Is Soto Zen Gradual?

Re: How is Dzogchen/Mahamudra different from Zazen Samadhi

Postby tomamundsen » Thu Jan 05, 2012 5:26 pm

Namdrol wrote:
tomamundsen wrote:
Astus wrote:Dogen... taught no enlightenment to be achieved but zazen itself became buddhahood for him.

A common misunderstanding of Dogen.


Well then, there are tons of Soto Zen practitioners out there who misunderstand Dogen and there own tradition.

There are. Even some teachers with shiho make the same mistakes, but certainly not all of them. This isn't the only point he's misunderstood on either. A lot of people claim that Dogen rejects reincarnation because of that bit about firewood and ashes in Genjokoan. The truth is that if you just dig a little deeper and read some of the less popular fascicles in Shobogenzo, you'll see he talks about literal reincarnation, accumulation of merit, etc.
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Re: How is Dzogchen/Mahamudra different from Zazen Samadhi

Postby Malcolm » Thu Jan 05, 2012 5:40 pm

tomamundsen wrote:The truth is that if you just dig a little deeper and read some of the less popular fascicles in Shobogenzo, you'll see he talks about literal reincarnation, accumulation of merit, etc.


Yes I know that. I have.

But in fact I disagree with you about the first point. I do not agree that Dogen is a gradual school adherent.

That is why I use the term "non-gradual" rather than sudden.
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Re: Is Soto Zen Gradual?

Postby Beatzen » Thu Jan 05, 2012 10:10 pm

I've heard, but not discerned for myself the truth of the claim that the two principle collections of Dogen's fascicles seem to indicate that he changed his views at a certain point of his writing career. What's this noise about?
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Re: Is Soto Zen Gradual?

Postby Anders » Thu Jan 05, 2012 10:34 pm

Soto Zen is obviously a sudden path. Sounds to me as much to be a confusion of what is actually meant by "sudden vs gradual" as about what Dogen had to say about these things.

The meaning of the sudden approach is that it is not involved with stages but takes Buddhahood as its foundation. hence Huineng said:

“Good friends, ordinary people are buddhas, and the afflictions are bodhi. With a preceding moment of deluded thought, one was an ordinary person, but with a succeeding moment of enlightened thought, one is a buddha."

Without wanting to get into the literalness of this, this is nonetheless illustrative of the view of the sudden approach and Soto Zen is entirely in line with this. If anything, it is radical even for a sudden approach as Dogen claims that even those who aren't awakened but nevertheless follow shikantaza are practising authentically according this principle.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

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Re: Is Soto Zen Gradual?

Postby Anders » Thu Jan 05, 2012 10:42 pm

Beatzen wrote:I've heard, but not discerned for myself the truth of the claim that the two principle collections of Dogen's fascicles seem to indicate that he changed his views at a certain point of his writing career. What's this noise about?


There is a very clear difference in his early writings and later ones of the shobogenzo. The latter tend to emphasise proper understanding of traditional Buddhist Mahayana doctrine a lot more than his previous ones.

Personally, I do not think it is necessarily a matter of him having changed his view. I think it is more likely a case of Dogen changing his emphasis to suit his community. He came back from China with a radical doctrine to teach to Buddhists who were by and large already well versed in the broadminded Mahayana that Tendai embodied. Give a few decades with this is his signature teaching and it would not be surprising if newcomers started taking this in isolation as sufficient, not unlike what we sometimes see in western Zen Buddhism, and Dogen started writing on more generic Mahayana to make sure that his students, both then and for prosperity, would have a wellrounded view and understanding of Mahayana Buddhism to go with the radical directness of Shikantaza.

I have a pet theory that says "and then he discovered Nagarjuna's Prajnaparamita Upadesha" as it is also around this time he starts mass quoting this text in his own writings, especially when it comes to expositions on standard traditional doctrines such as karma, rebirth, causation, morality, etc. There are some assessments of Nagarjuna in the Shobogenzo that in modern terms can only be described as pure fanboi-ism. At any rate, he made it very clear that in his own opinion Nagarjuna trumps any Chinese masters.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

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Re: How is Dzogchen/Mahamudra different from Zazen Samadhi

Postby Anders » Thu Jan 05, 2012 10:50 pm

Namdrol wrote:The best term is non-gradual.


Why is that? What distinguishes 'non-gradual' from 'sudden'?

Not that I think 'sudden' carries all the necessary implications from the original. There are connotations of all-at-once-ness and directness you don't quite get with 'sudden', which just seems to talk about the temporal aspect. I prefer 'immediate'. The etymological meaning of 'without mediator' is very apt here as well.
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I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

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Re: How is Dzogchen/Mahamudra different from Zazen Samadhi

Postby Anders » Thu Jan 05, 2012 11:03 pm

Huifeng wrote:
DarwidHalim wrote:No time to argue based on personal idea.

It is better showing fact, fact, and fact.

From Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zen#Sudden ... ightenment
...



Good little chortle late on Thursday night ...


This paragraph is actually sourced. I looked it up since I would be surprised to find someone like McRae advocate those opinions. There is nothing in the source from McRae that I can find that corresponds to what this paragraph is trying to argue. All it says is that it was the song dynasty understanding of Caodong and Linji that most since then have interpreted Chan Buddhism through up to the present day.

'fact' and 'wikipedia' should never be mentioned together in a sentence, let alone repeated thrice.
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I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

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Re: Is Soto Zen Gradual?

Postby Astus » Thu Jan 05, 2012 11:05 pm

I'd add an important aspect regarding Dogen's career in his later years, the Daruma-shu disciples.

"A number of Daruma-shū adepts, following Ejō (1198-1280) had collectively joined Dōgen's community, and this new audience strongly affected Dōgen's teachings and sectarian identity as a Sōtō patriarch. The change is drastically reflected in Shōbōgenzō and its increasing criticism of Ta-hui, Nonin's alleged master, extending gradually to the entire Rinzai tradition."
(Bernard Faure: The Daruma-shū, Dōgen, and Sōtō Zen)
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(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 Soto Zen Gradual?

Postby Anders » Thu Jan 05, 2012 11:27 pm

Astus wrote:I'd add an important aspect regarding Dogen's career in his later years, the Daruma-shu disciples.

"A number of Daruma-shū adepts, following Ejō (1198-1280) had collectively joined Dōgen's community, and this new audience strongly affected Dōgen's teachings and sectarian identity as a Sōtō patriarch. The change is drastically reflected in Shōbōgenzō and its increasing criticism of Ta-hui, Nonin's alleged master, extending gradually to the entire Rinzai tradition."
(Bernard Faure: The Daruma-shū, Dōgen, and Sōtō Zen)


I love it when a pet theory comes together. That would certainly explain the need to change his emphasis on Dogen's part.

It's been a while since I read on it, but from what I recall, Daruma shu read almost like a caricature of the pop Zen clichés of the day.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra
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Re: Is Soto Zen Gradual?

Postby Astus » Thu Jan 05, 2012 11:45 pm

Anders Honore wrote:It's been a while since I read on it, but from what I recall, Daruma shu read almost like a caricature of the pop Zen clichés of the day.


In a sense it sounds like "pop Zen". You could say the same about a couple of other Zen groups, like Baotang, Hongzhou and Linji. However, I think that is just the surface. If you read a bit of what Faure says, Daruma-shu actually became mainstream under Soto label.
The more intellectual type of Zen with elaborate teachings, like those of Zongmi and Yongming, naturally could not obtain true popularity, and even those who knew about them and used their teachings, like Jinul and in the modern days Shengyan, used the methods of the more radical kanhua Chan. So it is rather a matter of balance between theory, rhetoric and practice.
"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 Soto Zen Gradual?

Postby DarwidHalim » Fri Jan 06, 2012 3:20 am

I personally think, realizing enlightenment cannot be sudden.

Everyone has this buddha nature. Whether we realize it or not, it is there. The recognition of buddha nature is of course always sudden. It is quite similar with aware and not aware. When we are not in awareness state, we are flood away by thoughts. But, when we aware, that awareness is sudden. We suddenly aware, Oh I have been though this and that. The awareness itself is sudden. Awareness is not like oh 10% awareness, then gradually move to 80%, then 100% awareness.

Have you heard someone say I need 1 minute to be fully aware?

Awareness is always sudden, like a flash.

People who are aware do not mean they can realize that buddha nature. To realize that Buddha nature, we need to realize this sunyata. For those who knows what is sunyata, when they aware, they straight away also realize this sunyata. The union of emptiness and appearance straight away "on". When the old habit of thoughts and essence fly them away, they are "off" from this awareness. Once they realize they have been carried away, the shifting from "off" to "on" is always sudden.

I never believe there is such thing called sudden in learning process.

If you are a muslim, that never ever heard buddhism even in your past lives, by hearing just 1 line of buddha dharma, and you straight away realize your buddha nature, then we can say yes, your enlightenment is sudden.

But is it possible? Your strong bad habit suddenly disappear?

If we see Zen practitioners who practice Koan for example. Do you think the first time they hear the Koan, staright away they realize it? They may be cracking their head for years and years in meditation. When they realize, that realization is definitely sudden. BUt the process always takes time.

We have to remember, we have to take into account our past lives. Have we ever heard or learn buddha teaching before or not?

If there is a school who can make realization sudden. THat school is the best school in the world. Because it is sudden, everyone that goes to that school, the next minute must already realize buddha nature. Does such school exist? Is it possible?

But if even that school claims the realization is sudden, if all their students need 5 or 20 years to realize that buddha nature, can we still say that school approach is sudden? It makes no sense to say that school is sudden, even they claim so!

If we remember Buddha himself, when he gave the 4 noble truth to his first students, who were the ascetics, some of them staright away become arhat. This one looks sudden. THat realization is sudden. SOmething like it clicks in your head, and all your confusion straight away gone and you realize it. It looks like that.

But, do you think if that ascetics never train himself so hard in that ascetics yoga or whatever it is, they can suddenly click and realize enlightenment?

Can we say that those ascetics enlightenment as sudden?

If we remember Ananda. Ananda realization can look sudden. When he want to lay down, he straight away click and he became arhat. It looks so sudden. But, imagine if Ananda never follow buddha for years, do you think he can realize his buddha nature?

Besides all claim sudden Vs gradual, the process of enlightenment in my opinion cannot be sudden. We have to take into account as well what we have got through past lives.

In my personal opinion, the issue lies in that "click" and the "process to get that click". THat click is always sudden, similar to awareness on and off. But from the perspective of process, there is no such thing call sudden. There is always a process, now and past lives.

If there is a Zen school that can give you sudden enlightenment, the queue to enter that school will be countless. Realizing buddha nature is then just a 1 second job.
I am not here nor there.
I am not right nor wrong.
I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
I am not in samsara nor nirvana.
To All Buddhas, I bow down for the teaching of emptiness. Thank You!
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Re: Is Soto Zen Gradual?

Postby ground » Fri Jan 06, 2012 4:17 am

Traditions fabricate.
How can one assess a tradition when applying the lens of another tradition?
Whether you reify "koan" or you refy "just sitting" does not make the least difference.

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Re: Is Soto Zen Gradual?

Postby tomamundsen » Fri Jan 06, 2012 4:47 am

Anders Honore wrote:Soto Zen is obviously a sudden path.

It is obviously sudden and subtly gradual.

Anders Honore wrote:Without wanting to get into the literalness of this, this is nonetheless illustrative of the view of the sudden approach and Soto Zen is entirely in line with this. If anything, it is radical even for a sudden approach as Dogen claims that even those who aren't awakened but nevertheless follow shikantaza are practising authentically according this principle.

There is a difference between "practicing authentically" and attaining buddhahood. My first Zen teacher, Michael Elliston, says "practice is enlightenment, but not yet awakening"
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Re: Is Soto Zen Gradual?

Postby DarwidHalim » Fri Jan 06, 2012 5:13 am

On paper, mahamudra is direct approach, that straight away pointing your Buddha nature
On paper, sikhantaza is also a direct approach, straight to the Buddha nature.

Putting all those shikantaza in practice, does not mean you sit, and you enlightened in the next second.

You may need to sit for years and years until we realized that actually since day one it is just this, already there. Need years and years to see something which is already there.

It is like a big elephant is in front of you. It is a matter of fact, to see that elephant you need years and years, even it is just in front of you. When you see the elephant it is always sudden to recognize that elephant. But to process to see that elephant, it is a matter of years.

Quite tragic, but it happens to all of us.
I am not here nor there.
I am not right nor wrong.
I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
I am not in samsara nor nirvana.
To All Buddhas, I bow down for the teaching of emptiness. Thank You!
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Re: Is Soto Zen Gradual?

Postby tomamundsen » Fri Jan 06, 2012 5:16 am

tomamundsen wrote:My first Zen teacher, Michael Elliston, says "practice is enlightenment, but not yet awakening"
If you want to hear it from a more famous teacher, check out The hazy moon of enlightenment by maezumi. There is a chapter called "sudden and gradual" where he comes to the conclusion that soto is both sudden and gradual. It's freely available on Google books.
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Re: Is Soto Zen Gradual?

Postby DarwidHalim » Fri Jan 06, 2012 5:22 am

Yes, I am fully agree with you, 'both sudden and gradual'

Finding the elephant is sudden, and it is always sudden.

Bit the process of finding that elephant, is never a 1 second job. It Can takes million of life time.
I am not here nor there.
I am not right nor wrong.
I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
I am not in samsara nor nirvana.
To All Buddhas, I bow down for the teaching of emptiness. Thank You!
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Re: Is Soto Zen Gradual?

Postby tomamundsen » Fri Jan 06, 2012 5:42 am

DarwidHalim wrote:Yes, I am fully agree with you, 'both sudden and gradual'

Finding the elephant is sudden, and it is always sudden.

Bit the process of finding that elephant, is never a 1 second job. It Can takes million of life time.

Doh! Sorry but that's not really what I meant. To use your analogy, what I meant is like, you suddenly see the elephant, but it takes many lifetimes to become one. That is to say, in shikantaza, there is immediate realization by dwelling in the buddha's samadhi. However, there is still the process of removing latent afflictions to gain the body of a Buddha. To get technical, in shikantaza, anusayas exist but klesas do not.
Last edited by tomamundsen on Fri Jan 06, 2012 5:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is Soto Zen Gradual?

Postby DarwidHalim » Fri Jan 06, 2012 5:50 am

tomamundsen wrote:Doh! Sorry but that's not really what I meant. To use your analogy, what I meant is like, you suddenly see the elephant, but it takes many lifetimes to become one.


Oh Yes, a bit different. :rolling:

But this is what I mean in complete analogy.

1) The process to find that elephant is not a 1 second job, not sudden

2) Seeing that elephant is a flash, sudden.

3) After able to see that elephant, need to master it by keeping it in your daily activities every second 24/7, until it is natural. For sure, this kind of work is also not a 1 second job.

I think the dispute that Zen is sudden approach is in No. 1 or 3.

If what we mean no 1 and 3 can be sudden, it is not possible even it is Mahamudra, Dzhogchen, or Shikantaza.
I am not here nor there.
I am not right nor wrong.
I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
I am not in samsara nor nirvana.
To All Buddhas, I bow down for the teaching of emptiness. Thank You!
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Re: How is Dzogchen/Mahamudra different from Zazen Samadhi

Postby Huifeng » Fri Jan 06, 2012 6:36 am

Anders Honore wrote:
Huifeng wrote:
DarwidHalim wrote:No time to argue based on personal idea.

It is better showing fact, fact, and fact.

From Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zen#Sudden ... ightenment
...



Good little chortle late on Thursday night ...


This paragraph is actually sourced. I looked it up since I would be surprised to find someone like McRae advocate those opinions. There is nothing in the source from McRae that I can find that corresponds to what this paragraph is trying to argue. All it says is that it was the song dynasty understanding of Caodong and Linji that most since then have interpreted Chan Buddhism through up to the present day.

'fact' and 'wikipedia' should never be mentioned together in a sentence, let alone repeated thrice.


I was very tempted to state something similar to your last line here myself, but Wiki can be okay at times.
John has left us not very long now, and already his name is being used for such silliness. :(

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Re: Is Soto Zen Gradual?

Postby Astus » Fri Jan 06, 2012 9:29 am

Regarding this "sudden" issue, I'd like to remind you all what Anders mentioned before, that it is more like "immediate", and the temporal meaning is just a small part of it. It is an immediate teaching because it is directly about the buddha-mind without any extra practices, and it is immediate compared to other Buddhist methods. How fast one actually attains liberation, that is a matter of personal abilities and not the teachings.
"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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