Cleary on Cultish Zen

Re: Cleary on Cultish Zen

Postby Astus » Sun Mar 03, 2013 1:36 am

kirtu wrote:The sitting posture itself is not identical to Buddhahood. Deshimaru didn't mean that literally. However sitting is needed to accomplish zazen (unless one has a handicap , in which case it would be difficult but not impossible). But zazen is practice/enlightenment. From the beginning. In Zen, zazen is the gateway to directly discovering one's Buddhahood for oneself.


As I read it, you say that (1) sitting is required (unless not) for zazen, (2) zazen is practice-enlightenment, (3) zazen leads to the discovery of buddhahood. So, sitting is an ideal preparation for practice-enlightenmet but it's not the same. And although it is called practice-enlightenment, there is a further step to find buddhahood - or you meant probably that practice-enlightenment is buddhahood, or rather the realisation of buddha-nature, but not the same as ultimate enlightenment. That way we have 3 or 4 stages of Zen practice, although if I remember correctly Dogen didn't agree with Dongshan's five ranks. Nevertheless, it is now clarified that sitting itself is not actually liberation but only the first step on the path. Or am I distorting your point?
"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: Cleary on Cultish Zen

Postby kirtu » Sun Mar 03, 2013 2:20 am

Astus wrote: That way we have 3 or 4 stages of Zen practice, although if I remember correctly Dogen didn't agree with Dongshan's five ranks. Nevertheless, it is now clarified that sitting itself is not actually liberation but only the first step on the path.


Or am I distorting your point?


No, that's it. I will have to check and see what Dogen said about this.
Physically sitting is not in itself liberation. But once you actually begin zazen, that is liberation from the start, but not enlightenment (not real enlightenment) but it is enlightenment in the sense that in order to have begun zazen, you had to have some degree of spiritual understanding to begin the practice at all. Actually Daido Roshi said this in "The Eight Gates of Zen" when he explained that zazen is progressive starting with concentration meditation.

Maybe Dogen didn't propose ranks (because this is fluid anyway probably) but I think of my Zen as following Dogen. I think it's not different.

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Re: Cleary on Cultish Zen

Postby Dan74 » Sun Mar 03, 2013 9:56 am

Sorry to butt in, gents. My take on the just sitting=enlightenment is that it is once there is just sitting - without the proliferations, the sitter, etc. So it's the sales -pitch of the Soto school - shikantaza=enlightenment. The fine print is that there is a lot of training to be able to just sit.
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Re: Cleary on Cultish Zen

Postby oushi » Sun Mar 03, 2013 10:26 am

Dan74 wrote:Sorry to butt in, gents. My take on the just sitting=enlightenment is that it is once there is just sitting - without the proliferations, the sitter, etc. So it's the sales -pitch of the Soto school - shikantaza=enlightenment. The fine print is that there is a lot of training to be able to just sit.

Yes, there is a lot of training needed to get ride of the idea that there is a lot of training needed....
As long as one keeps in him mind a target that needs to be met, it is not zazen. I would suggest to start in letting go of the idea that there is a lot of training to be done. :smile:
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Re: Cleary on Cultish Zen

Postby seeker242 » Sun Mar 03, 2013 11:01 am

In the Platform Sutra, Hui Neng says: To concentrate the mind and to contemplate it until it is still is a disease and not Zen

If Dogen's definition of "Zazen" equals "hishiryo", then it appears that Hui Neng is not criticizing Dogen's zazen, yes?

If Dogen's definition of "Zazen" equals "hishiryo", then it would be correct to say zazen equals buddhahood, would it not?

But, if you don't need to sit down in meditation to see your true nature, then what are you supposed to do, if you currently can not see your true nature?
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Re: Cleary on Cultish Zen

Postby kirtu » Sun Mar 03, 2013 12:23 pm

seeker242 wrote:In the Platform Sutra, Hui Neng says: To concentrate the mind and to contemplate it until it is still is a disease and not Zen

But that's talking about forcing the mind to be still and that is a disease.

If Dogen's definition of "Zazen" equals "hishiryo", then it appears that Hui Neng is not criticizing Dogen's zazen, yes?


Does Dogen define zazen as hishiryo? Probably not since that would be pretty far along and can be see as just another experience.

If Dogen's definition of "Zazen" equals "hishiryo", then it would be correct to say zazen equals buddhahood, would it not?


My Zen teachers did not use the term hishiryo so the linguistic ramifications are not clear to me - but egoless awareness, thought before thought, these are characteristics of what we can experience in zazen and Zen training but it is not itself realization.

Before realization we sit zazen , during realization we sit zazen (although we might be startled) - after realization we sit zazen. All the while there is practice/enlightenment. Glimpses into our true nature can result in real realization and then we have to incorporate that into our lives.

But to answer what Dogen thought one would need to go through the Shobogenzo.

But, if you don't need to sit down in meditation to see your true nature, then what are you supposed to do, if you currently can not see your true nature?


You do need to sit down in meditation to see your true nature. Practically no one sees it otherwise and then you still need to sit zazen in order to deepen and refine that understanding. Zen is practice.

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Re: Cleary on Cultish Zen

Postby Astus » Sun Mar 03, 2013 4:20 pm

Dogen in both the Zazengi and Fukanzazengi uses Yueshan's story, saying (tr. Bielefeldt): "Sitting fixedly, think of not thinking. How do you think of not thinking? Nonthinking. This is the art of zazen." (普勸坐禪儀 (T2580_.82.0001 a27-b01): 兀兀坐定。思量箇不思量底。不思量底如何思量。非思量此乃坐禪之要術也。 / 正法眼藏坐禪儀 (T2582_.82.0217c08-11): 兀兀ト坐定シテ。思量箇不思量底ナリ。不思量底。如何思量。コレ非思量ナリ。コレスナハチ坐禪ノ法術ナリ。)

So zazen is hishiryo (非 - non, 思量 - thinking), sometimes translated as "beyond-thinking" or "before thinking". As Bielefeldt writes in the notes, in the older version of Dogen's manual he simply quotes Zhanglu Zongze's Zuochanyi as the explanation of the actual mental practice: "Whenever a thought occurs, be aware of it; as soon as you are aware of it, it will vanish. If you remain for a long period forgetful of objects, you will naturally become unified. The is the essential of art of zazen.", and it is an instruction that has a longer history in Zen (see Bielefeldt's book on this: Dogen's Manuals of Zen Meditation). Practically it is the same as the no-thought of Huineng and other terms used in Soto Zen.

Dogen's zazen is actually not as harsh as other Zen teachers like Shishuang Qingzhu where people never laid down (a practice criticised in the Platform Sutra). A difficulty is that in Soto Zen the word zazen is often used as a synonym of hishiryo, the enlightened view that should be practised regardless of one's activities. The problem is only when a practitioner believes that Zen is only for the time on the cushion, while in fact sitting comfortably is only training, preparation, an artificial environment to become strong. But since the only thing to be mastered is hishiryo by hishiryo, essentially there is nothing new developed or attained.
"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: Cleary on Cultish Zen

Postby Matt J » Sun Mar 03, 2013 7:23 pm

In my mind, this is only halfway. Yes, zazen is not only for the cushion, or so I've been taught. But that doesn't mean sitting on a cushion is a means to an end. One is not sitting in order to attain a specific state of consciousness or to achieve a specific goal. I found this very hard to understand until I actually trusted the teaching/teacher and practiced in this way.

Astus wrote: The problem is only when a practitioner believes that Zen is only for the time on the cushion, while in fact sitting comfortably is only training, preparation, an artificial environment to become strong. But since the only thing to be mastered is hishiryo by hishiryo, essentially there is nothing new developed or attained.
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If only there is no picking or choosing
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Re: Cleary on Cultish Zen

Postby Jikan » Sun Mar 03, 2013 9:32 pm

Thanks Astus for clearing up some of my confusion on Dogen. Much appreciated!
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Re: Cleary on Cultish Zen

Postby oushi » Sun Mar 03, 2013 9:44 pm

Matt J wrote:One is not sitting in order to attain a specific state of consciousness or to achieve a specific goal.

Then why are people sitting regularly...? Those who sit because there is nothing to attain, do zazen without practicing it and it is completely irregular. Those who say that there is no goal and still practice according to some guidelines, are doing that in vain.
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Re: Cleary on Cultish Zen

Postby Jikan » Sun Mar 03, 2013 10:44 pm

oushi:

it is possible to practice something, to do something, with out a goal in mind or an expectation of any result from it. Sit there breathing: what is there to get from it apart from just sitting?

There's nothing to get and nothing to attain because you are, naturally, Buddha. So the practice is to conduct yourself as a Buddha.

That's my understanding of the practice. Others who are better informed or better established in practice may correct me here...
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Re: Cleary on Cultish Zen

Postby Astus » Mon Mar 04, 2013 12:06 am

There is actually something to do, which is not generating samsara. In other words, although the nature of mind is already perfect, it is covered up by defilements. Cleaning the mind means not grasping at phenomena, not creating further trouble. The practice of letting go of appearances is itself stopping samsara and abiding in the buddha-mind by not abiding anywhere. This is what is done in zazen and this is the non-thought. Linji explains it very well:

The problem:

"If you engage in any seeking, it will all be pain. Much better to do nothing." (Record of Linji, tr. Sasaki, p. 19)

"Seeking buddha and seeking dharma are only making hell-karma. Seeking bodhisattvahood is also making karma; reading the sutras and studying the teachings are also making karma. Buddhas and patriarchs are people with nothing to do." (p. 17)

The solution:

"Bring to rest the thoughts of the ceaselessly seeking mind, and you will not differ from the patriarch-buddha." (p. 8)

"Followers of the Way, your own present activities do not differ from those of the patriarch-buddhas. You just don’t believe this and keep on seeking outside. Make no mistake! Outside there is no dharma; inside, there is nothing to be obtained. Better than grasp at the words from my mouth, take it easy and do nothing. Don’t continue [thoughts] that have already arisen and don’t let those that haven’t yet arisen be aroused." (p. 22)

In summary:

"It is because you cannot stop your mind which runs on seeking everywhere that a patriarch said, ‘Bah, superior men! Searching for your heads with your heads!’ When at these words you turn your own light in upon yourselves and never seek elsewhere, then you’ll know that your body and mind are not different from those of the patriarch-buddhas and on the instant have nothing to do—this is called ‘obtaining the dharma.’" (p. 28)

Dogen says in the Fukanzazengi:

"Therefore, put aside the intellectual practice of investigating words and chasing phrases, and learn to take the backward step that turns the light and shines it inward. Body and mind of themselves will drop away, and your original face will manifest. If you want to realize such, get to work on such right now."

To emphasise the central point of the last two quotes above:

"An often-used Chinese expression, consisting of only four characters, describes the essence of Zen practice very accurately and very simply: "Turn the light and illuminate back." This expression is found in the records of Rinzai as well as Dogen, and many other Zen masters from early Zen to the present. It was an important term for Chinul, the father of Korean Son or Zen, and it is a kind of motto today for the university where I teach, a Zen-affiliated institution in Kyoto." (Jeff Shore: Principles of Zen Practice: Illuminating the Source (PDF))
"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: Cleary on Cultish Zen

Postby Wayfarer » Mon Mar 04, 2013 12:26 am

Turn the light and illuminate back."


D T Suzuki wrote:I wish here to say a few words concerning the important psychological event known as Paravritti in the Lanka and other Mahayana literature. Paravritti literally means "turning up" or "turning back" or "change"; technically, it is a spiritual change or transformation which takes place in the mind, especially suddenly, and I have called it "revulsion" in my Studies in the Lankavatara, which, it will be seen, somewhat corresponds to what is known as "conversion" among the psychological students of religion.

It is significant that the Mahayana has been insistent to urge its followers to experience this psychological transformation in their practical life. A mere intellectual understanding of the truth is not enough in the life of a Buddhist; the truth must be directly grasped, personally experienced, intuitively penetrated into; for then it will be distilled into life and determine its course.

This Paravritti, according to the Lanka, takes place in the Alaya-vijnana or All-conserving Mind, which is assumed to exist behind our individual empirical consciousnesses. The Alaya is a metaphysical entity, and no psychological analysis can reach it. What we ordinarily know as the Alaya is its working through a relative mind The Mahayana calls this phase of the Alaya tainted or defiled (klishta) and tells us to be cleansed of it in order to experience a Paravritti for the attainment of ultimate reality.

Paravritti in another sense, therefore, is purification (visuddhi). In Buddhism terms of colouring are much used, and becoming pure, free from all pigment, means that the Alaya is thoroughly washed off its dualistic accretion or outflow (asrava), that is, that the Tathagata has effected his work of purification in the mind of a sentient being, which has so far failed to perceive its own oneness and allness. Being pure is to remain in its own selfhood or self-nature (svabhava). While Paravritti is psychological, it still retains its intellectual flavour as most Buddhist terms do.


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Re: Cleary on Cultish Zen

Postby oushi » Mon Mar 04, 2013 8:49 am

Astus wrote:There is actually something to do, which is not generating samsara. In other words, although the nature of mind is already perfect, it is covered up by defilements. Cleaning the mind means not grasping at phenomena, not creating further trouble. The practice of letting go of appearances is itself stopping samsara and abiding in the buddha-mind by not abiding anywhere. This is what is done in zazen and this is the non-thought. Linji explains it very well:

The problem:

"If you engage in any seeking, it will all be pain. Much better to do nothing." (Record of Linji, tr. Sasaki, p. 19)

"Seeking buddha and seeking dharma are only making hell-karma. Seeking bodhisattvahood is also making karma; reading the sutras and studying the teachings are also making karma. Buddhas and patriarchs are people with nothing to do." (p. 17)

The solution:

"Bring to rest the thoughts of the ceaselessly seeking mind, and you will not differ from the patriarch-buddha." (p. 8)

"Followers of the Way, your own present activities do not differ from those of the patriarch-buddhas. You just don’t believe this and keep on seeking outside. Make no mistake! Outside there is no dharma; inside, there is nothing to be obtained. Better than grasp at the words from my mouth, take it easy and do nothing. Don’t continue [thoughts] that have already arisen and don’t let those that haven’t yet arisen be aroused." (p. 22)

In summary:

"It is because you cannot stop your mind which runs on seeking everywhere that a patriarch said, ‘Bah, superior men! Searching for your heads with your heads!’ When at these words you turn your own light in upon yourselves and never seek elsewhere, then you’ll know that your body and mind are not different from those of the patriarch-buddhas and on the instant have nothing to do—this is called ‘obtaining the dharma.’" (p. 28)

Dogen says in the Fukanzazengi:

"Therefore, put aside the intellectual practice of investigating words and chasing phrases, and learn to take the backward step that turns the light and shines it inward. Body and mind of themselves will drop away, and your original face will manifest. If you want to realize such, get to work on such right now."

To emphasise the central point of the last two quotes above:

"An often-used Chinese expression, consisting of only four characters, describes the essence of Zen practice very accurately and very simply: "Turn the light and illuminate back." This expression is found in the records of Rinzai as well as Dogen, and many other Zen masters from early Zen to the present. It was an important term for Chinul, the father of Korean Son or Zen, and it is a kind of motto today for the university where I teach, a Zen-affiliated institution in Kyoto." (Jeff Shore: Principles of Zen Practice: Illuminating the Source (PDF))


All true, but the question is, how to stop the "ceaselessly seeking mind"?
Bodhidharma said: "People who don’t see their nature and imagine they can practice thoughtlessness all the time are lairs and fools."

Zen practice is aiming to reveal this nature and there are many different methods to do that. There is a difference between practicing not seeking, and not practicing seeking. The first one transforms into cultism pretty fast.

Jikan wrote:it is possible to practice something, to do something, with out a goal in mind or an expectation of any result from it. Sit there breathing: what is there to get from it apart from just sitting?

There's nothing to get and nothing to attain because you are, naturally, Buddha. So the practice is to conduct yourself as a Buddha.

You asked a question and you gave an answer that contradicts you position:
"what is there to get from it apart from just sitting?" "to conduct yourself as a Buddha". Quite high goal isn't it?
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Re: Cleary on Cultish Zen

Postby Astus » Mon Mar 04, 2013 11:59 am

oushi wrote:All true, but the question is, how to stop the "ceaselessly seeking mind"?


That's fairly simple. You don't stop it, you just don't continue/create it. It's stated in the quotes from Linji, but the same is found in other instructions.
"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: Cleary on Cultish Zen

Postby oushi » Mon Mar 04, 2013 1:12 pm

Astus wrote:
oushi wrote:All true, but the question is, how to stop the "ceaselessly seeking mind"?


That's fairly simple. You don't stop it, you just don't continue/create it. It's stated in the quotes from Linji, but the same is found in other instructions.

The problem is that you are not the one who creates it (karma does). Moreover, it is created and managed unconsciously most of the time. This is why Bodhidharma said:"People who don’t see their nature and imagine they can practice thoughtlessness all the time are lairs and fools."

To be able to stop creating, or rather being moved by them, you need to see your nature. Practicing "blindness" won't help much. Linji is great in explaining what needs to be done, but does not say anything about how to do it. Mind, through its curious nature is asking the question "what does that mean?" all the time. It does not ask for permission. Even if you know that you needs to stop searching, the mind continues. You may try to train it like Pavlov trained his dog, and there will be progress, but... as I see it, it is infinite work, while seeing nature ends it all in the moment as the reason for questioning is removed. When one sees that he is beyond meaning, he is unmoved by meaning, and does not desire it any more. Now, just sitting is just sitting, without thinking about sitting, or benefits coming from it. Only a person who has no idea about it can persist in stating that you need to sit regularly twice a day for 45 min etc.
Koans are supposed to develop a break in reasoning chain through bombarding it with unsolvable problem. In this break, one is introduced to the Buddha Nature. I don't know how just sitting can be used to develop such an insight. It is rather contemplating the mind until one sees his nature, then it is just sitting. Deluded mind is incapable of just sitting because it is constantly grasping for meaning and becoming.
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Re: Cleary on Cultish Zen

Postby Astus » Mon Mar 04, 2013 2:14 pm

oushi wrote:The problem is that you are not the one who creates it (karma does).


That is denying personal responsibility for one's thoughts. Karma is one's own action, not some external force.

Koans are supposed to develop a break in reasoning chain through bombarding it with unsolvable problem. In this break, one is introduced to the Buddha Nature.


That's one way to use koans, and it's criticised by Cleary right in the OP.

I don't know how just sitting can be used to develop such an insight. It is rather contemplating the mind until one sees his nature, then it is just sitting.


Zazen is done with the understanding that one doesn't do anything with coming and going appearances. That's as simple as possible. Of course, it is possible to add various teachings, like momentariness of dharmas, the three characteristics of phenomena, emptiness, mind only, buddha-nature, etc., just to show that there is no point grasping at things, and that attachment is the very source of all problems.
"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: Cleary on Cultish Zen

Postby oushi » Mon Mar 04, 2013 3:55 pm

Astus wrote:That is denying personal responsibility for one's thoughts. Karma is one's own action, not some external force.

No doubt that for me, free will i just ignorant concept that cannot be explained in any ground. Beside this fact, it perfectly fits the rest without even enforcing it. If a person is illusion, what is personal responsibility? One's own action is cause by conditions not by some homonculus "self", but this is a different topic.
Astus wrote:Zazen is done with the understanding that one doesn't do anything with coming and going appearances.

That is doing "non-doing" and it is just opposite of deliberately doing. Beside those extremes lies non-doing doing.
Zazen is done by "understanding not arising" and that's as simple as possible. In other words, when you don't understand, then this is zazen.
Bodhidharma wrote:The mind and the world are opposites, and vision arises where they meet. When your mind doesn’t stir inside, the world doesn’t arise outside. When the world and the mind are both transparent, this is true vision. And such understanding is true understanding.
To see nothing is to perceive the Way, and to understand nothing is to know the Dharma, because seeing is neither seeing nor not seeing and because understanding is neither understanding nor not understanding. Seeing without seeing is true vision. Understanding without understanding is true understanding.

Here you can see that actions are not based on understanding, but on karma. Responsibility is a chain of samsara that enslaves a person, because it doesn't allow him to let go of thinking. And as Bodhidharma said: "Not thinking about anything is Zen.". I call it meaninglessness, and is has nothing to do with actions which are karma driven. As long as you are guarding your thoughts, you are clinging to them. It is solved by making a step forward from 10 feet pole of certainty, or dying on a cushion.
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Re: Cleary on Cultish Zen

Postby Parasamgate » Mon Mar 04, 2013 4:11 pm

oushi wrote:
Astus wrote:That is denying personal responsibility for one's thoughts. Karma is one's own action, not some external force.

No doubt that for me, free will i just ignorant concept that cannot be explained in any ground. Beside this fact, it perfectly fits the rest without even enforcing it. If a person is illusion, what is personal responsibility? One's own action is cause by conditions not by some homonculus "self", but this is a different topic.


My perception is that this veers too far towards nihilism with denying the conventional existence of the ability to make choices. The opposite extreme would be that everyone has infinite capacity to control their own actions. Humans, generally speaking, have more impulse control than animals. Using the doctrine of no-self to deny this common knowledge is using ultimate truth to deny the existence of relative truth. I think the correct path is somewhere in the middle.

At least that is how I currently understand things. Being a baby Buddhist I could be very wrong though.
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Re: Cleary on Cultish Zen

Postby Parasamgate » Mon Mar 04, 2013 4:16 pm

Parasamgate wrote:At least that is how I currently understand things. Being a baby Buddhist I could be very wrong though.


I guess I should add that I know very little about Zen since this is a Zen forum. My own understanding is from a Tibetan Buddhist FPMT background and no doubt from my own obscurations so please take with a grain of salt.
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