The Perfectly Imperfect Beyond Perfection/Imperfection (Zen) Buddha

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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: The Perfectly Imperfect Beyond Perfection/Imperfection (Zen) Buddha

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Wed Apr 06, 2016 6:10 am

Hello Johnny,

I am just doing my best to respond in civil and polite tones, without bile.


Whatever man, I'm married to a lawyer, legalistic disclaimers don't change the content of the things you write, no matter how often you repeat them. They also don't make conduct which is obviously unfriendly and nasty any kinder, no matter how prettily you dress it up, or how often you make reference to some "big tent" Buddhist concept.

Anyway, more later. None of us have the final word on these things, and I can only comment from whether in my experience the writings and descriptions offered by SD seemed to resonate with Soto Zen as I know it. I don't feel that they do, although there is much common ground as both are from the common ground of Mahayana. I feel that a subtle understanding of Soto Practice may be lacking, and people are seeing what they what to see (maybe I am guilty of the same when I look at the Tibetan writings which were raised).



I often say that if someone advocates the value of a teaching in Buddhism ... but they have to do so in an upset or hostile tone ... well, can that reflect well on that Buddhist teaching to bring peace to the mind?

Gassho, Jundo


IMO people who quote themselves by saying "I often say" ought to hold a mirror up to themselves before acting passive-aggressively about the behavior of others. This kindergarten view of good conduct may convince some, to me it just looks like you are trying to set yourself up as a kinder, more Buddhist person, making politeness some kind of credential to lord over others. So really, you wanna talk about ugly behavior, look at all the passive aggressive tripe you write about how others are somehow not fulfilling their practice by disagreeing with you. I much rather have someone act like a grumpy curmudgeon than engage in these kinds of gymnastics.

Can you articulate why you think what you think about the Saraha bits, other than to say that we are trying to have a "trippy trip"? Anyone with a teeny bit of experience reading any Buddhist texts from the Pali canon on up would likely be able to figure out that "bliss" as some temporary state isn't the goal of any Buddhist teaching. So again, this is all just a (very transparent) straw man as far as I can see.
May the eyes of living beings be gladdened by skies made splendid by clouds
that lightnings garland, while on earth below, the peacocks dance with joy as
showers of rain, falling gently, approach.

-The Door Of Happiness

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Re: The Perfectly Imperfect Beyond Perfection/Imperfection (Zen) Buddha

Postby jundo cohen » Wed Apr 06, 2016 6:59 am

Hi Johnny,

I believe that everyone is fulfilling their Path, and that they are all wonderful Paths which sometimes intersect and sometimes diverge. I don't see many of the parallels that were being described, although I may be wrong. Thank you for educating me. And I will try to see it your way too. I am not the final word on Soto Zen or anything for that matter.

Gassho, Jundo
Priest/Teacher at Treeleaf Zendo, a Soto Zen Sangha. Treeleaf Zendo was designed as an online practice place for Zen practitioners who cannot easily commute to a Zen Center due to health concerns, living in remote areas, or work, childcare and family needs, and seeks to provide Zazen sittings, retreats, discussion, interaction with a teacher, and all other activities of a Zen Buddhist Sangha, all fully online. The focus is Shikantaza "Just Sitting" Zazen as instructed by the 13th Century Japanese Master, Eihei Dogen. http://www.treeleaf.org

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Re: The Perfectly Imperfect Beyond Perfection/Imperfection (Zen) Buddha

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Wed Apr 06, 2016 8:20 am

jundo cohen wrote:Hi Johnny,

I believe that everyone is fulfilling their Path, and that they are all wonderful Paths which sometimes intersect and sometimes diverge. I don't see many of the parallels that were being described, although I may be wrong. Thank you for educating me. And I will try to see it your way too. I am not the final word on Soto Zen or anything for that matter.

Gassho, Jundo


Oh I don't think they are exactly the same or anything, but I have yet to see anything that makes me think people simply "don't understand" Shikantaza, or are missing some subtle difference. In fact, I practiced Soto Zen for a number of years. While some of the subitist stuff seems to diverge in terms of doctrine, in terms of meditation instruction, the main difference to me is the pedagogical model and wild range of types of instructions and practice in the Tibetan traditions. As far as whether or not there are similarities in the instructions of how to meditate, and maybe even the view of meditation, there most definitely are. Additionally a lot of the "esoteric" practices that you often thumb your nose at were very clearly a larger part of both Chan and Zen at one time.

Part of why people are getting so snippy in this discussion is that you keep pointing to things that are actually almost indisputably *common* to different systems(rather than the sizable collection of stuff that isn't), and treating them as if they are not, then saying that there is some unspecified thing we don't understand about Zen or Shikantaza that makes them different. Then we end up with pages of stuff that looks really familiar to a bunch of people, but you say "naw it's different", without explaining why exactly.

I'm by no means a "all vehicles are the same guy", but there is no denying that Zen and Mahamudra instructions (for example) have some very similar themes for me, once I had experienced both. Some of the instructions and stories of the Mahasiddhas also have a parallel in terms of "crazy wisdom" (stuff like enlightenment by being hit the head with a shoe by teacher) to Zen.

So of course they diverge in many places, as it should be, the point is that you seem to be posting about the places they don't diverge much, and saying that they do. So basically, all the "subtleties" of Zazen you have pointed out so far, are things that sound familiar to a bunch of people. The place where there is most divergence seems to be the instantaneous enlightenment thing.
May the eyes of living beings be gladdened by skies made splendid by clouds
that lightnings garland, while on earth below, the peacocks dance with joy as
showers of rain, falling gently, approach.

-The Door Of Happiness

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Re: The Perfectly Imperfect Beyond Perfection/Imperfection (Zen) Buddha

Postby jundo cohen » Wed Apr 06, 2016 8:26 am

Hi Johnny,

I will continue soon on the other "bliss" thread, and try to better explain the divergence I see. Then, please correct my misunderstanding.

Gassho, Jundo
Priest/Teacher at Treeleaf Zendo, a Soto Zen Sangha. Treeleaf Zendo was designed as an online practice place for Zen practitioners who cannot easily commute to a Zen Center due to health concerns, living in remote areas, or work, childcare and family needs, and seeks to provide Zazen sittings, retreats, discussion, interaction with a teacher, and all other activities of a Zen Buddhist Sangha, all fully online. The focus is Shikantaza "Just Sitting" Zazen as instructed by the 13th Century Japanese Master, Eihei Dogen. http://www.treeleaf.org

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Re: The Perfectly Imperfect Beyond Perfection/Imperfection (Zen) Buddha

Postby Grigoris » Wed Apr 06, 2016 5:48 pm

jundo cohen wrote:Dear "Saraha" does seem to speak of reaching "bliss" ...

take that and perfect
the utmost great bliss


footnote: utmost great bliss: One of the most important characteristics of the enlightened mind, the innate, or one’s inmost nature. ... Tantric Buddhism is particularly notable for its description of the ultimate as blissful (see, e.g., HT 1:8, 44, ST 33:22) and for cultivating techniques that stimulate and utilize bliss—including sexual bliss—to attain that ultimate. “Bliss” (Apa. suha; Skt. sukha) is roughly synonymous with such terms as ecstasy (Skt. a¯nanda), delight (Skt. ra¯ga), and rapture (Skt. sura).
No, you have misunderstood what is being said, though in the footnote it seems pretty clear:

The goal is to realise the enlightened nature of mind. The experience of realisation is blissful. Some techniques utilise common bliss to prime the mind for the experience or to point it towards the true experience. Like all experiences though, bliss can be reified as a phenomenon that one grasps at or desires to attain. At that point the method of cultivation (eg sexual practices) or the samsaric bliss which is taken as an example or pointer, becomes an obstacle.
I am sure that this is all very powerful for those who practice in such way, but Shikantaza does not speak of bliss and ecstacy and rapture. Such will happen, yet we open the hand of thought and let such go with all the rest.
Same with Mahamudra practice: cf what I said in my previous statement. Just because you are taught to not grasp at it does not mean that it will not happen. You are taught not to grasp at it because it WILL happen.
I searched various translations of Soto materials, and I have found no references to "bliss", especially in Dogen. The closest I came was this caution, in the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives translation of Shobogenzo, perhaps the most flowery in its style (p337, 526) ...

p 337 - 4. That is, such befuddled persons take ‘blissing out’ to be the true goal of meditation.
p. 526 - 19. ... the northern continent of Uttarakuru is associated with the world of celestial beings who see no need to train because they are, at the moment, enjoying a constantly easy and blissful existence.
p. 767 - ... This meditative state, however, is not to be confused with a quietistic or blissful condition, which is simply a passing phase that may arise in spiritual practice.
All very good advice, but this is describing not becoming attached to bliss, it is not saying that you will not experinece bliss. The bliss referred to in this advice is temporary (based on causes and conditions) bliss, the bliss of realisation is not based on causes and conditions (it is the very nature of Tathagatagarbha) and so is not temporary nor capable of leading to dissatisfaction.
I usually tell students that one is to move beyond feelings of "bliss" as an immature state, and one very tempting for us to run after. We use words like "Joy" and "Bliss" is a very subtle way. In Zazen (and Kensho) one experiences what may be called a "Joy" that shines behind ordinary human experience of feeling joyful or not joyful in any moment, much as a mirror reflects both scenes of joy or scenes of sadness. It is not some "ecstacy" or "rapture" and, while some will and do occur in Zazen, a good teacher will direct students away from such to a much more subtle insight.
Good advice for some students, not good advice for others (for example those that desire and cling to a dull or vegetative meditative state).

Shikantaza is a "letting go to the bones" (as a friend expressed elsewhere today), dropping goals and demands to the marrow and beyond.
Mahamudra is the same.
Thus, it is very unique among forms of meditation in which (like most of our goal and attainment driven day-to-day lives)
Actually not as unique as you would like to think it is.
This is not about attaining some blissful state.
Neither is Mahamudra, but it is part of the deal whether you like it or not. ;)
In Shikantaza Zazen, we sit with the eyes open because we never leave this world and life behind.
Same in Mahamudra.
We are not looking for a trippy trip.
Neither are we. We are out to see reality exactly as it is.
My understanding is that, even in traditions which emphasize Jhana (which Shikantaza does not, although there are some parallels to the 4th Jnana of equanimity LINK viewtopic.php?f=107&t=22352&p=331626&hilit=shankman#p331626) in fact "bliss" is something that is left behind in the higher Jhana, and is a lesser attainment. ... however, that is not something here or there for the topic at hand.
The bliss of Mahamudra is not the bliss of the lower jhana, it is full enlightenment itself. It is the realisation of ones enlightened nature.
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

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Re: The Perfectly Imperfect Beyond Perfection/Imperfection (Zen) Buddha

Postby jundo cohen » Wed Apr 06, 2016 6:46 pm

Hi,

I believe I understand what folks are trying to say, and some of my misunderstanding has been corrected. I see many parallels as would be expected from two Traditions in the same family, and I know that what is being described is a wonderful and powerful path for so many folks. I celebrate that for them.

However, this still strikes me as very foreign in many ways to Shikantaza, perhaps just due to the surrounding descriptions and techniques. I still don't see the parallel, and I would hesitate to introduce much of this material (such as that great poem, as wonderful and powerful as I am sure it is to folks in that Tradition with whom it resonates) to Soto Zen students for Shikantaza. I am pretty sure most Soto Zen teachers would agree, although some might see it more than me. I am not the last word on Soto Zen.

I will continue to wrestle with this and try to see, but I still don't see how this is Shikantaza or Soto Practice. I am really trying (reread the poem and all the surrounding notes today.) Many similarities and common ground, that is certain. My apologies for my blindness perhaps.

Gassho, Jundo
Priest/Teacher at Treeleaf Zendo, a Soto Zen Sangha. Treeleaf Zendo was designed as an online practice place for Zen practitioners who cannot easily commute to a Zen Center due to health concerns, living in remote areas, or work, childcare and family needs, and seeks to provide Zazen sittings, retreats, discussion, interaction with a teacher, and all other activities of a Zen Buddhist Sangha, all fully online. The focus is Shikantaza "Just Sitting" Zazen as instructed by the 13th Century Japanese Master, Eihei Dogen. http://www.treeleaf.org

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Re: The Perfectly Imperfect Beyond Perfection/Imperfection (Zen) Buddha

Postby Grigoris » Thu Apr 07, 2016 8:29 am

I am glad you finally realised that when people point out similarities it means they are agreeing with you and not attacking you! :smile:

The truth is that, for me, points of convergence are where the Dharma is to be found. That is why I am happy to study and practice views and techniques from all three Yana.

Divergences or differences are (at worst) cultural accretions and (at best) subtle nuances that allow sentient beings with various karmic proclivities to have a key that opens their personal Dharma door.

We can argue about the differences 'til we are blue in the face, but let us at least acknowledge the similarities and help each other progress on our paths.
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

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Re: The Perfectly Imperfect Beyond Perfection/Imperfection (Zen) Buddha

Postby jundo cohen » Thu Apr 07, 2016 9:25 am

Sherab Dorje wrote: ..

let us at least acknowledge the similarities and help each other progress on our paths.


Hi Sherab Dorje,

There never could be any disagreement on that. :anjali:

Gassho, J
Priest/Teacher at Treeleaf Zendo, a Soto Zen Sangha. Treeleaf Zendo was designed as an online practice place for Zen practitioners who cannot easily commute to a Zen Center due to health concerns, living in remote areas, or work, childcare and family needs, and seeks to provide Zazen sittings, retreats, discussion, interaction with a teacher, and all other activities of a Zen Buddhist Sangha, all fully online. The focus is Shikantaza "Just Sitting" Zazen as instructed by the 13th Century Japanese Master, Eihei Dogen. http://www.treeleaf.org

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Re: The Perfectly Imperfect Beyond Perfection/Imperfection (Zen) Buddha

Postby DGA » Thu Apr 07, 2016 12:51 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:I am glad you finally realised that when people point out similarities it means they are agreeing with you and not attacking you! :smile:

The truth is that, for me, points of convergence are where the Dharma is to be found. That is why I am happy to study and practice views and techniques from all three Yana.

Divergences or differences are (at worst) cultural accretions and (at best) subtle nuances that allow sentient beings with various karmic proclivities to have a key that opens their personal Dharma door.

We can argue about the differences 'til we are blue in the face, but let us at least acknowledge the similarities and help each other progress on our paths.


Well spoken.
DGA's dissertation, a cultural history of mindfulness, here:
https://www.academia.edu/25482900/WHAT_ ... _OF_STRESS

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Re: The Perfectly Imperfect Beyond Perfection/Imperfection (Zen) Buddha

Postby DGA » Wed Apr 13, 2016 7:37 pm

DGA's dissertation, a cultural history of mindfulness, here:
https://www.academia.edu/25482900/WHAT_ ... _OF_STRESS

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Re: The Perfectly Imperfect Beyond Perfection/Imperfection (Zen) Buddha

Postby dharmagoat » Wed Apr 13, 2016 11:27 pm

It is kettles and pots. We all succumb to the Dunning-Kruger Effect to some degree.


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