Greetings from Finland!

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Greetings from Finland!

Post by MattiV » Wed Jan 24, 2018 7:38 pm

I'm here to learn about Zen Buddhism.

About three years ago I read a book called Zen Living (Idiot's Guides) by Domyo Sater Burk. I was basically looking for a quick and
easy and fun self help guide to find calmness in my life. But I was also intrigued by the word Zen because I had been a student of
certain mystical traditions before and Zen certainly had an aura of mysticism in my mind, although I knew next to nothing about it.

The ideas of just being and mindfulness gradually grew on me. So I started to read more books about Zen Buddhism - basically all the
popular classics I could find in the libraries in my home town: Shunryu Suzuki, Alan Watts, Charlotte Joko Beck, Roshi Philip Kapleau,
Eugen Herrigel etc. Luckily there were also a growing number of books written by Finnish Zen practitioners, and one such small book
finally pushed me over the edge, so to speak.

I started to sit in a corner in my small apartment, facing the wall and counting breaths. I sit like this for half an hour early in the
morning. This has now been going on for about two and a half years and I definitely sense that my levels of calmness and awareness have
increased a bit. Unfortunately, this is a solitary practice for me since there are no Zen meditation centers anywhere near. And to my
knowledge only a couple of such places exist in the whole country. Apparently all those Finns who write books about Zen Buddhism live in
some Zen monasteries abroad.

So I have neither a personal guide nor a support group and this means that I really don't belong to any lineage. I have no idea if that
really matters. But I have started to read more challenging books on the subject: the Sutras and their commentaries, for example.

I'd like to mention one more thing: my mental health problems. ICD-10-CM F20.0, to be precise. It's an old friend and generally
fairly well under control with the proper treatment. But certain books I have encountered - especially about mindfulness - clearly don't
recommend meditating alone, without the guidance of a qualified teacher, if you have serious mental health problems. But so far I haven't had
any bad or extraordinary experiences while practising my own version of just sitting.

Finally, I repeat my first sentence: I'm here to learn about Zen Buddhism.

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Re: Greetings from Finland!

Post by Admin_PC » Wed Jan 24, 2018 7:41 pm

Welcome to DharmaWheel!
月影の いたらぬ里は なけれども 眺むる人の 心にぞすむ

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Re: Greetings from Finland!

Post by DNS » Wed Jan 24, 2018 8:00 pm

Welcome to DW!


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My 'lineage'

Post by MattiV » Fri Jan 26, 2018 9:35 pm

The title of this post is given tongue in cheek, of course.

As a kind of update of my introduction here, I dug out the book which was my original guide to the practice of zazen.
Its name is Suomalainen zen-opas (A Finnish Guide to Zen) and it is written by Tae Hye sunim (Mikael Niinimäki). He initially followed the Theravāda tradition, became a monk at Wat Pleng Vipassana monastery in Bangkok and then travelled in many countries.

He spent some time at Soto Zen monasteries in Japan, moved to Korea and in 1987 became a fully ordained monk at Songgwangsa monastery.
Seon master Ilgak sunim gave him a permission to found a small temple in Italy, called Musang Am which belongs to the Jogye Order.

Additionally, in 1999 he received an ordination as a Bhikkhu in the Theravāda tradition in Burma with Paññadipa Sayadaw serving as
the ordaining master. Tae Hye sunim is currently the only Finnish mahathera.

I guess that as far as Zen Buddhism is concerned, the two relevant key concepts here are 'Korean Seon' and 'the Jogye Order', although
Theravāda Buddhism clearly plays a role, too.

I have never met the man but unbeknownst to him, he has had a great influence on me.

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Re: Greetings from Finland!

Post by Drenpa » Wed Feb 21, 2018 10:19 pm

Hi Matti, and welcome!

I'm new here, of Finnish descent and saw your interest in Zen & felt it was brave of you to speak of your affliction - so with these points of intersection wanted to say a warm hello and wish you the best with everything.

FWIW I suffered from crippling anxiety for a few years and the experience was something I wouldn't wish on anyone. Anxiety is the suffering aspect of ANY disease, whether the affliction is rooted in the physical, mental or energetic aspect of our existence. While I suffered, nothing (except for a brief time medication) helped at all - My spiritual paradigm at the time was useless, and this was a big part of what eventually caused me to question everything, which led me to the Dharma.

I'm happy to say that while I can still suffer the same symptoms these days, the existential dread and horror that used to accompany phases of pure panic with no apparent cause, are gone. This is through the grace of my teacher and practice. For me, the experience of Dharma has been one of necessity and utility - it simply works.

So I wish you every success in your practice and hope you have a great experience here at DW. Happy to chat any time via pm, but as you put this out there publicly, I wanted to respond in kind as I think it's brave and there should be no more stigma about afflictions rooted in energy or mind than a broken leg or a genetic heart condition. We all get our ticket punched in this vale of tears. Sooner, or later.


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