DDM Global News

Gilbert Gutierrez Completes First Half of Six-Part Lecture Series “The Development of Chan from the Beginning.”

In his first three talks on "The Development of Chan from the Beginning," Southern California-based Dharma heir Gilbert Gutierrez introduced the origin of the Chan tradition in China and the key principles of Chan philosophy and practice. He began by talking about Gunabhadra, who was a key "proto-Chan" teacher from Mahayana Buddhism who traveled to China in the mid-5th century and translated the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra. This sutra taught the relationship between mind and truth, stating "Mind is able to be everywhere equal, so it is called truth. Truth's awareness can illuminate everything, so it is called mind. Mind and truth are everywhere equal, so it is called Buddha-mind, the mind of enlightenment." 
Gilbert further explained that we meditate in order to quiet our thoughts, and this allows "mind," which is reality, to become clear, like a deer coming up to a quietly sitting person. Gilbert explained that the Chinese word "Chan" comes from the Sanskrit word dhyāna, which means "practice." Thus, "Chan is a verb."
According to Gilbert, cultivating Right View by developing one's understanding of these key concepts is essential to proper practice, akin to holding a gardening hoe from the correct end.
Gilbert repeatedly emphasized the concept of paṭiccasamuppāda, which he translates as "causes and conditions never fail." 
At the end of each one-hour talk, Gilbert took questions from listeners. Several of these questions inquired about the proper method of practice. Gilbert explained that we use our method to stabilize the mind, but once the mind is stable we can put down the method and "just sit." As we continue to practice, we realize that the sensory world is empty. This, in turn, causes our defiled consciousness to collapse.
Acknowledging that his talks are not always easy to understand, Gilbert explained that these kinds of teachings are like a sweet piece of taffy candy stuck at the back of the throat. Just as one would want to dissolve that candy, the hearer of these teachings is filled with an urge to resolve the question in her mind. From the beginning, transmission of Chan has gone "beyond words and phrases." These kinds of teachings "give the ego nothing to chew on." Gilbert encouraged listeners to take this style of teaching back to their own discussion groups in order to induce a healthy discomfort which motivates sincere practice.
The last three talks in the series will be held on November 28th, December 5th, and December 12th at 6:00 pm Pacific Standard Time on Zoom. The Zoom ID is 849 5390 8815 and the passcode is 4388. Recordings of each talk are posted at www.facebook.com/DDMLAC

By Henry Hail of Dharma Drum Los Angeles Center