Is Zen Buddhism?

Re: Is Zen Buddhism?

Postby WuMing » Thu Feb 13, 2014 9:46 am

As far as the Four Seals can be found I would say that Zen is very much Buddhism.

jeeprs wrote:A great blog post on this kind of idea. The last line is the kicker.


The photograph at the end of this article is not John Blofeld, but Lama Anagarika Govinda.
今以佛眼觀之佛與眾生同住解脫之床。無此無彼無二平等。
Now, observing with the eye of the Buddha, both the Buddha and ordinary beings are in the same liberated state. There is neither this nor that: there is only non-duality and identity.
- 空海 Kūkai 弘法大師 in Unjigi 吽字義 The Meaning of the Letter Hūṃ
new translation: Kūkai on the Philosophy of Language by Takagi Shingen and Dreitlein Eijō
_______
Our life is very simple, very direct, very beautiful, very vast and very terrifying, but it is not at all convenient.
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Re: Is Zen Buddhism?

Postby Anders » Thu Feb 13, 2014 10:31 am

Jikan wrote:This is an interesting question. A comment was made in another thread...

dzogchungpa wrote:Also, K. D. Lang and, if you include "Zen" Buddhism, Leonard Cohen.


http://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=63&t=15569

that reminded me of the book Buddhism and Zen by Nyogen Senzaki. It's quite an artifact, in that it gives some insight into the very early days of Buddhism in the US--the Mentorgarten scene in San Francisco, with Paul Reps and Sufi Sam Lewis in the mix. In this text, Senzaki takes what you might call a perennialist line: he suggests that Buddhism is a religion, but Zen is the truth of spiritual life independent of any religious tradition (if you're expecting a quotation or two from Meister Eckhardt by now, you won't be disappointed). I assume this was Senzaki's way of trying to reach the Americans he met at the time he met them.

I don't know any contemporary Zen practitioners who would agree with Senzaki on this point. The consensus seems to be that Zen is what it seems to be: a way to practice Buddhism. I also know there are Buddhists outside of any Zen school who would argue that what happens in Zen temples isn't Buddhism at all, but something else. That's why the quoted comment above caught my eye.

So I present this question to the gallery: Is Zen Buddhism? Are Zen practitioners Buddhists?



The quote is true in one zense. At heart, the essence of Zen is

    A special transmission outside the scriptures,
    Not founded upon words and letters;
    Pointing directly to [one's] mind
    Seeing the nature and attaining Buddhahood.

Zen Buddhism, if we want to think of it as a purely authentic entity, is Buddhism brought to life, the heart of living awakening. Without this, Buddhism is 'mere' religion. And once embodied, one no longer need depend on the trappings.

In another zense, Zen is the name for a school of Buddhism, with associated practices and so forth.

In any case, I would propose that whatever way we interpret 'Zen', it goes hand in hand with 'Buddhism'. That is to say, there is little meaning in the standalone word "Zen", since Zen is either living Buddhism, or a school of Buddhism. "Zen Buddhism."

Once we start talking of Zen independently of Buddhism, all bets are off. I suppose some of it might be pointing towards authentic awakening, but who even knows? You've thrown away the frame of reference that defines "Zen", so it could mean anything.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra
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Re: Is Zen Buddhism?

Postby Simon E. » Thu Feb 13, 2014 10:43 am

I think it is very unfortunate ( speaking from a non-Zen but sympatico position ) that so much cyberworld discussion is dominated by jaded commentators who have their own 'zendos' and blogs, but who disparage Buddhadharma at every opportunity because it is 'kool' to do so.
I am sure you know the type I mean. The ones who spend all their time 'noodling'... :coffee:
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Re: Is Zen Buddhism?

Postby Jikan » Thu Feb 13, 2014 1:09 pm

jeeprs wrote:A great blog post on this kind of idea. The last line is the kicker.


I enjoyed this article.

“I see, I see. Bodhidharma entered the shrine-room from the sitting-room. Farmer Wang entered it through the kitchen, but they both arrived at the same place. I see.”

“No,” answered the Zen Master, “you do not see. They didn’t arrive at any place. They just discovered that there is no place for them to reach.”


I'm reminded of the Lotus Sutra's parable of the manure-shoveling son who, after twenty years' hard labor, realizes he hadn't needed to do any of that work at all because he was by right the owner of the manor... but that he'd had to do all that work to come to that realization. After searching and practicing, you realize there's nothing to search for and nothing to practice. (then you practice that)

I bring this up because this Zen teaching is, at least to my understanding, Buddha Dharma.
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Re: Is Zen Buddhism?

Postby seeker242 » Thu Feb 13, 2014 2:06 pm

Is Zen Buddhism? How do Huangbo and Linji answer that question? Isn't Buddhism about cultivation? Didn't they consider gradual cultivation and attainment to be outside of the "true way"?

For example Huangbo says in the The Chung-Ling Record:

"If Dharma students are unable to let go of conditioned mind suddenly, and instead practice in other ways, many kalpas may pass but they still will not have reached Bodhi. Because they are tied down by their thinking of the merits of the Three Vehicles, they do not attain genuine liberation.


Isn't this an admonishment of the "3 vehicles" AKA "Buddhism"?
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Re: Is Zen Buddhism?

Postby kirtu » Thu Feb 13, 2014 2:23 pm

Anders wrote:Once we start talking of Zen independently of Buddhism, all bets are off. I suppose some of it might be pointing towards authentic awakening, but who even knows? You've thrown away the frame of reference that defines "Zen", so it could mean anything.


This then opens one up to Advaita, Sufism and other meditative/contemplative-centric paths as essentially indistinguishable from Zen Buddhism. The two aforementioned paths are in fact high spiritual paths but they are certainly not Zen Buddhism. This mistake has been made by many people.

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Re: Is Zen Buddhism?

Postby kirtu » Thu Feb 13, 2014 2:29 pm

Jikan wrote:that reminded me of the book Buddhism and Zen by Nyogen Senzaki. It's quite an artifact, in that it gives some insight into the very early days of Buddhism in the US--the Mentorgarten scene in San Francisco, with Paul Reps and Sufi Sam Lewis in the mix. In this text, Senzaki takes what you might call a perennialist line: he suggests that Buddhism is a religion, but Zen is the truth of spiritual life independent of any religious tradition (if you're expecting a quotation or two from Meister Eckhardt by now, you won't be disappointed). I assume this was Senzaki's way of trying to reach the Americans he met at the time he met them.

I don't know any contemporary Zen practitioners who would agree with Senzaki on this point.


I have read Zen masters rank the "universal truth" hierarchically with the path of gods and men at the bottom and Zen realization at the top, etc.. Perhaps Senzaki did this too. Actually this is a reasonable presentation and is in concord with other Buddhist presentations on the same topic.

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Re: Is Zen Buddhism?

Postby Anders » Thu Feb 13, 2014 3:22 pm

seeker242 wrote:Is Zen Buddhism? How do Huangbo and Linji answer that question? Isn't Buddhism about cultivation? Didn't they consider gradual cultivation and attainment to be outside of the "true way"?

For example Huangbo says in the The Chung-Ling Record:

"If Dharma students are unable to let go of conditioned mind suddenly, and instead practice in other ways, many kalpas may pass but they still will not have reached Bodhi. Because they are tied down by their thinking of the merits of the Three Vehicles, they do not attain genuine liberation.


Isn't this an admonishment of the "3 vehicles" AKA "Buddhism"?


All Buddhism transcends itself eventually. Cf Simile of the Raft.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra
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Re: Is Zen Buddhism?

Postby Meido » Thu Feb 13, 2014 4:06 pm

seeker242 wrote:"If Dharma students are unable to let go of conditioned mind suddenly, and instead practice in other ways, many kalpas may pass but they still will not have reached Bodhi. Because they are tied down by their thinking of the merits of the Three Vehicles, they do not attain genuine liberation.

Isn't this an admonishment of the "3 vehicles" AKA "Buddhism"?


I take it rather as an admonishment of practitioners who are fixated on vehicles/paths and so practice "in other ways", i.e. without taking awakening itself as the gate and basis of subsequent cultivation. Since Zen defines itself as an expression of the supreme One Vehicle - encompassing the essence of all Buddhist vehicles and paths by directly pointing out one's nature - it does not negate the 3 vehicles, nor does it consider itself bound by them.

~ Meido
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Re: Is Zen Buddhism?

Postby Osho » Sun Mar 16, 2014 12:03 am

Zen is Buddhism.
Buddhism isn't Zen.
More about Mindfulness here
http://bemindful.co.uk/

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(Dogen).
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Re: Is Zen Buddhism?

Postby shel » Sun Mar 16, 2014 3:36 am

Anders wrote:
seeker242 wrote:Is Zen Buddhism? How do Huangbo and Linji answer that question? Isn't Buddhism about cultivation? Didn't they consider gradual cultivation and attainment to be outside of the "true way"?

For example Huangbo says in the The Chung-Ling Record:

"If Dharma students are unable to let go of conditioned mind suddenly, and instead practice in other ways, many kalpas may pass but they still will not have reached Bodhi. Because they are tied down by their thinking of the merits of the Three Vehicles, they do not attain genuine liberation.


Isn't this an admonishment of the "3 vehicles" AKA "Buddhism"?


All Buddhism transcends itself eventually. Cf Simile of the Raft.

How exactly do you know that?
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Re: Is Zen Buddhism?

Postby odysseus » Sun Mar 16, 2014 4:11 am

Jikan wrote:Is Zen Buddhism? Are Zen practitioners Buddhists?


Of course Zen is real Mahayana Buddhism! The definition of Buddhism as a religion comes mostly from western scholars (another debate). If Zen practitioners want to distance themselves from the three jewels, it´s holding wrong view.

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