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Ajahn Chah Zen Theravada? - Dhamma Wheel

Ajahn Chah Zen Theravada?

A forum for beginners and members of other Buddhist traditions to ask questions about Theravāda (The Way of the Elders). Responses require moderator approval before they are visible.
Namu Butsu
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Ajahn Chah Zen Theravada?

Postby Namu Butsu » Fri Feb 18, 2011 12:09 am

Alright weird title. But I am curious after reading through many talks by Ajahn Chah. It seems as if he has a zen like approach. Sort of just do it and also the fact that he keeps saying that we can be liberated at any moment. From this perspective it seems zen like, but perhaps its because I dont know shit about theravada buddhism. So my question is are these teachings the same thing in Theravada? I had a theravada monk tell me that anyone can be enlightened if they have enough merit.. so that sort of at least in my eyes contradicted the view that at any moment we can transcend merit and become enlightened. Look forward to your enlightened replies
:anjali:
"It was only when I went to China in 1954-55 that I actually studied Marxist ideology and learned the history of the Chinese revolution. Once I understood Marxism, my attitude changed completely. I was so attracted to Marxism, I even expressed my wish to become a Communist Party member."-Dalai Lama (Time Magazine 1999)
http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma3/vegi.html (Meat eating and vegetarianism)

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Viscid
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Re: Ajahn Chah Zen Theravada?

Postby Viscid » Fri Feb 18, 2011 12:30 am

He is quite zen.

The idea of merit's been hijacked by spiritual capitalism. Merit doesn't 'add up,' there's no one keeping track.
Last edited by Viscid on Fri Feb 18, 2011 12:37 am, edited 2 times in total.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James

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bodom
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Re: Ajahn Chah Zen Theravada?

Postby bodom » Fri Feb 18, 2011 12:31 am

To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With mindfulness immersed in the body
well established, restrained
with regard to the six media of contact,
always centered, the monk
can know Unbinding for himself.

- Ud 3.5


https://www.dhammatalks.org/index.html
http://www.ajahnchah.org/

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Goofaholix
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Re: Ajahn Chah Zen Theravada?

Postby Goofaholix » Fri Feb 18, 2011 1:03 am

Many asian theravadin teachers have quite a textbook approach wheras I think Ajahn Chah taught from the heart and from experience.

When taught from the heart and from experience I don't think there is a lot of difference between Zen and Theravada, when taught from the textbook there is.

I don't think Ajahn Chah knew much about Zen, so perhaps Zen is very Ajahn Chahlike.

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kirk5a
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Re: Ajahn Chah Zen Theravada?

Postby kirk5a » Fri Feb 18, 2011 1:58 am

"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

PeterB
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Re: Ajahn Chah Zen Theravada?

Postby PeterB » Fri Feb 18, 2011 9:08 am

Lets not get carried away and project our stuff....

As any of his numerous surviving monks can tell you Luang Por Chah was DEEPLY traditionally Theravada.
If you met him in the flesh you were left in no doubt about that.
He was also a man of his time, and when the teaching phase of his life started he became one who was sought out by a variety of people from all Buddhist traditions. Word gets around when a teacher arises...even before the www.
What he said was " follow your way with great energy and vigor. If you want to reach the pure clear water dig in one spot. do not sink holes all over the place. Pursue your path without compromise and without flagging "

Remember Luang Por Chah did not write books. All you read are comments he made to specific people in their unique situation.
This makes for fertile projection ground, because of the absence of checks and balances we can take Luang Por's words and , like the works of Shakespeare project onto them what we want.
I never heard him speak of Zen, but I am willing to bet that if that comparison was made to him , he would have been swift in his response.

He appeared to know much of the Canon by heart...

When you read that he says "its not in books" he is NOT saying" you...westerner raised in a culture that values adhamma , and disregards Sila, that has no collective store of Dhamma knowledge..you dont need to read books".

He is assuming a degree of knowledge of the suttas. he is assuming Sila effort..he is assuming humility in the face of Buddha Dhamma.

I know this because I was fortunate enough to hear him say so.

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Ben
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Re: Ajahn Chah Zen Theravada?

Postby Ben » Fri Feb 18, 2011 9:15 am

“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

PeterB
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Re: Ajahn Chah Zen Theravada?

Postby PeterB » Fri Feb 18, 2011 9:17 am

Right place, right time,
undeserved, Ben...

PeterB
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Re: Ajahn Chah Zen Theravada?

Postby PeterB » Fri Feb 18, 2011 10:05 am

It crossed my mind to start a new topic..Why I AM a Theravadin, but it seemed untimely... :roll:

Had I started that thread my entry would have been simply
Because I met (in chronological order ) Dhiravamsa, Luang Por Sumedho and Luang Por Chah.

plwk
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Re: Ajahn Chah Zen Theravada?

Postby plwk » Fri Feb 18, 2011 10:26 am


PeterB
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Re: Ajahn Chah Zen Theravada?

Postby PeterB » Fri Feb 18, 2011 10:30 am

Perhaps.

meindzai
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Re: Ajahn Chah Zen Theravada?

Postby meindzai » Fri Feb 18, 2011 3:08 pm


meindzai
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Re: Ajahn Chah Zen Theravada?

Postby meindzai » Fri Feb 18, 2011 3:20 pm

As much as I hate using the word "zen-like" to describe people it's really hard to disagree that Ajahn Chah seems to have this quality.

One thing to note about Ajahn Chah is that he was not only deeply versed in the Suttas but also put a lot of attention on Vinaya. On the surface this sets him apart from the Zen approach, much of which throws vinaya out the window. But the thing about it is that the Vinaya is the "discipline" while the Suttas are "doctrine" and he seems to have put a great deal of emphasis on the discipline - i.e. getting right down to practice, though not at the expense of doctrine. His teachings come across as very personal, rather than mechanical, and he seems to have really disliked Abhidhamma. (Comparing it once to going to a chicken shack and removing the shit rather than the eggs).

Zen teachers who have encountered Ajahn Chah's teachings identify with him rather strongly. Certainly those of us who have experience in both Theravada and Zen seem to find a kind of meeting point there in his teachings.

The Zen sect continues to diverge in a few different directions, one being the "everything is cool" beatnik variety and another including an increased emphasis of study of Theravada teachings. Again Chah fits well here. Another caveat though is that his very personal teachings, like a lot of the Zen teachings, ought not to be confused with the doctrine itself as they are delivered on a very individual and situational level.

-M

PeterB
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Re: Ajahn Chah Zen Theravada?

Postby PeterB » Fri Feb 18, 2011 3:27 pm

I was referring to a suggestion that his teaching was the same as Zen....at most he would have talked of the same aquafer being tapped, not of the same methodology or framework. And as long as we are simply addressing outcomes rather than process ...anything goes doesnt it ?

I could draw another comparison with something Trungpa Rinpoche said.... "we see ourselves as Enlightened..on a stage..with a well positioned spotlight
there is just one thing wrong with this touching scene..when Enlightenment happens YOU wont be there at all "

Which I think is the same as Luang Por Chah's " Dont be a Bodhisattva, dont be an Arahant...dont be anything ".

Nyana
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Re: Ajahn Chah Zen Theravada?

Postby Nyana » Fri Feb 18, 2011 3:44 pm


PeterB
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Re: Ajahn Chah Zen Theravada?

Postby PeterB » Fri Feb 18, 2011 4:04 pm

An example of actual, non ideologically driven, parallel development which arose from the attainments of charismatic leaders.
Rather than a emtionally driven need to avoid exploring difference.

Ven Hua's Sangha and that of the Forest Sangha have a good deal of mutually supportive dealings.

Nyana
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Re: Ajahn Chah Zen Theravada?

Postby Nyana » Fri Feb 18, 2011 4:06 pm


PeterB
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Re: Ajahn Chah Zen Theravada?

Postby PeterB » Fri Feb 18, 2011 4:23 pm

One of the current Ajahns when a young monk wanted to join Ven Hua's monks on one of their famous " bowing" pilgrimages...but it would have cut into Rains Retreat and so it didnt happen. Apart from that practical problem, his Abbott was fully supportive of the idea.

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Viscid
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Re: Ajahn Chah Zen Theravada?

Postby Viscid » Fri Feb 18, 2011 5:52 pm

"What holds attention determines action." - William James

Euclid
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Re: Ajahn Chah Zen Theravada?

Postby Euclid » Sun Feb 20, 2011 8:39 pm

I know of another reference to Zen Buddhism in Ajahn Chah's work:

(an excerpt from his talk, The Two Faces of Reality)

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 quarrelled 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. 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 the flag, then there is the wind; if there is the wind, then there is the flag. You should contemplate and reflect on this thoroughly until you see in accordance with the Truth. If considered well, then there will remain nothing. It's empty, void; - empty of the flag and empty of the wind. There is no birth, no old age, no sickness, no 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 practise 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.


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