Dhyana and Zen

Item Code: NAC929
Author: S.K. Ramachandra Rao
Publisher: Kalpatharu Research Academy, Bangalore
Language: English
Edition: 2006
Pages: 238
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 9.9 Inch X 7.4 Inch
Weight 600 gm
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Book Description
From the Jacket

Vidyalankara, Sastra-Chudamani, Sangita-Kalaratna, Professor Saligrama Krishna Ramachandra Rao is a well-known scholar who combines traditional learning with modern Indian languages and acquainted with Tibetan and some European languages, he has written extensively on Vedanta, Buddhism, Jainism, Indian Culture, Art and Literature.

In his professional career, however, he was a Professor of Psychology. He has headed the Department of Clinical of Psychology in the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuroscience’s, Bangalore, and the Department of Indian Culture in the Collision College Study Center of the University of the Pacific (U.S.A). At present, he is the Senior Associate of National Institute of Advanced Studies (Indian Institute of Science), Bangalore, and Guest Faculty, Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore and member of the Governing Council of TTD (SVCL Research Centre), Tirupati.

He has been Member of Karnataka State Lalitha Kala Academy and Sangita Nritya Academy; he has served on the Agama Board (Govt. of Karnataka). He is President of Silpa-Kala Pratishtana. The Govt. of Karnataka has honoured him with the 1986 Rajyotsava Award. He has received awards from Lalita-Kala Academi and Sangita Nritya Academi. He is the recipient of the Veda Sanman for the year 2000 by the Govt. of India (H.R.D. Ministry).

Kendriya Samskrita Vidya-peetha, Tirupati, (deemed university) has awarded him honoraris causa degree ‘Vaschaspati’ (2003). He is the recipient of the prestigious Veda-ratna award (2004) from Sri Ganeswarananda Foundation.

He has written more than sixty books in Kannada, a play in Sanskrit, and a Pali commentary on a Buddhist classic. One of his books on Iconography in Kannada has won the State Sahitya Academi Award, as also another of his books on the Tirupati Temple.

Among his numerous English Publications are three volumes of Encyclopaedia of Indian Medicine (Popular Prakashan, Mumbai), Tibetan Tantrik Tradition and Tibetan Meditation (Arnold Heinemann, Delhi), Conciousness in Advaita, and a series of six books on Indian Temples (IBH Prakashana, Bangalore) and Origins of Indian Thought (Bangalore University); Kalpatharu Research Academy has published his Pratima-Kosha in six volumes. Agma-Kosha in Twelve volumes, Art and Architecture of Indian Temples in three volumes. He was awarded D. Litt. Honoraris causa by the Karnatak University (2005).

He is at present engaged in the 30-volume project Rgveda-Darsana (Sixteen volumes of which have appeared).

He is also a musicologist, a sculptor and painter, and has held some one-man shows.

About the Publisher

The Kalpatharu Research Academy, Bangalore is an Institution running with the benign blessings of His Holiness Jagadguru Shankaracharya, Sri Sri Sri Bharathi Theertha Mahaswamiji under the auspicious of Dakshinamnaya Sri Sringeri Sharada Peetham, established in 1981. Kalpatharu Research Academy has stride across the horizon of Indological Research and Publications with giant steps, and today stands as an Institution known for its unique quality of Research work.

Kalpatharu Research Academy is dedicated to the cause of preservation of ancient heritage of India; it has encouraged Research in the fields of Agama, Veda, Tantra, Jyoutisha, Mantra Sastra, Vaastu, Yoga, Silpa, and Ayurveda etc.

Among its prestigious publications (numbering more than Hundred till now), are Six Volas. of Pratima-Kosha, Twelve Vol’s of Agama-Kosha, Three Vol’s of the Art & Architecture of Indian Temples, Vastu-Silpa-Kosha in three Vol’s, Devata-rupa-mala in Four Vol’s and several Koshas like Ganesha-Kosha, Lalita-Kosha and Navagraha-Kosha, Oshadhi-Kosha, Salagrama-Kosha, Gita-Kosha, Hanumat-Kosha, Vanaspathi Kosha etc.

The Academy has plans of undertaking intensive Research in the field of Veda and Vedanga, and intends publishing “Bharatiya-Samskriti-Sarvasva-Kosha” an encyclopedic work in several volumes dealing with all aspects of Indian Tradition & Culture. It seeks to promote Education, Culture, and Science, Art and learning in all its branches. The approach will be broad based and multi disciplinary.

An extensive, comprehensive and specialist reference library has been built up to assist the Research Workers in the Indological disciplines. A valuable collection of Palm Leaf manuscripts relating to Veda, Vedanta, Vedanga and allied subjects has already been made; the collection work is continuing.

Dakshinamnaya Sri Sringeri Sharada Peetham has been running a Guru-Kula type of Institution on traditional lines to impart Vedic Education at several places. Some of these Institutions are over 100 years old. It is the intention of Kalpatharu Research Academy to take an active part in continuing this age-old tradition and act as the Research & Publication wing for these Institutions.

Our ambition is to develop as a National Centre for higher learning in Veda, Vedanga and Shastras and facilitate the propagation of unique Sanskrit and Vedic texts in the National and International arena.

This Publication is the 117th of its achievement in this field.

About the Author

The present volume deals with the essential ideas of Dhyana and how they are responsible for the development of Zen in China and Japan. Buddha attached great importance to Dhyana (Pali jhana) and wherever Buddhism spread. It became an important detail of spiritual practice. This aspect of Buddhism makes it thoroughly an upanishadic practice (illustrated by nidhidyasana). The involvements of Dhyana and Zen are discussed in this volume.

I am grateful to Sri Daivajna K.N. Somayaji Director and Chief Editor of Kalpatharu Research Academy for including this book (which is in the nature of a compilation) in the Bharatiya-Samskriti-Sarvasva-Kosha series of the Academy’s publications.

My gratitude is due to the Jagadguru His Holiness Sri Sri Sri Bharathi Theerta Mahaswamiji of Sri Sringeri Sharada Peetham and the chief patron of the Academy, the Administrator of the Peetham Sri V.R. Gowrishankar the Chairman of the Academy.

Also I am indebted to my young friend and student Sri Shankar who went through the proofs this book carefully and helped me in various ways while this book was being produced.

I am thankful to my friends at Omkar Offset printers.


It is well known that Indian principles and practices of yoga have greatly influenced the spiritual outlook of China and Japan. Of particular interest and the Chinese charm and Japanese Zen, which bear a clear and marked impact of Indian Dhyana techniques included in Ashtanga Yoga. Prof. Dr. S.K. Ramachandra Rao has kindly prepared this volume to highlight the borrowers of the Dhyana and Zen of near far east from Indian sources. The Academy is grateful to him for this service.

The Academy is deeply beholden to the gracious blessings of Jagadguru His Holiness Sri Sri Sri Bharathi Theerta Mahaswamiji, of Sringeri Sharada Peetham, chief patron of the Academy and to the keen interest of Shri V.R. Gowrishankar Administrator of the Sringeri Sharada Peetham and chairman of the Academy.

We also acknowledge the generous Financial Assistance from the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Department of Education, Govt. of India, New Delhi and Dept. of Education, Govt. of Karnataka, Bangalore. The Academy also thanks the officers of the Omkar Offset Printers who have produced this volume neatly and expeditiously.


The methods of meditation suggested by the Buddha (like those in Sravaka -Yana, Mahayana, Vajrayana, Chinese ch’an, Japanese zen, and Tibetan Maha-mudra) are meant, not to gain supernatural powers or to tranquilize the mind, but to transform the transactional human being, full of limitations and stresses, into an enlightened being, peaceful and Joyful. The Buddha emphasized the potential in every individual for such a transformation. He had achieved this transformation in his own life, and out of concern and compassion for others he told the world about this transformation. The figure of the Buddha represents not only perfect enlightenment (sambodhi, prajna) but also selfless compassion (karuna). The two constitute an inseparable pair (yuganaddha, yab-yum).

There is in the background of all methods of meditation an inquiry into normal human nature, the way of the world that is habitual. This inquiry and analysis are preliminary to transformation that is planned. In the body-mind nexus, it is mind (chitta) that plays the leading role. In all transactions, thoughts (manas) generate, determine and direct behaviour. They are responsible for our misery, tension, confusion and restlessness. Meditational methods are primarily interested in transforming the thoughts.

It is not correct to say that it is in the very nature of mind (chitta) to have thoughts (manas). Thoughts are in response to stimulations from within and from without. Bodily sensations, sensory apprisals, memories and urges, feelings and emotions (like love, fear, anger and anxiety) cause thoughts to emerge and jostle about. Likewise objects and events in the outside world evoke thoughts of approaches, aversions and indifference. There could be mind devoid of thoughts, as for instance in dreamless sleep. In fact, thoughts are like mists that cover up mountains and lakes; they hide the mind. The proper pursuit for the meditator would be to get at the mind beyond the thoughts. This is described as the original mind, the essence of the mind, no-mind or self-mind (alaya-vijnana, chitta-matra, tathata or Sunya).

The thoughts that make our lives hectic, stressful, indolent, active, pleasurable, painful, anxious, eager, comfortable and crowded are not inherent in the mind, nor are they natural to mind. They rise and they disappear; they proceed and they withdraw. They are not unlike the breathing, which consists of breaths that come in (inhalations) and go out (exhalations). In fact, thoughts (manas) and breathing (prana) are closely related. That is why breathing exercises figure prominently in yoga. The Buddha also advised that one must be mindful of the breaths (anapana-sati).

Thoughts are generally outward oriented. They receive the external input, and they respond to stimulations from the objects in the surrounding. The presence of the objects outside are apprehended only by thoughts; thoughts can even conjure up the visions and images of objects that are really not there at all. The very nature of thoughts is ‘imagination’ (the making of images). Thoughts not only make things real, but also relevant. But for the thoughts, objects in the world would neither be real nor relevant. The world is made up of thoughts more than objects; and life consists largely of the flow of thoughts. Thoughts come to terms with each other, collide with each other, and fight with each other. Thoughts synthesize, integrate, analyze, disintegrate, smoothe out, make and break.

But thoughts are discontinuous, despite the appearance of a flow, like the flames of a fire or the light from a lamp. In the midst of the seeming continuity, thoughts are individual, discrete, and evanescent. Each thought rises, and falls, allowing the next thought to rise, which will also fall. This is the limitative character of thoughts-one at a time. But they can have a cumulative effect. Several elemental thoughts could go to build up a complex thought, much like the letters in a word, or words in a sentence. However, thoughts do not always build up. They can be contrary to each other, contradictory and conflicting. They indicate likes and dislikes, moves, and counter-moves, approaches and aversions. They thus contribute to restlessness and anxiety.

Thoughts are by nature fleeting, they constitute a succession. Each thought, by itself and in its own time, is feeble and ineffective. When they are of a like nature and are also in a continuous line of succession, we call it attention or concentration. Generally, this needs an external object or cause which has the power to sustain the succession of thoughts. When this happens, the thoughts cling to the object or cause, which may be real or imaginary. They attach themselves to the object or cause; they get rooted in the object or cause. This ‘grasping’ is called ‘graha’. Attachment is the most important detail of transactional life; and all attachment is only in the thoughts, and of the thoughts. It is because of this that life becomes habitual and customary.

It is clinging that puts diverse and discrete thoughts and objects together and carves out an artificial oneness, a whole that is but a superimposition, an appearance, an illusion. Transactional life is like this. There is nothing natural in it, nothing original and nothing spontaneous. The mind that is natural, original and spontaneous is screened off by thoughts that cling to objects of the transactional life. What we consider as real and relevant is in reality the expression of clinging, ‘deep-rooted colossal clinging.’ Efforts to find happiness and peace in this transactional life characterized by clinging is like the man wanting to go to the Himalayas travelling in the direction of the sea. Transactional life, by its very nature and causation, is incapable of providing us with lasting peace or abiding satisfaction. The Buddha learnt this in his own life, and proceeded to move away from normal life.

And then, after a great struggle, he reached the other shore (pramita): from thoughts he dug into the mind, from the surface he dived into the depths, from appearance he moved into the real. He was transformed into an enlightened one (the buddha), after having been an ordinary mortal (prthakjana). The ecstatic utterances from his lips at the moment of liberation from the fetters of transactional living describe the ‘samadhi’ which characterizes the other side of life. He had discovered how the habitation for the worldly beings was constructed; he had moved far away from such habitation.

When he experienced the presence of illumination, it was not a vision of some light outside himself. It was the clear and bright mind in himself that he had discovered. It was devoid of all thoughts; the flames of the fire were extinguished. The thoughts did no longer rise and fall. Thoughtlessness was the sword that cut off transactional life. The mind that was busy with the world of objects and events was now merged in the original mind; it is in this sense that it is no-mind, void. It is what the texts call ‘dharma-dhatu’. To realize this is wisdom (prajna), which is not brought about by reasoning, intelligence or transactional prowess, but by “sitting quietly, not doing anything”. This is what is known as “meditation” (dhyana). This is the crucial teaching of the Buddha - to transform the normal human consciousness to the perfect and flawless Buddhahood by dhyana and prajna. Dhyana is to free oneself from attachment with external objects. Prajna is to realize the innate essence of the mind.

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