Does Zen have ethics?

Re: Does Zen have ethics?

Postby shaunc » Sat Aug 17, 2013 2:39 am

It is my understanding that thich nat hanh is a Zen monk, the 14 precepts his followers are expected to follow are most certainly ethical.
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Re: Does Zen have ethics?

Postby sukhamanveti » Sat Aug 17, 2013 5:06 am

I know only a little about the Japanese forms of Zen, but the Chinese tradition out of which it arose, Ch'an, has had an ethical dimension from the beginning. If you look at the earliest Ch'an text, Erh-ju ssu-hsing-lun ("Treatise on the Two Entrances and Four Practices"), which is the only one that most scholars agree can be accurately attributed to Bodhidharma, you find that two out of four of the practices explained therein involve an ethical perspective. The first practice, accepting adversity, involves accepting that "this suffering is the ripening of bad karma-fruits of the faults of my past lives" (trans. Jeffrey L. Broughton) or "I am reaping the karmic consequences of past transgressions" (trans. Chung Tai Translation Committee). The fourth practice, the practice of according with the Dharma or the intrinsic purity of emptiness, includes practicing the six perfections (among them, giving and moral discipline) while seeing that (ultimately) nothing is practiced. (Incidentally, Bodhidharma quotes from the sutras thrice in the Two Entrances.)

Ch'an Buddhists have a form of the Five Precepts of the Laity. They have the bodhisattva precepts of the beautiful Brahma Net Sutra, which are seen as the "original source of all Buddhas and the essential rule for realizing Buddhahood" (Venerable Master Hsuan Hua). These bodhisattva precepts require giving to the poor, caring for the sick, and rescuing and protecting other creatures. They prohibit all forms of violence, killing, enslavement, profiting from exploitation, "licentious acts," and dishonesty.

Ch'an teachers tend to have a reputation for high ethical standards and strict observance of precepts. Venerable Master Heng Sure is extremely ethical and incredibly self-disciplined, as was Hsu Yun. I'm aware of only one scandal involving a Ch'an teacher and that was relatively minor. He was believed to have told a story about himself that wasn't true.
namo bhagavate śākyamunaye tathāgatāyārhate samyaksaṁbuddhāya | namaḥ sarvabuddhabodhisattvebhyaḥ ||

"Bodhisattva-mahāsattvas love all beings in the world equally, as if each were their only child..." Buddhāvataṃsakamahāvaipulya Sūtra
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Re: Does Zen have ethics?

Postby oushi » Sat Aug 17, 2013 8:00 am

Bodhidharma in Bloodstream Sermon wrote:All practices are impermanent. Unless they see their nature people who claim to have attained unexcelled, complete enlightenment" are liars. Among Shakyamuni’s ten greatest disciples, Ananda was foremost in learning. But he didn’t know the Buddha. All he did was study and memorize. Arhats don’t know the Buddha. All they know are so many practices for realization, and they become trapped by cause and effect. Such is a mortal’s karma: no escape from birth and death. By doing the opposite of what lie intended, Such people blaspheme the Buddha. Killing them would not be wrong. The sutras say, "Since icchantikas are incapable of belief, killing them would be blameless, whereas people who believe reach the state of Buddhahood."
[..]
Buddhas don’t recite sutras." Buddhas don’t keep precepts." And Buddhas don’t break precepts. Buddhas don’t keep or break anything. Buddhas don’t do good or evil.
[...]
Your real body is basically pure. It can’t be corrupted. Your real body has no sensation, no hunger or thirst’, no warmth or cold, no sickness, no love or attachment, no pleasure or pain, no good or bad, no shortness or length, no weakness or strength.
[...]According to the Sutras, evil deeds result in hardships and good deeds result in blessings. Angry people go to hell and happy people go to heaven. But once you know that the nature of anger and joy is empty and you let them go, you free yourself from karma.
[...]
But once you see your nature, you’re a Buddha even if you work as a butcher.
But butchers create karma by slaughtering animals. How can they be Buddhas?
I only talk about seeing your nature. I don’t talk about creating karma. Regardless of what we do, our karma has no hold on us.
[..]
Mortals who don’t understand true practice and blindly perform good deeds are born into the three higher states of existence within the three realms. And what are these three higher states? Those who blindly perform the ten good deeds and foolishly seek happiness are born as gods in the realm of desire. Those who blindly observe the five precepts and foolishly indulge in love and hate are born as men in the realm of anger, And those who blindly cling to the phenomenal
world, believe in false doctrines, and pray for blessings are born as demons in the realm of delusion. These are the three higher states of existence.
[..]
But once he sees his nature, all doubts vanish. Even a butcher’s karma has no effect on such a person. In India the twenty-seven patriarchs only transmitted the imprint of the mind.


And more...

But:
Bodhidharma wrote:Unless you see your nature, You shouldn’t go around criticizing the goodness of others. There’s no advantage in deceiving yourself. Good and bad are distinct.


There is also a lot about practicing morality, with the explanation what morality is:
Bodhidharma wrote:Cultivating the paramitas means purifying the six senses by overcoming the six thieves. Casting out the thief of the eye by abandoning the visual world is charity. Keeping out the thief of the ear by not listening to sound is morality. Humbling the thief of the nose by equating smells as neutral is patience. Controlling the thief of the mouth by conquering desires to taste, praise, and explain is devotion. Quelling the thief of the body by remaining unmoved by sensations of touch is meditation. And taming the thief of the mind by not yielding to delusions but practicing wakefulness is wisdom, These six paramitas are transports. Like boats or rafts, they transport beings to the other shore.

With time, those teachings melted down, and the special meaning was exchanged with the common one.

Good actions lead to good karma, but not Buddhahood. Buddhahood is freedom from any karma, good or bad. Focusing on good actions can be a distractor.
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Re: Does Zen have ethics?

Postby Astus » Sat Aug 17, 2013 12:39 pm

shel wrote:According to Bodhidharma (first Chinese patriarch) Zen follows a "special transmission outside scriptures" which "did not stand upon words". Does not stand upon words, Astus. But perhaps you know better than Bodhidharma.

Incidentally, Bodhidharma is credited with the physical training of the Shaolin monks


Both are later additions to the legend of Bodhidharma (attribution of the four-line slogan to Bodhidharma: 11th century (The Koan: Texts and Contexts, p 79); kungfu and Shaolin temple: 13th century; martial art book by Bodhidharma: 1642 (Seeing through Zen, p 26)). However, Zen existed within a strictly monastic environment from the very beginning, and they emphasised the upholding of precepts early on (Mario Poceski: Guishan jingce (Guishan’s Admonitions) and the Ethical Foundations of Chan Practice in "Zen Classics", p 15f).

In fact they ARE the tradition. They are the "special transmission outside the scriptures."


No. First of all, Buddhism is not a single centralised institution, nor is Zen. One person is not a representative of everyone else, and certainly not the entire tradition. Possessing a certificate of transmission only means that the one person who gave that believes that man worthy of it. But it is not a validation of a central examination. You are using the concept of collective responsibility, however, such a thing does not exist in Buddhism.

I've shown that in effect the "special transmission outside the scriptures" doesn't need to have a conscience. Indeed, some in Zen go so far as to suggest that overriding conscience is necessary, or even indispensable.


You have shown that there are a few people how intentionally distort specific teachings to back up their immoral actions. This is nothing new, as some have misinterpreted the teachings like no-self and emptiness in the same way, but at the same time such perversities were regularly refuted by outstanding masters, starting with the Buddha himself. Per definition a bodhisattva must have great compassion. Without compassion there are no bodhisattvas, therefore no Zen practitioners.

Three books on Zen and ethics by current Zen teachers:

Image Image Image
"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)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“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; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Does Zen have ethics?

Postby Luke » Sat Aug 17, 2013 1:21 pm

Astus wrote:Sure it does. Japanese take the bodhisattva precepts, in other countries they take all the usual Buddhist precepts.

Right, but how much importance do they place on them? The first few pages of any modern Zen book never is "Be sure to follow them Bodhisattva precepts, boys and girls!" lol I guess there is also the question of how much Zen books reflect actual Zen practice, as opposed to just what sounds exotic and what sells.

I haven't yet had the opportunity to meet a Zen teacher in real life yet, but I am curious about these issues.

Astus wrote:Dogen wrote extensively on regulations

But weren't most of his regulations morally neutral stuff like how to prepare soup with perfect concentration without wasting any ingredients?

Astus wrote:in modern Rinzai meditation on the bodhisattva precepts is the final and highest stage of koan practice.

That's interesting. Can you provide a link about this, please?

Astus wrote:Also, Chan traditionally has an extra set of precepts for monastics called the Pure Regulations that is attributed to Baizhang.

Can you provide a link about this, please?
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Re: Does Zen have ethics?

Postby Luke » Sat Aug 17, 2013 1:59 pm

Luke wrote:Zen Buddhists often talk about "just sitting," "just eating, " etc., but from the Zen point of view, what makes these any different from "just stealing," "just killing," etc.?

This question of mine still hasn't really been addressed. How do these "mushin" ("no-mind") types of concepts imply any morality?

Now here is a pretty typical video of an interview with a Zen cook.
http://global.sotozen-net.or.jp/eng/pra ... okayu.html

His main points seem to be:
1) When he cooks, he faces himself deeply, just like he does when he's doing seated zazen.
2) "Because we receive the precious lives of the ingredients, there should be as little waste as possible."
3) Feeling gratitude for the food provided.

It should be noted that the meal this Zen cook prepares is vegetarian and he seems like a really nice guy, but for the sake of a thought experiment, I will describe a different, hypothetical situation.

Imagine for a moment that a cannibal faced himself deeply as in meditation while preparing a meal of human flesh and he wasted very few pieces of the humans he prepared and he felt a lot of gratitude for the humans he ate--and he put his food into beautiful little Japanese bowls on a beautiful Japanese tray: Would he not have fulfilled the same requirements as the Zen cook did in the video above?
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Re: Does Zen have ethics?

Postby Astus » Sat Aug 17, 2013 2:08 pm

Luke wrote:Right, but how much importance do they place on them?


One should not forget that there is a big difference between modern Western Zen and Zen in East Asian countries, especially before the 20th century. Zen was the philosophy of elite monastics and higher class laity. For older monastics you don't need to preach about the precepts, and enthusiastic aristocrats were also familiar with them. Also, there's a strong connection between the transmission of precepts and the transmission of Zen, as summed up here: Precepts and lineage in Chan tradition. For instance, Heze Shenhui - the first propagator of radical sudden enlightenment and the so called southern school - made a career of giving bodhisattva and monastic precepts. The famous Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch bears in its title that it is taught from the "ordination platform", and its central chapter is about precepts and repentance practice.

I guess there is also the question of how much Zen books reflect actual Zen practice, as opposed to just what sells.


Exactly.

But weren't most of his regulations morally neutral stuff like how to prepare soup with perfect concentration without wasting any ingredients?


The Eihei Shingi of Dogen contains various regulations. They are about monastic organisation. It also has rules against for instance bringing weapons, meat, secular books, musical instruments, etc. into the study hall. It regulates how unruly monks should be handled, managing financial matters, etc. The Shobogenzo contains writings on the 16 precepts and other ethical issues. Since becoming a monk includes taking the precepts, and Zen practice contains the bodhisattva vows, the essential ethical teachings are unavoidable and they are the backbone of the entire training.

Can you provide a link about this, please?


There are books discussing it briefly, like "The Zen Koan" of Miura & Sasaki that describe Rinzai training. As for Baizhang's rules, you can download it from the BDK site: PDF, and there's also Ven. Yifa's book "The Origins of Buddhist Monastic Codes in China".
"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)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“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; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Does Zen have ethics?

Postby oushi » Sat Aug 17, 2013 2:13 pm

Luke wrote:How do these "mushin" ("no-mind") types of concepts imply any morality?

They do not. Do you really think that Buddha is something that needs a moral guidelines? That there is something that shapes Buddhahood, by limiting it through conscience?
Such thinking would only create dualities, while Zen is all about transcending dualities. No-mind is absolute morality without thinking about morality even for a second. Like Bodhidharma said, not thinking about anything is Zen. And this Zen is mystery beyond concepts. Unfortunately it is not something you can take and give to people at the first meeting, so they give morality, as there is never too much of it.
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Re: Does Zen have ethics?

Postby Astus » Sat Aug 17, 2013 2:20 pm

Luke wrote:This question of mine still hasn't really been addressed. How do these "mushin" ("no-mind") types of concepts imply any morality?


The Diamond Sutra explains it very well, how a bodhisattva should practice charity and save all beings without forming the concept of self, person, life-span or sentient being. That is no-mind practice.

Dogen starts the Jukai chapter in Shobogenzo (tr. Nearman) this way:

"All Buddhas in the three temporal worlds—past, present, and future—affirm that to leave home life behind is to realize the Truth. The twenty-eight Indian Ancestors and the six Chinese Ancestors, all of whom Transmitted the Buddha’s Mind seal,* were, each and every one of them, monastics. Most likely, it was because they strictly observed the monastic regulations that they were able to become outstanding models for those in the three worlds of desire, form, and beyond form. Thus, in practicing meditation and inquiring of the Way with their Master, they made the Precepts and the monastic regulations foremost. Had they not distanced themselves from their faults and guarded against misdeeds, how could they have realized Buddhahood and become Ancestors?"
"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)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“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; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Does Zen have ethics?

Postby dyanaprajna2011 » Sat Aug 17, 2013 3:39 pm

I asked a question awhile back that sort of ties in with this one, here: viewtopic.php?f=69&t=13096

Here's some quotes from that thread:

Dogen wrote:When great compassion is deep within you, and your wish to spiritually aid sentient beings everywhere is well seasoned, there are no such obstructions.


Dogen wrote:Keep in mind that kindly speech arises from a loving heart, and a loving heart makes compassion its seed. You should explore the idea that kindly speech can have the power to turn the very heavens around, and it is not merely a matter of praising someone’s abilities.


Dogen wrote:Based on this, what is inherent in leaving home life behind is having compassion for all living beings as if they were one’s own offspring. This means not giving rise to evil acts, and our body and speech being in mutual accord.


Dogen wrote:There is a very easy way to be a Buddha: Do not do any evil. Do not try to cling to life and death but, with deep compassion, work for all beings. Respect your elders and sympathize with those younger. When you do neither deny things nor seek them or think and worry about them - then you are called a buddha. Don't look for anything else.


Keizan wrote:Remain always compassionate, and dedicate the limitless virtue of zazen to all living beings. Do not be arrogant; do not be proud of yourself and of your understanding of dharma. Being arrogant is the way of outsiders and ignorant people.


(Thanks to Astus for these)

(Thanks to Meido for this next one)

The strength of the vow [to practice] is founded on Great Compassion. Those who seek from selfish motives only attain to a shallow insight. A merchant, for example, striving for his own security, will be satisfied with but a small profit, and be proud of it. But he who wants to give everything cannot be satisfied with small gains. For this reason, the first of the Four Great Vows is to assist sentient beings. To see into one's true nature, to cut off the root of the afflicting passions, to learn all the Dharma-gates [teachings], to practise the way of the Bodhisattva and fully to ripen Compassion and Wisdom - this is the Buddha's Way. Truly, truly, Great Compassion is the origin and foundation of becoming Buddha.

When closely observing sentient beings, it appears that they always throw away the origin and chase after end-states; thus, much attached to all kinds of karma-producing activities, dying here and being born there, they revolve through the various stages of the Wheel of Becoming. The Five Signs of Decay of heavenly beings, the Eight Hardships of men, the states of hungry ghosts and of animals, the excruciating pains of the hells - just try with all your might to imagine these and feel them in your own heart.

Again, life after life, all sentient beings become fathers and mothers, are brothers and sisters, world after world. Considering this today, what a great debt of love we owe to each other! Reflecting on this, Great Compassion is bound to arise in the heart.
...
To state it concisely: by the power of the vow of Great Compassion all karmic obstacles disappear and all merit and virtue/strength are completed. No principle remains obscure, all ways are walked by it, no wisdom remains unattained, no virtue incomplete
...
The first requirement for trainees, therefore, is to let go of "I" and not to cling to their own advantage.

- Torei Enji, Shumon Mujintoron
"If you want to travel the Way of Buddhas and Zen masters, then expect nothing, seek nothing, and grasp nothing." -Dogen
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Re: Does Zen have ethics?

Postby shel » Sat Aug 17, 2013 8:42 pm

Astus wrote:Zen existed within a strictly monastic environment from the very beginning, and they emphasised the upholding of precepts early on

Okay?

Astus wrote:One person is not a representative of everyone else, and certainly not the entire tradition.

How many times must it be explained that we're not talking about one person? Even in the Shimano case it involved the whole sangha. Do you think that no one knew what was going on? Read the archive.

In the case of Maezumi Roshi, it's said that the senior students looked forward to the 'drunken master's' crazy wisdom when he imbibed. So much for their compassion in regard to his alcoholism.

Sure there may be Zen temples that are better at upholding the precepts than others, but there doesn't have to be. That it's not essential is the point.

You are using the concept of collective responsibility, however, such a thing does not exist in Buddhism.

Maybe you don't but I feel a sense of responsibility for my fellows. That's because I have a conscience.

Without compassion there are no bodhisattvas, therefore no Zen practitioners.

Simply disown the bad apples, aye? How ethical is that?
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Re: Does Zen have ethics?

Postby sukhamanveti » Sun Aug 18, 2013 7:59 am

Hi, oushi.

If you want to read the earliest Ch'an interpretation of the six paramitas, it is in the text just before the one you quoted in Red Pine's The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma. This is the one often referred to as "The Two Entrances" or "The Treatise on the Two Entrances and Four Practices," the text I was quoting above. Red Pine calls it "Outline of Practice." This text was known to Hui-k'o, the successor to Bodhidharma. Perhaps out of recognition that it is almost universally regarded as the oldest Ch'an text, Red Pine places it first in his collection.

Decades of scholars, both Western and Japanese, have "come to the consensus that only this text can be attributed to Bodhidharma." (Jeffrey L. Broughton, The Bodhidharma Anthology: The Earliest Records of Zen) I realize that Red Pine disagrees, siding with a tradition of attribution lasting "more than 1,200 years." He believes that all texts traditionally attributed to Bodhidharma are the Master's (although he only includes four out of the traditional ten in his book).

This is how the Six Paramitas are explained within the context of according with emptiness in the first Ch'an text (as translated by the Chung Tai Translation Committee) :

"There is no parsimony in the Dharma, so practice the giving of body, life, and possessions without any reservation. Understand and achieve “triple emptiness” [i.e., seeing that giver, gift, and recipient are empty], with no reliance and no attachment. One liberates others without becoming attached to form, thus removing impurities. This benefits oneself, benefits others, and also glorifies the bodhi path. Dana [i.e., giving] is perfected this way; so are the other five paramitas. In order to relinquish delusions, one practices these six perfections, yet nothing is practiced. This is to act in accordance with the Dharma."

This is a traditional explanation of the perfection of giving. Bodhidharma says, "Dana is perfected this way; so are the other five paramitas." He is clearly speaking of the paramitas literally here. (If you want to consult Red Pine's translation of this, read the last paragraph of "Outline of Practice.") Therefore, the perfection of moral discipline was acknowledged as a legitimate Ch'an practice by Bodhidharma. The "special meaning" of the paramitas in the much later "Bloodstream Sermon, is a later development, not the earliest teaching.

You say, "Good actions lead to good karma, but not Buddhahood." You'll get no argument from me here. This is universally acknowledged in Buddhism. What Buddhist teachers generally teach, and what Hsuan Hua was getting at in the quote above, is that observing precepts is a foundation of practice, that it makes proper meditation possible. This appears to have been a teaching of the historical Buddha. It is one that can be found in the early scriptures and in Mahayana. To what extent the real Bodhidharma actually agreed with this is unclear to me at the moment, but it is certainly a widely accepted view in Ch'an. In the Shurangama Sutra, an important text for Ch'an Buddhism, the idea is expressed this way: "you have often heard me speak of the three essential elements of spiritual practice: precepts, which require us to guard and focus the mind; samadhi, which arises from following precepts; and wisdom, which appears out of samadhi. These are the three practices that end outflows." (trans. Buddhist Text Translation Society)

I'm going on vacation starting Sunday morning (in about twelve hours) and I'll be out of town for a week, so I'm not sure how soon I'll be able to reply to your reply, although I will have a computer with me.

Best regards.
namo bhagavate śākyamunaye tathāgatāyārhate samyaksaṁbuddhāya | namaḥ sarvabuddhabodhisattvebhyaḥ ||

"Bodhisattva-mahāsattvas love all beings in the world equally, as if each were their only child..." Buddhāvataṃsakamahāvaipulya Sūtra
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Re: Does Zen have ethics?

Postby oushi » Sun Aug 18, 2013 8:56 am

I see no inconsistency in Red pine translation, and I have no problem acknowledging teaching presented in this translation. They may sound shocking at first, but on "a deeper level" it makes perfect sense. Bodhidharma does not really bother about morality, as it creates dualistic views on reality. He is talking about seeing The Nature.
We can limit to The Outline of Practine:
"Third, seeking nothing. People of this world are deluded. They’re always longing for something-always, in a word, seeking. But the wise wake up. They choose reason over custom. They fix their minds on the sublime and let their bodies change with the seasons. All phenomena are empty. They contain nothing worth desiring. Calamity forever alternates with Prosperity! To dwell in the three realms is to dwell in a burning house. To have a body is to suffer. Does anyone with a body know peace? Those who understand this detach themselves from all that exists and stop Imagining or seeking anything. The sutras say, "To seek is to suffer.To seek nothing is bliss."

From this teaching we can see that seeking after morality will create suffering. Buddha said the same about holy-life search.

It is not a green light for wrongdoing. Not at all. It is transcending both good and evil. If you focus on evil, you will "fall into hell of endless darkness", if you focus on good, you will be reborn in god realm. Because deluded mind cannot trust its judgments, practice should be focused on seeing nature, because on seeing nature karma will fall off. This is Zen.

Happy vacations.
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Re: Does Zen have ethics?

Postby Luke » Sun Aug 18, 2013 9:15 am

Thanks for the great replies so far, everyone! :namaste:

Astus wrote:
Luke wrote:This question of mine still hasn't really been addressed. How do these "mushin" ("no-mind") types of concepts imply any morality?


The Diamond Sutra explains it very well, how a bodhisattva should practice charity and save all beings without forming the concept of self, person, life-span or sentient being. That is no-mind practice.

Okay, but it still doesn't directly say that practicing evil actions without forming the concept of self, person, life-span or sentient being is the wrong way to go or is not Zen. I'm looking for a quote that clearly rejects this mistaken idea.

Or getting historical, were there any Zen masters in medieval Japan who were harsh critics of the samurai instead of being samurai apologists?
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Re: Does Zen have ethics?

Postby Meido » Sun Aug 18, 2013 11:56 am

Luke wrote:Okay, but it still doesn't directly say that practicing evil actions without forming the concept of self, person, life-span or sentient being is the wrong way to go or is not Zen. I'm looking for a quote that clearly rejects this mistaken idea.

Or getting historical, were there any Zen masters in medieval Japan who were harsh critics of the samurai instead of being samurai apologists?


Sure, start with "Hyakujo and the Fox."

Historically, I am not sure what you mean by 'samurai apologists'. Example?

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Re: Does Zen have ethics?

Postby seeker242 » Sun Aug 18, 2013 1:40 pm

Luke wrote:Zen can often sound very amoral with all its celebration of performing different actions with total concentration.

Zen Buddhists often talk about "just sitting," "just eating, " etc., but from the Zen point of view, what makes these any different from "just stealing," "just killing," etc.?

I'm aware that Zen Buddhists aren't emotionless psychopaths, but I would just like to see some Zen quotes that prove that Zen has some sense of ethics, because this often isn't obvious to people who first encounter it.



The Ten grave precepts and the 6 paramitas. All Buddhist traditions have precepts to follow. Although, a Buddha does not need to "follow precepts" as following precepts is his naturally occurring behavior. Like breathing, no one needs to tell you to keep breathing. Likewise, no one needs to tell a buddha to not lie. That is why Bodhidharma says "A Buddha does not follow precepts but he does not break them" :smile:
One should not kill any living being, nor cause it to be killed, nor should one incite any other to kill. Do never injure any being, whether strong or weak, in this entire universe!
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Re: Does Zen have ethics?

Postby Astus » Sun Aug 18, 2013 6:26 pm

Luke wrote:Okay, but it still doesn't directly say that practicing evil actions without forming the concept of self, person, life-span or sentient being is the wrong way to go or is not Zen. I'm looking for a quote that clearly rejects this mistaken idea.

Or getting historical, were there any Zen masters in medieval Japan who were harsh critics of the samurai instead of being samurai apologists?


The Diamond Sutra speaks about what is to be practised by a bodhisattva. It doesn't go into avoiding evil actions but only talks about good actions. Texts that talk about avoiding evil are first of all found in the Vinaya collection, and that is part of every Buddhist canon. The Zen tradition kept the Vinaya, therefore it is part of it. Only the Japanese tradition dumped the complete Vinaya but it kept the Brahma Net Sutra that teaches the bodhisattva precepts.

Master Xuyun in explaining the prerequisites of Chan training gives first the firm belief in karma and the observance of discipline:

"Whoever One may be, especially if striving to perform one's religious duty, one should believe firmly in the law of causality. If one lacks this belief and does whatever one likes, not only will one fail in the performance of religious duty, but also there will be no escape from this law (of causality) even in the three unhappy ways."

"In striving to perform one's religious duty, the first thing is to observe the rules of discipline. For discipline is the fundamental of the Supreme Bodhi; discipline begets immutability and immutability begets wisdom. There is no such thing as self-cultivation without observance of the rules of discipline."

Or if we want to go back in time, a 1000 years earlier Baizhang Huihai says at the beginning of his recorded sayings that for the uninstructed beginners one has to first teach about precepts and renunciation, but for those who have renounced the world should teach about the mind.

The very first mistake some people make is to think that Zen is somewhat outside of Buddhism. Zen is a Mahayana tradition that doesn't teach anything different from what the Buddha said. Zen doesn't have any separate ethics from what is already in the canonical texts.
"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)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“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; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Does Zen have ethics?

Postby shel » Sun Aug 18, 2013 7:02 pm

Meido wrote:
Luke wrote:Okay, but it still doesn't directly say that practicing evil actions without forming the concept of self, person, life-span or sentient being is the wrong way to go or is not Zen. I'm looking for a quote that clearly rejects this mistaken idea.

Or getting historical, were there any Zen masters in medieval Japan who were harsh critics of the samurai instead of being samurai apologists?


Sure, start with "Hyakujo and the Fox."

You offer a koan?

Legends work in Zen because it's not proper to question authority. Unfortunately this also has the effect of letting abuses go uncheck. In truth, it's not possible to deny causality, and this makes a very poor excuse. It's only bought because the Zen teacher (religious authority) uses it.

Even a sociopath can't deny causality. Indeed, with the absence of a conscience causality and reason are the only means they have to navigate a social world full of people who do possess a conscience.

A conscience can be overridden however, and the best way to do that is to dehumanize.

Historically, I am not sure what you mean by 'samurai apologists'. Example?

Think 'war supporter'. And for more recent history...

Image

The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 30, No. 4, August 5, 2013.
Zen as a Cult of Death in the Wartime Writings of D.T. Suzuki 死の信仰としての禅 鈴木大拙、戦時下の著述
– Brian Daizen Victoria

http://japanfocus.org/-Brian-Victoria/3973
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Re: Does Zen have ethics?

Postby dyanaprajna2011 » Sun Aug 18, 2013 8:19 pm

Let's try this: shel, can you quote Zen masters who have explicitly taught that it's ok to go against the precepts, the paramitas, etc? Or, even more specifically, quote from Zen masters who say that doing wrong/evil/etc, is actually the path?
"If you want to travel the Way of Buddhas and Zen masters, then expect nothing, seek nothing, and grasp nothing." -Dogen
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Re: Does Zen have ethics?

Postby Meido » Sun Aug 18, 2013 10:46 pm

shel wrote:You offer a koan?


Well, yes, since it is among the best-known passages from Zen literature addressing what Luke had raised.

shel wrote:Think 'war supporter'. And for more recent history...


Medieval war supporters?

I asked Luke for examples of samurai apologists because I suspected he might have bought into the whole "Zen was the religion of the samurai" fallacy.

Regarding Victoria's work, I would not say it is without value. There has been significant scholarly critique of both his methods and conclusions which you may want to take a look at. For example, a critique of the article you cited titled 'Brian Victoria and the Question of Scholarship' (by Sato and Kirchner). This and others are easily Googled.

~ Meido
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