Don't understand Zen

Re: Don't understand Zen

Postby Astus » Mon Feb 28, 2011 1:17 pm

An interesting point from Zazen as an Enactment Ritual by Taigen Dan Leighton in Zen Ritual, p. 168.

Zazen as Tantra

Before focusing on teachings by Dogen, we may briefly note that such enactment practice is usually associated with the Vajrayana branch of Buddhism, in which practitioners are initiated into ritual practices of identification with specific buddha or bodhisattva figures. Although Vajrayana is often considered
the province of Tibetan Buddhism, increasing attention is being given to the crucial role of the Japanese forms of Vajrayana (J. mikkyo). In the Heian period, this mikkyo, also known as ‘‘esoteric’’ or tantric practice, was prevalent not only in Shingon (True Word), the main Japanese Vajrayana school, but also in the comprehensive Tendai school in which were first trained not only Japanese Zen founders like Dogen and Eisai (1141–1215) but also Pure Land founders Honen (1133–1212) and Shinran (1173–1262), as well as Nichiren (1222–1282). Thanks to this mikkyo heritage that permeated all of medieval Japanese Buddhism, in many inexplicit ways mikkyo or tantric practice can be seen as underlying all subsequent forms of Japanese Buddhism. Further studies exploring the direct and indirect influences of mikkyo on Japanese Zen promise to be especially instructive.
For Dogen and others, Zen shares with the Vajrayana tradition the heart of spiritual activity and praxis as the enactment of buddha awareness and physical presence, rather than aiming at developing a perfected, formulated understanding. In the context of Tibetan Buddhism, Robert Thurman speaks of the main thrust of Vajrayana practice as physical rather than solely mental. ‘‘When we think of the goal of Buddhism as enlightenment, we think of it mainly as an attainment of some kind of higher understanding. But Buddhahood is a physical transformation as much as a mental transcendence.’’
The Japanese Vajrayana teacher Kukai (774–835), the founder of Shingon, emphasized the effects of teachings over their literal meaning. As explicated by Thomas Kasulis, ‘‘Kukai was more interested in the teachings’ aims than in their content, or perhaps better stated, he saw the aims as inseparable from their content. He saw no sharp distinction between theory and practice.’’ The understanding of a teaching was not privileged independently from its practical effects. ‘‘The truth of a statement depends not on the status of its referent, but on how it affects us.’’ For Kukai, physical postures, utterances, and mental imagery are expressions of ultimate reality, and by intentionally engaging in them, practitioners are led to realization of that reality. The performance of the ritual practice helps effect an expressive realization deeper than mere cognition.
"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: Don't understand Zen

Postby KwanSeum » Wed Mar 09, 2011 11:12 pm

Thanks everyone for your comments. I'm not really sure you answered my question but that is my fault (what exactly was I expecting? - ha ha).

Cheers, KwanSeum :twothumbsup:
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Re: Don't understand Zen

Postby meindzai » Thu Mar 10, 2011 3:15 pm

Perhaps just visit some Japanese Zen centers if you can find them, and read some Dogen to get the flavor. (Yes, I know, Zen has no flavor!). It is really not that different (equally flavorless?)

-M
"The Dharma is huge." - Rael
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Re: Don't understand Zen

Postby Quiet Heart » Fri May 20, 2011 3:57 pm

:shrug:
A couple small but I think crucial points here.
For example, sitting in Zazen merely as a meditation practice is (in my opinion) not going to make you a Buddha without some sort of Understanding first.
In addition merely reading or study of Buddhist texts or even teaching parables and Koans will not get you there either.
So, I guess many people will accept that only a combination of intellectual understanding and practice...that could be Zazen meditation is required.
For that reason you need at least an exposure to both...they complement each other...Understanding and Practice that is.
Now, fast forward to the question about about your "Buddha Nature"....and how to realise it.
Again I don't hink you can realise your "Buddha Nature" by pure study or any intellectual means...you also need practice...whether it is by meditation or some other means to balance your study.
At the same time pure study, without a coresponding practice is also useless at nwing your inherent "Buddha Nature".
Again it needs a combination of both study (learning) and practice (o.k. let's just say meditation) to gain the proper Understanding.
I would have thought that should be obvious...but maybe it isn't obvious to everyone...we all have our own differing interpretations of what we think we see in frontof us.
I should also say that this combination of intellectual understanding and practice is also the key to realising your inherent "Buddha Nature".
That is because although we as sentient beings may be born with an inherent "Buddha Nature" from the moment we are born what we can call our "Monkey Mind" or "Ego Mind" begins to spin "Illusions and Delusions" about what we call reality.
Therefore we have to make a great effort to overcome these illusions and delusions in order to understand our real "buddha Nature".
Unfortuneatly the reality is my computer is about to run out of battery power, so I have to close here.
Shame on you Shakyamuni for setting the precedent of leaving home.
Did you think it was not there--
in your wife's lovely face
in your baby's laughter?
Did you think you had to go elsewhere (simply) to find it?
from - Judyth Collin
The Layman's Lament
From What Book, 1998, p. 52
Edited by Gary Gach
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Re: Don't understand Zen

Postby Astus » Fri May 20, 2011 4:32 pm

Awareness of delusion is enlightenment. One might have to first follow the path of ethical conduct (!), meditation and wisdom, or simply gain insight immediately. Zen is supposed to be the second one.
"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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