Jikan wrote:Hi Omoi Otoshi,
I'd like to hear more about the successes you see at TreeLeaf sangha. What are they, and how would you describe their success?
How do you talk about success when it comes to buddhism and Zen buddhist practice? I don't know. I'm not sure you can.
But I'll try to explain a little more and give some examples of why I view Treeleaf as successful. When I found Treeleaf I decided to join to see if it had anything to offer for me and my practice. I didn't really compare it to a normal brick and mortar Sangha back then, but the dharma talks seemed good and the forum friendly so I gave it a go. There isn't a Sangha within reasonable distance, so the alternative was to continue on my own. Treeleaf helped me gain some understanding of Shikantaza for the first time. Helped me realize that there wasn't anything I needed to do, or some special state to achieve/attain. That it was all there to begin with. Before, when I was practicing on my own, I was stuck for a long time in a confused practice of thought suppression and what not. So for me, for my practice, Treeleaf and its teachers was a major turning point. Without listening to Jundo's and Taigu's dharma talks and replies to questions, I would also know much less about buddhism, its history, traditions and concepts. You could also say that Treeleaf has been a success story only because it is still around and even growing after all these years. In my view, Treeleaf has also been successful in challenging some ideas in a sometimes rather conservative world of Zen buddhism (whether this is positive or negative is in the eye of the beholder of course! ) During the past few years I have also seen many members change in positive ways. One member has gone from being insecure to being much more confident in himself, another doesn't suffer from as much anxiety anymore, a third has become better at dealing with anger and so on. I would even say that some members are seeing more clearly (but I wouldn't be the best judge of that, so take with a pinch of salt!). Many members have found the Zazenkais, sewing sessions, chats, sittings on G+ and so on to be a great support and motivation for their practice. I'm still surprised at the collective wisdom in some of the discussions at Treeleaf. No matter what question or problem, there's always someone around to share their own experiences, suggest a way forward, see things from a different perspective or offer a word of comfort. Some people who have practiced in another Sangha and then come to Treeleaf say that the teacher presence is very high at Treeleaf. And last but not least, Treeleaf has so far produced some very promising Unsui (hi Myozan! ). If they continue in the same way, they will be great teachers one day! For some members though, Treeleaf and its teachers hasn't been what they have been searching for. I'm sorry for that, but I guess it is to be expected. I don't think any teacher or teaching place is right for all people.