"Yoga is 95% practice, 5% theory" Interview Sri K. Pattabhi Jois
This has always struck me as the most misunderstood of statements. It seems to get used as a justification for not thinking about the practice too much, too deeply, not studying or reading anything too heavy, too serious, too....philosophical, that it's like zen, 'don't think just sit'.
Personally I've tended to assume Pattabhi Jois intended, by such a statement above, something along the lines of this...
"Despite its teaching of “no dependence upon words and letters,” Chan did not reject the scriptures of the Buddhist canon, but simply warned of the futility of relying on them for the attainment of emancipating insight" Zen. Wikipedia (see below).
yogah - the topic
citta - mind;brain
vrtti - activity
nirodhah - stoppage
Yoga is the complete stoppage of the mind/brain activist
'Patanjali describes two categories for these loopings of the citta. Those that torment are called klista. Others are called aklista; they are neutral and do not cause torment and suffering. This is an extremely important point made right at the beginning of the Yoga Sutras. Many citta vrittis are important and needed as props for meditation and as the content of intelligent thought. The tormenting vrttis often cease thanks to the background work of those that are non tormenting. By the same token the non tormenting vrittis are absolutely necessary as well, and they too drop their structures and forms in deeper states of meditation. Yoga actually improves the thinking process rather than creating a catatonic state. It is important to remember that even though deeper practices of yoga lead to states of mind in which thought comes to a point of cessation, yoga is not an antithought practice. Instead it is a refinement of the art of thinking, allowing chains of thought to unfold within an open sky of compassion and intelligence. Rather than just giving up with an attitude of , "well, thought has gotten us into all of this trouble so now we are not going to think at all," yoga encourages clear, penetrating thinking. It is astonishing how frequently and easily this has been misinterpreted over the centuries by those unwilling to enjoy the paradoxes of thought that are revealed and observed within a healthy yoga practice'.
p151 The Mirror of Yoga; Richard Freeman.
'... yoga can also be derived from the root yuja and mean samadhi or samadhana, "to put in place perfectly".... Thus yoga by this definition, would mean putting all mental energies in place, or harnessing mental energies without any dissipation. This definition is different from the earlier derivation of the word yoga from the root yujir, meaning "unity" (yujir yoga).
Based on this interpretation the yoga of Patanjali is a system of practices that lead to the total harnessing of mental energy without any dissipation whatsoever (nirodha "completely contained") One can note that it is not unity with a higher principle that is aimed for in this form of yoga, but rather the removal of all the distractions of the mind.... One system talks of unity the other of freedom"
Yoga for the Three stages of Life.
Chapter III, What is yoga. p34-35
*Yoga Sutras quote and treatment from
Patanjali's Yoga Sutras based on the teaching of Srivatsa Ramaswami by Pamala Hoxsey
.....and as for Zen
The role of scripture in Zen
Contrary to the popular image, literature does play a role in the Zen-training. Unsui, Zen-monks, "are expected to become familiair with the classics of the Zen canon". A review of the early historical documents and literature of early Zen masters clearly reveals that they were well versed in numerous Mahāyāna Buddhist sūtras.
Nevertheless Zen is often pictured as anti-intellectual. This picture of Zen emerged during the Song Dynasty (960–1297), when Chán became the dominant form of Buddhism in China, and gained great popularity among the educated and literary classes of Chinese society. The use of koans, which are highly stylized literary texts, reflects this popularity among the higher classes. The Chán of the Tang Dynasty, especially that of Mazu and Linji with its emphasis on "shock techniques", in retrospect was seen as a golden age of Chán. This picture has gained great popularity in the west in the 20th century, especially due to the influence of D.T. Suzuki, and further popularized by Hakuun Yasutani and the Sanbo Kyodan. This picture has been challenged, and comlemented, since the 1970s by modern scientific research on Zen.
The importance given to Zen's non-reliance on written words is often misunderstood as an opposition to the study of Buddhist texts. However, Zen is deeply rooted in the teachings and doctrines of Mahāyāna Buddhism[e][f], and gradually developed its own literature:
Although there is a great deal of rhetoric about Zen understanding beyond books and texts, right from their first year [Rinzai] Zen monks are studying a text called the Zenrin kushū (Zenphrase collection)as part of their kōan practice. In the advanced stages of kōan practice (which most monks do not experience because they leave at less advanced stages), monks spend a great deal of time researching Zen and other texts in order to compose essays in Japanese and poetry in classical Chinese which they write in brush and submit for approval to the rōshi.
What the Zen tradition emphasizes is that enlightenment of the Buddha came not through conceptualization, but rather through direct insight:
Despite its teaching of “no dependence upon words and letters,” Chan did not reject the scriptures of the Buddhist canon, but simply warned of the futility of relying on them for the attainment of emancipating insight. The sacred texts — and much more so the huge exegetical apparatus that had grown up around them in the older scholastic schools — were regarded as no more than signposts pointing the way to liberation. Valuable though they were as guides, they needed to be transcended in order for one to awaken to the true intent of Śākyamuni’s teachings.
Grounding Chán in scripture
The early Buddhist schools in China were each based on a specific sutra. At the beginning of the Tang Dynasty, by the time of the Fifth Patriarch Hongren (601–674), the Zen school became established as a separate school of Buddhism. It had to develop a doctrinal tradition of its own to ascertain its position, and to ground its teachings in a specific sutra. Various sutra's were used for this, even before the time of Hongren: the Śrīmālādevī Sūtra (Huike), Awakening of Faith (Daoxin), the Lankavatara Sutra (East Mountain School), the Diamond Sutra (Shenhui), the Platform Sutra. Subsequently, the Zen tradition produced a rich corpus of written literature which has become a part of its practice and teaching.
Other influential sutras are the Vimalakirti Sutra, Avatamsaka Sutra, the Shurangama Sutra, and the Mahaparinirvana Sutra.
The growing Chán tradition also faced the challenge to put its teachings into words, to bolster its identity and to applicate it in formal teaching settings, without losing the central insight into the "suchness" of reality. One solution to this was the shift of emphasis from the recorded sayings of the historical Buddha, to the sayings of living Buddhas, namely the Chán masters. In time, these sayings, from the so-called "encounter-dialogues" between masters and students, but also from sermons, became codified and formed the basis of typical Zen-genres, namely the "yü-lü" (recorded sayings) and the classic koan-collections. These too became formalised, and as such became a subject of disputes on the right way to teach Zen and the avoidance of dependence on words.
The Zen-tradition developed a rich textual tradition, based on the interpretation of the Buddhist teachings and the recorded sayings of Zen-masters.
Among the earliest of the specifically Zen texts, dating back to at least the 8th century CE, is the Platform Sūtra of the Sixth Patriarch, attributed to Huineng. It was constructed over a longer period of time, and contains different layers of writing. It is...
...a wonderful melange of early Chan teachings, avirtual respitory of the entire tradition up to the second half of the eight century. At the heart of the sermon is the same understanding of the Buddha-nature that we have seen in texts attributed to Bodhidharma and Hingren, including the idea that the fundamental Buddha-nature is only made invisble to ordinary humans by their illusions".
It contains the well-known story of the contest for the succession of Hongren. According to the text, Huineng won this contest, but had to flee the monastery to avoid the rage of the supporters of Henxui. The story is not a factual account, but an 8th-century construction, probably by the so-called Oxhead School.
The Platform Sūtra cites and explains a wide range of Buddhist scriptures: the Diamond Sūtra, the Lotus Sūtra (Saddharma Puṇḍarīka Sūtra), the Vimalakīrti Nirdeśa Sūtra, the Śūraṅgama Sūtra, the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra, the Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana-sutra, and the Mahaparinirvana Sutra.
Transmission of the Lamp
The Chán-tradition developed from the established tradition of "Canonical Buddhism", which "remained normative for all later Chinese Buddhism". It was established by the end of the sixth century, as a result of the Chinese developing understanding of Buddhism in the previous centuries. One of the inventions of this Canonical Buddhism were transmission lists, called "Transmission of the Lamp", a literary device to establish a lineage. Both T'ien Tai and Chán took over this literary device, to lend authority to those developing traditions, and guarantee it's authencity:
Chan texts present the school as Buddhism itself, or as the central teaching of Buddhism, which has been transmitted from the seven Buddhas of the past to the twenty-eight patriarchs, and all the generations of Chinese and Japanese Chan and Zen masters that follow.
Another literary device for establishing those traditions was given by the Kao-seng-chuan (Biographies of Eminent Monks), compiles around 530. The Chán-tradition developed its own corpus in this genre, with works as Anthology of the Patriarchal Hall (952) and the Jingde Records of the Transmission of the Lamp (published 1004). McRae considers Dumoulin's A History of Zen to be a modern example of this genre, disguished as scientific history.
Recorded Sayings and Encounter Dialogue
From the "question-and-answer format that had been developed as a means of conveying Buddhist teachins" developed the "yü-lü" genre, the recorded sayings of the masters, and the encounter dialogues. The best-known example is the "Lin-ji yü-lü".[web 8] It is part of the Ssu-chia yü lu (Jp. Shike Goruku, The Collection of the Four Houses), which contains the recorded sayings of Mazu Daoyi, Baizhang Huaihai, Huangbo Xiyun and Linji.
These recorded sayings are not verbatim recordings of the sayings of the masters, but well-edited texts, written down up to 160 years after the supposed sayings and meetings.
This "encounter dialogue"-genre developed into various collections of kōans, which form itself another extensive literary corpus.
Koan practice developed from a literary practice, styling snippets of encounter-dialogue into well-edited stories. It arose in interaction with "educated literati". There were dangers involved in such a literary approach, such as fixing specific meanings to the cases. Dahui Zonggao is even said to have burned the woodblocks of the Blue Cliff Record, for the hindrance it had become to study of Chán by his students
The two best known koan-collections (in the west) are the "Gateless Gate" and the "Blue Cliff Record". The Gateless Gate (Chinese: 無門關 Wumenguan; Japanese: Mumonkan) is a collection of 48 kōans and commentaries published in 1228 by Chinese monk Wumen (無門) (1183–1260). The title may be more accurately rendered as Gateless Barrier or Gateless Checkpoint). The Blue Cliff Record (Chinese: 碧巖錄 Bìyán Lù; Japanese: Hekiganroku) is a collection of 100 kōans compiled in 1125 by Yuanwu Keqin (圜悟克勤 1063–1135).
The Japanese Zen-tradition also developed a corpus of its own. During the Tokugawa-period Dōgen's Shōbōgenzō became the authoritative text of the Soto-school. In the Rinzai-school, the koan-curricula were systematized by dharma-heirs of Hakuin, who himself produced an extended corpus of written texts.
During the Tokugawa-period the Soto-school started to place a growing emphasis on textual authority. In 1615 the bakufu declared that "Eheiji's standards (kakun) must be the rule for all Soto monks". In time this came to mean all the writings of Dogen, which thereby became the normative source for the doctrines and organisation of the Soto-school.
A key factor in this growing emphasis on Dogen was Manzan's appeal to change the rules for dharma transmission, based on arguments derived from the Shōbōgenzō. Another reformation was implemented by Gento Sokuchu (1729–1807), who tried to purify the Soto-school of the use of koans. Gento Sokuchu implanted new regulations, based on Dogen's regulations.
This growing status of Dogen as textual authority also posed a problem for the Soto-school:
The Soto hierarchy, no doubt afraid of what other radical reformers might find in Dogen's Shobo Genzo, a work open to a avriety of interpretationbs, immediately took steps to restrict access to this traditional symbol of sectarian authority. Acting at the request of the Soto prelates, in 1722 the government prohibited the copying or publication of any part of Shobo Genzo.
During the Meiji-restoration, the memory of Dōgen was used to ensure Eihei-ji's central place in the Soto-organisation, and "to cement closer ties with lay people". In 1899 the first lay ordination ceremony was organized in Eihei-ji. Eihei-ji also promoted the study of Dōgen's works, especuially the Shōbōgenzō, which changed the view of Dōgen in Soto's history.