Cleary on Cultish Zen

Cleary on Cultish Zen

Postby Astus » Thu Feb 28, 2013 9:21 pm

"Foyan’s teachings on meditation, much like those of the ancient masters, are quite different from the obsessive compulsive attitudes inherited by Western Zen cultists from Japanese sectarians automatically following late feudal and neo-imperial models of Zen organization and discipline. Foyan’s teachings were evidently different from those of obsessive cultists of his own time too. Xutang (pronounced Syw-tahng), whose student Jomyo imported Zen to Japan in the thirteenth century, is on record as teaching, "It is essential not to become attached to the form of sitting; when you sit, you should do so in a suitably convenient manner. If you lack inner direction, you will uselessly weary your spirit.” Under the military authoritarian regimes that actually controlled most of the Zen establishments in feudal Japan, this original flexibility tended to give way to extreme disciplinarian rigidity."
(Instant Zen, p. 130)

"The irony in the obscurity of koans is that it derives mainly from linguistic and contextual gaps between sectarian Zen in Korea and Japan on the one hand and comprehensive classical Chinese Zen on the other. Offshoots of Korean and Japanese sects, not understanding the structure of the koans, have tended to make this aspect of Zen into a cult of secrecy, mystery, and/or simple mystification.
Imported to the West, this type of cult has given rise to the new coinage koanophobia, “fear of koans,” evidently on account of their exploitation for bafflement value. Added to the premise of koanic secrets of overwhelming importance held authoritatively by an autocratic potentate and an elite circle, in a cultural environment where self-esteem is considered a central value, the mystery-cult approach to koans has had the effect of intimidating and yet alluring those who are naive or inwardly uncommitted but nevertheless wish to think well of themselves."

(Kensho, p. xi)
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Cleary on Cultish Zen

Postby Jikan » Thu Feb 28, 2013 9:58 pm

:popcorn:
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Re: Cleary on Cultish Zen

Postby dzogchungpa » Thu Feb 28, 2013 11:15 pm

Finally, we return to our regularly scheduled righteous indignation and concern trolling!
:woohoo:
Note that, in the higher tantras, there is talk of a self and an I, even though in the lower teachings the absence of self and the absence of I is what is always proclaimed. - Tony Duff
To educate the educated is notoriously difficult. - Jacques Barzun
སརྦ་དྷརྨ་དྷཱ་ཏུ་ཨཱཏྨ་ཀོ་྅ཧཾ༔
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Re: Cleary on Cultish Zen

Postby uan » Thu Feb 28, 2013 11:36 pm

Astus wrote:"Foyan’s teachings on meditation, much like those of the ancient masters, are quite different from the obsessive compulsive attitudes inherited by Western Zen cultists from Japanese sectarians automatically following late feudal and neo-imperial models of Zen organization and discipline. Foyan’s teachings were evidently different from those of obsessive cultists of his own time too. Xutang (pronounced Syw-tahng), whose student Jomyo imported Zen to Japan in the thirteenth century, is on record as teaching, "It is essential not to become attached to the form of sitting; when you sit, you should do so in a suitably convenient manner. If you lack inner direction, you will uselessly weary your spirit.” Under the military authoritarian regimes that actually controlled most of the Zen establishments in feudal Japan, this original flexibility tended to give way to extreme disciplinarian rigidity."
(Instant Zen, p. 130)

"The irony in the obscurity of koans is that it derives mainly from linguistic and contextual gaps between sectarian Zen in Korea and Japan on the one hand and comprehensive classical Chinese Zen on the other. Offshoots of Korean and Japanese sects, not understanding the structure of the koans, have tended to make this aspect of Zen into a cult of secrecy, mystery, and/or simple mystification.
Imported to the West, this type of cult has given rise to the new coinage koanophobia, “fear of koans,” evidently on account of their exploitation for bafflement value. Added to the premise of koanic secrets of overwhelming importance held authoritatively by an autocratic potentate and an elite circle, in a cultural environment where self-esteem is considered a central value, the mystery-cult approach to koans has had the effect of intimidating and yet alluring those who are naive or inwardly uncommitted but nevertheless wish to think well of themselves."

(Kensho, p. xi)


From TOS http://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=109&t=3591

7. When quoting authors or texts please cite a source.
It is best to copy and paste only a few sentences that are appropriate and then discuss how it is important ...
:ban:


Or perhaps a Haiku would be in order? :rolling:
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Re: Cleary on Cultish Zen

Postby Dan74 » Fri Mar 01, 2013 12:16 am

He did cite the sources.

Concern trolling is a great term, BTW, but I'd be interested to hear from some serious practitioners in response to these.

I sit with a Soto group at Uni where I work. I like the teacher a lot and very happy to be able to participate, but what I still don't get is the worship of zazen. I can see it partly as their attempt to escape the conceit of attainment and the mirage of an external aim, but it still doesn't quite gel.

So I would welcome any comments to either or both of the two points from actual practitioners.
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Re: Cleary on Cultish Zen

Postby dzogchungpa » Fri Mar 01, 2013 12:20 am

Dan74 wrote:Concern trolling is a great term, BTW

Yes, I picked it up from Jikan :smile:
Note that, in the higher tantras, there is talk of a self and an I, even though in the lower teachings the absence of self and the absence of I is what is always proclaimed. - Tony Duff
To educate the educated is notoriously difficult. - Jacques Barzun
སརྦ་དྷརྨ་དྷཱ་ཏུ་ཨཱཏྨ་ཀོ་྅ཧཾ༔
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Re: Cleary on Cultish Zen

Postby Kim O'Hara » Fri Mar 01, 2013 12:30 am

Dan74 wrote:He did cite the sources.

Well, yes - "for a given value of 'cite'," as my computer-geek son would say. :tongue:
I would be happier with - and grateful for - enough detail that I don't have to go gooooogling to find the sources.

:namaste:
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Re: Cleary on Cultish Zen

Postby shel » Fri Mar 01, 2013 12:35 am

A zen teacher gave me a koan once. Something about hearing the temple bell ring before it rings, or something like that. He said I could take it or leave it, and to do it I would have to kind of perform it. He couldn't tell just by looking at me but I'm a rather shy person and often suffer a condition called 'performance anxiety'. Most embarrassing! so I opted out. That's the end of my story as an actual practitioner. :emb:
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Re: Cleary on Cultish Zen

Postby Astus » Fri Mar 01, 2013 12:39 am

The sources were given, they are both Thomas Cleary's books (as the title of the thread suggests) and their titles are also given with the page number. But if anyone wants more, like ISBN or date of publication I can also give that. Or, yes, you can search for it online.

How is it important?

The first quote is about zazen, in the book itself a note to Foyan's poem on sitting meditation. It is relevant to the idea that Zen is to be realised/accomplished/performed in proper sitting posture.

Three examples (not meant to be a critique of the individuals being quoted):

"You should be sitting straight up as if you were supporting the sky with your head. This is not just form or breathing. It expresses the key point of Buddhism. It is a perfect expression of your Buddha nature. If you want true understanding of Buddhism, you should practice this way. These forms are not a means of obtaining the right state of mind. To take this posture itself is the purpose of our practice." (S. Suzuki: Zen Mind, Beginners Mind; p. 26)

"Zazen is a physical practice. To sit in a chair and call it zazen is incorrect." (Brad Warner)

"During zazen, we have satori, we are Buddha, God. Without zazen, we have no such thing. So zazen is the holy posture, the highest. During zazen, the noblest holy mind manifests itself. What is holy in the world? Only the posture of zazen." (Deshimaru: Looking at your Mind)

The second quote is about how koans are viewed incorrectly as irrational and something that only an enlightened being can comprehend.

Quotes about koans:

"a paradox to be meditated upon that is used to train Zen Buddhist monks to abandon ultimate dependence on reason and to force them into gaining sudden intuitive enlightenment" (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

"An important part of kong-an practice is the private exchange between teacher and student wherein the teacher checks the student’s grasp of the point of the kong-an. Kong-ans are probably best known for the unusual, seemingly non-rational quality of their language and dialogues, and are not meant to be studied, analyzed or approached conceptually. The kong-an is an experiential tool that helps us cut through our thinking so that we can just perceive and function clearly." (Kong-An Practice)
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Cleary on Cultish Zen

Postby uan » Fri Mar 01, 2013 1:00 am

Dan74 wrote:He did cite the sources.

Concern trolling is a great term, BTW, but I'd be interested to hear from some serious practitioners in response to these.

I sit with a Soto group at Uni where I work. I like the teacher a lot and very happy to be able to participate, but what I still don't get is the worship of zazen. I can see it partly as their attempt to escape the conceit of attainment and the mirage of an external aim, but it still doesn't quite gel.

So I would welcome any comments to either or both of the two points from actual practitioners.


In the bolded section of the relevant TOS -- "then discuss how it's important".
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Re: Cleary on Cultish Zen

Postby Jikan » Fri Mar 01, 2013 1:01 am

dzogchungpa wrote:Finally, we return to our regularly scheduled righteous indignation and concern trolling!
:woohoo:


<takes a bow>

I'm with Dan74 on this one, particularly the bolded bit.

Dan74 wrote:I'd be interested to hear from some serious practitioners in response to these.

I sit with a Soto group at Uni where I work. I like the teacher a lot and very happy to be able to participate, but what I still don't get is the worship of zazen. I can see it partly as their attempt to escape the conceit of attainment and the mirage of an external aim, but it still doesn't quite gel.

So I would welcome any comments to either or both of the two points from actual practitioners.
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Re: Cleary on Cultish Zen

Postby kirtu » Fri Mar 01, 2013 1:26 am

Dan74 wrote: I like the teacher a lot and very happy to be able to participate, but what I still don't get is the worship of zazen.


Zazen shows you your own Buddhanature directly.
With zazen you can see your Buddhanature.

Kirt
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"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche
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Re: Cleary on Cultish Zen

Postby uan » Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:00 am

Astus wrote:The sources were given, they are both Thomas Cleary's books (as the title of the thread suggests) and their titles are also given with the page number. But if anyone wants more, like ISBN or date of publication I can also give that. Or, yes, you can search for it online.

How is it important?


in case it was missed (which it probably was due to my poor communication skills, I meant my comment to be somewhat humorous (hence the haiku comment), after all, Astus is a Site Admin and knows well the ToS and we don't expect him to :ban: himself :) Or do we? :rolling:
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Re: Cleary on Cultish Zen

Postby Kim O'Hara » Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:06 am

uan wrote:
Astus wrote:The sources were given, they are both Thomas Cleary's books (as the title of the thread suggests) and their titles are also given with the page number. But if anyone wants more, like ISBN or date of publication I can also give that. Or, yes, you can search for it online.

How is it important?


in case it was missed (which it probably was due to my poor communication skills, I meant my comment to be somewhat humorous (hence the haiku comment), after all, Astus is a Site Admin and knows well the ToS and we don't expect him to :ban: himself :) Or do we? :rolling:

uan,
You might have meant to be 'somewhat humorous' but your main point is reasonable.

Astus wrote:The sources were given, they are both Thomas Cleary's books (as the title of the thread suggests) and their titles are also given with the page number. But if anyone wants more, like ISBN or date of publication I can also give that. Or, yes, you can search for it online.

Thanks, Astus,
I didn't know Cleary's first name and I didn't know the titles next to the page numbers were titles of books.
Astus wrote:How is it important?

Because we have (and are entitled to have) different expectations of books than of popular magazine articles or of academic journal articles.
And because we might be inclined to visit the source (if we can) to look at the context.

:namaste:
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Re: Cleary on Cultish Zen

Postby Dan74 » Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:39 am

uan wrote:
Astus wrote:The sources were given, they are both Thomas Cleary's books (as the title of the thread suggests) and their titles are also given with the page number. But if anyone wants more, like ISBN or date of publication I can also give that. Or, yes, you can search for it online.

How is it important?


in case it was missed (which it probably was due to my poor communication skills, I meant my comment to be somewhat humorous (hence the haiku comment), after all, Astus is a Site Admin and knows well the ToS and we don't expect him to :ban: himself :) Or do we? :rolling:


I suspect Astus is perfectly capable of banning himself, if and when it is appropriate. :focus:
kirtu wrote:
Dan74 wrote: I like the teacher a lot and very happy to be able to participate, but what I still don't get is the worship of zazen.


Zazen shows you your own Buddhanature directly.
With zazen you can see your Buddhanature.

Kirt


Does it? I think a survey would reveal that for most masters it happened off the cushion...
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Re: Cleary on Cultish Zen

Postby Astus » Fri Mar 01, 2013 11:17 am

kirtu wrote:Zazen shows you your own Buddhanature directly.
With zazen you can see your Buddhanature.


Although the proper posture is heavily emphasised, even to the level where for instance Nishijima explains the effects of zazen with the nervous system, but it is also acknowledged that "zazen" is not bound to any posture. Obviously, assuming a meditative posture is not restricted to Zen or even to Buddhism, so it could hardly be the direct realisation of anything. Focusing on the body is a simple way to give a focus of the meditation and allow the mind to settle. But that's nothing more than shamatha, a good way to begin practising meditation. On the other hand, the mental attitude is what matters, like what they call mushotoku (無所特), hishiryo (非思量) and shinjin datsuraku (身心脱落), all equal to shikantaza. Of course, those who maintain that Zen is about the correct posture will say these are wrong interpretations.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Cleary on Cultish Zen

Postby Wayfarer » Fri Mar 01, 2013 11:29 am

Dan74 wrote:
I sit with a Soto group at Uni where I work. I like the teacher a lot and very happy to be able to participate, but what I still don't get is the worship of zazen. I can see it partly as their attempt to escape the conceit of attainment and the mirage of an external aim, but it still doesn't quite gel.

So I would welcome any comments to either or both of the two points from actual practitioners.


'Worship of zazen' is a bit strong a term. I have noticed that the idea of 'practice is enlightenment' can itself become a trap, when it subtly becomes a way of affirming one's own sense of being special or different. But I would hope that most sincere practitioners would see through that pretty early.

It all depends on the willingness of the participants to 'own their own nothingness' as it were. Provided they are looking to dharma to fill that sense of nothingness then this trap can occur. This is forgetting 'emptiness of emptiness'.

One of the best sayings I ever read was this one. A student has a breakthrough moment into satori and goes to the teacher in a great state of excitement, asking 'now that I have attained this insight how do I apply it?' To which the teacher replies 'with firm even strokes, allowing several hours to dry between coats'. I have told that story a lot of times, if anyone knows the source, I would love to know.
Last edited by Wayfarer on Fri Mar 01, 2013 11:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Cleary on Cultish Zen

Postby oushi » Fri Mar 01, 2013 11:43 am

Straight posture while sitting prevents from falling asleep, that is why it is used. Some will argue that it helps with the flow of energy. Cool if it does, but it is nothing but sitting.
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Re: Cleary on Cultish Zen

Postby greentara » Fri Mar 01, 2013 12:49 pm

"One of the best sayings I ever read was this one. A student has a breakthrough moment into satori and goes to the teacher in a great state of excitement, asking 'now that I have attained this insight how do I apply it?' To which the teacher replies 'with firm even strokes, allowing several hours to dry between coats'"
Yes allowing the 'glimpse' to ripen and become steady. Upon the smallest taste they want to sit on a pedestal, reachout and teach. Not allowing for quietness and isolation to 'percolate' to be apart, alone is the merest bedrock of what's needed.
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Re: Cleary on Cultish Zen

Postby kirtu » Fri Mar 01, 2013 1:04 pm

Dan74 wrote:
kirtu wrote:
Dan74 wrote: I like the teacher a lot and very happy to be able to participate, but what I still don't get is the worship of zazen.


Zazen shows you your own Buddhanature directly.
With zazen you can see your Buddhanature.

Kirt


Does it? I think a survey would reveal that for most masters it happened off the cushion...


Zazen is not confined to the cushion. Most recorded awakenings occurred off the cushion, that's true. But we use zazen to study the self before we can forget the self and become enlightened by the 10,000 things.

Kirt
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"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche
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