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Seeing One's True Nature

A place to share and discuss the practice of Zen Buddhism without teachers. Debates about whether practicing without teachers is possible or desirable are not appropriate here, nor are criticisms of Zen Buddhist practice with teachers.
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A place to share and discuss the practice of Zen Buddhism without teachers. Debates about whether practising without teachers is possible or desirable are not appropriate here, nor are criticisms of Zen Buddhist practice with teachers.

Re: Seeing One's True Nature

Postby Meido on Thu Jan 19, 2012 10:40 pm

el gatito wrote:When one asks the following questions:

"Who is this master that is seeing and hearing right now?"
"Who is the one who sees?"
"Who is the one who hears?"*

and puts all their energy and effort into these questions, does this kind of practice [eventually] lead to the "seeing one's true nature" experience(s)?


What you have described is not different from the entrance to koan practice, if by "puts all their energy and effort into these questions" you mean using a concentrated, undistracted and physical examination that for many reasons leaves no room for any other practice. Not the least of which is that one necessarily enters into a state beyond concept of "meditation" vs. "non-meditation".

el gatito wrote:Further, if one's main practice "style" is close to the "silent illumination", and the above mentioned one is only a "secondary", still, if one wholeheartedly and sincerely engages in it (when there is time for it).


For this method to succeed it must be one's main practice. If one engages in it "when there is time for it", one is not yet using it. A teacher's job is to help the student enter into it fully. This is one reason why, according to the traditional understanding, this method is not done except in relationship with a teacher.

I think many people who have not done koan practice do not realize that there may well be times, particularly when working on the initial hosshin [dharmakaya ] koan, when one cannot function - walk, talk, eat, think, even see, hear, or move. It is not a casual inquiry. When this practice ripens there is no taking it up and putting it down. There are times you may need someone to take care of you. Read Mumon's commentary on "Joshu's Mu", the first case in the Mumonkan, for a very kind and quite literal description of how one works on questions like these and what it feels like.

el gatito wrote:So that when the time is right [as one sees it] for their "just sitting" -- this is the time for "letting go" and "allowing things to happen", but when the time is right [again, as one sees it] for the above noted "questioning" -- then all their energy is concentrated for that purpose, and great effort is put into the inquiry.


I know what you mean when you say "letting go" and "allowing things to happen", but I would say that way of describing shikantaza is still somewhat apart from it and is still a following after phenomenon (I would also say that inquiry is not at all absent from shikantaza). But my main point is that the way you describe doing what you call "questioning" - i.e. taking it up and putting it down again according to one's own inclination - is actually not "all energy is concentrated for that purpose", and is not "great effort" as has been taught in traditions using koan in this manner.

~ Meido

Note: I've edited this from my original post, recognizing that this is the "practicing without a teacher" forum and that portions of it could have been read as criticism of that kind of practice. Apologies for the lack of awareness.
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Re: Seeing One's True Nature

Postby Meido on Fri Jan 20, 2012 1:25 am

Kensho is a recognition.

It is possible (common) to recognize and then later forget or lose the recognition. It becomes just a memory.

It is possible (common) to recognize partially, or to not fully have confidence that we have, indeed, recognized. Later we may say, "Ah, that was it".

It is possible (extremely common) to think one has recognized and to be confident in it...and yet be completely mistaken.

It is possible to recognize and to know, correctly and without any doubt whatsoever, that one has recognized.

There are also degrees of clarity or depth of recognition.

Because of these things, self-verification of kensho is not the custom in Zen. A teacher is relied upon to help lead us to recognition, to teach us practices which remove obstructions to recognition, to confirm our recognition, and to lead us on the long path of practice after kensho which is quite difficult...but without which kensho itself is useless.

So in short: yes, what Nonin stated is quite possible and reasonable from my point of view.

~ Meido
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Re: Seeing One's True Nature

Postby Seeker242 on Fri Jan 20, 2012 2:28 am

el gatito wrote:When one asks the following questions:

"Who is this master that is seeing and hearing right now?"

"Who is the one who sees?"

"Who is the one who hears?"*


and puts all their energy and effort into these questions, does this kind of practice [eventually] lead to the "seeing one's true nature" experience(s)?



Yes. This is one of the main practice techniques used in traditional Korean zen practice that is currently practiced in Korea. Korean Master Kusan Sunim speaks in depth on this technique in his book "The Way of Korean Zen". It's called "Hwadu" or "keeping the great question" practice. Practice in temples in Korea generally does not involve traditional koans like cypress tree in garden, etc, but rather this Hwadu practice instead.

From a description of the book contents:

Master Kusan teaches the "Hwadu" method of meditation. Hwadu meditation is somewhat similar to meditating on a koan, but there is a difference. A Koan is generally a complete situation or story, while the hwadu is just the central question involved. For example, a koan often involves specific characters and situations, it’s a whole story, while the hwadu is just the question, “What is this?” or something along those lines. He explains that hwadu meditation means keeping that question at the forefront of your mind non-stop while living your life. Everything you do involves that question and must apply to that question.

If you want to know more about this "question practice", it's a really good book. :)
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Re: Seeing One's True Nature

Postby Michaeljc on Fri Jan 20, 2012 2:33 am

el gatito wrote:When once asked about the "Seeing One's True Nature" experience, also known in Zen as "kensho", and whether or not Nonin, a Soto Zen Teacher, have ever experienced it, he responded "yes", on a couple of occasions, though "he didn't even realized they were 'kensho'" back then, so that it was his teacher who clarified the meaning of those cases.**

Meido, now what do you think, when a practitioner like Nonin, highly experienced in Soto practice(s), yet with no "koan introspection" experience (at least, as it is done in the Rinzai schools) states that the "Seeing One's True Nature" experience can occur without one's knowing it as such -- does that sound right?_______________________
** Note: all the above is written from memory, and I'd happily stay corrected.


This sounds very right to me el g. Actually almost what one would expect

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Re: Seeing One's True Nature

Postby Meido on Fri Jan 20, 2012 3:06 am

Seeker242 wrote:Master Kusan teaches the "Hwadu" method of meditation. Hwadu meditation is somewhat similar to meditating on a koan, but there is a difference. A Koan is generally a complete situation or story, while the hwadu is just the central question involved. For example, a koan often involves specific characters and situations, it’s a whole story, while the hwadu is just the question, “What is this?” or something along those lines. He explains that hwadu meditation means keeping that question at the forefront of your mind non-stop while living your life. Everything you do involves that question and must apply to that question.


The same differentiation is made in Rinzai practice between koan proper (the entire cases with their commentaries) and the central word or question (wato) which - in some koan - may be used as the focus of the particular type of practice which you described well.

For whatever reason, though, we tend to call all of this "koan practice", even though it's understood that the way we will kufu a wato like that taken from "Joshu's Mu" is different from how one would work with something like "Joshu Investigates the Old Woman".

~ Meido
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Re: Seeing One's True Nature

Postby Meido on Fri Jan 20, 2012 3:11 am

el gatito wrote:I have reasons to believe, that there are certain "energetic" practices of other [yogic] traditions, when while a concentrated, undistracted and physical examination is done, one not only "cannot function normally", say, for 24 - 48 hours in a row - walk, talk, eat, think, even see, hear, or move, but even cannot go to toilet normally (sorry).


Shitake are great for that last problem.

el gatito wrote:Do you know of any cases when such "concentrated, undistracted and physical" efforts of a Zen practitioner lead to some "alien" (to Zen Buddhism) energetic events/processes (say, similar to the "Kundalini awakening" in Hindu yoga), so that not only practitioner is not fully aware of what is happening, but their teachers as well.


Interesting things happen everywhere.

~ Meido
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Re: Seeing One's True Nature

Postby Meido on Fri Jan 20, 2012 3:18 am

el gatito wrote:Speaking about the "walking in the mist" allegory of a Soto student, who eventually has their robes thoroughly wet, and about the "sudden" experience of a Rinzai student, often described in rather strong terms, sometimes dramatic -- is their recognition basically the same thing, and also "that" which is thus "recognized" -- is it the same?


These are differentiations best applied to the experiences of individual practitioners, not to Soto or Rinzai.

As I said, depth and clarity of recognition vary. Methods and path may differ from teacher to teacher. But of course that which is recognized is the same.

~ Meido
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Re: Seeing One's True Nature

Postby So-on Mann on Fri Jan 20, 2012 11:03 am

I had a kensho experience, before I ever practiced Zen. It happened during a repetitive physical activity I was often engaged in. A mind state would arise, and then a question would arise with it- "what IS that?" along with an unshakable insistence upon knowing.

When the breakthrough happened, I simply could not stop laughing for a very long time, I had no idea what was going on. As I slowly broke out of the laughing fit, I saw that everything in my directly experienced environment was more itself than anything had ever been, real-er than anything had ever been. And everything was absolutely perfect exactly the way it was. After some time had passed I fell into a deep refreshing sleep.

I used to call it "The Most Amazing Thing That Had Ever Happened To Me." I had never even heard of kensho, and had nothing but a passing familiarity with Zen.

Soon after I somehow started screwing up my already screwed up life even further than it was... I had come to a conclusion (which I did not tie to the experience, oddly) that my life was my life and everything around me was just swirling around the center of me. It was like I lived in the Matrix- I could do whatever I wanted, I felt utterly free and liberated, or so I thought...

It wasn't until an alcohol and sex addicted crash that I started practicing Zen... and understood the truth about karma.
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Re: Seeing One's True Nature

Postby Larry on Fri Jan 20, 2012 12:13 pm

:Namaste:
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Re: Seeing One's True Nature

Postby Meido on Fri Jan 20, 2012 4:37 pm

So-on, thank you for that really important post. What you describe is familiar.

I suspect there are many religious movements started by people who had legitimate awakening experiences, but no practice to integrate them and no teachers to point out the ways in which the "I" can seize upon and co-opt the memory of the experience to reinforce itself. What can result is someone with a small measure of insight coupled with a hugely inflated sense of self-importance and destiny. Add charisma, and you've got a dangerous mix. Over time, things get worse.

Though not kensho, deep samadhi states in which one experiences clearly "I am the universe!" can also cause this kind of problem if experienced without context and guidance. Suddenly we have a person who has experienced that their "I" is no small thing, but is the universe itself...how could anything this "I" wants or does be incorrect?

In Hakuin's writings he rails against practitioners who remain satisfied with "one-time only kensho", i.e. those who have a breakthrough and stop practicing there, self-satisfied and convinced that they've attained the Buddhist way.

For you to have an experience spontaneously in the way you describe - and then later to meet with and enter into Zen practice - is I think really fortunate and points to a deep affinity with Buddhist practice (or really good luck!).

~ Meido
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Re: Seeing One's True Nature

Postby Omoi Otoshi on Fri Jan 20, 2012 6:33 pm

So-on's question was directed at the state of mind she was in, real, yet completely different, and she knew that what she experienced in this state was more real than anything else she had ever experienced. Or so I would guess.

/Pontus
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Re: Seeing One's True Nature

Postby Luminous Heart on Fri Jan 20, 2012 7:04 pm

Meido wrote:I suspect there are many religious movements started by people who had legitimate awakening experiences, but no practice to integrate them and no teachers to point out the ways in which the "I" can seize upon and co-opt the memory of the experience to reinforce itself. What can result is someone with a small measure of insight coupled with a hugely inflated sense of self-importance and destiny. Add charisma, and you've got a dangerous mix. Over time, things get worse.

Or they get better. It seems to be the case that all religions are built on the raw experiences of individuals. Particular narratives are constructed (with co-opted memory), rituals are established, moral codes developed, and all the rest. It all reinforces the religious movement, its meaning and the identity it offers followers.
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Re: Seeing One's True Nature

Postby Omoi Otoshi on Fri Jan 20, 2012 7:23 pm

el gatito wrote:Would you clearly explain the difference between questions directed at the "state of mind" as the object [or at the very "awareness"], at a "koan" as its object, at a "canonical meditation object" (Theravadin), or a "real" [so-called] "natural" object.


I sometimes lose my self completely in an activity or stop in my tracks to gaze stupidly at a leaf or a pattern of light when I'm walking in nature. This is in my experience a sort of trance-like state, wonderful in a way, but completely different from the experience I suspect So-on is trying to explain. If you feel they are the same, then we are talking about two different things, either when it comes to the experiences you and I are describing in nature, or regarding the state of mind So-on experienced. In what I am talking about, one is losing oneself, one is finding oneself. One is being carried away. One is being carries home. Or maybe we mean different things by seeing one's true nature. Maybe you haven't experienced what I am talking about, or maybe I haven't experienced what you are talking about.

/Pontus
In a spring outside time, flowers bloom on a withered tree;
you ride a jade elephant backwards, chasing the winged dragon-deer;
now as you hide far beyond innumerable peaks--
the white moon, a cool breeze, the dawn of a fortunate day.
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Re: Seeing One's True Nature

Postby Omoi Otoshi on Fri Jan 20, 2012 9:03 pm

el gatito wrote:Not the same. There could be several layers of misunderstanding here. :)


Yes, probably! :PP:
Sorry for misunderstanding. By "gazing stupidly" I didn't mean to be derogatory by the way, just describing what I sometimes find myself doing... Drowning in the experience of something, not thinking. Losing myself completely.

/Pontus

PS. Meido, I love the clarity of your posts and your sober view of practice and the different traditions. :rbow: DS.
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Re: Seeing One's True Nature

Postby So-on Mann on Fri Jan 20, 2012 10:26 pm

el gatito wrote:
So-on Mann wrote:...and then a question would arise with it- "what IS that?" along with an unshakable insistence upon knowing...

My observations show that when a question arises along with such "unshakable insistence upon knowing", directed towards some "natural" object (a tree branch, a blade of grass, a small part of the water surface on the river, or certain patterns of water flowing, and many-many others) the outcome is quite often [but not always of course] very interesting, and even surprising, but this in no way is related to the "Seeing One's True Nature".

Thanks to the "natural" settings, and the possibility to sit for a relatively long periods of time, several times per day [or night], during the last couple of years -- such things can become more or less common, but yet again, absolutely nothing to do with the "Seeing One's True Nature", despite all the "clarity", "realness" and the other characteristics.


Ok, thanks for settin me straight! :peace:
Facing a precious mirror, form and reflection behold each other. You are not it, but in truth it is you.
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Re: Seeing One's True Nature

Postby bubuyaya on Fri Jan 20, 2012 11:22 pm

el gatito wrote:When one asks the following questions:

"Who is this master that is seeing and hearing right now?"

"Who is the one who sees?"

"Who is the one who hears?"*


and puts all their energy and effort into these questions,
does this kind of practice [eventually] lead to the "seeing one's true nature" experience(s)?



By qwestioning no people enlighten.
Because the doing qwestioning itself is that. .
Doing whatever doubting itself is that.
Doing practicing Zen or don't doing practicing Zen itself is that.

Whatever is that.
No exception.

When any qwestion or doubting, solve them clearly, for the right belief.

Right seeing of that right belief under right understanding is that 8 right path.
That's Sakia Buddha's.

Ananda enlightened by that.
Huineng's teaching is for that.
Shinhoe, Matsu, also had taught that.

Get stance already at Sumeru summit,
just listening Buddha's saying Sumeru story.

:)
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Re: Seeing One's True Nature

Postby Michaeljc on Wed Feb 15, 2012 9:09 am

eg
You have my utmost respect for what you do and were you do it. But may I suggest that you go sit in a ghetto for 6 months. I am serious. You can (and probably will) go back to where you are now. It will wait.
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Re: Seeing One's True Nature

Postby Michaeljc on Wed Feb 15, 2012 9:29 am

Meido - But what of kensho of which no word can ever be spoken?
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Re: Seeing One's True Nature

Postby Meido on Wed Feb 15, 2012 12:46 pm

Michaeljc wrote:Meido - But what of kensho of which no word can ever be spoken?


That's precisely the one I want to hear about.

~ Meido
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Re: Seeing One's True Nature

Postby Avisitor on Sun Jun 07, 2015 12:48 pm

Thought this was a good one to bring back to the top .. for discussion.
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