Treeleaf Sangha

Re: Treeleaf Sangha

Postby oushi » Fri Feb 01, 2013 8:00 pm

There is no official decree. You are banned from posting, editing and going through profiles. You can login, and read PMs. In other words, there is no way of saying if somebody is banned, or not. You have to ask.
Say what you think about me here.
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Re: Treeleaf Sangha

Postby myozankodo » Fri Feb 01, 2013 8:23 pm

Hi Shel,
As interesting as it is to discuss our study and praxis over at Treeleaf, there's nothing quite like jumping in. Are you based in North America? We have a retreat planned for there sometime in the months ahead. When the details are available, I can send on the info to you if you like. I'm sure you'd be welcome. All your many questions would be answered with regard to the Sangha by attending such a retreat.

But if you feel Treeleaf isn't for you. Well, no big deal. Each to their own … while respecting the other.

By the way, is there a history of DharmaWheel and an outline of its editorial policy anywhere on the site? The variety of discussion is impressive. So many traditions are represented.

Gassho
Myozan
Last edited by myozankodo on Fri Feb 01, 2013 8:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Treeleaf Sangha

Postby shel » Fri Feb 01, 2013 8:26 pm

oushi wrote:You have to ask.


Straight from the horses mouth, so to speak:
jundo cohen wrote:I resigned (I was not banned, though it was rather mutual) from ZFI because I ran into trouble with the owners there who did not care for my critical style on certain topics

By "resigned" I think that he meant that they stopped letting him post and therefore he of course stopped posting.

I happened to see Jundo's last post on that forum, which was promptly deleted by the admins. It was a long post, of course, the gist of which was Jundo saying that if they would not let him post whatever he wanted they should ban him. That must be what he meant by "rather mutual."

We are all so concerned with appearances, aren't we...
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Re: Treeleaf Sangha

Postby shel » Fri Feb 01, 2013 8:40 pm

myozankodo wrote:Hi Shel,
As interesting as it is to discuss our study and praxis over at Treeleaf, there's nothing quite like jumping in. Are you based in North America? We have a retreat planned for there sometime in the months ahead. When the details are available, I can send on the info to you if you like. I'm sure you'd be welcome. All your many questions would be answered with regard to the Sangha by attending such a retreat.

But if you feel Treeleaf isn't for you. Well, no big deal. Each to their own … while respecting the other.


Thanks. I'm quite sure it's not for me.

There is a saying that "you get what you pay for." I've seen what free "rigorous" practice gets.
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Re: Treeleaf Sangha

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Feb 01, 2013 10:08 pm

Are we quite finished with the completely off-topic discussion about whther Mr. Cohen is allowed to post at ZFI or not?
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Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Treeleaf Sangha

Postby shel » Fri Feb 01, 2013 11:37 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:Are we quite finished with the completely off-topic discussion about whther Mr. Cohen is allowed to post at ZFI or not?


Apparently, but the real and important topic seems to have been exhausted. So what now? :tongue:
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Re: Treeleaf Sangha

Postby Sara H » Sun Feb 03, 2013 12:04 pm

myozankodo wrote:Hi all,
I really am not concerned with what you think about Jundo. I’m also not concerned about your history with Jundo. That has nothing to do with me. I speak for myself, not Jundo.

(That said, in my experience, Jundo is fair-minded and, obviously, impassioned in discussion ... as are many of you, i'd wager).

Shel, you had some questions I’d be happy to try and answer.

I’ve never met Jundo in person. No. But I have met my teacher Taigu in person. Indeed, I was ordained by him at the end of a Sesshin held in Kortenborg, Belgium, in 2011. This ordination came after two years of preparation, including weekly, hour-long meetings on Skype. I think we must be talking of about 100 hours or more of face-to-face, student-teacher interaction in advance of ordination.

You also asked about Unsui training at Treeleaf. Well, much like elsewhere it involves study and practice. Study of the sutras. Practice of the forms. Immersion in the history of the Soto tradition. Also, work practice, engaged practice, and the like forms part of the training. All in all, it is a daily commitment ... not a fly-by-night affair.

My weekly hour of Dokusan continues with my teacher. Having received Jukai in the SFZC lineage, I decided that Dokusan twice a year with Paul Haller just wasn’t enough. I realised I’d have much more interaction with a teacher at Treeleaf. So, I sought out Taigu, with whom I identified. Indeed, some of the training (particularly in forms) happened in Belgium ... and will continue, both online and at our next retreat.

I know Jundo’s priests-in-training also have spent time practicing with him in Japan, as well as their interaction online. This is certainly true of Mongen, who did some training in a Japanese monetary with Jundo for a week or two a year or two ago.
So, although much of our interaction occurs online, it is complemented in other meetings. It’s really not that radical ... quite like any other Zen Sangha in North America or Europe, really.

Thanks for your questions Shel. Who do you practise with, and where? I’d be curious to learn of your own practise.

Gassho
Myozan


Hi Myozan.

This is an interesting post, and I appreciate you sharing it.

I was just jumping in here, but I would like to voice a couple of concerns.

One is,
While advanced trainees, (transmitted monks or priests, or highly advanced lay practitioners) can do fine training on their own, but with regular electronic contact with Teachers, etc,

novices are quite different, from what I've seen.

The reason for this is, there are some ways of teaching, and things that need to be taught, that just need physical interaction, and/or observation of the student, physically.

There's a lot that can be learned about a student's individual "genjo-koan" that can (and I believe in some cases must) be learned by physically observing the student.

This is because body language, how one interacts when not in a Sanzen/spiritual counseling session, ordinary irritation, frustration, etc, often reveal important clues and insights to a teacher as to just how to help the student with the particular issue they are struggling with.

While I can attest from personal experience that it's not necessarily required to be in a monastery in order to have a kensho,

Physical interaction with one's Teacher's is, in my experience very important.

I lived at a monastery for several months as a Lay Resident, in preparation to become a postulant.

Before that I lived in close physical proximity to a monastery and so had the ability to go on retreats often and in many cases over the weekends for a period of a couple years.

I had constant guidance available to me and interaction with both senior Lay trainee's as well as monks of many years of practice.

Often, just the way observing someone bow to you with sincerity can be more impactful and instructive than all the talks in the world.

When one is so damned mad, full of hate and anger at something, and some monk see's you and walks over and tells you a funny, human, compassionate story that you just needed to hear at that moment, about how they had one time been so mad at something in the monastery that they were flinging the rake around... (lol)

Or those little compassionate moments when you are really having a hard time and someone brings you a little sweet treat because they know you are having a hard time...

Demonstrated compassion, real, physical compassion, and love like that.

The wisdom of when somebody listens to you go off and rant on something and they don't tell you something yet, because they know you just arn't ready to listen to it, or giving you some small physical task to do, because they know it will help a certain kindof problem you have...

I could go on and on.

I do think this is an incredibly innovative idea, and, I certainly think there is a place for it in adopting it to modernize along with traditional practice.
Especially with prison Dharma, I could see this as being incredibly useful.

There's a thing that I've heard a lot said in our tradition that I belong to, that "find a need and fill it"

I guess the question I would ask you, out of genuine sincerity and wishing to learn, is if there is a need, that this fills, what is it, and how would you describe it, and why it's needed.

I'm not saying there is or isn't a need for this, I'm open to the possibility that it could be either way, I'm just wishing to learn.

Again, I appreciate you sharing Myozan.

In Gassho,

Sara H.
"Life is full of suffering. AND Life is full of the Eternal
IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
OR
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil

" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy
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Re: Treeleaf Sangha

Postby myozankodo » Sun Feb 03, 2013 8:35 pm

Hi Sara,
Thanks for your post and questions, and the friendly tone in which they were posed.

As a novice, my training has never been on my own. Take the training in forms, for example. Putting on and taking off the Okesa; use of the Zagu; Sanpai; sutra recitation: all this, etc, is rehearsed and rehearsed with one's teacher. And, in my case, and for others, too, these forms are tested when meeting face to face.

I understand your description of how a bow, someone's deportment, can reveal so much. This is true. Also, how someone deports themselves in conflicts reveals much. And there is so much conflict as sangha members spark off each other ... in any Sangha or human society. This is true online, too. Especially after a sustained period of years, when the original pretence of presenting an online personae cannot be sustained in real conflicts and meetings and group leaning and group working activities. You quickly learn who operates primarily from the heart; who is cerebral; who is lazy; who is a self-starter; who works badly in a team and who works well; who is relaxed and who is carrying some wound that makes them anxious and sometimes difficult. And when this person is, in fact, yourself! Teachers and Sangha members really get to know each other: we meet on Skype; complete work projects together; write to each other on the forum daily; advise each other by phone; periodically meet in the flesh.

All things come out ... with time ... Online and off.

Your question what need it fulfils is a good one. Certainly, in my case, where I live, there
is no Zen sangha that I identify with. I do, however, identify with Nishijima's line. The lineage Treeleaf is in. Also, as an working academic with a family it allows me to follow this path ... this path that I would otherwise not be able to walk.

Now, I am fully aware that some people do not believe in a married clergy. I am aware that some people believe that the monastic path is the only path. That is fine, but I simply do not agree. I grew up in a strict, Irish catholic family. I simply don't personally believe that, in many cases, a celibate clergy is a good thing. Although there are cases it could be a good thing, of course.

But my disagreement doesn't make me think protracted and bitter arguments online about these issues will convince anyone. I simply accept that others do not share my convictions. I aim to respect their views ... and hope they will respect mine. Although, of course, we can discuss the issues.

Also, it is important to note that both teachers at Treeleaf are fully transmitted teachers that have years of experience ... even before Treeleaf was established. THEY direct the spiritual practise of the Sangha, and they direct the training ... Not the novice unsui, like myself.

In addition, priests in training are encouraged to sit Sesshin with other groups where possible, to expose themselves to other teachers in Dokusan. This, I believe, is healthy. I sometimes sit with a SFZC trained teacher when he is in Dublin (Ingen Breen), and observe closely his forms. (Indeed, I count him as a friend.) Observation, of course, being one primary training methodology in the tradition ... To look and look and look and copy.

But, in my genuine experience, the direction I receive from Taigu on Skype really is usually sufficient. I must say, though, that our existing bond as teacher and student was reinforced by spending time together at Sesshin.

Personally, I think people make very reductive, ill informed and generalised statements about what we do at Treeleaf. Like all reality, it is much more complex and rich than its caricature.

I hope this brief post helps you understand what we do in our training. It really is not as sinister as some people intimate.

Gassho
Myozan
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Re: Treeleaf Sangha

Postby shel » Sun Feb 03, 2013 10:35 pm

myozankodo wrote:Personally, I think people make very reductive, ill informed and generalised statements about what we do at Treeleaf. Like all reality, it is much more complex and rich than its caricature.


What exactly are people ill informed about?

I asked about priest in training required daily practice, which you described as "rigorous," but you chose to not inform us.
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Re: Treeleaf Sangha

Postby myozankodo » Sun Feb 03, 2013 11:39 pm

Hi Shel,
You have many questions.

I have one, too.

Should I refer to you as praxis or Shel?

Gassho,
Myozan
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Re: Treeleaf Sangha

Postby Jikan » Sun Feb 03, 2013 11:51 pm

from the moderator:

The topic for this thread is Treeleaf Sangha. If you'd like to discuss ancillary issues, such as individual users' participation on other boards under other nicks, please start a separate thread for that purpose.

Thank you.
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Re: Treeleaf Sangha

Postby shel » Mon Feb 04, 2013 12:30 am

myozankodo wrote:Hi Shel,
You have many questions.

Sorry, I didn't know it would be a problem for you to answer a few questions about Treeleaf.

Should I refer to you as praxis or Shel?

Lol, you can refer to me any way that you please. I'm having trouble imagining why anyone would care.
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Re: Treeleaf Sangha

Postby Jikan » Mon Feb 04, 2013 1:41 pm

I'd like to learn more about what training and practice means in Treeleaf Sangha. What is the content of this training? What do people do at different levels of involvement/commitment? What do people study? How do retreats work? What kind of instruction is given, at what intervals? I'm particularly eager to hear your point of view, myozankudo, and I don't think I'm the only one.

:namaste:
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Re: Treeleaf Sangha

Postby myozankodo » Mon Feb 04, 2013 2:02 pm

Ask me a specific question. I'll be happy to answer, if I can.
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Re: Treeleaf Sangha

Postby Jikan » Mon Feb 04, 2013 2:27 pm

myozankodo wrote:Ask me a specific question. I'll be happy to answer, if I can.


Great! OK then, here are some specific questions. Answer any or none of them, as you see appropriate.

What is the content of the training at Treeleaf Sangha? What do people study?

What do people do in terms of practice at different levels of involvement/commitment? (put differently: what kinds of practice commitments are expected of different kinds of ordinands or members or students... I'm not sure what the correct noun is for Treeleaf, please forgive)

How do retreats work? Are there such things as group retreats? If so, how do they function? Are people encouraged to attempt personal retreats?

What kind of instruction is given, by whom, at what intervals, and by what media?
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Re: Treeleaf Sangha

Postby myozankodo » Mon Feb 04, 2013 5:18 pm

Hi. I’ll quickly do my best to respond.

The content of the training:
I have been in training for just a year. So far, we’ve concentrated on a study of Paul Williams’ text on The Doctoral Foundations of Mahayana Buddhism. We’ve also studied ritual forms, as outlined in the ‘Standard Observances’ and as demonstrated to me by my teacher. So, we’ve been trained in recitation of the Heart Sutra; use of the Zagu; putting on and off the Okesa; offering incense; the lay-out of the altar, etc. My understanding is that Sutra study and study of Zen texts proper will ensue.

The second question, I feel, is better directed at one of the teachers of the Sangha. As an unsui, however, I do not, of course, teach, or lead practise or conduct rituals without supervision. I am in a period of training. Of course, a full and committed daily Zazen practice is a basic requirement ... and a number of years of practice, at that, before ordination. The commitment / expectation is less for non-ordained Sangha members, I believe. Again, I feel this question is best directed to one of the teachers.

Retreats are very similar to retreats held by SFZC teachers, which I have attended. Zazen, zazen and more zazen ... from very early morning to late evening, and over a number of days. Oryoki practice is included (as it is not, in the SFZC style retreats I’ve attended in Ireland). There is work practice and Dokusan. There are Dharma talks. The retreats are in silence. Mostly it’s Zazen. There is a teacher present leading the practice. However, Sangha members also get together from time to time to sit together, without a resident teacher. At such events no teachings are offered or Dharma talks given.

Instruction is given from teacher to student (in my case, Taigu), by Skype each week for an hour; daily by email and private message; and at in person retreats ... which happen when we can make them happen ... my last one was last year.

As I said earlier, instruction can involve (in discussion, or silence, as the case may be): evaluating your understanding of a text; testing your understanding of a koan; correcting your sitting posture via Skype; examining your Kesa on retreat; training in Oryoki forms; etc.

I’m at work and better get back to it. I hope this answers some of your questions. If you require more detail, I think it’s probably best to enquire with Taigu Turlur or Jundo Cohen. I’ve done my best here to address your questions.

Gassho
Myozan
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Re: Treeleaf Sangha

Postby shel » Mon Feb 04, 2013 7:14 pm

myozankodo wrote:a full and committed daily Zazen practice is a basic requirement ...

I do this in addition to full-time employment, as well as taking care of all the usual householder duties, and additional learning and training. I wouldn't call it a rigorous lifestyle.

Sitting alone and all by my lonesome self, if something comes up like a work deadline I'll sometimes skip sitting for the day. Do you or any of the other priests in training do this?
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Re: Treeleaf Sangha

Postby myozankodo » Mon Feb 04, 2013 8:24 pm

Hi Shel,
I can only speak for myself. No matter what, I sit everyday: in the morning and at night. This has been my practise for many years.
Gassho
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Re: Treeleaf Sangha

Postby JKhedrup » Mon Feb 04, 2013 11:30 pm

My opinion (just an opinion) is that anyone who wishes to be a dharma "teacher" should seek full time instruction from a qualified master, with as much interaction with him or her as possible.

If the master is very well known, living in a community led by their senior students is a good second option. One needs a period of close supervision from a qualified teacher to be shaped as someone capable of guiding others.

I don't think this disqualifies truly committed laypeople (including those with children)from this type of training- it might involve moving, or spending most of one's free time in training, or changing one's social habits.

Skype and email, while very useful, to me can never be the same as face to face interactions with the teacher (I realize that some people, including the students of Chogyal Namkhai Norbu, will not agree with me on this).

And even then, it is no guarantee. I have been fortunate to study closely with several senior lamas and interact with a qualified Geshe who taught scripture at the monastery daily. Despite those blessings, I know the state of my own mind and do not feel that I can act as a role model to others.

Perhaps I am super-conservative but I demand the highest qualities from dharma teachers. They should have some level of mastery, at least on the knowledge level of the teachings, as well as a subdued mind and compassion for others.

"Gurus" or "Masters" of course, require far vaster qualities.

It has always puzzled me that so many people want to be dharma teachers, actually. Because I think it is probably the most demanding job in the world (at least up there with motherhood) and if you are not qualified you can damage potential students as well as create your own negative karma.

Apart from one of my lamas demanding that I become a teacher while hitting me on the head with a shoe, I don't think I'd ever consider it.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
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Re: Treeleaf Sangha

Postby Jikan » Tue Feb 05, 2013 12:04 am

small detail in support of Khedrup's overall point: Dzogchen Community does emphasize in-person interactions with the teacher. You have to show up.

Sorry for the off-topic.
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