Tag Archives: Chinul

The Nature of Dhyana

18. Q: What does it mean when The Mahaparinirvana Sutra states, “Excessive Dhyana over and above Wisdom issues in more ignorance (avidya), yet at the same time excessive wisdom canceling-out quality time spent in Dhyana leads to the issuance of wrong-views; however when Dhyana and Wisdom are equally observed best procures liberation?
A: Right Wisdom best discerns between good and evil, while Dhyana demonstrates that in marking these discernments one remains wholeheartedly unattached and undefiled, untempted by the allures of either love or hate. Thus Right Wisdom and Dhyana function on an equal footing.
Q: That Sutra also says “wordlessness with nothing to discuss, this is the nature of Dhyana.” Yet, are we not able to be in Dhyana whether being silent or speaking?
A: In referencing Dhyana just now I was referring to the manner of “perpetual-Dhyana”, which is the same whether keeping silent or during occasions of speech. What is the reason for this? The nature of Dhyana does not change from its efficacious functionality whether engaged in speaking or being non-engaged in times of silence. In the same fashion, when we contemplate the nature of voidness when in relationship with forms, this voidness is unaffected whether these forms are mentioned in passing speech or during times of deep-samadhis. This same rationale holds firm when considering the nature of skandhic functions, like seeing, hearing, touching, and smelling. Since our Self-Nature remains void to any ramifications of skandhic consciousness and its many forms, IT maintains ITS natural voidness under all circumstances. Thus, being void, IT is free from all attachments and this freedom empowers the synchronized function of Right Wisdom and Dhyana whatever the state of natural affairs. Bodhisattvas employ this Dharma of Voidness when entering into conjunctional alliance with the Absolute. It is written that when Dhyana and Right Wisdom function in this manner it is known as Right Deliverance. In helping to clarify this I give you the following prime example: Consider the semblance of a ‘Bright Mirror’. When its light reflects an object is its brightness diminished? And during the times when it is not reflecting something is its brightness ever weakened? Why is this the case? The Bright Mirror has neither feeling nor any other kind of sensation. When sensation is absent neither movement nor absence of movement is effectively present. Another vivid illustration is sunlight. Its light illuminates the world and when not in position it does not, but is its vivifying light ever absent? In the same manner sunlight is itself devoid of sensation. Now that same principle of being able “to shine” is instilled in Right Gnosis—it has an illuminative effect—while that perfect one-pointedness of non-wavering is reflective of Dhyana. When the diligent Bodhisattva employs an equal measure of Dhyana and Right Wisdom, it creates the opportunity for the reception of Sambodhi, or the one-pointedness of Mind that leads to Supreme Enlightenment. Let it also be known, though, that this spiritual enterprise is not void of a holy ambience.
Q: What then is the manner of this holy ambience?
A: It never gives rise to duality, it is rather in perpetual union and holy alliance with the Unborn, which institutes the fragrance of an omnipresent holy ambience. read more

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Samādhi and Prajñā

The key to Chinul’s variety of Sŏn Buddhism revolves around three distinct styles of practice that was directly influenced through “three enlightenment experiences.” Firstly, there is the balanced equation of samādhi and prajñā–all derived from a transformative experience involving the Platform Sutra; secondly, there was complete faith and transcendent knowing according to the sudden teachings of the Hwaŏm school, from Li Ti’hung-hsüan’s Exposition of the Avatasaka Sütra; thirdly, he utilized a shortcut approach of the hwadu (koan-like) applications, from the Records of Ta-hui. Each will be examined separately. read more

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Coming in March 2016: Korean Sŏn

Sŏn is the Korean pronunciation of the Sanskrit, Dhyāna. Sŏn is also comparable with samādhi although it takes on a different connotation from our usual rendering. Tsung-mi expounds that it is a comprehensive equation for both samādhi and prajña. Sŏn’s primary task is the recollection of the original Mind Source, one’s own Buddha-nature. One’s awakening in this endeavor is akin to prajña, while the cultivation of this Mind-ground is samādhi. Chinul, whose teachings are the spotlight this series, asserts that samādhi and prajña are constitutive of the threefold training of śīla, samādhi and prajña just outlined. read more

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