Astus wrote: If by common you mean that there are Zen teachers who talk ill of the Mahayana sutras, that is not a usual practice at all, and never was. It's equivalent of slandering the Dharma. The result of this is that his followers will not study the teachings and so fail to understand it. The idea that "Buddha was only human" - what is called "secular Buddhism" - is failing to understand the complexity and the meaning of Mahayana teachings about buddhahood.
I believe that the perspectives I offer will welcome people into the doorway of the Buddhist Teachings who would be otherwise alienated, distracted and driven away by a more "Sutra-literalist" and "magic-miraculous" presentation of the Buddhist Teachings and Practice whereby even the most fantastic of claims is accepted much as folks of that other religion might accept that the world was created in only 7 days because their literalist reading of their Sacred Book says so. Many people would be denied the beauty and power of the Buddhist Path without what someone like me presents which tells them to look past, and right through, all that possible hoo-haw and embellishment.
LIKEWISE, what I present may alienate, repulse and chase away many a Buddhist faithful who needs what some other Teacher presents, and a more "The Sacred Book says it, therefore I believe it
" approach! Of course, for to each their own Path.
In fact, the boundless Buddhist World is certainly spaciousness enough to hold all of us, and we need each other. I would never say that it's "my way or the highway", or that the medicine I prescribe suits all patients. Far from it.
What is more, I am certainly not someone who seeks to reject all tradition and the value of every old story. Rather, I believe I seek to make many old tales and practices approachable to folks who would be quite skeptical of such things if taken on faith and face value alone, and try to help them see through to the underlying Teachings that shine through the surface appearance. An example of this is how I might present Kannon to some who might take his-her literal existence as Kan-nonsense.
I have heard from folks who have trouble incorporating many figures such as Kannon and Jizo into their Practice ...
I have some words I would offer both to people who say (a) these things do exist in a concrete way, and those folks who say (b) they do not. While both those extremes may be correct (only the universe knows for sure, and I remain an open minded mystic-skeptic), I have come to see "them" as archtypes, representing real characteristics of human life and (since we are just the universe) thus the universe.
In other words and in a nutshell: When we feel in our hearts and act upon love and compassion, thereby love and compassion exists as a real, concrete aspect of the world which our hearts and acts create. And since, in our view, there is no "inside" or "outside" ultimately, what is inside you is just as much "the universe" and concrete reality as the moon, gravity and the stars. That is "Kannon", in that way a real and concrete aspect and 'force' of the world.
... or the literal existence of hells and heavens when we die ...
Now, don't get me wrong: I believe that our actions have effects, and I believe that we create "heavens" and "hells". I see people create "hells" within themselves all the time, and for those around them, by their acts of greed, anger and ignorance. .I see people who live in this world as "Hungry Ghosts", never satisfied. I also believe that we are reborn moment by moment by moment, so in that way ... we are constantly reborn, always changing (the "Jundo" who began writing this essay is not the same "Jundo" who will finish it). Futhermore, I believe that our actions will continue to have effects in this world long after this body is in its grave ... like ripples in a stream that will continue on endlessly.
But what about those future lives, heavens and hells? Will I be reborn as an Asura or a cocker spaniel?
My attitude, and that of many other Buddhist teachers, is that ...
If there are future lives, heavens and hells ... live this life here and now, seek not to do harm, seek not to build "heavens" and "hells" in this world ... let what happens after "death" take care of itself.
And if there are no future lives, no heavens or hells ... live this life here and now, seek not to do harm, seek not to build "heavens" and "hells" in this world ... let what happens after "death" take care of itself.
Thus I do not much care if, in the next life, that "gentle way, avoiding harm" will buy me a ticket to heaven and keep me out of hell ... but I know for a fact that it will go far to do so in this life, today, where I see people create all manner of "heavens and hells" for themselves and those around them by their harmful words, thoughts and acts in this life.
And if there is a "heaven and hell" in the next life, or other effects of Karma now ... well, my actions now have effects then too, and might be the ticket to heaven or good rebirth.
In other words, whatever the case ... today, now ... live in a gentle way, avoiding harm to self and others (not two, by the way) ... seeking to avoid harm now and in the future too.
While such explanations of Buddhist Teachings may not speak to you or someone like you, they may speak to me and others who could not begin to accept such Buddhist teachings on faith and face value without skepticism. We can come to encounter the realms of Buddhism beyond/behind/right-in-the-heart of all argument over "true" and "false" ... and the truly magical and miraculous, not only in cheap claims of magic and miracles, but even in the most mundane.
Do I "slander the Buddha"? I cannot begin to conceive of a Buddha who could be slandered!
Zen folks have certainly had a love-hate (beyond all aversions and attractions) relationship with scripture, a finger pointing to the moon. Rinzai, while so often cherishing and teaching from the Sutras (as do I too, for what it is worth) described the twelve divisions of the Buddhist Canon as "nothing better than waste paper to wipe up privy filth. ' A similar iconoclastic statement was made by Rinzai's contemporary, Deshan Xuanjian, who called the Buddhist canon, "the census records of demons and spirits, paper [fit only] for cleaning running sores." (http://www.scribd.com/doc/53147551/Ruth ... d-of-Linji
). Theravadan Buddhists have frequently declared that the Mahayana sutras are the fabrication of heretics or of the Evil One, and not the teachings of the Buddha, while Mahayanists have been quick to characterize both Sutras and Suttas they did not approve of as "lesser", "provisional" or "expedient means". Dogen, a great fan of the Lotus Sutra and other Sutras, was known to "rewrite" the contents to express his own view of Truth, and had this interesting critical dialalogue with his own teacher on the Surangama. He wrote in the Hokyo-ki of a conversation on this with his teacher, Ju-Ching, also not a Surangama fan, calling it "not as skillful as other Mahayana Sutras" (pg 6 and 7 here) ...http://books.google.co.jp/books?id=mHJL ... 22&f=false