Was there a conflict between scholars and meditators?

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Before painting others as

I would advise you take another look: Samatha

Venerable Chen’s presentation is coherent with Mahayana Abhidharma in as far as this subject matter is concerned. You can dismiss him as some Daoist, whatever that means to you. You can dismiss him as someone who says he does and teaches dhyāna but does not.

Is that lying? I would say someone is lying if they told people one thing and did another, and expected those people not to do what they told them.

I would also like to add Venerable Huifeng to the list of people you should be messaging, as particularly Vens Huifeng and Indrajāla are not engaged in esoteric practises, and are practising the six perfections.

But I haven’t given you any names. I forgot.

As for the Dzogchen claims, the teacher active on DharmaWheel, the link being far above, refutes that. So we have two different claims as to Dzogchen stances on the matter.

I wouldn’t say this is anything that I have said. What I have said, though, has been that ‘contemporary Buddhist practice is informed by old texts’.

This whole thing is moot because Loppön Namdrol, who prefers to go by ‘Malcolm’, has already made explicit an attestation of contemporary dhyāna practice. You just need to go ask him about it. I also provided you with attestation from the Dalai Lama confirming the association between dhyāna and shamatha in Mahayana that Malcolm brought up in the DharmaWheel link. Along with a heavily used mainstream meditation text from China which would be on the practical curriculum of any Tendai or Chan seminarian: the Six Subtle Dharma Gates, which starts with the 4 dhyānāni.

But apparently no one practises any of this. You just know.

As for Alan Wallace, he seems to have contradicted himself:

In that link, he seems to be speaking of an association of śamatha & dhyāna, could it be similar the association between śamatha & first dhyāna that Malcolm spoke of and that the Dalai Lama mentioned in that book I brought up in the PM? It’s a shame I haven’t brought up any names.

If you go looking further, you may find that first dhyāna is a prerequisite to realizing emptiness in Gelugpa, as a stabilized śamatha is required.

Proving that would involve citing ancient texts by authors like Je Tsongkhapa that no one practices apparently.

Yogi Chen also brought up an association between śamatha & dhyāna. Its almost as if all of these teachers read Abhidharma. Almost as if Abhidharma informs Mahayana practice in myriad diverse ways.

Or one could look for contemporary teachers citing such texts.

But they could be being deceptive. They could all just be citing these texts and going home and watching Game of Thrones. They might not actually practice what they preach. How does one establish anything?

Lastly: just search “first dhyāna” in this document if you are further interested.

This might be sufficiently contemporary, although it is from a source you may find incoherent. It is a synopsis of an eight - week Dzogchen retreat at Lama Tsongkhapa Institute in Pomaia, Italy, that took place April/­May 2016.

For instance, part of normative Gelugpa view concerning dhyāna is that they believe that you can use analytical reasoning in the first absorption. These may not be the “same” dhyānāni.

Once again, proving that would involve citations of old texts.


IMO its likely a misunderstanding.

For instance check out this thread, its one of mine from DhammaWheel a few years ago (it also showcases some terrible amateur translation work from me).

Look at me make the big hullaballoo about a particular Chinese character in an āgama text.

Then observe me find out that I accidentally seem to have put it there. It does happen. To me at least, once that I know of.


Part of the problem IMO is Mahāyāna’s re-definition of dhyāna. You technically need dhyāna-practice to proceed forward on the path. This leads to a tendency towards re-defining of dhyāna IMO.

For instance, according to Venerable Nichiren, six-perfection practice reaches its apex in single-minded recitation of the title of the Lotus Sūtra, which means that this recication would be equivalent to 8-fold dhyāna practice. Very big words. Quite literally.

But these are the extremes.


Upon further consideration, I have decided to delete the original comment I made as I have no desire to upset anyone and I could have been much more circumspect in the manner in which I spoke.

Ah yeah, no. When it happens once perhaps. When there is a clear, consistent pattern that occurs over a considerable period of time, when one sees the same methods being employed again and again with numerous other posters then no, it’s not a misunderstanding, it’s an observable pattern of behaviour that is enacted again and again. It’s quite deliberate and habitual.



The old translations do not necessarily mean ‘scholars’ in the sense of scholars in the modern world. In Buddha’s time, teachings were passed down by mouth, and the ‘Dhamma specialists’ actually carry the responsibility of preserving the Buddha’s teachings for later generations. And here dhamma simply means ‘Buddha’s teachings’. It is hard to find modern equivalent for dhammayogis since we now have books and computers. But I reckon those who work for revealing the Buddha’s actual teachings can be counted as a similar equivalent (such as the forest monks!).

In SN.12.68 and SN.48.53, ‘have direct meditative experience of the deathless element’ was used to describe arahants, despite their faculties and tendencies. It seems a bit weird to restrict this experience to a certain type of meditators here.

Here ‘see a deep and meaningful saying after penetrating it with wisdom’ was mentioned as a high attainment for dhammayogis. If dhammayogis really mean ‘practitioners that emphasises on wisdom’ here, there are attainments that are far more supreme, such as complete freedom from suffering, and it would be strange to focus on understanding of sayings here. ‘Penetrating sayings with wisdom’ is not the same as ‘penetrating the four noble truths with wisdom’.

Saying that, though, I do agree that this sutta does not imply a conflict between ‘scholars and meditators’ in the modern sense. And there shouldn’t be, because: 1. It is not good to despise others 2. By no means jhāyi and dhammayogi cannot be the same person. Actually, I feel that nowadays the two qualities go together more and more, because the teachings themselves have become very accessible, and the hard part is to have the right understanding, and one of the most efficient ways to acquire right understanding is right practice.


Sorry only just seen these replies! Well, if we have no evidence of anyone practicing them, then this is a fair tentative conclusion. Studying texts that talk about jhāna is simply not jhāna practice.

If you want to produce evidence of Mahayana jhāna practice, I welcome it! Be careful that not all Mahayana ‘dhyāna’ is jhāna - Mahayana invented many kinds of dhyāna that are not jhāna. Etymology is not enough to claim one practice is the same as another.

that link goes nowhere unfortunately. But I’m not sure what the point is - he specifically does not teach jhāna practice, only samathā up to access concentration and is explicit in saying Tibetan BUddhism only teaches samathā up to that point (yes he even uses that Theravada terminology, since he studied Theravada a long time ago.

Please provide a quote. And remember that this is irrelevant if Gelug is not actually teaching their people to practice jhāna. I have never met any Gelugpa who believed they should practice jhāna.

Perhaps you think that if there is no evidence of anyone practicing a practice their old texts say is necessary, then they must actually be practicing it anyway? Perhaps then you would also believe that Christians in the UK stone adulterers?

So far you have noticed that they teach old texts that talk about jhāna, some of which may even say that jhāna is necessary. And yet you have not one single example of them actually teaching their students that they should practice jhāna, nor any examples of them receiving instruction or guidance in jhāna practice. Nor any evidence that any of them do practice. So it seems healthy that you are now considering the question ‘They might not actually practice what they preach…’

Sorry that link also led nowhere. Do you have another link? Thanks.

Well he was obviously talking total nonsense. Was is not he who thought that the Buddha’s mind training no longer works, so we should all give up before we try? Because it’s way easier to just chant the title of a book instead? That has nothing to do with the Buddha’s teachings, except for having evolved from a Buddhist tradition. And the very fact that you’re chanting, and aware of your chanting, disqualifies it from being jhāna or immaterial states.

I could say ‘look, me eating this rice now, that’s jhāna!’ And I could teach people to eat rice like me, and tell them they are practicing jhāna. That does not make that practice jhāna. It just makes a new definition of jhāna, which is inapplicable to the Buddha’s teachings.


No, thank you. We can talk about other things but there is a barrier to communication here.


:+1: No worries