Eden

Buddha and Shen

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Would a Buddha have a "perfected" Shen? Idk if "perfected" is the right word, but their minds are said to be absorbed in contemplation on non conceptual voidness or empty clarity 24/7 365 and because of their Clarity or Omniscience they have Bodhicitta or the boundless Compassion and Vigor to help others... so wouldnt that translate into a perfected Shen? It seems the Taoist approach is to build from bottom up, ie to prevent leakage of Jing as a pre-requisite, then through meditation and right breathing the Chi becomes full and this eventually begins to nourish the Shen... But what about a Buddha, how does it work if someone suddenly attains Enlightenment, how are the three treasures affected ? Would it be a top down approach where the Shen is full and this nourishes the Chi and the Jing? 

Does the Jing Chi Shen only apply to a human body? Do Devas have Jing Chi and Shen? Or is it only when in a human body that these things can be cultivated and nourished?

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I build from the bottom up because it feels right to do so. Others would argue that the Buddhist way, is the way. New agers seem obsessed with third eye and so on.

 

But the end result is that it works for whoever is practicing it. How can we define shen and how it is really cultivated? Anyone can walk around and claim their shen has been nourished. Anyone can walk around and claim enlightenment.

 

Do you feel calm, at peace and balanced? If so, your method will be working for you and it won't matter how you build.

 

So really, I have no answer. Only that these ideas go far beyond what is useful for me. I'm more occupied with breathing into my belly to concern myself with these ;)

Edited by Rara
I missed a whole sentence this time. After the fact and all that. Maybe I should just wait a few minutes before hitting send in future hehe
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3 hours ago, Boundlesscostfairy said:

What is the most basic definition of Shen?

 

I wondered the same, excerpting from the "jing, qi, shen" article in the Routledge Encyclopedia of Taoism. 

 

Quote

Shen evolved from the original sense of "divinity" and outer and inner "spirits" into the designation of a single force, whose connotations include those of psychic essence and even of "soul." To some extent, shen applies to anything that exists within the cosmos but has no material aspect, such as deities and human thought. 

 

 

Quote

In neidan...Shen is compared to fire, particularly the fire of desire that stirs up the passions and feeds the sense organs. 

 

 

Quote

Precelestial and Postcelestial...The distinction between "precelestial spirit" (xiantian zhi shen) also called Original Spirit (yuanshen), and "postcelestial spirit" (houtian zhi shen) follows along similar lines. [Referring to a discussion of qi, people are born with precelestial that reaches an acme & declines as they age, whereas postcelestial is available in the world & may be used to fortify flagging the precelestial form.] In neidan, the transitioning of the latter to the former occurs by means of precelestial breath, i.e. through the progressive development of a subtle and tenuous form of breathing (so-called "embryonic breathing") that allows one to reach a luminous state. Thus, one progressively develops a "Yin spirit" (yinshen), a process that is accompanied by a feeling of luminosity in the region of the head. The shen rises to the upper Cinnabar Field (the *niwan), from which it leaves the body through the sinciput in an experience known as "egress of the Spirit" (*chushen). The mind realizes a state in which time, space, and material limits disappear, and is transmuted into "Yang spirit" (yangshen). 

 

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I think "perfected" is a good word to use and I also think you are on the right track.

 

Here is a discussion of shen that i think is worth reading:

http://www.itmonline.org/shen/chap1.htm

 

In the tradition I follow, Yungdrung Bön, the qualities of enlightenment are often referred to as "perfected" qualities. 

Those qualities are always already present but are obscured by internal and external factors.

The practices we focus on are designed to remove all obstacles to spontaneous, effortless, and pure expression of those perfected qualities.

 

Similarly, shen is related to the human experience and expression of the divine as mentioned above (from the Chinese perspective, not the Abrahamic one). Daoist practices that lead to the cultivation and expression of shen are practices that remove external and internal obstacles and allow shen to manifest without impediment = wu wei. 

 

From my perspective, the perspective of a practitioner only - not a scholar or philosopher, there is a profound similarity between the Dzogchen view and the Daoist view. 

 

 

 

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On 3/5/2018 at 6:23 AM, Eden said:

Would a Buddha have a "perfected" Shen? Idk if "perfected" is the right word, but their minds are said to be absorbed in contemplation on non conceptual voidness or empty clarity 24/7 365 and because of their Clarity or Omniscience they have Bodhicitta or the boundless Compassion and Vigor to help others... so wouldnt that translate into a perfected Shen? It seems the Taoist approach is to build from bottom up, ie to prevent leakage of Jing as a pre-requisite, then through meditation and right breathing the Chi becomes full and this eventually begins to nourish the Shen... But what about a Buddha, how does it work if someone suddenly attains Enlightenment, how are the three treasures affected ? Would it be a top down approach where the Shen is full and this nourishes the Chi and the Jing? 

Does the Jing Chi Shen only apply to a human body? Do Devas have Jing Chi and Shen? Or is it only when in a human body that these things can be cultivated and nourished?

 

Like Steve, I think you're on the right track. Chinese-speaking Buddhists don't typically speak an awful lot about shen unless they've also been steeped in the milieux of Daoism, Chinese medicine, qigong, and/or folk religion, all of which tend to use the word shen quite liberally.

 

On the other hand, Daoists of the last 1,000 years do talk about Buddhism quite a bit and their definition of "buddha" would include the notion of a perfected shen. What is often called "Complete Reality Daoism" (全真道) in English could potentially also be called "Complete Perfection" Daoism (for the bilingual nerds: note how the 真 here is translated by many scholars as "Perfected" in the name of "真武/Zhenwu/The Pefected Warrior"). One explanation is that this "complete perfection" refers to a completely perfect jingqi, and shen

 

As for how the three treasures are affected "if someone suddenly attains enlightenment," the answer is that they are one. I think you can fairly say that "complete perfection," then, implies this merging (or returning) into oneness.

 

As for your final questions, jingqi, and shen are in fact never not one. We speak about them as separate entities for the purposes of transmitting theory and certain practices, but that is only one way of doing things. We can at the same time also speak of them as one. Both perspectives are accurate, as they're just perspectives--they can contradict each other without cancelling each other out. However, as to whether or not devas have them, I have no idea. There seems to be disagreement within Buddhism as to whether or not devas can cultivate; Daoists, on the other hand, seem to be generally open to the idea that deities can and do continue to cultivate. I suppose that, being deities, they have only or mostly prior heaven jingqi, and shen.

 

On 3/16/2018 at 12:36 AM, steve said:

In the tradition I follow, Yungdrung Bön, the qualities of enlightenment are often referred to as "perfected" qualities. 

Those qualities are always already present but are obscured by internal and external factors.

The practices we focus on are designed to remove all obstacles to spontaneous, effortless, and pure expression of those perfected qualities.

 

My Daoist teachers have said much the same.

 

On 3/16/2018 at 12:36 AM, steve said:

From my perspective, the perspective of a practitioner only - not a scholar or philosopher, there is a profound similarity between the Dzogchen view and the Daoist view. 

 

I've only viewed Dzogchen from afar by occasionally dipping into Longchenpa's books or listening to Chokyi Nyingma lectures and so forth, but I think you're quite right. 

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