Friday, May 16, 2008

Certification/Transmission of Enlightenment

Me talk about the "E" word? say it ain't so!
Yeah folks I guess it is about time. All of Ted’s talk about transmission has dragged it out of me. I am going to quote an ole dead (maybe not really so dead) guy too.

So why am I doing this? To express a certain point of view, and because people are unreliable. The history of transmission in the “Zen” tradition has been corrupt since it began. And while there are good teachers out there, even most of them are bound by customs, curtseys, policies, and procedures which have little or nothing to do with much of anything accept self aggrandizement and self perpetuation and doctrine.

So how do we, unable to find a reliable person, get certification of our own enlightenment? (Leave out a few concepts here, we’re already enlightened, I know the whole universe is enlightenment itself, yep, got that)

So where do we turn? Well, I know a monk who initially sounded pretty pretentious.
He said “I have overcome all foes; I am all-wise; I am free from stains in all things; I have left everything and have obtained emancipation of craving. Having myself gained knowledge, whom should I call my master? I have no teacher; no one is equal to me; in the world of men and of gods no being is like me. I am the Holy One in this world, I am the highest teacher, I alone am the perfectly ever Enlightened One; I have gained coolness and have obtained Nirvana. To set in motion the wheel of the Dharma, I go to the city of the Benares; I will beat the drum of the Immortal in the darkness of this world."

Wow! I think we would consider it pretty rude to talk like that nowadays.
So we should put this to the test! What is the criteria for all of that big stuff you say you are?

And he said:
"There are two extremes, which he who has given up the world ought to avoid.
Those extremes are, a life given to pleasures, devoted to pleasures and lusts—this is degrading, sensual, vulgar, ignoble, and profitless.
And a life given to mortifications—this is painful, ignoble, and profitless.”


Ok so we should avoid extremes that seems like it ought to be common sense, but as I look around, I am sad to see it not so common after all. Besides, people like to party! What is to be gained by avoiding these to extremes?

And he said: “By avoiding these two extremes, I have gained the knowledge of the Middle Way which leads to insight, which leads to wisdom, which conduces to calm, to knowledge, to Supreme Enlightenment, to Nirvana."

Whoa, there you go talking that smack again like your all that. So how the heck did you get that way if it is so?

He said: “It is the Noble Eightfold Way, namely: right views, right intent, right speech, right conduct, right means of livelihood, right endeavor, right mindfulness, right meditation.

This,is the Middle Way the knowledge of which I have gained, which leads to insight, which leads to wisdom, which conduces to calm, to knowledge, to perfect enlightenment to Nirvana.

This is the Noble Truth of Suffering (dukkha): birth is suffering; aging is suffering; illness is suffering; death is suffering; presence of objects we hate is suffering; separation from objects we love is suffering; not to obtain what we desire is suffering. In short, the Five Components of Existence are suffering.

This is the Noble Truth concerning the Origin of Suffering: verily, it originates in that craving which causes rebirth, which produced delight and passion, and seeks pleasure now here, now there; that is to say, craving for sensual pleasures, craving for continued life, craving for nonexistence.

This is the Noble Truth concerning the Cessation of Suffering: truly, it is the complete cessation of craving so that no passion remains; the laying aside of, the giving up, the being free from, the harboring no longer of, this craving.

This is the Noble Truth concerning the Way which leads to the Cessation of Suffering: verily, it is this Noble Eightfold Way, that is to say, right views, right intent, right speech, right conduct, right means of livelihood, right endeavor, right mindfulness, and right meditation.

This is the Noble Truth concerning Suffering. Thus in things which formerly had not been heard of have I obtained insight, knowledge, understanding, wisdom, intuition.

This Noble Truth concerning Suffering must be understood. Thus, monks, in things which formerly had not been heard of have I obtained insight, knowledge, understanding, wisdom, and intuition. This Noble Truth concerning Suffering I have understood. Thus in things which formerly had not been heard of have I obtained insight, knowledge, understanding, wisdom, and intuition.

This is the Noble Truth concerning the Origin of Suffering. Thus in things which had formerly not been heard of I have obtained insight, knowledge, understanding, wisdom, intuition. This Noble Truth concerning the Cause of Suffering must be abandoned . . . has been abandoned by me. Thus in things which formerly had not been heard of have I obtained knowledge, understanding, wisdom, and intuition.

This is the Noble Truth concerning the Cessation of Suffering Thus in things which formerly had not been heard of have I obtained insight, knowledge, understanding, wisdom, intuition. This Noble Truth concerning the Cessation of Suffering must be seen face to face . . . has been seen by me face to face. Thus, monks, in things which formerly had not been heard of have I obtained insight, knowledge, understanding, wisdom, intuition.

This is the Noble Truth concerning the Way which leads to the Cessation of Suffering. Thus in things which formerly had not been heard of have I obtained insight, knowledge, understanding, wisdom, intuition. This Noble Truth concerning the Way which leads to the Cessation of Suffering must be realized . . . has been realized by me. Thus in things which formerly had not been heard of have I obtained insight, knowledge, understanding, wisdom, intuition.”


Ok, so that was from Gotama Buddha’s first “Dharma” talk at Dear Park. In the last chapters of the Nishijima and Cross translation of the Shobognzo you will find something quite similar. This paticular version was adapted from Henry Clarke Warren, Buddhism in Translation, and E. H. Brewster, Life of Gotama the Buddha.

In that first sermon Gotama Buddha set forth the criteria for enlightenment.
It takes something special though, it takes self discipline, courage, poise, self confidence, the willingness to meet a challenge, the ability to be honest with yourself. Basically heroic guts. But you can do it. And if you are even moderately successful, when you have met this criterion, this is the transmission of the truth from Buddha to Buddha. This is what the unscrupulous covet but will never have. This needs no silk or paper document because when it is there you will radiate it. You will know, and others will figure it, and you will not need any certification at all because you are the certification.


In Gassho,
Jordan
(stepping down from the high seat)

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14 Comments:

At May 16, 2008, Blogger Jordan said...

With a gassho to those with differing oppinions.

Jordan

 
At May 17, 2008, Blogger Ted Biringer said...

Hello Jordan,

Thanks for the gassho!

As for the differing opinions; they certainly do make life much more interesting!

Care to share them?

Take care,
Ted

 
At May 17, 2008, Blogger Jordan said...

Hi Ted,

Here is my opinion: Jordan's opinion I hope you can share it!

Take care,
Jordan

 
At May 21, 2008, Blogger Ted Biringer said...

Jordan,

This is a great post.

Thank you!

Take care,
Ted

 
At May 21, 2008, Blogger Jordan said...

Ted,
You are so welcome.
Gassho,
Jordan

 
At May 21, 2008, Blogger Stuart said...

In the tradition I practice with, "Enlightenment" is a teaching word. It's used in 3 ways.

Everyone has the experience of getting lost in the dream of thinking. Then, something happens (maybe hearng a sound etc) that cuts off that thinking for a moment. That's called "First Enlightenment."

When thinking stops, perception is clear (the sky is blue, the grass is green). The name for that is "Original Enlightenment."

Perceiving clearly, we respond to the just-now situation (when hungry, eat; when tired, sleep; etc). That's "Final Enlightenment."

Stuart
http://stuart-randomthoughts.blogspot.com/

 
At May 22, 2008, Blogger Jordan said...

Hi Stuart,
That sounds familiar. And while do I think that what you have stated here may be simultaneously true enough, however the topic was actually certification and transmission. I would be interested in hearing the Kwan Um take on this. Please continue flapping!

Take care,
Jordan

 
At May 22, 2008, Blogger roman said...

Hello Jordan. As I was reading the bold monk's statement, first I wanted to ask - ok, good, but who is that? Then later I realised, that kind of speech is just another version of confident teaching that we can get from Brad. The tone of the speech is the same, it is just different language, so I ended to suspect the guy was pretentious. AS I kept reading, it started to make more sense and it sounded sincere altogether and at the end I could see, obviously, this is Buddha.

OK, if you ask about certificate of englightenment, something very similar, not exactly the same , is obtained at Kwan Um, which is Rinzai style Zen school. You are permanently tested in dokusans.
If you are enligthened - Nishijima roshi calles it "secondary enl." basically if you have solved your philosophical confusion radically,
it will show in the way you react to "koans", which are basically tests in Rinzai, unlike Dogen style, where they are simply examples of Buddhist dialogues and discussions about truth.

So the guys who got "inka" in Kwan Um, are guys who basically have experienced secondary e-stuff. But even in Kwan Um, some of them fail to bring this E stuff into everyday life and become victims of
pride or laziness or strange views or immoral behavior, etc, so the big Master keeps checking. If they show sense and realistic manners for three years, they become Zen masters. You can notice, none of these people ever say I am enlightened. I personally have met lots of them and practiced with them and they are usually nice, hardworking, sincere people.

On the other hand, in Dogen lineage, nobody will ever ever certify anything like enlightenment to you. When you get dharma transmission from a true, honest guy, like my own teacher Mike Luetchford is or when he got dharma transmission from such a great teacher Nishijima roshi is, nobody
spoke or will speak about E stuff.
I don't believe Nishijima roshi ever said to Brad Warner, now you are E stuffed. As you can see in Dogen's teaching, he sometimes sounds like That guy had it, that chick had it, that fox had it, but
personally, I don't think he would ever speak to a living person and say You are enlightened. It sounds really - dumb to me. These Dogen
style teachers sometimes feel or
believe you have probably solved your philosophical confusion to a great degree, but they always care how you actually live, how you actually speak and if you explain and practice Buddhism correctly . It is understanding and living in one package. And the package is just a human being with mistakes after all, nothing special.

 
At May 22, 2008, Blogger roman said...

"ended to suspect" - i mean
i stopped suspecting the guy was pretentious

 
At May 22, 2008, Blogger roman said...

I really recommed Shinji Shobogenzo with comments by Nishijima roshi -
that is really enlightening work and piece of brilliant Buddhist philosophy - you read dozens of koans and explanation by Nishijima roshi.
You can see how different Chinese masters argued with one another about the truth and enlightenment and see who "won". SOmetimes the comments go: this guy understood something or that guy's understanding was abstract, or that guy showed his understanding by grabbing the stick and hitting the ground and roshi explains why it shows he understood or not.

 
At May 22, 2008, Blogger Jordan said...

Roman,

That was quick!

I particularly agree with this statement “It is understanding and living in one package.”

I am familiar with the Shingi Shobogenzo, and agree with your recommendation.


Thank you for flapping!
Jordan

 
At June 03, 2008, Blogger Gimmal said...

You write: So how do we, unable to find a reliable person, get certification of our own enlightenment?

This is a question I had not thought to ask. Thinking it again, there is that definite hook at the end of the question.

You ask not, "How do we become enlightened?" and you do not try to sell us on any ten-steps-to-satori programs.

and you ask not, "How do we find someone to enlighten us?" It is not so hopeless of a situation, and it is not such of a "need to know" or FOUO (to the reader: "for official use only") kind of thing.

In how you word the question, it is englightening. The question denies not that there is enlightenment already to the seeker -- even as that there is True Nature pervading substance, if I may say this truly.


I will have to rethink aboput my approach to "becoming Buddhist" -- but privately, I think, for it would sound like a lot of rambling, were I to relate it in writing (so I have found). To not think about it so hard, no doubt, would be a good start.

 
At June 03, 2008, Blogger Jordan said...

Gimmal,
Are you knee deep in the Shobogenzo or sompthing similar right now ? Just askin.

Thanks for your comments,

Jordan

 
At December 02, 2008, Blogger Stuart said...

Jordan said...
the topic was actually certification and transmission. I would be interested in hearing the Kwan Um take on this.

Returning to Flapping Mouths many months later, I finally see this comment by Jordan. roman addressed it a bit, and I'll add my 2 cents now.

In the Kwan Um school, it's the job of the Master to point at Truth for the student, and encourage the student to look for him/herself. The tradition uses certain tools (such as koans) to aid in this pointing. The pointing is also called "teaching."

My understanding is this: when the Master decides that the student is capable of himself teaching (using the koan method etc), he gives the student "inka" and the student becomes a "Ji Do Poep Sa Nim." This is equivalent to "sensei" in the Japanese tradition. The Master makes this decision based on the student's koan work, as well as how he demonstrates it by helping the sangha and in ordinary life. The Ji Do Poep Sa Nim can then give koan interviews to students, but cannot certify other teachers.

When the master gives the Ji Do Poep Sa Nim "transmission," it indicates his belief that the JDPSN can pass on the teaching with such clarity that it's not diminished from the master's own teaching. The JDPSN becomes a Zen Master himself (equivalent to the Japanese "roshi"), meaning he can now certify other teachers. If these new teachers are to teach within the Kwan Um School, they must also be tested and approved by other Zen Masters within the school.

The upshot of all this is that the thing that gets "transmitted" is the Master's teaching style, the particular technique of pointing students to Truth. A Master is defined by his skill at helping and encouraging students to see Truth for themselves. In this entire process, there's no need for beliefs about "enlightenment" as something that some people have more than others, or as something that one person passes to another.

Stuart
http://stuart-randomthoughts.blogspot.com/
http://home.comcast.net/~sresnick2/booboo.htm

 

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