Is Zen Buddhism...

Is Zen Buddhism...

Postby ananda » Sun Oct 23, 2011 6:49 am

Basically Buddhism that places very little or no emphasis on the sutras and gives meditation and personal discovery a very large importance ?
"Suffer what there is to suffer, enjoy what there is to enjoy. Regard both suffering and joy as facts of life, and continue chanting Namu-myoho-renge-kyo. no matter what happens. How could this be anything other than the boundless joy of the Law? Strengthen your power of faith more than ever." - Nichiren Daishonin
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Re: Is Zen Buddhism...

Postby Kyosan » Sun Oct 23, 2011 7:21 am

Indeed, Zen is Buddhism. They don't emphasize the sutras as much as some other forms of Buddhism but the sutras are important to Zen. Personal discovery is what Buddhism is all about. Meditation helps facilitate personal discovery.

Zen is an approach to Buddhism and there are many other approaches. A practice is Buddhism if it relieves the suffering of sentient beings and delivers them to the other shore. The specifics can vary considerably. It's important that there are many ways to practice because different ways work better for different people.
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Re: Is Zen Buddhism...

Postby Astus » Sun Oct 23, 2011 2:24 pm

The Buddhist path is about putting the teachings of the Buddha and teachers into practice within our life. In that sense Zen is no different at all from any other "school".
"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: Is Zen Buddhism...

Postby Bonsai Doug » Sun Oct 23, 2011 3:00 pm

Astus wrote:The Buddhist path is about putting the teachings of the Buddha and teachers into practice within our life. In that sense Zen is no different at all from any other "school".

Indeed. Buddha's teachings provide us with the vehicle. And once at our destination, the vehicle is
discarded. So it matters not the size, color, shape, etc., of the vehicle.
Now having obtained a precious human body,
I do not have the luxury of remaining on a distracted path.

~ Tibetan Book of the Dead
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Re: Is Zen Buddhism...

Postby Josef » Sun Oct 23, 2011 5:56 pm

American Zen that is still Buddhism is pretty hard to find.
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Re: Is Zen Buddhism...

Postby Beatzen » Wed Jan 04, 2012 6:42 am

ananda wrote:Basically Buddhism that places very little or no emphasis on the sutras and gives meditation and personal discovery a very large importance ?


Depends on what you mean by Zen Buddhism. Dogen Zenji, who founded the Soto Zen lineage, diverged from the Rinzai emphasis on the use of Koans in favor of study of the sutras.

Nangwa wrote:American Zen that is still Buddhism is pretty hard to find.


I suppose you must have a lot of good ideas about what Zen is.
"Cause is not before and Effect is not after"
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Re: Is Zen Buddhism...

Postby Quiet Heart » Wed Jan 04, 2012 7:39 am

:smile:
That is an old question and really has no "true" answer, because it all depends on your definition of what "real" Buddhisim is.
I, for one, don't know what "real" Buddhisim is. Do you?
I used the analogy before on another tpoic of the 9 blind men and the Elephant.
Each of those 9 blind men , using his hands to feel the "reality" of that Elephant, found a different part of the Elephant and because all he could feel, thought that his part was the entire and whole Elephant.
"Buddihsim" is our Elephant, and as human beings we are those 9 blind men.
That's why the question posed is meaningless.
Wouldn't it be better if we, as searchers-on-the-path of "Buddhisim" simply chose to explore our chosen path, than to criticise the other paths we didn't take?
That seems to be more productive to me, anyhow, so that's what I'll do.
:smile:
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: Is Zen Buddhism...

Postby LastLegend » Wed Jan 04, 2012 7:41 am

Quiet Heart wrote::smile:
That is an old question and really has no "true" answer, because it all depends on your definition of what "real" Buddhisim is.
I, for one, don't know what "real" Buddhisim is. Do you?
I used the analogy before on another tpoic of the 9 blind men and the Elephant.
Each of those 9 blind men , using his hands to feel the "reality" of that Elephant, found a different part of the Elephant and because all he could feel, thought that his part was the entire and whole Elephant.
"Buddihsim" is our Elephant, and as human beings we are those 9 blind men.
That's why the question posed is meaningless.
Wouldn't it be better if we, as searchers-on-the-path of "Buddhisim" simply chose to explore our chosen path, than to criticise the other paths we didn't take?That seems to be more productive to me, anyhow, so that's what I'll do.
:smile:


True. However, most of the time I have no ideas what you are talking about.
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NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (VIETNAMESE)
NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)
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Re: Is Zen Buddhism...

Postby Huifeng » Wed Jan 04, 2012 8:29 am

ananda wrote:Basically Buddhism that places very little or no emphasis on the sutras and gives meditation and personal discovery a very large importance ?


This is indeed the rhetoric of Zen.
The emphasis on "meditation" has been
blown a bit out of proportion since the
end of the 19th cty for a number of
reasons.

~~ Huifeng
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Re: Is Zen Buddhism...

Postby Beatzen » Wed Jan 04, 2012 8:45 am

I don't know what kind of sanghas here in the states you guys are familiar with, but my sangha refers to sutras all the time. Especially the Heart Sutra, which i am quite fond of as my favorite.
"Cause is not before and Effect is not after"
- Eihei Dogen Zenji
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Re: Is Zen Buddhism...

Postby Astus » Wed Jan 04, 2012 9:34 am

Beatzen wrote:I don't know what kind of sanghas here in the states you guys are familiar with, but my sangha refers to sutras all the time. Especially the Heart Sutra, which i am quite fond of as my favorite.


The Heart Sutra is a tricky one. It is like a 1.5 minute trailer to a 4 hour film, or a half page note to a 10 volume encyclopaedia. And because of its brevity it is easy to interpret it in many different ways. If you're for short and comprehensive texts, I recommend Ashvaghosha's "Awakening Faith in Mahayana" as a fundamental treatise of East Asian Buddhism.
"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: Is Zen Buddhism...

Postby Beatzen » Wed Jan 04, 2012 9:49 am

Astus wrote:
Beatzen wrote:I don't know what kind of sanghas here in the states you guys are familiar with, but my sangha refers to sutras all the time. Especially the Heart Sutra, which i am quite fond of as my favorite.


The Heart Sutra is a tricky one. It is like a 1.5 minute trailer to a 4 hour film, or a half page note to a 10 volume encyclopaedia. And because of its brevity it is easy to interpret it in many different ways. If you're for short and comprehensive texts, I recommend Ashvaghosha's "Awakening Faith in Mahayana" as a fundamental treatise of East Asian Buddhism.


I trust what you say, but I'm not a purist by any means. I might look at it in the future, since I'll remember you pointed it out to me. I think there's a section with a translation of that text in Dwight Goddard's bible at the public library here.

Right now I'm about to start "Each moment is the universe" by Katagiri. I hope it's good.

I don't see how you can interpret the heart sutra in many different ways... could you give me an example of that?
"Cause is not before and Effect is not after"
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Re: Is Zen Buddhism...

Postby Beatzen » Wed Jan 04, 2012 9:57 am

I just had the thought: "wait a minute... they usually show all the good parts in the trailers."
"Cause is not before and Effect is not after"
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Re: Is Zen Buddhism...

Postby Astus » Wed Jan 04, 2012 10:07 am

Beatzen wrote:I don't see how you can interpret the heart sutra in many different ways... could you give me an example of that?


Read commentaries of the Heart Sutra by different people and you'll find how many things can be found in it.
For example:
The Heart Sūtra explained: Indian and Tibetan commentaries by Donald S. Lopez
Essence of the Heart Sutra: The Dalai Lama's Heart of Wisdom Teachings by Mark Epstein
Heart Sutra: Ancient Buddhist Wisdom in the Light of Quantum Reality by Mu Soeng
The Heart sutra: an oral teaching by Sonam Rinchen
The Heart of Understanding: Commentaries on the Prajnaparamita Heart Sutra by Thich Nhat Hanh
There is no suffering: a commentary on the Heart Sutra by Ven. Shengyan
An Arrow to the Heart: A Commentary on the Heart Sutra by Ken McLeod
"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: Is Zen Buddhism...

Postby Indrajala » Wed Jan 04, 2012 1:04 pm

ananda wrote:Basically Buddhism that places very little or no emphasis on the sutras and gives meditation and personal discovery a very large importance ?


Not at all.

In fact, Zen Buddhism has historically and still does place a lot of emphasis on and spends a lot of time in studying scriptures.

In particular, the old Chan records which detail the lives and enlightenments of past figures are studied extensively and require a special knowledge of the vocabulary to comprehend. What's more is that a lot of these are written in archaic vernacular-literary hybrids, which mean they are difficult to read even for native speakers with a solid education in Buddhist literature. A lot of the vocabulary and expressions from older texts gets recycled in later texts, which again requires extensive knowledge because those allusions can determine the meaning of a text.

In reality Zen is supposed to prescribe meditation above study and ritual, but this isn't really the case. In present Zen not a lot of priests in Japan actually meditate unless they absolutely have to (such as during their seminary programs). Historically, the function of Buddhism in much of Japan has been to conduct rituals of worldly effect for patrons. This isn't much different from the present day in Japan, though instead of doing rituals to cast out negative influences, Japanese Zen priests are in the business of funerals and make their living that way.

A lot of people outside of Japan have completely mistaken ideas of what Zen is, and this I guess is to be expected given that most literature available on the subject in the English speaking world is either academic or written by complete fools who make up most of what they write.
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Re: Is Zen Buddhism...

Postby Astus » Wed Jan 04, 2012 1:19 pm

Huseng wrote:A lot of people outside of Japan have completely mistaken ideas of what Zen is, and this I guess is to be expected given that most literature available on the subject in the English speaking world is either academic or written by complete fools who make up most of what they write.


I have to correct this a bit. It was those few Japanese teachers who implemented the current view of Zen in the West. DT Suzuki was the first, but many others followed.
"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: Is Zen Buddhism...

Postby Indrajala » Wed Jan 04, 2012 2:32 pm

Astus wrote:
Huseng wrote:A lot of people outside of Japan have completely mistaken ideas of what Zen is, and this I guess is to be expected given that most literature available on the subject in the English speaking world is either academic or written by complete fools who make up most of what they write.


I have to correct this a bit. It was those few Japanese teachers who implemented the current view of Zen in the West. DT Suzuki was the first, but many others followed.


A lot of time has passed since DT Suzuki.

Type "Zen" into Amazon and you'll see all kinds of books on the subject with questionable titles and even more silly content.
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Re: Is Zen Buddhism...

Postby Astus » Wed Jan 04, 2012 4:21 pm

Huseng wrote:A lot of time has passed since DT Suzuki.
Type "Zen" into Amazon and you'll see all kinds of books on the subject with questionable titles and even more silly content.


By Zen I meant the religious part, not the mp3 player stuff, neither the books "Zen and the Art of..."
As for Amazon, among the first twelve items are (in order of appearance):
An Introduction to Zen Buddhism by D. T. Suzuki and Carl Jung
Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind by Shunryu Suzuki and David Chadwick
The Religion of the Samurai A Study of Zen Philosophy and Discipline in China and Japan by Kaiten Nukariya
The Three Pillars of Zen: Teaching, Practice, and Enlightenment by Roshi Philip Kapleau
Everyday Zen: Love and Work (Plus) by Charlotte J. Beck
"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: Is Zen Buddhism...

Postby Indrajala » Wed Jan 04, 2012 4:27 pm

Astus wrote:By Zen I meant the religious part, not the mp3 player stuff, neither the books "Zen and the Art of..."


Even if Suzuki is attributed with having brought Zen to the west, there is still the fact that Zen is largely made up of priests in Japan who do not conform to his vision.

Chan is a whole other matter. In the present day if you see how Chan organizations in Taiwan and elsewhere operate, in stark contrast to what you find in Japan, they insist on a lot of reading of scripture coupled with meditation retreats that don't end when you're out of seminary.

Ideally Japanese Zen should also be like that, but it probably will never be like that. There is the armchair intellectual version of Zen, how Zen actually exists in Japan and what it really should be but isn't.
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Re: Is Zen Buddhism...

Postby Astus » Wed Jan 04, 2012 5:18 pm

Huseng,

As I see it from the history of Zen (in any country), it takes outstanding teachers (or rather appropriate circumstances) to enliven the tradition. This reform recently happened in China through Xuyun, in Korea through Gyeongheo, but in Japan the last big impact teachers were Menzan and Hakuin more than 300 years ago. Western Zen (and Ven. Shengyan for instance) was influenced mostly by Sanbo Kyodan, a modern, 20th century school, but it had little influence in Japan itself. Buddhism in Taiwan is very fresh and new, most of the founders are still alive.
"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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