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November 19, 2012


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Neither "animals, trees and stone are awakened" (i.e., Buddhas) nor even sentient beings.

"Suppose someone declares that he has already attained the most perfect enlightenment. When asked for the reason, he replies “It is because the tathâgata teaches that all sentient beings have Buddha-nature. Since whoever is in possession of the Buddha-nature should have already attained the most perfect enlightenment, I declare that I have attained enlightenment now.” It should be understood that such a person is guilty of the pârâjikas [grave offense like murder]. Why? It is because even though the Buddha teaches that all sentient being have the Buddha-nature, they have not yet cultivated various beneficial means, and so still have no vision of the Buddha-nature which they are going to have. Since they still have no vision of the Buddha-nature, they have not attained the most perfect enlightenment” (Maharparinirvana Sutra).

The quoted passage is talking about skandha as being empty. When you have seen through it, there is no Mara involved anymore (thus it says "might be", as for some there is no Mara).

Not only the body is an illusion, but the brain and its creations are, that is the human mind. The "absolute (or universal) mind" that is considered not to be an illusion is independent from that body and mind, that is why an individual life can end without the absolute mind being changed. There is still nothing of the individual remaining, not even the thought of awakening. That is exactly why we can say that animals, trees and stone are awakened (the Palicanon does not state that, but it is known in different schools of zen, not only in the Dogen tradition) - because this being empty in the skandha, living and dying, thinking or not thinking, does not change the(ir) Buddhanature.


You can believe it is wrong view but then explain this:

"When there is form, Radha, there might be Mara, or the killer, or the one who is killed. Therefore, Radha, see form as Mara, see it as the killer, see it as the one who is killed. See it as a disease, as a tumor, as a dart, as misery, as really misery. Those who see it thus see rightly. When there if feeling ... When there is perception ... When there are volitional formations ... When there is consciousness, Radha, there might be Mara, or the killer, or the one who is killed" (S.iii.189).

Fundamentally, the ox has nothing to do with psychophysical body (pañca-skandha) which is Mara's. The body is really an illusion. It is nothing in itself, it is empty. The only reality is absolute Mind. That is hardly duality.

The "dropping of body and mind" in Dogen is contradicted by insisting on a certain posture of the body. Anyway, the Zennist makes clear why it is so important for him to believe in rebirth, when he states: "Our body is the evil one’s property—every bit of it. We are stuck in his prison of flesh. The only means of escape ..."

I believe this is a wrong view because it creates a duality between body and mind. It will also not help you when being sick, where "making friends with your body" might be more relieving.

Whatever you think of Dogen, such categories of discernment should be dissolved by insight, be it with or without the zazen posture. Otherwise your thoughts are delusional, as it is exactly your physical life (the body and the brain) which defines your life. Anything else you do not know, and I do not know a lot of zen masters who have insisted on speculating about the afterlife. The wish for eternal life which is behind rebirth as s.th. that is continuing in time as in future instead of being an eternal present is the basis for most religions. This is where your spirituality becomes religion, a step to be avoided.

If your body would be your cage of flesh and you'd detect that through awakening, you would consequently kill yourself to stay in nirvana (without flesh) because if you don't you will still not avoid pain and sickness. This is where your body defines you. But most persons who considered themselves awakened or were told to be did not commit suicide.
Get it?

"We find this sudden approach to the Threefold Discipline -- sometimes referred to as the "formless discipline" (muso sangaku) -- appearing again and again in the texts of the Zen tradition, often accompanied by sharp criticisms of meditation and strong denials that the tradition's practice of zazen is the traditional discipline of dhyana. So, for example, the Lin-chien lu, an important treatise by the Sung-dynasty Zen master Hui-hung, denies that Bodhidharma's famous nine years of sitting before a wall was the practice of dhyana ..." (Dr. Carl Bielefeldt)

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