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Meaning of Guandai (管帶)

Discussion of Japanese Rinzai Zen (臨済宗) including Obaku Zen (黄檗宗).

Meaning of Guandai (管帶)

Postby Caodemarte on Sat Oct 07, 2017 2:05 am

I am reading The Letters of Chan Master Dahui Pujue,, trans. by Jeffrey L. Broughton with Elise Yoko Watanabe.

I am having difficulty with fully understanding the translation of term guandai (管帶), which Dahui warns against as one of the major traps in his letters to lay practitioners. The authors call "one of the terms most resistant to a reasonably satisfactory rendering. Mujaku Dōchū, in his classic Zen glossary Notes on Kudzu Verbiage (Kattōgo sen 葛藤語箋) defines guandai as follows: 'The guan means ‘bring under control’; the dai is like ‘securing something to the body by a belt.’ The term guandai means ‘[effortfully] concentrating mind non-stop.’ From this we can settle on a workable rendering of guandai: to continuously “engird mind”— “to keep the mind secured, as with a girdle,” so to speak. The second passage in the General Sermons runs: .... “[effortfully] concentrating mind,” ..... only gets you the fluttering-about of thoughts. One thought continues into another, and, before the earlier thought has stopped, a later thought continues. In the teachings, it’s called “restlessness.”

.....Thus, we can formulate the following equations: ... “engirding mind” (guandai 管帶) = Dahui’s term “[effortfully] concentrating mind” = “restlessness” (Sanskrit auddhatya) as a result, which is usually rendered into Chinese with “excitedness” (diaoju 掉舉)."

Dahui is quoted as saying, "When sitting, permit neither torpor nor restlessness. Torpor and restlessness are things that the earlier noble ones severely warned against. When you are doing stillness- sitting, the moment you become aware of the appearance of these two illnesses, merely lift to awareness the huatou of “dog has no buddha-nature.” Without exerting any effort to push these two illnesses away, they will immediately settle down in compliance."

I understand the idea of forceful concentration being an error, but not sure why this leads to restlessness. A mind tied or attached to something as if glued might not be good zazen, but would seem to be the opposite of “fluttering about.”

If I could ask our more knowledgeable members for some further clarification on the meaning of guandai and its nuances I would be deeply appreciative.
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Re: Meaning of Guandai (管帶)

Postby Guo Gu on Sat Oct 07, 2017 6:57 am

caodemarte,

excellent question! thanks for asking so ppl can benefit from it in their practice.

guandai is something that's distinct in dahui's teachings, but also in hongzhi's and other earlier chan masters. btw, i would not render this as "engirding mind," which is simply weird. broughton has a tendency to come up with weird translations--half literal, half over-intellectualized rendering of hinese. this is seen not only here but also in his other translations like rendering huatou as "cue practice" in his book, chan whip anthology. "cue practice" really?! even "chan whip anthology" is a strange rendering; it should just simply be "impetus to advance in the chan barrier" (changuan cejin 禪關策進).

guandai 管帶 simply means "contrived focus," or literally "concerned with 管 reigning in 帶 [the mind]." in practice, this refers to a particular attitude toward concentrating the mind. it's not that concentration itself is bad, but what usually accompanies it is a desire to control thoughts, manipulate things in a contrived way, and despising distraction. in other words, grasping and rejecting. this is why it leads to excitement, because it is simply just another form of craving and aversion. when this is present, you can pretty much forget about calming or concentrating the mind. the issue here is not concentration but certain attitude we bring to practice, subtle tones of emotions that shape our experiences.

this is the same reason why in Chan criticizes the practice of "shouyi" (guarding the one 守一), which can be seen in platform sutra's critique of an attitude or desire to fixate on one thing, wanting to control the mind. it is also the same reason why when a monk asked chan master linji, "how to escape from samsara?" and linji says "that's precisely samsara!" it is this subtle wrong-headed attitude that we bring to practice that creates problems. it's the same samsaric mind creating samsaric practice. if we're not careful or aware of what is going on, meditation becomes useless--we end up perpetuating the very cause of suffering that ppl try to leave behind.

guandai extends to modern time, some practitioners feel that they have to be "mindful" all the time, as if moment to moment mindfulness actually lead to awakening or is itself awakening--then ppl feel that "if only i cold just keep the mind mindful/aware 24/7!" from chan's point of view, this is precisely guandai--a contrived effort (a form of grasping and rejecting) to manipulate the mind. when craving is present, one's mind will definitely generate more craving.

for dahui, his teaching has always been: "where you safe power is where you gain power" (省力時便是得力處). there's no need to contrive anything. gaining and losing itself is problematic. he didn't even ask ppl to "generate" the wonderment or sense of question. but just simply when vexations arise, observe: "dog has no buddha-nature." this form of uncontrived practice or practice without using "mind" (wu yongxin chu 無用心處) immediately quenches our thirst to grasp and reject, to gain or lose, not giving the mind anything to hang on to.

what to do is is simply put down this hidden wrong-headed attitude/emotions that's shaping pp's practice. there's no need to "guandai." when vexations arise, put it down--because behind vexations is this guandai mind. if ppl can't put it down, then dahui tells them to pick up a huatou, "why does a dog have no buddha-nature?"

as for hongzhi's teaching, he states,

[practice] like echos in the valley responding [to sounds], or like wind blowing in the sky--without hindrance, and self-at ease. don't engage in contrived effort (hu guandai 勿管帶) or cut off traces of "i" (jue zhenji 絕朕迹). however, the mind must be potent and clear (lingling de 靈靈地)! T no. 2001, 48:74b20-21

or again here:

"at all places, don't try to be contrived in controlling things (bu guandai 不管帶). then at all times, you will be in accordance with situation. when it's bright, darkness is there; when darkness is present, brightness is there." T no. 2001, 48:76b3-4.

the difference btn these two masters is that dahui sometimes redirected ppl's guandai mind to pick up a huatou and hongzhi simply advised practitioners to just put it down and be clear--without recourse to any expedient means.

now, a side note: what is interesting in dahui's criticism of guandai is that such instruction only appears in his own teacher yuanwu keqin's discourse records (T no. 1973, 47:350a19; T no. 1997, 47:780a29, 809c18; T no. 2003, 48:147b12; and so on). and this is not the only time that i found him indirectly criticizing his own teacher. for example, elsewhere in yuanwu's discourse record, we find yuanwu advising his literati student:

"directly, your mind should resemble a withered log and a rotten tree stump (kumu xiuzhu 枯木朽株)—like a person who has gone through a great death (dasiren 大死人) who no longer breathes. mind without knowing (xinxin wuzhi 心心無知); thought not abiding (niannian wuzhu 念念無住). even a thousand sages cannot call you out [of this state]. then you would be likened to the blossoming of flowers on a withered tree, bringing forth boundless responses and exhibiting great functions of vibrant kindness and compassion." (T no. 1997, 47:787b21-22)

the above passage is precisely what dahui attacks and calls "the erroneous silent illumination"! moreover, there's also evidence that yuanwu's other disciples also encouraged this quietist form of meditation: zunpu 遵璞 and tanyi 曇懿 who taught in fujian in 1134. yet, received scholarship tend to ignore yuanwu's teachings like this. instead, they focus on the highly politicized criticism of dahui's "supposedly" attacking hongzhi's silent illumination chan through the lens of, basically, hakuin's criticism of silent illumination chan (jp. mokushozen)--that is, projecting 18th century japanese zen polemics onto 12th century song dynasty chinese chan.

that's my two cents on zen scholarship.

back to guandai. do you have any other questions about this term and its valence as it relates to practice?

be well,
guo gu
Founder and teacher of Tallahassee Chan Center of the Dharma Drum Lineage of Chan Buddhism
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Re: Meaning of Guandai (管帶)

Postby organizational on Sat Oct 07, 2017 9:27 am

 The Main Case

Venerable Bodhidharma was about to go back to India. He said to his students, "The time has come. Can you express your understanding?" 1 One of the students, Daofu said, "My present view is that we should neither be attached to letters, nor be apart from letters, and to allow the Way to function freely." 2Bodhidharma said, "You have attained my skin." 3Nun Zongchi said, "My view is that it is like the joy of seeing Akshobhya Buddha’s land just once and not again." 4Bodhidharma said, "You have attained my flesh." 5Daoyu said, "The four great elements are originally empty and the five skandhas do not exist. Therefore, I see nothing to be attained." 6Bodhidharma said, "You have attained my bones." 7Finally Huike came forward, made a full bow, stood up, and returned to where he was. 8Bodhidharma said, "You have attained my marrow." 9Thus he transmitted the Dharma and robe to Huike. 10

i think this 4 (four) issue is the represent or the reflect of the enlightenment.
As a FORMULATION OF ENLIGHTENMENT that which can be understood
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Re: Meaning of Guandai (管帶)

Postby desert_woodworker on Sat Oct 07, 2017 3:05 pm

Wow!, thanks.

ZFI, here in some of its best functioning, I'd say. Thanks!, Caodemarte and Guo Gu.

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Re: Meaning of Guandai (管帶)

Postby Caodemarte on Sat Oct 07, 2017 6:39 pm

Thank you very much for this quick response Guo Gu. It is very helpful. I agree with you about Broughton’s odd tics in translations. I try to read through them and mentally substitute clearer English for his odder pet phrases.

As for further questions, my main question is how to put it into practice, but only real practice will answer that!

Thank you again.
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Re: Meaning of Guandai (管帶)

Postby bokki on Sat Oct 07, 2017 8:19 pm

Thank You
:Namaste:


since iv read this gotta pinch myself
gg did it again, C good q? !
lol
thnx zfi
thnx gg
thnx c

:rbow:
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10,000 frogs singing in the rain
burst into flames

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Re: Meaning of Guandai (管帶)

Postby Guo Gu on Mon Oct 09, 2017 3:25 am

Caodemarte wrote:As for further questions, my main question is how to put it into practice, but only real practice will answer that!


principle:
you are not your stories. recognize them as such--no need to vilify or be captivated. save your energy.
if you must do something, waste some energy, then in such a moment: why does the dog have no buddha-nature?
be free,
guo gu
Founder and teacher of Tallahassee Chan Center of the Dharma Drum Lineage of Chan Buddhism
http://www.tallahasseechan.org/
Received inka from Master Sheng Yen (1930-2009) in 1995
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Re: Meaning of Guandai (管帶)

Postby bokki on Sun Oct 22, 2017 7:47 pm

lol, gg
whoo"s
storie
r
u


????????????????????///
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10,000 frogs singing in the rain
burst into flames

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