Western Myth of Zen

Re: Western Myth of Zen

Postby LastLegend » Tue Dec 17, 2013 11:20 am

Astus wrote:On a gradual path, various practices can have their own role and relevance. It is summed up in the six paramitas, where prajnaparamita is for the accumulation of wisdom, and the other five are for the accumulation of merit. Yongming Yanshou discussed this in his Treatise on the Common End of Myriad Good Deeds, that incorporates various practices into a "sudden enlightenment, gradual practice" system (see Albert Welter's dissertation: pdf).

On a genuinely sudden path, it is not really a path at all. As quoted previously, there are no practices to do, as there is nowhere to develop. It is buddhahood itself.


What is meant by genuine sudden path? Can you explain further? Many ancient masters have spoken, students realized their mind is Buddha. But they were not fully enlightened. Are chanting and other practices not good for "activating correct views?"
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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Postby seeker242 » Tue Dec 17, 2013 11:30 am

Astus wrote:
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?


It means buddhahood. There is in fact an old term: aśaikṣa (Pali: asekha), it means non-training, and it is a term for arhats and buddhas who have completed the path. Of the five paths it is the path of no more training (aśaikṣa-mārga).


Oh ok, well then that is where the disagreement is.

I disagree as it's possible to not practice chanting, while practicing chanting.


That is the bodhisattva training in the paramitas, and that is for accumulating merit.


Actually it has nothing to do with bodhisattvas, training, paramitas or merit. It's just chanting.

Which means it's possible for it to be "no thought" while at the same time, holding thoughts in mind.


I said that the meaning of no thought is not that one should keep a specific thought in mind for that. I didn't say there are no thoughts at all, or that one cannot have thoughts. But no thought is not to have this or that thought, and it is open to all thoughts. Saying that one should do this or that kind of practice for no practice is equal to saying that one should have this or that kind of thought for no thought.


Saying one should do this or that kind of practice, is not the same as actually doing it. You don't need to say anything to actually do it. You don't need to have this kind of thought or that kind of thought, to actually do it.
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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Postby Astus » Tue Dec 17, 2013 2:26 pm

LastLegend wrote:What is meant by genuine sudden path? Can you explain further? Many ancient masters have spoken, students realized their mind is Buddha. But they were not fully enlightened. Are chanting and other practices not good for "activating correct views?"


There is "sudden enlightenment, gradual practice" and "sudden enlightenment, sudden practice" within Zen. The first one was originally emphasised by Guifeng Zongmi primarily against the emerging Hongzhou school (disciples of Mazu Daoyi) and to some extent the Baotang school. The latter one is the argument of Heze Shenhui against the so called Northern School, and that concept spread to the later generations (everyone except the Northern School itself).

The "sudden-gradual" system is the reintroduction of the bodhisattva stages into the new frame of "sudden enlightenment" (i.e. the hallmark idea of the "Southern School"), while the "sudden-sudden" is upholding the "genuine sudden path" as done by the Hongzhou school. The "sudden-gradual" form developed a more systematic approach, while the "sudden-sudden" created most of the Zen dialogue collections. Their eventual fusion is most apparent in the teachings of Bojo Jinul.

Seeing nature means (originally meant) buddhahood. That is because only buddhas can see buddha-nature (see e.g. Nirvana Sutra, Lotus Sutra). The way kensho (seeing nature) is interpreted in the "sudden-gradual" system and post-Hakuin Rinzai is another matter, where they consider it only an initial fleeting experience, a momentary insight. So, seeing nature in the Platform Sutra and the Hongzhou school stands for full enlightenment.
"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)

“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; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Postby Astus » Tue Dec 17, 2013 2:28 pm

seeker242 wrote:Saying one should do this or that kind of practice, is not the same as actually doing it. You don't need to say anything to actually do it. You don't need to have this kind of thought or that kind of thought, to actually do it.


Do you mean there is such a thing as action without intention?
"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)

“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; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Postby seeker242 » Tue Dec 17, 2013 3:15 pm

Astus wrote:
seeker242 wrote:Saying one should do this or that kind of practice, is not the same as actually doing it. You don't need to say anything to actually do it. You don't need to have this kind of thought or that kind of thought, to actually do it.


Do you mean there is such a thing as action without intention?


Yes and no. When I sit down to actually do chanting, I'm not trying to practice making merit. I'm not trying to train anything, I'm not intending to get enlightenment or whatever. I'm not intending to "get wisdom". I'm not intending to "get enlightenment". I'm intending to go "om baara tobiya hum" and that's it. There is just "om baara tobiya hum" and that's it. There's no perception of "I'm doing chanting" or "I'm practicing" or "I'm attaining merit" or "I'm training". There's no perception of Bodhisattvas or paramitas or anything like that. There is just "om baara tobiya hum" and that's it. That's what I mean.

:namaste:
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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Postby Astus » Tue Dec 17, 2013 3:56 pm

seeker242 wrote:Yes and no. When I sit down to actually do chanting, I'm not trying to practice making merit. ...There is just "om baara tobiya hum" and that's it. That's what I mean.


If I want to go from one place to another I don't need to keep in mind the other place I'm going to while travelling. But to start the journey I need to know where I am going to. Similarly, to sit down and chant you need to have the intention to do it, and behind that intention there is a reason. And that reason is why one does this or that, it's not simply "just chanting", etc.
"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)

“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; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Postby LastLegend » Tue Dec 17, 2013 4:06 pm

Astus wrote:Seeing nature means (originally meant) buddhahood. That is because only buddhas can see buddha-nature (see e.g. Nirvana Sutra, Lotus Sutra). The way kensho (seeing nature) is interpreted in the "sudden-gradual" system and post-Hakuin Rinzai is another matter, where they consider it only an initial fleeting experience, a momentary insight. So, seeing nature in the Platform Sutra and the Hongzhou school stands for full enlightenment.


But full enlightenment from seeing nature is irrelevant to what we seek here, basically seeking for instructional.
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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Postby Astus » Tue Dec 17, 2013 5:36 pm

LastLegend wrote:basically seeking for instructional.


Could you explain that?
"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)

“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; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Postby Meido » Tue Dec 17, 2013 7:03 pm

Astus wrote:The way kensho (seeing nature) is interpreted in the "sudden-gradual" system and post-Hakuin Rinzai is another matter, where they consider it only an initial fleeting experience, a momentary insight. So, seeing nature in the Platform Sutra and the Hongzhou school stands for full enlightenment.


Regarding the Rinzai view:

It would be more accurate to say that both "sudden-sudden" and "sudden-gradual" approaches are acknowledged. But since persons with capacity to accomplish the former are so rare, it is not considered worth talking about much.

About the latter: the kensho of the majority (we'll say "those with less-than-supreme capacity") would not be considered to be just fleeting or momentary insights, if by that one means "without any ongoing effect". They would just be considered insufficient for completely dissolving accumulated habit-energy, and also crucially for maturing the power and means to skillfully assist others. Thus there is a path of practice in which one recognizes again and again. For this path of clarifying and embodying kensho, a teacher's guidance is thought necessary.

Anyone interested in how these things are presented can read Torei, who explains it all at length with reference to the teachings of various Chinese masters (Hakuun, Oryo), the Four Wisdoms and Tozan's Five Ranks. Though Hakuin (Torei's teacher) did have a tremendous influence on the organization of Rinzai training after him, the overall understanding of what happens in Rinzai practice - and the role of particular practices like koan - is basically identical to that of earlier Rinzai teachers, for example Daito or the Chinese teachers like Bukko who came to Japan and promulgated Zen during the Kamakura period.

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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Postby seeker242 » Tue Dec 17, 2013 7:45 pm

Astus wrote:
seeker242 wrote:Yes and no. When I sit down to actually do chanting, I'm not trying to practice making merit. ...There is just "om baara tobiya hum" and that's it. That's what I mean.


If I want to go from one place to another I don't need to keep in mind the other place I'm going to while travelling. But to start the journey I need to know where I am going to. Similarly, to sit down and chant you need to have the intention to do it, and behind that intention there is a reason. And that reason is why one does this or that, it's not simply "just chanting", etc.


Precisely why the answer to your question is both yes and no. For example does a soto practitioner when they sit down to do shikantaza, are they trying to "get elightment"? Well, yes and no.
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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Postby Astus » Tue Dec 17, 2013 9:39 pm

seeker242 wrote:Precisely why the answer to your question is both yes and no. For example does a soto practitioner when they sit down to do shikantaza, are they trying to "get elightment"? Well, yes and no.


The starting point for the discussion about why one should do chanting, prostrations, sitting, etc. began with me questioning the validity of the argument that there is no reason at all, and "just chanting", etc. is all there is. If you agree that yes, there is first an intention with a particular goal in mind, then the original argument for "just chanting" is removed as non-existent. Consequently the question still stands. Why do any kind of practice if not for the sake of accumulating wisdom and merit, and ultimately for attaining enlightenment and liberating beings, that is, the bodhisattva motivation of the gradual path?
"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)

“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; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Postby Astus » Tue Dec 17, 2013 9:45 pm

Meido wrote:They would just be considered insufficient for completely dissolving accumulated habit-energy, and also crucially for maturing the power and means to skillfully assist others.


Just as Jinul explains,

As for “gradual cultivation,” although he has awakened to the fact that his original nature is no different from that of the buddhas, the beginningless proclivities of habit (vāsanā) are extremely difficult to remove suddenly. Therefore he must continue to cultivate while relying on this awakening so that this efficacy of gradual suffusion is perfected; he constantly nurtures the embryo of sanctity, and after a long, long time he becomes a sage. Hence it is called gradual cultivation.
(Moguja’s Secrets on Cultivating the Mind, in Collected Works of Korean Buddhism, vol 2, p 216-217)
"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)

“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; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Postby seeker242 » Tue Dec 17, 2013 10:33 pm

Astus wrote:
seeker242 wrote:Precisely why the answer to your question is both yes and no. For example does a soto practitioner when they sit down to do shikantaza, are they trying to "get elightment"? Well, yes and no.


The starting point for the discussion about why one should do chanting, prostrations, sitting, etc. began with me questioning the validity of the argument that there is no reason at all, and "just chanting", etc. is all there is. If you agree that yes, there is first an intention with a particular goal in mind, then the original argument for "just chanting" is removed as non-existent.


The original argument is not removed when both yes and no are true, at the same time. When reason and no reason are both true at the same time. "Just chanting" is "just chanting" because it comes from the no perspective. Do you think a soto practitioner sits shikantaza for the purpose of attaining enlightenment or attaining anything at all?

Consequently the question still stands. Why do any kind of practice if not for the sake of accumulating wisdom and merit, and ultimately for attaining enlightenment and liberating beings, that is, the bodhisattva motivation of the gradual path?


What else is there to do?
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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Postby Astus » Tue Dec 17, 2013 11:24 pm

seeker242 wrote:The original argument is not removed when both yes and no are true, at the same time. When reason and no reason are both true at the same time. "Just chanting" is "just chanting" because it comes from the no perspective. Do you think a soto practitioner sits shikantaza for the purpose of attaining enlightenment or attaining anything at all?


Yes is true for there is a purpose for engaging in a form of practice. No is true when doing the practice itself and there is no need to keep in mind the intention behind it. If one is hungry one just goes and eats something. The intention is not to feel hungry. The reason for eating is satisfying the hunger. But while eating there is no need to think again and again that one is hungry. However, just because one does not keep thinking about hunger while eating, doesn't mean there is no reason for eating.

As for why various people feel the need to sit in meditation can be different for every individual. With a worldly mind it is for temporary benefits, like health and removing stress. With a sravaka mind it is for attaining liberation from samsara. With a bodhisattva mind it is for becoming a buddha and liberating all beings. There is no higher intention than bodhicitta.

What else is there to do?


Do you mean one engages in Buddhist practices because there's nothing else to do? Like, one could as well play football or read a novel, depending on the weather.
"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)

“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; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Postby Meido » Tue Dec 17, 2013 11:45 pm

...he constantly nurtures the embryo of sanctity, and after a long, long time he becomes a sage.


Nice quote from Jinul.

20 years is commonly mentioned as the duration of "nurturing the holy embryo" (ala the story of Daito living under Gojo bridge). This advanced practice is described as not transmissable, yet containing the salient point distinguishing Zen. Not to keep plugging Torei's text, but he relates interesting experiences of his own in the chapter on advanced practice. Of course this is talking about the time after initial awakening and continued practice including the three-year secret practice of hokkyo zanmai and hen sho ego zanmai, etc.

Circling back to western myths of Zen, I would say what some popular Zen books have failed to stress is that kensho itself is not considered uncommonly difficult. And that the meat of Zen lies after.

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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Postby Astus » Wed Dec 18, 2013 12:10 am

Meido wrote:Circling back to western myths of Zen, I would say what some popular Zen books have failed to stress is that kensho itself is not considered uncommonly difficult. And that the meat of Zen lies after.


That is likely because of the various texts not organised. In the teachings of Bodhidharma, Mazu, Dazhu Huihai, Linji and other Tang era teachers, seeing nature is buddhahood.

"Awakening is to awake to one's original nature. Once awakened, one is awakened forever, there being no more ignorance."
(Mazu in Sun Face Buddha, p 67-68)

Initial awakening followed up by gradual practice occurs first in Zongmi's teachings (published in English in 2009), and it's prominent in Jinul's works (published in English in 1983), however, they are not among the more popular works read by people interested in Zen, unlike the Teachings of Huangbo (translated to English in 1958) and various excerpts and collections. Also, I think there are still only partial translations of the works of Hakuin. And without good resources for the practices coming after kensho, only those who are in an actual Rinzai programme can know about it. Soto Zen is somewhat different in this regard, as it doesn't really have this concept of "sudden-gradual".
"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)

“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; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Postby Meido » Wed Dec 18, 2013 1:55 am

Astus wrote:In the teachings of Bodhidharma, Mazu, Dazhu Huihai, Linji and other Tang era teachers, seeing nature is buddhahood.


Episodes have been pointed out that do not support such a conclusion, for example the story of Linj's own training, Baizhang's experiences with Mazu, Bodhidharma's pronouncements regarding flesh/skin/bone/marrow (I recognize that appears late) and so on. But again, I have not seen the sudden-sudden model denied anywhere in Zen as a possibility at least.

As you know, the Rinzai understanding of practice was pretty much set by what was going on in the 1100's - 1200's on both sides of the water. From that viewpoint, it's generally a problem when people experience what we would consider initial awakening and think they've somehow completed the Way.

In terms of books I was thinking more of popular works in the west like Three Pillars of Zen, which presents kensho in a light that has to my mind caused some obstacles for people.

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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Postby seeker242 » Wed Dec 18, 2013 2:34 am

Astus wrote:
As for why various people feel the need to sit in meditation can be different for every individual. With a worldly mind it is for temporary benefits, like health and removing stress. With a sravaka mind it is for attaining liberation from samsara. With a bodhisattva mind it is for becoming a buddha and liberating all beings. There is no higher intention than bodhicitta.


Curious. What do you think of Linji himself sitting zazen, but at the same time, saying the below?

    "Those who have fulfilled the ten stages of bodhisattva practice are no better than hired field hands; those who have attained the enlightenment of the fifty-first and fifty-second stages are prisoners shackled and bound; arhats and pratyekabuddhas are so much filth in the latrine; bodhi and nirvana are hitching posts for donkeys"

As for attainment of liberation, how does that match up to what it says in Chp 17 of diamond sutra?

    " "What do you think, Subhuti? In ancient times, when the Buddha was living with Dipankara Buddha, did he attain anything called the highest, most fulfilled, and awakened mind?"

    "No, Most Honored One. According to what I understand from the teachings of the Buddha, there is no attaining of anything called the highest, most fulfilled, and awakened mind."

    The Buddha said:

    "You are correct, Subhuti. In fact, there does not exist any so-called highest, most fulfilled, and awakened mind that the Buddha attains. Because if there had been any such thing, Dipankara Buddha would not have predicted of me, 'In the future, you will come to be a Buddha known as The Most Honored One'. This prediction was made because there is, in fact, nothing to be attained. Someone would be mistaken to say that the Buddha has attained the highest, most fulfilled, and awakened mind because there is no such thing as a highest, most fulfilled, or awakened mind to be attained." "

And Chp 31?

    "Subhuti, when people begin their practice of seeking to attaining total Enlightenment, they ought to see, to perceive, to know, to understand, and to realize that all things and all spiritual truths are no-things, and, therefore, they ought not to conceive within their minds any arbitrary conceptions whatsoever."

Which of course includes the conception of "there is something to attain"

And the heart sutra's "no attainment with nothing to attain, no suffering, no path", etc.?

Seung Sahn used to say "Wanting enlightenment is a big mistake!" Do you think he's wrong?

As for bodhicitta. How does bodhicitta match up with Chp 3 of the diamond sutra?

    "All living beings, whether born from eggs, from the womb, from moisture, or spontaneously; whether they have form or do not have form; whether they are aware or unaware, whether they are not aware or not unaware, all living beings will eventually be led by me to the final Nirvana, the final ending of the cycle of birth and death. And when this unfathomable, infinite number of living beings have all been liberated, in truth not even a single being has actually been liberated."

    "Why Subhuti? Because if a disciple still clings to the arbitrary illusions of form or phenomena such as an ego, a personality, a self, a separate person, or a universal self existing eternally, then that person is not an authentic disciple."

And Chp 25

    "Subhuti, do not say that the Buddha has the idea, 'I will lead all sentient beings to Nirvana.' Do not think that way, Subhuti. Why? In truth there is not one single being for the Buddha to lead to Enlightenment. If the Buddha were to think there was, he would be caught in the idea of a self, a person, a living being, or a universal self. Subhuti, what the Buddha calls a self essentially has no self in the way that ordinary persons think there is a self. Subhuti, the Buddha does not regard anyone as an ordinary person. That is why he can speak of them as ordinary persons."

And also Huang-po's statements in The Wan-Ling Record?

    Question: "Does the Buddha really save or rescue all sentient beings?" The master said: "There are really no sentient beings to be saved by Tathagata. Since there is, in reality, neither self nor non-self, how then can there be a Buddha to save or sentient beings to be saved?"

    Question: "There are thirty-two Laksanas, that traditionally purport to save all sentient beings, so how can we say that there are no sentient being?" The master said: "Everything with form is unreal. If all form is seen as unreal, then the Taghagata will be perceived, Buddha, sentient beings and the infinite variety of forms all are generated by your false view, whereby you do not understand the Original Mind. If you retain a view even of Buddha as real, then even Buddha is an obstacle! If you grasp a view of sentient beings as real, then sentient beings are also obstacles. If you hold a view that labels phenomena as worldly, holy, pure, dirty, etc., this is also an obstacle to enlightenment. Because of these obstacles in your mind, you transmigrate along the six illusory paths, becoming fixed to the wheel of transmigration, just as a monkey picks up one object and lets go of another in never-ending, habitual, monotonous repetition.

Does Huang-po have bodhicitta?

Also, what happens to bodhicitta when one would believe "There is really nothing there that is real to save beings from to begin with" which would mean they aren't in any real danger to begin with therefore they really don't need to be saved because there is nothing to save them from, which would essentially mean they already are saved. What would happen to bodhicitta then?

Of course all this is kind of off topic of "western zen" but I'm curious as to what you think. :namaste:

What else is there to do?


Do you mean one engages in Buddhist practices because there's nothing else to do? Like, one could as well play football or read a novel, depending on the weather.


Kind of, if one has no need or desire to play football and no need or desire to read novels, no need or desire to sit around watching tv, etc. But of course there is still washing dishes, cooking food and doing laundry because those are things that do need to be done.
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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Postby LastLegend » Wed Dec 18, 2013 4:09 am

Astus wrote:
LastLegend wrote:basically seeking for instructional.


Could you explain that?


For sudden-gradual, if one does not practice chanting, recitation, or others, and since chanting or recitation is just an activity, is there an approach that can encompass all activities?
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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Postby oushi » Wed Dec 18, 2013 10:53 am

Understanding.
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