Sudden Awakening in Zen Buddhism Essay Example
Sudden Awakening in Zen Buddhism Essay Example

Sudden Awakening in Zen Buddhism Essay Example

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  • Pages: 9 (2338 words)
  • Published: June 9, 2018
  • Type: Article
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July 4th Churchill Elangwe Sudden awakening All of us on this earth desire happiness and many of us go through great efforts to achieve that goal. Some look for happiness in material things, but are often disappointed because of the transitory nature of the material world. Others look to religion and spirituality for happiness, but too often their attempts fail because of the difficulties of most such paths and the lack of perseverance and discipline on part of the seekers. It has been found that the energy that lies dormant in us, once awakened, can lead to eternal bliss and happiness.

However, rigorous practice can be daunting for most of us, and as a result, most seekers using such methods fail to achieve the bliss and happiness they deserve. An example will be some one without patience would wa


nt to practice to the extreme in order to attain (satori) or sudden awareness, which is the key concept of Zen. There are two type of processes that one can obtain awakening in Zen Buddhism. There is the sudden and gradual awakening. Sudden awakening is the type of awakening ordinary people directly access their source of wisdom and compassion within and to awaken by recognizing the true nature of one’s own mind.

The approach is one of utilizing ones own inborn awareness in an atmosphere of wise guidance and compassionate support. Meanwhile the sudden awakening is a none traditional Buddhist tradition. It is spontaneous, lively and thoroughly modern while at the same time possessing a rich treasure of ancient tradition, lineage and wisdom Hui-neng the famous sixth patriarch of the cha’n an illiterate monk who cam

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from outside of the rigid hierarchical structure of gradual meditation practices, achieves the instantaneous awareness of the oneness of all reality.

Nevertheless, he inherited the religious authority of the fifth patriarch. The head of the Buddhist order in china. The most famous incident in Hui-neng’s story concerns a dharma contest organized by Hung-gen the fifth patriarch who challenged his charges to each write a verse(gatha) distilling their understanding of their “original natures”. He promised to read them and award his spiritual robe and bowl (a symbol of dharma transmission;) and the title “Sixth Patriarch” will go to the student demonstrating true realization.

The task quickly devolved onto the shoulders of the head monk, Shen-hsiu, who, it was assumed, would be the master’s likely successor. Shen-hsiu, stole out and wrote his verse anonymously on the wall of the new dharma hall: The body is the bodhi tree. The mind is like a mirror bright. Take heed to keep it always clean And let not dust collect on it. A straitforward articulation of the necessity of diligent practice, She-hsiu hoped this verse would show the master that his student has at least some understanding. The first line states that the body is like the Boddhi tree which means the body is the basis for reaching enlightenment.

The second line compares the mind to the bright mirror because the mind is the bright wisdom of Buddhahood. The third and the last line translates that our minds is not yet bright therefore we must keep is clean and prevent dust from collecting on it. (Thien-An 29, 30) Meanwhile, Hui-neng who has recently arrived in the monastery was still working

in the threshing room when this happened. Immediately Hui-neng realized the author of the verse lacked full understanding. He got someone to write his reply and submitted it to the master: The Bodhi is not like a tree The mirror bright is no where shining

As there is nothing from the first Where can the dust itself collect? It is obvious Hui-neng’s (gatha) is the exact opposite of Shen-hsiu’s. Hui-neng’s gatha is not at all obvious to intellectual understanding because it is a product of a profound spiritual experience. Very soon word of the new verse reached Hung-gen the fifth patriarch. The master came to read it and immediately recognized it as the work of Hui-neng and that this unknown prodigy was truly enlightened. However, he know that passing his robe to an uncouth peasant would upset the monastic hierarchy.

Therefore he publicly dismissed it as “not complete understanding”. Later, under cover of darkness, Hung-gen summoned Hui-neng for a secret audience in which he gave him further teachings. Passing on the robe and bowl the master admonished him to flee for his life, predicting, however, that eventually he would transmit the teaching. (Thien-An 31,32,33,34) Looking at Hui-nengs life how he spent most of his life cooking for others and never complained, one’s awakening is possible only by overcoming one’s self-centeredness, I. e. only through the total negation of one’s ego-self.

This self centeredness, of the self centered ego, is the fundamental hindrance to the manifestation of Dharma. Therefore when the self centeredness is overcome and selflessness is attained, anatman is realized. When Dharma awakens to itself in us , we attains our true self. The

selfless self is the true self. Three essentials of Zen practice also relates to the awakening process. The first of the three essentials is the great faith(dai-shin-kon). This is more than mere belief. The ideogram for kom means “root”, and that for shin, “faith. Hence the phrase implies a faith that is firmly and deeply rooted, immovable, like an immense tree or a huge boulder. Believing in our selves is very important. One has to believe that we have the potential to become a Buddha one day. According to the teaching of the Buddha, every living being has a Buddha nature and that we haven’t yet attain it because we haven’t reached the point. That through kensho one realizes that one is not different from others. (Thien-An 41, 42) The second indispensable quality is the great doubt (dai-gi-dan).

Not a simple doubt, “doubt-mass” and this inevitably stems from strong faith. We must not believe any thing blindly; rather we must demonstrate it’s truth to our selves. It is a doubt as to why we and the world should appear so imperfect, so full of anxiety, strive and suffering, when in fact our deep faith tells us exactly the opposite is true. It is a doubt which leaves us no rest. It is as though we knew perfectly well we were millionaires and yet inexplicably found ourselves in dire need without a penny in our pockets. Strong doubt, therefore exists in proportion to strong faith.

We must see things or experience things for our selves rather than agreeing to what we are not really sure of. (Thien-An 43, 44) From the feeling of doubt the third

essential, is the great determination (dai-fun-shi), naturally arises. It is an overwhelming determination to dispel this doubt with the whole force of our energy and will. Believing with every pore of our being in the truth of the Buddha’s teaching that we are all endowed with the immaculate Bodhi-mind, we resolve to discover and experience the reality of this mind of our selves.

If we do not question why greed and conflict exist, why the ordinary man or woman acts like anything but a Buddha, no determination arises in us to resolve the obvious contradiction between what we believe as a matter of faith and what our senses tell us is just the contrary, and our zazen is thus deprived of its prime source of power. To develop this great determination we must have patience and self discipline. If we lack these qualities, we would doubt our capacity to attain enlightenment and give up. Because of that, we would not reach our goal. Thien-An 46) The three goals of zen are also related to attaining awakening. The first goal is concentration (joriki). Joriki is the power of concentration which arises when the mind has been unified and brought to one-pointedness in Zazen concentration. This is more than the ability to concentrate in the usual sense of the world. It is a dynamic power which, once mobilized, enables us even in the most sudden and unexpected situations to act instantly, without pausing to collect out wits, and in a manner wholly appropriate to the circumstances.

One who has developed Joriki is no longer a slave his passions, neither is he at the mercy of his environment.

Always in command of both himself and the circumstances of his life, he is able to move with perfect freedom and equanimity. The cultivation of certain supernormal powers is also made possible by joriki, as is the state in which the mind becomes like clear still water. (Thien 93, 94, 95, 96) The second one is kenshogodo which means realizing or seeing one’s true nature or satori. Kensho is the same as “know thyself” of the ancients. We have no noumenon (satori). We return to the cosmic order.

That is the satori of the shakyamuni Buddha under the Bodhi tree. He understood that he had no noumenon, that he was connected to the cosmic order, the cosmic power, and then he experienced satori. When he stood up again he had solved everything, in forty nine days his entire karma was liberated. Every day a girl brought milk for him to drink and gave him a message. And in the end he understood that there was no noumenon, nothing. The only noumenon is the fundamental cosmic power. As an illustration, imagine someone blind from birth who gradually begin to recover his sight.

At first he can see very vaguely and darkly and only objects close to him. Then as his sight improves he is able to distinguish things a yard or so away, then objects at ten yards, then at a hundred yards, until finally he can recognize anything up to a thousand yards. At each of these stages the phenomenal world he is seeing is the same, but the difference in the clarity and accuracy of his vies of that world are as great as

those between snow and charcoal. So it is with the difference in clarity and depth of our experiences of kensho. It’s the same in zazen. if you believe you will not need kensho.

During zazen you are connected to the cosmic order (Thien-An 97, 98, 99). (zazen is my favorite part of the practice) The third goal of Zen is Mujodo no taigen which mean, actualizing of the supreme way in our entire being and our daily activities. At this point we do not distinguish the end from the means. While cleaning, cooking, at the office working, what ever you are doing driving a car, with your mind fully conscious yet as free of thought as a pure white sheet of paper, there is a a unfoldment of your intrinsically pure Buddha nature whether you have had Satori or not.

But only with true awakening do one directly apprehend the truth of one’s Buddha nature and perceive that Mojodo no Taigen, the purest type of Zen. (Thien-An 100) As I was writing this article, questions keep coming up to my mind. Questions like, what part does faith play in one’s self awakening? But going through my notes and some reading in the book I answered some of the questions. In this particular question, Nagarjuna in his time emphasized the importance of faith as the entrance to nirvana and the indispensability of wisdom for attaining it.

The quotation from Mahaprajnaparamita-sutra emphasizes that the real end of the Buddhist life does not lie in attaining nirvana by overcoming samsara, but rather in returning to realm of smsara by overcoming nirvana through compassion with one’s fellow beings who

are still in suffering. Although it is necessary to reach the other side (nirvana) by giving up this side (samsara), prajnaparamita, meaning the perfection of wisdom, is not realized only by that attainment. By giving up the other side and returning to this side one can attain prajnaparamita which is the perfection of wisdom.

Which is how faith works with self awakening. (that’s my understanding) How does clinging relate to awakening? This is one of the questions that I’ve been asking my self since the second week of class. I came to realize that people tend to cling to concepts, and clinging to concepts can be the biggest obstacle to awakening. The phantom in us looks immediately for answers in external authorities. We chase answers, typically through religion, philosophy, spirituality, meditation, traditions, self improvement, books, etc. If we look at the world today, everything is suffering.

Humans define their existence by misery and suffering. The four noble truths are all about suffering, nirvana and the path. The word suffering is utilized throughout all the texts and teachings of Buddhism. Suffering is defined as; to feel pain or distress; sustain loss, injury, harm, or punishment. Buddhism uses a deeper meaning of suffering, which is a change or ultimate unsatisfactory. Even if one is happy, they can not be happy forever, so when they are no longer happy, they are suffering. Birth, aging, sickness, and death is suffering.

General unsatisfaction of life. Suffering is an elemental fabric of life. Happiness doesn’t last; Buddhism provides ways of increasing it. Love is ever changing, and change is suffering. Spiritual ignorance causes suffering. An origination of all this suffering is

a connection to ongoing desire, clinging to material possessions. Like our text says, cling to nothing because there is nothing anywhere solid enough to cling to. The Buddhist path aims not only to limit expression of craving, but ultimately to use calm and wisdom to completely uproot it from the psyche.

A more than temporary undefiled state of mind is necessary for enlightenment. Freedom from suffering, the cessation of the unsatisfactory state which everyone is in. Nirvana mean extinction of birth and rebirth and it can be achieved through the cessation or craving, when there is total non-attachment and letting go. (Relax your body and surrender your thoughts to experience mental calmness and your own inner core of bliss. That‘s my new saying. Thanks for your wise teachings. Enjoy your summer).

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