The Perfectly Imperfect Beyond Perfection/Imperfection (Zen) Buddha

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The Perfectly Imperfect Beyond Perfection/Imperfection (Zen) Buddha

Post by jundo cohen » Sat Apr 02, 2016 3:38 pm

I wanted to start a new thread on a topic raised in another thread ...

http://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.ph ... 23#p331411
krodha wrote: ...

This idea that sentient beings are able to miraculously awaken to fully omniscient buddhahood in one fell swoop just because they practice zen is wholly unrealistic. The path does not dictate the capacity of the practitioner.

Awakening to instant buddhahood is essentially unheard of. I'm not sure where the idea that this is the case for zen practitioners, or any practitioners for that matter, originated from. A misreading of the principle texts, I would argue.

"Practice-realization" is simply resting in jñāna, which is unsteady and intermittent until the time of buddhahood.
Hi Krodha,

Perhaps most of the old time Zen masters did not look upon "awakening to omniscient buddhahood ... instant buddhahood" in the way you imagine.

"Buddhahood" in most of the Zen traditions is something one already has and is but simply may not realize, not something we become. One might say that this is an "otherworldly" kind of immanent Buddhahood, except "otherworldly" is not the right word for it. Even though there is in ordinary vision, a "this" and an "other" which appear far apart, in reality there is no "this" or "other", and thus "this world" is seen not to have been what one previously thought it was. We are perfect Buddhas all along, although also alive in Samsara amid all its imperfections. When realizing this fact, the "imperfections" of Samsara remain, yet are also seen to be empty. Expecting that one was going to somehow turn into a "can do no wrong" being in this life may seem rather unrealistic, but seeing that "no wrong can be done from the start because all is empty" is a very different approach to "perfect Buddhahood".

Qualities of a Buddha such as omniscience were also seen in interesting ways. For example, there is an omniscience which arises in this Practice, the ability to see all minds, all phenomena, all thoughts of man in every blade of grass and sentient being. Oh, it will not help you predict next week's weather or who will win the Derby at Churchill Downs (could the Buddha even do that?), but it will let one know all there is to know just as, in tasting the salt of one drop of sea water, one can taste the entire sea.

If one knows the nature, and the nature is all, then one knows all.

If one is the nature, and the nature is all, then one is all.

If the nature is Buddha, and Buddha is all, then one knows the omniscience of Buddha.


Likewise, in emptiness, there is no separation to allow killing or killer or victim, no stealing and nothing which can be taken or lacking, etc. Thus the "Perfections" and all injunctions of the Precepts are seen as fulfilled in such way from the startless start, and can never be broken.

Because of this, attaining the "Bhumis" was not treated in quite the same way as in other corners of the Mahayana. There is nothing to attain that has not been attained all along, no need of improvement because nothing lacking.

Even the "perfection of Buddhahood" might be a kind of "perfection of Emptiness" which transcends small human judgments and distinctions of "perfection vs. imperfection". Even all the seeming imperfections of Samsara are now witnessed as shining inherently in the light of Buddha, and the "imperfections" truly are not just "imperfections" when newly seen as the Perfection and Purity of Buddha that sweeps in all small human measures of "perfection vs. imperfection, pure vs. impure, etc".

However, in Soto Zen, it is also incumbent upon us to "bring Buddha to life" in this world by acting as a Buddha would. Thus, saying "no killing is possible in emptiness" is one thing, but in this world we should then act to avoid killing, turning away from violence, living in peace. Only then does the Buddha of the "other" become manifest in this world (even though never apart from this world from the start). Kodo Sawaki said “You are already Buddha, so practise seriously”.

As our great Ancestor Huang Po taught ...
That which is before you is it, in all its fullness, utterly complete. There is naught beside. Even if you go through all the stages of a Bodhisattva's progress toward Buddhahood, one by one; when at last, in a single flash, you attain to full realization, you will only be realizing the Buddha-Nature which has been with you all the time; and by all the foregoing stages you will have added to it nothing at all.
https://books.google.co.jp/books?id=v5B ... l.&f=false
Soto Teacher Taigen Dan Leighton notes on Dogen and the appearance of the underground Bodhisattvas in the Lotus Sutra ...
This might then imply that the underground bodhisattvas in chapter fifteen of the Lotus Sutra emerge through immediate insight into the emptiness of all bhumis, or stages .... These bodhisattvas, diligently practicing in the open space, or emptiness, under the ground, would thus be ever ready to emerge and benefit beings in any future evil age, thanks to their seeing into the ultimate emptiness of all systems of progressive cultivation, and the unmediated emptiness of any and each particular stage or position in such systems.
http://www.ancientdragon.org/dharma/art ... _and_space
Although from another flavor of Buddhism, awhile back I stumbled on Lama Surya Das making a like point echoing a viewless view of the Bhumis (page 50 here) ...

https://books.google.co.jp/books?id=6tC ... en&f=false

The great Dogen commentator, NIshiari Bokusan, noted the following (from last paragraph of page 55) ...

https://books.google.co.jp/books?id=yHD ... 22&f=false

A writer from the Katagiri Lineage relates this ...
Throughout his teaching career, Katagiri Roshi taught, “You are Buddha; all beings are Buddha.” ...

Buddha is the Reality of Awakeness, which is the True Self, the True Life, the True Nature of each being. It is the subjectless, objectless Awakeness which is being directly experienced by all beings now.

The historical Buddha, who lived in India approximately 2,500 years ago, was a per­son who profoundly realized the Reality of Awakeness. He clearly saw that this Reality was his True Self. He realized that the seemingly separate individual that he seemed to be was an empty, illusory manifestation of the True Self or Buddha. He realized this was true for all the seemingly separate beings and phenomena in the universe.

The Reality of Awakeness or Buddha is the boundless, all-inclusive Reality of here and now. Different terms are used to point to this Reality—Totality, Wholeness, the Universe, Dharma, Truth, Thusness, the True Self, Supreme Enlightenment, the One Buddha Mind, and other terms as well. ...

Suzuki Roshi used to say, “Since you are Buddha, you must be Buddha. That is our practice.” In a lecture he gave at the monastery at Tassajara in July 1968 he said, “When it is hot you should be hot Buddha. When it is cold you should be cold Buddha.”

He went on to say that each individual, each thing, each event, each situation, each ex­perience is Buddha. Each thought, each feeling, each emotion, each desire, each perception, each state of consciousness is Buddha. When you realize that you are Buddha and understand everything as an unfolding of the Truth, then whatever you experience is the actual teaching of Buddha, and whatever you do is the actual practice of Buddha.

http://dharmafield.org/resources/texts/you-are-buddha/
It is late here, but I will provide some more detailed sources and quotes.

Oh, and Shikantaza is not about attaining Jhana, but just sitting in and as the total completion of Buddha.

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

Post by DGA » Sat Apr 02, 2016 4:59 pm

jundo cohen wrote:
Oh, and Shikantaza is not about attaining Jhana, but just sitting in and as the total completion of Buddha.
Hi Jundo,

When you have time, would you mind clarifying this distinction a bit further? thanks

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

Post by jundo cohen » Sat Apr 02, 2016 6:00 pm

DGA wrote:
jundo cohen wrote:
Oh, and Shikantaza is not about attaining Jhana, but just sitting in and as the total completion of Buddha.
Hi Jundo,

When you have time, would you mind clarifying this distinction a bit further? thanks
Hi DGA,

It is generally accepted (at least in the Soto world as I know it) that Shikantaza is not sitting in order to attain any special state, but is the completion and resolution of all states. One experiences many states in Shikantaza (including perhaps some deep concentration at times), but the central point of the Practice is the total attainment, equanimity and satisfaction realized in the very action itself. It is just sitting in the perfection of just sitting without seeking or attaching to any particular state.

By the way, some folks teach Shikantaza miss this point. and teach what they call "Shikantaza" as just some kind of settling into the posture, breath following or bit of relaxed concentration or mindfulness. They miss the point in such case of Shikantaza as a perfect act unto itself, nothing to be sought, nothing lacking or to be added, a total satisfaction of desire in just the sitting itself, the one thing to do and one place to be in all reality in that moment of sitting. That is the real power in this world of desire in which we do not know how to stop chasing one thing or another, and fail to taste total wholeness. Buddha taught that desire is the root of Dukkha, while in Shikantaza all desires are satisfied merely because our desire is to sit and sitting is considered a perfected act ... there Dukkha is resolved.

In Dogen's Manuals of Zen Meditation, Historian and Dogenologist Carl Bielefeldt comments on this (read the quote at the top, the what follows, especially the paragraph beginning "Zazen is the orthodox practice of Buddhism") ...

https://books.google.co.jp/books?id=dw0 ... en&f=false

Another Dogen scholar, Steven Heine, makes a similar point (from top of page 94) here ...

https://books.google.co.jp/books?id=kVZ ... en&f=false

Gassho, Jundo

PS -

By the way, this is simply a side issue, but Shikantaza in a backhand way might possibly be associated with the Fourth Jhana. I quote myself from elsewhere, but it really isunimportant.
A book that should be mentioned is the recent "The Experience of Samadhi" by Richard Shankman, a survey of historical and modern Theravadan interpretations of Samadhi and Jhana.
We continue our discussion with insight meditation teacher and author, Richard Shankman. In this episode we continue to dissect the different kinds of samadhi and their respective fruits--what in the Theravada tradition are called jhana (or "meditative absorption"). According to Shankman there are two ways of approaching the attainment of jhana, one as was taught in the original canonical texts of the Theravada, the Pali Suttas, and the other from the later commentaries on the Buddha's teachings, the Vishudimagga. As a result we get two different forms of jhana--one called Sutta jhana and the other called Vishudimagga jhana. ...

http://personallifemedia.com/guests/193 ... d-shankman
Richard Shankman's book makes one very interesting point that, perhaps, can be interpreted to mean that practices such as Shikantaza and the like actually cut right to the summit of Jhana practice. You see, it might perhaps be argued (from some interpretations presented in the book) that Shikantaza practice is very close to what is referred to as the "Fourth Jhana in the Suttas" ... as opposed to the highly concentrated, hyper-absorbed Visuddhimagga commentary version. The Fourth Jhana in the Pali Suttas was considered the 'summit' of Jhana practice (as the higher Jhana, No. 5 to 8, were not encouraged as a kind of otherworldly 'dead end') and appears to manifest (quoting the sutta descriptions in the book) "an abandoning of pleasure, pain, attractions/aversions, a dropping of both joy and grief", a dropping away of both rapture and bliss states, resulting in a "purity of mindfulness" and "equanimity". Combine this with the fact that, more than a "one pointed mind absorbed into a particular object", there is a "unification of mind" (described as a broader awareness around the object of meditation ... whereby the "mind itself becomes collected and unmoving, but not the objects of awareness, as mindfulness becomes lucid, effortless and unbroken" (See, for examples. pages 82-83 here))

http://books.google.co.jp/books?id=lQ_Z ... &q&f=false

A bit of the discussion of the highest (in Buddhist Practice) "Fourth Jhana", and its emphasis on equanimity while present amid circumstances (and a dropping of bliss states), can be found on page 49.

This is very close to a description of Shikantaza, for example, as dropping all aversions and attractions, finding unification of mind, collected and unmoving, effortless and unbroken, in/as/through/not removed from the life, circumstances, complexities which surround us and are us, sitting still with what is just as it is.
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

Post by DGA » Sat Apr 02, 2016 9:30 pm

Hi Jundo, it occurs to me that I had misread your earlier post. I had thought you were drawing a distinction between the aim of shikantaza practice, and the attainment of jnana. Not jhana, as in Theravadin practice. Hence my confusion: it seems to me that what you are describing viz. shikantaza is precisely jnana (not jhana).

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

Post by mikenz66 » Sat Apr 02, 2016 10:10 pm

Yes, it would be useful to clarify whether Jundo meant
Jñāna (Sanskrit; Pali: ñāṇa) a term for "knowledge" in Indian philosophy and religion.
or
Dhyāna (Sanskrit) or Jhāna (Pali), which are terms for meditation in general, or meditative absorption/unification in particular.

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

Post by Wayfarer » Sat Apr 02, 2016 11:19 pm

One reflection that I sometimes have, is that if you're keen on 'getting something' from meditation, then it's because you've forgotten or neglected what you already have. It's as if you already received the teaching, a long time ago, and now you've forgotten it so you're off looking for something else. 'Ah, when I have that realisation, everything will be OK'. But maybe you already have it, but have basically forgotten how lucky you are! And instead you're greedily looking for something else. Whereas if you behave like you've already received the teaching, but you don't fully appreciate it, then I think it actually makes your practice less 'goal-seeking'.

:namaste:
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few ~ Suzuki-roshi

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

Post by jundo cohen » Sun Apr 03, 2016 3:36 am

DGA wrote:Hi Jundo, it occurs to me that I had misread your earlier post. I had thought you were drawing a distinction between the aim of shikantaza practice, and the attainment of jnana. Not jhana, as in Theravadin practice. Hence my confusion: it seems to me that what you are describing viz. shikantaza is precisely jnana (not jhana).
Oh, sorry, just my misreading of the original question.

Anyway, one might say that Shikantaza is a "Jhana" which fully expresses, fully embodies and fully transcends all "jhana" and stages ...

... that Shikantaza is a Knowing which sweeps in and out all ordinary knowing or not knowing. It is sweeps away yet fully revives enlivens all the this and that of the ordinary world.

Sometimes we call this "Knowing" as "Not Knowing" or Non-Knowing" or "Non-Knowing Knowing" to emphasize the specialness of such Bodhi. Zen folks, including Dogen, are full of praise for such Wisdom.

For example ... from Eihei Koroku Jodo 217 ...
I [Dogen] can remember, Yunmen asked Caoshan, “Why don't we know that there is a place of great intimacy?” Caoshan said, “Just because it is greatly intimate, we do not know it is there.” Suppose this were Eihei [Dogen] and someone asked me, “Why don't we know that there is a place of great intimacy?” I would just hit his face with my whisk and ask him, “Is this knowing or not knowing?” If he tried to answer, I would hit him again with the whisk.
https://books.google.co.jp/books?id=9nq ... 9D&f=false
In Shobogenzo Butsu Kōjō Ji (Going Beyond Buddha), Dogen wrote the following. Perhaps in the metaphor of "sky and clouds", it is helpful to see the "clouds" as all the separate things and separate thoughts about things of the world. The sky, of course, is open, unbounded, clear stretching in all direction, available to all freely without hindrance. In Dogen's way, even hindrance is no-hindrance when clearly perceived in this Non-Knowing.
Zen master Daowu visited the assembly of master Shitou.
Daowu asked, “What is the fundamental meaning of Buddha-dharma?”
Shitou said, “Not to attain, not to know”.
Daowu said, “Is there some turning point in going beyond, or not?“
Shitou said, “The vast sky does not hinder the white clouds from flying”

Shitou said, “Not to attain, not to know”. Understand that in Buddha-dharma the fundamental meaning is in the first thought, as well as in the ultimate level. This fundamental meaning is not-attaining. It is not that there is no aspiration for enlightenment, no practice, or no enlightenment. But simply, [there is] not-attaining.

The fundamental meaning is not-knowing. Practice-enlightenment is not nonexistent or existent, but is not-knowing, not-attaining. Again we say, the fundamental meaning is not-attaining, not-knowing. It is not that there is no sacred truth, no practice-enlightenment, but simply not-attaining, not-knowing

The vast sky does not hinder the white clouds from flying. These are Shitou's words. The vast sky does not hinder the vast sky. Just as the vast sky does not hinder the vast sky from flying, white clouds do not hinder white clouds. White clouds fly with no hindrance. White clouds' flying does not hinder the vast sky's flying. Not hindering others is not hindering self.

https://books.google.co.jp/books?id=QTf ... 9D&f=false
Such expressions appear many places in Zenny literature, such as Gateless Gate 19
Joshu asked Nansen, "What is the Way?"
泉云、平常心是道。
"Ordinary mind is the Way," Nansen replied.
州云、還可趣向否。
"Shall I try to seek after it?" Joshu asked.
泉云、擬向即乖。
"If you try for it, you will become separated from it," responded Nansen.
州云、不擬爭知是道。
"How can I know the Way unless I try for it?" persisted Joshu.
泉云、道不屬知、不屬不知。
Nansen said, "The Way is not a matter of knowing or not knowing.
知是妄覺、不知是無記。
Knowing is delusion; not knowing is confusion.
若眞達不擬之道、猶如太虚廓然洞豁。
When you have really reached the true Way beyond doubt, you will find it as vast and boundless as outer space.
豈可強是非也。
How can it be talked about on the level of right and wrong?"
州於言下頓悟。
With these words, Joshu came to a sudden realization.
Dogen might then simply remind Nansen that this "vast and boundless" space and all the cloudy stuff of the world are not two, without hindrance.

It is not terminology I am familiar with, but might we say that this is a "Jnana" that sweeps in and out "jnana and vijnana", intimate, without hindrance? I don't know.

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

Post by Wayfarer » Sun Apr 03, 2016 6:48 am

As I understood it, 'dhyana' is 'meditative absorption' or 'rapture', whereby one's sense of oneself is lost. However in those references Jundo gives, 'zazen' is differentiated from meditative absorption or samadhi (e.g. '[Dogen's] claim does distinguish Zazen from all traditional Buddhist practices including the practice of meditation itself.')

Jñāna, on the other hand, is related to the Indo-european root 'gn-' signifying 'higher knowledge' in the sense of 'gnosis' (penetrating wisdom or insight). It's not limited to Buddhism or to Indian religions for that matter.
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Re: The Perfectly Imperfect Beyond Perfection/Imperfection (Zen) Buddha

Post by jundo cohen » Sun Apr 03, 2016 2:26 pm

Wayfarer wrote:As I understood it, 'dhyana' is 'meditative absorption' or 'rapture', whereby one's sense of oneself is lost. However in those references Jundo gives, 'zazen' is differentiated from meditative absorption or samadhi (e.g. '[Dogen's] claim does distinguish Zazen from all traditional Buddhist practices including the practice of meditation itself.')
Hi Wayfarer,

Our Dogen also had a bit of a twist on the meaning of Samadhi which he called "Zazen Samadhi", rather different from some state of deep concentration in meditation. Taigen Dan Leighton gives a taste ..,
This just sitting is not a meditation technique or practice, or any thing at all. ... Dogen describes this meditation as the samadhi of self-fulfillment (or enjoyment), and elaborates the inner meaning of this practice. Simply just sitting is expressed as concentration on the self in its most delightful wholeness, in total inclusive interconnection with all of phenomena. Dogen makes remarkably radical claims for this simple experience. "When one displays the buddha mudra with one's whole body and mind, sitting upright in this samadhi for even a short time, everything in the entire dharma world becomes buddha mudra, and all space in the universe completely becomes enlightenment."[13] Proclaiming that when one just sits all of space itself becomes enlightenment is an inconceivable statement, deeply challenging our usual sense of the nature of reality, whether we take Dogen's words literally or metaphorically. Dogen places this activity of just sitting far beyond our usual sense of personal self or agency. He goes on to say that, "Even if only one person sits for a short time, because this zazen is one with all existence and completely permeates all times, it performs everlasting buddha guidance" throughout space and time.[14] At least in Dogen's faith in the spiritual or "theological" implications of the activity of just sitting, this is clearly a dynamically liberating practice, not mere blissful serenity.
http://www.wisdompubs.org/book/art-just ... troduction

So, for example, Dogen describes his "Zazen Samadhi" as follows, really going over the roof in describing how Sacred is sitting (he literally talks about the Lotus Posture "with crossed legs" here, yet the posture is really not what is being emphasized as much as the jewel that is the whole doing, the Buddha-ness of the whole event) ... both body and mind, and that which is the balance of both and dropping both away. He also describes the lightness, and lack of lethargy of it all. Put all such together, and Dogen calls sitting itself "the king of samādhis samādhi".


From: Zanmai ō zanmai

Abruptly transcending all realms, to be greatly honored within the quarters of the buddhas and ancestors—this is sitting with legs crossed. Trampling the heads of the followers of alien ways and the legions of Māra, to be the one here within the halls of the buddhas and ancestors—this is sitting with legs crossed. Transcending the extreme of the extremes of the buddhas and ancestors is just this one dharma. Therefore, the buddhas and ancestors engage in it, without any further task.

...

The Buddha Śākyamuni addressed the great assembly, saying,

When sitting with legs crossed,
Body and mind realizing samādhi,
One’s majesty, the multitudes respect,
Like the sun illumining the world.
Removed, the lethargy clouding the mind,
The body light, without pain or fatigue;
The awareness similarly light and easy,
One sits calmly, like the dragon coiled.
King Māra is startled and fearful
On seeing depicted [one] sitting with legs crossed,
How much more [on seeing] one who realizes the way,
Sitting calmly without stirring.”

Thus, King Māra is startled and frightened to perceive the depiction of [someone] sitting with legs crossed — how much more [someone] actually sitting with legs crossed; the virtue cannot be fully reckoned. This being the case, the merit of our ordinary sitting is measureless.

... Clearly we know that sitting with legs crossed is the king of samādhis samādhi, is realization and entrance. All the samādhis are the attendants of this king samādhi. Sitting with legs crossed is upright body, is upright mind, is upright body and mind, is upright buddha and ancestor, is upright practice and realization, is upright head, is upright vital artery.

Now crossing the legs of the human skin, flesh, bones, and marrow, one crosses the legs of the king of samādhis samādhi. The World Honored One always maintains sitting with legs crossed; and to the disciples he correctly transmits sitting with legs crossed; and to the humans and gods he teaches sitting with legs crossed. The mind seal correctly transmitted by the seven buddhas is this.

The Buddha Śākyamuni, sitting with legs crossed under the bodhi tree, passed fifty small kalpas [eras of time], passed sixty kalpas, passed countless kalpas. Sitting with legs crossed for twenty-one days, sitting cross-legged for one time — this is turning the wheel of the wondrous dharma; this is the buddha’s proselytizing of a lifetime. There is nothing lacking. This is the yellow roll and vermillion roller [that holds all the Sutras and Commentaries]. ...

http://scbs.stanford.edu/sztp3/translat ... ation.html

Thus, most important is to sit with such an attitude of Zazen as a sacred and complete act, one's sitting as the Buddha Sitting, no other place or thing to do in all the universe, sitting in a light and balanced way, not dull and lethargic ... beyond measure of time or judgement, beyond goal and pursuit, in peace and equanimity ... such as a sacred action, the king of samādhis samādhi.

Why?

I believe that human being do not know how to stop running and chasing. Nor do we realize the sacredness of every single act. Nor do we realize the our doing is all of reality doing. So, as I said above ...

That is the real power in this world of desire in which we do not know how to stop chasing one thing or another, and fail to taste total wholeness. Buddha taught that desire is the root of Dukkha, while in Shikantaza all desires are satisfied merely because our desire is to sit and sitting is considered a perfected act ... there Dukkha is resolved.


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

Post by Grigoris » Sun Apr 03, 2016 7:36 pm

The whole "Awakening to instant buddhahood" (which is not just a Zen concept) seems to overlook the fact that the person that seems to us to just "get it" out of the blue, has probably spent immeasurable previous lives practicing and struggling to reach this outcome in this present life. ;)
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Re: The Perfectly Imperfect Beyond Perfection/Imperfection (Zen) Buddha

Post by krodha » Sun Apr 03, 2016 8:00 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:The whole "Awakening to instant buddhahood" (which is not just a Zen concept) seems to overlook the fact that the person that seems to us to just "get it" out of the blue, has probably spent immeasurable previous lives practicing and struggling to reach this outcome in this present life. ;)
In addition to this point, which I agree is overlooked, it is said that there hasn't been a practitioner like that for centuries.

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

Post by krodha » Sun Apr 03, 2016 8:21 pm

jundo cohen wrote:"Buddhahood" in most of the Zen traditions is something one already has and is but simply may not realize, not something we become.
You mean all sentient beings possess an innately unconditioned Buddha nature. That isn't a view exclusive to zen.

That said, no Buddhist view says sentient beings already possess "buddhahood".

Buddha nature and buddhahood are two different things.
jundo cohen wrote:One might say that this is an "otherworldly" kind of immanent Buddhahood,
It isn't. The idea of Buddha nature is standard fare for Mahāyāna systems.
jundo cohen wrote:We are perfect Buddhas all along,
True, but meaningless unless we discover that perfect nature and become familiar with it through practice.
jundo cohen wrote:Because of this, attaining the "Bhumis" was not treated in quite the same way as in other corners of the Mahayana. There is nothing to attain that has not been attained all along, no need of improvement because nothing lacking.
This is the same for all Mahāyāna. The bhūmis aren't "attainments".

What is lacking is a knowledge of your nature.
jundo cohen wrote:Even the "perfection of Buddhahood" might be a kind of "perfection of Emptiness" which transcends small human judgments and distinctions of "perfection vs. imperfection". Even all the seeming imperfections of Samsara are now witnessed as shining inherently in the light of Buddha, and the "imperfections" truly are not just "imperfections" when newly seen as the Perfection and Purity of Buddha that sweeps in all small human measures of "perfection vs. imperfection, pure vs. impure, etc".
The people you "teach" must eat that rhetoric up. I'm not impressed.
jundo cohen wrote:It is late here, but I will provide some more detailed sources and quotes.
To be blunt, I wouldn't bother. You aren't bringing anything original or novel to the table that deviates from the standard Mahāyāna view at all. I don't think you understand the nuances involved with my argument.
jundo cohen wrote:Oh, and Shikantaza is not about attaining Jhana, but just sitting in and as the total completion of Buddha.

Gassho, Jundo
"Jñāna" not "jhana".

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

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Mon Apr 04, 2016 2:16 am

"Buddhahood" in most of the Zen traditions is something one already has and is but simply may not realize, not something we become. One might say that this is an "otherworldly" kind of immanent Buddhahood, except "otherworldly" is not the right word for it. Even though there is in ordinary vision, a "this" and an "other" which appear far apart, in reality there is no "this" or "other", and thus "this world" is seen not to have been what one previously thought it was. We are perfect Buddhas all along, although also alive in Samsara amid all its imperfections. When realizing this fact, the "imperfections" of Samsara remain, yet are also seen to be empty. Expecting that one was going to somehow turn into a "can do no wrong" being in this life may seem rather unrealistic, but seeing that "no wrong can be done from the start because all is empty" is a very different approach to "perfect Buddhahood".
What exactly IS Samsara to you Jundo?
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Re: The Perfectly Imperfect Beyond Perfection/Imperfection (Zen) Buddha

Post by jundo cohen » Mon Apr 04, 2016 7:16 am

Hi Krodha,

Not all in Zen Buddhism see it as you say, now or in the past.
krodha wrote: You mean all sentient beings possess an innately unconditioned Buddha nature. ... That said, no Buddhist view says sentient beings already possess "buddhahood". ... Buddha nature and buddhahood are two different things.
They are two different things, yet not at all. One beyond one, not two. Many Zen folks now and in the past expressed that what is realized is our Buddhahood, although hidden to deluded eyes. Each Wise and Compassionate word, thought and act is manifestation and fulfillment of our Buddhahood. (Every act in delusion is too, although hidden).

As Huangpo taught, "All the Buddhas and all sentient beings are nothing but the One Mind, beside which nothing exists. The One Mind alone is the Buddha, and there is no distinction between the Buddha and sentient beings."

More at Question 6 here:
https://books.google.co.jp/books?id=_pN ... 22&f=false

Dogen wrote in the Genjo ...

As all things are buddha-dharma, there are delusion, realization, practice, birth and death, buddhas and sentient beings. As myriad things are without an abiding self, there is no delusion, no realization, no buddha, no sentient being, no birth and death. The buddha way, in essence, is leaping clear of abundance and lack; thus there are birth and death, delusion and realization, sentient beings and buddhas. ... Those who have great realization of delusion are buddhas; those who are greatly deluded about realization are sentient beings. Further, there are those who continue realizing beyond realization, who are in delusion throughout delusion. When buddhas are truly buddhas, they do not necessarily notice that they are buddhas. However, they are actualized buddhas, who go on actualizing buddha.

There is not one perfection or power of Buddha that is denied us, although such may not be how or as we were expecting or prepared to see. Dogen from "Jinzu" ...

What the sûtra masters and treatise masters have never heard is hard [for them] to believe even when they do hear it. The two vehicles, the outsiders, the sûtra masters and treatise masters, and the like, learn the small spiritual powers; they do not learn the great spiritual powers. The buddhas maintain the great spiritual powers; they transmit the great spiritual powers. These are the spiritual powers of a buddha. If they were not "the spiritual powers of a buddha," [Yangshan] would not "bring a basin of water and a hand towel"; there would be no "he turned and lay facing the wall"; there would be no "after he had finished washing his face and sat down."

Covered by the power of these great spiritual powers, there are also the small spiritual powers. The great spiritual powers take in the small spiritual powers; the small spiritual powers do not know the great spiritual powers. By "small spiritual powers," we mean "a hair follicle swallowing the vast ocean, a mustard seed containing Sumeru." Or "emitting water from the upper body, emitting fire from the lower body," and the like. Further, the five powers or six powers are all small spiritual powers. These types have never experienced "the spiritual powers of a buddha" even in their dreams.
...
The layman Pang Yun was an extraordinary person of the ancestral seat. He not only studied at the two seats of Jiangxi and Shitou, he met and encountered many masters of the school possessed of the way. Once he said, "The spiritual powers and the wondrous functions: bearing water and carrying firewood." We should investigate well the rationale [of this saying]. [The term] unsui [in this saying] means to transport water. Doing it oneself by oneself, another doing it by another, water is transported. This is "the buddha of spiritual powers." ... Indeed, one who perceives the spiritual powers and wondrous functions of the buddhas, the tathâgatas, will inevitably attain the way. Therefore, the attainment of the way of all the buddhas has always been accomplished through these spiritual powers.

This being the case, while the emitting of water [from the body] in the small vehicle may be a spiritual power, we should study the fact that the bearing of water is a great spiritual power.
https://web.stanford.edu/group/scbs/szt ... ation.html
jundo cohen wrote:We are perfect Buddhas all along,
True, but meaningless unless we discover that perfect nature and become familiar with it through practice. ... What is lacking is a knowledge of your nature.
Of course. Such discovery is open to any of us at any moment, and we can then proceed to practice and live.
krodha wrote:
Sherab Dorje wrote:The whole "Awakening to instant buddhahood" (which is not just a Zen concept) seems to overlook the fact that the person that seems to us to just "get it" out of the blue, has probably spent immeasurable previous lives practicing and struggling to reach this outcome in this present life. ;)
In addition to this point, which I agree is overlooked, it is said that there hasn't been a practitioner like that for centuries.
Immeasurable previous lives is one possible explanation. Or, "immeasurable previous lives" are beyond measure and just this moment contains "immeasurable previous lives". In any case, the pivot point for realization is just this moment. From Shobogenzo Uji:

Know that in this way there are myriads of forms and hundreds of grasses throughout the entire earth, and yet each grass and each form itself is the entire earth. The study of this is the beginning of practice. When you are at this place, there is just one grass, there is just one form; there is understanding of form and no-understanding of form; there is understanding of grass and no-understanding of grass. Since there is nothing but just this moment, the time-being is all the time there is. Grass-being, form-being are both time. Each moment is all being, is the entire world. Reflect now whether any being or any world is left out of the present moment.

Further, it is possible that our emphasis on what practitioners were like centuries ago, as opposed to what practitioners are like now, is a form of hagiography and idealism, as we take our dead ancestors and heroes and strip away all human failing, dipping them in gold. In other word, recognizing that "all sentient beings are perfect and infallible buddha" and that some sentient beings of the past truly pierced this fact and lived it well -does not- mean that they were thus rendered into "perfect and infallible sentient beings" (although I hope they thus became much better one through their Practice). Several modern scholars and others have written on this tendency to confuse these points, and to idealize the transition which occurs in "sudden enlightenment" and such. It is typical in religious writing to wish to emphasize that our founders and saints were perfect human beings, and not merely human beings who were very good humans and perfect that essence which we all are.

Scholar and Buddhologist Dale Wright has some wonderful essays on this in the poory titled "Philosophical Meditations on Zen Buddhism", highly recommended to all. Blofield often took Huang Po's very "down to earth" picture of Buddhahood and enlightenment and infused his own romantic tendencies.

https://books.google.co.jp/books?id=sM6 ... ld&f=false

Wright and another scholar have also done some wonderful writing on how the process of hagiography and idealization has already begun for some of our more recently deceased Zen masters.

9. Humanizing the Image of a Zen Master: Taizan Maezumi Roshi, by Dale S. Wright
10. Seung Sahn: The Makeover of a Modern Zen Patriarch, by Sor-Ching Low

http://terebess.hu/zen/ZenMasters.pdf

Robert Sharf and Donald Lopez have made strong arguments that such a process of creating religious heroes is by no means limited to the Zen corner of the Buddhist world, but is found throughout Buddhism, all religions, not to mention politics and the like (we witness this now in the manner in which Ronald Reagan and John Kennedy are turn from flesh and blood figures into political heroes and icons by some, overlooking actual history and the complex picture. It is just human nature to need icons and paradigms.)

There is nothing wrong with this, except that it confuses the true "perfection, infallibility and purity" which can be discovered in and as us and all this Saha world, and confuses it with living breathing beings who are "perfect, infallible and pure" - by human measure and definition. They fail to see the Pure Land that is immediately present, and confuse it with a Pure Land that is apart.

As Master Hakuin sand in his Song of Zazen ...

From the beginning all beings are Buddha.
Like water and ice, without water no ice, outside us no Buddhas.
How near the truth, yet how far we seek.
Like one in water crying, "I thirst!"
..
And if we turn inward and prove our True Nature, that
True Self is no-self, our own self is no-self, we go beyond ego and past clever words.
Then the gate to the oneness of cause-and-effect is thrown open.
Not two and not three, straight ahead runs the Way.
Our form now being no-form, in going and returning we never leave home.
Our thought now being no-thought, our dancing and songs are the Voice of the Dharma.
What is there outside us? What is there we lack?
Nirvana is openly shown to our eyes.
This earth where we stand is the pure lotus land!
And this very body, the body of Buddha.


http://www.thezensite.com/ZenTeachings/ ... _Zazen.htm

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

Post by DGA » Mon Apr 04, 2016 1:44 pm

I think a good way to get this conversation back around to topic and to some clarity would be to probe how Dogen and others in this tradition understand jnana, even if it is articulated in a different lexicon from Indian Buddhism.

Whaddya say?

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

Post by jundo cohen » Mon Apr 04, 2016 1:56 pm

DGA wrote:I think a good way to get this conversation back around to topic and to some clarity would be to probe how Dogen and others in this tradition understand jnana, even if it is articulated in a different lexicon from Indian Buddhism.

Whaddya say?
Hi DGA,

Actually, the original topic of the OP was not that, but the perfectly imperfectly perfect nature of Buddha as realized in some aspects of Zen Teachings. "Jnana" is not the central topic perhaps, and was a tangent.

Also, I am not sure that Dogen and other Soto folks would be particularly at home with philosophical analysis of what is "jnana", except to render it as a contrast to Bodhi Wisdom or the like. The Japanese I have found for the term such as 英知 all seems to emphasize the Wisdom element over simple knowledge). Would I be mistaken in that? The only comment I found by a Soto Teacher is the following, by Dan Leighton ...
In his book Faces of Compassion: Classic Bodhisattva Archetypes and Their Modern Expression (Wisdom Publications, 2012), Soto Zen teacher Taigen Dan Leighton wrote,

"Knowledge (jnana in Sanskrit, etymologically related to the Greek gnosis) is contrasted with wisdom, as this knowledge refers to practical understanding of the workings of phenomena in the conventional world -- not useless knowledge just learned for knowledge's sake, memorizing facts and information by rote as is done for regurgitation on tests in some unimaginative educational systems. As the flip side of wisdom, the perfection of knowledge can be seen as the function or implementation of wisdom -- but fully informed by wisdom's insight into the essential. This knowledge, also referred to as the perfection of truth, is at the service of wisdom, putting wisdom to work in the world."
http://www.amazon.com/Faces-Compassion- ... bc?ie=UTF8
Althought outside the Soto Tradition, a teacher (Rafe Martin) from the Kapleau Lineage makes an interesting comment on the Koan "“Lung t’an Blows Out the Candle”" ...
Te-shan went to Lung-t’an and questioned him sincerely far into the night. It grew late and Lung-t’an said, “You had better retire.” Te-shan made his bows and lifted the blinds to withdraw, but was met by darkness. Turning back he said, “It is dark outside.”

Lung-t’an lit a candle and handed it to him. As Te-shan was about to take it, Lung-t’an blew it out. At this Te-shan had sudden realization and made obeisance.

...”

Te-sh’an brought his notes and commentaries on the Diamond Sutra before the Dharma Hall and held up a torch saying, “Even though one masters all the profound teachings, it is like placing a single hair in vast space. Even though you have learned all the secrets of the world, it is like throwing a drop of water into a deep ravine.” And he burned up all his notes. Then making his bows, he took leave of his teacher.

...

[Rafe Martin comments]

But let’s be clear. There’s nothing wrong with knowledge. It is, after all, the final, that is, tenth paramita – the jnana paramita of classical Buddhism. Jnana means knowledge. Zen is not anti-knowledge at all. The masters of old were learned women and men. (Doubt has even been cast on the great myth of the illiteracy of the 6th Patriarch. It makes a Zen point and a dramatic story, but was he really so unlettered?) Te-shan is taken to task by the koan tradition itself for so dramatically burning his notes. Still, his glorious, unfettered joy in finally realizing just what all those notes had been pointing to all along, should make us sit up and take notice. Just when our own burden may seem heaviest, Zen can help us step into the darkness and then, as a final gift, will blow out our candle. Could you ask for anything more?
If the topic is how Dogen and other Zen folks understood Buddhist Wisdom and Insight, I believe that has been the topic of most of the thread, to wit, piercing the perfectly imperfectly perfect nature of Buddha.

Gassho, Jundo
Last edited by jundo cohen on Mon Apr 04, 2016 2:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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

Post by DGA » Mon Apr 04, 2016 2:21 pm

Hi Jundo,

I'm not proposing a philosophical analysis of what jnana is. There's no need; as you surely know, it's a simple concept.

I'm suggesting that we get back to this question of "practice-realization," which is the point of departure for this very thread. In your first post here, you gave a link to a post in a separate thread that someone had made. This is the post:
krodha wrote:
Astus wrote:
krodha wrote:The bodhisattva path begins with the direct realization championed by Dogen.
Where is that assertion from? Dogen is fairly clear that zazen is complete enlightenment.

"The zazen I speak of is not meditation practice. It is simply the dharma gate of joyful ease, the practice-realization of totally culminated enlightenment." (Fukanzazengi)
Right, this just means zazen is technically resting in equipoise — a direct knowledge of dharmatā.

The first instance of bodhi is a complete awakening, but it is not fully omniscient buddhahood.

This idea that sentient beings are able to miraculously awaken to fully omniscient buddhahood in one fell swoop just because they practice zen is wholly unrealistic. The path does not dictate the capacity of the practitioner.

Awakening to instant buddhahood is essentially unheard of. I'm not sure where the idea that this is the case for zen practitioners, or any practitioners for that matter, originated from. A misreading of the principle texts, I would argue.

"Practice-realization" is simply resting in jñāna, which is unsteady and intermittent until the time of buddhahood.
I bolded the bit at the end, so you can see what I mean when I say that what you're talking about regarding shikantaza isn't so very far from what others here are getting at when they describe jnana.

What is jnana? It is a bit like being in on a secret. That secret is that one's Buddha-nature and Buddhahood itself are really indistinguishable. Abiding in that knowledge, being in on the secret, is jnana. Not getting the punchline, failing to recognize, being distracted or afflicted... that's just sitting there like an ordinary fool. So jnana is what distinguishes just sitting there like a fool, and just sitting in the practice of shikantaza as you describe it: abiding in one's nature as Buddha. That's my understanding.

I invite the gallery to whack me with a stick if I've wandered off the reservation.

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

Post by DGA » Mon Apr 04, 2016 4:07 pm

DGA wrote: What is jnana? It is a bit like being in on a secret. That secret is that one's Buddha-nature and Buddhahood itself are really indistinguishable. Abiding in that knowledge, being in on the secret, is jnana. Not getting the punchline, failing to recognize, being distracted or afflicted... that's just sitting there like an ordinary fool. So jnana is what distinguishes just sitting there like a fool, and just sitting in the practice of shikantaza as you describe it: abiding in one's nature as Buddha. That's my understanding.
I should say that Buddha nature and Buddhahood are ultimately indistinguishable, and that when one is abiding in that recognition, that's jnana. It's knowledge in the way that "getting it," getting a joke or recognizing someone you know, is a kind of knowledge. The Zen image of recognizing your own face comes to mind here, no?

For practitioners, this is more or less fleeting, or unstable. For Buddhas, it isn't. What's the difference? Practitioners are sentient beings and therefore afflicted (some more, some less) and confused. The difference between a Buddha and a sentient being is the presence of affliction (ignorance, hatred, greed, all the rest). Better practitioners "get it" (in Jundo's diction, are able to abide in shikantaza) for longer periods more frequently. Poor practitioners like me, well...

Again, I'm only putting forward my own understanding here. I invite correction if I'm out in the weeds.

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

Post by Malcolm » Mon Apr 04, 2016 4:30 pm

jundo cohen wrote:
In his book Faces of Compassion: Classic Bodhisattva Archetypes and Their Modern Expression (Wisdom Publications, 2012), Soto Zen teacher Taigen Dan Leighton wrote,

"Knowledge (jnana in Sanskrit, etymologically related to the Greek gnosis) is contrasted with wisdom, as this knowledge refers to practical understanding of the workings of phenomena in the conventional world -- not useless knowledge just learned for knowledge's sake, memorizing facts and information by rote as is done for regurgitation on tests in some unimaginative educational systems. As the flip side of wisdom, the perfection of knowledge can be seen as the function or implementation of wisdom -- but fully informed by wisdom's insight into the essential. This knowledge, also referred to as the perfection of truth, is at the service of wisdom, putting wisdom to work in the world."
http://www.amazon.com/Faces-Compassion- ... bc?ie=UTF8
Statements like this merely indicate the author's lack of familiarity with Indian Mahāyāna Buddhist literature.

Jñāna is deeper than prājñā.
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Re: The Perfectly Imperfect Beyond Perfection/Imperfection (Zen) Buddha

Post by DGA » Mon Apr 04, 2016 5:00 pm

Malcolm wrote:
jundo cohen wrote:
In his book Faces of Compassion: Classic Bodhisattva Archetypes and Their Modern Expression (Wisdom Publications, 2012), Soto Zen teacher Taigen Dan Leighton wrote,

"Knowledge (jnana in Sanskrit, etymologically related to the Greek gnosis) is contrasted with wisdom, as this knowledge refers to practical understanding of the workings of phenomena in the conventional world -- not useless knowledge just learned for knowledge's sake, memorizing facts and information by rote as is done for regurgitation on tests in some unimaginative educational systems. As the flip side of wisdom, the perfection of knowledge can be seen as the function or implementation of wisdom -- but fully informed by wisdom's insight into the essential. This knowledge, also referred to as the perfection of truth, is at the service of wisdom, putting wisdom to work in the world."
http://www.amazon.com/Faces-Compassion- ... bc?ie=UTF8
Statements like this merely indicate the author's lack of familiarity with Indian Mahāyāna Buddhist literature.

Jñāna is deeper than prājñā.
Some context is in order here. Leighton's book (previous title Bodhisattva Archetypes... this book has somehow gone to three editions now?!), is a popularization for people with zero understanding of Buddhism at all. This is the one in which he tries to explain what a bodhisattva is and does by reference to pop culture. Muhammad Ali embodying bodhisattva activity, for example. And there's a heavy Jungian overlay, which is conventional to the genre, as in Kornfield's A Path with Heart or Kabat-Zinn's Wherever You Go.

Two take-aways: 1). Leighton may well understand the distinction between prajna and jnana, but felt that this distinction is irrelevant to his reader (which brings up the question of the assumptions made by advice-book authors and editors toward their readers...) and 2). this is not an example of mainstream Buddhist discourse, and isn't at all a credible example. Not sure why Jundo brought it up.

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