Zen and daimoku

Zen and daimoku

Postby dyanaprajna2011 » Fri Apr 12, 2013 12:33 am

Are there any Zen Buddhists who chant the daimoku of Nichiren? I realize that if there are, there's not many, but I was wondering if there were any at all who did. I couldn't find much doing a Google search of it, so I thought I'd ask here and see if anyone had an answer.
"If you want to travel the Way of Buddhas and Zen masters, then expect nothing, seek nothing, and grasp nothing." -Dogen
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Re: Zen and daimoku

Postby Dan74 » Fri Apr 12, 2013 12:59 am

dyanaprajna2011 wrote:Are there any Zen Buddhists who chant the daimoku of Nichiren? I realize that if there are, there's not many, but I was wondering if there were any at all who did. I couldn't find much doing a Google search of it, so I thought I'd ask here and see if anyone had an answer.


There are a lot more who combine Pure Land and Chan (Zen) practice, especially in China and Vietnam. As for Nichiren, given that he wasn't exactly fond of Zen, there are probably not many.
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Re: Zen and daimoku

Postby Astus » Fri Apr 12, 2013 9:39 am

"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)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“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; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Zen and daimoku

Postby Jainarayan » Fri Apr 12, 2013 2:04 pm

I've asked a few people if there's any reason not to chant daimoku if one is not Nichiren. The answer was always along the lines of "it's a Nichiren practice, and almost no non-Nichirens chant it" with no other reason given. But my reasoning is that the Lotus Sutra is a Mahāyāna text, Zen and Tibetan Buddhism are subsects of Mahāyāna, so I think just because something isn't done doesn't mean it's wrong. I combine compatible aspects of Vaishavism, Kashmir Shaivism and Mahāyāna, which is "not done", but it works for me. I did find this in reference to Tibetan Buddhism and daimoku. Granted Yahoo Answers (like Wikipedia, and me :tongue: ) is not always a reliable source:

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index ... 954AA2HcgI
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flawless in manner and intelligent, such one will honor gain. - Digha Nikaya III 273
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Re: Zen and daimoku

Postby Astus » Fri Apr 12, 2013 2:19 pm

Nichiren writes:

"unless one perceives the nature of one’s life, one’s practice will become an endless, painful austerity. Therefore, such students of Buddhism are condemned as non-Buddhist."

and

"Whether you chant the Buddha’s name,3 recite the sutra, or merely offer flowers and incense, all your virtuous acts will implant benefits and roots of goodness in your life. With this conviction you should strive in faith. The Vimalakirti Sutra states that, when one seeks the Buddhas’ emancipation in the minds of ordinary beings, one finds that ordinary beings are the entities of enlightenment, and that the sufferings of birth and death are nirvana. It also states that, if the minds of living beings are impure, their land is also impure, but if their minds are pure, so is their land. There are not two lands, pure or impure in themselves. The difference lies solely in the good or evil of our minds.
What then does myo signify? It is simply the mysterious nature of our life from moment to moment, which the mind cannot comprehend or words express. When we look into our own mind at any moment, we perceive neither color nor form to verify that it exists. Yet we still cannot say it does not exist, for many differing thoughts continually occur. The mind cannot be considered either to exist or not to exist. Life is indeed an elusive reality that transcends both the words and concepts of existence and nonexistence. It is neither existence nor nonexistence, yet exhibits the qualities of both. It is the mystic entity of the Middle Way that is the ultimate reality. Myo is the name given to the mystic nature of life, and ho, to its manifestations. Renge, which means lotus flower, is used to symbolize the wonder of this Law. If we understand that our life at this moment is myo, then we will also understand that our life at other moments is the Mystic Law.4 This realization is the mystic kyo, or sutra. The Lotus Sutra is the king of sutras, the direct path to enlightenment, for it explains that the entity of our life, which manifests either good or evil at each moment, is in fact the entity of the Mystic Law. If you chant myoho-renge-kyo with deep faith in this principle, you are certain to attain Buddhahood in this lifetime."
"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)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“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; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Zen and daimoku

Postby Kabouterke » Sat Jun 01, 2013 5:26 pm

Hi! Chanting is certainly practiced in Zen schools, but the use of specific mantras is seen to be something not typical of modern Zen Buddhist practices. Like one of the above posters said, Zen Buddhism is sometimes combined with Pure Land Buddhism. Historically, chanting the nembutsu has been practiced for hundreds of years by practitioners within various Zen schools, which was sometimes met with fierce oppposition by some Zen "purists" in the past. Obaku zen has been even perjoratively named "Nembutsu Zen" because of its incorporation of Pure Land Buddhist techniques, such as chanting the Nembutsu.

So, the act of chanting mantras is itself not foreign to Zen, historically speaking. Chanting the daimoku, though, is probably a mantra you won't find too many Zen Buddhists doing, due to philosophical differences between the two schools as one of the other posters noted above.

But you know, Buddhsim evolved into highly distinct schools upon its arrival in various countries by incorporating extremely diverse local traditions, philosophies, practices and world views. So, do want you want. In the grand scheme of things, a mantra in addition to your zazen practice isn't going to shock anyone and pales in comparison to the changes and adaptations that Buddhism underwent in the past. :jumping:
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Re: Zen and daimoku

Postby Jikan » Sat Jun 01, 2013 5:34 pm

Kabouterke wrote:Chanting the daimoku, though, is probably a mantra you won't find too many Zen Buddhists doing,


or

the daimoku, though, is probably [not] a mantra


?

recalling Nichiren's attitude toward esoteric practice, did Nichiren advocate the daimoku as a mantra? (this might be worthy of a new topic if people are interested)
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Re: Zen and daimoku

Postby dude » Sat Jun 01, 2013 7:42 pm

Jainarayan wrote:I've asked a few people if there's any reason not to chant daimoku if one is not Nichiren. The answer was always along the lines of "it's a Nichiren practice, and almost no non-Nichirens chant it" with no other reason given. But my reasoning is that the Lotus Sutra is a Mahāyāna text, Zen and Tibetan Buddhism are subsects of Mahāyāna, so I think just because something isn't done doesn't mean it's wrong. I combine compatible aspects of Vaishavism, Kashmir Shaivism and Mahāyāna, which is "not done", but it works for me. I did find this in reference to Tibetan Buddhism and daimoku. Granted Yahoo Answers (like Wikipedia, and me :tongue: ) is not always a reliable source:

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index ... 954AA2HcgI



"The answer was always along the lines of "it's a Nichiren practice, and almost no non-Nichirens chant it" with no other reason given."

I remember having said something along those lines on this blog, and I wonder if I haven't reduced my merit by giving a misleading answer.
Let me explain. While it's true that the prime point of patriarchal Zen, one of its two main branches, is "just sit,"and forget all other practices, there are many sub schools of Zen, and there are sub schools of the Lotus School and the Tibetan School etc.
And there is also a lot of mixing of different practices with Buddhism, both with non Buddhist teachings and within Buddhism's competing schools. Some Japanese temples were even shared by two different schools who co operated with each other.
In Vietnam it's even more so, they're downright eclectic about religion, and there are plenty of Buddhists there who are nominally Zen school. So it would be wrong to say no Zen Buddhists chant nam myoho renge kyo. In fact, I'm pretty sure I remember hearing of other non Buddhist religions and quasi religions like the New Age, movement, chant the daimoku and other mantras.


It sounds like what you're asking is whether it would be wrong to chant the daimoku.
That's a decision you have to make based on the evidence. Some people would tell you it would. Some people would tell you it's wrong to do anything else.
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Re: Zen and daimoku

Postby dude » Sat Jun 01, 2013 7:44 pm

Jikan wrote:
Kabouterke wrote:Chanting the daimoku, though, is probably a mantra you won't find too many Zen Buddhists doing,


or

the daimoku, though, is probably [not] a mantra


?

recalling Nichiren's attitude toward esoteric practice, did Nichiren advocate the daimoku as a mantra? (this might be worthy of a new topic if people are interested)



What's a mantra?
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Re: Zen and daimoku

Postby Kabouterke » Sat Jun 01, 2013 10:38 pm

Jikan wrote:
Kabouterke wrote:Chanting the daimoku, though, is probably a mantra you won't find too many Zen Buddhists doing,


or

the daimoku, though, is probably [not] a mantra


?

recalling Nichiren's attitude toward esoteric practice, did Nichiren advocate the daimoku as a mantra? (this might be worthy of a new topic if people are interested)


Yes, that's not the most beautiful sentences I've ever written, but yes:
1. The daimoku is probably a mantra you won't find very often...
=
2. The daimoku is probably not a mantra you will find very often...

If the daimoku isn't a mantra, what is it then? I currently live in Brussels, Belgium and all of my Buddhist reference books from my undergrad studies are still in the US, so I can't cite any definitive sources or anything... So, I'll paraphrase the next best thing, Wikipedia :) : A mantra is a sound, syllabale, word or group of words that is considered to be capable of creating transformation. This contrasts to the chanting that takes places in Zen Schools, for instance, of entire texts, sutras or excerpts or even the Nichiren tradition of reciting the Lotus Sutra.

I am not trying to be snarky, but I think the separate discussion about Nichiren advocating daimoku as a mantra is kind of a moot point... unless there is some debate as to whether he specifically developed and advocated the practice (as opposed to it being a later development). But there's no academic debate about that, is there?

As far as mantras being an esoteric practice... I don't think they would be considered one. Esoteric practices are practices which are often marked by a number of qualities, such as being secretive and tightly-guarded, having a clear hierarchy of who has access and privilege to certain practices and knowledge, crypitic meanings, symbols and icons. An example would the Shingon Buddhism's Goma fire ritual. Seeing that Nichiren was very evangelic about his spreading of the daimoku and chanting the Lotus sutra after his enlightenment, traveled around advocating its use and simultaneously criticized a wide number of other Buddhist sects for their practices. I don't believe the daimoku could be called an esoteric practice in this case and would be a good example of an exoteric practice: open and free to everyone, with no required prior knowledge or intiations, etc.
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Re: Zen and daimoku

Postby Jikan » Sun Jun 02, 2013 12:34 am

dude wrote:What's a mantra?


Good question.

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Re: Zen and daimoku

Postby rory » Sun Jun 02, 2013 8:30 am

No daimoku isn't a mantra, it's the title of the Lotus Sutra and Zhi-yi wrote a masterwork "Fahua Xuanyi" 法華玄義 "Profound Meaning of the Lotus Sutra" which is entirely about the title. Paul Swanson wrote an excellent work, translating Fanhua Xuanyi and also explaining Tiantai theory. Here
Swanson, Paul L. (Paul Loren), 1951-
Title Foundations of Tʻien-Tʻai philosophy : the flowering of the two truths theory in Chinese Buddhism / Paul L. Swanson.
Imprint Berkeley, Calif. : Asian Humanities Press, c1989.


Jacqueline Stone in "Chanting the August Title of the Lotus Sutra" showed that chanting the Daimoku was done before Nichiren.
http://www.princeton.edu/~jstone/lotus- ... hiren.html As a follower of Nichiren I wouldn't mix practices, but before I became one I did, along with Pure Land, then I saw the difference;.I'd say chant daimoku, it's such a powerful practice and see for yourself.
gassho
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Re: Zen and daimoku

Postby Kabouterke » Sun Jun 02, 2013 11:55 am

rory wrote:No daimoku isn't a mantra, it's the title of the Lotus Sutra and Zhi-yi wrote a masterwork "Fahua Xuanyi" 法華玄義 "Profound Meaning of the Lotus Sutra" which is entirely about the title. Paul Swanson wrote an excellent work, translating Fanhua Xuanyi and also explaining Tiantai theory. Here
Swanson, Paul L. (Paul Loren), 1951-
Title Foundations of Tʻien-Tʻai philosophy : the flowering of the two truths theory in Chinese Buddhism / Paul L. Swanson.
Imprint Berkeley, Calif. : Asian Humanities Press, c1989.


Jacqueline Stone in "Chanting the August Title of the Lotus Sutra" showed that chanting the Daimoku was done before Nichiren.
http://www.princeton.edu/~jstone/lotus- ... hiren.html As a follower of Nichiren I wouldn't mix practices, but before I became one I did, along with Pure Land, then I saw the difference;.I'd say chant daimoku, it's such a powerful practice and see for yourself.
gassho
Rory


Hi Rory. If it isn't a matra, what is it? If a comparative religion scholar walked in the room, and you said, "Nam Myoho Renge Kyo is the title of the Lotus Sutra that we believe contains the kern of Buddha's truth and teachings. We chant it repetitively as the focus of meditation, and we believe that it is uniquely capable of enlightening/transforming us." Then he would without a doubt say "Yes, that's a mantra." Whether or not the believer thinks that the essence of existence is contained in those words of not, this phenomenon which is found in many of the great world religions, is called a mantra. It doesn't matter if it's a random group of syllables that you made up or the title of a stura, it's still a mantra.

Academically categorizing it as a mantra doesn't take away any spiritual power from it, or anything. You can reaaaaaally love eating appples, and you might think apples are the best and healthiest thing for you. By calling it a "fruit" and saying that it also falls into the same category as other fruits doesn't take anything away from its apple-iness.
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Re: Zen and daimoku

Postby rory » Mon Jun 03, 2013 3:41 am

Kabouterke; a mantra is usually a short collection of Sanskit syllables and its power has to do with Hindu philosophy of sound. There are indeed Buddhist mantras, used in Shingon and Tendai (to discuss Japanese schools). I suggest you read "Indian Esoteric Buddhism" to get to the history of it. The title of the Lotus Sutra has nothing to do with mantras and its understanding has everything to do with Master Zhi-yi's explanation of Three Thousand Worlds in One Thought Moment - ichinen sanzen which Nichiren Daishonin also taught and which comes from the Lotus Sutra, Ch. 2.

Who cares what an onlooker thinks? Or even pious practitioners may have been taught badly but the Tiantai philosophy is profound and deep. Properly understanding Tiantai philosophy is important otherwise the practice can be degraded to the level of a lucky charm. That's not going to lead you to Buddhahood, meeting the mind of the Eternal Buddha whilst chanting the Daimoku will.
with gassho
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