Taomeow

Zuowang

Recommended Posts

Here's Livia Kohn's take on what it is:

 

 

"As for the difference between zuowang, chan, and neidan, I see it in historical terms.

 

Zuowang appears in the 8th century, under clear influence of Tientai Buddhist insight meditation (samatha vipassana) as a form of consciously reorganizing one's perception of self and world. It is not really, at the time, a sitting and doing nothing. I suspect that it becomes that gradually as it evolves in the 9th century. It is then that we also see the classic Zen radicalism of "meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha" and the rejection of all conscious content and aspiration as well as energy work. This continues in the Song dynasty in Buddhist circles and also spreads over into Daoism.

 

Neidan evolves as a separate branch of all this, using longevity techniques, breathing, qi-work, and zuowang-style insight meditation, and combining these methods into a complex system that also uses alchemical vocabulary and a lot of I-ching symbolism. The energy work done in neidan, with however many methods, is thus both similar and different to the zuowang and chan methods.

 

As with all Daoist practices, a lot depends on where the individual practitioner is coming from and what his/her specific strengths and needs are. You may find some quite expert at letting the mind go who need to focus more on physical transformation and whose practice will look completely different from chan/zuowang/insight. You may have others who have a good grip on qi transformation and cirulation who need to work on opening their conscious minds to the Dao and on letting go of preconceptions, whose practice will accordingly be more zenny in style.

 

Are the end results the same? My inclination is to say no, since the underlying concepts of what the end result should be are so different. The chan immediacy is different from the immortal existence in zuowang which is again different from the ultimate neidan transformation. Each technique will get people to where it is geared to go. Krishnamurti is strong on emphasizing that point and working by leaving all techniques aside."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Each technique will get people to where it is geared to go. "

 

Excellent! Note that you didn't say where the person ought to go...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think chan and zuowang major difference and similarity depends on the meditators approach, such as the undescribed swirly feelingy stuff due to where/how you are putting your mind, and letting-go-iness, and as she says, what the meditator brings to the table in terms of their own evolution on a qi energy work level or mind insight level. There are so many ways to do a meditation that the printed word instructions become quite laughably simplistic. I think zuowang can be done with an immediacy that zen are famous for with their eyes-open type meditating, it just involves a little switch in the mind, ok now Im being more immediate, but there is still much room to fall through the levels of consciousness and sit and forget till the cows come home. I use immediacy as a gambit or trick, just like other tricks such as expansion type of mental state, I dont think it really defines the meditation or carries a person to another goal. It seriously enhances the efficacity of it though.

 

I dont know about Krishnamurti, but to leave all techniques aside? Maybe he meant to not get so wrapped up in the written instructions bit, because the meditator has so much to explore beyond them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's Livia Kohn's take on what it is:

 

 

"As for the difference between zuowang, chan, and neidan

 

Mmm, Well it seems Kohn varies her opinions given what I have read of hers. There is also much debate over the interpretation of the historical information available over just which ways Buddhist and Daoist practices influenced each other.

 

Zuowang was around before the eight century and is mentioned in the Zhuang Zi (4thBCE?)(scholars like to think something doesn't exist until it appears explicitly in texts??), is Daoist and at some point later on there was a kind of cross pollination with vipassana/samatha practices. I say cross pollination because scholars are undecided (meaning there is no clear evidence either way) of just in which ways they influenced each other.

 

What emerged from this meeting of Daosit and Buddhist practices was Ch'an, specifically zuoch'an (the focus upon the lower abdomen is considered a Daoist influence on this Buddhist practice). And in the Neidan circles, it was neiguan/neishigong. Neiguan being a term to reflect the term vipassana. Yet it is unclear just how far the influence went, was it simply an adoption of name layered onto zuowang practices? or adoption of vipassana practices altered slightly by zuowang/Daoist ideas?

 

There are many well crafted arguments for various interpretations of the interactions of these practices, regarding when, why and what influenced what. But nothing that is concrete or absolute. So all we can know is that they influenced each other, and each appears in various guises within different lineages anyway, with some appearing closer than others.

 

Of course while zuoch'an is not the sole Ch'an Buddhist practice, neither is neiguan the sole neidan practice, vipassana the sole Buddhist practice, nor zuowang the sole Daoist practice. So the uses and experiences of each are always going to be coloured by adepts involvement in others practices/dicsciplines and the underlying reasons for the practices as laid out by the lineage they are immersed within.

 

That is my understanding anyway, best,

Edited by snowmonki

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think chan and zuowang major difference and similarity depends on the meditators approach, such as the undescribed swirly feelingy stuff due to where/how you are putting your mind, and letting-go-iness, and as she says, what the meditator brings to the table in terms of their own evolution on a qi energy work level or mind insight level. There are so many ways to do a meditation that the printed word instructions become quite laughably simplistic. I think zuowang can be done with an immediacy that zen are famous for with their eyes-open type meditating, it just involves a little switch in the mind, ok now Im being more immediate, but there is still much room to fall through the levels of consciousness and sit and forget till the cows come home. I use immediacy as a gambit or trick, just like other tricks such as expansion type of mental state, I dont think it really defines the meditation or carries a person to another goal. It seriously enhances the efficacity of it though.

 

I dont know about Krishnamurti, but to leave all techniques aside? Maybe he meant to not get so wrapped up in the written instructions bit, because the meditator has so much to explore beyond them.

Glad you mentioned the swirly stuff:-)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I dont know about Krishnamurti, but to leave all techniques aside? Maybe he meant to not get so wrapped up in the written instructions bit, because the meditator has so much to explore beyond them.

imho, you utilize a tool so long as it is useful. after you're done hammering all the nails, what do you do with the hammer when there is nothing left to hammer? :D

 

sooner or later, all methods are to be dropped...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

imho, you utilize a tool so long as it is useful. after you're done hammering all the nails, what do you do with the hammer when there is nothing left to hammer? :D

 

sooner or later, all methods are to be dropped...

 

The carpenter, however, seldom drops that hammer on his toes -- unlike the amateur cultivator.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Each technique will get people to where it is geared to go. "

 

Excellent! Note that you didn't say where the person ought to go...

 

:rolleyes: Oh they told one: "Go to hell!" They just forgot to take down the "heaven" in front of the Shield and you end up at the doors recipent saying "Welcome to hell you are already dead please stand with the rest of newcomers, you may forgot the procedure from past life because your were unable to hold hun and po together or say shattered your astral body, we bring you to the King of hell now!"

 

 

imho, you utilize a tool so long as it is useful. after you're done hammering all the nails, what do you do with the hammer when there is nothing left to hammer? :D

 

sooner or later, all methods are to be dropped...

 

My name is Thor and the hammer comes back and I have other things to hammere after hammering the nails. Also you know Thor is known to be activist for Nature Protection so dropping things would be a not so good idea as well like - Recycling.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites