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Before There Was Stress Reduction, There Was No-Thought

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  • medit8ionsociety
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/wendi-l-adamek/before-there-was-stress-reduction-there-was-no-thought_b_954771.html By Wendi L. Adamek-Author, The Teachings of
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 15, 2011
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      By Wendi L. Adamek-Author, "The Teachings of
      Master Wuzhu: Zen and Religion of No-Religion"

      Master Wuzhu is your typical Zen Master:
      he reads minds, hides himself away in
      inaccessible mountains and tells earthy
      stories. Most importantly, he jettisons
      all conventional religious practices, and
      he did this about twelve hundred years
      before Alan Watts, Esalen or MBSR. What
      makes him unique in the annals of Chan/Zen
      is that his followers compiled a book about
      his antecedents, anecdotes and aphorisms
      at a time (roughly 780 C.E.) when Zen was
      not yet a powerful religious network
      evolving its way into the heart of the
      cultures of China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam.
      Captured in an earnest and quirky manner
      in the Lidai fabao ji (Record of the
      Dharma-Jewel Through the Ages), Master
      Wuzhu's teachings were not part of a
      known "brand." Some of the features of
      the Lidai fabao ji would show up in later,
      mainstream works, but it was literally
      lost in the sands of time, walled up in
      a cave-temple in an oasis town in the Gobi
      desert, waiting to be fortuitously
      rediscovered in 1900.

      Chan/Zen formed itself around a contentious
      issue: how do you teach Buddhist practice
      if you reject all forms of practice as misleading?
      Forms of practice are misleading because they
      make something concrete out of something that
      is not even abstract. As Master Wuzhu puts it:
      "When there is true no-thought, no-thought
      itself is not." This "formless practice"
      immediately makes the everyday challenge of
      making distinctions and choices even more
      challenging. Or does it?

      If non-dual enlightenment is neither good nor
      evil, is this a dangerous thing to teach? How
      do you encourage people to get a move on in
      their practice while telling them there's
      nowhere to go? Should you be paid for doing
      this? Did Wuzhu's female disciple Liaojianxing
      compile the Lidai fabao ji? And, finally, what
      kind of sound does a paddy-crab make?

      In the Lidai fabao ji these issues -- antinomianism,
      formless practice, support of monastics, the role
      of women and out-of-the-box teaching -- are
      presented through accessible dialogues and stories.
      Yet they have roots in complex Buddhist philosophical
      scriptures and treatises. Many of Wuzhu's teachings
      echo a style used in the Praj├▒āpāramita (Perfection
      of Wisdom) literature, which often links antithetical
      characteristics to express what is meant by
      "emptiness." Thus, one line of the Heart Sūtra
      reads: "no old age and death, and also no extinction
      of them." This in turn generated the Mādhaymaka
      (Middle Way) contemplative analysis of the codependent
      arising of phenomena. Through use of a neither/nor,
      both/and dialectic, the Mādhaymaka practitioner
      becomes accustomed to seeing that things neither
      exist nor not-exist, both exist and not-exist.

      So, when I find myself wondering whether it would
      have mattered to Wuzhu that we are still interested
      in reading about him, I suspect he would have
      not-cared -- and he would have cared, very much.
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