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Huang Po

Huang Po

Postby macdougdoug on Fri Mar 01, 2013 10:09 pm

Hello
I've just posted some work in progress at http://huangpo.tumblr.com
Its a 9th century ch'an text, translated into english in 1958 which I'm attempting to modernize
The Teaching of Huang Po (on the transmission of mind) - any comments would be much appreciated
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Re: Huang Po

Postby Caodemarte on Fri Mar 01, 2013 11:12 pm

Greetings,

Wrestling with texts is always hard. A noble effort!


Is this going to be a new translation from the Chinese (and, if so, the original text or modern Chinese) Or a versioning of the existing translation?
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Re: Huang Po

Postby Gregory Wonderwheel on Fri Mar 01, 2013 11:42 pm

macdougdoug wrote:Hello
I've just posted some work in progress at http://huangpo.tumblr.com
Its a 9th century ch'an text, translated into english in 1958 which I'm attempting to modernize
The Teaching of Huang Po (on the transmission of mind) - any comments would be much appreciated


Looks like you are modernizing the John Blofeld translation. Are you also working from the original Chinese?

It is a wonderful practice to work with the words to undo words.

John McRae also as an English translation and says there is some controversy over the puncuation in the Chinese of the Taisho version. I lke Blofeld's translation better than McRae's in most instances.

One of the most important things we learn from Huangbo is that the teaching of the One Vehicle and the One Mind are the same thing. Huangbo's teaching affirms that Zen is the teaching of the One Vehicle as found in the One Vehicle sutras (Lankavatara, Avatamsaka, Lotus, Queen Srimala's Lion's Roar, etc.) and that the One Vehicle teaching is that there is One Mind and that all phenomena are manifestation of the One Mind.

Huangbo wrote:The Tathagata appeared in the world and wanted to explain the True Dharma of the One Vehicle, however the multitude of beings did not believe and raised slanders, sinking in the sea of sufferings. If he did not explain at all, however, he’d fall into stingy greed, and not serve as the subtle Way of universal renunciation for the multitude of beings. He proceeded to establish the expediency of explaining there are three vehicles. For the vehicles there is great and small; for attainment there is shallow and deep. All these are not the root Dharma. For this reason it was said, “There is only the Way of the One Vehicle, two or more however, are not true.” So, in the end, because he had not yet displayed the Dharma of the One Mind, he called Kasyapa to share the Dharma seat and separately handed over the One Mind, going away from words to explain the Dharma. The Dharma of this One Branch decrees a separate practice. If you are able to agree with those who awaken, then you arrive at the Buddha stage! (My translation beginning at T48n2012Ap0382b03; found in Blofeld's section 26.)


_/|\_
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Why you do not understand is because the three carts were provisional for former times, and because the One Vehicle is true for the present time. ~ Zen Master 6th Ancestor Huineng
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Re: Huang Po

Postby Gregory Wonderwheel on Sat Mar 02, 2013 12:23 am

macdougdoug wrote:Hello
I've just posted some work in progress at http://huangpo.tumblr.com
Its a 9th century ch'an text, translated into english in 1958 which I'm attempting to modernize
The Teaching of Huang Po (on the transmission of mind) - any comments would be much appreciated


I see in your introduction you have this translation of Huineng's famous gatha:

Bodhi is not an entity
nor our mind reflecting light
since there is no duality
where can dust alight ?


I'm curious where you got this translation?

The third line especially is not what I'm used to seeing.
I translate 本來無一物 as "Coming from the root there is not a single object."

The root of Bodhi is treeless.
The bright mirror also is not a platform.
Coming from the root there is not a single object.
What place can attract dust?


_/|\_
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Why you do not understand is because the three carts were provisional for former times, and because the One Vehicle is true for the present time. ~ Zen Master 6th Ancestor Huineng
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Re: Huang Po

Postby macdougdoug on Sat Mar 02, 2013 11:14 am

Thanks for your comments - nice to chat with some actual scholars :lol2:

So, yes I'm using the John Blofeld translation as a base - adapting the text seemed a good way to see if I really understood what was being said, also to clarify it for non buddhists, and also to improve on what I saw as being slightly misleading, namely that one might get the impression that some effort was needed on the part of the student to stop thoughts:
eg: in J Blofelds version -"They do not know that, if they put a stop to conceptual thought...the buddha will appear..." or "If you can only rid yourselves of conceptual thought, you will have accomplished everything" I reckon the cessation arrives of itself through understanding and attention.

As for Huinengs gatha, I'm afraid I have been taking poetic liberties.
I have never seen the version you mention:

"coming from the root there is not a single object" vs "since there is no duality" hopefully their meaining is not too dissimilar?

In the translations I've got, the line reads : "since all is void" or "since mind is emptiness" (1944 C. Humphries and 'a buddhist bible' 1956)

I Reckon the most useful message to get across to non buddhist seekers from the text is to get in touch with the true self instantly by freeing ourselves from the minds chattering, and also the dead end of accumulated knowledge.
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Re: Huang Po

Postby MattJ on Sat Mar 02, 2013 3:25 pm

I have had Blofeld's translation by my bed for years. I seldom make it past the initial description of One Mind.
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Re: Huang Po

Postby Moulin on Sat Mar 02, 2013 5:42 pm

An excellent book to accompany anyone's readings of Huang Po and Blofield is this, although the title is very misleading as to the content:

Philosophical Meditations on Zen Buddhism. By Dale S. Wright
http://books.google.nl/books/about/Phil ... edir_esc=y

focuses on one renowned Zen master, Huang Po, whose recorded sayings exemplify the spirit of the 'golden age' of Zen in medieval China, and on the transmission of these writings to the West. The author makes a bold attempt to articulate a post-romantic understanding of Zen applicable to contemporary world culture. While deeply sympathetic to the Zen tradition, he raises serious questions about the kinds of claims that can be made on its behalf. --- Dale S. Wright has here de-romanticized John Blofeld's 1959 book on Huang Po, the third "house" in the Hung-chou lineage of Ma-tsu Tao-I, being the successor to Pai-chang and master to Lin-chi.


Take a quick look at Pages 11 through 13 for a sample:
http://books.google.nl/books?id=sM6si5Y ... &q&f=false

While not denying the timeless heart of Huang Po, the book also reminds us not to overlook the history of these texts, how they were assembled, rewritten, puffed by legend and glorified as any religious text.

M
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Re: Huang Po

Postby macdougdoug on Sat Mar 02, 2013 11:56 pm

Thanks for that Moulin - I had a quick read - I've also realized there are a dozen versions of Huangpos text already on the web - I shall have a look at them too.
So yeah, were these the exact words spoken by a Buddha - obviously not as I'm reading an English version written in the 1950s - and god knows I'm aware of the liberties a translator can take - I'm guilty of all of them.
If we were sitting at the feet of a Buddha would we even get it then? I hear Gautama hesitated before deciding to try and communicate his discoveries.

The message from Huangpo that comes down to me is "conceptuel thought leads away from truth" "knowledge does not lead to wisdom" how can we decide whether this is true?
I dont think we can - we already have our opinions and will probably stick to them.
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Re: Huang Po

Postby zafrogzen on Mon Mar 18, 2013 7:03 pm

Greetings Doug,

Read your "translation" of Huang Po. Not bad, so far. I don't agree, however, with the impression that Huang Po is saying effort is not necessary. In fact several times he says it is, such as page 64 -- "Even if you understand this, you must make the most strenuous efforts." There might be a danger here that one could be satisfied with an initial understanding and stop making any effort to go further.

I undertook a similar project 25 years ago when I did a version of "The Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation," edited by Evans-Wentz, for a newsletter I was putting together for a local Zen Center. I too took some liberties with it. In the end I think I was the one who benefited from my project the most.

Evans-Wentz used the term "One Mind" liberally in his edition -- which it now appears, according to a more recent translation from the Tibetan by John Reynolds, should have been translated as "naked awareness." I was also studying Huang Po at the time and meditating on the term "One Mind." Even though it itself is a "concept," and a dualistic one at that, I nonetheless had a strong experience early one morning while sitting with it.

Now after years of "strenuous effort," and many more "experiences," I still continue to deepen my practice -- with no end in sight.
My first formal Buddhist training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mostly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. Anyone who wants to know more can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com
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Re: Huang Po

Postby zafrogzen on Mon Mar 18, 2013 11:56 pm

I might add that I think "naked awareness" is the same as Huang Po's "the void." Naked awareness is a more experiential concept while "the Void" suggests something out there, like space. Huang Po harps on the identity of the One Mind and The Void (naked awareness) as being the same. So essentially I'd say that the One Mind is just "our" own naked awareness. Easy to say, hard to experience fully without effort. Of course "right" effort probably doesn't mean to suppress concepts so much as to let go of them, but who would have thought that letting go of suffering would be so difficult and take so much sustained effort.
My first formal Buddhist training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mostly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. Anyone who wants to know more can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com
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Re: Huang Po

Postby Huifeng on Tue Mar 19, 2013 1:00 am

macdougdoug wrote:Hello
I've just posted some work in progress at http://huangpo.tumblr.com
Its a 9th century ch'an text, translated into english in 1958 which I'm attempting to modernize
The Teaching of Huang Po (on the transmission of mind) - any comments would be much appreciated


I would strongly recommend learning (classical Buddhist) Chinese, otherwise any attempt to "modernize" it will not go very far. It's a lot like all those supposed Laozi quotes on the internet, where you just write whatever you like, and stick "~~ Laozi" at the end.

~~ Huifeng
Bhikṣu & Mahāyāna bodhisattva ordination by Ven Master Hsing Yun (星雲大師) et al, Foguang Shan Monastery (佛光山寺) Taiwan.
Teaching: http://buddhist.fgu.edu.tw/main.php Blog: http://prajnacara.blogspot.com/
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Re: Huang Po

Postby zafrogzen on Tue Mar 19, 2013 5:12 am

Huifeng,

I see your point. Someone with your credentials must find such efforts annoying to say the least. That's the internet. Like everything it is mixed -- some good, some not, depending on where one is coming from. I do think it's great that anyone, regardless of merit, can mount their platform (however small) and say what they will. Fortunately most of it will never make it to book form or even be read by many. Nevertheless it does have some value for the person writing it and hopefully for some others as well.

My first exposure to Lao Tzu was handed to me at the beginning of my wayfaring travels in the sixties -- a version of the classic Tao Teh Ching by the American poet Witter Bynner, who couldn't read Chinese, but which he "translated" from 14 different English translations available in the forties (how many must there be now?). While it is no longer my favorite version, the profound impact it had on me at the time has yet to be surpassed.

From my limited understanding, it appears that any translation from the Chinese necessarily entails a good deal of flexibility and license if the true meaning of the text is to be brought out, while a strictly literal translation can lose much of it's original meaning in English.

I do envy anyone who can read the originals in the "Classic Buddhist Chinese." But life is very short and we can only do so much if we are to do it well. I'd also like to be more proficient with the flute and tea ceremony, and numerous other endeavors, but I feel fortunate to have even found the time for enough zazen to give me at least a taste of what I think Buddhism is really about.

If you'll forgive me me for paraphrasing the Lankavatara Sutra -- If a man becomes attached to the literal meaning of words and to the notion that "words" and "meaning" are the same thing, especially in regard to such arcane matters as the "unborn," then he will fail to understand the true "meaning" and will become entangled in words, because the truth is beyond mere words.
My first formal Buddhist training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mostly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. Anyone who wants to know more can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com
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Re: Huang Po

Postby Gregory Wonderwheel on Wed Mar 20, 2013 1:57 am

macdougdoug wrote:As for Huinengs gatha, I'm afraid I have been taking poetic liberties.
I have never seen the version you mention:

"coming from the root there is not a single object" vs "since there is no duality" hopefully their meaining is not too dissimilar?

In the translations I've got, the line reads : "since all is void" or "since mind is emptiness" (1944 C. Humphries and 'a buddhist bible' 1956)



As I see it, there is nothing wrong with "taking liberties" or loose translations as long as notice is given to the reader that it is a loosely interpretative translation. I agree with Red Pine who says "translation is performance art." Or put another way, it is like painting a portrait in which the artist has a lot of artistic license to deal with. As long as the reader/audience knows the translator's frame of reference then its valid.

What I don't like is when the translation is very loose but the author doesn't just say so.

The translation I used for Huineng's verse is my own, so of course you would recognize it. My translation style is to lean toward the more literal side of the spectrum and to let the reader chew on the concrete images as they are in the original text rather than to provide an interpretive meaning trying to "help" the reader.

For example, in the usual verse there is no word for either "void" or "emptiness" and no word for "mind."

I translate the word 本 "root" as "root" to carry forward into English the concrete image, while most translators translate it as "origiin" or "original" to translate what is considered to be the intended meaning. So I say "coming from the root" instead of saying "coming from the origiin" or "originally coming" which are probably the more accepted style of translation.

Reading over other English translations and trying to find your own English is a good practice, in my view, as long as you make it clear to others that is what you are doing. Who knows, you may even develop the irrational desire to try to learn how to decipher the old Chinese!

_/|\_
Gregory
Why you do not understand is because the three carts were provisional for former times, and because the One Vehicle is true for the present time. ~ Zen Master 6th Ancestor Huineng
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Re: Huang Po

Postby Gregory Wonderwheel on Wed Mar 20, 2013 2:03 am

Moulin wrote:An excellent book to accompany anyone's readings of Huang Po and Blofield is this, although the title is very misleading as to the content:

Philosophical Meditations on Zen Buddhism. By Dale S. Wright
http://books.google.nl/books/about/Phil ... edir_esc=y

focuses on one renowned Zen master, Huang Po, whose recorded sayings exemplify the spirit of the 'golden age' of Zen in medieval China, and on the transmission of these writings to the West. The author makes a bold attempt to articulate a post-romantic understanding of Zen applicable to contemporary world culture. While deeply sympathetic to the Zen tradition, he raises serious questions about the kinds of claims that can be made on its behalf. --- Dale S. Wright has here de-romanticized John Blofeld's 1959 book on Huang Po, the third "house" in the Hung-chou lineage of Ma-tsu Tao-I, being the successor to Pai-chang and master to Lin-chi.


Take a quick look at Pages 11 through 13 for a sample:
http://books.google.nl/books?id=sM6si5Y ... &q&f=false

While not denying the timeless heart of Huang Po, the book also reminds us not to overlook the history of these texts, how they were assembled, rewritten, puffed by legend and glorified as any religious text.

M


I'll definitely check it out, but I have to say I'm skeptical of what Dale Wright might write after hearing a recording of one of his lectures. I got the impression from that talk that he is part of the "naturalizing Buddhism" movement that wants to turn Buddha Dharma into a Western Natural Philosophy type of study, i.e., what the book blurb calls "a bold attempt to articulate a post-romantic understanding of Zen applicable to contemporary world culture." In other words, Wright is opposed to the "romantic" view of the Zen Masters.

Added Note: Using the Google Books link above, in Wright's book on page 10 he repeats the story of Huangbo holding up his staff using it to hit and disperse them. He then called them and when they turned back their heads, he said "The crescent is like a bent bow, very little rain but only strong winds." Wright cites the source in Note 29 as "Ku-tsun yu-lu, Lu K'uan Yu, Ch'an and Zen Teachings, p. 125." However, I could not recall any such quote from Huangbo in any of the three volumes of Chan and Zen Teachings and confirmed that by thumbing through my copies. On further investigation I pulled my copy of Lu K'uan Yu's book The Transmission Of The Mind Outside The Teaching off my shelf and the quote is in that book at page 125.

It's telling that Wright follows this story with the statement "Perhaps, like us, no one had the slightest idea what Huang Po was talking about." I find that very interesting and basically the statement by Wright that, as an admission, tells us he really doesn't have much business trying to derive a philosophy from Huangbo if he is going to say things like that.

Wright may have had a clue what Huangbo was talking about if he had paid attention to Lu K'uan Yu's note at the bottom of page 125 that states,
12. The winds stand for stirs in the mind which give no result i.e. the rain or the realization of self-nature and attainment of Buddhahood.

In other words, the students were scattering like being blown by the eight winds and none could perceive the ever constant rain of the Dharma falling from Huangbo's staff.

_/|\_
Gregory
Why you do not understand is because the three carts were provisional for former times, and because the One Vehicle is true for the present time. ~ Zen Master 6th Ancestor Huineng
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Re: Huang Po

Postby Gregory Wonderwheel on Wed Mar 20, 2013 2:16 am

zafrogzen wrote:I was also studying Huang Po at the time and meditating on the term "One Mind." Even though it itself is a "concept," and a dualistic one at that,


Ah ha! To me that raises the core issue of what Huangbo is pointing at and why he uses the term. The terms "One Mind" and "No Mind" are interchangable. And which term is used to refer to the "Non-dual Mind" depends on the audience and context of the comment.

Both terms "One Mind" and "No Mind" have a dualistic aspect merely because of the dualistic nature of language. When someone thinks that we have individual minds, then the term One Mind is entirely appropriate as medicine. When someone thinks "One Mind" is establishing some kind of god-like mind, then "No Mind" is entirely appropriate medicine. Then when someone thinks that "No Mind" means there is no mind, "One Mind" is again appropriate medicine.

As I see it, Huangbo was teaching people who were welll versed and emersed in the Prajna Paramita of "No Mind" and the teaching of "Not Mind, Not Buddha." As this swing of the pendulum was leading to a nihilistic trend in the Buddha Dharma of his day, he was giving out the One Vehicle medicine of "One MInd" to show how all phenomenal dharmas are nothing but manifestation of mind perceived by discriminating conscousness.

_/|\_
Gregory
Why you do not understand is because the three carts were provisional for former times, and because the One Vehicle is true for the present time. ~ Zen Master 6th Ancestor Huineng
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Re: Huang Po

Postby zafrogzen on Wed Mar 20, 2013 4:54 pm

Gregory,

I don't know much about the historical context of "No-Mind' and "One Mind," but everything else you said echoes my own thoughts.

I'd go further and say that there are many, many more names for It, depending upon the medicine required. In the case of Huang Po and the "one Mind," like you said, it's medicine for those who think we have individual minds. The subtitle, "Transmission of Mind," is significant in this regard, because it refers to the rare (for me at least) moments when we actually "see" another person, and their mind becomes transparent -- a most intimate experience. When two people experience each other simultaneously this way, it is marvelous indeed. Huang Po says this is "...a most difficult kind of mysterious understanding, so that few indeed have been able to receive it." (page 50, Blofeld).

What we usually think of as "mind" is indeed dualistic, like words and concepts. That's where most of us are imprisoned, most of the time.
My first formal Buddhist training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mostly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. Anyone who wants to know more can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com
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Re: Huang Po

Postby zafrogzen on Thu Mar 21, 2013 5:15 pm

I also agree that is important to make clear what a version of a translation is based on and if liberties are taken then that should be made clear. That said, it seems likely that almost all the great dharma writings that have come down to us are the work of many different individuals along the way. Lao Tzu in particualar.
My first formal Buddhist training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mostly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. Anyone who wants to know more can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com
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Re: Huang Po

Postby macdougdoug on Fri Mar 29, 2013 11:10 am

Huifeng wrote:
I would strongly recommend learning (classical Buddhist) Chinese, otherwise any attempt to "modernize" it will not go very far. It's a lot like all those supposed Laozi quotes on the internet, where you just write whatever you like, and stick "~~ Laozi" at the end.

~~ Huifeng

I cannot argue with anything thats been said here by yourself and others in this thread - many thanks to scholars everywhere (including Blofeld) for their translations - but my efforts at mandarin were curtailed at age 11 when I failed chinese class.
I do not know this HuangPo fellow - you're right its just name dropping to gain the attention of those that need such stuff. What I am modernising is the Blofeld text - its such a simple message (not withstanding the One Mind/No Mind/True Self which cannot be described) that I felt needed to be said for those of us (mainly my new age friends) caught up in the belief and becoming aspect of spirituality.

As for the problem of exactitude, credentials, veracity of teachings on the net or anywhere - surely as much confusion has been caused by the true words of a buddha, as enlightenment by the ramblings of a drunkard.
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