Unknown Date, Serial 00222, Side A

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Let me talk a little bit about the meditation practice. You can really tell that this is thrown together at the last minute. The word chan comes from chana, which is a transliteration of jnana from the Sanskrit. And then in the Japanese, I believe it becomes zen, but it was zena originally, and both of these are transliterations. And it's referring to a collecting of the thoughts or a collectiveness of mind, a meditative absorption. And they say which dualisms are eliminated. I, you, subject, object, inside, outside. And it offers an intuitive method of spirituality and of the recovery.


I'm stressing the recovery, not the attainment, but the recovery or the rediscovery of the Buddha nature, the awakened, enlightened nature that is intrinsic and present in all sentient beings. It's universally shared. And this practice is aimed at attaining that or recovering that. Sometimes it's called wu in Chinese and Sanskrit. It's called bodhi, awakening. And it's interestingly brought about by the removal of the cloud cover, klesha, affliction, appropriate to my metaphor, from people's minds and enabling them to see for themselves this true state, their original state, their original face, sometimes it's referred to, the ground of our being. And so in a sense, the goal of meditation is no goal. This is these paradoxes we're constantly getting in this tradition. They say you attain nothing to attain. You attain nothing to attain.


And they're always having these riddles of, what are you looking for? Great Master, where's the great way, the Tao? It's under your feet. Who's tying you up? Who's tying you up? Question. Where is the Buddha? Who's asking? These are not meant to just be sort of playful riddles. These are meant to point back to this original truth that we are sitting on right now. One of the great stories I remember is there was an American woman, back in the 20s or 30s, who went to study with this Master I'm going to talk about today, Shu Yun, who's Empty Cloud. And I heard from somebody who actually knew her, she said it took a lot of money, it's one of the first Americans to go seeking enlightenment in China, and she climbed up this horrible mountain that he was on. She thought it was just a metaphorical mountain. It wasn't. It was a real mountain, hard to climb. She got up there, she had left her family, her husband was quite upset with her, and she bowed to the Master and said, I'm here.


And he said, well, what have you come for? It was translated, and she said, I came for enlightenment. And the response is, well, you should have never left Pennsylvania. And turned away from her, and she got really upset, and then she reflected and realized she had just gotten a wonderful teaching. And in fact, what she was looking for was already intrinsic, inherent within, and not something that needed to be sought far away in Asia. So these paradoxes, the riddles, are throughout the East Asian tradition. You find going far away means returning. I'll give you a few. Attaining nothing to attain. Adding by subtraction. Learning by subtraction. We usually think of acquiring knowledge in a psychopedic way. In the Buddhist and Taoist tradition, one learns by subtracting. Pulling off the layers. True emptiness. True emptiness is just wonderful existence. What? The traditions of bounds, and there's a principle behind it, because if all had that Buddha nature


intrinsically potentially complete, then any effort to acquire spiritual wisdom and perfection from outside would be useless and foolish. And the sutras talk about it as riding a donkey looking for the donkey. I see everybody else riding a donkey. I hope I can find one. You're riding a donkey, but you're looking for the donkey. This is the playful language used to say you're on what you're searching for, and you don't realize it. Or, I don't know what the name of the mountain is here. Does it have a name? In Chinese they say, standing on Mount Lu, looking for Mount Lu. We call this Kamaldi Mountain. You say, on Kamaldi Mountain, looking for Kamaldi Mountain. So, this nature is inalienable. We can't lose it, nor can it be taken away. Even Confucius made this mention when he says the path cannot be left for a moment. If it could be left, it would not be the path. It's conferred by nature, or in the Confucian sense, by kin, which I'm going to translate roughly as heaven, but it refers to something other than our concept of heaven.


It's inbred. Thus, meditation is not a supplication, and it's not prayer in the sense of supplication, of a reaching out, or up, but a return, a retracing of our steps, called returning to the root, going back to the source. And by returning, you say return the light to illumine within, reverse the illumination to shine within. Delving back through successive stages or layers of one's own consciousness, and one gets back to that original source, which turns out to be one and the same as the dharma realm, the whole. Now we're getting into that mystical paradox, even on a different level. Sometimes it says, melting snow washes itself away with itself. Another metaphor. Upanishads talk about it, having seen the self through one's self, one becomes selfless. So, when we hear these riddles, we're thinking, oh, these Chah Masters are just trying to


trick us. They're just trying to stop discursive thought. That is true, but there's a deeper level here. This is rooted in the principle that this enlightened nature is intrinsic and whole within. It's trying to get us away from the habitual energy we have to always look outside. So this is very important to understand because it's going to play into what I'm bringing up in terms of the meditation technique, and then some of the issues that maybe non-Eastern religious practitioners would bring by incorporating that meditation into a practice that is based on an avid seeking outside for truth, meaning, deliverance, and so forth. Let me just bring up another example that really, if you want to say, what is the goal of this meditation, it's to see things as they really are. This is a definition of Dharma, seeing things as they really are. And in the Chah tradition, they say, bring forth, produce the mind that's nowhere dwelling,


abides nowhere. And so we have this idea of non-attachment which is very much misconstrued as indifference, apathy, and it's not that at all. In fact, it's a kind of liberated dynamic once you understand it. And one of the sutras says, therefore, the question goes to the Buddha, should we break our attachments? Should we cut off our attachments? Again, going back to the psychology Bee was bringing up this morning. And the Buddha's answer was, no. And then the students said, well, Buddha, you said we shouldn't have any attachments. Now you're contradicting yourself. He said, bring me an attachment. Show me one. What is it that you can hold on to? And now we're getting into the very under-rooting that everything is impermanent. And the Buddha says, and who is it that I can hold on to? For example, this watch from my father was my father's. So my father didn't hold on to it. It outlasted him. Now I have it and I won't be able to hold on to it either.


So not only is the watch we know impermanent, but the one who holds it is also impermanent. So the breaking of attachments is not something you consciously do because there's no attachments to be formed. Therefore, you recognize things as they really are, unable to be grasped and held. And so the liberation comes from not seeking a breakthrough, but just understanding what's already there. So let me jump, because there's just so much I'm going to try to get to and there's no way to do it. One of the things I do really want to bring up, though, that's extremely important is this idea of morality or virtue or ethics, which is built into this whole meditation tradition. It's essential to it, it's intrinsic to it. Sometimes it's so intrinsic to it that it's not even mentioned. And when the Buddha says, Collecting one's thoughts are the precepts,


or when the sixth patriarch says, When the mind is made straight, why bother following rules? These are implying that that straight mind is so aware, so conscious all the time of the cause and effect of every thought, every word, every deed, that precepts hold themselves. The moral life is guaranteed by acute mindfulness. It's not a prescribed morality from the outside, but it is spontaneously arising from acute awareness at all moments. And this is what I think possibly Confucius might have meant by saying at age 70 he could follow his heart's desires and not violate the dictates of heaven or the mandate of heaven. It was natural at this point. He had internalized it to such a degree that he was so attuned he couldn't think of harming or killing or stealing and so forth. So I think this is important to understand even when it's talked about as these are not important in the Chan or Zen tradition. They're presumed to be there. And the practice of meditation is meant to highlight that mind that perceives them directly.


It's a very important thing to understand. Now, with that being said, I want to give you two definitions of Buddhism in this sense and then move on a little bit. When I was recently with the Dalai Lama, someone asked me what Buddhism was, and people here correct me, but I think what he said was something like this. It is mind or mental training, mental discipline, aimed at eliminating negative or afflicted emotions and reaching with that mocha or nirvana. In my very succinct definition he gave. Notice he said afflicted or negative emotion. I'll read you another one. Buddhism aims at the discovery and study of humankind's inner world, ethical, spiritual, psychological, and intellectual. Buddhism is a spiritual and psychological discipline that deals with humanity in total. It is a way of life, and this is what I'm stressing,


it is a path to follow and practice. It teaches humans how to develop our moral and ethical character, which in Sanskrit is chitta, and to cultivate the mind, samadhi, and to realize ultimate truth, prajna, wisdom, and ultimately nirvana. Now this is from Walpola Prahula, sort of fleshing out the same thing the Dalai Lama is saying. And both point to this idea of an orthopraxic rather than orthodoxic. This method in Buddhism is called the three non-outflow science, and the text refers to this called san-lo-shwe, the three non-outflow science, sila, samadhi, prajna, virtue, ethical foundation, leading to the clarity of mind and conscious that allows the mind to enter singleness, singleness that then evolves into, naturally, wisdom or insight. And this ethical component I don't think can be overemphasized


because it entails an indispensable preliminary purification of the mind, and this in turn leads to that insight. The Visuddhimagga, which is the early Buddhist manual from the 4th century, refers very clearly to this, and lists the Buddhist science, he calls it the science of inquiry, as nothing more than an interrelated step of virtue, meditation, and insight. And what I'm going to say today, I'm going to throw this out generally at the risk of oversimplification because I want to point this out, I think it's really important. This epistemological formula, and I say epistemological, it is a way of knowing, runs throughout the Asian religious traditions, South and East. For example, Daoism speaks of cultivating xin, the mind, regarding it as a repository of perceptions and knowledge. It rules the body. It is spiritual, and like a divinity, will abide, quote, only where all is pure. The Guangzi, and this is from the 3rd to 4th century BCE,


cautions, all people desire to know, but they don't inquire into whereby one knows. And then there's the famous passage, what all people desire to know is that, the external world, reality. But their means of knowing that is this. Third line, how can we know that? Fourth line, only by perfecting this. Now, my Catholic background is quite soft at this point, but I believe, remembering back to the days when I was forced by Aquinas, that there was something about coding to invest in cognitive sensitivities, that everything is perceived in the manner of the perceiver. So it's a very interesting parallel to this of the 3rd or 4th century BCE. In any event, so this perfection that's talked about, you'll find it all throughout.


In further cultivation of moral qualities, in Buddhist terminology, what we call klesha, afflictions in Chinese, literally, heated brain. I always like the Chinese, they're much more visceral with their poetry. Greed, anger, ignorance, pride, selfishness, emotional extremes. It seems less an alteration of consciousness than a purification and quieting of the mind. Again, to go against the 60s of the altered consciousness states, it's not what it's talking about, and this is not to be sought, but it's thought to be the quieting and purification of the mind. That's why the tranquil lake is given as the metaphor, not the kaleidoscope of this mind. Mencius talks about attaining an unmoving mind, quote, at age 40. And he was referring to this cultivation of an equanimity resulting from an exercise of moral sense. He distinguished between knowledge acquired from mental activity and knowledge gained by intuitive insight, and he felt the latter was superior. The spiritual insight knowledge is superior


because it gives numeral as well as phenomenal understanding. So now an interesting play about the modern science, what's going here. The whole education of Mencius consisted of, and people might know this quote, recovering the lost mind, the lost heart mind. So we as educators, part of our mandate is to help not only recover our own, but hopefully lead in the recovery of others, and this is what higher education should be about, both in the vascular degree of learning, but also in Mencius. Recovering our lost mind. He said, people lose their pigs, and they'll stay out all night looking for their pig, but they lose their mind, and they don't know to look for it. Manana. Manana. It's recoveries in two of the faculties that have been, by the stress of life or by internal confusion, led astray. Advaita Vedanta, philosophical teaching of Hinduism, as well emphasizes that jnana, knowledge, requires a solid basis in ethics and dharma. Zhuangzi spoke of acquiring knowledge


of the 10,000 things, in other words, all of nature, through virtuous living and practicing stillness. To quote, to a mind that is still the whole universe surrenders. I love that quote. In Confucius, I mentioned that the ashtray connects utmost knowledge of the universe to cultivation of one's own person and rectification of one's own xin, heart-mind. All this comes down to some form of quietism, what's been called quietism, the stilling of mind-thoughts, the gathering in of consciousness on itself, various degrees and differences from tradition to tradition. I'm not sort of saying they're all the same, but I'm assuring you they have this root. And built upon a foundation of moral rectitude aimed at then recovering this innate nature of the Tao, the Buddha way, Buddha nature, whatever. Okay. So that's the broad thing I want to hit at. Now what I want to do is to jump to the Chinese tradition, which then takes from jnana, this Chan meditation practice. It's obviously been influenced by Taoism. When it gets into China,


there's this syncretism going on. I don't want to represent it as this pure thing. None of us are pure. All of us are syncretic in many, many, many forms. And we're in the process of doing this. So the same thing, William James has a wonderful metaphor that he uses that I like. He said, Our knowledge grows in much the way a soup is put together. He says, We tend to think in black-and-white, puristic terms. He said, Every day someone adds to the stock. And after a while, you don't even know what the original base was anymore. And he said, This is to be preferred. This is the natural way. So we're all in a soup stock here. And so I don't want to make any pretenses that Buddhism came from India, untransmitted. Obviously it was influenced by Hinduism and Hinduism by Buddhism. And Neo-Confucianism arose out of the influence of Buddhism. And who knows what's happening here? We might have Neo-Christianity moving as a response to the Buddhist input. I think for myself, a lot of the emphasis on immanentism, of the internal dimension of interiority, are all ideas you see rising in the West,


corresponding, occurring at the same time as you have the East-West encounter. And to this extent, that's probably what Twain and Jung and others were talking about, this wonderful blending of the two that's going to lead to a new understanding. So that's the soup stock. Soup's good. When Buddhism comes in to China, it goes through this process of assimilation, acculturation, and then we have the transmission of texts. And one of the texts I'm going to talk about today is called the Lanyan Jing, or the Shurangama Sutra. It's a very complicated text, very rich. But basically, it was translated into Chinese by a Parmecian in about 700. It's a Zhezhe monastery, which means nothing to anybody here. But it was having great esteem in the Mahayana countries of East Asia. In China, it's ranked in popularity


with some of you know the Lotus Sutra, the Avatamsaka Sutra, and the Prajnaparamita Sutra. These are all the ones most people are familiar with. And the Shurangama is less studied, but more important. And it's especially favored by Chan or Zen meditators as it maps out the mental phenomena experienced by practitioners. The mental phenomena that meditators experience, those states, the causes of those states, and the difficulties that arise from attachment to the phenomena and misinterpretation of them. When I talk about exploring the mind realm, this is something that is very rich. It's the only thing in my life I've never gotten bored with. I've never gotten bored with anything else. My meditation, every day it's a wonder to me, and it's humbling. I first had the idea, to tell you, when I discovered Buddhism, oh, I was going to go out to the Sierras, build myself a little kuti, and get enlightened. Well, I went off, after two days I realized I had no control over my mind. When I sat there,


it was like, just as you described, a wild elephant or a monkey jumping from tree to tree. So I realized I needed some training and discipline and came back. I thought I'd hang out in a monastery for a few months, and 18 years later I left. And I'm still at the basis of beginning to do this practice and realize how daunting a task it is. Any of you who've sat quietly for any long period of time realize that this is very loud. And of course it's deafening when you're in a place like this, because all you hear is your mind. This morning I woke up in meditation, what is all that noise? And Tom is saying, wasn't it quiet last night? Inside or out. And so these phenomena that arise when one tries to understand and penetrate the mind in all its states, to attain what's called the unattached, liberated, unbound mind, is a very, very perilous and convoluted journey. And so this sutra catalogs and classifies spiritual experience


and the underlying causes of those experiences. Most importantly, how to steer one's way through this challenging terrain of mind to enlightenment. How to transmute negative desires. Oh my. Okay, well, I've got six minutes and there's no way I'm going to be able to cover all of this. Let's see, where shall I jump to? Let me just finish that thought. Transmute consciousness and these afflicted desires into wisdom. And it details this return, the peeling away the layers of what we call ego, which are called the five skandhas in Buddhism, the psychophysical self, which the Buddha says is just like an onion. Peel the layers, peel the layers, and when you get to the core, bam, nothing. But then that's wonderful existence. Ah, the paradox again. Okay, so this details that and it talks about that all sentient beings, when they peel this away, return to what they already have. It's a circular journey, the wonderfully bright fundamental enlightenment,


the enlightened perfect substance of the mind, which is not different from that of the Buddhas of the ten directions. So this is the place we began, the place we return, the place we never leave. It's always there under us and the text is meant as a guide to bring us back to that. So, now with only five minutes left, and I was going to read you a passage of the text, but it's a rough translation and I don't think there's time for that. And I think what I'll do instead, I'll jump and say the text says there are four unalterable aspects of purity. They have to do with lust, with stealing, with killing, and with lying, or what we call false, this lack of integrity. Now, there are physical dimensions to this, there are emotional dimensions to this, there are very subtle psychological dimensions to this. For example, stealing means taking more than you need. I'm sorry, this is very subversive to free market capitalism.


Okay, killing refers to going into the aspects of diet, which is why a vegetarian diet emerges out of this expectation. Lust is talking not about just externally repressing, but internally transforming thoughts of lust into wisdom. That's the meaning in Buddhism that afflictions are body, ice is water, it's the same substance. So I said to my teacher, I'll cut off my desires. He said, you cut them off, you cut off your enlightenment. He says, transform them. Just as coal under pressure and container turns into diamond, so do these turn into wisdom. You look for this outside of that, he said, it's like, in Texas, it's like looking for a rabbit's antlers. So, now, briefly I'm going to mention there are two individuals. One is called Han Shan, 1546-1623. The other one is a famous one called Shu Yun, which means empty cloud, 1840-1959. 1840-1959.


119. He was my teacher's teacher. Okay, both of them, and I'm going to make it really short, both of them refer to the same text. Both of them use this text as a lifesaver to pull them out of meditative states they were into that they did not understand, thought they had attained enlightenment, thought they were Buddhists, thought they were Arhats. They read the text and said, thank goodness. If I think I have something, I'm on the wrong path to the text. Anytime you think you have something, beware. And then the text outlines all the states of mind, 50 in all, that are associated with the various stages of meditation that go through the five skandhas, hence our 50 skandhas states. These involve incredible psychic power, visualization, smells and senses, all sorts of things that we consider to be wonderful and inconceivable states of meditation. All of these are held up against this mirror of wisdom that says, watch out, watch out, watch out. And watch out most if you think this is special, or I've caught a demon. Either one of these is losing your equanimity


to stay on focus, and it helps to recognize these. Han Shan, at age 19, left to become a monk and so forth, when he had a state of enlightenment, he didn't have a good teacher. Instead of staying on enlightenment, he went to the text and studied it for eight months to confirm or deny what he had experienced. After that, he wrote a famous commentary to it that has become a classic for Chan meditation in China. Shu Yin has a wonderful story. Shu Yin is more like me. He had to be humbled directly by a teacher, vowing not to remove arrogance, and that's what I had, and have, and didn't realize I had, which is even more arrogant. And Shu Yin, he went off and became one of these incredible macho cultivators in the mountains, living on pine needles and cold water, had all kinds of incredible meditation states. He says, I had many unusual experiences. Deep in the mountains and marshland, I was not attacked by tigers or wolves, nor bitten by snakes or insects. I neither craved for human sympathy,


nor took cooked food normally given by people. Lying on the ground where the sky had run me, I felt the myriad things were complete in myself. I experienced a great joy as if I were a deva, a god, of the fourth beyond heaven. Since I had not even had a bowl for myself, I had boundless freedom from impediments. Thus my mind was clear and at ease. My strength grew with each passing day. My eyes and ears became sharp and penetrating. I walked with rapid steps as if I were flying. It seemed inexplicable how I came to be in such a condition. As I was bound to stand and while urged to eat, I stayed wandering from place to place and passed my time in oblivion, completely free and easy. And people were bound to him. He had psychic powers at this time. He could read other's thoughts and so forth. Then he went to Mount Kintai, met this old hermit who he almost passed by as a nobody. And he says, Master, is there anything you might offer me? And he said, Are you a monk or a Taoist or a layman? He says, I'm a monk. He said, Have you been ordained? I received full ordination. How long have you been in this condition?


And I related him his story of his enlightenment, attained enlightenment. He said, Why did you do that? He said, I wanted to attain enlightenment by means of austerities. And he said, The old man said to him, Well, you know, the ancients disciplined their bodies, but you know, they really disciplined their minds. He said, I see your current practice. You're like a heretic, entirely on the wrong path. You've wasted ten years of training. Staying underground, drinking water from mountain streams, you managed to succeed. Even if you could live for 10,000 years, you'd only be in the state of rishis and immortals. And this is listed in the false states of the Shurangala Sutra, he says. Which is still, you're very far away from the Tao. He says, Even if you got to be the first food of arhatship, or a Pratyekabuddha, if you abstained from eating cereals and wearing trousers, and oppressed from the extraordinary, this is going to result in nothing. So the master, he said, pierced my weak spot right to the core, and I bowed to him, and I begged him to teach me. So Hanshan did it by himself. Shuyin had to be taught.


He was taught, to make a long story short then, at this was 32 minutes. At 50, he really began then deeply to enter meditation. While he was in a meditation retreat, some of you know this story, the night before his breakthrough, he experienced an incredible clairvoyance. He was sitting in this room, in meditation, with his eyes slightly closed. He saw what everybody was doing outside for miles around. He saw, as he says, again, very visceral, he saw the guest prefect urinating, outside. He saw so-and-so stealing some food from the kitchen. So instead of getting up, he stayed with his meditation, and said, Aha, the shuranga will ward me. Don't stop here. Don't get attached to state. The next morning he went out and said, Were you urinating? Oh yes, I was. Then he went back, Were you stealing food from the kitchen? How did you know? Then he went back and sat in meditation. Then finally, with that patience, he had his breakthrough. Then again, tested it against the text. So, what I'm saying here is that


the text is very clear that without this kind of guidance and discipline and so forth, it's very easy to, what they say, mistake a thief for your son. The expression they use. It's like someone who pours water into a leaking cup, hoping to fill it. Or someone who cooks sand, hoping to get rice. After hundreds of thousands of years, it will still be hot rice. Hot sand. Hot sand. Sorry. Therefore, he says, one of your cultivators must be clear as glistening frost. Clear as glistening frost when you begin your meditation practice and return to that as your ground for correct states. So, what I wanted to do, and I think Thomas responds, if it's true that then seeking nothing is the ground from which one enters this meditation practice. And this is one of the meanings of emptiness. So, is it the case then that perhaps dogmas and doctrines from other traditions brought into this could become impediments? Become, if you will,


catalysts that trigger states that reify the experience into something other than it's supposed to be. Anything that encourages or fosters an impulse to attain, to have experience, to have some proof of realization, is dangerous and then fleeting, according to this text. So, what does it mean from someone from another faith tradition if they have an overarching theology that favors a strong belief in external reliance, a strong belief in origin ends outside of its own nature, an eschatological formulation, if you will, that is there even on the unconscious even though it's been made new and transformed metaphorically, it's still there. Are the results parallel in Christian traditions? Are there warnings here as well? And if so, does this suggest a spiritual topography that cuts across time and tradition that all meditators might share? And then the other question I'm asking again is what happens if we draw this out of its context? I'm sorry. In Chinese they say, it's called riding a horse looking at the flowers.