Theravada meets Zen-The teachings of Ajahn Chah and Huang Po

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Theravada meets Zen-The teachings of Ajahn Chah and Huang Po

Postby clw_uk » Wed Jul 31, 2013 2:38 am

I would like to share some similarities I see in the teaching of Ajahn Chah and Huang Po

Huang Po

Sentient beings are attached to forms and so seek externally for Buddhahood. By their very seeking they lose it
...

If you students of the Way wish to become Buddhas, you need study no doctrines whatever, but learn only how to avoid seeking for and attaching yourselves to anything


Ajahn Chah

Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing.



Huang Po

'Studying the Way’ is just a figure of speech [...] In fact, the Way is not something which can be studied. You must not allow this name [the Way] to lead you into forming a mental concept of a road.


Ajahn Chah

Traditionally the Eightfold Path is taught with eight steps such as Right Understanding, Right Speech, Right Concentration, and so forth. But the true Eightfold Path is within us-two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, a tongue, and a body. These eight doors are our entire Path and the mind is the one that walks on the Path. Know these doors, examine them, and all the dharmas will be revealed



Huang Po

All the Buddhas and all sentient beings are nothing but the One Mind, beside which nothing exists. The One Mind alone is the Buddha, and there is no distinction between the Buddha and sentient beings



Ajahn Chah

So the Buddha was not enlightened in India. In fact he was never enlightened, was never born, and never died. This timeless Buddha is our true home, our abiding place. When we take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, all things in the world are free for us. They become our teacher, proclaiming the one true nature of life.


And to finish, a quote from Huang Po


So know directly that "it is!"

Without seeking or acting.

For a Buddha to seek Buddha

Is just a waste of energy.

If you let a Dharma-view arise,

You'll only fall into Mara's realm.

Don't separate the worldly and the holy;

Then seeing and hearing will disappear.


Any thoughts or comments?


Quotes taken from

http://www.abuddhistlibrary.com/Buddhism/C%20-%20Zen/Ancestors/The%20Zen%20Teachings%20of%20Huang%20Po/Zen%20Teachings%20of%20Huang-po.htm

http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books2/Ajahn_Chah_A_Still_Forest_Pool.htmStill_Forest_Pool.htm[/url
“ Your mind is likewise blocked. But the right road awaits you still. Cast out your doubts, your fears and your desires, let go of grief and of hope as well, for where these rule , then the mind is their subject." Boetius
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Re: Theravada meets Zen-The teachings of Ajahn Chah and Huan

Postby convivium » Wed Jul 31, 2013 9:24 am

next you should do buddhadasa and huineng!
Just keep breathing in and out like this. Don't be interested in anything else. It doesn't matter even if someone is standing on their head with their ass in the air. Don't pay it any attention. Just stay with the in-breath and the out-breath. Concentrate your awareness on the breath. Just keep doing it. http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Just_Do_It_1_2.php
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Re: Theravada meets Zen-The teachings of Ajahn Chah and Huan

Postby gavesako » Wed Jul 31, 2013 12:25 pm

Actually it was Buddhadasa who translated the Chinese Chan classics into Thai (via English I think) and Ajahn Chah read some of them towards the end of his life. Also his Western disciples used to question him about Zen. But he would not have known these teachings in his young and middle years. Also some of the early Western translations of Ajahn Chah were done by monks who were keen on Mahayana and they would have chosen terminology that reflects that and might not be quite accurate when compared to the original Thai.
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Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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Re: Theravada meets Zen-The teachings of Ajahn Chah and Huan

Postby Dan74 » Wed Jul 31, 2013 1:35 pm

gavesako wrote:Actually it was Buddhadasa who translated the Chinese Chan classics into Thai (via English I think) and Ajahn Chah read some of them towards the end of his life. Also his Western disciples used to question him about Zen. But he would not have known these teachings in his young and middle years. Also some of the early Western translations of Ajahn Chah were done by monks who were keen on Mahayana and they would have chosen terminology that reflects that and might not be quite accurate when compared to the original Thai.


It would be interesting to see some examples of these inaccuracies, Bhante.
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Re: Theravada meets Zen-The teachings of Ajahn Chah and Huan

Postby gavesako » Wed Jul 31, 2013 1:55 pm

Just compare the early editions of Ajahn Chah books with the most recent translations, such as those by Ajahn Thanissaro. Terms such as "Original Mind" or "Buddha Nature" occur in the former but not in the latter.
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Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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Re: Theravada meets Zen-The teachings of Ajahn Chah and Huan

Postby greggorious » Wed Jul 31, 2013 2:25 pm

Just a question here. Do you think many Thai forest teachings and Zen teachings are similar because they are both fundamentally meditative traditions? The Thai forest tradition doesn't reference the Pali canon as much as say, the Burmese or sri lankan's do, and Zen doesn't cling to mahayana sutra's as much as Tibetans and Pure lander's do. They are both traditions that practice finding out was is true for yourself.

This is a very VERY lay person't observation, but do I have a point?
"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 not 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.” Ajahn Chah
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Re: Theravada meets Zen-The teachings of Ajahn Chah and Huan

Postby Mr Man » Wed Jul 31, 2013 3:15 pm

gavesako wrote:Just compare the early editions of Ajahn Chah books with the most recent translations, such as those by Ajahn Thanissaro. Terms such as "Original Mind" or "Buddha Nature" occur in the former but not in the latter.


Hi Bhante, I'm not sure if comparing English translations would really flag up inaccuracies. I think it is worth noting that the early translations were done by monks who were living/lived with Ajahn Chah, while Ajahn Chah was alive.
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Re: Theravada meets Zen-The teachings of Ajahn Chah and Huan

Postby gavesako » Wed Jul 31, 2013 5:03 pm

It is mainly the choice of words, which of course depend on the translators' own background against which they are interpreting Ajahn Chah's words. It is described quite well by Paul Breiter in his book Venerable Father (he was one of the early translators). Someone like Jack Kornfield in A Taste of Freedom seems to have chosen terminology that reminds one of the old Chan masters for example. But more recent translations were done by monks with a much longer experience in Thailand and much better grasp of the Thai language. Ajahn Jayasaro said that there were inaccuracies in the way the early generation of Western monks understood Thai-Isan language itself, and it took them a while to deepen their comprehension and include the wider context of the whole Thai Buddhism within which it is embedded. (For instance, it might have escaped the early translators that quite often Ajahn Chah is actually referring to some Suttas or standard "Nak Tham" subjects which he learnt as a young monk, but they never came across.)

But there is definitely a point in that the Thai forest monks just like the old Chan/Zen monks emphasize meditation practice and will speak from their direct experience rather than be quoting some commentarial texts in a strict way.
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

ajahnchah.org - Teachings of Ajahn Chah in many languages
Dhammatube - Videos on Buddhist practice
Ancient Buddhist Texts - Translations and history of Pali texts
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Re: Theravada meets Zen-The teachings of Ajahn Chah and Huan

Postby Mr Man » Thu Aug 01, 2013 9:43 am

gavesako wrote:It is mainly the choice of words, which of course depend on the translators' own background against which they are interpreting Ajahn Chah's words. It is described quite well by Paul Breiter in his book Venerable Father (he was one of the early translators). Someone like Jack Kornfield in A Taste of Freedom seems to have chosen terminology that reminds one of the old Chan masters for example. But more recent translations were done by monks with a much longer experience in Thailand and much better grasp of the Thai language. Ajahn Jayasaro said that there were inaccuracies in the way the early generation of Western monks understood Thai-Isan language itself, and it took them a while to deepen their comprehension and include the wider context of the whole Thai Buddhism within which it is embedded. (For instance, it might have escaped the early translators that quite often Ajahn Chah is actually referring to some Suttas or standard "Nak Tham" subjects which he learnt as a young monk, but they never came across.)

But there is definitely a point in that the Thai forest monks just like the old Chan/Zen monks emphasize meditation practice and will speak from their direct experience rather than be quoting some commentarial texts in a strict way.


It would seem that some of the ways of teaching and concepts used by some of the forest monks were fairly idiosyncratic and at odds with more orthodox understanding of Theravada. A unique terminology was created within this grouping with concepts like jit derm, poo roo, etc
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Re: Theravada meets Zen-The teachings of Ajahn Chah and Huan

Postby suriyopama » Tue Aug 06, 2013 8:34 am

Last month I attended a meditation retreat with Ajahn Brahm, and he warned us that some books are putting things in the mouth of Ajahn Chah that he never said. They consulted the original tape recordings, just to be sure that he did not said those things, and then they asked the writer why he was doing that. The answer was: “that is what Ajahn Chah would have said”.

He didn’t mention who is that writer.

:shrug: :reading: :shrug:
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Re: Theravada meets Zen-The teachings of Ajahn Chah and Huan

Postby Dan74 » Sun Aug 11, 2013 2:40 pm

It's nice to see parallels in teachings of various traditions especially as a defense against sectarianism and to promote the notions of 'all paths lead to Rome'.

I've sort of given up on that, not because it isn't so, but because it doesn't really cut the mustard. It doesn't help to attend to this moment and cut through the tangled mass of habit and delusion, which is right here, rather than in thoughts about various traditions and similarities. For me, that's just more proliferations that don't really help.

They may help some people, so I don't want to diss them, just my take on this.
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