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newcomer question

Posted: Sun Feb 16, 2020 8:41 am
by laymedowntosleep17
Hello

I posted a version of the question below in the introductions area of this forum and was advised that you folk here might be able to help me. I have had a look through previous threads and I'm sorry if this question has already been addressed: if so, I can't find it!

My question is generally about self-power / other power and how a Zen practice might worth with or against a 12 step understanding of 'higher power' (or 'other power').
I am looking at Zen - reading here and elsewhere and a few books too.

I guess what's a sticking point for me - in terms of my current understanding (which I admit might be naive and ill-informed - it's why I am here!) is the emphasis on training and striving - the self-power of the practice.

My own experience in dealing with my addiction is that all my attempts to get control of the clinging, deluded, greedy aspects of my nature made them worse. I was using ego to deal with ego. Only in utterly surrendering and handing over to a (pretty unformed and undeveloped sense of) a higher power was I able to start to live differently. I don't believe I've cured myself, or that my own efforts have got me anywhere. I'm not sure I believe either in a personal god who is answering prayers and protecting me. I think surrendering to 'the way things really are' - including the deficiencies in my own nature (bombu, is what the Pure Land Buddhists call it, I believe) has been transformative for me. This 'higher power' doesn't feel higher, or better, or different - only present inside and outside, and about what is 'real'.

What attracts me to looking at Zen further is the sense that I have that zazen isn't perhaps about training, or doing, or striving, but is about what happens naturally when all the striving and training and self-effort is allowed to fail utterly or come to a rest. That there's a practice that might look like it is about doing but is actually about learning to stop doing, and let whatever it is that isn't us, but is in us and beyond us, take over. When I have tried meditative practices, I don't get the sense that I am DOING something that will bring me closer to perfecting my nature - like, I don't know, press-ups for the mind - but that I am allowing all the things I generally do that get between me and the way things really are in the world and in me (which aren't separate things after all) to come forward. But then when I read I come across these ideas of training and discipline and control and striving and they seem so alien to my experience and to my understanding - such as it is.

Does that sound like Zen practice might be a good fit for me?

Re: newcomer question

Posted: Mon Feb 17, 2020 9:21 am
by Astus
laymedowntosleep17 wrote: Sun Feb 16, 2020 8:41 amDoes that sound like Zen practice might be a good fit for me?
Zen is not a single method or doctrine, although all that can be called Zen operates within the framework of Mahayana Buddhism.

You might like the teachings of Daehaeng who emphasised entrusting everything to one's foundation she called Juingong.

Here's a short talk: Thinking Big.

More: http://www.hanmaum.org/eng/
And especially: https://wakeupandlaugh.com/

"The essence of practicing kwan is to entrust everything to Juingong with the firm belief that only Juingong can solve one's problems, including those that one faces in everyday life, and can awaken one from the delusions that originate within. Also, practicing kwan means taming one's mind, which is being dragged outwardly, by directing it inwardly. Directing one's mind inwardly means being one with Juingong and, at the same time, killing one's sense of ego. The most important matter is that one's mind should not be dragged outwardly. No matter what kind of problem one faces, only when one brings the problem into one"s mind and looks at it through the foundation of Mind, can one perceive the problem clearly without any bias. To drag one"s mind outwardly separates one from others; to direct one's mind inwardly is the way to become one with everything. Even while worshipping Buddha, one has to venerate Buddha within one"s mind, and one has to bow to that place where Buddha and I are not separate."
(from There Is Nothing You Cannot Accomplish with Practice)

Re: newcomer question

Posted: Mon Feb 17, 2020 9:46 am
by LastLegend
laymedowntosleep17 wrote: Sun Feb 16, 2020 8:41 am Hello

I posted a version of the question below in the introductions area of this forum and was advised that you folk here might be able to help me. I have had a look through previous threads and I'm sorry if this question has already been addressed: if so, I can't find it!

My question is generally about self-power / other power and how a Zen practice might worth with or against a 12 step understanding of 'higher power' (or 'other power').
I am looking at Zen - reading here and elsewhere and a few books too.

I guess what's a sticking point for me - in terms of my current understanding (which I admit might be naive and ill-informed - it's why I am here!) is the emphasis on training and striving - the self-power of the practice.

My own experience in dealing with my addiction is that all my attempts to get control of the clinging, deluded, greedy aspects of my nature made them worse. I was using ego to deal with ego. Only in utterly surrendering and handing over to a (pretty unformed and undeveloped sense of) a higher power was I able to start to live differently. I don't believe I've cured myself, or that my own efforts have got me anywhere. I'm not sure I believe either in a personal god who is answering prayers and protecting me. I think surrendering to 'the way things really are' - including the deficiencies in my own nature (bombu, is what the Pure Land Buddhists call it, I believe) has been transformative for me. This 'higher power' doesn't feel higher, or better, or different - only present inside and outside, and about what is 'real'.

What attracts me to looking at Zen further is the sense that I have that zazen isn't perhaps about training, or doing, or striving, but is about what happens naturally when all the striving and training and self-effort is allowed to fail utterly or come to a rest. That there's a practice that might look like it is about doing but is actually about learning to stop doing, and let whatever it is that isn't us, but is in us and beyond us, take over. When I have tried meditative practices, I don't get the sense that I am DOING something that will bring me closer to perfecting my nature - like, I don't know, press-ups for the mind - but that I am allowing all the things I generally do that get between me and the way things really are in the world and in me (which aren't separate things after all) to come forward. But then when I read I come across these ideas of training and discipline and control and striving and they seem so alien to my experience and to my understanding - such as it is.

Does that sound like Zen practice might be a good fit for me?
Using other powers would also help your entry to your nature (actual enlightenment) quicker. Make personal great vows and open your mind maximum beyond the narrow way of five skandhas and self. Ask and pray for other powers to help with entry.

While you are on a path towards enlightenment,
karma supposed to be ripen and looking for you are temporarily withheld and absorbed by Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Why? Because we can’t deal with karma. Once enlightened, you will pay back and help other sentient beings transforming and absorbing their karma. That’s the work of Bodhisattva path. But karma is balanced, fair and square. What you loan you have to pay back but good work through transforming karma of sentient beings will balance it out. Nobody is more compassionate than Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

How does a enlightened being change a direction of a storm? Just by one pure thought. But we can’t since our thoughts are karmic which could create more harm if not doing properly.

Re: newcomer question

Posted: Mon Feb 17, 2020 3:44 pm
by laymedowntosleep17
thank you so much for these answers - and apologies for my typo in the title of this thread (have corrected for this post).

I am considering Soto Zen because there are two groups near me, with different affiliations. I will attend both and get to know the practitioners there.

Is it appropriate to ask this sort of question at the group? From what I can tell, the group practice involves some sitting, some chanting, a dharma talk and tea afterwards. Is tea the time to ask questions like this? (I will of course do my own reading, as has been suggested here, first).

Re: newcomer question

Posted: Tue Feb 18, 2020 8:10 pm
by rory
layme, not a Zen practitioner but it sounds to me like Jodo Shinshu would be a good fit for you; it's like the flip side of Zen - a radical letting go.In your circumstances the emphasis on radical reliance on other-power of Shin might be beneficial.
The famous D. T. Suzuki wrote a book all about this Buddha of Infinite Light
https://www.amazon.com/Buddha-Infinite- ... op?ie=UTF8

In his later years Suzuki became very close to Shinshu and here is also a link to some translations of texts he did
https://www.amazon.com/Selected-Works-D ... 0520268938

If this interests you visit the Pure Land and Jodo Shinshu subforums, practitioners are very kind and helpful and there are online sanghas, videos, materials to support you. I can attest years ago I wrote to a Shinshu minister whilst I was living in Ireland far from any Buddhists and he wrote back, sent me dharma texts, invited me to visit his temple and gave me so much wonderful advice.
gassho
Rory

Re: newcomer question

Posted: Mon Mar 02, 2020 11:45 pm
by JMGinPDX
laymedowntosleep17 wrote: Mon Feb 17, 2020 3:44 pm
Is it appropriate to ask this sort of question at the group? From what I can tell, the group practice involves some sitting, some chanting, a dharma talk and tea afterwards. Is tea the time to ask questions like this? (I will of course do my own reading, as has been suggested here, first).
I can't speak for those sanghas, but if tea time is the only time for informal conversation, I would say so.
The teacher might offer sanzen/dokusan (1 on 1 time), so look for that option.
In my experience sanghas are fairly welcoming and open; there's a fair amount of apprehension in your statements, so maybe put that aside to a degree.