Saturday, May 19, 2012

On Hishiryo (Beyond Thinking)

Below is a good post from the Zennist on "hishiryo", a key term in Dogen's writings (see Zazengi; Fukanzazengi; Zazenshin). Dogen uses this term to describe what one "does" in Zazen. It is not thinking (shiryo) or not thinking (fushiryo) but rather being "beyond" (Tanahashi) or "before" (Anzan Roshi) thinking.

I'm not sure I agree with, or completely understand the Zennist's equation of hishiryo with ashraya-paravritti ("the turning around of the basis") which is a term for liberation, or what leads to liberation, in Indian Yogacara Buddhism. As I understand it ashraya-paravrtti refers to the transformation, or turning around, of one's base level of consciousness towards pure awareness, or transcendental Mind, as opposed to manas (the I-maker).  I do agree that ashraya-paravrtti must be either 1) equivalent to "seeing your original face" in Hui-Neng's terminology, or: 2) a possible result of seeing your original face when the mind is pure enough to be thoroughly transformed by it.

 It seems to me that hishiryo is both the fundamental practice of Zen, and that which leads to ashraya-paravrtti. When one dwells beyond/before thought, one is able to have a breakthrough- to see one's true nature/original face. This then causes ashraya-paravrtti, a transformation in one's basic consciousness which allows one to dwell continuously in a cognition of "mind", "true nature", "rigpa", "atman" (in the advaitic sense of Ramana Maharshi, Robert Adams or Papaji, or, for that matter, Kosho Uchiyama and other Zen ancestors). Even after a glimpse of one's original face the main practice still remains hishiryo, because ashraya-paravrtti may not have occurred yet. This is the difference between someone who has a had a glimpse of the awakened level of consciousness and someone who is established in it. Any thoughts, Mr. Zennist?

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