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.
"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,
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil
" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy