without knowing the ways that phrase could be translated.

But it could refer to "the one who knows" which I see in translations Ajahn Chah used as a description of awareness. As Mr Man also said, Ven. Chah seems to talk in terms of practice most of the time and "being the one who knows" is to me like a practice instruction. But some of Ven Chah's talks may seem to contradict each other at the surface. Sometimes it seems more like a meditation instruction and then in other talks it does not. I think he was very skilled in teaching different students, so approached them at different levels. At times trying to inspire, trying to explain practice, and sometimes explaining the nature of things. Even if your phrase does not translate as "the one who knows", it could very well be he was using it on different levels as well.

I don't know much of Buddhadhasa's teachings.

Either way, if you are interested in those two Venerable's teachings, I'd just start reading translations of their talks instead of looking for some on specific topics, or containing specific lines.

User avatar
Mr Man
Posts: 1372
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2011 8:42 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1006

Re: Teachings of Ajahns Chan & Buddhadasa:intrinsic mind nat

Postby Mr Man » Sat May 25, 2013 5:45 pm

sawang means light (as opposed to darkness). sa-aht means clean & sangoup means peaceful - I imagine it is used to describe the quality of a stilled mind.

User avatar
reflection
Posts: 1115
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2011 9:27 pm
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1006

Re: Teachings of Ajahns Chan & Buddhadasa:intrinsic mind nat

Postby reflection » Sat May 25, 2013 6:03 pm

Thanks! Missed that, I now see it was posted before in a quote. No talks I read spring to mind specifically.

fivebells
Posts: 299
Joined: Thu Mar 12, 2009 12:52 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 6

Re: Teachings of Ajahns Chan & Buddhadasa:intrinsic mind nat

Postby fivebells » Sat May 25, 2013 6:16 pm

Cooran: Yes, it's from Small Boat. I left out the citation this time in an attempt at consideration for the people disturbed by my questions about it. I'd like to find support in the writings of Buddhadhasa and Chah specifically, because I'm really interested in the book's attempts to reconcile Mahayana ontologies with early Buddhist practices, but don't entirely trust it.

Aloka: Interesting quote from Ajahn Chah.

reflection: Thanks, googling for "ajahn chah the one who knows" turns up a lot of interesting stuff.

Mr Man: Thanks, my main question is whether they represented these qualities as intrinsic to the nature of mind.

User avatar
reflection
Posts: 1115
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2011 9:27 pm
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1006

Re: Teachings of Ajahns Chan & Buddhadasa:intrinsic mind nat

Postby reflection » Sat May 25, 2013 6:44 pm

Looking up the word "purity" and "radiant" in index of The Collected Teachings of Ajahn Chah, I could find this:

"Follow 'the one who knows'. Train the mind until it is pure. How pure should you make it? If it's really pure, the mind should be above both good and evil, above even purity" (book 2, p 165)

and more like the phrase:

"As the Buddha taught, 'The mind has no substance, it's not anything.' The mind isnt born belonging to anyone. It doesn't die as anyone's. This mind is free, brilliantly radiant, and unentangled with any problems or issues. The reason problems arise is because the mind is deluded by conditioned things, deluded by this misperception of self. So the Buddha taught to observe this mind. In the beginning, what is there? There is truly nothing there. It doesn't arise with conditiond things, and it doesn't die with them. [..] There is understanding that this is essentially a substance-less state of affairs." (book 2, p 222)

Of course, recommended to read the full talks to see them in context. But I can't find them on the internet and don't feel like typing them fully ;) I found the ebook here for you, if you happen to have a reader: http://forestsanghapublications.org/vie ... 50&ref=deb



And on the off topic ", because I'm really interested in the book's attempts to reconcile Mahayana ontologies with early Buddhist practices, but don't entirely trust it." is assuming these Ajahns teach early Buddhism? ;) If there is such a thing.

fivebells
Posts: 299
Joined: Thu Mar 12, 2009 12:52 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 6

Re: Teachings of Ajahns Chan & Buddhadasa:intrinsic mind nat

Postby fivebells » Sat May 25, 2013 7:53 pm

It's true, there is effectively no such thing today.

User avatar
Jason
Posts: 469
Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 1:09 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1
Location: Earth
Contact:

Re: Teachings of Ajahns Chan & Buddhadasa:intrinsic mind nat

Postby Jason » Sat May 25, 2013 9:38 pm

fivebells wrote:I read that Ajahn Chah and Ajahn Buddhadhasa would often talk about just letting go of the objective realm altogether and just being in the knowing, and that they used to use the phrase “sawang sa-aht sangoup” to speak about the mind's intrinsic nature as empty, lucid, awake and bright. If this is true, I'd be grateful for pointers to some supporting translations of their work.


You can find bits and pieces throughout Ajahn Chah's talks that speak of the mind in similar terms, e.g., from Bodhiyana:

    Doctors prescribe medicine to eliminate disease from the body. The Teachings of the Buddha are prescribed to cure disease of the mind, to bring it back to its natural healthy state. So the Buddha can be considered to be a doctor who prescribes cures for the ills of the mind. He is, in fact, the greatest doctor in the world.

and

    The subject of practice isn't far away at all, it's right here in our body and mind. Westerners and Thais are the same, they both have a body and mind. A confused body and mind means a confused person and a peaceful body and mind, a peaceful person.

    Actually, the mind, like rain water, is pure in its natural state. If we were to drop green coloring into clear rain water, however, it would turn green. If yellow coloring it would turn yellow.

    The mind reacts similarly. When a comfortable mental impression "drops" into the mind, the mind is comfortable. When the mental impression is uncomfortable, the mind is uncomfortable. The mind becomes "cloudy" just like the colored water.

    When clear water contacts yellow, it turns yellow. When it contacts green, it turns green. It will change color every time. Actually, that water which is green or yellow is naturally clean and clear. This is also the natural state of the mind, clean and pure and unconfused. It becomes confused only because it pursues mental impressions; it gets lost in its moods!

and

    Q: I still have very many thoughts. My mind wanders a lot even though I am trying to be mindful.

    A: Don't worry about this. Try to keep your mind in the present. Whatever there is that arises in the mind, just watch it. Let go of it. Don't even wish to be rid of thoughts. Then the mind will reach its natural state. No discriminating between good and bad, hot and cold, fast and slow. No me and no you, no self at all. Just what there is. When you walk on alms-round, no need to do anything special. Simply walk and see what there is. No need to cling to isolation or seclusion. Wherever you are, know yourself by being natural and watching. If doubts arise, watch them come and go. It's very simple. Hold on to nothing.

    It is as though you are walking down a road. Periodically you will run into obstacles. When you meet defilements, just see them and just overcome them by letting go of them. don't think about the obstacles you have passed already. Don't worry about those you have not yet seen. Stick to the present. Don't be concerned about the length of the road or about the destination. Everything is changing. Whatever you pass, do not cling to it. Eventually the mind will reach its natural balance where practice is automatic. All things will come and go of themselves.
"Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya" (AN 7.58).

leaves in the hand (Buddhist-related blog)
leaves in the forest (non-Buddhist related blog)

fivebells
Posts: 299
Joined: Thu Mar 12, 2009 12:52 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 6

Re: Teachings of Ajahns Chan & Buddhadasa:intrinsic mind nat

Postby fivebells » Sun May 26, 2013 11:41 pm

Thanks, everyone. This is helpful.

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 10788
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1001
Location: New Zealand

Re: Teachings of Ajahns Chan & Buddhadasa:intrinsic mind nat

Postby mikenz66 » Mon May 27, 2013 3:27 am

fivebells wrote:Cooran: Yes, it's from Small Boat. I left out the citation this time in an attempt at consideration for the people disturbed by my questions about it. I'd like to find support in the writings of Buddhadhasa and Chah specifically, because I'm really interested in the book's attempts to reconcile Mahayana ontologies with early Buddhist practices, but don't entirely trust it.

reflection wrote:[The above question] is assuming these Ajahns teach early Buddhism? ;) If there is such a thing.

My impressions is that the Thai Ajahns are part of a living tradition, teach what they find works, and don't worry much about concepts such as "early Buddhism".

Ajahn Buddhadasa, for example, translated a number of Mahayana Sutras:
Ajahn Buddhadasa and Inter-Religious Understanding
By Santikaro

http://www.suanmokkh.org/archive/pdf/TW_2.pdf
Ajahn Buddhadasa also encouraged Theravadins to open up to other Buddhist traditions. The
Dalai Lama made two visits to Thailand before opposition from the Chinese government made it
became politically impossible. Ajahn Buddhadasa first met the Dalai Lama in Bangkok in 1964. A
few years later, the Dalai Lama visited Suan Mokkh, mainly to discuss anapanasati (mindfulness with
breathing). The Dalai Lama felt that Tibetan Buddhists needed more practice cultivating samadhi and
saw Theravada Buddhism as the principle resource concerning anapanasati, the classic meditation
practice of early Buddhism. At that time, they also discussed the possibility of Tibetan monks coming
to live at Suan Mokkh and Ajahn Buddhadasa began to draw plans to build a Tibetan gompa in one
corner of the monastery. Unfortunately, due to Chinese opposition, this never came about.

Ajahn Buddhadasa translated major parts of the Lankavatara Sutra, an important Mahayana
text, as well as two classic Zen texts - The Platform Sutra of Hui Neng and The Zen Teachings of
Huang Po. Thus, the first widely known Zen translations in Thailand were done by him.


:anjali:
Mike


Return to “General Theravāda discussion”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: clw_uk and 5 guests