Welcome admin !

It is currently Tue Oct 17, 2017 12:26 pm
Pathway:  Board index Zen Discussion Forum ASK A TEACHER

Is Awakening Itself Considered a Samadhi State?

A place exclusively to ask a Zen teacher a question. Questions for this forum are approved before posting and so will not appear immediately.

Moderator: Teacher

Is Awakening Itself Considered a Samadhi State?

Postby desert_woodworker on Sun Sep 10, 2017 5:13 pm

Dear teachers,

I wonder if Awakening (the state of Awakening, actually, while it persists) is itself considered a samadhi state, in the Ch'an-, Zen-, Son-, or Thien-Buddhist traditions. Or, something distinctly different? Experientially, it's different from samadhi states, but each of the samadhi states (jhanas, say) also differ, one from the other, experientially. Perhaps the state of awakening is a NINTH jhana? (or not). ;)

I experienced on retreat that it required samadhi to break-up suddenly before my open eyes for the awakened state to suddenly dawn. And, while still on retreat, and at home afterwards for a long while, 2 1/2 months, it was only necessary to sit for 10-15 seconds -- even outdoors in a busy city park -- for a samadhi state to come on again, everything would suddenly become golden, and one could sit a very long time. This practice seemed to be a nourishment to the awakened state, and allowed it to persist for months. This was in that 2 1/2 month interval when there continued to be no mind, no motion of mind, no thoughts, and no motion of objects in the environment.

It's a technical question. I don't know who may have an answer. I don't know if this is something that may ever have been studied with scientific methods and tools. But is perhaps the state of awakening a "ninth" jhana? It's our original face, our original nature, and contains all our original human inheritances... . But I'm just now curious as to whether it is ever considered a samadhi state, in which of course we live our daily life and carry out all our ordinary business, work, and life.

thank you,

--Joe
User avatar
desert_woodworker
 
Posts: 7193
Joined: Thu Jun 14, 2012 5:09 am
Location: southern Arizona, USA

Re: Is Awakening Itself Considered a Samadhi State?

Postby Guo Gu on Wed Sep 13, 2017 6:00 am

joe,

awakening is not samādhi--at least not in the sense of samādhi as altered states of consciousness. awakening in buddhism is the absence of altered state of consciousness, self-grasping, and hence vexations. what you have experienced is considered a post-awakening samādhi or oneness. it is not the traditional eight levels of jhana or samādhi in the buddhist literature (more on that below) but the aftermath residue of seeing the self-nature. the literature does, however, speak of a ninth samādhi as a cessation concentration or nirodha-samāpatti. but this is not what you have experienced; nirodha-samāpatti actually refers to all extinction of conscious activity and selfhood... it is a form of liberation (of nirvana) through samādhi.

usually those who gain only a glimpse of seeing self-nature do not experience what you have described because it is so shallow that, for all intended purposes, shouldn't even be counted as seeing self-nature. the self comes right back and the experience becomes a source of attachment (usually) or at best just a vague memory. the only thing one get out of such experience is confidence in the dharma. it has no effect on vexations. shifu used to call it, "a blind cat catching a dead mouse."

those who have experienced self-nature in a substantial way (relatively speaking) will also experience an accompanying residue of loosing the self-grasping from weeks, to a month, or two months, or sometimes longer. in this state, self-grasping is so minimal that it is imperceptible... where self and the world are not two. notions of motion and stillness don't apply; just peace, clarity, and joy--no vexations or self-referentiality at all. in the midst of activities, it is as if not a single thing has been done--but everything one is supposed to do is done. when interacting with others, all is peace and others feel your peace. however, the self is still subtlety there.

btw, the experience of self-nature must be verified by a qualified teacher. reading my words and descriptions of post-awakening samādhi, one's mind might play tricks and make one believe that one has indeed experienced awakening. a teacher can see through delusions and neurosis, and verify what has happened. there are ever deeper awakening experiences beyond what i've described as "substantial awakening." a qualified teacher is so important on the path. otherwise one can easily mistaken meager glimpses for genuine awakening... mistaken "fish eye for pearls."

in my mid twenties, mid-90s, when i experienced my first seeing the self-nature and experienced a couple of months of this oneness, i spoke to shifu about it, he said that this was the aftermath of seeing self-nature, but it must be nourished (even though practice seemed seamless and unnecessary). he also said that this was an approximate of what is meant in chan (platform scripture) and mahayana buddhism by the "union of samādhi and prajñā" (concentration and wisdom), that the two are inseparable in nature. he said "approximate" because the self is actually still there. but to answer your other question, it is possible to carry out one's day-to-day business in awakening, and be always in this state. the buddha is supposed to be always in samādhi, the kind that is in union with prajñā. many mahayana scriptures speak of this, which is at a whole other level. the post-awakening samādhi you experienced is just an aftermath, residue of seeing self-nature.

it is crucial that one continues to practice, lest one's self-grasping returns and thinks that practice is literally unnecessary. i didn't (couldn't) listen to him at the time and it ultimately brought me to my downfall, and it took me a long time to get back into the swing of things on the path.

during our conversation, he also spoke of the samādhi states discussed in the buddhist treatises, how they don't usually correlate to actual experience. after that initial experience, he would ask me to cultivate samādhi and observe how to get into it and come out of it. i've learned that samādhi states are really altered states of consciousness. pre- and post-awakening samādhi are also qualitatively different. post-awakening samādhi states are naturally infused with selflesness or rather diminished self-grasping, so the boundaries of self and noself is blurred, and hence the path one takes no longer follow the jhana/samādhi outlined in the buddhist treatises. later (in grad school) i would learn how those premodern buddhist treatises were actually just forms of literary scholarship for commentators. their descriptions took on a life of their own (i.e., buddhist treatises were themselves a literary genre that followed rules and tropes) and have limited bearing on actual experience, which varied widely and deeply according to practitioners and their conditions. in other words, the descriptions therein are not clear "road maps" or signposts of samādhi at all! and practitioners who says that "oh i was in the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd jhana" are just kidding themselves. the states detailed in the treatises are at best abstract placeholders for infinitely varied states of mind.

mind's nature has no stages or paths. all stages are, in a way, altered states of consciousness. in other words, delusion. this is one reason why chan/zen speaks of awakening as where the course of the mind is cut off. one only roam and play in samādhi (delusion) so as to be able to guide sentient beings and use delusion to eradicate delusion. that's all.

going forward, it is crucial that one doesn't take any experience, awakening included, as anything special. i've learned that even multiple awakenings do not guarantee non-regression on the path. we have to just practice and don't look back. abide by precepts, lest one loses the way.

maybe these useless words have answered your queries.

be well,
guo gu

p.s. will call soon.
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
User avatar
Guo Gu
Teacher
 
Posts: 1349
Joined: Fri Apr 12, 2013 8:52 pm
Location: Tallahassee, FL USA

Re: Is Awakening Itself Considered a Samadhi State?

Postby desert_woodworker on Wed Sep 13, 2017 2:20 pm

Guo Gu,

Thank you for your very generous and considered reply. I appreciate your taking the time and energy to give such consideration.

I'm really gratified, too, to read the things you pass along about what our Shih Fu had said on various points. I feel as if I've just had a meeting with BOTH of you. :heya:

I'll write more in a while in response to a few points. But I'd like you to have this thank-you as soon as possible, (sometimes it takes a few days for posts to the Teacher area to clear the Admins).

Thank you profusely and very kindly!,
and I'll follow-up some more here, soon.

:Namaste:,

--Joe

joe_preaching_the_Law_768.jpg
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
User avatar
desert_woodworker
 
Posts: 7193
Joined: Thu Jun 14, 2012 5:09 am
Location: southern Arizona, USA

Re: Is Awakening Itself Considered a Samadhi State?

Postby Guo Gu on Fri Sep 15, 2017 1:16 am

joe,
it's all good (iag).
for those samadhi experiences, sometimes ppl have them leading up to seeing self-nature, sometimes it's an aftermath of awakening.
i'm off to st. louis for a retreat so won't be online but post your follow questions and i'm sure other teachers will chime in anyway.
be well,
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
User avatar
Guo Gu
Teacher
 
Posts: 1349
Joined: Fri Apr 12, 2013 8:52 pm
Location: Tallahassee, FL USA

Re: Is Awakening Itself Considered a Samadhi State?

Postby desert_woodworker on Wed Sep 20, 2017 2:46 pm

Guo Gu,

Guo Gu wrote:awakening is not samādhi--at least not in the sense of samādhi as altered states of consciousness.

Thank you, Guo Gu. I did not have much reason to think that it was, especially considering that it seemed to require samadhi to break up, first, before awakening immediately dawned, and everything stopped. But I thought I'd ask if this were perhaps a unique samadhi of some sort, since we read about some sages "forever abiding in samadhi", for example. I suppose what is meant is that, when the awakened sage practices, the practice which is natural to dwell in is a samadhi state.

Guo Gu wrote:awakening in buddhism is the absence of altered state of consciousness, self-grasping, and hence vexations.

Thank you, again! That's an especially apt and good working-definition of the awakened state, I'd say. And those here who are interested in "altered states" could take note that awakening contains none of those detractions from our original face. ;)

Guo Gu wrote:usually those who gain only a glimpse of seeing self-nature do not experience what you have described because it is so shallow that, for all intended purposes, shouldn't even be counted as seeing self-nature. the self comes right back and the experience becomes a source of attachment (usually) or at best just a vague memory.

Well, I owe it all to Master Sheng Yen, the first time, who gave me the conditions to allow certain purifications to occur naturally, and for them to take place utterly thoroughly, to utter completion, leaving no residue. After that, the body could settle-down in the next days, samadhi could come on strongly, and then a few days later suddenly shatter or split down the middle before my open eyes, leaving nothing for 2 1/2 months.

Guo Gu wrote:those who have experienced self-nature in a substantial way (relatively speaking) will also experience an accompanying residue of loosing the self-grasping from weeks, to a month, or two months, or sometimes longer. in this state, self-grasping is so minimal that it is imperceptible... where self and the world are not two. notions of motion and stillness don't apply;
Oh, yes, that's for sure. No self to speak of, definitely. This was partly my downfall, too, I believe, the first time, in that I could not say "no". I was taking-on extra work besides my main job, to the point at which I had little time to sleep, and little time to practice. This led to gradual erosion or evaporation -- or covering-up, again -- of the empty, awakened state, and hence also the covering and loss of true Wisdom and true Compassion. Eventually, I could practice almost sufficiently again, and was at the stage of samadhi practice again at home, but I then had to leave the country for 2 1/4 years to do research, and had no access to Shih-fu during that lengthy time, and could not attend retreats. I was in Chile on a mountaintop in the Andes... .

In this condition, though, it was also easy to see where others were hung up, in their bodies. They "telegraphed" it. Almost like the other person's "aura" was out of whack in ways that would incriminate certain areas of the body, indicating them: one fellow held tension in the stomach; another had tense shoulders; another had tension in the face. Like that. But very, VERY obvious. It would have been easy to become a "healer" while in this condition or state, but I did not do this. And for a martial artist, it would have been very easy to disable a person in exactly the place where they were weakest, or most out-of-touch. I didn't do that, either. ;)

Guo Gu wrote: all is peace and others feel your peace.

Yes. People told me about it. Said something about my "warmth". I didn't know it was obvious. I was just being natural, and could be no other way. I was hoping that no one would feel uncomfortable or strangely about my having no mind, and so I did not speak of my condition to anybody, but just lived life as I found I could live it. I felt no difference between myself and "others". There was just ONE being. If THAT many! Well, it was marvelous and wondrous.

Guo Gu wrote:btw, the experience of self-nature must be verified by a qualified teacher. reading my words and descriptions of post-awakening samādhi, one's mind might play tricks and make one believe that one has indeed experienced awakening. a teacher can see through delusions and neurosis, and verify what has happened.


Thanks!, Guo Gu, for including that caution here. I do the same here when I speak about such things a little. Sometimes people here will object to it, however, and say that no teacher is necessary in the first place, and no teacher is necessary to verify or confirm and TEST one's awakening (should awakening occur). Some people have even left participating at ZFI entirely because they were offended that they disagreed so strongly on these points. Sad. But this just shows that they do not and did not know genuine Zen Buddhist practice at all in the first place, because, in the actual tradition, a teacher is always needed, group practice is the norm, and awakening must always be probed by the teacher to check for ...true gold, versus base-metal. Well, for the last 2000 years at least, anyway. :P

Guo Gu wrote:there are ever deeper awakening experiences beyond what i've described as "substantial awakening." a qualified teacher is so important on the path. otherwise one can easily mistaken meager glimpses for genuine awakening... mistaken "fish eye for pearls."

Yes, indeed. I concur, with gratitude.

Guo Gu wrote:it is crucial that one continues to practice, lest one's self-grasping returns and thinks that practice is literally unnecessary. i didn't (couldn't) listen to him at the time and it ultimately brought me to my downfall, and it took me a long time to get back into the swing of things on the path.

I, too, found out the necessity and cruciality of continued practice! (as I mentioned above).

Guo Gu wrote:during our conversation, he also spoke of the samādhi states discussed in the buddhist treatises, how they don't usually correlate to actual experience. after that initial experience, he would ask me to cultivate samādhi and observe how to get into it and come out of it.

A wonderful practice! I too tested how certain activities would not disturb certain samadhi states, or not "scare them away", as I used to say. And, I would practice entering and leaving samadhi states, as you did. Ha!, I think we also finally understand at this point "where Shih-fu was coming from" when he urged us -- when we wanted to "come out of meditation" -- always to, "First move your MIND, then move your body". When I was a beginner, with no samadhi, this seemed superfluous advice. Why? Well, because the mind was ALWAYS moving, one has to suppose. It took waking-up suddenly out of samadhi to enable it finally to STOP moving. Or to disappear entirely, that is (the false "mind").

Guo Gu wrote:i've learned that samādhi states are really altered states of consciousness. pre- and post-awakening samādhi are also qualitatively different. post-awakening samādhi states are naturally infused with selflesness or rather diminished self-grasping, so the boundaries of self and noself is blurred, and hence the path one takes no longer follow the jhana/samādhi outlined in the buddhist treatises. later (in grad school) i would learn how those premodern buddhist treatises were actually just forms of literary scholarship for commentators. their descriptions took on a life of their own (i.e., buddhist treatises were themselves a literary genre that followed rules and tropes) and have limited bearing on actual experience, which varied widely and deeply according to practitioners and their conditions. in other words, the descriptions therein are not clear "road maps" or signposts of samādhi at all! and practitioners who says that "oh i was in the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd jhana" are just kidding themselves.

Thank you! That's fascinating, Guo Gu, especially the part about how some writings are not actually good guides, but are "forms of literary scholarship for commentators", and tropes. Some things make some more sense, now, knowing this. But, don't worry: I have not become a total "skeptic" when it comes to ALL writings. Just a better-advised "consumer". :tongueincheek:

Guo Gu wrote:the states detailed in the treatises are at best abstract placeholders for infinitely varied states of mind.

Hail!

Guo Gu wrote:mind's nature has no stages or paths. all stages are, in a way, altered states of consciousness. in other words, delusion. this is one reason why chan/zen speaks of awakening as where the course of the mind is cut off. one only roam and play in samādhi (delusion) so as to be able to guide sentient beings and use delusion to eradicate delusion. that's all.

It's good to read some real "Ch'an" here. Thank you. "Tell it like it is, Brother". ;) Yet, at the same time, we adhere to the wisdom in the sensible Ch'an and Zen injunction "against speaking too plainly". BTW, even in the first koan of the Wumen Kuan, Wumen speaks about "cutting off the mind-road", as you know (being a translator of it), and encourages us to allow that, if we want to entangle our eyebrows in the eyebrows of the Ancestors, and see with their eyes, etc. Wonderful... .

Guo Gu wrote:going forward, it is crucial that one doesn't take any experience, awakening included, as anything special. i've learned that even multiple awakenings do not guarantee non-regression on the path. we have to just practice and don't look back. abide by precepts, lest one loses the way.

Let these be our watchwords.

Guo Gu wrote:maybe these useless words have answered your queries.

Guo Gu, such words help me to renew my practice, always in need of renewal. I hope they help others, too!

:rbow: :Namaste: ,

Take good care,

--Joe
User avatar
desert_woodworker
 
Posts: 7193
Joined: Thu Jun 14, 2012 5:09 am
Location: southern Arizona, USA

Re: Is Awakening Itself Considered a Samadhi State?

Postby desert_woodworker on Tue Oct 10, 2017 12:15 am

Thanks for what you've shared here, Guo Gu. Anything further? Or, care to close-down the thread?

Thanks,

--Joe
User avatar
desert_woodworker
 
Posts: 7193
Joined: Thu Jun 14, 2012 5:09 am
Location: southern Arizona, USA


Return to ASK A TEACHER

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

 
RocketTheme Joomla Templates

Who is online

In total there is 1 user online :: 0 registered, 0 hidden and 1 guest (based on users active over the past 5 minutes)
Most users ever online was 157 on Mon Sep 19, 2016 8:44 am

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest