What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby dearreader » Mon Apr 01, 2013 11:17 pm

Hi Sara H.

You mention that you have Zen Masters on speed dial and if I recall you're a Soto Zen pracitioner. So might I ask which abbot you have on speed dial? The abbot of Eiheiji or Sojiji? Or perhaps it is Itabashi Zenji?

Did you not see Astus' post? I would be interested in reading your response to his quoting of Soto resources.

Also, I asked a few posts back about the term "the Eternal" which appears in your signature file and of which you have cited earlier. Could you please provide the sanskrit or japanese for the term that is being translated as "the Eternal" ?
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All phenomena are encompassed in even a single point therein,
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby randomseb » Mon Apr 01, 2013 11:24 pm

Sara H wrote:Friend, I've had a kensho. And, a great deal of experience afterwards.

I used to live in a monastery, I have Zen Master's who are on my speed dial, that I talk to on a regular basis.

Sara


And you therefore think you are the only one entitled to be the resident expert on everything Zen related. I understand.

May you advance swiftly on the Path, dispelling all hindrances. :namaste:

Q: What are the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha? What are the Three Jewels in One Substance? We beg you, Master, to explain.

A: Mind is the Buddha, and it is needless to use this Buddha to seek the Buddha. Mind is the Dharma, and it is needless to use this Dharma to seek the Dharma. Buddha and Dharma are not separate entities, and their togetherness forms the Sangha. Such is the meaning of the Three Jewels in One Substance.... Our Nature, which is intrinsically pure, does not rely on any practice in order to achieve its own state. Only the arrogant claim that there are practice and realization. The real world is without obstruction and its function is, under all circumstances, inexhaustible. It is without beginning or end. A man of high spirituality is capable of sudden Illumination.

~ Master Hui Hai, The Great Pearl, in A Treatise on the Essential Gateway to Truth by Means of Instantaneous Awakening.


Pay attention to Dogen's cook friend :popcorn:
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby seeker242 » Mon Apr 01, 2013 11:25 pm

Sara H wrote:
seeker242 wrote:Would Layman Pang or Huineng meet all of the above criteria?



Huineng was priest and authorized lineage holder of his line, and by the standards of the day, was a fully recognized "Zen Master" in the sense of how we view the modern usage of the term.



True, but it seems he was a true "zen master" but still did not meet all of the above criteria. For example, he didn't spend years "in training as a novice priest", nor did he spend years "in follow up training with his master". Unless you consider "growing rice" to be "training", then you could probably say he did. :tongue:
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby Sara H » Mon Apr 01, 2013 11:28 pm

randomseb wrote:And you think you are the only one entitled to be the resident expert on everything Zen related, I understand.


Uhh, no I don't actually.

That's why I have people who are more qualified than me who I take refuge in and call on a regular basis.

Might I suggest you do the same?

Rather than talk to me about this, why don't you call an actual Zen Master and talk to them about this.

I'm sure there are plenty who'd be happy to talk with you.
"Life is full of suffering. AND Life is full of the Eternal
IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
OR
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil

" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby Sara H » Mon Apr 01, 2013 11:36 pm

seeker242 wrote:
Sara H wrote:
seeker242 wrote:Would Layman Pang or Huineng meet all of the above criteria?



Huineng was priest and authorized lineage holder of his line, and by the standards of the day, was a fully recognized "Zen Master" in the sense of how we view the modern usage of the term.



True, but it seems he was a true "zen master" but still did not meet all of the above criteria. For example, he didn't spend years "in training as a novice priest", nor did he spend years "in follow up training with his master". Unless you consider "growing rice" to be "training", then you could probably say he did. :tongue:


If you note, I said "there may be variations, from organization to organization."

This also applies to historical context, and what was standard at the time.

I'm talking about the modern usage of the term as it applies to trainees in the descendant lineages of Japanese Buddhism.

Btw, incidentally I would actually consider growing rice to be training. It Soto Zen for instance, "working meditation" is a large part of our practice.

:smile:

Sara
"Life is full of suffering. AND Life is full of the Eternal
IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
OR
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil

" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby Wayfarer » Mon Apr 01, 2013 11:57 pm

This discussion is benefitting me, in large part because it is making me acknowledge that I'm not actually 'zen Buddhist' but just someone who admires it from the outside. I have learned a lot from it, and try and practice 'zazen' just as Zen teaches, but I think it is better to be upfront about it rather than kid myself, as I'm not a member of a Zen dojo and am never likely to be.

I have a few questions about some comments earlier in this thread:

Sara H wrote: It takes years of training after a kensho, to become a Buddha. And yes, it can be done in this lifetime. Though it takes hard work


I have the idea that enlightenment is not the consequence of 'hard work' even though 'hard work' (in the sense of dedication and devotion) is necessary.

But I don't understand it as a cause-and-effect relationship, that meditation is something you do to get the 'result' of 'becoming a Buddha'. I agree that utmost dedication is necessary, but in some ways that is an expression of what is already so, rather than what must become so, if you can see what I mean.

I also have the idea that the person, the individual, who is the Buddha, is in some sense 'extinguished' in the process of enlightenment. (This is an idea that is expressed not only in Buddhism but other faith traditions also.) This is why the Buddha generally refers to himself in the third person, i.e. as 'tathagatha'. So I don't know if there really is a Buddha in that sense. (All this is fraught with paradoxes of course and is just my reflection on some of the themes in the Diamond Sutra.)
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby randomseb » Tue Apr 02, 2013 1:45 am

Sara H wrote:
randomseb wrote:And you think you are the only one entitled to be the resident expert on everything Zen related, I understand.


Uhh, no I don't actually.

That's why I have people who are more qualified than me who I take refuge in and call on a regular basis.



Perhaps you should request teachings about this from said masters, instead of putting forth a "I know everything" wall, thereby blocking and limiting the growth of your practice :namaste:

(And perhaps study and contemplate the teachings of Dogen, the founder of your particular sect :shrug: )
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby Sara H » Tue Apr 02, 2013 3:10 am

jeeprs wrote:This discussion is benefitting me, in large part because it is making me acknowledge that I'm not actually 'zen Buddhist' but just someone who admires it from the outside. I have learned a lot from it, and try and practice 'zazen' just as Zen teaches, but I think it is better to be upfront about it rather than kid myself, as I'm not a member of a Zen dojo and am never likely to be.

I have a few questions about some comments earlier in this thread:

Sara H wrote: It takes years of training after a kensho, to become a Buddha. And yes, it can be done in this lifetime. Though it takes hard work


I have the idea that enlightenment is not the consequence of 'hard work' even though 'hard work' (in the sense of dedication and devotion) is necessary.

But I don't understand it as a cause-and-effect relationship, that meditation is something you do to get the 'result' of 'becoming a Buddha'. I agree that utmost dedication is necessary, but in some ways that is an expression of what is already so, rather than what must become so, if you can see what I mean.

I also have the idea that the person, the individual, who is the Buddha, is in some sense 'extinguished' in the process of enlightenment. (This is an idea that is expressed not only in Buddhism but other faith traditions also.) This is why the Buddha generally refers to himself in the third person, i.e. as 'tathagatha'. So I don't know if there really is a Buddha in that sense. (All this is fraught with paradoxes of course and is just my reflection on some of the themes in the Diamond Sutra.)


I think it depends on what you think of as "hard work". Courage, might be a better way to describe it, the courage to face oneself, and one's deepest fears and deeply held beliefs and ideas. As well as courage to sit through some pretty intense things.

For your second thing, that was actually Dogen's question? Why train if the Buddha Nature is already a part of all beings? Essentially the answer is because Greed, Anger, and Delusion are also something we have, and so to be able to sit still with our Buddha Nature constantly, takes practice, and practice sitting through our own delusions, angers, fears, and greeds. As well as griefs and sadnessess, judgments of ourselves and others, etc.

You'd be surprised how quickly fear and worry can throw you off-center.

Regarding your other thing, the Buddha described "Nirvana" as simply being the absence of greed, anger, and delusion.

In order to be able to meditate in everything we do, requires understanding why we get thrown off-center when certain emotional states arise. In order to do that, requires sitting still through them, even when the most intense, and toughest states arise, so that we can see to the center, to the cause of why we feel those ways in the first place.
And then we can really help those causes in a way that's really helpful and not just be responding or reacting to the emotional states.

The Ten Oxherding Pictures is a really good example of how this process works.

Taming the "self" is like taming a stubborn ox. It can fight you, pull on the rope, drag you down the road, etc, etc.

It takes time and years of training, to tame it, and then to be able to not even need the rope any more because you and the "self" are friends.
And then further to where it doesn't even matter anymore, you are just training.
I've found those pictures to be very helpful to me personally.

Sara
"Life is full of suffering. AND Life is full of the Eternal
IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
OR
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil

" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby Wayfarer » Tue Apr 02, 2013 4:24 am

Thank you for your kind reply.

Even though I am not a member of a Zen centre, I find the Zen teachings very profound and moving.


:namaste:
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby greentara » Tue Apr 02, 2013 5:13 am

Proceed with care as the point is that wherever there is a so-called "Master", there may also be a sado-masochistic hierarchy of power and abuse. Perhaps it's hardwired into the mind set and is an integral part of the game.
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby oushi » Tue Apr 02, 2013 7:53 am

Sara H wrote:It takes time and years of training, to tame it, and then to be able to not even need the rope any more because you and the "self" are friends.

What is the difference between "you" and your "self"?
Sara H wrote:Friend, I've had a kensho.

Please, tell more about it.

When it comes to the "Zen Master" thing.... I wonder why you need to compose the requirements by yourself. If the term is known for centuries, then surly such a list exists.



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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby Astus » Tue Apr 02, 2013 9:17 am

Staying with Soto Zen, I don't see how "kensho" is a relevant concept. There is no enlightenment to be found outside of shikantaza. From the beginning it is enlightenment-practice inseparably. It is enlightenment because no-thought is buddha-mind, and it is practice because one has to familiarise oneself with no-thought. A teacher then is anyone who is more familiar with shikantaza than you, otherwise there is a complex hierarchical structure within the Soto church based mainly on study and practice.
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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."

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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby oushi » Tue Apr 02, 2013 9:51 am

Is there enlightenment to be found inside shikantaza?
Astus wrote:It is enlightenment because no-thought is buddha-mind, and it is practice because one has to familiarise oneself with no-thought.

I call it the Pavlov's Zen, because humans can familiarize with anything present for long enough. There is another "mechanism" present in the Zen, that is shared with all other Buddhism branches. Without it, shikantaza is really stubborn and futile work, that is full of pain indeed.
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby randomseb » Tue Apr 02, 2013 12:28 pm

greentara wrote:Proceed with care as the point is that wherever there is a so-called "Master", there may also be a sado-masochistic hierarchy of power and abuse. Perhaps it's hardwired into the mind set and is an integral part of the game.


This is something to keep in mind. A realized being doesn't generally feel a need to elevate themselves with one or many of the "eight worldly concerns", which would lead to ego-building/clinging and as the Buddha teachings mention, such a being does not give rise to "the idea of an ego-entity, a personality, a being, or a separated individuality" (Diamond Sutra)

:namaste:

The Way is not something which can be studied. Study leads to the retention of concepts and so the Way is entirely misunderstood. Moreover, the Way is not something specially existing; it is called the Mahayana Mind – Mind which is not to be found inside, outside, or in the middle. Truly it is not located anywhere. The first step is to refrain from knowledge-based concepts

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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby Simon E. » Tue Apr 02, 2013 1:24 pm

kirtu wrote:
MalaBeads wrote:In my use of terminology, you are describing a zen teacher or zen lineage holder, not a zen master. In the mathematical language of subsets, all zen masters are zen teachers (by default) but not all zen teachers are zen masters.


Actually there are some Zen masters who are not Zen teachers so they are different sets (Anne Aitken is an example and there have been others).

Kirt

I would still be interested in your own amplification of your post Kirt.

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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby Jikan » Tue Apr 02, 2013 1:42 pm

Is it conventional to discuss kensho in public?
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby Astus » Tue Apr 02, 2013 2:05 pm

Jikan wrote:Is it conventional to discuss kensho in public?


Depends on who you ask and what kensho you mean. :)
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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: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby Jikan » Tue Apr 02, 2013 2:22 pm

Thanks. I once saw someone get a harsh scolding for it elsewhere, so I wasn't sure what whether or how was acceptable public discourse on the topic.

I have reason to suspect that most participants on this board (at least the ones whose posts I have read) have also had some kind of kensho experience, regardless of tradition. But I digress.

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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby kirtu » Tue Apr 02, 2013 3:36 pm

Jikan wrote:Is it conventional to discuss kensho in public?


Yasutani Roshi stressed attaining kensho during sesshin. Later all teachers from his lineage stepped away from that so even the word "kensho" isn't really mentioned. However "satori" and "enlightenment" is still on everyone's lips (or often to be heard). To be fair, teachers do indeed explain that a glimpse of enlightenment is not enlightenment (this is even chanted in the "Identity of Relative and Absolute" - "to encounter the absolute is not yet enlightenment"). But one still reads of kensho not infrequently ("The Three Pillars of Zen").

Much of informally reported kensho is delusion. However many people have real kensho. As Sarah noted, kensho is only the first step.

Zen teachers are likely to slap you down in interviews if you bring it up though or to continue the interview by following it. One teacher flat out said publicly most people had had an enlightenment experience at one time or another - it was why they started practicing. Another teacher in another lineage said almost the same thing but teased out his teaching and warned people to not get stuck (" ...basically we throw everything away").

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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby kirtu » Tue Apr 02, 2013 3:51 pm

Simon E. wrote:
kirtu wrote:
MalaBeads wrote:In my use of terminology, you are describing a zen teacher or zen lineage holder, not a zen master. In the mathematical language of subsets, all zen masters are zen teachers (by default) but not all zen teachers are zen masters.


Actually there are some Zen masters who are not Zen teachers so they are different sets (Anne Aitken is an example and there have been others).

Kirt

I would still be interested in your own amplification of your post Kirt.


My references may not fit other people's views of Zen masters: there are people how are lineage holders but who have declined to teach, at least formally. This is a notation found in Dr. Matthew Ciolek's Zen lineage charts. Also it was commented on when I was studying Zen in conversation over tea.

However, reexamining the chart - and looking up my specific example - Anne Aitken - it says " Upon formal completion of her studies with Yamada Roshi she declined to be a teacher, and did not receive Yamada's transmission." So my objection may not have merit.

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