The Zen Doctrine of No Mind

EPUB EBook by D.T. Suzuki

EBook Description

This is a wonderful exploration of the ideas of Huineng (638- EPUB713), who is one of the most important figures in the history of Zen Buddhism. The Zen Doctrine of No Mind EPUB EBook It gives the reader a solid understanding of how he changed the trajectory of Buddhism in China—especially with regard to meditation.

Many of Huineng's contemporaries saw meditation as a deliberate exercise aimed at "clearing" the mind in order to find deeper purity within. The most famous expression of this view occurs in a short verse written by Shenxiu (one of the senior students of Hui-neng's master):
The body is the bodhi tree
The mind is like a bright mirror's stand.
At all times we must strive to polish it
and must not let dust collect.

On this, Suzuki comments,
This dust-wiping attitude of Shenxiu and his followers inevitably leads to the quietistic method of meditation, and it was indeed the method which they recommended. They taught that entering into a Samadhi by means of concentration, and the purifying of the mind by making it dwell on one thought. They further taught that by the awakening of thoughts an objective world was illumined, and that when they were folded up an inner world was perceived. (p. 18)

To Hui-neng, this view was one fraught with attachment to intellectual constructs. He says,
When you cherish the notion of purity and cling to it, you turn purity into falsehood. ... Purity has neither form nor shape, and when you claim an achievement by establishing a form to be known as purity, you obstruct your own self-nature, you are bound by purity. (p. 27)

For him, enlightenment is found neither by deliberately grasping at concepts, nor by striving to create mental states; download; these are nothing but more subtle forms of attachment and clinging.

Suzuki criticizes Shenxiu's "dust-wiping attitude" toward meditation for its quietism, calling it "the exercise of killing life, of keeping the mind in a state of torpor and making [its practitioners] socially useless" (p. 32). Unfortunately, he never elaborates on the role of social action in Huineng's thought. I do not think the word "compassion," for example, occurs even one time in this book. But in Huineng's own writings, we encounter statements like,
Respecting all living beings is where you conquer your own mind. (Cleary, p. 92)

Confused people who sit in meditation fanatically trying to get rid of illusion and do not learn kindness, compassion, joyfulness, equanimity, wisdom, and expedient skills, and so are like wood or stone, without any function, are called nonthinking. (Cleary, p. 93)

When ordinary people practice charity, they are just seeking personal dignity, or enjoyment of pleasure: that is why they plunge back into the three mires when their rewards are used up. The [Buddha] is very kind, teaching the practice of formless charity, not seeking personal dignity or pleasure; he just has us inwardly destroy the attitude of stinginess while outwardly helping all beings. (Cleary, p. 95)

Because it neglects this dimension of Huineng's teachings, Suzuki's book feels incomplete. It is well worth reading for anyone interested in Zen Buddhism, but its limitations should be kept in mind (or no-mind!).
Like this book? Read online this: Purity of Diction in English Verse and Articulate Energy, The Mind Games (Mind Readers, #3).

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