Compassion and loving kindness in Zen

Compassion and loving kindness in Zen

Postby dyanaprajna2011 » Thu Jun 13, 2013 11:30 pm

Recently, I've been doing some reading on the brahamaviharas, and especially compassion and loving kindness. One thing that seems to be of note, is the lack of discussion in Zen of these concepts. Are these important aspects of Zen? Are there any authoritative teachings in Zen on these?
"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: Compassion and loving kindness in Zen

Postby Son of Buddha » Thu Jun 13, 2013 11:34 pm

All sects have some kind of loving kindness/metta meditation.
Its just zens main focus is on zazen,just like pureland is on the chant.

But generally speaking you can practice metta with any sect or tradition.
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Re: Compassion and loving kindness in Zen

Postby seeker242 » Fri Jun 14, 2013 12:48 am

Yes, they are very important aspects of zen. Zen, even though it may emphasize daily life practice or zazen, is still the way of the Bodhisattva, whose vow it is to save all beings from suffering. These are the "4 great vows" that are common to most, if not all, zen traditions.

The Four Great Vows
1. Sentient beings are numberless. We vow to save them all.
2. Delusions are endless. We vow to cut through them all.
3. The teachings are infinite. We vow to learn them all.
4. The Buddha Way is inconceivable. We vow to attain it.


The sixteen bodhisattva precepts typically taken by zen practitioners are taken for the benefit of oneself and the benefit of all beings.

THE SIXTEEN BODHISATTVA PRECEPTS

The Threefold Refuges
I take refuge in Buddha (the principle of enlightenment within).
I take refuge in dharma (the enlightened way of understanding and living).
I take refuge in sangha (the community of beings).

Pure Precepts
I vow to avoid all action that creates suffering
I vow to do all action that creates true happiness.
I vow to act with others always in mind.

Grave Precepts
Not to kill but to nurture life.
Not to steal but to receive what is offered as a gift.
Not to misuse sexuality but to be caring and faithful in intimate relationships.
Not to lie but to be truthful.
Not to intoxicate with substances or doctrines but to promote clarity and awareness.
Not to speak of others’ faults but to speak out of loving-kindness.
Not to praise self at the expense of others but to be modest.
Not to be possessive of anything but to be generous.
Not to harbor anger but to forgive.
Not to do anything to diminish the Triple Treasure but to support and nurture it.


The six paramitas are also an integral part of zen practice. http://www.naljorprisondharmaservice.or ... amitas.htm

The practice of zen is much more than just doing zazen!

If you really want a zen teacher that focuses a lot on compassion, loving kindness etc. instead of just zazen, zazen, zazen, Thich Nhat Hanh is pretty good for that. :smile:

:namaste:
One should not kill any living being, nor cause it to be killed, nor should one incite any other to kill. Do never injure any being, whether strong or weak, in this entire universe!
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Re: Compassion and loving kindness in Zen

Postby Matylda » Fri Jun 14, 2013 11:12 am

Of course zen contains all possible mahayana features. But the core of all these and the essence is zazen. Many do not understand zen or zazen taking it as some sort of technic, meditation or path to enlightenment.
So it is often that so called zen buddhist develope some sort of uneasiness or inferiority complex, when they hear that zen is lacking compassion etc... It is due to deeply rooted misunderstanding concerning the view of zen or zazen. Basically zazen is expression of buddha nature and buddha nature is complete in itself with all qualities. Not knowing it may end up in some selfishness of self designed memditation. If one does not know about it then it may be problem of teacher and what kind of instruction one has received.
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Re: Compassion and loving kindness in Zen

Postby Astus » Fri Jun 14, 2013 12:03 pm

Here are some Soto Zen related quotes:

"When great compassion is deep within you, and your wish to spiritually aid sentient beings everywhere is well seasoned, there are no such obstructions."
(Dogen: Keisei Sanshoku)

"If you can have compassion for your loved ones, have compassion for them. To have compassion for our loved ones means letting go of them."
(Dogen: Gyoji)

"Keep in mind that kindly speech arises from a loving heart, and a loving heart makes compassion its seed. You should explore the idea that kindly speech can have the power to turn the very heavens around, and it is not merely a matter of praising someone’s abilities."
(Dogen: Bodaisatta Shishobo)

"Based on this, what is inherent in leaving home life behind is having compassion for all living beings as if they were one’s own offspring. This means not giving rise to evil acts, and our body and speech being in mutual accord."
(Dogen: Shukke Kudoku)

"There is a very easy way to be a Buddha: Do not do any evil. Do not try to cling to life and death but, with deep compassion, work for all beings. Respect your elders and sympathize with those younger. When you do neither deny things nor seek them or think and worry about them - then you are called a buddha. Don't look for anything else."
(Dogen: Shoji)

"Remain always compassionate, and dedicate the limitless virtue of zazen to all living beings. Do not be arrogant; do not be proud of yourself and of your understanding of dharma. Being arrogant is the way of outsiders and ignorant people."
(Keizan: Zazenyojinki)
"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: Compassion and loving kindness in Zen

Postby Meido » Fri Jun 14, 2013 5:22 pm

A few more from two books that happen to be next to the keyboard:

Anyone who wants to achieve the Way of enlightenment must drive forward the wheel of the Four Great Vows.

- Opening words of Hakuin's autobiography Wild Ivy


The strength of the vow [to practice] is founded on Great Compassion. Those who seek from selfish motives only attain to a shallow insight. A merchant, for example, striving for his own security, will be satisfied with but a small profit, and be proud of it. But he who wants to give everything cannot be satisfied with small gains. For this reason, the first of the Four Great Vows is to assist sentient beings. To see into one's true nature, to cut off the root of the afflicting passions, to learn all the Dharma-gates [teachings], to practise the way of the Bodhisattva and fully to ripen Compassion and Wisdom - this is the Buddha's Way. Truly, truly, Great Compassion is the origin and foundation of becoming Buddha.

When closely observing sentient beings, it appears that they always throw away the origin and chase after end-states; thus, much attached to all kinds of karma-producing activities, dying here and being born there, they revolve through the various stages of the Wheel of Becoming. The Five Signs of Decay of heavenly beings, the Eight Hardships of men, the states of hungry ghosts and of animals, the excruciating pains of the hells - just try with all your might to imagine these and feel them in your own heart.

Again, life after life, all sentient beings become fathers and mothers, are brothers and sisters, world after world. Considering this today, what a great debt of love we owe to each other! Reflecting on this, Great Compassion is bound to arise in the heart.
...
To state it concisely: by the power of the vow of Great Compassion all karmic obstacles disappear and all merit and virtue/strength are completed. No principle remains obscure, all ways are walked by it, no wisdom remains unattained, no virtue incomplete
...
The first requirement for trainees, therefore, is to let go of "I" and not to cling to their own advantage.

- Torei Enji, Shumon Mujintoron


As has been often discussed, Zen's approach is to directly point out by various means one's nature. Having this recognition is the entrance into Zen practice, and the beginning of the continuing practice to integrate one's recognition as realization by which all good qualities are manifested. It is also the root of true compassion.

In the past, someone going to study with a Zen teacher would likely have a basic grounding in Buddhist teachings, and so it may seem that Zen teaching/texts at times stress details of practice rather than motivation, precepts and so on.

An authoritative and basic text on the Rinzai side is Torei's book mentioned above (two available translations are titled "The Inexhaustible Lamp" and "The Undying Lamp of Zen"). The second chapter of this text is dedicated to the importance of bodhicitta, vows, faith and compassion as the foundations of Zen practice. It contains many pages of the kind of thing quoted here.

~ Meido
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Re: Compassion and loving kindness in Zen

Postby dyanaprajna2011 » Sat Jun 15, 2013 1:48 am

Are there any specifically Zen techniques to cultivate compassion and loving-kindness, like metta bhavana in Theravada, or tonglen in Tibetan? Or is everything cultivated simultaneously in zazen?

I realize that the practice of zazen should lead to the experience of shunyata, and that this is the essential Buddha-nature, which comprises both wisdom and compassion. And there have been many great quotes from Zen masters' teachings on compassion. I'm curious, though, if there is any Zen practice of cultivation of compassion.
"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: Compassion and loving kindness in Zen

Postby Astus » Sat Jun 15, 2013 11:27 pm

The question is what you consider Zen practice. Helping others, charity, teaching, and practically any act can come from compassion. Walking the Mahayana path itself is based on compassion, the wish to liberate all beings. If you are thinking of a Zen specific meditation technique to cultivate compassion, there is and there isn't such. There is, because buddha-mind is naturally compassionate, it is its active force. There isn't, because compassion is inherent in the buddha-mind.
"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: Compassion and loving kindness in Zen

Postby Matylda » Mon Jun 17, 2013 4:05 pm

dyanaprajna2011 wrote:Are there any specifically Zen techniques to cultivate compassion and loving-kindness, like metta bhavana in Theravada, or tonglen in Tibetan? Or is everything cultivated simultaneously in zazen?

I realize that the practice of zazen should lead to the experience of shunyata, and that this is the essential Buddha-nature, which comprises both wisdom and compassion. And there have been many great quotes from Zen masters' teachings on compassion. I'm curious, though, if there is any Zen practice of cultivation of compassion.


actually zazen means 'to abide in essence'' i.e. nature of mind or buddha nature, and of course it is complete with all qualities. zazen is not a technique neither it is meditation..
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Re: Compassion and loving kindness in Zen

Postby Luke » Sun Nov 17, 2013 10:38 pm

What an absolutely beautiful thread! :twothumbsup:

Thank you to all of you who posted here. :namaste:

These wonderful quotes about compassion from Zen masters were exactly what I needed to hear! They show a side of Zen which often doesn't reach the general public.
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