Astus wrote:seeker242 wrote:They are considered meditation at a real zen temple.
Isn't that the other extreme, saying that a real Zen temple must take everything (or certain things) as meditation? As above I mentioned, there is that view, when you "just do it" or when "you are aware doing it" means meditation. But then, what's the difference between "just bowing" and "just chanting", and "just listening to music" and "just swimming in a lake"? If there is no difference, then no point in doing those things instead of others.
For instance, recitation is good for memorising a text. That's what it was/is used for. And if you memorise a text you can always go back to it, reflect on it, etc. And there are reciting mantras for magical effects and reciting the name of buddhas as a form of worship or contemplation. Saying that recitation is for "just reciting" makes it meaningless, as I said above. Same goes for other practices.To someone who is not trapped by "cultural trappings", cultural trappings don't even exist. There is no such thing.
Cultural trappings is a sort of argument to reduce Zen (Buddhism) to a set of chosen methods and teachings. It doesn't mean that they are actually related to the source culture (Japanese, Chinese, Indian, etc.) or not. So, calling it "cultural" is based on the idea that there is a difference between the Dharma and the culture, a very modern idea actually (that is, the idea of cultural relativism and cultural identity).The purpose of such activity is to practice "mind sitting". Huineng did not teach that "only sitting on the floor with your legs crossed" is meditation.
If there is an activity to be done, it is not "mind sitting". Chapter five of the Platform Sutra about seated meditation says clearly,
"In this teaching, there is no impediment and no hindrance. Externally, for the mind to refrain from activating thoughts with regard to all the good and bad realms is called ‘seated’ (zuo). Internally, to see the motionlessness of the self-nature is called ‘meditation’ (chan)."
That is, zazen (zuochan, seated meditation) is not a technique or practice, it is not an activity or teaching to follow. "Mind sitting" is not being hung up on sensory and mental phenomena based on the wisdom of emptiness. As the sutra says in the previous chapter,
"There is in the self-nature fundamentally not a single dharma that can be perceived. To think that there were any would be a false explanation, a disaster, a false view of enervating defilements. Therefore, this teaching takes nonthought as its central doctrine."
The Platform Sutra does not recommend or teach any other practice than "no practice". This is also true of Zen in general. Look at the followings.
If you don't see your nature, invoking buddhas, reciting sutras, making offerings, and keeping precepts are all useless. Invoking buddhas results in good karma, reciting sutras results in a good memory; keeping precepts results in a good rebirth, and making offerings results in future blessings-but no buddha.
(Bloodstream Sermon, The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma, p 11)
In the authentic transmission of [our] religion, it is said that this Buddha-Dharma, which has been authentically and directly transmitted one-to-one, is supreme among the supreme. After the initial meeting with a [good] counselor we never again need to burn incense, to do prostrations, to recite Buddha’s name, to practice confession, or to read sutras. Just sit and get the state that is free of body and mind.
(Bendowa, Shobogenzo, vol 1, p 5, tr. Nishijima-Cross)
Again [Master Tendō] said, “Practicing [za]zen is the dropping off of body and mind. We need not burn incense, do prostrations, recite the Buddha’s name, confess, or read sutras. When we are just sitting, we have attainment from the beginning.”
(Gyoji, SBGZ, vol 2, p 209)
One day the Councilor Wang visited the master. When he met the master in front of the Monks’ Hall, he asked, “Do the monks of this monastery read the sutras?”
“No, they don’t read sutras,” said the master.
“Then do they learn meditation?” asked the councilor.
“No, they don’t learn meditation,” answered the master.
“If they neither read sutras nor learn meditation, what in the world are they doing?” asked the councilor.
“All I do is make them become buddhas and patriarchs,” said the master.
The councilor said, “‘Though gold dust is valuable, in the eyes it causes cataracts.’”
“I always used to think you were just a common fellow,” said the master.
(Record of Linji, p 38, tr. Sasaki)
Again [Master Tendō] said, “Practicing [za]zen is the dropping off of body and mind. We need not burn incense, do prostrations, recite the Buddha’s name, confess, or read sutras.
Meido wrote:What do you consider a well-rounded approach to Buddhist teaching? Particularly since we're talking about Japanese Zen, which has a large stream of self-view as Ekayana based on recognition of one's nature and transcending divisions of the Three Vehicles.
So you get a lot of talk meant to stress welcome, accessibility and non-sectarianism.
In any case, from within the Zen view of itself I see no problem with saying that anyone, regardless of beliefs and self-identification, could experience awakening if they encounter a realized teacher.
What's wrong with them benefiting in this way according to their capacity?
seeker242 wrote:The point in doing them is that there is no point in not doing them.
"Mind sitting" precisely is the practice of no practice. So is bowing, so is chanting, so is sitting, so is cleaning the bathroom.
Following your own likes and dislikes is not zen.
Astus wrote:seeker242 wrote:The point in doing them is that there is no point in not doing them.
In that case one should do something enjoyable
or socially beneficial, and then there is some meaning in doing them.
The same nihilist (no point, no meaning) reasoning can be used practically for any sort of abuse and evil action too. It's not correct discernment and clarity but blank mind and blind faith.
"Mind sitting" precisely is the practice of no practice. So is bowing, so is chanting, so is sitting, so is cleaning the bathroom.Same as above. This is denying all sense.
Following your own likes and dislikes is not zen.This is an easily misinterpreted concept. It does not negate moral/ethical discernment, nor "common sense".
seeker242 wrote:Common sense is not abandoned simply by chanting a sutra. Chanting is not unethical, nor is doing prostrations.
Astus wrote:seeker242 wrote:Common sense is not abandoned simply by chanting a sutra. Chanting is not unethical, nor is doing prostrations.
I'm not talking about chanting or doing prostrations. I'm criticising the argument, the reason you gave for doing those practices. That is, that there is no reason whatsoever and one should just do it.
seeker242 wrote:If there was a significant reason for doing chanting in particular, it would not be the practice of no practice. So you are criticizing the practice of no practice? I thought that is what you were advocating? I don't understand! Do you think the practice of no practice is appropriate or not appropriate?
Astus wrote:What I'm looking for/into is how Zen is presented in the West currently. Saying that Zen is all about meditation and there are no doctrines attached to it is one possible way. There are other options, like as you say, an Ekayana teaching beyond the three vehicles. I'm not saying this or that is good or wrong, but I believe that the definition has short- and long-term consequences.
Astus wrote:Saying that a group is welcoming to everyone or that Islam and Buddhism can go together are two different things as I see it. There are some Christian priests who are also Zen teachers, so according to that view, Zen is not really bound by any religion.
Astus wrote:Do you mean your interpretation of Zen is that it is above cultures and beliefs? If I were a devout Evangelical Christian I could still attain enlightenment without leaving behind my faith in the Saviour? Like, I could reach black belt level in some martial art regardless of my religion?
Astus wrote:It's not wrong. It can be very beneficial, I'm not questioning that at all. Although I think that wisdom is an integral part of Zen, using meditation alone is not a bad thing at all.
Meido wrote:Again, I believe that an awareness of this is growing in those quarters where it did not previously exist.
Astus wrote:seeker242 wrote:If there was a significant reason for doing chanting in particular, it would not be the practice of no practice. So you are criticizing the practice of no practice? I thought that is what you were advocating? I don't understand! Do you think the practice of no practice is appropriate or not appropriate?
The teaching of "no practice" cannot be used to validate any sort of practice. If we put this into the Mahayana frame of the six paramitas, then it could be argued that while with prajnaparamita the view of emptiness is clear (no practice, no practitioner), the other five paramitas - while viewed with prajnaparamita - are to accumulate merit and develop qualities. The Zen teaching of sudden enlightenment may or may not agree with this, depending on how it is interpreted. If sudden enlightenment is truly sudden, then there is no need to develop wisdom and accumulate merit, because the buddha-nature is in and of itself perfect. But when it is taught as "sudden enlightenment, gradual practice", there is a reason for practising, as it agrees with the bodhisattva path of common Mahayana.
seeker242 wrote:And likewise the teaching of " no practice" can not be used to invalidate any practice just like the teaching of "no thought" can not be used to invalidate thoughts. Because "no thought" does not actually mean no thought but no thought within thought. The same can be said about "practice". As for sudden vs gradual distinction, I prefer the platform sutra explanation of that in there really is no such distinction to begin with. I believe it says that the only difference is capacity of different individuals.
That is, any sort of practice - as listed - is a mistake.
It wouldn't be "no practice" if there were practices to use.
Just as it wouldn't be "no thought" if there were thoughts to keep in mind.
Meido wrote:The experience of awakening is not bound by culture and beliefs, though its expression, religions, and our lives are. I don't know of any Zen teacher who would say you can't experience awakening as a Muslim or Christian, if your roots are sufficient and/or you have the good fortune to meet a realized teacher.
What happens after awakening, though, is the important part. If it's deep enough, your cherished eternalist and theistic beliefs may crumble (I've seen this happen). If not, your habitual tendencies may re-assert themselves and you'll interpret the experience as a sign from God or something (I've seen this happen). And since such experiences are only entry into the path, not a culmination, someone holding on to their beliefs may deny themselves that crucial path of clarifying and embodying awakening which Zen Buddhism possesses.
So I think the majority view would be something like this: you can be a Muslim and practice Zen Buddhism, even experience awakening according to your capacity. But reconciling the two is your problem. In any case you're welcome to hang out as long as you like. We kind of like some of the Sufi stuff we've seen, by the way.
seeker242 wrote:So then what do you think is meant by "the practice of no practice"? Does that just mean you sit on the couch all day and just watch TV and don't do anything?
I disagree as it's possible to not practice chanting, while practicing chanting.
Which means it's possible for it to be "no thought" while at the same time, holding thoughts in mind.
And as you say, there isn't really any sudden and gradual path, since both ends in buddhahood. Huineng taught for those of the best capacity, to directly see the nature of mind, and so did Huangbo and others, but not everyone. But the distinction is there, that doing such practices as sitting meditation, recitation, chanting, etc. as practices are of the gradual path. The sudden path would not be sudden if there were methods to follow. It wouldn't be "no practice" if there were practices to use. Just as it wouldn't be "no thought" if there were thoughts to keep in mind.
LastLegend wrote:It is of gradual path but to non-gradual path, meditation, recitation, and chanting are non-gradual. Why is it necessary and not necessary to do meditation, recitation, and chanting? If it is not necessary, then why and what is there to do? If it is necessary, then why?
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