March 10, 2017

Work in progress: direct pointing

Zen describes itself in four famous lines, traditionally attributed to Bodhidharma:

A special [or separate] transmission outside the scriptures [sutras];
Not dependent upon [or, not setting up] words and letters;
Direct pointing at the human mind;
Seeing one's [true] nature, becoming Buddha.

Though most often considered in a general and conceptual manner, these lines actually reveal
something more: Zen's methodology. "Direct pointing," in other words, is not merely a broad description of Zen's approach to Buddhist practice, but in fact refers also to actual methods by which Zen students are led to that gate of initial awakening (kensho) upon which all subsequent practice is based.

Today I was finally able to complete the detailed outline for a Zen "Direct Pointing" text which takes this subject - and these methods used in Rinzai practice - as its focus. Perhaps even more than the introductory Rinzai practice text completed last year, it has been a long-time hope of mine to complete something related to this topic. In fact, I could say it is only after a many-year process of organizing my thoughts around this subject that this initial structure could be completed. The actual writing, now, will go quickly.

Just as a tease (and leaving out all the details) here is a bare-bones chapter list as it currently stands. I'm certain this will evolve. But at this point I can say it has at least become clear what direction the text will take:

1. Clarity, Samadhi and Awakening
[Distinguishing these, and understanding their meaning in relation to the so-called stages of Zen practice, is crucial...]

2. Direct Pointing in Zen
[The purpose and uses of Zen direct pointing methods]

3. Direct Pointing as Skillful Means
[Detailing the 3 general categories of direct pointing methods used by teachers]

4. Direct Pointing in Self-Training
[Dealing with the use of such methods by oneself, within one's own practice]

The final three chapters, then, will describe approximately 30 such methods of direct pointing, emphasizing those which practitioners may use by themselves...

5. Methods Using the Body

6. Methods Using Voice and Sound

7. Methods Using Mind

Stay tuned...


Anonymous said...

So cool, and thanks so much for letting us in on your thoughts: sure does function as a teaser - I want to learn more. There is so much more to this Zen stuff than I had any idea!

Meido said...

You should read this: