zen training

zen training

Postby omnifriend » Sun Jan 05, 2014 6:58 pm

I read an article about a zen monk who explained the training in a monastery was incredibly rigorous, they had to do everything very fast, chopping wood, sleeping and eating very little, has anyone kind of taken on this practice as a lay practitioner, what Is the theory behind this way of practice, pushing your self to the limit finding enlightenment this way.
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Re: zen training

Postby jeeprs » Mon Jan 06, 2014 7:09 am

There are a handful of literary accounts of life in Zen monasteries from the perspective of westerners, notably The Empty Mirror: Experiences in a Japanese Zen Monastery Janwillem van de Wetering and Thank You and Ok!: An American Zen Failure in Japan by David Chadwick.

From what I understand, discipline in Zen monasteries is indeed very rigorous, although I have no experience myself. But Japanese culture has a strong work ethic and places a lot of emphasis on self-discipline. They don't do things by halves, from what I understand of it.

In my last short retreat, three years ago, it was mentioned that one of the resident Thai monks had spent time in a Zen monastery in the past, and found it too strict, so he returned to the Thai order he had started in. And he was already a monk!
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Re: zen training

Postby shaunc » Mon Jan 06, 2014 9:41 am

jeeprs wrote:There are a handful of literary accounts of life in Zen monasteries from the perspective of westerners, notably The Empty Mirror: Experiences in a Japanese Zen Monastery Janwillem van de Wetering and Thank You and Ok!: An American Zen Failure in Japan by David Chadwick.

From what I understand, discipline in Zen monasteries is indeed very rigorous, although I have no experience myself. But Japanese culture has a strong work ethic and places a lot of emphasis on self-discipline. They don't do things by halves, from what I understand of it.

In my last short retreat, three years ago, it was mentioned that one of the resident Thai monks had spent time in a Zen monastery in the past, and found it too strict, so he returned to the Thai order he had started in. And he was already a monk!


It's great the things you learn here. I would have thought the Thai tradition being Theravada would have been the strictest. There's also another Japanese sect known as the marathon monks. If I went there I reckon I'd be dead before the week was out.
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Re: zen training

Postby jeeprs » Mon Jan 06, 2014 9:50 am

The place I was referring to is a retreat centre outside of Sydney which gives retreats for people from Sydney and surrounds. They seem to work hard and certainly take the dharma seriously, but I think it is probably a lot less severe than a traditional monastery in Asia.

Discovered this book too - The Zen Monastic Experience

Robert Buswell, a Buddhist scholar who spent five years as a Zen monk in Korea, draws on personal experience in this insightful account of day-to-day Zen monastic practice. In discussing the activities of the postulants, the meditation monks, the teachers and administrators, and the support monks of the monastery of Songgwang-sa, Buswell reveals a religious tradition that differs radically from the stereotype prevalent in the West. The author's treatment lucidly relates contemporary Zen practice to the historical development of the tradition and to Korean history more generally, and his portrayal of the life of modern Zen monks in Korea provides an innovative and provocative look at Zen from the inside.


Looks interesting. I suspect the prevalent notion of Zen amongst the Western middle classes is probably idealistic in the extreme.
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Re: zen training

Postby Huifeng » Mon Jan 06, 2014 10:20 am

More like strict as in schedule wise, not strict as in by the book Vinaya wise.

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Re: zen training

Postby Jikan » Mon Jan 06, 2014 4:05 pm

shaunc wrote:It's great the things you learn here. I would have thought the Thai tradition being Theravada would have been the strictest. There's also another Japanese sect known as the marathon monks. If I went there I reckon I'd be dead before the week was out.


They wouldn't let you try if they didn't know you'd succeed. That's the open secret about the long kaihogyo practice. Details:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S06oMxdt40A

There are also versions of that practice that are available to laypersons. Consider...

http://vimeo.com/5887118

But that's all Tendai stuff. Tendai's relation to Zen is debated. Saicho did bring back a Zen transmission (the "Ox Head" line) from China. But you won't find many Zen practitioners who would argue that Tendai practitioners are Zen practitioners. Which means that this post is, for most intents and purposes, off topic. Sorry!
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Re: zen training

Postby Seishin » Mon Jan 06, 2014 4:54 pm

I wonder... is it just the Japanese schools that are... regimented in their training? :shrug:
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Re: zen training

Postby seeker242 » Mon Jan 06, 2014 6:42 pm

what Is the theory behind this way of practice, pushing your self to the limit finding enlightenment this way.


One of the 84,000 dharma doors? With an individuals karma determining which door is appropriate for them? Perhaps people who are drawn to discipline heavy traditions, is exactly what they need because their karma in lacking discipline or effort? Or maybe something like that.
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