Zen and Advaita masters: all putthujana?

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Zen and Advaita masters: all putthujana?

Postby Sacha G » Sat Jan 15, 2011 8:34 pm

Hi
Personaly I think there were Zen and Advaita masters who were enlightened, or at least Stream-Enterers. If you think of guys like Hui Neng, Huang Po, Dogen, or Shankara, Ramana Maharshi, Sri Nisargadatta: can one reasonably think they were putthujanas???
On the other hand, they propounded views that might be considered wrong according to the Buddha teaching. For example, Huang Po speaks of the One Mind, beyond which nothing exists, or, as well known, Shankara speaks of the Self.
So there are 3 options it seems:
1) One can be partially or totally enlightened with wrong view(!)
2) they had right view but expressed it in a different manner than the Buddha.
3) they were Putthujana, i.e, non enlightened at all
:hello:
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Re: Zen and Advaita masters: all putthujana?

Postby Reductor » Sat Jan 15, 2011 8:53 pm

Or you could not bother your pretty little head about what they were or were not.

Or you could practice in line with their various instructions and see where they lead you.

Or you can practice with the Theravada and see where that leads you, and not get distracted just now with the validity other traditions/teachers out there.

Just a thought.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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Re: Zen and Advaita masters: all putthujana?

Postby theravada_guy » Sat Jan 15, 2011 10:39 pm

I think it's said, correct me if I'm wrong, that there are no Arhats in a path where there is no Noble Eightfold Path. This could apply to the remaining Ariya statuses as well. With Zen, or any other tradition of Buddhism, there is the Noble Eightfold Path. So, I'd say it's possible there are Ariyas there. Advaitins...No. Not in my view.
With metta,

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Re: Zen and Advaita masters: all putthujana?

Postby PeterB » Sun Jan 16, 2011 12:21 am

I dont think we should lump Advaita and Zen together, certainly not without looking a little deeper.
Advaita is not Buddha Dhamma and lacks key concepts that are a cornerstone of Buddha Dhamma.
It has no concept of the Nidanas or Dependent Origination for a start .
With Zen its rather more complex. There is Zen Buddhism and there is Zen.
The former shares most of the characteristics that we find in any Buddhist school.
Zen divorced from Buddhism is an altogether different thing. At best it is a system of systematic relaxation techniques.
At worst it is a ragbag of bits and pieces that add up to whatever the "practitioner" wants it to be.
To paraphrase Chesterton, when people remove the Buddhism from Zen, they dont believe nothing..... they believe anything. From Jungian archetypes to causing kundalini to rise through the chakras.

ZEN BUDDISM is a perfectly respectable expression of the teachings of the Buddha. " ZEN" is self indulgence .
The more anarchic wing of the New Age.
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Re: Zen and Advaita masters: all putthujana?

Postby Sacha G » Sun Jan 16, 2011 8:00 am

Hi,
you seem to oppose Advaita and Zen, and to make Zen closer to original buddhism, however the affinities with Advaita are more than strong. See following passage of Huang Po:
"The Master said to me: All the Buddhas and all sentient beings are nothing but the One Mind, beside which nothing exists. This Mind, which is without beginning, is unborn and indestructible. It is not green nor yellow, and has neither form nor appearance. It does not belong to the categories of things which exist or do not exist, nor can it be thought of in terms of new or old. It is neither long nor short, big nor small, for it transcends all limits, measure, names, traces and comparisons. It is that which you see before you – begin to reason about it and you at once fall into error. It is like the boundless void which cannot be fathomed or measured. The One Mind alone is the Buddha, and there is no distinction between the Buddha and sentient things, but that sentient beings are attached to forms and so seek externally for Buddhahood."
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Re: Zen and Advaita masters: all putthujana?

Postby PeterB » Sun Jan 16, 2011 8:24 am

Sacha G Advaita is not Buddha Dhamma. Buddha Dhamma is not Advaita.
Theravada Buddhism does not accept the authority of Huang Po.
Neither does all of Zen Buddhism accept the authority of Huang Po.
Neither does the Theravada accept the concept of One MInd.
A concept which is not found in any form in the teachings of the Buddha as recorded in the Pali Canon.


This a Theravadin forum.
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Re: Zen and Advaita masters: all putthujana?

Postby Nyana » Sun Jan 16, 2011 9:13 am

Sacha G wrote:For example, Huang Po speaks of the One Mind, beyond which nothing exists

There is a quite well known transcription of a tape recording by Ajahn Dune, which apparently is of him reading a translation of Huangbo Xiyun (Huangbo's teachings were translated into Thai by Ajahn Buddhadasa, not directly from the Chinese but from the English translation of John Blofeld):

    All Buddhas and all beings in the world are nothing but the single citta. Outside this single citta nothing at all exists. The single citta, free from the conventional self, is something that was not made and is something, which cannot be destroyed. It is not a thing with color, such as green or yellow and has neither form nor appearance. It is not included in existing things or non-existing things. One cannot have the view that it is something new or old, longer short, large or small because it is beyond all limitations, beyond all measuring, beyond labels, beyond leaving a trace and beyond all comparisons.

    This single citta is before our very eyes but when we use reason to conceive of it as a "thing" or "self", try it! We will immediately be mistaken. It is like emptiness that is without limitation and cannot be conceived or measured.

    The single citta, this alone is Buddha. There is no difference between Buddha and all worldly beings except that worldly beings cling to the various worldly forms causing them to search for "Buddha Nature" (Buddha Bhava) externally. That very search makes them miss "Buddha Nature". This is like using Buddha to search for Buddha or the citta to search for the citta. Even though they may try as hard as they can for a full eon, they will never achieve "Buddha Bhava".

    They do not know that if they stop thinking and conceiving and cease their confusion due to this searching "Buddha" will appear before their eyes because the citta, itself, is Buddha.

Compare with another talk by Ajahn Dune:

    Mind is “the knowing”. You have to establish mindfulness there.

    Mind and “the knowing” are the same. There is no difference. All the differences perceived are due to wrong thinking, not understanding, not knowing – ignorance. Not understanding/misunderstanding (ignorance) leads us to create unending kamma.

    When the mind sees the (pure) mind, everything will be destroyed. Defilements (kilesa) and cravings (tanha) will be destroyed, ended.

    [Student:] When all defilements and cravings are destroyed, is that the stage of arahants? Is the mind still there?

    [Ajahn:] The mind is still there. But there is no more impurity, no more defilements or mental fabrications.

    True dhamma (saddhamma) is this (pure) mind. True dhamma has never been created. It will not be destroyed. True dhamma has always been there even when we are ignorant. True dhamma is also not created when ignorance is destroyed, when we are enlightened.

    (Pure) mind is true dhamma that has always been, and will simply be like this. It does not change. When there is wisdom (panna), ignorance (avijja) will be destroyed. When the mind sees mind, all kilesa ceases.

Also Ajahn Mun:

    The mind is something more radiant than anything else can be, but because counterfeits — passing defilements — come and obscure it, it loses its radiance, like the sun when obscured by clouds. Don't go thinking that the sun goes after the clouds. Instead, the clouds come drifting along and obscure the sun.

    So meditators, when they know in this manner, should do away with these counterfeits by analyzing them shrewdly, as explained in the strategies of clear insight. When they develop the mind to the stage of the primal mind, this will mean that all counterfeits are destroyed, or rather, counterfeit things won't be able to reach into the primal mind, because the bridge making the connection will have been destroyed. Even though the mind may then still have to come into contact with the preoccupations of the world, its contact will be like that of a bead of water rolling over a lotus leaf.

And Ajahn Chah:

    When the mind transcends conditions, it knows the unconditioned. The mind becomes the unconditioned, the state which no longer contains conditioning factors. The mind is no longer conditioned by the concerns of the world, conditions no longer contaminate the mind. Pleasure and pain no longer affect it. Nothing can affect the mind or change it, the mind is assured, it has escaped all constructions. Seeing the true nature of conditions and the determined, the mind becomes free.

    This freed mind is called the unconditioned, that which is beyond the power of constructing influences. If the mind doesn't really know conditions and determinations, it is moved by them. Encountering good, bad, pleasure, or pain, it proliferates about them.

And also:

    Now, examining the true nature of the mind, you can observe that in its natural state, it has no preoccupations or issues prevailing upon it. It's like a piece of cloth or a flag that has been tied to the end of a pole. As long as it's on its own and undisturbed, nothing will happen to it....

    The purpose of the practice, then, is to seek inwardly, searching and investigating until you reach the original mind. The original mind is also known as the pure mind. The pure mind is the mind without attachment. It doesn't get affected by mind-objects. In other words, it doesn't chase after the different kinds of pleasant and unpleasant mind-objects. Rather, the mind is in a state of continuous knowing and wakefulness - thoroughly mindful of all it is experiencing. When the mind is like this, no pleasant or unpleasant mind-objects it experiences will be able to disturb it. The mind doesn't 'become' anything. In other words, nothing can shake it. Why? Because there is awareness. The mind knows itself as pure. It has evolved its own, true independence; it has reached its original state. How is it able to bring this original state into existence? Through the faculty of mindfulness wisely reflecting and seeing that all things are merely conditions arising out of the influence of elements, without any individual being controlling them.

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: Zen and Advaita masters: all putthujana?

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Jan 16, 2011 9:42 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
Sacha G wrote:For example, Huang Po speaks of the One Mind, beyond which nothing exists

There is a quite well known transcription of a tape recording by Ajahn Dune, which apparently is of him reading a translation of Huangbo Xiyun (Huangbo's teachings were translated into Thai by Ajahn Buddhadasa, not directly from the Chinese but from the English translation of John Blofeld):
And the Blofeld translation is considered to be quite bad.
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
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Re: Zen and Advaita masters: all putthujana?

Postby Sacha G » Sun Jan 16, 2011 9:52 am

Well,
After all these answers (and thank you for some interesting information), I will reduce the scope of questionning:
Was a master like Huang Po :sage: a putthujana or not?
Personnaly, I tend to say "no". :popcorn:
Pali and Theravada texts:
http://dhamma.webnode.com
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Re: Zen and Advaita masters: all putthujana?

Postby Nyana » Sun Jan 16, 2011 9:55 am

Sacha G wrote:Was a master like Huang Po :sage: a putthujana or not?

One man's "awakened sage" is another man's "heretic."

All the best,

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Re: Zen and Advaita masters: all putthujana?

Postby nobody12345 » Sun Jan 16, 2011 1:34 pm

I respect all the great teachers after the Buddha.
However, I would not give too much attention to any of them and any of their statement.
The only exception is Sariputta.
I accept Sariputta's words as genuine Dhamma because the Buddha directly stated so.
And I do have soft spot for Ajahn Chah and very few others.
However, as a human, I have way too short life span and I fear there's not enough time to study and practice the direct teaching of the Buddha.
This house is on fire and it's urgent.
I would rather run to the fire extinguisher that has been tested and proven than run to try a new fire extinguisher that 'might' put off fire.
Life is way too short to practice the direct teachings of our kind teacher, the one and only (at least in our own aeon) fully awakened one.
Just my 2 cents.
Metta.
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Re: Zen and Advaita masters: all putthujana?

Postby kirk5a » Sun Jan 16, 2011 7:27 pm

Sacha G wrote:Well,
After all these answers (and thank you for some interesting information), I will reduce the scope of questionning:
Was a master like Huang Po :sage: a putthujana or not?
Personnaly, I tend to say "no". :popcorn:

Was or wasn't, can't imagine what difference that makes. There won't be any definite conclusions. So we're left reading his words and extracting the value there for ourselves, or not.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: Zen and Advaita masters: all putthujana?

Postby Guy » Mon Jan 17, 2011 2:03 am

As Ajahn Brahmali pointed out in his most recent Dhamma talk; as far as our own practice is concerned the only person we need to believe was enlightened is the Buddha himself (assuming that the Suttas accurately reflect his teachings and we can practice accordingly).
Four types of letting go:

1) Giving; expecting nothing back in return
2) Throwing things away
3) Contentment; wanting to be here, not wanting to be anywhere else
4) "Teflon Mind"; having a mind which doesn't accumulate things

- Ajahn Brahm
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Re: Zen and Advaita masters: all putthujana?

Postby alan » Mon Jan 17, 2011 2:28 am

Hi Sacha
Regarding your opening questions:
1) not at all possible, according to a strict reading of the suttas.
2) as above.
3) depends on how you define the term. The people you've mentioned have all obviously hit high states of meditation. They may be expressing themselves in context of their traditions, which posit ideas like "one mind" as being an ultimate goal.
Are they ordinary? Obviously not. But the larger question might go to the goal they were seeking, and how the later interpretations of the Dhamma influenced their understanding of those higher states of meditative awareness they achieved.
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Re: Zen and Advaita masters: all putthujana?

Postby alan » Mon Jan 17, 2011 2:58 am

Just have to add a bit to that. Don't want to get into a M vs. T thing here, but it needs to be said that there are substantial points of difference in regards to the goal of practice, and they hinge on a few key points.
I have no doubt some of those Chinese mystics you reference were quality people who believed they were at a supreme state and should therefore teach.
Why is the goal so important? Because it influences your attitude. If my mind is set on realizing the oneness of all, and I believe all things are essentially united in an ultimate whole, what happens to my Right effort?
Where is my Right view?
Go through the list--that one with 8 parts. Do you see how a different take on a few basic ideas changes your outlook?
No way of knowing your intentions on posting, so I'll just assume the best: that you are trying to decide which of the very many representations of the Dhamma you should choose. I'd argue that reading the Buddha's words and those of others who have followed his path to completion is your best choice.
Edit: cleaned up a bit of bad grammar.
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Re: Zen and Advaita masters: all putthujana?

Postby ground » Mon Jan 17, 2011 6:38 am

Sacha G wrote:For example, Huang Po speaks of the One Mind, beyond which nothing exists,

Interesting. I cannot recall to have read him this way ... but it's a few years now.

Kind regards
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Re: Zen and Advaita masters: all putthujana?

Postby Sacha G » Mon Jan 17, 2011 6:14 pm

Hi everybody
Thanks for the replies. Some wonder why ask such questions, since we have the buddha-dhamma, and it's a safe way. Well, what could I say?
For me at least: Curiosity? Cognitive dissonance reduction? Subconscious desire to try another path (like sudden awakening)?
Maybe a bit of the 3 :jumping:
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Re: Zen and Advaita masters: all putthujana?

Postby PeterB » Mon Jan 17, 2011 6:35 pm

Occasional restlessness. Seeing the other mans grass as greener etc is all natural Sacha G, the important thing...the thread that will lead you back through the maze is that you keep up your meditation practice. The other stuff will go on at the surface, but that practice will give you a still centre.
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