American "Zen"

Re: American "Zen"

Postby shel » Sat Mar 09, 2013 5:21 pm

Jikan wrote:The ones who know don't talk so much online...


The ones who know don't need to bite their tongue online. :soapbox:
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Re: American "Zen"

Postby dzogchungpa » Sat Mar 09, 2013 6:12 pm

Dan74 wrote:Jikan, I think it is not a good idea to cast such aspersions. Nonin has already copped enough flak over this article without innuendos cast that he might himself be "one who face problematic situations ( ahem)."

Those who know of our interactions, would know I am no fan of Nonin, but many of the attacks are unskillful and unfair.

Sometimes it is a good idea to bite ones tongue (yes).

Is that what Jikan was implying? I don't know much about Nonin, but any self-described "Zen Master" who acts like that on a public forum
had better be prepared for flak, skillful and otherwise.
Note that, in the higher tantras, there is talk of a self and an I, even though in the lower teachings the absence of self and the absence of I is what is always proclaimed. - Tony Duff
To educate the educated is notoriously difficult. - Jacques Barzun
སརྦ་དྷརྨ་དྷཱ་ཏུ་ཨཱཏྨ་ཀོ་྅ཧཾ༔
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Re: American "Zen"

Postby uan » Sat Mar 09, 2013 7:11 pm

dzogchungpa wrote:
Dan74 wrote:Jikan, I think it is not a good idea to cast such aspersions. Nonin has already copped enough flak over this article without innuendos cast that he might himself be "one who face problematic situations ( ahem)."

Those who know of our interactions, would know I am no fan of Nonin, but many of the attacks are unskillful and unfair.

Sometimes it is a good idea to bite ones tongue (yes).

Is that what Jikan was implying?


There's a difference between intent and imply (or conveyed).

In normal usage, Jikan's words could be taken the way Dan74 warns about - with enough vagueness that it could reference anything from possible sexual misconduct to Zen materialism to Nonin's not Zen or not Buddhism, etc.

I don't think Jikan's intent was that. The joy and beauty (and suffering!) of the English language, especially on a Buddhist forum, is that it becomes a Rorschach's test - meaning has as much to do with what is imputed by the reader as by what the writer meant to say. Of course this happens on other types of forums, but it's particularly interesting on a Buddhist forum, as a great deal of our practices is to stop imputing meaning, which is usually wrong and misguided, onto objects! :lol:

Which is why:

Jikan wrote:The ones who know don't talk so much online...


is so true!
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Re: American "Zen"

Postby dzogchungpa » Sat Mar 09, 2013 7:21 pm

uan wrote:
Jikan wrote:The ones who know don't talk so much online...


is so true!

That's all very nice, but if that idea is used to silence valid criticism, then it's not very skillful.
Wouldn't you agree?
Note that, in the higher tantras, there is talk of a self and an I, even though in the lower teachings the absence of self and the absence of I is what is always proclaimed. - Tony Duff
To educate the educated is notoriously difficult. - Jacques Barzun
སརྦ་དྷརྨ་དྷཱ་ཏུ་ཨཱཏྨ་ཀོ་྅ཧཾ༔
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Re: American "Zen"

Postby uan » Sat Mar 09, 2013 7:55 pm

dzogchungpa wrote:
uan wrote:
Jikan wrote:The ones who know don't talk so much online...


is so true!

That's all very nice, but if that idea is used to silence valid criticism, then it's not very skillful.
Wouldn't you agree?


I'd agree. But I don't think Jikan (or myself) is saying that the idea "the ones who know..." should be, or is being, used to silence criticism. He also mentioned that he himself posts a lot online. I'm posting a lot and the more I post the more I show my own ignorance.

But to the main point, for instance, I don't see HHDL or ChNN or Thich Nhat Hanh etc., those who really know, posting online. Nor do I think they would post to silence criticism. I think Nonin provides a good example of what happens when those "who know" post to silence criticism. The net effect is that one feels he "doesn't know" and if he's representing Zen in America, that Zen isn't good/valid either.

Trying to silence criticism, valid or not, is not skillful. My experience with those that are really skillful is that they find ways to transform the criticism and address the core concern of the person they are talking with.
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Re: American "Zen"

Postby dzogchungpa » Sat Mar 09, 2013 8:55 pm

uan wrote:But to the main point, for instance, I don't see HHDL or ChNN or Thich Nhat Hanh etc., those who really know, posting online. Nor do I think they would post to silence criticism. I think Nonin provides a good example of what happens when those "who know" post to silence criticism. The net effect is that one feels he "doesn't know" and if he's representing Zen in America, that Zen isn't good/valid either.

Trying to silence criticism, valid or not, is not skillful. My experience with those that are really skillful is that they find ways to transform the criticism and address the core concern of the person they are talking with.

Fair enough. Public figures like those you mention certainly shoud be very careful, and in addition are quite busy. However, Nonin is acting like a buffoon over at Sweeping Zen, under his enrobed head shot and "Zen Master" bio, and there's nothing wrong with an ordinary schmo like me taking him to task for that.
Note that, in the higher tantras, there is talk of a self and an I, even though in the lower teachings the absence of self and the absence of I is what is always proclaimed. - Tony Duff
To educate the educated is notoriously difficult. - Jacques Barzun
སརྦ་དྷརྨ་དྷཱ་ཏུ་ཨཱཏྨ་ཀོ་྅ཧཾ༔
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Re: American "Zen"

Postby uan » Sat Mar 09, 2013 9:25 pm

dzogchungpa wrote:
uan wrote:But to the main point, for instance, I don't see HHDL or ChNN or Thich Nhat Hanh etc., those who really know, posting online. Nor do I think they would post to silence criticism. I think Nonin provides a good example of what happens when those "who know" post to silence criticism. The net effect is that one feels he "doesn't know" and if he's representing Zen in America, that Zen isn't good/valid either.

Trying to silence criticism, valid or not, is not skillful. My experience with those that are really skillful is that they find ways to transform the criticism and address the core concern of the person they are talking with.

Fair enough. Public figures like those you mention certainly shoud be very careful, and in addition are quite busy. However, Nonin is acting like a buffoon under his enrobed head shot and "Zen Master" bio, and there's nothing wrong with an ordinary schmo like me taking him to task for that.


The public figures were examples of, if not enlightened beings, "those who know" and that category would also include many of our teachers that are not public. It's not so much that they need to be careful, it's more that when one doesn't have an investment in their ego, then they aren't affected by criticism. They don't get angry, or defensive, they aren't clinging to their ego. Combine that with coursing in the six paramitas, and they'd be able to respond with skillful means to the person who is doing the criticizing and they'd be able to also acknowledge the valid criticism as well. Ajahn Brahm tells a story (iirc - during a talk on how to take criticism!) about a young student monk admonishing the abbot of the monastery for not wearing his robes correctly. Instead of getting angry, the abbot adjusted his robes. He then started calling the young student teacher thereafter :D .

I really don't know much about Nonin but having read through the comments to his article and his responses, I'd say he hasn't been skillful at all. I'll leave it at, except to say a quote does come to mind:

Tis better to be silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.
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Re: American "Zen"

Postby dzogchungpa » Sat Mar 09, 2013 9:35 pm

OK, I think we are basically in agreement, uan. :smile:
Note that, in the higher tantras, there is talk of a self and an I, even though in the lower teachings the absence of self and the absence of I is what is always proclaimed. - Tony Duff
To educate the educated is notoriously difficult. - Jacques Barzun
སརྦ་དྷརྨ་དྷཱ་ཏུ་ཨཱཏྨ་ཀོ་྅ཧཾ༔
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Re: American "Zen"

Postby Jikan » Sat Mar 09, 2013 10:08 pm

Dan74 wrote:
Jikan wrote:
dzogchungpa wrote: I think there may have been something about how Zen was initially presented to the west that made it particularly vulnerable to the rise of "Zen", and we're seeing the results.Zen


^^^This. Absolutely. The anti-intellectualism and authoritarian tendencies of Japanese Zen led to this kind of culture, at least in part. Even David Loy, whose work is problematic in its own way*, makes this point (this is in The Great Awakening), just to cite one instance.

I've had very positive experiences at the Zen Community of Oregon, led by Jan Chozen Bays. I've had excellent interactions with the Blue Heron Zen people in Seattle, the Golden Wind Zen people in SoCal, Daiyuzenji Temple in Chicago, among others. Remarkably for this thread, I once sat a weekend retreat with a student of Joshu Sasaki (long before the abuse we have been discussing became public knowledge) in Reno that transformed my life. There are others.

At the risk of overgeneralizing, it seems to me that the Zen proponents who do the self-promoting and speaking online and in the media are often the ones who face problematic situations (ahem) of the kind we are discussing. The ones who know don't talk so much online; the ones who talk a lot, by contrast... (speaking as someone who rarely hesitates to open his mouth online)


*If you'd like a detailed criticism of Loy's position, we can do it in another thread. I'm working on Loy's social thought as part of a separate project...


Jikan, I think it is not a good idea to cast such aspersions. Nonin has already copped enough flak over this article without innuendos cast that he might himself be "one who face problematic situations ( ahem)."

Those who know of our interactions, would know I am no fan of Nonin, but many of the attacks are unskillful and unfair.

Sometimes it is a good idea to bite ones tongue (yes).


Sorry, I don't cast aspersions on purpose. I never went to finishing school--I never learned how. I use the wrong fork.

On whom were aspersions cast? Are you assuming I was alluding directly to Nonin and Nonin alone as one who "talks a lot"? On what basis would you draw such an inference? I don't think online verbosity is one of Nonin's attributes, nor is incompetence (usually)--I've a deep affection from him going back to the e-sangha days, and I've praised him elsewhere on this board. And I like him in spite of the self-inflicted difficulties he's had in the thread we've been discussing. In short, I think your criticism is well-meant but implausible.

You're correct when you say it's best not to speak sometimes. I meant my quip on this topic as a self-criticism: I do a poor job censoring myself. This is something I am attempting to remedy.

Not related to your comment but related to what I'm trying to say regarding this whole thread:
I don't think anyone should take pleasure in the shortcomings of others. There's nothing to celebrate in any of this. We would all do well to reflect on our conduct.
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Re: American "Zen"

Postby Jikan » Sat Mar 09, 2013 10:10 pm

It's been suggested that this thread has run its course, and I'm inclined to agree. I'm locking it. If anyone would like to discuss some of the specific issues raised in this thread in a substantial way, please do so in a new topic. Thank you for your understanding.
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