theravada equivalent of koan study?

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theravada equivalent of koan study?

Postby alan... » Thu Mar 07, 2013 3:38 am

is there one?

or even something similar?
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Re: theravada equivalent of koan study?

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Thu Mar 07, 2013 3:46 am

Non-duality is not a particularly relevant doctrine to Theravada, so I would say no.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

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Re: theravada equivalent of koan study?

Postby alan... » Thu Mar 07, 2013 3:59 am

LonesomeYogurt wrote:Non-duality is not a particularly relevant doctrine to Theravada, so I would say no.


ajahn chah teaches on one:


The Empty Flag

I once read a book about Zen. In Zen, you know, they don't teach with a lot of explanation. For instance, if a monk is falling asleep during meditation, they come with a stick and ''whack!'' they give him a hit on the back. When the erring disciple is hit, he shows his gratitude by thanking the attendant. In Zen practice one is taught to be thankful for all the feelings which give one the opportunity to develop.

One day there was an assembly of monks gathered for a meeting. Outside the hall a flag was blowing in the wind. There arose a dispute between two monks as to how the flag was actually blowing in the wind. One of the monks claimed that it was because of the wind while the other argued that it was because of the flag. Thus they quarreled because of their narrow views and couldn't come to any kind of agreement. They would have argued like this until the day they died. However, their teacher intervened and said, ''Neither of you is right. The correct understanding is that there is no flag and there is no wind''.

This is the practice, not to have anything, not to have the flag and not to have the wind. If there is a flag, then there is a wind; if there is a wind, then there is a flag. You should contemplate and reflect on this thoroughly until you see in accordance with truth. If considered well, then there will remain nothing. It's empty - void; empty of the flag and empty of the wind. In the great void there is no flag and there is no wind. There is no birth, no old age, no sickness or death. Our conventional understanding of flag and wind is only a concept. In reality there is nothing. That's all! There is nothing more than empty labels.

If we practice in this way, we will come to see completeness and all of our problems will come to an end. In the great void the King of Death will never find you. There is nothing for old age, sickness and death to follow. When we see and understand in accordance with truth, that is, with right understanding, then there is only this great emptiness. It's here that there is no more ''we'', no ''they'', no ''self'' at all."


http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Two_Faces_Reality1.php

emptiness is pretty close to non duality as, if all is empty, there is no duality.

nonetheless this does not mean it has any basis in theravada before zen ideas found their way to theravada people. still i feel there must be something similar.
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Re: theravada equivalent of koan study?

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Thu Mar 07, 2013 4:23 am

There is a big difference between non-duality and the concept of emptiness. There may be no wind and no flag, but the flag is not the same as the wind; all things may lack self but there are still differences between this and that, wholesome and unwholesome, true and false, etc.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: theravada equivalent of koan study?

Postby ground » Thu Mar 07, 2013 4:36 am

alan... wrote:is there one?

Definitely not.

alan... wrote:or even something similar?

Yes, concentration is an aspect of koan practice and concentration is an aspect of Theravada practice. :sage:
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Re: theravada equivalent of koan study?

Postby m0rl0ck » Thu Mar 07, 2013 7:24 am

LonesomeYogurt wrote:Non-duality is not a particularly relevant doctrine to Theravada, so I would say no.

What makes you think koan study is about non duality? What experience do you have with koan study?
"Even if you've read the whole Canon and can remember lots of teachings; even if you can explain them in poignant ways, with lots of people to respect you; even if you build a lot of monastery buildings, or can explain inconstancy, stress, and not-self in the most detailed fashion ... The only thing that serves your own true purpose is release from suffering.

"And you'll be able to gain release from suffering only when you know the one mind."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html
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Re: theravada equivalent of koan study?

Postby Gena1480 » Thu Mar 07, 2013 8:22 am

there seems to be an misunderstanding
of signless and not self which are too different thing
please do not mix too
not self lead to affliction pain
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nymo.html
signless is through which nibbana is seen
i'm not familiar with what they teach in Mahayana
and what they mean by emptiness
why whould they use a word like emptiness to mean end of suffering
as in Theravada empty used
for example this eye is empty of self
this ear is empty of self
i cant remember a sutta
this need to further examine how these got mixed up.
metta.
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Re: theravada equivalent of koan study?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Thu Mar 07, 2013 8:33 am

The Great Rebirth Debate Thread perhaps?

Yes there is rebirth. No there isn't. Yes there is. No there isn't.... :juggling:
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Re: theravada equivalent of koan study?

Postby Gena1480 » Thu Mar 07, 2013 8:55 am

Buddha right speech was perfected.

when, there is right view
by abandoning wrong resolve, there is right resolve.
this is the right view.
to abandon wrong view and to enter right view
that is right effort.
look like i need to do some studying myself.
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Re: theravada equivalent of koan study?

Postby beeblebrox » Thu Mar 07, 2013 2:34 pm

m0rl0ck wrote:
LonesomeYogurt wrote:Non-duality is not a particularly relevant doctrine to Theravada, so I would say no.

What makes you think koan study is about non duality? What experience do you have with koan study?


It's just the five khandhas that are working a bit disharmoniously, as usual. It can't be helped.

:anjali:
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Re: theravada equivalent of koan study?

Postby thelotuseffect » Thu Mar 07, 2013 3:54 pm

There is no duality. All duality arises due to avijja.

Koan study is to leave your mind suspended in the not knowing, not seeking, empty mind. This is the natural state, the result of vipassana.
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Re: theravada equivalent of koan study?

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Thu Mar 07, 2013 5:50 pm

m0rl0ck wrote:What makes you think koan study is about non duality? What experience do you have with koan study?

I just did about six months of light Koan practice at a local Zen group, so I'm not an expert, but that was definitely the general goal - breaking through the rational, socially-constructed way of viewing truth and seeing the nondual reality behind it. Is that not what most Koan practice is devoted to?
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: theravada equivalent of koan study?

Postby lojong1 » Thu Mar 07, 2013 7:12 pm

The brief koan teaching I received was very much like full body awareness. We felt the question.
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Re: theravada equivalent of koan study?

Postby alan... » Fri Mar 08, 2013 3:37 am

LonesomeYogurt wrote:There is a big difference between non-duality and the concept of emptiness. There may be no wind and no flag, but the flag is not the same as the wind; all things may lack self but there are still differences between this and that, wholesome and unwholesome, true and false, etc.


interesting. i can't see a difference. if all things lack a self, then there's no difference. i suppose if you look and label there is, but imagine if there was no one to look and label. like no sentience at all in all of reality, how could there be duality? at least that's how i understand non duality. it's not literally NO difference between anything, it's that we invent the differences and they all depend on our discernment. this does not mean that there is no right and wrong or anything like some schools teach, just that ultimately, there is no difference between anything other than differences we impose on things with our words and labels. two rocks floating in space and no one to label them, no difference, non dual existence. it becomes dual when one rock becomes sentient and says "i am" and "the other rock is blue while i am green."

so the way i see it, "duality" is seeing a difference, "non duality" is seeing that everything is the same in that there are no "selves" to differentiate between any more than i differentiate between two grains of sand on a beach when looking from afar.

although perhaps i'm understanding non duality from a purely theravada perspective, reinterpreting it to make sense for me inside the teachings of the pali canon. if this is the case and your thoughts are from a mahayana perspective (or better understanding thereof at any rate) then i may be a little off.
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Re: theravada equivalent of koan study?

Postby alan... » Fri Mar 08, 2013 3:48 am

ground wrote:
alan... wrote:is there one?

Definitely not.

alan... wrote:or even something similar?

Yes, concentration is an aspect of koan practice and concentration is an aspect of Theravada practice. :sage:


indeed, i can't see any function of koan other than to concentrate the mind and create a sense of doubt, in which case it's no different than many other forms of concentration that are similar and the stories involved being the enlightenment events of masters is irrelevant (many zen masters in history have said roughly this, some even destroyed koan collections!).

on a side note, do you click the little sage smiley every time you post or is it in your signature or something? i always thought you put it after particularly sage like posts but now i'm noticing you always use it. just curious :)
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Re: theravada equivalent of koan study?

Postby alan... » Fri Mar 08, 2013 3:51 am

thelotuseffect wrote:There is no duality. All duality arises due to avijja.

Koan study is to leave your mind suspended in the not knowing, not seeking, empty mind. This is the natural state, the result of vipassana.


could you elaborate on the similarities between vipassana and koan? i'm very interested in this particular idea.
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Re: theravada equivalent of koan study?

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Fri Mar 08, 2013 4:26 am

alan... wrote:interesting. i can't see a difference. if all things lack a self, then there's no difference.

I disagree. Emptiness does not imply a lack of ultimate, non-conceptual realities. Pain is different from pleasure, even if pain and pleasure are both non-self.


i suppose if you look and label there is, but imagine if there was no one to look and label. like no sentience at all in all of reality, how could there be duality? at least that's how i understand non duality. it's not literally NO difference between anything, it's that we invent the differences and they all depend on our discernment.

Borges has a story about a map that is a perfect 1:1 scale representation of its antecedent, that is, it is a map exactly as large as the territory it maps. It may be true that the map is conceptual and not ultimately real; however, it still refers to a base ultimate reality. In the same way, our conceptual understanding of the world is not ultimately real but still in reference to an ultimate reality.

It is wrong to say that something is inherently a chair and another thing is inherently a cushion. It is not wrong, however, to observe the nature of each collection of sense data (hardness, softness, weight, etc) and see that they are, in real reality, different. In your rock example, it may be true that there are no "rocks" without one to conceptualize them as rocks. That doesn't mean that the terms "rock 1" and "rock 2," each designating a collection of matter with unique properties occupying a unique point in space, refer to the same thing.

so the way i see it, "duality" is seeing a difference, "non duality" is seeing that everything is the same in that there are no "selves" to differentiate between any more than i differentiate between two grains of sand on a beach when looking from afar.

So do you believe that there is no difference between a lump of coal and a small child? If not, what do you think differentiates the two? Is it more than our conceptions or mental proliferation?

although perhaps i'm understanding non duality from a purely theravada perspective, reinterpreting it to make sense for me inside the teachings of the pali canon. if this is the case and your thoughts are from a mahayana perspective (or better understanding thereof at any rate) then i may be a little off.

I don't think there really is a Theravada understanding of non-duality. It is essentially Mahayana at its core.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: theravada equivalent of koan study?

Postby alan... » Fri Mar 08, 2013 4:47 am

LonesomeYogurt wrote:
alan... wrote:interesting. i can't see a difference. if all things lack a self, then there's no difference.

I disagree. Emptiness does not imply a lack of ultimate, non-conceptual realities. Pain is different from pleasure, even if pain and pleasure are both non-self.


i suppose if you look and label there is, but imagine if there was no one to look and label. like no sentience at all in all of reality, how could there be duality? at least that's how i understand non duality. it's not literally NO difference between anything, it's that we invent the differences and they all depend on our discernment.

Borges has a story about a map that is a perfect 1:1 scale representation of its antecedent, that is, it is a map exactly as large as the territory it maps. It may be true that the map is conceptual and not ultimately real; however, it still refers to a base ultimate reality. In the same way, our conceptual understanding of the world is not ultimately real but still in reference to an ultimate reality.

It is wrong to say that something is inherently a chair and another thing is inherently a cushion. It is not wrong, however, to observe the nature of each collection of sense data (hardness, softness, weight, etc) and see that they are, in real reality, different. In your rock example, it may be true that there are no "rocks" without one to conceptualize them as rocks. That doesn't mean that the terms "rock 1" and "rock 2," each designating a collection of matter with unique properties occupying a unique point in space, refer to the same thing.

so the way i see it, "duality" is seeing a difference, "non duality" is seeing that everything is the same in that there are no "selves" to differentiate between any more than i differentiate between two grains of sand on a beach when looking from afar.

So do you believe that there is no difference between a lump of coal and a small child? If not, what do you think differentiates the two? Is it more than our conceptions or mental proliferation?

although perhaps i'm understanding non duality from a purely theravada perspective, reinterpreting it to make sense for me inside the teachings of the pali canon. if this is the case and your thoughts are from a mahayana perspective (or better understanding thereof at any rate) then i may be a little off.

I don't think there really is a Theravada understanding of non-duality. It is essentially Mahayana at its core.



interesting. i posted a thread about non duality in theravada but it was largely inconclusive.

so the way you view non duality it's more literal than my version of it. i think what i meant to say was that i learned about non duality in fragments and now am trying to fit the ideas into a theravada frame work. not that it is a theravada view, but that i'm looking from inside theravada and trying to make sense out of non duality. in which case my version is likely plain wrong in the sense of it according with the mahayana view of the term.

further there are points that can be made that make duality more complicated. for example left cannot exist without right, up without down, light without dark, sight without eyes, and so on. one exists only because of another, this can go on and on until it includes the whole universe and we are back to all being one thing. a non dual reality. for one to exist, all must exist, for all to exist, one must exist.

one could also notice that we only think dualistically because we think in terms of past and future even though in reality all that exists is right now. if there is only this single moment then whatever is happening is the one and only thing that exists. all together. this is in accord with the bahiya sutta as i read it. so there is a kernel of the idea of non duality in that sense in theravada scripture. but this is again probably not the mahayana understanding of the doctrine.

could you elaborate on what non duality means to you?
Last edited by alan... on Fri Mar 08, 2013 5:15 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: theravada equivalent of koan study?

Postby m0rl0ck » Fri Mar 08, 2013 4:51 am

LonesomeYogurt wrote:I just did about six months of light Koan practice at a local Zen group, so I'm not an expert,

I got that impression. There are an entire series of koans that are followed in an order. They cant all be about non-duality can they? I dont think you know what you are talking about on this subject and that you are misleading people.
"Even if you've read the whole Canon and can remember lots of teachings; even if you can explain them in poignant ways, with lots of people to respect you; even if you build a lot of monastery buildings, or can explain inconstancy, stress, and not-self in the most detailed fashion ... The only thing that serves your own true purpose is release from suffering.

"And you'll be able to gain release from suffering only when you know the one mind."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html
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Re: theravada equivalent of koan study?

Postby m0rl0ck » Fri Mar 08, 2013 4:54 am

alan... wrote:is there one?

or even something similar?


I think you are asking this question in the wrong place. You should ask it a place where more people who actually know something about koan study can answer.
"Even if you've read the whole Canon and can remember lots of teachings; even if you can explain them in poignant ways, with lots of people to respect you; even if you build a lot of monastery buildings, or can explain inconstancy, stress, and not-self in the most detailed fashion ... The only thing that serves your own true purpose is release from suffering.

"And you'll be able to gain release from suffering only when you know the one mind."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html
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