How can Zen be considered it's own thing...

/johnny\
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Re: How can Zen be considered it's own thing...

Postby /johnny\ » Mon Jul 30, 2012 6:27 pm

seeker242 wrote:
/johnny\ wrote:
lol! you're totally right! there is zero point in trying too argue logic into any zen statements! it's a tradition that relies heavily on non logical statements and statements that are incorrectly worded (as far as logic and proper social interaction are concerned). and the idea is always that you should look at it from a different perspective that is totally different than the way you normally do. saying anything in zen makes no sense can so easily be argued it's amazing. i don't know what i was thinking. seriously, totally sarcasm free.

it is a little frustrating, but it is entirely true! every statement can mean what it should mean, or something TOTALLY different! "not relying on words or speech" taken literally does imply pantomime or telepathic instruction, so i certainly am correct in that sense. but taken in a "zen" way can mean whatever the heck you want it too mean, so i am totally wrong in that sense.


I pretty much agree with all of that ha! :)
one point i want too make though is you said:


seeker242 wrote:I don't think that it the case. It can be conveyed, but the issue is whether or not the other person understands the conveyance."

if the other person doesn't understand, then they are not being taught anything.


I completely agree with that too! Which is precisely why Zen Masters say things like "Nothing that I can say can help you!" And then they encourage you to practice more to find this stuff out for yourself. Because if you don't find it out for yourself, then it's pretty much useless. If "the truth" is not "your truth", then you really have not found the truth to begin with. A teacher can say how to practice so that you can find the truth for yourself, but he can not make you see the ultimate truth. If he could, all you would have to do is read a book or listen to a dharma talk and get enlightenment without doing any actual practicing. But obviously that does not happen all too often.

yes, a koan makes no sense at first but one can work up too understanding, but this working up too understanding is totally reliant upon having learned how to practice the koan, why too practice it, what zen is, etc., etc. and every single step of the way, including the speaking of the "oak tree in the garden" koan, involves words and speech.


The point is that a reflection of the moon in a pond, is not the same as the moon itself. The words are just the reflection of the moon, not the moon itself.

really this is pointless semantics though. you really nailed it on the head with:


seeker242 wrote:It is nonsensical, but only if you use conceptual thinking to try to understand it.


seriously, this is a classic, unbeatable zen style argument-destroying statement. if you had stopped there i wouldn't have rambled on about conveyor belts and all the other nonsense lol! thanks for taking the time though :smile:


I agree Zen is totally nonsensical! It defies logic and reason, but that is the whole point to begin with. But considering that zen is a "non-dual tradition", this is not that inappropriate. IMO, Zen is really about the actual daily life practice, rather than philosophizing about stuff. My teacher says "We don't read books to get understanding, we read books to get motivation to practice!"

But if you don't agree, that is fine. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. :smile: But what it really comes down to is the actual, real life, day to day practicing. I think pretty much everyone would agree with that...maybe!

:anjali:



i agree! zen is so bare bones that it doesn't have much room for anything, let alone logic! it's one big spur, pushing you toward awakening. thanks for all your thoughts :smile:

BuddhaSoup
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Re: How can Zen be considered it's own thing...

Postby BuddhaSoup » Wed Aug 01, 2012 1:11 pm

I can add that there is benefit to having a teacher, but real importance must be placed on the quality of the teacher, that teacher's background, his/her reputation and training, and the personal qualities of the teacher. I feel that it's important to have a teacher, inasmuch as with a teacher you likely have, with Zen, a Sangha. Where there is a good and reputable teacher, there is likely a good Sangha, and I feel that as we pay homage to Buddha, Dharma, we also honor the Sangha.

Personally, I enjoy being in a morning or all day Zazen with my Sangha. I enjoy the support and the comraderie. I enjoy having a teacher for Dokusan. I truly enjoy that my teacher is a good person, a good teacher, and a scholar. I'm lucky that I live in a big city where such a teacher can be found. So, while much of my earlier practice (Theravada and Zen) was done by myself, studying at home, sitting at home, I truly found that my practice opened up and expanded by joining with a good teacher. Zen has beautiful traditions and ritual forms, which some find very helpful and inspiring in the practice.

Buddhist centers in the US have had their share of successes, as well as missteps. It's not unusual for a Zen center to have a teacher who strays from the path. So, in searching for a teacher, do your research. If you can't find a teacher in your town, drive a few hours each month to find a Sangha in a city that you can affiliate with.

The above is just my two cents. Maybe it's my personality that needs and enjoys the company of a good Sangha. I am thankful that we live in an age where the Dharma is only as far as the next internet connection, and there are so many good teachers and students of Dharma on the web; certainly many right here in this forum.

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Re: How can Zen be considered it's own thing...

Postby MuMun » Fri Aug 17, 2012 9:25 am

Really terrific discussion, everyone. Thank you.

BuddhaSoup talked about sangha in the most recent reply, just as I was thinking I would add something about that. What I would offer is that indeed sangha is tremendously beneficial, and "the teacher" is part of that community.

Is sangha (with or without someone in the teacher role) indispensable? No. You can practice on your own, formally or informally, and you can get good information from texts. It is possible to practice in any situation. I started on my own reading books. I worked closely with a good teacher (weekly meetings and sometimes more often) for a few years. I spent periods of time living in zen centers and have done many short, formal retreats, and a few long ones. I've also spent periods of time living far away from zen centers or groups and just did it on my own.

The caveat I would offer, and others have offered here, is that sangha -- especially a community that includes peers and elders -- can be a valuable check on our notions. Anyone is vulnerable to thinking they've "got it." When we think we've "got it," what we've got is probably an idea.

Earlier in the thread, Astus used the analogy of learning a foreign language. That is very apt. It so happens that I've been in Italy for two months on an assignment. I learned Italian in classroom settings, and also with books and videos. Even the work I did with live teachers (native speakers, too) did not prepare me for immersion in Italy. I had plenty of understanding and a lot of content -- in a classroom, I was quite conversational and confident. But then I got here and soon got a very different perspective on my ability! It is quite a different matter to practice it spontaneously in an uncontrolled environment. The same can be said of practicing zen -- especially outside the simple formalities of a zendo.

There is something in the spontaneous interaction -- sometimes we call it "experience" -- that completes the circle. Interacting with "teachers" and even older students who have not been formally "recognized" -- in formal and informal situations both -- is enormously beneficial and helpful, and I don't know another way to obtain the kind of teaching it provides.

But does that mean one can't practice zen if there is no access to that? I wouldn't say so. You can practice in any situation. What I would suggest is that it is wise to use all the resources available to you.

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Re: How can Zen be considered it's own thing...

Postby Matylda » Sun Aug 19, 2012 8:32 pm

BuddhaSoup wrote:I can add that there is benefit to having a teacher, but real importance must be placed on the quality of the teacher, that teacher's background, his/her reputation and training, and the personal qualities of the teacher. I feel that it's important to have a teacher, inasmuch as with a teacher you likely have, with Zen, a Sangha. Where there is a good and reputable teacher, there is likely a good Sangha, and I feel that as we pay homage to Buddha, Dharma, we also honor the Sangha.


Hmmm, I d not know from where these ideas come, but there is only one simple thing concerning the teacher and it is only if he is an enlightened being or not. Reputation and so on have nothing to do with it, neither qualities. The only source of qualities and activities of the teacher come from realization.

For a teacher without realization reputation may be important as other things listed. But in zen it has no value whatsoever. Sangha has no importance at all, unless we do not speak of a jewel and refuge but then it is not just a group of people who sit together. Ordinary beings practicing together are bound only by the oath of keeping harmony, that is all. Of the 3 jewels most important is Buddha as the source of everything and the other 2 jewels. And the jewel of sangha means enlightened followers of the buddha path, but not people grouped in a center or monastery. All in all it is teacher who should be embodiment of all 3 jewels, therefore is most important.

His reputation and common or ordinary judgments are useless. For an unenlightened teacher they could be of some value. But we are not relying on teachers reputation and qualities, but on his realization. Since zen is not an ordinary or common path, ordinary concepts are completely empty or otherwise - useless.

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Re: How can Zen be considered it's own thing...

Postby BuddhaSoup » Mon Aug 20, 2012 2:48 am

Part of where these ideas come from might be the Kalama Sutta, where the Buddha placed value, among other things, on specific sources for teachings, one of those being a wise teacher.

It's my view that if you set the standard for a teacher as enlightenment, you might be setting yourself up for some disappointments. Some of the recent and celebrated frauds in Western Buddhism have been teachers who proclaimed themselves enlightened. Others in the marketplace discuss realizations through dreams or visions, that suggest less of enlightenment, and more of chicanery. If you're placing your trust in a guru, there's a downside to guru reliance. The landscape of Western Buddhism is littered with self proclaimed enlightened beings, rinpoches, tulkus, and Zen Masters who proved to be nothing more than (money, fame, power, booze, sex) addicts.

Please do rely on the reputation and character of the teacher; never mind the claims of enlightenment. This standard was good enough for Gautama, and it should be good enough for you, Matylda. With Bows.


Matylda wrote:
BuddhaSoup wrote:I can add that there is benefit to having a teacher, but real importance must be placed on the quality of the teacher, that teacher's background, his/her reputation and training, and the personal qualities of the teacher. I feel that it's important to have a teacher, inasmuch as with a teacher you likely have, with Zen, a Sangha. Where there is a good and reputable teacher, there is likely a good Sangha, and I feel that as we pay homage to Buddha, Dharma, we also honor the Sangha.


Hmmm, I d not know from where these ideas come, but there is only one simple thing concerning the teacher and it is only if he is an enlightened being or not. Reputation and so on have nothing to do with it, neither qualities. The only source of qualities and activities of the teacher come from realization.

For a teacher without realization reputation may be important as other things listed. But in zen it has no value whatsoever. Sangha has no importance at all, unless we do not speak of a jewel and refuge but then it is not just a group of people who sit together. Ordinary beings practicing together are bound only by the oath of keeping harmony, that is all. Of the 3 jewels most important is Buddha as the source of everything and the other 2 jewels. And the jewel of sangha means enlightened followers of the buddha path, but not people grouped in a center or monastery. All in all it is teacher who should be embodiment of all 3 jewels, therefore is most important.

His reputation and common or ordinary judgments are useless. For an unenlightened teacher they could be of some value. But we are not relying on teachers reputation and qualities, but on his realization. Since zen is not an ordinary or common path, ordinary concepts are completely empty or otherwise - useless.

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Re: How can Zen be considered it's own thing...

Postby Matylda » Mon Aug 20, 2012 6:59 am

BuddhaSoup wrote:Part of where these ideas come from might be the Kalama Sutta, where the Buddha placed value, among other things, on specific sources for teachings, one of those being a wise teacher.

It's my view that if you set the standard for a teacher as enlightenment, you might be setting yourself up for some disappointments. Some of the recent and celebrated frauds in Western Buddhism have been teachers who proclaimed themselves enlightened. Others in the marketplace discuss realizations through dreams or visions, that suggest less of enlightenment, and more of chicanery. If you're placing your trust in a guru, there's a downside to guru reliance. The landscape of Western Buddhism is littered with self proclaimed enlightened beings, rinpoches, tulkus, and Zen Masters who proved to be nothing more than (money, fame, power, booze, sex) addicts.

Please do rely on the reputation and character of the teacher; never mind the claims of enlightenment. This standard was good enough for Gautama, and it should be good enough for you, Matylda. With Bows.


Well if it is your view, then let it be your view.

Kalama sutta does not speak about the teacher of enlightened dharma, and was spoken in the social context, not in the context of the zen path. Moreover it is irrelevant for zen which is not any ordinary social path. An enlightened being who is checked by ordinary standards may easily fail, if is giving the genuine uncommon path of liberation by sudden or uncommon means. Why? Since they are pretty ugly for ordinary beings as us.

If you wish to use talk to Kalamas by Buddha, you end up in a completely different buddhist tradition and on completely different path. It is perfectly ok, not to be on a zen path. But as many zen masters pointed if you are going to enter this path, you are entering with bare hands a tiger's cave, and you will loose everything, including your own life. Zen is not for everybody, but everybody may go on this path.

If you are going to follow Gautama, as presented by theravada path, then it is your choice, but if you enter the zen path with theravada standards, then you miss the point. American problem with zen frauds etc. does not apply to the rest of the world. Just if you really meet an enlightened being and wish to follow, then you have no choice, but only submit and be tamed including your Kalama view.

And indeed, if one enters any uncommon path with completely common ideas, standards, views etc. will be deeply harmed. An for such people is much better to reform their motivation, aims etc. and change the path, adjust it to ones own abilities and not to cheat oneself, that one has power to enter the path of powerful means based on the view of no-self, but is oneself powerless to drop everything for the sake of liberation and enlightenment. I pity such people, but frankly those are rather unwise individuals who cheated themselves and ended up in a trap, this is very painful.

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Re: How can Zen be considered it's own thing...

Postby Astus » Mon Aug 20, 2012 8:21 am

Matylda,

How can you tell if somebody is enlightened? Because if that is the primary criterion of a teacher, a student should be able to tell that a person is awakened or not. If the student is unable to tell, how to choose? Lineage is said to be a proof, but even in Dogen's time he met teachers of different lineages but could not follow them and rejected them as fakes. So lineage is no proof.
"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: How can Zen be considered it's own thing...

Postby Matylda » Mon Aug 20, 2012 12:14 pm

Astus wrote:Matylda,

How can you tell if somebody is enlightened? Because if that is the primary criterion of a teacher, a student should be able to tell that a person is awakened or not. If the student is unable to tell, how to choose? Lineage is said to be a proof, but even in Dogen's time he met teachers of different lineages but could not follow them and rejected them as fakes. So lineage is no proof.


Yes it is extremely important point which have touched. There are a view points to be considered.

1. Student power of bodhichitta should be of extreme kind.
2. His karma should be pure enough to be able to put ones life on the scale of sansara and nirvana.
3. One should have strong will to meet a living buddha who will be kind to show him true nature.
4. One should have faith in dharma and compassion of the buddhas and their enlightened embodiment.
5. Due to degenarate time one should always try to multiply those qualities which are above.
6. Diligence of ones zazen should be beyond measure.

Then there is a chance to meet with an enlightened teacher wherever he might be. There are some people who wish to practice zen, but complain that there is no one in their neighborhood :)

Then there are people who practice zazen, but are lukewarm about enlightenment and what one should pay for it, namely ones own life. It is ok, but they are not following the genuine zen path. They are just doing it with very different motivation. It is not wrong anyway.

As for the master and his or her credibility.

1. Minimum is to have proper dharma transmission.
2. The maximum is to have genuine realization.

As for the meeting of person and master.

1. Future student if is not sure should take time to observe.
2. When one will feel limitless devotion one can follow.
3. To have that sort of meeting one should have very fortunate karma
4. It is good to learn about future master's lineage background and about past masters of the lineage.
5. When one will make progress in experience and will be acknowledged as enlightened being, but is not completely free from the bounds of life and death, and does not enter unquestionable samadhi of insight and liberation, then it is time to look further.

As for great Dogen I do not recall anyone whom he named a fake. He disliked some of the Chinese customs, that is true, and had some grudge against particular lineages, which anyway proofed to be genuine. It was his own personal preference. But still Dogen was an enlightened being showing some things which we do not like. It did not change the quality of his own enlightened disciples. And Dogen himself wrote that once you meet an enlightened master, you should not look at his shortcomings whatever it may be, but rather honor him with bows and service at least 3 times a day, and should not cause him to worry about us or our behavior.

And Dogen's teacher whom he admired very much though confirmed his understanding and realization and granted him dharma transmission was not enough for him, so he went to China looking further for his chance. And he was fortunate. But said no word of critic about his Japanese teacher, rather opposite is true.

Are there any rascals or frauds? For our judgments yes, internet is now full of material about it. Are they real frauds? I wonder... even unenlightened being is moved by ones tears, pain and feeling of being lost. An enlightened master with ''shortcomings'' may even much much more show his kindness and human face for the lost student...

But today we are limited by our culture, religious background and social customs of good and bad. The clash between East and West is great. Too risky for zen, which goes along absolute bodhichitta and notion of complete liberation. Zen is not asking us for relaxation meditation and so on.. is asking us to see true nature without hanging on our social fixations...

If we want to protect anything [like our culture] we are simply not ready... true protection is only in enlightenment in ones own nature. Again reputation, good sangha and so on have nothing to do with it.

Someone said about Kalamas, I wonder if it should not be applied to opposite side. We could be easily misguided by our standards and ''good'' advisers. It was about questionable advisers of whom spoke Buddha.

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Re: How can Zen be considered it's own thing...

Postby Astus » Mon Aug 20, 2012 3:11 pm

Matylda,

You gave a list about the qualities of a good student and that such a student should serve the teacher and behave well. But, as for deciding who is an enlightened teacher you did not give any observable characteristics.

How about Dogen's critique of Dahui - the greatest reformer of Chan in Song China - in Jisho Zanmai? From the Shasta Abbey translation, "Even though ‘Meditation Master’ Sōkō did the training for a rather long time, he did not succeed in getting hold of his Master’s Skin and Flesh, Bones and Marrow, much less did he even know that there is an Eye amidst the dust motes of defiling passions."
"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)

Matylda
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Re: How can Zen be considered it's own thing...

Postby Matylda » Mon Aug 20, 2012 6:04 pm

Astus wrote:Matylda,

You gave a list about the qualities of a good student and that such a student should serve the teacher and behave well. But, as for deciding who is an enlightened teacher you did not give any observable characteristics.

How about Dogen's critique of Dahui - the greatest reformer of Chan in Song China - in Jisho Zanmai? From the Shasta Abbey translation, "Even though ‘Meditation Master’ Sōkō did the training for a rather long time, he did not succeed in getting hold of his Master’s Skin and Flesh, Bones and Marrow, much less did he even know that there is an Eye amidst the dust motes of defiling passions."


Well I thought I have answered your question.

As for Dogen. Yes he had bad opinion about Daie, and the whole Yogi line. But it did not confirm to be true. He had long time problem in Kyoto with Tofukuji affair, apparently Yogi & Daie line. But this does not mean anything to us. And there were some other opinions of his as well. But Daie line gave in fact many enlightened teachers. Dogen was of the Oryo ascendance and had no mercy for the Yogi line. Anyway present rinzai lineage comes from Daie Soko :) and if you study carefully biographies of Japanese zen masters up to Hakuin and after him you find many excellent and sublime beings.

As for the qualities of a zen master, there is only one, enlightenment and realization. There is nothing else. And it is unfathomable for any ordinary person. So I gave at length what are requirements for disciple, and how can go along ones own good karma to recognize in master some quality which one cannot find anywhere else by means of changing oneself and finally to be able to drop at least some part of the self, and at least to be able to enter initial samadhi according to his kind instructions and guidance, and it means to approach step by step a master, or somebody who claims to be one.

But, if it fails then it is better to go somewhere else, without any negative emotions. As for ''observing characteristics'' one can only observe oneself in the furnace of the master... never observing a master. If there would be any observable characteristics of the master in respect to his realization, it would mean that anyone, just common person could decide who is or is not enlightened. Then what would be the point to study with such teacher? If an unenlightened being like me could do it, then I could also be able to confirm myself. Then would I need a master?

And again in spite of some opinions that master is not necessary, I have to say that buddhist practice on all levels, if it is practice which is directed to liberation of any sort, requires a teacher. Otherwise practice might be very dangerous. Much more zen which is the short and powerful path of awakening before death. There is no one who can do it on ones own... If you like to quote Dogen, check his Gakudo Yojin shu, where he went to extreme saying that if you do not meet a master then better do not practice zen.

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Re: How can Zen be considered it's own thing...

Postby Astus » Mon Aug 20, 2012 9:34 pm

So regarding teachers the only important thing is that they are enlightened but nobody can actually tell if someone is enlightened or not. That makes it a matter of pure luck/coincidence/karma to find the right Zen teacher. On this basis it can be questioned whether any historical teacher was enlightened. And such a view doesn't sound good to me. On the other hand, in the nikayas one finds clear guidance on investigating (AN 4.192) and identifying (MN 95) the proper teacher. In Mahayana sutras one also finds guidance on this matter (e.g. Complete Enlightenment Sutra, ch. 10). There are also shastras giving lists of qualities a teacher should possess (e.g. Ratnagotravibhaga 93.3-9 (T1611, 844b 6-12) and Mahayanasutralamkara 17.10). How come that Zen is so lost in this matter that is said to be so important for it?
"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: How can Zen be considered it's own thing...

Postby Matylda » Tue Aug 21, 2012 6:16 am

Astus wrote:So regarding teachers the only important thing is that they are enlightened but nobody can actually tell if someone is enlightened or not. That makes it a matter of pure luck/coincidence/karma to find the right Zen teacher. On this basis it can be questioned whether any historical teacher was enlightened. And such a view doesn't sound good to me. On the other hand, in the nikayas one finds clear guidance on investigating (AN 4.192) and identifying (MN 95) the proper teacher. In Mahayana sutras one also finds guidance on this matter (e.g. Complete Enlightenment Sutra, ch. 10). There are also shastras giving lists of qualities a teacher should possess (e.g. Ratnagotravibhaga 93.3-9 (T1611, 844b 6-12) and Mahayanasutralamkara 17.10). How come that Zen is so lost in this matter that is said to be so important for it?


Yes of course it is purely a matter of good karma, that is true and you can find it in a zen writings. As fo nikayas and even mahyana texts, thay are good as far as they go, but it has nothing to do with zen. Read rather last part of Avatamsaka, the Gandavyuha, and you will see more zen approach and how many teachers were in disguise.

I do not know in the West but it seems that there are many ''zen masters''... it is ok if anyone wants to be, why not. But as far as zen is considered I would rather follow Gakudo Yojin shu or similar texts then your suggestion specially that you are not a zen master, or are you?

I do not consider quoted texts as wrong but they are applied to common theravada or mahayana paths, and if I look for a teacher of such path, then of course I would agree... but to use them as a pattern for zen teacher is not proper. It does not mean that zen teachers fail to be exactly in those standards, but... it is of no importance for the zen path. For the zen path is only important if a teacher realized it or not. If not then can have good reputation and so on and will take you to nowhere. If one wishes to follow those standards one is free to do so, I do not say no... I say only that in zen it is meaningless whether is zen master is good or bad man etc. since his compassion is not common compassion, his realization is not common realization etc. etc. if one is using just puristic protestant standards of behavior to the zen master, then is missing the point. That is all...

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Re: How can Zen be considered it's own thing...

Postby Astus » Tue Aug 21, 2012 8:14 am

And what is the point? You say that it only matters if a teacher "realises it". But the fact of realisation can't be discerned by others, and not even the object of realisation is defined. So it is like not saying anything. You claim that neither ethics nor wisdom matters in a teacher. This way there is no meaning of the title "Zen teacher". Considering this non-defined concept, anyone could just be called Zen teacher and there would be no way to debate its validity.
"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: How can Zen be considered it's own thing...

Postby Kaji » Sat Aug 25, 2012 8:17 am

Another reason to have a teacher for Zen practice is the risk of "Zen diseases". I have heard/read stories of Zen monks having Zen diseases that required help from Zen teachers.

In one example, a Zen monk reached a point where he became extremely creative and started writing poetry masterpieces one after another (or painting beautiful pictures, I can't remember exactly). He literally wrote (or painted) throughout day and night, not being able to sleep. It was realised he was suffering from a Zen disease and had to find ways to recover from it. In the absence of an experienced Zen teacher, it can be very dangerous to get "Zen sick".
Namas triya-dhvikānāṃ sarva tathāgatānām!

Astus
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Re: How can Zen be considered it's own thing...

Postby Astus » Sat Aug 25, 2012 9:34 pm

Zen sickness refers to false understandings, attachments to wrong views and meditation experiences. It is not some common disease, insanity, obsession, or any of the kind that ordinary people suffer from. In fact, those who cling to some view regarding their realisation usually feel that it is the correct attainment. This can be remedied by a clear eyed teacher, or sufficient study and practice, or both at the same time.

"In my school, there are only two kinds of sickness. One is to go looking for a donkey riding on the donkey. The other is to be unwilling to dismount once having mounted the donkey."
(Foyan in Instant Zen, p. 4)
"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)

Kaji
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Re: How can Zen be considered it's own thing...

Postby Kaji » Sun Aug 26, 2012 2:44 am

Astus wrote:Zen sickness refers to false understandings, attachments to wrong views and meditation experiences. It is not some common disease, insanity, obsession, or any of the kind that ordinary people suffer from. In fact, those who cling to some view regarding their realisation usually feel that it is the correct attainment. This can be remedied by a clear eyed teacher, or sufficient study and practice, or both at the same time.

"In my school, there are only two kinds of sickness. One is to go looking for a donkey riding on the donkey. The other is to be unwilling to dismount once having mounted the donkey."
(Foyan in Instant Zen, p. 4)

The one of the Zen sicknesses I mentioned, from what I have read, is one of the Fifty Skandha-Demons according to the Shurangama Sutra. I believe any Buddhist practitioner has some risk of being inflicted with some sort of sicknesses and Skandha-Demons. Perhaps Zen and Esoteric practices are more likely to encounter them (than say Pure Land practice), hence the need for an experienced and knowledgeable teacher.
Namas triya-dhvikānāṃ sarva tathāgatānām!

Matylda
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Re: How can Zen be considered it's own thing...

Postby Matylda » Sun Aug 26, 2012 11:06 am

Astus wrote:And what is the point? You say that it only matters if a teacher "realises it". But the fact of realisation can't be discerned by others, and not even the object of realisation is defined. So it is like not saying anything. You claim that neither ethics nor wisdom matters in a teacher. This way there is no meaning of the title "Zen teacher". Considering this non-defined concept, anyone could just be called Zen teacher and there would be no way to debate its validity.


Yes in a way you are right.. the title itself is sort of stupid, isn't it? yes of course that finally everyone is a master, how it could be different?

But for the unenlightened beings we need teacher, a guide, or an enlightened being... we are blind ourselves, nothing more. You can elaborate even more about the matter, but it is helpless, since it will always return to the same point of an enlightened teacher... not only good looking with great reputation purist. It has nothing to do with zen, true nature and realization, or liberation.


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