Doing zazen but drawn to Pure Land,

Re: Doing zazen but drawn to Pure Land,

Postby hornets » Sat Sep 22, 2012 12:25 pm

I like the concept of 'foolish beings' best. That's me, that is! Glad you're managing to plough through Thich Tien Tam book- i'm definately putting it on hold for now.

I'm still doing zazen when I can (foolish beingness notwithstanding) but am doing nembutsu a fair bit, especially when I get up, and before my 20min zazen sessions. I try to read the Heart Sutra in the morning too.

I'm nowhere near a pureland place where I live so please let us know if you attend that one nearby that you mentioned and what you thought about it.
hornets
 
Posts: 24
Joined: Mon May 28, 2012 6:42 pm

Re: Doing zazen but drawn to Pure Land,

Postby gavinowl » Mon Nov 12, 2012 10:47 am

Hello hornets,

I don't have any helpful information to add to this conversation, but I would like to state that I found it refreshing to read this conversation. I have been practicing zazen for over a year now and have recently incorporated the nembutsu into my practice, not knowing much about it but being drawn to it. I share many of the difficulties you have described; the difficulty of 'faith', questions of figurative or literal interpretations of Amida, the Pure Land, the realms of samsara etc. There is a simplicity in the nembutsu that I find appealing, a simplicity on the logistical level first and foremost. I'm an American with a small family but live in a German village, 40 minutes away from a city with any formal sangha, making participation in typical Zen sangha activities (all day or half day sits, weekly sits, or sesshins) very difficult. The combination of Zen and Pure Land practice feels right to me, but when consulting the internet, one can get the feeling that one is committing a wrong or doing some sort of disservice to both schools. I wish you well in your practice.

Gassho
gavinowl
 
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Nov 12, 2012 10:36 am

Re: Doing zazen but drawn to Pure Land,

Postby hornets » Mon Nov 19, 2012 9:38 pm

Hi gavinowl
Have you checked out any online sanghas? I find TreeLeaf Zendo really good http://www.treeleaf.org/ - it's Soto and very welcoming although one of the main dudes, Jundo Cohen, seems to be really disliked by some webbuddhists.I think he's funny and very (non)thought-provoking.

I'm not so perturbed by the word 'faith' at the moment. Faith in myself, faith in the universe, faith in love, faith in suchness etc. I'm enjoying not really giving a rat's ass whether Amida is literal or figurative or both, as that's just my brain complicating stuff as usual. I think the Pure Land is now, everywhere, we just forget to remember it most of our waking day. Samsara is when we forget that this right now is the Pure land and in fact, everything, all the time, for ever is the Pure Land. We seem to be able to create our own hells a lot easier than we can create our own heavens.
hornets
 
Posts: 24
Joined: Mon May 28, 2012 6:42 pm

Re: Doing zazen but drawn to Pure Land,

Postby Illuminaughty » Tue Nov 27, 2012 9:25 pm

There appear to be even Shin Buddhists who practice zazen and integrate Zen thought with their faith. I've heard that insofar as they don't consider sitting as a striving on their part to obtain enlightenment It's really not contradictory to orthodox shin.

Here is an example

http://buddhistfaith.tripod.com/integrated/id13.html
Illuminaughty
 
Posts: 31
Joined: Tue Nov 13, 2012 11:41 pm

Re: Doing zazen but drawn to Pure Land,

Postby hornets » Wed Nov 28, 2012 10:17 am

What a superb website Illuminaughty, thanks for posting the link.

I found this article on that website very interesting, I hope that Mr Ulrich who wrote it will be okay with it being presented here

Maybe the Pure Land teachings can help us better understand the Heart Sutra in its total meaning? Maybe the Zen teaching of emptiness can give us insights into the Other Power as no-self in action emerging out of universal mercy?

There is a famous statue of Shinran at the age of 63. It is at Hoon-ji in Tokyo. It depicts Shinran with the nenju and fly-wisk (hossu). How is this possible? Aren’t Zen and Shinshu bitter rivals in the religious politics of Japan? Perhaps the two masters knew something we don’t. If they, Shinran and Dogen, exchanged nenju, as the tradition in Hoon-ji says, then Dogen also carried a Pure Land nenju. This is something that the rivalry between Zen and Shinshu would not permit today. In fact, if a Zen master wore the costume of a Pure Land priest, or if a Pure Land priest wore the costume of a roshi, there would most likely be serious disciplinary action by the authorities in the respective traditions. The chanting of the Heart Sutra is strictly forbidden in Jodoshinshu temples, as it the chanting of Pure Land material in Zen temples. And what of our founders? Can we retroactively forbid them to do what they did centuries ago? So what is this statue trying to say to us? Why does is exist at all?

Shinran said that the Vow of Amida was for him and him alone. This reflects a deep feeling that he was settled in his spiritual quest, he had found and was found by the nembutsu. Ideally, a person searching for a Way within the Buddha Dharma can find the form of Buddhism that liberates him/her from the Three Poisons of Ignorance, Hatred, and Greed, leading to nirvana and Buddhahood. For Shinran this was the Way of the Nembutsu he learned from his teacher, Honen. The Pure Land is, according to Shirnan’s wasan, the Ultimate Absolute, asamskrta—the Great Stillness/Calm that undergirds all being. A wasan also states that those in the Pure Land have bodies of pure emptiness. The kanji used is the same as the kanji for emptiness in the Heart sutra!! The Pure Land itself is the Dharmakaya, out of which Amida arises to offer all beings the embrace of loving compassion and insight and infinite life. Not everyone can go swimming in the Void, the Dharmakaya, naked and unafraid as is required by Zen, especially as interpreted in the Western World. Therefore, we limited beings who exist due to the interdependence of all life often require a medium through which to pass on our way to final liberation.

In Zen the medium is the roshi, whose enlightenment has been documented and approved of by other roshi. This guide for Pure Landers is the Vow of Amida, often depicted as the “boat from the other shore.” In the Heart Sutra we supposedly become one with the other shore through meditational reflection. The basis of The Other Shore is the Dharmakaya. What is forgotten, however, and again particularly by Zen practitioners in the West, is that Kannon delivers the sutra, not the Buddha!! She is the bodhisattva of infinite mercy and compassion. ( Her headdress has jewels all reflecting Amida. Shinran is regarded as a manifestation of Kannon.) Thus the whole sutra is couched between Kannon and the mantra recitation at the end. This fact is often overlooked or regarded as unimportant. But including it in our reading of the Heart Sutra leads one to see the sutra as strangely similar to some Pure Land thinking, although the nembutsu strictly speaking is not a mantra. This implies that the Jodoshinshu tariki has some important insights to teach us about the Heart Sutra. Maybe the Pure Land teachings can help us better understand the Heart Sutra in its total meaning? Maybe the Zen teaching of emptiness can give us insights into the Other Power as no-self in action emerging out of universal mercy (Kannon)? But this direction demands that we overcome the emotions surrounding sectarian loyalties. Is holistic thinking really a sign of disloyalty, or even ignorance?

My interfaith work has let me see that all religions are plagued by this question. Seeing the boundaries between religions, or religious sects, as permeable is regarded as a sign of a traitorously weak faith. But is this true? I purpose the following for consideration and reflection: Dogen: to understand the Dharma is to understand the self. To understand the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be enlightened by all things (dharmas). [NB This is actually a wordplay on the use of the words Dharma/dharmas.] Pure Land Buddhism(based on ryogemon and gobunsho): To understand the Dharma is to understand the self. To understand the self is to abandon the self. To abandon the self is to be embraced by Other Power. To be embraced by Other Power, which enlightens all things, is to recite the nembutsu in gratitude. [NB The Other Power, Amida and the nembutsu all arise from the Dharmakaya, the Other Shore!] My faith journey, by the way, has brought me to the Way of the Nembutsu. Thus our thought comes full circle to settle in a place represented by the statue of Shinran in roshi garb. This is highly contentious. It gives rise to all the emotions and indignations present in every sectarian rivalry in every religion. For example: between, the Christians and the Jews, the Protestants and the Catholics, the Shiites and the Sunnis, Jews and Muslims, Zen and the Pure Land, and so it goes on and on. Thousands of people have died over such rivalries. Many have been shunned, or even condemned. Thus believers are often led to attitudes and acts that the founders would never have approved. Will it ever end? Can we reach a place where such boundaries are seen as part of our delusions from which both masters offer us freedom? Or perhaps they are ways of offering us that freedom according to our conditions and unique, personal needs? The statue of Shinran at Hoon-ji in Tokyo beckons us.

Shin and Zen: Bitter Rivals?

Written by Fredrich Ulrich

Minister of the Manitoba Buddhist Church, Canada

November 2005
hornets
 
Posts: 24
Joined: Mon May 28, 2012 6:42 pm

Re: Doing zazen but drawn to Pure Land,

Postby hornets » Wed Nov 28, 2012 10:49 am

Just to add, I didn't know that Jodoshin folk 'weren't allowed' to recite the Heart Sutra. I recite it when I feel like reciting it, but then again, I wasn't born into the culture that produced Jodoshin and Zen, so how would I know? I don't have a priest or minister telling me how to be 'correct'. I'm certainly not about to stop reciting it now. I go to a weekly Serene Reflection Meditation group once a week and only have the internet (and Amazon) to learn about Pure Land.

Does that make me a Mix 'n' Match Western Buddhist? I feel I've got a lot out of zazen, and Pure Land as it is being presented to me one book off Amazon at a time is having a deep and profound effect.

The brilliant books I've read recently, especially those by Taitetsu Unno, Caroline Brazier, Jeff Wilson & Alfred Bloom, who all seem to be influenced by Japanese Pure Land moreso than the Chinese equivalent, don't really point out the 'do not' and 'blasphemy!' divisive secular bits, but then again, why would they? All the dumb bits are from much later, like any religion.

Us humans aren't just 'bombu', we're total dicks when we allow ourselves. Once again I think back to the film 'The Life of Brian', where within about 5 minutes of The Brian Religion forming they were arguing over the sandal and the gourd. We're funny.
hornets
 
Posts: 24
Joined: Mon May 28, 2012 6:42 pm

Re: Doing zazen but drawn to Pure Land,

Postby greentara » Thu Nov 29, 2012 3:21 am

Slightly off the topic but important nevertheless. "There's another American Zen teacher scandal flaming up the interwebs right now. I knew little about Joshu Sasaki Roshi before the current discussion. Other than that he's an old man. 105 to be exact. He was the teacher of Leonard Cohen at one time.

And about that discussion. It's unfolding so much like the others. Lots of fluffy Zen talk amongst those who wish to defend the teacher. Lots of hell and damnation talk from those who are outraged at the teacher's alleged conduct. More than a little bit of puritanical talk about sexuality. Accompanied by some good ole boy "guys will be guys" nonsense from others. Finger pointing is commonplace. Calls for greater oversight at a level higher than the individual sangha continue to ring loud, if not hollow."
greentara
 
Posts: 933
Joined: Tue Apr 03, 2012 4:03 am

Re: Doing zazen but drawn to Pure Land,

Postby Illuminaughty » Sun Dec 02, 2012 10:06 pm

What a superb website Illuminaughty, thanks for posting the link.


Thanks, I was busy reading it a few days ago. Good site.

Just to add, I didn't know that Jodoshin folk 'weren't allowed' to recite the Heart Sutra.


I'm not sure if that prohibition is that prevalent now a days. From what I've read it seems that there was a time of bad blood between Zen and Shin that lead to the prohibition. Many Zen Buddhists of the time also refrained from reading the Pure Land Sutras. Other people have said the prohibition was in place because it was an easily misunderstood sutra though. At least those are the two different reasons I've seen for it so far.
Illuminaughty
 
Posts: 31
Joined: Tue Nov 13, 2012 11:41 pm

Re: Doing zazen but drawn to Pure Land,

Postby Jikan » Sun Dec 02, 2012 10:49 pm

hornets wrote:Just to add, I didn't know that Jodoshin folk 'weren't allowed' to recite the Heart Sutra. I recite it when I feel like reciting it, but then again, I wasn't born into the culture that produced Jodoshin and Zen, so how would I know? I don't have a priest or minister telling me how to be 'correct'. I'm certainly not about to stop reciting it now. I go to a weekly Serene Reflection Meditation group once a week and only have the internet (and Amazon) to learn about Pure Land.

Does that make me a Mix 'n' Match Western Buddhist? I feel I've got a lot out of zazen, and Pure Land as it is being presented to me one book off Amazon at a time is having a deep and profound effect.

The brilliant books I've read recently, especially those by Taitetsu Unno, Caroline Brazier, Jeff Wilson & Alfred Bloom, who all seem to be influenced by Japanese Pure Land moreso than the Chinese equivalent, don't really point out the 'do not' and 'blasphemy!' divisive secular bits, but then again, why would they? All the dumb bits are from much later, like any religion.

Us humans aren't just 'bombu', we're total dicks when we allow ourselves. Once again I think back to the film 'The Life of Brian', where within about 5 minutes of The Brian Religion forming they were arguing over the sandal and the gourd. We're funny.

:good:

True story, that.

Does it make you a mix-and-match Buddhist? Not necessarily: it means that you are not limited by the rather constipated sectarian divides that have, historically and to the present, characterized Japanese Buddhism. There are plenty of contexts in which it is regarded as perfectly legitimate to practice Amitabha recitation and practice seated meditation, to chant whatever sutras are available to you, and so on. Because it's good to practice widely in order to learn who you are and how you learn.

This only gets problematic when your only guide through this material is yourself. It helps to have a teacher who is willing to insist that you face yourself, which means working with practices that you might not ordinarily volunteer for. So for now practice as best you can, don't worry, and at some point be willing to commit to a teacher you can learn from. :cheers:
Need help getting on retreat? Want to support others in practice? Pay the Dana for Dharma forum a visit...

viewtopic.php?f=114&t=13727
Jikan
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5665
Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:04 pm

Re: Doing zazen but drawn to Pure Land,

Postby jmlee369 » Mon Dec 03, 2012 12:55 am

I'm not sure where you can find an English Translation, but the Triple Contemplation (Thrice Yearning) practice is a common ceremony performed in Chinese traditions. It is an excellent synthesis of Pure Land and Chan practice composed by National Master Zhong Feng.
jmlee369
 
Posts: 107
Joined: Tue Aug 09, 2011 1:22 am

Previous

Return to Zen

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Alexa [Bot] and 17 guests

>