American "Zen"

Re: American "Zen"

Postby shel » Sun Mar 03, 2013 6:14 pm

Matt J wrote:... having failings doesn't mean that one is not an accomplished teacher. As always, the truth is somewhere in the middle.

Or in plain sight.
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Re: American "Zen"

Postby Matt J » Sun Mar 03, 2013 7:04 pm

I understand this model and way of thinking, but why do you think that this is the way things actually are? Or that this model is adopted in Zen?

Baizhang's Wild Fox koan suggests that it is not so simple as yes or no.

kirtu wrote:Why? Because realization itself, even minor realization, keeps one from committing egregious, harmful acts. Minor realization itself (so kensho) is powerful enough to not exactly prevent this but dampens it in a way. So after a person commits a bad act their conscious is activated acutely and they are unlikely to do so again anytime soon. Overtime, realization builds and those bad acts have to diminish and stop.
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If only there is no picking or choosing
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Re: American "Zen"

Postby Astus » Sun Mar 03, 2013 8:10 pm

Matt J wrote:Baizhang's Wild Fox koan suggests that it is not so simple as yes or no.


I wouldn't rely on a single story to understand the relationship between karma and enlightenment. There are, after all, quite a few extensive treatises on the matter, and the sutras of course.

The bodhisattva career doesn't start at the 7th and 8th bhumis but way before that. A 1st bhumi bodhisattva is already on the 41st level in the usual 52 stages model and has very strong compassion, not to mention the wisdom with what the illusoriness of samsara is seen through. Such an enlightened noble being is capable of becoming an arhat, but doesn't do so in order to attain buddhahood.
"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)

“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; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: American "Zen"

Postby jeeprs » Sun Mar 03, 2013 9:08 pm

'Stricty speaking there are no enlightened people, only enlightened activities' - Suzuki Roshi
He that knows it, knows it not.
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Re: American "Zen"

Postby dzogchungpa » Sun Mar 03, 2013 9:35 pm

Matt J wrote:Unfortunately, Zen practice tends to accept things as they are rather than as we wish them to be. Zen teachers don't fart sunshine and urinate rainbows, either. Being an accomplished teacher doesn't mean that one is a sinless, Christ-like figure. And having failings doesn't mean that one is not an accomplished teacher. As always, the truth is somewhere in the middle.

dzogchungpa wrote:Well, as I said, Nonin is just too subtle for me, but he seems to be saying that one can be an "accomplished Zen Buddhist teacher" and still be as contemptible as Sasaki, and I just can't accept that.

Comments like this really make me feel like "Zen" is some kind of spiritual illness.
ཨོཾ་མ་ཧཱ་ཤུནྱ་ཏཱ་ཛྙཱ་ན་བཛྲ་སྭཱ་བྷཱ་བ་ཨཱཏྨ་ཀོ་྅ཧཾ༔

The thousands of lines of the Prajnaparamita can be summed up in the following two sentences:
1) One should become a Bodhisattva (or, Buddha-to-be), i.e. one who is content with nothing less than all-knowledge attained through the perfection of wisdom for the sake of all beings.
2) There is no such thing as a Bodhisattva, or as all-knowledge, or as a ‘being’, or as the perfection of wisdom, or as an attainment.
To accept both these contradictory facts is to be perfect.
- Conze
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Re: American "Zen"

Postby dzogchungpa » Tue Mar 05, 2013 11:17 pm

Is Nonin really considered to be a Zen master, as stated in the bio below that Sweeping Zen article?
His exhibition in the comment thread of "bodhisattva and buddha behavior", as he so felicitously puts it,
is really quite laughable.
ཨོཾ་མ་ཧཱ་ཤུནྱ་ཏཱ་ཛྙཱ་ན་བཛྲ་སྭཱ་བྷཱ་བ་ཨཱཏྨ་ཀོ་྅ཧཾ༔

The thousands of lines of the Prajnaparamita can be summed up in the following two sentences:
1) One should become a Bodhisattva (or, Buddha-to-be), i.e. one who is content with nothing less than all-knowledge attained through the perfection of wisdom for the sake of all beings.
2) There is no such thing as a Bodhisattva, or as all-knowledge, or as a ‘being’, or as the perfection of wisdom, or as an attainment.
To accept both these contradictory facts is to be perfect.
- Conze
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Re: American "Zen"

Postby shel » Tue Mar 05, 2013 11:31 pm

The weirdest thing of all is that he actually seems to be trying to promote Zen Buddhism.
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Re: American "Zen"

Postby jeeprs » Tue Mar 05, 2013 11:58 pm

I had the idea that in traditional Buddhism, criticizing Buddhist teachers was generally a pretty grave breach of etiquette. I think certainly ideas can be challenged and debated, but I don't think that personal belittlement serves much purpose.

There are Buddhist writers and public figures I don't agree with. I generally simply don't engage with them.
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Re: American "Zen"

Postby shel » Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:08 am

jeeprs wrote:I had the idea that in traditional Buddhism, criticizing Buddhist teachers was generally a pretty grave breach of etiquette.


That's why it takes decades to out a Zen teacher.
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Re: American "Zen"

Postby jeeprs » Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:20 am

I just keep my distance. Never having been beholden to one, I am not obliged to out or criticize anybody.

I rather like 'zenmar', whoever he is. He is the person behind 'dark zen' and 'the zennist' blog. I read his stuff from time to time. I get the feeling he's a pretty difficult and argumentative character, but he nails one particular thing, which hardly anyone else seems to get. He is an actual gnostic, he understands the essentially mystical character of the subject. But he also spends an inordinate of time arguing about 'why everyone else is wrong'. All these 'mine is the true dharma' arguments are tiresome. The true dharma is being useful to others.
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Re: American "Zen"

Postby Indrajala » Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:25 am

jeeprs wrote:I had the idea that in traditional Buddhism, criticizing Buddhist teachers was generally a pretty grave breach of etiquette. I think certainly ideas can be challenged and debated, but I don't think that personal belittlement serves much purpose.


If they're your master, you don't criticize them. If they're not, then while you might have the freedom, in many places it would be considered rude and inappropriate. Their disciples might take it very personally and never forget such an insult.

By "criticize" here I mean criticizing their views and actions, and not slandering them.
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Re: American "Zen"

Postby jeeprs » Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:33 am

I agree that ideas - and I suppose practices - can and should be criticized. But I think denigration and criticism are different things, even though it is a pretty blurry line a lot of the time. I am not meaning that Zen (or any other teachers) should be beyond criticism - which I suppose is something I could be fairly be accused of saying.

OK I will come out and say it. I personally don't agree with some of what Ven Nonin says in his opinion pieces, or with his interpretation of emptiness. But I also don't choose to spend time taking pot-shots at it on forum threads and the like. Despite my reservations, I regard him as someone who has dedicated himself to the dharma for most of his life and whose motivations are generally altruistic. There are others who have really exploited the whole 'mystique of zen' thing to their own advantage and I wouldn't put him in that category.

The whole question of 'right view' is very difficult in Zen - much more than it seems. It seems so simple and so direct. But underneath it there is enormous depth.
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Re: American "Zen"

Postby Astus » Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:34 am

Consider this a little (Record of Linji, p. 17-18, tr. Sasaki):

Trembling with fright, like donkeys on an icy path, [you say to yourselves,] ‘I don’t dare disparage these good teachers for fear of making karma with my mouth!’
Followers of the Way, it is only a great teacher who dares to disparage the buddhas, dares to disparage the patriarchs, to determine the right and the wrong of the world, to reject the teachings of the Tripiṭaka, to revile all infantile fellows, and to look for a Person amidst fortunate and unfortunate circumstances.
Therefore, when I look back over the past twelve years for a single thing having the nature of karma, I can’t find anything even the size of a mustard seed. The Chan master who is like a new bride will fear lest he be thrown out of his temple, be given no food to eat, and have no contentment and ease. From olden days our predecessors never had people anywhere who believed in them. Only aft er they had been driven out was their worth recognized. If they had been fully accepted by people everywhere, what would they have been good for? Therefore it is said, ‘The lion’s single roar splits the jackals’ skulls.’


Of course, the 7th major precept of the bodhisattvas says: "A disciple of the Buddha shall not praise himself and speak ill of others, or encourage others to do so. He must not create the causes, conditions, methods, or karma of praising himself and disparaging others." But if it's not about praising yourself at the expense of others, that's a different matter.
"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)

“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; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: American "Zen"

Postby jeeprs » Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:59 am

Astus wrote:
Lin Chi wrote:it is only a great teacher who dares to disparage the buddhas, dares to disparage the patriarchs, to determine the right and the wrong of the world, to reject the teachings of the Tripiṭaka, to revile all infantile fellows, and to look for a Person amidst fortunate and unfortunate circumstances.


It is very interesting that 'Person' is capitalized here!

As for 'only a great teacher' - people often quote 'if you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him' as a justification for antinomianism and iconoclasm, but it easily becomes a rationale for 'doing whatever you want'. Whereas, in its original context, it is pointing to one who really has gone to the other shore, beyond the teaching in the sense of realizing its end. And I daresay they are really very few.
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Re: American "Zen"

Postby shel » Wed Mar 06, 2013 1:22 am

It looks to me like the feedback in the comment section of the Unethical Practices in Zen article are meant to help the author and Zen in general. If the feedback was received openheartedly it could have been a step forward for everyone, instead of what it turned out to be.
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Re: American "Zen"

Postby jeeprs » Wed Mar 06, 2013 1:28 am

or given 'openheartedly' for that matter. Some might have been.
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Re: American "Zen"

Postby shel » Wed Mar 06, 2013 1:37 am

jeeprs wrote:or given 'openheartedly' for that matter. Some might have been.


You mean like, "Thank you for this wonderful teaching, Venerable Nonin." I'm sure that's the reception at home in Nebraska.

It's not particularly flattering to suggest a Zen master is the reactive type, by the way.
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Re: American "Zen"

Postby jeeprs » Wed Mar 06, 2013 1:46 am

I was referring more to the kind of 'hey Zen is just infantile role-playing and projection on to authority figures' - that kind of comment. There are teachers who started out with Zen but who have completely left the entire ceremonial and liturgical structure behind. There are other people who just get disillusioned with any kind of spiritual teaching whatever. But what I don't get is, if you think that the ceremonial and liturgical structures are irrelevant, out of date, why bother commenting? I don't hang around UFO enthusiast forums saying 'hey UFOs are just projections, you know.' It would be a waste of everyone's time.

Incidentally I didn't agree with Nonin's depiction of 'enlightenment as impermanent' for the reasons given above, and I agree with the critical comments made about that idea, in this thread.
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Re: American "Zen"

Postby shel » Wed Mar 06, 2013 1:57 am

jeeprs wrote:I was referring more to the kind of 'hey Zen is just infantile role-playing and projection on to authority figures' - that kind of comment.

I agree that some people get reactive and don't have the skill to work with comments of this sort.

But what I don't get is, if you think that the ceremonial and liturgical structures are irrelevant, out of date, why bother commenting?

I didn't read all of the comments, but I didn't see any that said something to this effect.

I don't hang around UFO enthusiast forums saying 'hey UFOs are just projections, you know.' It would be a waste of everyone's time.

No, but you often tell the story of time spend arguing with 'materialists'. Time spent in this manner can have the effect of further polarizing views.
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Re: American "Zen"

Postby Seymjo » Wed Mar 06, 2013 3:58 am

(Students) take written teachings as spears and shields and attack each other ... Teachings are considered high or low depending if they are one's own or someone else's. Right and wrong are complicated, and no one can tell them apart. Thus, the various teachings of Buddhas and bodhisattvas of the past are now used to create contraversy.

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