Zen Training

Zen Training

Postby James418 » Tue May 31, 2011 1:16 am

Astus wrote:
Jinzang wrote:Practicing without a teacher is stumbling around in the dark.


What is it specifically that only a living teacher can tell but not scriptures? Also, what makes a teacher? Suppose my friend's brother learnt sitting meditation in an Austrian zendo and then from him my friend learnt it from him and from my friend I. Is my friend a Zen teacher then? And what if I just watched a video on meditation? Would I be stumbling in the dark?


Without a teacher the training cuts no ice. You just cannot get around it. Meditation doesn't mean jack unless you are being confronted with your fears and put through the wringer on a daily basis. Sure, life puts you on the precipice a couple of times, but a good teacher will put you through it far more frequently. Even in the more sedate traditions, they can be extremely rough - I know the Thai forest monks are very hard on the new monks for a few years until they get "softened up". In Zen there are the "fearful shouts and blows". In a traditional training they have a thousand or so years experience in knowing just how far they can push an individual before they crack - and a person on their own just can't recreate that.
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Re: What should you do when you don't have a Zen teacher yet?

Postby Astus » Tue May 31, 2011 10:43 am

James418 wrote:Without a teacher the training cuts no ice. You just cannot get around it. Meditation doesn't mean jack unless you are being confronted with your fears and put through the wringer on a daily basis. Sure, life puts you on the precipice a couple of times, but a good teacher will put you through it far more frequently. Even in the more sedate traditions, they can be extremely rough - I know the Thai forest monks are very hard on the new monks for a few years until they get "softened up". In Zen there are the "fearful shouts and blows". In a traditional training they have a thousand or so years experience in knowing just how far they can push an individual before they crack - and a person on their own just can't recreate that.


You talk about a brainwashing camp, not Buddhism, as far as I can tell. I understand there are people who imagine Zen to be like the marine corps but I don't think it is. Have you heard of the Buddha beating monks? Or shouting at them? Unlikely. Zen stories are not the reality but religious tales, nobody should take those literally.
"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: What should you do when you don't have a Zen teacher yet?

Postby James418 » Tue May 31, 2011 11:56 am

Astus wrote:
James418 wrote:Without a teacher the training cuts no ice. You just cannot get around it. Meditation doesn't mean jack unless you are being confronted with your fears and put through the wringer on a daily basis. Sure, life puts you on the precipice a couple of times, but a good teacher will put you through it far more frequently. Even in the more sedate traditions, they can be extremely rough - I know the Thai forest monks are very hard on the new monks for a few years until they get "softened up". In Zen there are the "fearful shouts and blows". In a traditional training they have a thousand or so years experience in knowing just how far they can push an individual before they crack - and a person on their own just can't recreate that.


You talk about a brainwashing camp, not Buddhism, as far as I can tell. I understand there are people who imagine Zen to be like the marine corps but I don't think it is. Have you heard of the Buddha beating monks? Or shouting at them? Unlikely. Zen stories are not the reality but religious tales, nobody should take those literally.


No that is what it's like. I've seen plenty of examples, and been on the receiving end - but guess what - I'm ok and I enjoyed my time and it has been of much use to me since I left. You have to understand that monastaries are pressure cookers. If you have a good teacher, they will create similar pressures via correspondence (they are very good at it), and traditionally you should visit and stay for a week or so each year. But it will always be about your practice in Daily Life - dealing with the emotional upsurges. There was a Cistercian monk who visited and he spoke about how he had talked with the Dalaia Lama about how they deal with training monks. It is very similar all over in traditional religious monastic training, regardless of whether it is traditional Buddhist or Christian. In Zen, traditionally monks won't be allowed outside the community to live as hermits until they had been in a community for at least 10 years, and I think the Cistercian said it was similar in their monastery for those who have a vocation to be hermits.
But it isn't brain washing or abuse. It isn't ridiculous. But they put you through it, and it is a lot like the boot camp training in the army. It is fun as well, but you are definitely in a place of training not a holiday camp. I have heard some tall tales about brainwashing etc, but never came across any and am thankful for the experience since I left. But it is hard - you can't get around it. It would be great if you could just sit quietly and meditate your way into Nirvana, but for most people that is not an option. The Buddha had years of training as a prince. My old Zen master used to say when the Buddha started out he was already a Confucian gentleman i.e. at Bull herding picture no. 5. For most people that takes ten years in a traditional monastery dealing with what the emotional reactions to what doesn't suit "me". Meditation is only a small part of it, even in a Zen monastery.
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Re: Zen Training

Postby Astus » Tue May 31, 2011 12:26 pm

OK, lets then clarify things here. What monastic training you mean? Japanese, Korean, Chinese or Western? If Japanese, what school? If it is Western Buddhist, which monastery? Generalisation would be very misleading here. I know that some Japanese Zen temples do it in a very tough fashion, but those are primarily the so called training monasteries where most of the people send only a little time and it is intensified like that because it is meant to be an intensive training. Such concept doesn't exist in other Buddhist countries where monasteries are just monasteries and monks won't leave to take over the family temple. Also, an intensive retreat is like Christmas, a special time of the year and not the normal way of daily activities. Such "pressure cooking" and "boot camp" is hardly the everyday experience of a common monastery where monks and nuns are busy with their daily activities - where sitting meditation is part of the morning and evening ceremony but otherwise optional.
"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: Zen Training

Postby James418 » Tue May 31, 2011 1:17 pm

Astus wrote:OK, lets then clarify things here. What monastic training you mean? Japanese, Korean, Chinese or Western? If Japanese, what school? If it is Western Buddhist, which monastery? Generalisation would be very misleading here. I know that some Japanese Zen temples do it in a very tough fashion, but those are primarily the so called training monasteries where most of the people send only a little time and it is intensified like that because it is meant to be an intensive training. Such concept doesn't exist in other Buddhist countries where monasteries are just monasteries and monks won't leave to take over the family temple. Also, an intensive retreat is like Christmas, a special time of the year and not the normal way of daily activities. Such "pressure cooking" and "boot camp" is hardly the everyday experience of a common monastery where monks and nuns are busy with their daily activities - where sitting meditation is part of the morning and evening ceremony but otherwise optional.


Rinzai. Kyoto. Japan. Daitoku-ji. I understand the Soto are tough as well. Sesshin (intensive retreats where you sit about 16 hours a day) were every month and Rohatsu is the mother of them all. You can't pick and choose what you will and won't do - that would be ridiculous in that context. The first book of Van de wettering - his "The Empty Mirror" describes what it is like - although he does exaggerate his own antics. To complete the training there takes around 15 - 20 years, generally. A few leave after a couple of years to look after family temples, but they are not the one's who will be allowed to train others. Be wary of Westerners who have done a few years in a Sodo and then claim they are a Roshi. A real Zen person would not claim a title like that. Daito Kokushi lived as a beggar under a bridge.

If you live with 10 people at close quarters for 6 months with few distractions, you will see some real fireworks. Like I said, it is a pressure cooker - all monasteries are. If you think any differently, you've never lived in one. The whole point is to get the deeply rooted emotional reactions to start revealing themselves so you can work with them. I noticed the Thai forest monks had similar ways. They were quite curt and blunt to subordinates and have definite lines of seniority. I have also been to various Christian monasteries and it is the same there. Just read Thomas Merton.

No the Buddha isn't shown creating a boot camp, but I've never seen a picture of Bodhidharma smiling either. I'm pretty sure training was as difficult then as now. Zen is blunt and direct - maybe a bit too much for Westerners, but one day hopefully we will have an adapted version. Maybe in the meantime you can find a nice monastery out there that won't challenge you, but what is the use? The fact is a lot of people go into Buddhism as an escape from the harsh realities of the world, so the first thing a teacher will do is push you firmly back into whatever it is you are avoiding. That is how it is. If you go to a mundane therapist, they will do the same - although they don't have the benefit of the insight that a real teacher has, or be quite as challenging. But, as I said this working with the emotional energy is only the first stage of the training. Once you can remain in the human state no matter what sort of emotional upheaval is going on, then you are ready to go to more advanced things. As the Buddha said it is only from the human state that deliverance is possible - so that humanising process takes a while.
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Re: Zen Training

Postby Astus » Tue May 31, 2011 2:29 pm

James418 wrote:If you live with 10 people at close quarters for 6 months with few distractions, you will see some real fireworks. Like I said, it is a pressure cooker - all monasteries are.


And there are monasteries with hundreds of monks, a range of departments to organise publications, ceremonies, charities and many other programmes. Just check out Fo Guang Shan, Chung Tai Shan, Hanmaum Seon Center, etc.

You can also read Robert Buswell's brief summary of monastic life in Korea: Zen Monastic Practice in Korea

"But the importance of the meditation hall to Korean monasteries should not be overemphasized. While it is true that the meditation hall and the monks practicing there are the focus of much of the large monastery's activities, the majority of its residents spend no time in meditation and many have no intention of ever undertaking such training. Son monastic life therefore is broad enough to accommodate people of a variety of temperaments and interests—administrators, scholars, workers—offering them many different kinds of viable religious vocations."
"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: Zen Training

Postby James418 » Tue May 31, 2011 3:31 pm

Astus wrote:
James418 wrote:If you live with 10 people at close quarters for 6 months with few distractions, you will see some real fireworks. Like I said, it is a pressure cooker - all monasteries are.


And there are monasteries with hundreds of monks, a range of departments to organise publications, ceremonies, charities and many other programmes. Just check out Fo Guang Shan, Chung Tai Shan, Hanmaum Seon Center, etc.

You can also read Robert Buswell's brief summary of monastic life in Korea: Zen Monastic Practice in Korea

"But the importance of the meditation hall to Korean monasteries should not be overemphasized. While it is true that the meditation hall and the monks practicing there are the focus of much of the large monastery's activities, the majority of its residents spend no time in meditation and many have no intention of ever undertaking such training. Son monastic life therefore is broad enough to accommodate people of a variety of temperaments and interests—administrators, scholars, workers—offering them many different kinds of viable religious vocations."


Yes, there is a place where people can take their pet dogs and cats too, but it depends on how broad you want your definition to go.
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Re: What should you do when you don't have a Zen teacher yet?

Postby Indrajala » Tue May 31, 2011 7:24 pm

James418 wrote:You have to understand that monastaries are pressure cookers. If you have a good teacher, they will create similar pressures via correspondence (they are very good at it), and traditionally you should visit and stay for a week or so each year.


That's somewhat of a Japanese approach to monastic life that I've never agreed with. Some like the idea of torturing newbies as it supposedly fosters humility.




But it will always be about your practice in Daily Life - dealing with the emotional upsurges.


If your practice is done properly, you won't have emotional upsurges.

In Zen, traditionally monks won't be allowed outside the community to live as hermits until they had been in a community for at least 10 years, and I think the Cistercian said it was similar in their monastery for those who have a vocation to be hermits.


Maybe a century ago, but nowadays the lot of Zen priests go through seminary to get their certifications which enables them to carry on their hereditary duties as temple holders.

But it isn't brain washing or abuse. It isn't ridiculous. But they put you through it, and it is a lot like the boot camp training in the army.


I've experienced it. I didn't see the point of forcing visibly ill people to sit zazen for days on end instead of letting them rest and recover.


My old Zen master used to say when the Buddha started out he was already a Confucian gentleman i.e. at Bull herding picture no. 5. For most people that takes ten years in a traditional monastery dealing with what the emotional reactions to what doesn't suit "me". Meditation is only a small part of it, even in a Zen monastery.



That's just one opinion. It is probably better to cut away all the BS which causes those emotional reactions from the start rather than building up an emotional tolerance to it.


To complete the training there takes around 15 - 20 years, generally. A few leave after a couple of years to look after family temples, but they are not the one's who will be allowed to train others. Be wary of Westerners who have done a few years in a Sodo and then claim they are a Roshi. A real Zen person would not claim a title like that. Daito Kokushi lived as a beggar under a bridge.



You should come to my university (Komazawa University) which is Soto-shu's university. They got Zen priests teaching zazen who are barely even 20 years old!

Also, good luck finding a beggar zazen master under a bridge in Japan somewhere.


If you think any differently, you've never lived in one. The whole point is to get the deeply rooted emotional reactions to start revealing themselves so you can work with them. I noticed the Thai forest monks had similar ways. They were quite curt and blunt to subordinates and have definite lines of seniority.


I think the latter is a result of culture rather than some pre-programmed behaviour that is instituted for the sake of training juniors.


I'm pretty sure training was as difficult then as now. Zen is blunt and direct - maybe a bit too much for Westerners, but one day hopefully we will have an adapted version.


Actually it is a lot easier now. At Eihei-ji when you sneak McDonalds in for your pals stuck there doing their year of hell you have to bring a few extra burgers to bribe the guys in charge at the back door. That's against the rules, but provided the burger bribes are issued the guys in charge look the other way.

Trust me I know all about this sort of thing. I go to Komazawa University with real Soto priests. I've done Zen monastic training, too.

Honestly, you have an idealistic view of Zen which is not at all the reality.
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Re: What should you do when you don't have a Zen teacher yet?

Postby Indrajala » Tue May 31, 2011 7:29 pm

Astus wrote:[
You talk about a brainwashing camp, not Buddhism, as far as I can tell. I understand there are people who imagine Zen to be like the marine corps but I don't think it is. Have you heard of the Buddha beating monks? Or shouting at them? Unlikely. Zen stories are not the reality but religious tales, nobody should take those literally.


Actually the idealistic view of Zen monasteries in the west would have them as brainwashing camps.

The reality is much different.
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Re: What should you do when you don't have a Zen teacher yet?

Postby Astus » Tue May 31, 2011 7:57 pm

Huseng wrote:Actually the idealistic view of Zen monasteries in the west would have them as brainwashing camps.
The reality is much different.


A fertile soil for abusive "masters". I don't even understand this fascination with military style. Monasteries are not about training "Soldiers of Buddha". And fighting (inner and outer) doesn't lead to peace. In that short article Buswell has another good point in that short article quoted before (BTW, he also has a book on Korean Zen monasticism):

"Finally, many Western works on Zen describe the school as attempting to develop forms of Buddhist praxis that would appeal to the special religious needs of the laity. But the realities of modern Son training in Korea testify that it is only within the specialized practice institution of the meditation hall that anyone has much of a chance to succeed at meditation practice. Even monks in the support division of the Korean monastery are presumed to be so busy with their sundry duties that they are not meditating. But if the demands of meditation practice are considered to be beyond the ability of even the support monks to fulfill, what reasonable hope would there be for laypeople? The protestations of past masters to the contrary, Son monastic life suggest that Zen meditative techniques were never seriously intended for the laity, but targeted those few monks with the fortitude to endure many years of ascetic training in the meditation hall."

Here I'd like to add that Zen has never really been about rigorous meditation practice and asceticism (dhutanga), something that existed in Buddhism from the very beginning but cultivated only by a minority of monks.
"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: What should you do when you don't have a Zen teacher yet?

Postby Indrajala » Tue May 31, 2011 8:03 pm

Astus wrote:Here I'd like to add that Zen has never really been about rigorous meditation practice and asceticism (dhutanga), something that existed in Buddhism from the very beginning but cultivated only by a minority of monks.


Look at all the heaps and heaps of literature which takes years of familiarization and study to just read with any amount of accuracy.

It is fun to read (well sometimes anyway), but it isn't meditation.

I think just looking at Dogen's work you can see how a notable figurehead conducted himself. He wrote multiple volumes of texts and on top of that expressed how important the job of a monastery cook is. He spent much of his later life building monasteries and writing books, not out in the mountains meditating. Moreover, it was his social experiences in China that influenced him the most, not his time spent meditating.
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Re: What should you do when you don't have a Zen teacher yet?

Postby James418 » Tue May 31, 2011 8:10 pm

That's somewhat of a Japanese approach to monastic life that I've never agreed with. Some like the idea of torturing newbies as it supposedly fosters humility.


I didn't say that. Please stop putting words in my mouth. It has nothing to do with torturing. They are always looking out for the new monks, even if they don't show it.



If your practice is done properly, you won't have emotional upsurges.


That is plain wrong. Of course there are emotional upsurges - even if you are wholly unconscious of them!

Maybe a century ago, but nowadays the lot of Zen priests go through seminary to get their certifications which enables them to carry on their hereditary duties as temple holders.


That is not what I meant. I mean the traditional view of the monk that wanders from teacher to teacher testing his insight. I don't mean some temple caretaker priest.

I've experienced it. I didn't see the point of forcing visibly ill people to sit zazen for days on end instead of letting them rest and recover.


Well I've experienced it, and the senior monks are always looking for out for symptoms like this. They can always give you a chair if it really is serious.

That's just one opinion. It is probably better to cut away all the BS which causes those emotional reactions from the start rather than building up an emotional tolerance to it.


No. It is not developing a "tolerance". That implies an "I" focus , which is incorrect. What is actually happening is quite different, and nothing to do with that. The emotions ARE the Buddha nature and are not the core problem or the focus of this practice.

You should come to my university (Komazawa University) which is Soto-shu's university. They got Zen priests teaching zazen who are barely even 20 years old!

Also, good luck finding a beggar zazen master under a bridge in Japan somewhere.


Thanks for your sincere best wishes, but I don't need them. I found my teacher, and it was done quite easily.


I think the latter is a result of culture rather than some pre-programmed behaviour that is instituted for the sake of training juniors.


No. We discussed it.

Actually it is a lot easier now. At Eihei-ji when you sneak McDonalds in for your pals stuck there doing their year of hell you have to bring a few extra burgers to bribe the guys in charge at the back door. That's against the rules, but provided the burger bribes are issued the guys in charge look the other way.

Trust me I know all about this sort of thing. I go to Komazawa University with real Soto priests. I've done Zen monastic training, too.

Honestly, you have an idealistic view of Zen which is not at all the reality.


Yes of course. Breaking the rules / climbing the wall / is part of the training. Always has been.
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Re: What should you do when you don't have a Zen teacher yet?

Postby Indrajala » Tue May 31, 2011 8:20 pm

James418 wrote:That is plain wrong. Of course there are emotional upsurges - even if you are wholly unconscious of them!


Unconscious emotional upsurges? I've never heard of such things in either Zen literature or Buddhism.


That is not what I meant. I mean the traditional view of the monk that wanders from teacher to teacher testing his insight. I don't mean some temple caretaker priest.


And how many of those existed in the last thousand years?


Well I've experienced it, and the senior monks are always looking for out for symptoms like this. They can always give you a chair if it really is serious.


If it is that serious let the person go lay down and recover. I could never appreciate those strict rules regarding sesshin where you are -required- come hell or high water to sit through the whole thing or be ejected from the temple.


No. It is not developing a "tolerance". That implies an "I" focus , which is incorrect. What is actually happening is quite different, and nothing to do with that. The emotions ARE the Buddha nature and are not the core problem or the focus of this practice.


Okay.


Thanks for your sincere best wishes, but I don't need them. I found my teacher, and it was done quite easily.


That wasn't my point. My point is that Soto-shu officially lets 20-something year old priests teach zazen which is contrary to what you said here:


To complete the training there takes around 15 - 20 years, generally. A few leave after a couple of years to look after family temples, but they are not the one's who will be allowed to train others.



You don't need 15-20 years to be authorized to teach Zen. Again, no idea where you got this idea from.



Yes of course. Breaking the rules / climbing the wall / is part of the training. Always has been.


Didn't you say...

I'm pretty sure training was as difficult then as now. Zen is blunt and direct - maybe a bit too much for Westerners, but one day hopefully we will have an adapted version.



Clearly the training isn't so hard when you can smuggle in McDonalds and go for a drink at the local pub once in awhile.
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Re: What should you do when you don't have a Zen teacher yet?

Postby James418 » Tue May 31, 2011 9:31 pm

Unconscious emotional upsurges? I've never heard of such things in either Zen literature or Buddhism.


You have never heard the story of the frog sitting peacefully on a stone in Zazen, behind him a coiled snake poised to strike - so he needs to watch it? Really?? Well you don't know much, then. What do you think the Bull is in the Bull herding pictures? Why do you think you need to find him in the first place? Is it lost or what?


And how many of those existed in the last thousand years?


I know of one prominent teacher today who did this. I wouldn't be surprised if a few have done it. Others leave after receiving their seal and live in obscurity for a number of years.


Well I've experienced it, and the senior monks are always looking for out for symptoms like this. They can always give you a chair if it really is serious.


If it is that serious let the person go lay down and recover. I could never appreciate those strict rules regarding sesshin where you are -required- come hell or high water to sit through the whole thing or be ejected from the temple.


Fair enough - it just means you lack strength. It doesn't mean the training is wrong.

You don't need 15-20 years to be authorized to teach Zen. Again, no idea where you got this idea from.


To be a Zen Master, to be able to take Sanzen and to test the insight of the monks you need to have completed your training. They definitely do not allow those without permission to do this, and generally it takes 20 years. There might be exceptions, but even after receiving your seal there is a period of maturation before teaching begins.

Yes of course. Breaking the rules / climbing the wall / is part of the training. Always has been.


Didn't you say...


I'm pretty sure training was as difficult then as now. Zen is blunt and direct - maybe a bit too much for Westerners, but one day hopefully we will have an adapted version.



Clearly the training isn't so hard when you can smuggle in McDonalds and go for a drink at the local pub once in awhile.


Believe it or not, some people lack the strength to challenge rules or to break them.

It is clear you are quite happy to question or to denigrate training institutions without even having a clue what they teach or appreciating why they teach it the way they do. Well, excuse me if I don't agree with that view. I can see by saying I am "naive" and "idealistic" you might make a few people think that I am some sort of hopeless idealist, whilst implying that you are some sort of hard headed truth sayer - but you are just playing rhetorical games that I am not interested in.
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Re: What should you do when you don't have a Zen teacher yet?

Postby Indrajala » Wed Jun 01, 2011 6:38 am

James418 wrote:
Unconscious emotional upsurges? I've never heard of such things in either Zen literature or Buddhism.


You have never heard the story of the frog sitting peacefully on a stone in Zazen, behind him a coiled snake poised to strike - so he needs to watch it? Really?? Well you don't know much, then. What do you think the Bull is in the Bull herding pictures? Why do you think you need to find him in the first place? Is it lost or what?


Those are just stories from which you pull your idea from. Where is there any reference to actual 'unconscious emotional upsurges'?



I know of one prominent teacher today who did this. I wouldn't be surprised if a few have done it. Others leave after receiving their seal and live in obscurity for a number of years.


Who is this prominent teacher?


Fair enough - it just means you lack strength. It doesn't mean the training is wrong.


Or how about "having the strength to break the rules" and then go lay down while everyone else continues their sesshin?


To be a Zen Master, to be able to take Sanzen and to test the insight of the monks you need to have completed your training. They definitely do not allow those without permission to do this, and generally it takes 20 years. There might be exceptions, but even after receiving your seal there is a period of maturation before teaching begins.


In Soto-shu there are only two official zenji 禅師 and those are the abbots of Eihei-ji and Soji-ji respectively. Perhaps this is different in Rinzai.


Believe it or not, some people lack the strength to challenge rules or to break them.


Do you need strength to allow yourself to criticize teachers? That's against some social norms, but surely with this reasoning it is appropriate and part of the training to cultivate the strength to denigrate training institutions and break the rules.


It is clear you are quite happy to question or to denigrate training institutions without even having a clue what they teach or appreciating why they teach it the way they do.


I'm almost done a MA at Komazawa University which is the university of Soto Zen. I know a lot about how Zen works nowadays. I have a little ground to speak from.


Well, excuse me if I don't agree with that view. I can see by saying I am "naive" and "idealistic" you might make a few people think that I am some sort of hopeless idealist, whilst implying that you are some sort of hard headed truth sayer - but you are just playing rhetorical games that I am not interested in.


I'll leave it to others to express their opinions on your views on whether they agree or disagree with you.
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Re: Zen Training

Postby Astus » Wed Jun 01, 2011 9:37 am

I think I've already made clear my point that Samurai Zen is a phenomenon limited to certain monasteries and not at all a general thing, especially not among fully ordained monks (and nuns!) in other countries.
"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: What should you do when you don't have a Zen teacher yet?

Postby Jnana » Wed Jun 01, 2011 4:42 pm

James418 wrote:It is clear you are quite happy to question or to denigrate training institutions without even having a clue what they teach or appreciating why they teach it the way they do.

I doubt that anyone in this discussion is "happy" about the shortcomings of contemporary Japanese Zen.

James418 wrote:Well, excuse me if I don't agree with that view.

What Huseng has said is accurate and corroborated by other first hand accounts.

All forms of institutionalized Buddhism are quite imperfect, each with their own particular set of problems. Monasteries are likewise imperfect; it's rather silly to try to claim otherwise.

All the best,

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Re: Zen Training

Postby Astus » Fri Jun 03, 2011 4:31 pm

"I’d been working, or attending to something, or in the midst of the eternal wait (for phones, for guests, for orders or requests from senior nuns, for work, for anything) that typifies temple life for young nuns. Maybe it typifies it for senior nuns, too; but young or old, we’re rarely found in an attitude of formal meditation if we live in an average temple. We’re usually found in a state of mild anxiety, trying to anticipate what might happen or need to happen next. Do we cultivate patience? Yes. Generosity? Yes. Attention to the moment? Yes: but not by sitting on cushions, not by scheduling in practice, not by having “space,” not by having “down time.” Would I like to see practice more formally structured and addressed among the young monastic community? Yes, but that’s not the present situation we have to live with."
from this shore: The chance to not do
"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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