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 Post subject: Re: Is Zen Buddhism...
PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 5:52 pm 
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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.


Yes. I was first exposed to the Heart Sutra and the Lotus Sutra, for instance, in a Zen group. And the Surangama Sutra later on. &c.

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 Post subject: Re: Is Zen Buddhism...
PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 6:15 pm 
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Astus wrote:
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


I haven't read the McLeod book or the Mu Soeng book but the others are essentially pointing to or teaching the Prajnaparamita (I was going to say they are essentially the same).

Kirt

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 Post subject: Re: Is Zen Buddhism...
PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 8:09 pm 
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kirtu wrote:
I haven't read the McLeod book or the Mu Soeng book but the others are essentially pointing to or teaching the Prajnaparamita (I was going to say they are essentially the same).


Since the Heart Sutra is brief, one can explain it in as many different ways as emptiness can be explained in different ways. Same with the concept of prajnaparamita. You can go with Madhyamaka, Yogacara, Tiantai, Huayan, Chan, Tantra, Mahamudra, or something new.

For instance, Ven. Seung Sahn distinguished three forms of Zen (theoretical, tathagata, patriarchal) based only on "form is emptiness, emptiness is form" (Compass of Zen, p. 229f). Dushun's Mirror of the Mysteries of the Universe of the Huayan (tr. by Cleary in Entry Into the Inconceivable) sets up the whole discussion based on a fourfold relationship between form and emptiness. There is also a Heart Sutra commentary by Fazang translated in Francis H. Cook's "Mahayana Buddhist Meditation" that follows Huayan exegesis and differentiates three meanings of the relationship between form and emptiness (mutual opposition, not mutual opposition, mutual creativity), then gives the four meanings of true emptiness, after which he lists another fourfold relation from the viewpoint of form, following in essence Dushun's analysis. Shunryu Suzuki, in Zen Mind, Beginner's mind (p. 25f) makes difference only between two views of form and emptiness, where the view of "form is emptiness, emptiness is form" is a dualistic view. These were only Buddhist interpretations. But if we look into other sources, like "The Eye Aware: Zen Lessons for Christians" by Jeroen Witkam, we may find even more interesting explanations. That's why I say that studying the Heart Sutra is far from simple and straightforward.

Seung Sahn: Form is Emptiness, part 1 (video)
Seung Sahn: Form is Emptiness, part 2

Finally, here's a bit of Dogen (SBGZ: Bussho), just for its nice wording.
(tr. C. Bielefeldt):
This “emptiness” is not the “emptiness” of “form is itself emptiness.” “Form is itself emptiness” does not mean that “form” is forced into “emptiness”; it does not mean that “emptiness” has been divided up to author “form”: it is the “emptiness” of “emptiness is emptiness.” The “emptiness” of “emptiness is emptiness” is “a single stone in space.”
(tr. Nishijima & Cross):
This emptiness is beyond the emptiness of “matter is just emptiness.” [At the same time,] “matter is just emptiness” describes neither matter being forcibly made into emptiness nor emptiness being divided up to produce matter. It may describe emptiness in which emptiness is just emptiness. “Emptiness in which emptiness is just emptiness” describes “one stone in space.”

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 Post subject: Re: Is Zen Buddhism...
PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 8:33 pm 
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Astus wrote:
kirtu wrote:
I haven't read the McLeod book or the Mu Soeng book but the others are essentially pointing to or teaching the Prajnaparamita (I was going to say they are essentially the same).


Since the Heart Sutra is brief, one can explain it in as many different ways as emptiness can be explained in different ways. Same with the concept of prajnaparamita. You can go with Madhyamaka, Yogacara, Tiantai, Huayan, Chan, Tantra, Mahamudra, or something new.


That's true but in the collection you cited the teacher's words I have read (as I qualified my comment) would find their expositions to be non-contradictory and a person could learn well from any of those works cited, even though the teachers themselves will have different expositions and different views.

Kirt

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 Post subject: Re: Is Zen Buddhism...
PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 8:36 pm 
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Astus wrote:
kirtu wrote:
I haven't read the McLeod book or the Mu Soeng book but the others are essentially pointing to or teaching the Prajnaparamita (I was going to say they are essentially the same).


Since the Heart Sutra is brief, ...


And anyway the reason for the difference in expositions and view is that the Heart Sutra is vast and profound and is a pith summary of the direct experience of the Prajnaparamita. That it is brief is not a real factor.

Kirt

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 Post subject: Re: Is Zen Buddhism...
PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 9:06 pm 
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The Zen books that had the greatest impact on me were Shunryu Suzuki's two volumes, the Blue Cliff Record and surprisingly, those nifty little minature picture book introductions, the kind that have sparse text but attempt to really capture the taste of Zen. Some of them succeeded.

I practiced without Buddha, Dharma or Sangha, on my own, for about a year before transferring to Gelug teachings, where I immediately encountered all three. From this I conclude that the sutras are largely absent from the more popular Zen literature in North America. I never did encounter a Zen teacher, which might be the cause of this view.

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 Post subject: Re: Is Zen Buddhism...
PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 9:10 pm 
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kirtu wrote:
Astus wrote:
And anyway the reason for the difference in expositions and view is that the Heart Sutra is vast and profound and is a pith summary of the direct experience of the Prajnaparamita. That it is brief is not a real factor.


Its shortness is a factor in my opinion, because it doesn't explain the meaning, therefore leaves the rest to one's imagination/previous study. Not unlike a Zen koan.

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"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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 Post subject: Re: Is Zen Buddhism...
PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 10:30 pm 
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Astus wrote:
kirtu wrote:
Astus wrote:
And anyway the reason for the difference in expositions and view is that the Heart Sutra is vast and profound and is a pith summary of the direct experience of the Prajnaparamita. That it is brief is not a real factor.


Its shortness is a factor in my opinion, because it doesn't explain the meaning, therefore leaves the rest to one's imagination/previous study. Not unlike a Zen koan.


that's what makes it fun. And also fun is playing ball with the teacher where teacher constantly knocks down all your bullshit opinions about the meaning.

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 Post subject: Re: Is Zen Buddhism...
PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 11:41 pm 
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Beatzen wrote:

that's what makes it fun. And also fun is playing ball with the teacher where teacher constantly knocks down all your bullshit opinions about the meaning.



The meaning of the heart sutra is very simple -- it is about the inseparability of samsara and nirvana. That is simple, but it is also profound.

N

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 Post subject: Re: Is Zen Buddhism...
PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 2:21 am 
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That is what I "think" American Zen is.


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 Post subject: Re: Is Zen Buddhism...
PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 8:07 am 
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Is Mahayana Buddhism? Is Tantra Buddhism? Is Vajrayana Buddhism? Is Pureland Buddhism? New Kadampa? Sokka Gakai? Dzogchen?

I can find "authorities" for the proposition that none of these are, or that all of them are.

"Buddhism" is such a wide concept, and it means so much to so many people.
Personally I think Zen is Buddhism, and one can make quite a strong argument to back that up.

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 Post subject: Re: Is Zen Buddhism...
PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 9:06 pm 
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Well, from my personal experience, the Japanese teachers I have been fortunate to meet have been great. D T Suzuki was, by all the accounts of people I know who knew him, a great man.

That is all I have to say, really.


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 Post subject: Re: Is Zen Buddhism...
PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2012 6:42 pm 
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ananda wrote:
Basically Buddhism that places very little or no emphasis on the sutras and gives meditation and personal discovery a very large importance ?


It endows the practice of meditation with great importance. It does not exclude the value of cognitive teachings, as found in sutras and commentaries and dharma talks. Understanding the teachings alone, without realization, is likened to reading a recipe when one is hungry instead of eating: reading the recipe is very helpful, but the function is to feed ourselves and others. (Yes, it will be pointed out that one can prepare food without recipes, but we risk stretching the metaphor. For one wanting to learn about the buddhadharma and how it may be implemented in their lives, the "recipes" are important.)

For that matter, meditation alone, without realization, might be likened to contemplating hunger instead of eating: dispassionate awareness, not attaching to our desires and ideas, and being wide awake is certainly helpful, but what is the function of awareness? What is its job? So I would submit that Zen Buddhism is emphasizing an approach to personal awakening and realizing the buddhadharma in the context of one's situation in one single moment.


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 Post subject: Re: Is Zen Buddhism...
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2012 6:15 pm 
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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 true in the West, yes. For instance, you could join a Zen sangha and practice with them for years without reading one word from a sutra, but you would be expected to have a regular sitting practice.


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