Was there a conflict between scholars and meditators?

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Why do you keep bringing up books describing theory as if it is proof of what people are actually practicing now? This is a great example, because Thích Nhất Hạnh is expressly against jhāna, and he believes the Buddha rejected jhāna and never taught it! That rather proves my point that someone merely writing theory in a book is not necessarily at all connected to what they teach people to do. If you are in doubt about this, please find me any scrap of evidence of Thích Nhất Hạnh actually guiding people in jhāna practice.

I am really struggling to understand why you keep on producing things which give absolutely zero evidence of jhāna practice, as support for your claim that there is Mahāyāna jhāna practice going on. I cannot see any logic in your approach at all. Why is it that you keep seeming to think in this way? And what about the stoning in the bible did you not understand as not being proof that Christians stone people now? Sorry if I sound rude, I am not meaning to, but I am really struggling here. It seems so extremely simple.


Why do all these EBT enthusiasts keep bringing up EBTs describing theory as if it is proof of what people are actually praciting now?


Emphasis added. Most people unfortunately get introduced to Buddhism via books.


All which EBTs enthusiasts? I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. Early Buddhist Texts may in part describe what people were practicing then (e.g. up to 100 years after the Buddha’s death). They are not regarded as prophetic texts describing what will be happening in the 21st century. What are you talking about? I am totally lost now.


I am talking about the entire point of the endeavour of the forum you are on, SuttaCentral, and the various EBT enthusiasts posting on it.

Why does all these EBT enthusiasts constantly chitter chatter about texts as if they presume practice?

Its almost as if ancient texts still inform practice or something.


At this point, I’m more curious about how anyone would ever prove this to you.

If I got you a signed letter from a Mahāyāna venerable and mailed it to you would that work?


Saying they can inform practice, is entirely different from saying that they tell us what is being practiced hundreds or thousands of years after they were written. I am totally baffled that you don’t understand this.

Take the EBTs for example. Can we read them to find out what the lifestyle of a 21st century Buddhist is? Do we take a 2,500 year old text as proof of what a group of people are doing now? This is entirely absurd. Unless you think they were composed by people with perfect clairvoyance, who deliberately decided to write down what a group of Buddhists in the 2,500 year future were doing?

Again I remind you of stoning. Do you honestly believe that the bible is evidence that US Christians stone their neighbours to death for pre-marital sex? If not, why on earth do you keep insisting ancient texts prove what 21st century Mahayanist practice?


And what do you not understand or agree with regarding what I said about Thích Nhất Hạnh?


They interpret the passage differently actually. I gave you a more common interpretation coming from particularly the Anglo-Catholic direction originating in the Oxford movement, but that is beside the point.

No, I was point out that he teaches fourfold dhyāna meditation, and not in reference to the Pāli Canon.

You don’t have to believe any of this. If you want more information about the line of Biblical interpretation I can put you in touch with my husband’s priest.


You have not yet pointed out that Thích Nhất Hạnh teaches jhāna meditation. Please produce any evidence that he does. If not, I suggest you abandon the idea that he does.


Apologies. Thích Nhất Hạnh wrote a book in which he discusses the foundations of (Mahāyāna) Buddhism and he lied in it and said there was fourfold dhyāna practice and then continued to lie and he described and outline some basic dhyāna practices to an audience who has conceivably never picked up a book on Buddhism before. My apologies.

This is Yogi Chen & Reverend Kantipalo telling similar lies to their lay audiences:


You’ll find it in chapter 10, right between an exegesis of the mutual interprenetration (interbeing) of the 8 path constituents and before a section on the cultivation of bodhicitta.


The core issue here seems to be that you think that someone explaining a text or doctrine, is the same as someone practicing that doctrine and guiding others in the practice of that doctrine.

Can you really not see the difference between those two?

You have avoided confronting the stoning example by saying there is some kind of alternative interpretation. But that is merely sidestepping the issue. Countless Christians read the bible, with many many many examples of literal stoning in it, and commandments to stone people for a number of reasons. Can you honestly not see that teaching those passages, reading those passages, explaining those passages, even with their commonly understood meaning, is not the same as stoning people. I will say that again - teaching, reading, and explaining a doctrine, are not the same as doing the actual act described by that doctrine.

Thích Nhất Hạnh may have taught that there is Mahayana doctrine which concerns the jhānas. If you believe actually teaches the jhānas themselves, which does not mean teaching the doctrine, it means teaching the practice, then would you think it strange, or normal, that there is no evidence of this?

And since you apparently believe Thích Nhất Hạnh actually teaches people to practice jhāna, how would you feel if he were to say that the Buddha rejected jhāna? Or if he said that the results of the jhānas are to hide reality from the practitioner, so we can assume that they should not be considered Right Concentration? Would this change your conclusion on this matter, about being so sure he teaches people to practice jhāna?


These are pedagogical books. I an return your last sentence and simply ask whether or not you understand what pedagogy is.

There is no separation of practice and theory in Mahayana Buddhism afaik. Perhaps you and I are hanging out in different Mahayana circles.


Then I would say “oh my it looks like he changed his mind on dhyāna practice”.

Of course, I’d have to see it.


I give up. Yes I know what pedagogical means. If you cannot differentiate between someone teaching doctrine or having books of doctrine; and someone guiding people in practice or practicing themselves, then I think that there is no remaining way for me to make any useful comments in this discussion. I wish you all the best and hope we interact positively in future. But on this point it seems that our minds are totally incompatible.


There isn’t any point in us talking further, because you will just declare more people to be liars.

Yogi Chen: “So first practise the dhyanas and then gain the wisdom. Without the first one cannot get the second.”

You are calling him a liar.

That is ok. You are allowed to choose to believe Yogi Chen is a liar. You are allowed to believe Thích Nhất Hạnh is a liar. You are allowed to believe I am a liar.

Imagine if I asked for substantiation of a modern teacher interested in EBT practise that teaches meditative practises that include jhana practise.

Imagine if you provided me with text from a teacher, text from here, say one of the venerables, talking about the matter and giving some very basic instructions.

Imagine if I said that wasn’t proof. Imagine if I said that said because Ven So-and-so talks about jhana that doesn’t mean he practises himself.

What would I be saying about that individual?

I would suggest asking Venerable Indrajāla on DharmaWheel, Venerable Jikai, or Malcolm.


Resetting for myself from Tracking to Normal. It seems to have moved away from discussion of the essay, about a particular translation and translation issue, to elsewhere…

May all beings be peaceful. :slight_smile:


Can you please provide the name of the Dzogchen teacher?

Thank you,


I had to go look it up myself.

He changed his mind between 1997 and 2008. He has come to the conclusion that the dhyānāni were originally non-Buddhist practices that became imported into Buddhism.

In this meditation manual, actually an adaption from a sūtra on meditation, from 1990 he still considers dhyāna Buddhist teaching:

Dhyāna practise is vital to shamatha practise in the Chan dispensation of Venerable Chen, a link can be found above where he is named " Yogi Chen". Shamatha practise is included in dhyānapāramitā.

It should be noted that in the 1990 pedagogical text Thích Nhất Hạnh is already wary in it of practitioners becoming distracted by pursuing dhyānic states at the expense of over cultivations.


At which point did I accuse anyone of lying? You were the only one to call anyone a liar here, so far as I have seen, no? If you think there is anywhere I have accused anyone of lying here, do please quote me.

One sentence from one eccentric Daoist-turned-Buddhist, again on doctrine, giving no evidence of anyone practicing anything. That still does not tell us what Mahayana groups are practicing.

That’s really easy. I can show you websites of monasteries where it explains they specifically guide people in jhāna practice. I can show you retreats where you can learn jhāna. I can show you transcriptions of meditation teachers teaching meditation students to do jhāna practice, while on retreat. I can give you contemporary reports of people’s jhāna experience.

Contrast that with the total lack of any of that which you have provided. And instead, people like Thích Nhất Hạnh specifically teaching to not do jhāna. An expert samatha/dzogchen teacher on a dzogchen retreat specifically saying that Tibetans reject jhāna practice and categorically do not practice jhāna, and it should be avoided. And so on and so forth, as I have explained above.

Since you have not provided even a single example of any contemporary Mahayana teacher instructing anyone on jhāna, I am at a loss as to what to say. I said I had given up. I find it hard not to respond to your questions though, but I’m just repeating myself really.

Alan Wallace. I have also consulted a number of ethnically Tibetan lamas on this. But Alan is probably the most famous expert of Tibetan samatha practices.

Do you have evidence that he changed his mind, rather than thinking that before 1997?

Considering it a Buddhist teaching is something quite different from considering it one of the Buddha’s teachings. Even Nichiren-shu is ‘Buddhist’ (though little to do with the Buddha).

If it’s only the same points again (‘they mention it in old texts and they still study the old texts’) then I cannot respond anymore, it’s way too frustrating.