Body-Mind Problem in Buddhism

This relationship between body and mind is what falls under the so called unanswered questions regarding the identity of sarira (body) and jiva (soul). The short answer is that Buddhism has an experiential view, as shown in the teachings on the five aggregates and six sensory domains, where physical and mental phenomena are not substantially differentiated.

"If there is the view, 'The soul and the body are the same,' there is no living of the holy life; and if there is the view, 'The soul is one thing, the body is another,' there is no living of the holy life. Without veering towards either of these extremes, the Tathagata teaches the Dhamma by the middle: 'With birth as condition, aging-and-death.'"
(SN 12.35)

"Bhikkhus, when what exists, by clinging to what, by adhering to what, does such a view as this arise: 'The soul and the body are the same'?"
"Bhikkhus, when what exists, by clinging to what, by adhering to what, does such a view as this arise: 'The soul is one thing, the body another'?"
"But without clinging to what is impermanent, suffering, and subject to change, could such a view as that arise?"
"No, venerable sir."

(SN 24.13, 14)

"Master Gotama, what is the cause and reason why these various speculative views arise in the world: ... 'The soul and the body are the same' or 'The soul is one thing, the body is another'..."
"It is, Vaccha, because of not knowing form/feeling/perception/volitional formations/consciousness, its origin, its cessation, and the way leading to its cessation that those various speculative views arise in the world"

(SN 33.1-5)

"As to the various views that arise in the world, householder, 'The world is eternal' '" -these as well as the sixty-two speculative views mentioned in the Brahmajala: when there is identity view, these views come to be; when there is no identity view, these views do not come to be."
(SN 41.3)

"Vaccha, wanderers of other sects regard the eye thus: 'This is mine, this I am, this is my self.' They regard the ear . . . the nose . . . the tongue . . . the body . . . the mind thus: 'This is mine, this I am, this is my self.' Therefore, when the wanderers of other sects are asked such questions, they give such answers as: 'The world is eternal' . . . or 'The Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist after death.' But, Vaccha, the Tathagata, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One, regards the eye thus: 'This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.' He regards the ear . . . the mind thus: 'This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.' Therefore, when the Tathagata is asked such questions, he does not give such answers."
(SN 44.7)


Principle of Zen According to Eisai

Question: What is the characteristic of this school?
Answer: The Zen school has the Diamond Sutra and the Vimalakirti Sutra as its main references. Its principle is that the mind is nothing other than the Buddha. A mind freed from clinging to anything constitutes its religious act. Its purpose is [to cause people to realize] that everything that has its own characteristics is empty of self-nature. Since the Buddha handed down the robe and bowl to Kasyapa, transmission from master to disciple has not changed. Details are known from the records.
(A Treatise on Letting Zen Flourish, in Zen Texts, BDK ed, p 101)

Just abiding in the “perfect rank” (yuanwei; en’i), practicing the “perfect and immediate” awakening (yuandun; endon), and externally practicing the precepts of restraint to prevent wrongs while internally benefiting others out of compassion—this is called the principle of the Zen school; it is called the Buddha-Dharma.
(p 115-116)

Question: As for this Zen school in relation to sila, samadhi, and prajñå, what would you say it is?
Answer: Its principle is the Tathågata’s dhyåna, which does not set up words out of which to make any dogma. Positively expressed, it is common to all the Mahayana schools. Negatively stated, it is free from mind, ego consciousness, and perceptive consciousnesses; it is free from verbal expression.
(p 122)

The principle of this Zen school does not set up any words out of which to make dogma. It has been specially transmitted outside of scriptural teachings. It does not cling to passages taught; it only transmits the seal of the mind. It is free from letters, being without words. Through directly pointing to the source of the mind, it has one attain awakening.
(p 137)

First, by teaching I mean various teachings. People of not very brilliant capacity will first examine the admirable ideas of various teachings and schools. When they learn the essentials of Zen, those teachings will serve as the means for cultivating themselves to enter Zen. The Collection of Records from the Ancestral Mirrors quotes sixty sutras and sastras, collects the excellent purports of the three schools, and comments on the expressions of more than three hundred authorities. It does so in order to expound the essentials of the Chan school.
Second, by Zen I mean the Buddha’s dhyåna. It is not adhering to words, not being bound by mind or thought. Therefore, one penetrates this by getting free from mind, ego consciousness, and perceptive consciousnesses. One learns this by transcending the paths of the unawakened and the awakened. In this way Zen concerns people of superb brilliance.
Third, by the general aspect I mean what follows. The so-called teachings and so-called Zen are nothing but names. To say “penetrating” and “learning” are also provisional matters. “I,” “others,” “living beings,” “awakening” (bodhi), and “nirvana” are all names, too. They don’t substantially exist. The teachings expounded by the Buddha are also names; there is nothing expounded. Therefore, the Zen principle is free from the characteristics of words, free from those objects of the mind. It is beyond thought and deliberation and ultimately unobtainable. Concerning the Buddha-Dharma (lit., “the Buddha’s awakened truth”), what has no Dharma to be expounded is called the Buddha-Dharma. What I now call Zen is an expression of that characteristic.
Since the three aspects mentioned above are provisional names, if anyone insists that the Buddha’s dhyåna has letters and words, he is blaming the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. Therefore, the patriarch [Bodhidharma] did not set up words out of which to make any dogma but, by directly pointing to the human mind, causes one to see one’s self-nature [as no-mind] and attain awakening. This was the so-called Chan (Zen) gate.
He who takes hold of names and letters misses the Dharma. He who clings to characteristics and appearances is also perverted. Originally there being no moving and nothing to be obtained is called the Buddha-Dharma,130 the Buddha’s truth. The Buddha-Dharma lies just in walking, standing, sitting, and lying down. Adding even a bit to it is impossible, whereas taking away just a bit is also impossible. Realizing this, you will not waste even the slightest energy. As soon as you estimate it by deliberation to be something marvelous and mysterious, you already have nothing to do with it. Therefore, if you move, you will be arousing the base of birth and death. If you stay quiet, you will be getting drunk in the area that is dark and heavy. If you forget both movement and quietude, you will squander your Buddha-nature. When nothing like this is available, what will you do?
(p 144-145)

Therefore, through first gaining confidence in a few words of one’s master, one enters the dhyåna sea of the Buddha-Dharma. One can enter all the Buddha’s teachings only through one’s confidence in them.
(p 157)

Basically, the Buddha-Dharma does not itself speak out; it assumes scriptural expressions to manifest its teachings. Originally dhyana has no intent to introduce itself; it actualizes itself only through our self-concentration (samadhi). Therefore, the expressions by which people characterize Zen, such as “the hair of a tortoise” or “the horns of a hare,” naturally reveal the living principle that is hard to be manifested, whereas the awakened truth of mind that is free from mind (wuxin; mushin) or from thought (wunian; munen), profoundly accords with the One Mind, the innermost shrine.
(p 186)


What are Blessings in Vajrayana?

Blessing is a positive change in relation to one's progress on the path to liberation. It is a specific case of receiving merit transference that comes from the appreciation of enlightened beings, while the generic meaning of receiving merit is the agreeing with any wholesome act, and that is a beneficial form of shared karma.

On the one hand, it can be said that it's all in one's mind, particularly for two reasons: all perceptions are mental fabrication, and karma is strictly individual. On the other hand, it is an inspiration originating from others, because without awareness of enlightened beings, no appreciation can occur, and without appreciation there can be no blessing.

"So when you supplicate them, even though, like your root guru, they cannot hand you attainment. or fruition; yet, like your root guru, they can influence and help you. It is not panicularly that by supplicating them they are pleased and therefore decide to share their spiritual wealth with you. It is rather that the devotion you generate in your supplication causes this blessing simply to occur.
"Supplication produces blessing, and although the blessing is understood as something given to you, something that somehow engulfs you from outside, in fact blessing really isn't given to you at all. When you supplicate, you generate faith and devotion. That faith and devotion cause the appearance of what we call blessing.
"To say that the blessing of Dharma enters into you does not mean that through receiving an empowerment you can immediately fly in the sky, or that you become intoxicated with some kind of mysterious spiritual drunkenness. It means simply that having received the empowerment, something changes. There will be at least a little increase in your faith and devotion, at least a little increase in your diligence. These changes in you are the principal blessing or benefit of the empowerment process. For example, many people have told me that they were previo·usly unable to understand or settle on the validity of Buddhism, but then, for one reason or another, they received the Kalachakra empowerment from His Holiness the Dalai Lama and thereafter have been intensely involved in practice. That is an instance of the blessing of empowerment. It is not necessarily that they are practicing Kalachakra, but that, because of that empowerment, they are practicing Dharma."
(Khenchen Thrangu: Creation and Completion, p 114, 117, 151)

"The Tibetan is jin gyi lab pa and means to be transformed through a certain environment and influence. This is the meaning of “blessing” from the Buddhist point of view. It denotes a total transformation from the core of our being, which is induced by different things happening around us. Empowerment, in its actual sense, should lead us to receive this blessing and to undergo a genuine and complete transformation."
(Daring Steps Toward Fearlessness, p 133)

"Such an infusion of blessing can take place without any difficulty. It comes through invocation originating from one’s faith and veneration. A devotee with deep faith receives a powerful blessing. One with medium faith receives a medium blessing.One with lesser faith receives the lesser blessing. It is the nature of things that one cannot receive spiritual blessing without faith. For those practitioners who have failed to gain deep understanding, there is no other way except that of worshiping the guru with faith, and through meditation invoking his blessings. Even those who have gained understanding should continue to have faith in their guru as a means of strengthening and perfecting their inner development."
(Gampopa quoted in Mahamudra the Moonlight, p 136-137)

"Our capacity to receive the compassion and blessings of the teacher and the Three Jewels, therefore, depends entirely on devotion and faith.
Once, a disciple called out to the master Jowo Atisa, "Jowo, give me your blessing!"
"Lax disciple," Atisa replied, "give me your devotion ... "
So absolute unwavering trust, arising from extraordinary faith and devotion, is indispensable. It opens the door to taking refuge."
(Words of My Perfect Teacher, p 176)

"The guru's blessings are always present, day and night. The buddhas and bodhisattvas, all the masters of the lineage, and your personal root guru are always full of blessings, continuously, throughout the three times. But how do these blessings saturate our own mind-stream to bring us to maturation? This happens when the concepts of me and mine have melted away in the state of devotion. It is this ego that prevents blessings from ripening our stream-of-being. The concept of self melts away in the atmosphere of devotion. This is when the warmth of blessings permeates you completely."
(Tsoknyi rinpoche, in Dzogchen Essentials, p 13)

"Devotion is the root of blessings, the basis for receiving blessings. Blessings definitely do exist, so we should know what they are and what the role of devotion is in receiving blessings. Otherwise, there is not much point in devotion.
Blessings are contagious, so to speak, and are transmitted in a fashion that is rather like catching a cold. If somebody has a cold and you are too close, you catch a cold too. Likewise, if you get close to a master who has blessings, they can be transmitted to you. Blessings here mean the sense of some power of realization or power of samadhi, some kind of atmosphere of realization that is naturally present, You move close to him, in the sense of opening yourself up through devotion and making sincere, heartfelt supplications. In other words, you lower your defenses, whatever doubts and suspicions that prevent you from being "infected" with the blessings. The moment you do that, you catch a cold as well. Devotion is a very deeply felt and sincere emotion, which comes from the bottom of one's heart. It is partly a sense of really rejoicing, rejoicing in the qualities that are embodied in the teacher. At the same time, there is a sense of gratitude for the teacher's incredible kindness. This combination of rejoicing and gratitude is what opens us up, what generates devotion.
Devotion can be toward the Buddha, the Dharma, the Sangha, in terms of truly rejoicing in and appreciating their amazing qualities, of knowledge and compassion, and so forth. To be open toward that and rejoice in those qualities is one aspect of devotion. At the same time, when we understand how it benefits ourselves to train in the recognition of our basic nature, we feel gratitude, an appreciation of the kindness.
Otherwise, there could be many kinds of devotion. There is the devotion that is simply love, love generated by the thought, "He was nice to me, so I like him." There is devotion that is an admiration, in that you feel in awe of a person or thing. Then there is devotion inspired by some kind of longing to emulate someone-you want to be like that as well. However, in the beginning, devotion is some kind of fabrication. We are trying to feel in a certain way, trying to open up. It is artificial, but it makes us grow closer to understanding the view, in the sense that devotion opens us up to realize emptiness, makes it easier. When some authentic experience of emptiness strengthens devotion even further, at that point it is no longer artificial or contrived. We may begin by trying to feel devotion, and then, later on, actual experience allows it to become totally uncontrived. Uncontrived devotion springs out of the experience of the view. Because when there is some seeing in actuality of what is called rigpa or ordinary mind, the natural mind that really solves or liberates disturbing emotions-when the conceptual frame of mind is  opened up. by this recognition-then we have a personal taste of the value and the worth of the practice. It is that real appreciation that is uncontrived devotion. In this way, devotion and the view of emptiness mutually strengthen one another."
(Tsoknyi rinpoche, in Dzogchen Primer, p 163-164)


Change is Peace

Not abiding in anything is neither attained nor cultivated. Things are already without abiding, there is merely a fictitious present imagined by taking ephemeral concepts to have real meaning. Once you follow through what change as the universal characteristic of everything implies, it becomes clear logically and experientially that every instance of craving and hating are unestablished. They are unestablished because there is nothing one can ever gain or lose, nor is there any state of mind that remains even for a moment, so both object and subject are originally peaceful.


Nirvana Cannot Be Experienced

Experiences are what occur in the six sensory areas. Delusion is clinging to them, liberation is not clinging. It is called delusion, because experiences are already empty, without anything that could be clung to. Recognising the delusion of substantiality as unfounded means seeing that there is nothing to see, like when one assumes one's hat is very valuable but turns out to be worthless. Is that recognition an experience? Sounds like one, but isn't, because it means simply the end of an incorrect thought. And to make it a little bit more complicated (sky-flowers, dreams), even that incorrect thought of a self has never been anything else but empty. To take a different approach, experiences have always been pure and the end of delusion means arriving to what has always been there, so it's nothing new, but the original nature of phenomena. So it is not an experience in the sense of something that occurs, also because something occurring is ordinarily conceived as an independent object one can hold on to, while the whole point is that such occurrences have never existed in the first place.

"What is ignorance? Good sons, all sentient beings fall into various inverted views without beginning. Just like a disoriented person who confuses the four directions, they mistakenly take the Four Elements as the attributes of their bodies and the conditioned shadows of the Six Objects as the attributes of their mind. It is just like when our eyes are diseased and we see flowers in the sky, or a second moon. Good sons, the sky actually has no flowers—they are the false attachment of the diseased person. And because of this false attachment, not only are we confused about the self-nature of the sky; we are also mixed up about the place where real flowers come from. From this there is the falsely existent transmigration through life and death. Therefore it is called "ignorance."
Good sons, this 'ignorance' actually lacks substance. It is like a man who is dreaming. At the time of the dream, there is no non-existence. But when he awakens he finds that there is nothing for him to hold on to. Similarly, when the sky-flowers disappear from the sky, you cannot say that there is a definite point of their disappearance. Why? Because there is no point from which they arose. All sentient beings falsely perceive arising and ceasing within the unarisen. Therefore they say that there is 'transmigration through life-and-death.' "

(The Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment, ch 1)


Why Practise without Gain?

Why practise if there's nothing to attain?

There is nothing to attain means that all states, all thoughts, all feelings, all experiences exist for less then a moment, that no matter what, everything is extremely transitory. Not seeing that, falling into ideological and emotional identities is when one falsely assumes there is something to gain and something to lose. Furthermore, it's not enough to know that there is nothing to attain, one has to overcome the habit of seeing in terms of gain and loss, hence the practice that takes the ultimate realisation as its view.


Form, Emptiness, Zazen

Form, the first aggregate, stands for physical experiences, the body. What is called the body is actually a concept of the body, and not any real thing. If you look at your present experience, do you find the body anywhere? Since there is no body found, it is absent, it is empty. Because it is empty, there is nothing to be attached to, nothing to grasp. When you do not grasp the body, the body is dropped. Same with the other four aggregates that constitute the mind, hence mind is dropped. Body and mind dropped is zazen.