Great doubt, great enlightenment...

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Great doubt, great enlightenment...

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Sep 10, 2009 11:15 am

Greetings,

There is a saying in the Ch'an Buddhist tradition...

Great doubt, great enlightenment; small doubt, small enlightenment


Do you think this applies to Theravada (or your tradition, if you happen to be of another tradition)?

What does this mean to you?

:buddha1:

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14674
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Great doubt, great enlightenment...

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Sep 10, 2009 12:01 pm

I suppose it is refering to not the Enlightenment, but the experiance of enlightenment in a theravada context it would be at the Sotapanna stage when this is applicaple more than the rest, so it may be if the doubt is great that the progress is faster once reaching that level? remembering there are four ways to progress
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
User avatar
Cittasanto
 
Posts: 5751
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:31 pm
Location: Ellan Vannin

Re: Great doubt, great enlightenment...

Postby genkaku » Thu Sep 10, 2009 2:44 pm

To me, it simply means that practice is endless and anything short of that endlessness falls short.

In my mind the saying is not meant as a criticism or even necessarily as an encouragement. Rather, it is a straightforward observation of fact...like saying, "the car is blue," when it is indeed blue.

Most of us have a stop-and-go practice -- taking breaks with one belief or another, one hope or another, one certainty or another. Sometimes it is a lifelong affection that develops at one particular pit stop or another. But life (or the Dharma, if you like) does not stop. Look around, if you disbelieve me.

Endless is how we began and endless is how we (don't) end. Doubt drives the car and enlightenment is the gas in its tank.

Just my take, obviously.
User avatar
genkaku
 
Posts: 416
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 11:14 pm
Location: Northampton, Mass. U.S.A.

Re: Great doubt, great enlightenment...

Postby pink_trike » Thu Sep 10, 2009 6:57 pm

Imo, replacing "doubt" with "uncertainty" may be helpful in understanding this phrase. The degree that we are aware of the inherent uncertain (impermanent, dynamic, insubstantial, conditioned) nature of the entire phenomenal world is the degree that we experience clarity (cleared, emptied, light, spacious, aha!, the lightbulb in the head switches on). The more we are cleared of the cluttering, clouding, en-darken-ing, confining confusion of certainty, the more awake we are - the less we perceive ourselves as separate, solid, self. Awareness of the uncertainty of circumstances, practicing, and studying (the Path) is none other than awakening, integrating, en-lighten-ing, clear-ing, empty-ing (the Fruit). Great Uncertainty is Great Awakening.
Last edited by pink_trike on Thu Sep 10, 2009 11:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.
User avatar
pink_trike
 
Posts: 1038
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 7:29 am

Re: Great doubt, great enlightenment...

Postby rowyourboat » Thu Sep 10, 2009 10:22 pm

I agree with pink trike- otherwise if we were talking purely of doubt (vicikicca) it would not make sense -certainly not from a theravada perspective as doubt is gotten rid of at the sotapanna level.
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha
rowyourboat
 
Posts: 1949
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 5:29 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: Great doubt, great enlightenment...

Postby Fede » Thu Sep 10, 2009 10:24 pm

The deeper you fall, the higher your climb, but it's worth the effort.
But if you stroll it downhill, the sense of liberation and achievement is not going to be as great - or as life-changing.

Is how I see it.
Simply put.
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

I am sooooo happy - How on earth could I be otherwise?! :D


http://www.armchairadvice.co.uk/relationships/forum/
User avatar
Fede
 
Posts: 1182
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:33 pm
Location: The Heart of this "Green & Pleasant Land"...

Re: Great doubt, great enlightenment...

Postby christopher::: » Thu Sep 10, 2009 11:43 pm

Yeah, i too like the way pink trike put it. Doubting all we have been taught, by society. Doubting the pleasure seeking habits we've developed, samsaric thoughts, belief in self. That's like the egg cracking....

The lotus bud rising above the muck.

:heart:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
User avatar
christopher:::
 
Posts: 1323
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 12:56 am

Re: Great doubt, great enlightenment...

Postby pink_trike » Thu Sep 10, 2009 11:58 pm

Yes, with no separation between muck and lotus.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.
User avatar
pink_trike
 
Posts: 1038
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 7:29 am

Re: Great doubt, great enlightenment...

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Sep 11, 2009 3:15 am

Here is a talk by Joseph Goldstein on the Five Hindrances:

http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/96/talk/1382/

He takes them in reverse order, starting with doubt, talking about the hindrances in terms of actual practice. The whole talk is well worth listening to.

A lengthier talk in the context of the Satipatthana Sutta:

http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/96/talk/298/
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 19559
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: Great doubt, great enlightenment...

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Sep 11, 2009 5:00 am

Greetings,

I understand this phrase in a not too dissimilar way to the Zen story about the professor and the tea cup.

A university professor went to visit a famous Zen master. While the master quietly served tea, the professor talked about Zen. The master poured the visitor's cup to the brim, and then kept pouring. The professor watched the overflowing cup until he could no longer restrain himself. "It's overfull! No more will go in!" the professor blurted. "You are like this cup," the master replied, "How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup."

Source: http://www-usr.rider.edu/~suler/zenstory/emptycup.html

The more you are prepared to challenge your existing views and not cling to them... the more likely you are to discover the Dhamma in all its profundity.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14674
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Great doubt, great enlightenment...

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Fri Sep 11, 2009 5:40 am

genkaku wrote:To me, it simply means that practice is endless and anything short of that endlessness falls short.

In my mind the saying is not meant as a criticism or even necessarily as an encouragement. Rather, it is a straightforward observation of fact...like saying, "the car is blue," when it is indeed blue.

Most of us have a stop-and-go practice -- taking breaks with one belief or another, one hope or another, one certainty or another. Sometimes it is a lifelong affection that develops at one particular pit stop or another. But life (or the Dharma, if you like) does not stop. Look around, if you disbelieve me.

Endless is how we began and endless is how we (don't) end. Doubt drives the car and enlightenment is the gas in its tank.

Just my take, obviously.


I like this!

:namaste:
User avatar
Ngawang Drolma.
 
Posts: 805
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 7:38 pm

Re: Great doubt, great enlightenment...

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Fri Sep 11, 2009 5:45 am

pink_trike wrote:Imo, replacing "doubt" with "uncertainty" may be helpful in understanding this phrase. The degree that we are aware of the inherent uncertain (impermanent, dynamic, insubstantial, conditioned) nature of the entire phenomenal world is the degree that we experience clarity (cleared, emptied, light, spacious, aha!, the lightbulb in the head switches on). The more we are cleared of the cluttering, clouding, en-darken-ing, confining confusion of certainty, the more awake we are - the less we perceive ourselves as separate, solid, self. Awareness of the uncertainty of circumstances, practicing, and studying (the Path) is none other than awakening, integrating, en-lighten-ing, clear-ing, empty-ing (the Fruit). Great Uncertainty is Great Awakening.


I like this too! :)

Here's my response. It seems like I have a slightly different take on this, but here it is anyhow...

This reads to me as a prompt to investigate and pursue the dharma with vigor. A sense of doubt, or I might say practicality is a good quality imho. I don't practice Cha'an, but speaking from the point of view of a practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism, pursing the path definitely takes committment and motivation. And taking the words of a teacher or sutra, and investigating and digesting on one's own is recommended. The specific reference to "small enlightenment" vs. "great enlightenment," makes me think of the idea that you see fruits of practice and study that are comprable to how much you put into them.

While I don't think it's necessarily helpful to reject everything out of hand before it's proven, nor is it good to accept any teacher or teaching that comes my way without investigation, there's some place in the middle that works for me. Thanks for this nice quote, it's a good reminder.

Best,
Drolma

:namaste:
User avatar
Ngawang Drolma.
 
Posts: 805
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 7:38 pm

Re: Great doubt, great enlightenment...

Postby kannada » Fri Sep 11, 2009 12:30 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

There is a saying in the Ch'an Buddhist tradition...

Great doubt, great enlightenment; small doubt, small enlightenment


Do you think this applies to Theravada (or your tradition, if you happen to be of another tradition)?

What does this mean to you?

:buddha1:

Metta,
Retro. :)

No Doubt - no enlightenment ~ in accord with my tradition (acintya)

Regards

k
Just a view - nothing more...
kannada
 
Posts: 94
Joined: Fri Jul 31, 2009 8:35 am

Re: Great doubt, great enlightenment...

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Sep 11, 2009 2:07 pm

Just to add a bit of emphasis, it would be well worth the few minutes it would take to listen to the doubt section (the opening) of this talk (if not the whole talk). Goldstein speaks not as a theoretician, but as a solid practitioner deeply grounded in the Dhamma teachings, making sometime dry formulaic doctrinal statements come alive as actual ways doing and understanding practice.

http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/96/talk/1382/
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 19559
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: Great doubt, great enlightenment...

Postby christopher::: » Sat Sep 12, 2009 1:37 am

tiltbillings wrote:Just to add a bit of emphasis, it would be well worth the few minutes it would take to listen to the doubt section (the opening) of this talk (if not the whole talk). Goldstein speaks not as a theoretician, but as a solid practitioner deeply grounded in the Dhamma teachings, making sometime dry formulaic doctrinal statements come alive as actual ways doing and understanding practice.

http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/96/talk/1382/


Thanks Tilt. I've downloaded and will add to my iPod...

:namaste:

Ngawang Drolma wrote: I don't practice Cha'an, but speaking from the point of view of a practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism, pursing the path definitely takes committment and motivation. And taking the words of a teacher or sutra, and investigating and digesting on one's own is recommended. The specific reference to "small enlightenment" vs. "great enlightenment," makes me think of the idea that you see fruits of practice and study that are comprable to how much you put into them.


Great doubt plus great effort, a powerful combination. Add great compassion and great joy, one may actually start flying..

:tongue:

retrofuturist wrote:I understand this phrase in a not too dissimilar way to the Zen story about the professor and the tea cup.

:::::

The more you are prepared to challenge your existing views and not cling to them... the more likely you are to discover the Dhamma in all its profundity.


This relates also to the idea of shoshin, in Japanese and Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind which Shunryu Suzuki talked about extensively...

Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind (Shunryu Suzuki)

excerpt:

"In Japan we have the phrase shoshin, which means "beginner's mind." The goal of practice is always to keep our beginner's mind. Suppose you recite the Prajna Paramita Sutra only once. It might be a very good recitation. But what would happen to you if you recited it twice, three times, four times, or more? You might easily lose your original attitude towards it. The same thing will happen in your other Zen practices. For a while you will keep your beginner's mind, but if you continue to practice one, two, three years or more, although you may improve some, you are liable to lose the limitless meaning of original mind.

For Zen students the most important thing is not to be dualistic. Our "original mind" includes everything within itself. It is always rich and sufficient within itself. You should not lose your self‑sufficient state of mind. This does not mean a closed mind, but actually an empty mind and a ready mind. If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything. In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few...

In the beginner's mind there is no thought, "I have attained something." All self‑centered thoughts limit our vast mind. When we have no thought of achievement, no thought of self, we are true beginners. Then we can really learn something. The beginner's mind is the mind of compassion. When our mind is compassionate, it is boundless. Dogen‑zenji, the founder of our school, always emphasized how important it is to resume our boundless original mind. Then we are always true to ourselves, in sympathy with all beings, and can actually practice..."


:heart:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
User avatar
christopher:::
 
Posts: 1323
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 12:56 am

Re: Great doubt, great enlightenment...

Postby Jechbi » Sat Sep 12, 2009 8:42 am

retrofuturist wrote:
Great doubt, great enlightenment; small doubt, small enlightenment

What does this mean to you?

To me it means size doesn't matter.
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
User avatar
Jechbi
 
Posts: 1268
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 3:38 am

Re: Great doubt, great enlightenment...

Postby Prasadachitta » Mon Sep 14, 2009 2:15 am

Hi All,

Great enlightenment sounds good. Small enlightenment sounds good. I certainly wouldn't want to stop short but I can get behind enlightenment whatever shape size or variety we can manage.


Gabe
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332
User avatar
Prasadachitta
 
Posts: 974
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 6:52 am
Location: San Francisco (The Mission) Ca USA

Re: Great doubt, great enlightenment...

Postby BudSas » Tue Oct 20, 2009 11:31 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

There is a saying in the Ch'an Buddhist tradition...

Great doubt, great enlightenment; small doubt, small enlightenment


Do you think this applies to Theravada (or your tradition, if you happen to be of another tradition)?

What does this mean to you?


Actually, the above English translation, although popular, is not necessarily correct. In my opinion, that saying by the Zen master could be loosely translated as: "Great investigation, great insight; small investigation, small insight". This is the saying apllies to Zen students who must work hard on the koan.

By translating that way, perhaps it could be more easily understood and accepted by a Theravadin student.

BDS
BudSas
 
Posts: 82
Joined: Fri Aug 07, 2009 8:12 am

Re: Great doubt, great enlightenment...

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Oct 20, 2009 11:40 am

Greetings BudSas,

I like the translation you give, and it reflects the way I understood the other translation.

Thanks.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14674
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Great doubt, great enlightenment...

Postby Paññāsikhara » Tue Oct 20, 2009 12:06 pm

BudSas wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

There is a saying in the Ch'an Buddhist tradition...

Great doubt, great enlightenment; small doubt, small enlightenment


Do you think this applies to Theravada (or your tradition, if you happen to be of another tradition)?

What does this mean to you?


Actually, the above English translation, although popular, is not necessarily correct. In my opinion, that saying by the Zen master could be loosely translated as: "Great investigation, great insight; small investigation, small insight". This is the saying apllies to Zen students who must work hard on the koan.

By translating that way, perhaps it could be more easily understood and accepted by a Theravadin student.

BDS



The term 疑情 (yiqing) is really not to be translated as "doubt", although in general modern Mandarin uses the character 疑 (yi) together with 懷 (huai) (懷疑) (huaiyi) to mean "doubt". But this is just the word, and to quote Gombrich, meanings are in sentences and not in words.

It applies to the context of 參禪, which is basically "investigate Chan". In particular, in the Chan practice of 看話 看話頭 參話頭 "watch / investigate the word / word-head". "Word-head" is generally known in English through the Japanese term "koan", but actually "koan" in Chinese "gong'an" means something quite different.

However, I don't think that "investigation" is quite the word, either. It is mainly with regard to the notion of not apprehending the object in the manner that one commonly thinks that it exists, the lack of letting the mind fully take up the objects of cognition. This leads to an absence of grasping on one hand, and also of conceptual proliferation, both about the object in question. Taken to its fullest, it is probably very akin to the notion of the mind which does not take up any object (cf. AN 11:9), totally unsupported mind.

When we look at this phrase in context, we find that it is not at all "doubt" as opposed to "confidence" (sraddha). For example:
《禪關策進》卷1:「楊州素菴田大士示眾
近來篤志參禪者少。纔參箇話頭。便被昏散二魔纏縛。不知昏散與疑情正相對治。信心重則疑情必重。疑情重則昏散自無。」(CBETA, T48, no. 2024, p. 1099, c27-p. 1100, a1)
Chan Gate Exhortation: Master Su Angtian of Yangzhou's Teaching to the Assembly:
Recently, those who come to investigate Chan are few. Coarse investigation of the word-head will lead to being bound up by the two Mara's of dullness and scatteredness. Some do not know that the "yiqing" is the exact remedy to dullness and scattering. If one's confidence is strong, then the "yiqing" will also definitely be strong. If the "yiqing" is strong, then dullness and scattering will naturally disappear.

So, from this example, we can see that the "yiqing" is not at all any sort of absence of confidence / faith (asaddha).
My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: Huifeng's Prajnacara Blog.
Paññāsikhara
 
Posts: 980
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2009 5:27 am

Next

Return to Open Dhamma

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Yahoo [Bot] and 6 guests