Ajahn Chah Zen Theravada?

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Re: Ajahn Chah Zen Theravada?

Postby Dan74 » Mon Feb 21, 2011 2:03 am

Regarding the flag, this is the story:

Case 29 (of the Gateless Gate Collection): Huineng's flag

Two monks were watching a flag flapping in the wind. One said to the other, "The flag is moving."
The other replied, "The wind is moving."
Huineng overheard this. He said, "Not the flag, not the wind; mind is moving."
_/|\_
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Re: Ajahn Chah Zen Theravada?

Postby Sylvester » Mon Feb 21, 2011 3:28 am

PeterB wrote:Right place, right time,
undeserved, Ben...


I can't think of a better example of punna ripening, at the right place and the right time. :anjali:

It took me a while to figure out that his famous Tuccho Pothila story was actually from the Dhammapada Commentary, so one wonders just how much of the extra-Canonical material he was familiar with.
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Re: Ajahn Chah Zen Theravada?

Postby PeterB » Mon Feb 21, 2011 8:41 am

The fact that he set no great store by the Abhidhamma should not lead us to conclude that he wasnt highly familiar with it...
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Re: Ajahn Chah Zen Theravada?

Postby Sylvester » Mon Feb 21, 2011 9:24 am

PeterB wrote:The fact that he set no great store by the Abhidhamma should not lead us to conclude that he wasnt highly familiar with it...



I agree. I get the sense, from the account of his first interview with Ajahn Mun, that he was actually quite familiar with the Visuddhimagga, as well as the Thai text Pubbasikkha Vannana. In fact, he was finding the rules therein somewhat difficult to implement, given the complexity. I guess this might suggest that Ajahn Chah was much more well-read than his teaching method might have otherwise suggested.
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Re: Ajahn Chah Zen Theravada?

Postby PeterB » Mon Feb 21, 2011 9:31 am

He could quote whole suttas from memory.

Its like jazz. You have to be highly skilled and to have studied your instrument in geat depth in order to improvise.

Luang Por was not tapping into some mythical Buddha Nature...he knew his stuff.
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Re: Ajahn Chah Zen Theravada?

Postby Sylvester » Mon Feb 21, 2011 9:37 am

Ahh, that is REALLY to gratifying to hear!

I've been told that the WPN translation committee has only decided to transcribe and translate the more "accessible" of Ajahn Chah's talks. Any idea if there might be any more unpublished material on the Jhanas?
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Re: Ajahn Chah Zen Theravada?

Postby PeterB » Mon Feb 21, 2011 9:58 am

Almost certainly Sylvester. But probably the best way to access his teachings is through the present Ajahns who trained with him.
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Re: Ajahn Chah Zen Theravada?

Postby Dan74 » Mon Feb 21, 2011 10:15 am

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 no 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 nonself, beyond birth and death. When we see with the eye of wisdom, we know that the true 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.
_/|\_
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Re: Ajahn Chah Zen Theravada?

Postby PeterB » Mon Feb 21, 2011 10:23 am

We could of course quote and counter quote all day. What however we would be quoting are remarks made to specific individuals on specific days for specific reasons. Which have then been edited.

To other people he would reply in terms of the Refuges and precepts, and Sila.


If we want to know about Luang Por Chah we need to sit at the feet of his Dhamma heirs.
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Re: Ajahn Chah Zen Theravada?

Postby Dan74 » Mon Feb 21, 2011 10:57 am

PeterB wrote:We could of course quote and counter quote all day. What however we would be quoting are remarks made to specific individuals on specific days for specific reasons. Which have then been edited.


I agree. It just seems that he didn't have the same dismissive attitude to Buddha-nature as is sometimes seen on this forum.

PeterB wrote:To other people he would reply in terms of the Refuges and precepts, and Sila.


As any good teacher would.

PeterB wrote:If we want to know about Luang Por Chah we need to sit at the feet of his Dhamma heirs.


Maybe one day. In the meantime I go and hear them whenever they come here.
_/|\_
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Re: Ajahn Chah Zen Theravada?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Feb 21, 2011 11:00 am

Dan74 wrote:
PeterB wrote:We could of course quote and counter quote all day. What however we would be quoting are remarks made to specific individuals on specific days for specific reasons. Which have then been edited.


I agree. It just seems that he didn't have the same dismissive attitude to Buddha-nature as is sometimes seen on this forum.
?
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: Ajahn Chah Zen Theravada?

Postby PeterB » Mon Feb 21, 2011 11:16 am

Dan74 wrote:
PeterB wrote:We could of course quote and counter quote all day. What however we would be quoting are remarks made to specific individuals on specific days for specific reasons. Which have then been edited.


I agree. It just seems that he didn't have the same dismissive attitude to Buddha-nature as is sometimes seen on this forum.

PeterB wrote:To other people he would reply in terms of the Refuges and precepts, and Sila.


As any good teacher would.

PeterB wrote:If we want to know about Luang Por Chah we need to sit at the feet of his Dhamma heirs.


Maybe one day. In the meantime I go and hear them whenever they come here.

Try telling those Forest Ajahns that Luang Por Chah set any store by concepts like " Buddha Nature. "

Test it out for yourself. I am reasonably confident that you will hear that he had little truck with ANY abstract concepts to build an identity around.

We are not talking about a legendary figure here. We are talking about someone who many of us still breathing sat with. And walked with, and ate with, and passed in the corridor on the way to the lavatory.
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Re: Ajahn Chah Zen Theravada?

Postby Dan74 » Tue Feb 22, 2011 12:22 am

PeterB wrote:
Dan74 wrote:
PeterB wrote:We could of course quote and counter quote all day. What however we would be quoting are remarks made to specific individuals on specific days for specific reasons. Which have then been edited.


I agree. It just seems that he didn't have the same dismissive attitude to Buddha-nature as is sometimes seen on this forum.

PeterB wrote:To other people he would reply in terms of the Refuges and precepts, and Sila.


As any good teacher would.

PeterB wrote:If we want to know about Luang Por Chah we need to sit at the feet of his Dhamma heirs.


Maybe one day. In the meantime I go and hear them whenever they come here.

Try telling those Forest Ajahns that Luang Por Chah set any store by concepts like " Buddha Nature. "


Why test it out - the quote above is very clear. I don't think he was talking about a concept though, rather about reality as he knew it.

PeterB wrote:Test it out for yourself. I am reasonably confident that you will hear that he had little truck with ANY abstract concepts to build an identity around.

"abstract concepts to build an identity around" have nothing to do with Buddha-nature as it is seen in Mahayana.

We are not talking about a legendary figure here. We are talking about someone who many of us still breathing sat with. And walked with, and ate with, and passed in the corridor on the way to the lavatory.


Good for you. But what's that got to do with the matter at hand?
_/|\_
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Re: Ajahn Chah Zen Theravada?

Postby PeterB » Tue Feb 22, 2011 8:11 am

Ok as clearly a wink is not enough, it relates to the matter in hand in so much as I and many others have heard him dismiss "Buddha Nature" and similar concepts roundly.
But dont take my word for it.
We are all free of course to reinvent someone we never knew once they are safetly dead.
Which is why I suggest that if you want to know about Luang Por, ask the Ajahns who trained with him...we are fortunate that there are many of them left.
Dont approach him through edited highlights of books that he did not author and project onto them meaning which suits our preexisting view.
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Re: Ajahn Chah Zen Theravada?

Postby Dan74 » Tue Feb 22, 2011 9:50 am

How is "the original mind" (more of a Zen expression) different, in your view, to Buddha-nature (a more Indian Mahayana way of saying the same thing)?

He says "original mind" and Ajahn Dune Atulo says Buddha-nature (which is a very familiar concept in Thai Buddhism by the way) but they mean the same thing.

I am not trying to reinvent anything here just seeing Thai Forest master pointing to the same thing as Zen and other Mahayana masters, using strikingly similar language, adjectives and similes.

Incidentally Ajahn Chah said this about the Sixth Patriarch of Chan, Huineng, reputed to be the author of the Platform Sutra, which is basically a treatise on the Buddha-nature:

Hui Neng's wisdom is very keen. It is very profound teaching,not easy for beginners to understand. But if you practise with our discipline and with patience, if you practise not-clinging, you will eventually understand. Once I had a disciple who stayed in a grass-roofed hut. It rained often that rainy season and one day a strong wind blew off half the roof. He did not bother to fix it, just let it rain in. Several days passed and I asked him about his hut. He said he was practising not-clinging. This is not-clinging without wisdom. It is about the same as the equanimity of a water buffalo. If you live a good life and live simply, if you are patient and unselfish, you will understand the wisdom of Hui Neng.


Like I've said before - I agree with Tilt that Theravadins don't need to worry about the Platform Sutra, Zen or Mahayana in general. And I am not trying to convince anybody here that Mahayana is so great or even offers something that Theravadins must have (both of these claims lie outside my knowledge and experience). There is just the fact that outstanding Thai Forest masters have on occasion taught in remarkably similar ways to Zen (Chan) masters and also had some healthy appreciation of their work.

There will of course be many differences as well.
_/|\_
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Re: Ajahn Chah Zen Theravada?

Postby PeterB » Tue Feb 22, 2011 10:12 am

As it clearly matters to you I leave you to have the last word.
:anjali:
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Re: Ajahn Chah Zen Theravada?

Postby meindzai » Tue Feb 22, 2011 12:51 pm

My impression is that when Chah spoke of things that sound like a Buddha nature concept he was usually speaking colloquially and specifically about taking a particular attitude and strategy towards meditation. He would have known more than anybody that there is no Buddha-nature concept in the Pali Canon and he did not refer to it in an abstract sense. I've found no talks where he talks about Buddha nature or anything like that as an abstraction.

Native English speakers also have to keep in mind that a lot of these talks have been translated from Thai and some of these translations might be questionable, including the use of the word "Original Mind" (with capital letters). To the extent that the english speaking world is Buddhist it has a Mahayana bias which shows up in translations of even Theravada works.

It is really a problem of talking something that was meant as a here-and-now discourse to a specific group of people and writing it down and now here we are talking about it as if it's some sort of doctrine, which it isn't. My sense is that he would be very much disturbed to see this kind of debate over his talks.

-M
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Re: Ajahn Chah Zen Theravada?

Postby PeterB » Tue Feb 22, 2011 1:00 pm

I strongly suspect that you are correct on all points meindzi.
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Re: Ajahn Chah Zen Theravada?

Postby PeterB » Tue Feb 22, 2011 1:02 pm

PeterB wrote:I strongly suspect that you are correct on all points meindzi.


( except the minor point that many of them have been translated from the Lao, Luang Por was Kon Isan, they are Lao speakers. )


Many of the talks have been edited by Jack Kornfield who was a monk for a relatively short time in the Forest Sangha and is a key player in the " Pan Buddhist" movement...
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Re: Ajahn Chah Zen Theravada?

Postby Saijun » Tue Aug 09, 2011 3:47 pm

meindzai wrote:It is really a problem of talking something that was meant as a here-and-now discourse to a specific group of people and writing it down and now here we are talking about it as if it's some sort of doctrine, which it isn't. My sense is that he would be very much disturbed to see this kind of debate over his talks.


Hello meindzai,

Just as an aside, weren't the Suttas originally "here-and-now" discourses for "a specific group of people?" Ultimately, a teacher can only teach "here-and-now" to "a specific group of people." Otherwise the teacher would be more of a philosopher, no? In the end, it's all about getting down to the root of this "birth and death" thing, no?

(My apologies if "necor-posting" is frowned upon here)

Metta and Anjali,

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