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"An Inquiry Into Master Xuyun’s Experiences of Long-dwelling in Samādhi"

There is an interesting article from 2009 called, “An Inquiry Into Master Xuyun’s Experiences of Long-dwelling in Samādhi,” by Huimin Bhikṣu.

It aims to analyze and explore some accounts of Xuyun’s experiences in long-dwelling samādhi, and try to understand some of the characteristics in light of classical analyses from the Sarvāstivādins and others. The beginning of the article gives a brief introduction and synopsis of the events.

According to the Chronicle, Master Xuyun had three experiences of long dwelling in samādhi, the duration and details of which are reported as follows:

  1. For a period of 18 days. From the end of 1901 to the beginning of 1902, at the age of 63 the Master, living alone in his hut in Zhongnan mountain. While sitting cross-legged waiting for his meal of taro to be well cooked, he entered into samādhi and remained therein for half a month.
  1. For a period of nine days. In 1907 (age 68), at Thailand’s Longquan temple, while delivering discourse on Pumenpin (the Universal Gate Chapter of the Lotus Sūtra) following his discourse on Dizang-jing (the Earth Repository Sūtra), the Master entered into samādhi, forgetting about his speech. He stayed in concentration for nine days, which made a stir in the capital city of Thailand. The king and ministers as well as ordinary men and women believers all came to pay their worship.
  1. For a period of nine days (the Yunmen incident). In the year 1951 (when the Master was aged 112), the Yunmen Chan temple in Guangdong Qujiang was accused of hiding weapons and treasure. Twenty-six monks were arrested and tortured. Some were tortured to death or suffered broken bones. The Master also endured several savage beatings. On the third day of the third lunar month, the Master, now seriously ill, sat cross-legged and entered into samādhi. He closed his eyes and would not talk, eat, or drink, while only his attendants Fayun and Kuanchun waited on him day and night. In this manner he stayed in the samādhi for nine days.

From the traditional Buddhist viewpoint, how are such instances of long-dwelling in samādhi possible? What are the relevant issues for the tradition regarding the study of samādhi? Are other, similar cases, found in the Buddhist literature? These issues among others are the focal themes of this article.

Many related issues are discussed at some length. You can read the full article here:

http://www.chibs.edu.tw/ch_html/chbj/22/0619huimin.pdf

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Well, being so old and in times in which modern medicine was not around, is it possible he was sick and got in coma and there was no one around to diagnose/treat it!?

Where is the Longquan temple mentioned situated? Googled it but found no temple with such name located in Thailand…

from MN14

“Now, I — without moving my body, without uttering a word — can dwell sensitive to unalloyed pleasure for a day and a night… for two days & nights… for three… four… five… six… seven days & nights. So what do you think: That being the case, who dwells in greater pleasure: King Seniya Bimbisara of Magadha or me?”

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After the awakening the Buddha dwelled for 7 days in supposedly samadhi under the Bodhi tree

Thus I heard: At one time the Gracious One was dwelling near Uruvelā, on the bank of the river Nerañjarā, at the root of the Goatherds’ Banyan tree, in the first period after attaining Awakening. Then at that time the Gracious One was sitting in one cross-legged posture for seven days experiencing the happiness of freedom. Then with the passing of those seven days, the Gracious One arose from that concentration.

Ud 1.4

Mahakhandhaka (Pi-Tv-Kd1) mentions his sitting after the awakening in supposedly samadhi for seven days under several trees in turn

the problem i see in Xuyun’s account is not so much with the duration of the experience as with the fact that it was involuntary, while a developed jhana practitioner must be able to enter it at will

I describe one who possesses four other qualities as a great man with great wisdom. What four?

(3) He gains at will, without trouble or difficulty, the four jhānas that constitute the higher mind and are pleasant dwellings in this very life.

AN 4.35

but it’s amazing that he survived beating at an old age even if he really was some years younger than 112

The part of the article that compares these cases with accounts in the Mahāvibhāṣā is really interesting in my opinion, and for what it says about the nutriments and their relationship to samādhi. We are probably all familiar with accounts of long-dwelling in samādhi, but exactly what is happening with the body at that time?

Someone asked what the difference is between dwelling in this type of samādhi, and being in a coma. Does a monk cross his legs and begin meditation, and then enter a coma? It seems to defy what we presume about samādhi in general, but if this is not the case, then exactly what is the difference?

If someone in the Nirodha Samāpatti really has no perceptions or sensations, then what is happening with the nervous system?

How can the body continue to survive in such a state? Does it continue to require “nutriment”? And if it does not receive it, will the mind and body be gradually harmed? The accounts in the Mahāvibhāṣā describe monks who entered this samādhi for too long and died from lack of nutriment.

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Well, why are the suttas limiting the duration to seven days ? (The question seems really childish, though. :slight_smile: ).

i believe it’s simply because the number 7 in some contexts was considered auspicious and so may be rather symbolic, not indicating the exact or maximum duration of samadhi possible