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 Simon E. » Tue Apr 02, 2013 3:59 pm

Thank you.


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

Postby Sara H » Tue Apr 02, 2013 11:12 pm

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

Depends on the teacher I suppose, as well as the individual practitioner, organization, and culture.


Jiyu-Kennet had this to say on the subject:

...fear of being laughed at, fear of being
regarded as a publicity-seeker or a crank, fear of what the world
may think may stop a lot of people from writing down, and
being willing to admit to and share, what they do experience.
I personally feel this to be wrong. In a day and age where far
too many people are terrified of death, perhaps far too few are
willing to admit to what they, themselves, have experienced
when brought back from the door of death and far too many are
afraid of what the medical profession and others will say if they
speak of their experiences. If those who have experienced these
things speak out, much fear can be removed, much joy can be
experienced, and much grief prevented.


-From the foreword of How to Grow a Lotus Blossom by Rev. Master P.T.N.H. Jiyu-Kennett, M.O.B.C. copyright 1993
Last edited by Sara H on Tue Apr 02, 2013 11:27 pm, edited 3 times in total.
"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 » Tue Apr 02, 2013 11:20 pm

She also said after giving several examples of how common and normal discussing this was in the east:

I make these comments be-
cause I know that there is a prevalent belief, or there was, certainly,
some years ago when I was in England, that this subject must
never, or should never, be talked about. I do not know from
whence this idea came; I certainly did not find it anywhere in
the east.

-From the foreword of How to Grow a Lotus Blossom by Rev. Master P.T.N.H. Jiyu-Kennett, M.O.B.C. copyright 1993


I would agree with her, regarding both comments.

I think it's more helpful to talk about these things than not, and, if I had to guess, as a theory, I would say the fear of talking about these things comes from a fear of how to reconcile this with western Psychology, along with, and perhaps combined with a fear of all things religion, stemming from possible negative experiences that some people may have had coming out of a Western Judeo-Christian or Abrahamic background. And not wishing to repeat that experience, not realizing that it is different in Zen.

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 Sara H » Wed Apr 03, 2013 1:05 am

Just to add, it may also have something to do with western notions of equality. Some people may feel deeply uncomfortable being reminded that some are further along than others.
"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 dzogchungpa » Wed Apr 03, 2013 2:40 am

Sara H wrote:Just to add, it may also have something to do with western notions of equality. Some people may feel deeply uncomfortable being reminded that some are further along than others.

Or being reminded that some have more "Zen Masters" on their speed dial than others.
ཨོཾ་ཏཱ་རེ་ཏུཏྟ་རེ་ཏུ་རེ་སྭཱཧཱ༔
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby Wayfarer » Wed Apr 03, 2013 3:00 am

As far as 'kensho' is concerned, there are many passages in texts which say that there is nothing to attain and nobody to attain it. Of course this has a particular meaning within the context of Zen Buddhism, where realization of no-self or emptiness is central to the teaching. But my view of it is that when you have insight into emptiness, it is, as they say, the realization of something that has never been absent. (That is the source of much of the mirth you find in books like Zen Flesh Zen Bones. Like slapping yourself on the forehead and going 'd'uh!') But I think this works against the very notion of 'attainment' or 'the master' as 'someone who has attained something'. Even if it is true that one has to explain it in terms of 'attainment', such notions are surely provisional and meant only to provide an incentive to people to get started. I don't think that until you realize that 'there is nothing to attain and nobody to attain it' that you have really started. 'The unnattainable is attained by non-attainment'.
Learn to do good, refrain from evil, purify the mind ~ this is the teaching of the Buddhas
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby Indrajala » Wed Apr 03, 2013 3:16 am

jeeprs wrote:As far as 'kensho' is concerned, there are many passages in texts which say that there is nothing to attain and nobody to attain it.


Isn't it interesting that despite statements about nothing being attained and nobody attaining it, the myth in Zen about a "transmission" from master to disciple, which is used to legitimize and affirm institutional authority, is still widely believed as a firm tenet? In other words, the practitioner has nothing to attain with "body and mind dropping away", yet somehow this realization and the authority it confers by virtue of being recognized by a master holding the title already are held as equally important in the institutional setting of Zen.

You are supposed to drop reifications, yet the mythical narrative about "transmission" is clearly a firm unquestionable tenet that plenty of Zen practitioners, many with years of experience off and on the cushion, insist as very real and quite essential to Zen.
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby Sara H » Wed Apr 03, 2013 3:25 am

dzogchungpa wrote:Or being reminded that some have more "Zen Masters" on their speed dial than others.


Har. Har.

*shrugs*

Do you want me to lie?

I do have their numbers in my phone.

I don't think there's any shame in taking refuge in the Sangha on a regular basis.

It's a basic Buddhist tennant.

Sara
Last edited by Sara H on Wed Apr 03, 2013 3:38 am, edited 2 times in total.
"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 » Wed Apr 03, 2013 3:31 am

Huseng wrote:
jeeprs wrote:As far as 'kensho' is concerned, there are many passages in texts which say that there is nothing to attain and nobody to attain it.


Isn't it interesting that despite statements about nothing being attained and nobody attaining it, the myth in Zen about a "transmission" from master to disciple, which is used to legitimize and affirm institutional authority, is still widely believed as a firm tenet? In other words, the practitioner has nothing to attain with "body and mind dropping away", yet somehow this realization and the authority it confers by virtue of being recognized by a master holding the title already are held as equally important in the institutional setting of Zen.

You are supposed to drop reifications, yet the mythical narrative about "transmission" is clearly a firm unquestionable tenet that plenty of Zen practitioners, many with years of experience off and on the cushion, insist as very real and quite essential to Zen.



I'm dissapointed in you Huseng.

Isn't that a bit like saying Karma and Rebirth don't exist because you havn't experienced them?

Or that tulku's are a myth in Tibetan Buddhism?

I would have expected better from you considering you are so knowledgable and open-minded on so many other subjects.

Perhaps Bodhisatva's are a myth too, and people who have accounted for seeing spirits are just lying?

It's all just a myth and hooey until we experience it for ourselves.

We're going to have to agree to disagree on this one, though that doesnt happen often, I usually agree with you.

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 Indrajala » Wed Apr 03, 2013 4:17 am

Sara H wrote:Isn't that a bit like saying Karma and Rebirth don't exist because you havn't experienced them?


Not at all. We can infer the conventional occurrence of rebirth through various means. It is by virtue of this that we can affirm our intuitive understanding of karma. We likewise can defer to the reliable testimony of the Buddha in such matters. The Buddha did not confer institutional authority unto anyone and it seems the ideal was that the sangha would function as an autonomous democracy. The ultimate religious authority rested in the scriptures, not the individuals.

The transmission of institutional authority is a social construct and should be understood as such, especially when we see countless people nominally "receiving transmission" and behaving in dodgy ways. In Japan, likewise, people "receive transmission" as a means of legitimizing their position as a religious authority or even just as a landed priest.

As I have mentioned elsewhere, Buddhism in India somewhere around or after the collapse of the Guptas (550 CE) developed in a seemingly Brahmanical direction where religious authority was taken out of scripture (or in some cases orthodox doctrine) and placed in the hands of individual masters.

Reliance on a guru became a prerequisite for liberation, but before that time, in general, it was understood that provided an individual realized the purport of the teachings as found in the scriptures, they could become liberated arhats or noble bodhisattvas.

Chan and Zen likewise came to adopt a model of lineage-based authority. This idea of lineage transmission can be justified in various ways, many of which are reasonable, but that does not mean I personally have to accept it just because many other people believe in the myth.

Or that tulku's are a myth in Tibetan Buddhism?


There are plenty of people in Tibetan Buddhism who seriously question the tulku system. If you look at the history of it, you'll see why.

Also keep in mind a "myth" is not necessarily untrue. The meaning of "myth" should be understood like this:

    myth (n.)
    1830, from French Mythe (1818) and directly from Modern Latin mythus, from Greek mythos "speech, thought, story, myth, anything delivered by word of mouth," of unknown origin.

      Myths are "stories about divine beings, generally arranged in a coherent system; they are revered as true and sacred; they are endorsed by rulers and priests; and closely linked to religion. Once this link is broken, and the actors in the story are not regarded as gods but as human heroes, giants or fairies, it is no longer a myth but a folktale. Where the central actor is divine but the story is trivial ... the result is religious legend, not myth." [J. Simpson & S. Roud, "Dictionary of English Folklore," Oxford, 2000, p.254]


http://www.etymonline.com/

When I say "myth" here I mean a sacred narrative that some individuals charge with spiritual power. That doesn't mean it is untrue, but from an alternative perspective it is seen entirely differently.


I would have expected better from you considering you are so knowledgable and open-minded on so many other subjects.


Accusing someone of being close-minded (or "not open-minded") is a convenient albeit poor way of silencing criticism.


Perhaps Bodhisatva's are a myth too, and people who have accounted for seeing spirits are just lying?


The narratives behind the bodhisattva path qualify as myth in most conventional respects. The stories of the Buddha's past lives and the famous bodhisattva figures we all know are sacred stories to Mahāyāna. The reality of supermundane bodhisattvas cannot be readily demonstrated. We defer to canonical authority, intuition and perhaps personal experience to affirm such things. That's the nature of religious thought. We try to quantify and explain the supermundane and transcendental using our coarse language and ideas.
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby Sara H » Wed Apr 03, 2013 4:25 am

Huseng,

Dharma transmission is not an institutional authority.

It's saying one person's teachings have been passed through to the other.

And that that person has enough spiritual experience to teach.

The only thing it "authorizes" is that that person understands the methods and teaching means of that particular linneage, of their Teacher, and that they have enough confirmed experience to try and pass it on to others.

And that that person is an authorized teacher of that linneage.

That's all it's saying.

I'm not sure what meaning you're infering from it more than that, but that's all it is.

It certainly isn't saying that there is only "one true path to Buddhism" or anything like that.

It's just one teacher certifying that their desciple has recieved their teachings.

That's all it's saying.

Sara
Last edited by Sara H on Wed Apr 03, 2013 4:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
"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 Indrajala » Wed Apr 03, 2013 4:28 am

Sara H wrote:Huseng,

Dharma transmission is not an institutional authority.

It's saying one person's teachings have been passed through to the other.

And that that person has enough spiritual experience to teach.

That's all it's saying.


Ideally that would be the case, but it isn't.

I'm not sure what meaning you're infering from it more than that, but that's all it is.

It certainly isn't saying that there is only "one true path to Buddhism" or anything like that.


In Zen it is often understood that liberation requires reliance on a master who will "prompt" awakening in the student using their "excellent means" (妙用).



It's just one teacher certifying that their desciple has recieved their teachings.

That's all it's saying.


You need to read up more on Zen.
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby Sara H » Wed Apr 03, 2013 4:38 am

Huseng wrote:
Sara H wrote:Huseng,

Dharma transmission is not an institutional authority.

It's saying one person's teachings have been passed through to the other.

And that that person has enough spiritual experience to teach.

That's all it's saying.


Ideally that would be the case, but it isn't.


Actually, it is the case Huseng.

Perhaps you should diversify your knowledge and experience od Zen groups?


In Zen it is often understood that liberation requires reliance on a master who will "prompt" awakening in the student using their "excellent means" (妙用).


Teachers do serve to assist in the function of aiding bringing out awakening in their students. And it actually does work.


Many people can attest to that from personal experience.

It is not a requirement to realization though. People can and have had kensho's without the direct aid of a Teacher. I know people personally for whom this is the case.




You need to read up more on Zen.


No, you need to have more understanding of what it actually is.

Perhaps there's been some Zen groups as arrogant as you seem to be implying, but it certainly isn't standard across Zen.

I'm sorry, but that's just not the case.

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 randomseb » Wed Apr 03, 2013 4:59 am

I find it interesting how much some modern zen institutions are in apparent direct opposition with what zen was originally in the time of the great Masters, and that they teach such steadfast holding to views. But then again isn't this usually the case with ancient teachings, in most paths? It seems that way.

:shrug:

Then again I can call my soup a "poodle", but it doesn't mean that it will start barking at me. :juggling:
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby Indrajala » Wed Apr 03, 2013 5:26 am

Sara H wrote:Actually, it is the case Huseng.


Okay, maybe in revisionist English speaking sanghas.
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby Sara H » Wed Apr 03, 2013 6:06 am

Huseng wrote: Okay, maybe in revisionist English speaking sanghas.


"Revisionist" Lol

So what are you saying Professor?

That only Asian Zen is authentic?

That western Zen is "revisionist"?

Ching Chong-Cho!

I'm feeling Chinese already...

Hehehe

Perhaps I should break out my chopsticks...

:)
"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 Indrajala » Wed Apr 03, 2013 6:23 am

Sara H wrote: "Revisionist" Lol

So what are you saying Professor?

That only Asian Zen is authentic?


Not really. Zen in Japan as it came to exist passed through centuries of violent feudal times where hierarchy and respect for the powers that be were paramount. In the present day, it has been heavily influenced by materialism in recent decades and earlier by protestant Christianity.

It seems English speaking Zen is a revised form of all this, tailored to the inclinations and preferences of our liberal contemporaries.
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby Sara H » Wed Apr 03, 2013 6:43 am

Huseng wrote:
Sara H wrote: "Revisionist" Lol

So what are you saying Professor?

That only Asian Zen is authentic?


Not really. Zen in Japan as it came to exist passed through centuries of violent feudal times where hierarchy and respect for the powers that be were paramount. In the present day, it has been heavily influenced by materialism in recent decades and earlier by protestant Christianity.

It seems English speaking Zen is a revised form of all this, tailored to the inclinations and preferences of our liberal contemporaries.


Huseng, Buddhism changes throughout every culture it passes through. This has been true throughout Buddhist history.

That's a normal part of Buddhism, for it to change and adapt to fit the needs of the culture it passes through.

If it stayed the same, we'd all be speaking Pali, monks would be living in the woods without showers, and all they'd eat was rice.

In form and feel things change, but the core of the practice remains the same, the Four Noble Truths, meditation, the Precepts, etc.

It's like water Huseng, it molds itself to fit the container it's in.

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 Sara H » Wed Apr 03, 2013 6:56 am

In this sense, all Buddhism is revisionist. Chinese Buddhism is revisionist of Indian Buddhism, Japanese is of Chinese, Western and American is revisionist of Chinese, and Japanese and Tibetan... Even Indian Buddhism is revisionist of ancient Indian Buddhism.

It's all revised and changed at some point.

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 Indrajala » Wed Apr 03, 2013 7:00 am

Sara H wrote:It's like water Huseng, it molds itself to fit the container it's in.

Sara


Sure, just don't get too contaminated by the present vessel.
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