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SPIRITUAL ATTAINMENT AND
VERBAL EXPRESSION TO THAT REALITY



-- --


"THOSE WHO HAVE NOT ATTAINED AWAKENING SHOULD PENETRATE INTO
THE MEANING OF REALITY, WHILE THOSE WHO HAVE ALREADY ATTAINED
SHOULD PRACTICE GIVING VERBAL EXPRESSION TO THAT REALITY"



The above quote shows up at least two times --- and maybe more --- in works by the Wanderling. Once in the paper on Te Shan, the Zen master notorious for burning all his Zen books following his Awakening; another time in Zen Enlightenment in a Nutshell. The question regarding the specific source for that quote is brought up on a regular basis...usually by those who harbor some sort of philosophical gripe or harbor a disagreement within themselves with regards to the meaning behind the content.

While it is true the origin of the quote's source using those exact same words in that same specific order is lost somewhere in the vast canyons of cyber-space or even the mist of time, the inference behind the meaning has been used throughout the history of Zen and Buddhism in a variety of writings, words, thoughts, and speech, primarily extrapolated from three major sources:


I. THOSE WHO HAVE NOT ATTAINED AWAKENING:

Citta-viveka: Mental seclusion. Those of you aiming for inner seclusion in line with the levels of your concentration have already attained a fair amount. Those of you who are just beginning, who don't have any mental seclusion in your hearts, should try to nourish the Five Strengths to make them solid. Inner seclusion will gradually appear step by step. Those of you who have attained an adequate amount of inner seclusion should try to make it more and more refined, at the same time developing discernment or circumspection with regard to your seclusion. As for those of you at the higher stages of the practice, you should urgently gather up persistence with discernment so as to make it adequate, and it will bear fruit as Upadhi-viveka --- absolute seclusion from the defilements --- appearing clearly to your hearts.


II. ALREADY ATTAINED SHOULD PRACTICE GIVING VERBAL EXPRESSION:

Ugghatita˝˝u: Of swift understanding. After the Buddha attained Awakening and was considering whether or not to teach the Dharma, he perceived that there were four categories of beings: those of swift understanding, who would gain Awakening after a short explanation of the Dharma (ugghatita˝˝u); those who would gain Awakening only after a lengthy explanation (vipacita˝˝u); those who would gain Awakening only after being led through the practice (neyya); and those who, instead of gaining Awakening, would at best gain only a verbal understanding of the Dharma (padaparama). As stated above, following his Enlightenment the Buddha seriously considered not even attempting to teach his newfound Truths because he despaired anyone being able to understand:


"The Enlightenment won by me is deep, difficult to see, difficult to understand," the Buddha thought on the night of his awakening. "...For human beings this would be a matter difficult to see... If I were to teach [it] and others were not to understand me, that would be a weariness to me, that would be a vexation to me." (source)


His decision, of course, was to TEACH. That opened the door for OTHERS to follow. They inturn became teachers in his footsteps as did, for example, Mahakashyapa, following the infamous flower and smile episode at Vulture Peak. Remember too, even though the Buddha's teaching is recorded in the Tipitaka which has since has come down to us in a written format as texts and sutras, it was done so several hundred years after he passed away. In the interim his teachings had been handed down over the centuries from one person to the next verbally.

It must be understood in its utmost, though, as Dr. D. Phillip Stanley writes in THE ROLE OF TEXTS & THE STUDY OF VIEW IN BUDDHISM, the most profound meaning of Dharma is understood to transcend words. In Buddhism, teachings are clearly not viewed as the goal itself, but as useful in pointing to, suggesting, leading to, that goal. Since the Buddhist canon is an EXEMPLARY VERBAL EXPRESSION of the Buddhist teachings, it is important to understand the role of teachings as skillful means in order to understand the place of the canon, or more generally, of texts, concepts, and the intellect in the Buddhist tradition.

Modern Enlightened master Luangpor Teean in the process of giving verbal expression to his Attainment relates that for him to simply refer to the texts all the time would be like guaranteeing the truth of the claims of another, claims of which he is not certain. But the things that he tells you he is able to guarantee, because he speaks from his own direct Experience.

He goes on to say the text is like a map: it is suitable for those who don't know the way to go, or have not yet arrived at the destination. For one that has arrived, the map no longer means anything.


Charles Muller, in the rather extensive paper Innate Enlightenment and No-thought, writes how the Buddha, continuing in a similar theme speaking to Subhuuti, the Arhat interlocutor of the Diamond Sutra goes on to say:


"Subhuuti, what do you think, does the Tathaagata have a dharma to be explained or not?"

Subhuuti answered the Buddha, saying, "World-honored one, the Tathaagata has no dharma to be explained."

Tao-ch'uan, (one of the five commentators) says: "Quietly, quietly."


Muller then adds commmentaries from a much later Zen adept, the Choson monk Kihwa (Hamho Tukt'ong; 1376-1433):


"The Buddha has nothing to explain; this is definitely true. But 'saying nothing' is also not the Buddha's original intention. That is why Tao-ch'uan says 'quietly, quietly.' One should not claim one-sidedly that there is 'nothing to be said.'"


A bit further on Kihwa adds:


". . . therefore it is said, 'even though you do not rely on the path of verbal teaching, you should also not be attached to the position which fully rejects verbal explanation.'"


Kihwa considers the Diamond Sutra to be so valuable exactly because he understands "non-abiding" to be the key of all Buddhist practices. Again relying on the essence-function framework, he says:


"Non-abiding is the great essence of the myriad practices, and the myriad practices are all the great function of non-abiding. The teaching of the compassionate saint [the Buddha] takes non-abiding as its abode. With the great essence shining, one cannot but be aware of the great function.


Concerning the relationship of the Diamond Sutra with the practice of non-abiding, Kihwa says:


Prajnaa's divine source is vast, lacking all kinds of characteristics. It is extensive, yet lacks an abode. It is empty and not existing; it is profound and unknown. Now this single sutra takes this as its core teaching and as its essence. Although there is no awareness, there is nothing that it does not know. Although there is no abiding, there is no place where it does not abide. Although lacking characteristics, it does not obstruct any characteristics. This is the function of marvelous existence. What all buddhas have realized is exactly the realization of this. What all the patriarchs have transmitted is exactly the transmission of this. Their means of awakening people is also exactly through this.


In the Diamond Sutra, non-abiding is equated with the lack of attachment to any characteristic (hsiang/sang). Therefore the Diamond Sutra's discussion (as is the case with the other texts of the prajnaapaaramitaa genre) carries out a systematic refutation of the abiding in characteristics, and most importantly, the abiding in characteristics of selfhood and thinghood. The same then, applies for abiding in either of the positions of "words" or "wordlessness."

In summary, Kihwa is strongly opposed to exclusivist positions either for or against the role of written language in the cultivation of the dharma. But since his articulation of the polarity is through essence and function, we can say that while Kihwa accepts the validity of both approaches, it is clear that the "wordless" teaching, being the essence, has priority, and the textual approach is secondary. But "primary" and "secondary" here should not be understood in an either-or manner. The secondary is just as necessary to the primary as is the primary to the secondary. You can't have one without the other. We find both Chinul's and Kihwa's positions reiterated throughout the subsequent Korean tradition, in subtle detail. The leading Sôn master of the later Chosôn, Hyujông, also discussed this matter at great length in his writings.

By contrast, we have seen the Diamond Sutra cited in the Critical Buddhist project in an attempt to support the thesis that Ch'an materials advocate "no-thought" understood as a kind of mental blankness, together with selected citations from Mo-ho-yen, who, although well-known to scholars of Tibetan Buddhism for his defeat in the famous sudden-gradual debate, is a decidedly minor figure in the history of the development of Ch'an. Here Mo-ho-yen is cited as stating that "conceptualizing is a defect," supported by a quote from the Diamond Sutra to the effect that: "The Diamond Sutra says, 'One who is free from all conceptions is called Buddha.'" Based on our above discussion, however, we can know that this phrase "free from all conception," should be taken, rather than referring to some sort of permanent incapacitation of the faculty of thought, to mean exactly what it says: namely "freedom from conceptions," which is none other than the ability to be unattached to one's concepts, to be able to stand away from the never-ending flow of discursive consciousness. This line from the Diamond Sutra is in perfect agreement with what we have seen in the Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment and Platform Sutra. I would further point out that the Diamond Sutra, as a text whose theme is nothing but the investigation of, and countering of, the tendency to reify and attach to conceptual constructs has no line in it that asserts, that "conceptualizing" [in itself] "is a defect."


NOTE: The above mentioned Platform Sutra, the powerful classical and spiritual instrument it is, is the same spiritual instigating source that initially brought about, to my knowledge, the only known example of an Enlightenment experience to a person primarily through the use of the internet: A Child of the Cyber-Sangha



The mysterious and anonymous spiritual personage Wei Wu Wei whose true identity only became known to a more general spiritual audience following his death and who counted such luminaries as the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, Lama Anagarika Govinda, Paul Brunton, Albert Sorensen (Shunyata), and Dr. D. T. Suzuki among his friends, using the written word regarding the written or spoken word, presented the following, concerning passing on information --- i.e., teaching, as the case may be --- to others:


"...give any information you have garnered to a fellow traveler along the Way. Why? Because the same information would have helped the person who compiled it if it had been given to him, and that is why he compiled it --- and that is why it should be offered to others along the Way."

An interpretation from the works of:
WEI WU WEI


And of which the Wanderling is in full agreement with.



III. THE FOUR BODHISATTVA VOWS:

Sentient beings are numberless,
I vow to free them. (see)

Delusions are inexhaustible,
I vow to end them

The Dharma gates are boundless,
I vow to open them.

The Enlightened Way is unsurpassable,
I vow to embody it.



SEE:
SRI RAMANA MAHARSHI: THE LAST AMERICAN DARSHAN

RECOUNTING A YOUNG BOY'S NEARLY INSTANT TRANSFORMATION INTO THE ABSOLUTE DURING HIS ONLY DARSHAN WITH THE MAHARSHI



Fundamentally, our experience as experienced is not different from the Zen master's. Where
we differ is that we place a fog, a particular kind of conceptual overlay onto that experience
and then make an emotional investment in that overlay, taking it to be "real" in and of itself.


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AWAKENED TEACHERS FORUM


ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT IN A NUTSHELL




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FIVE STRENGTHS FOR ONE IN TRAINING:

  1. Strength of Conviction

  2. Strength of Conscience

  3. Strength of Concern

  4. Strength of Persistence

  5. Strength of Discernment



FIVE STRENGTHS: THEIR FACULTIES AND POWERS:

Faith and Wisdom balance each other, as do Energy and Concentration. The Five Faculties are ‘controlling' faculties because they control or master their opposites. The faculties and powers are two aspects of the same thing.

  1. Faith (saddha) - controls doubt
  2. Energy/Effort/Persistence (viriya, also Virya) – controls laziness
  3. Mindfulness (sati); - controls heedlessness
  4. Concentration (Samadhi) - controls distraction
  5. Wisdom (panna, also prajna)/Discernment – controls ignorance

The last, above, Wisdom (panna, prajna), is designated into Five Stages:

  1. The First Stage is Namarupa-pariccheda-nana, the knowledge of the difference between mentality and physicality.

  2. The Second Stage is Paccayapariggaha-nana, knowledge of causality or knowledge of the Law of Cause and Effect.

  3. The Third Stage is Samma-sana-nana, knowledge of comprehension. Knowledge which penetrates and comprehends all the three characteristics of mental and physical processes: anicca, dukkha and anatta.

  4. The Fourth Stage is Udayabbaya-nana, knowledge of arising and passing away of mental and physical phenomena.

  5. The Fifth Stage is Sotapatti-magga-nana, also Sotapanna, the First Stage of Realization, one who has eradicated the first three fetters of the Ten Fetters of Buddhism. Sakadagami and Anagami are at the second and third stage of Realization, Arahat the fourth.

















According to the scriptures Mental Seclusion is the attainment of Jhana Absorption. Those who practise Samatha Mediation gain jhana absorption which expels (nivarana) hindrances such as lobha, dosa, moha, conceit. Hence their mind is calm and clean, that is mental seclusion. Mental seclusion promotes more happiness than physical seclusion.

As for Vipassana Meditation, mental seclusion is not readily gained at the beginning of practice in the meditation center. After practising for several days meditator's mind wanders no more; noting mind settles on the object of noting precisely. With proficient concentration, the meditatior can note successively and thereupon lobha, dosa and moha have no opportunity to arise. This annihilation of lobha ,dosa and moha is mental seclusion. The meditator who had passed the Fourth Stage, Udayabbaya Nana, experiences with mental seclusion more vividly.

Both samatha meditators and vipassana meditators gain Physical Seclusion when they leave their family and enter a meditation center. Samatha meditators gain mental seclusion when they attain jhana absorption whereas vipassana meditation gain mental seclusion where the concentration is mature and noting is precise and objective.


The Buddha himself outlined several major factors that makes Physical Seclusion favorable to meditation and Jhana --- as well as describing, as found in the Sutras, a whole slew of factors considered unfavorable to the development of the Jhana states as related to study-practice in a monastery.

The texts mention The Eighteen Faults of a Monastery, that is, unfavorable to the development of Jhana. They are, briefly, a large monastery, a new one, a dilapidated one, one near a road, one with a pond, leaves, flowers or fruits, one sought after by many people, one in cities, among timber of fields, where people quarrel, in a port, in border lands, on a frontier, a haunted place, and one without access to a spiritual teacher.

















Ugghatitannu: an individual who encounters a Buddha in person and who is capable of attaining the Noble Path and Noble Truth through the mere hearing of a short discourse.


Vipancitannu: an individual who can attain the Paths and the Fruition states only when a discourse is expounded to him at some considerable length.


Neyya: an individual who does not have the capability of attaining the Paths and the Fruition states through the hearing of either a short or a long discourse but who must make a study of the teachings and practise the provisions contained therein for days, months or years in order that he may attain the Paths and the Fruition states.

An individual of the Neyya class can become a Sotpanna in this present life if he faithfully practises the Bodhipakkhiya-Dhamma comprising satipatthana (Four Applications of Mindfulness), sammapadhana (Right Exertion), etc. If the individual is lax in his practice, he can become a Sotapanna only in his next existence after being reborn in the deva planes. If he dies while still aloof from these (Bodhipakkhiya-Dhammas) he will become a total loss so far as the present Buddha Sasana is concerned, but he can still attain release from worldly ills if he encounters the Sasana of the next Buddha.


Padaparama: one whose highest attainment is the text. An individual who, though he encounters the Buddha-teaching or Buddha-doctrine (Buddha Sasana) and puts forth the utmost possible effort in both the study and practice of the Dhamma, cannot attain the Paths and the Fruition states within this lifetime. All that he can do is accumulate habits and potential. Such a person cannot obtain release from Samsara.

An individual of the Padaparama class can attain release only within the present Buddha Sasana after rebirth in the deva planes in his next existence, if he can faithfully practise the Bodhipakkhiya-Dhammas in his present existence. The present Buddha Sasana will continue to exist so long as the Tipitakas remain in the world. The Padaparama class of individuals have to accumlate as much of the nuclei or seeds of Parami as they can within this lifetime.


Aparka Marg: for those who may be so interested there is another way for the Transmission of Spiritual Power NOT usually mentioned called Aparka Marg (sannyasa-vidvat):


Suppose there is a sweet and ripe fruit at the top of a tree. To enjoy the taste of the fruit the ripe fruit falls to the ground just at the exact time as an unsuspecting hungry-being is there. Aparka Marg is the way Realization falls upon the Self.

The Bhagavan Maharshi Sri Ramana would be a prime example as would the Sixth Patriarch of Zen Hui-neng who, as a young boy collecting firewood, experienced Awakening basically out of nowhere. Two modern day examples would be a young American woman named Suzanne Segal who Awoke out of nowhere one day while waiting for a bus and a second American, a young boy, even younger than Hui-neng, who also Awakened out of nowhere. See:


SRI RAMANA MAHARSHI: THE LAST AMERICAN DARSHAN
RECOUNTING A YOUNG BOY'S NEARLY INSTANT TRANSFORMATION INTO THE ABSOLUTE DURING HIS ONLY DARSHAN WITH THE MAHARSHI






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David J. Kalupahana, Naagaarjuna: The Philosophy of the Middle Way (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1986), p. 336.