Zen Buddhism?

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Justmeagain
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Zen Buddhism?

Post by Justmeagain » Thu Jul 14, 2016 10:36 am

I had an interesting dialogue over the weekend with a long term Ajahn from the Theravadin Thai forest tradition. A highly respected monk of 40 years he had some interesting takes on what is and what isn't Buddhism. He seemed quite knowledgeable with regards to Soto practice and Dogen. However, although not at all critical of the Soto tradition, he did suggest that as legitimate as it is, its 'not Buddhism'. I was hugely intrigued by this and asked for some clarification. Effectively he suggests that the Pali Canon is all that was needed in terms of the practice and the 'goal' (as it were). He asked why the Tripitika needed embeleshing? In terms of practice he was pretty adamant that some sort of sustained Samatha (like anapanasati) is required if insight is to be experienced - I suspect he was sugesting that Shikantaza wasn't going to have the same effect/outcome.

I didn't have an answer or retort really.

What are your thoughts?

Zafu...

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Astus
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Re: Zen Buddhism?

Post by Astus » Thu Jul 14, 2016 10:56 am

The practical response:

Zazen is the practise of awakening to the reality that all experiences of the six sensory areas are without anything that can be grasped. It is not about scriptures, teachings, methods, or traditions; and at the same time it includes all of that and accomplishes the Buddha's enlightenment.

The historical response:

It is only natural that a Theravadin sees Mahayana as unorthodox and inauthentic. It comes from not comprehending its meaning nor its historical evolution.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

Justmeagain
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Re: Zen Buddhism?

Post by Justmeagain » Sat Jul 16, 2016 5:22 pm

Astus wrote: It is only natural that a Theravadin sees Mahayana as unorthodox and inauthentic. It comes from not comprehending its meaning nor its historical evolution.
:thinking: ....oh? So he just doesn't understand? I think his point was a little more than that! From the Bodhi tree to deities and being hit with sticks?! I can see his point, can't you?

Matylda
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Re: Zen Buddhism?

Post by Matylda » Sat Jul 16, 2016 5:55 pm

Justmeagain wrote:
Astus wrote: It is only natural that a Theravadin sees Mahayana as unorthodox and inauthentic. It comes from not comprehending its meaning nor its historical evolution.
:thinking: ....oh? So he just doesn't understand? I think his point was a little more than that! From the Bodhi tree to deities and being hit with sticks?! I can see his point, can't you?
Well if he has established his opinion just on the sutta authority, that is one thing. The other thing might be his pov...
as Astus pointed out, for theravada all mahayana tradition may be corrupt or at least made up thing. However it is risky to call one tradition 'buddhism' and all other 'not buddhism'...

I do not criticise him, but such view is limited if only spoken from sutta perspective. I guess there is no point in pali cannon which says that mahayana is not valid, or zen is not valid... it is just different position of teachings. Might be Venerable Bhikku had still something else in his mind. Maybe some modern or Western interpretation.. This I do not know.

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Astus
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Re: Zen Buddhism?

Post by Astus » Sat Jul 16, 2016 6:35 pm

Justmeagain wrote:I can see his point, can't you?
And what is that point?
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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tiagolps
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Re: Zen Buddhism?

Post by tiagolps » Sat Jul 16, 2016 6:55 pm

Justmeagain wrote:
Astus wrote: It is only natural that a Theravadin sees Mahayana as unorthodox and inauthentic. It comes from not comprehending its meaning nor its historical evolution.
:thinking: ....oh? So he just doesn't understand? I think his point was a little more than that! From the Bodhi tree to deities and being hit with sticks?! I can see his point, can't you?
If he thinks that of zen, that Ajahn must love vajrayana :jumping:
Homage to you, blissful, virtuous and peaceful,
Enjoy the domain of the tranquil nirvana.
Fully possessing the om and the soha,
You overcome even the greatest of evils.

_______________________________________________
"Buddhahood really is like an infection and it goes from one person to another. You can fight it off, but it's a pity if you do that..."
-Rigdzin Shikpo

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Re: Zen Buddhism?

Post by Matylda » Sat Jul 16, 2016 8:14 pm

tiagolps wrote:
Justmeagain wrote:
Astus wrote: It is only natural that a Theravadin sees Mahayana as unorthodox and inauthentic. It comes from not comprehending its meaning nor its historical evolution.
:thinking: ....oh? So he just doesn't understand? I think his point was a little more than that! From the Bodhi tree to deities and being hit with sticks?! I can see his point, can't you?
If he thinks that of zen, that Ajahn must love vajrayana :jumping:
Well I have heard some critical opinions about vajrayana spoken in private by some mahayana Chinese individual teachers. But generally it should not be heard from Chinese mahayana representatives since it was also part of Chinese mahayana tradition which died out in fact. But theravada monks have serious problems with varjarayana in general, often ther view of women based on their interpretation of Pali cannon makes them think about vajrayana in peculiar terms.

But I think we have to take under consideration historical fact of rediscovery of different traditions, since almost to the XX century there were no mutual contacts between theravada, zen, tibetan vajrayana etc. Therefore after long ages of very authonomus development of each tradition, often in one country, the new meeting was sort of surprise for each party involved. And the West became particular stage of meeting different Asian traditions.

So genetrally I think it is better for each side just to keep silent, and not to go into some critical view since it is still far too early. They should develope more understanding toward each other and know each others history. Anyway it is best to keep to ones own tradition without attempt to make judgments of what is and what is not 'true' buddhism. It will only involve mundane thinking and operating of worldly dharmas in minds of practitioners. Finally it may end up in sectarianism. This is in my opinion truly non dharmic activity.

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Re: Zen Buddhism?

Post by Matylda » Sun Jul 17, 2016 7:26 am

There is one more thing, but probably it may requier seperate thread on this forum...

After centuries of total seperation very different Buddhist traditions came into contact again... however common language which they use to communicate is mostly.. English.. so basically non dharmic language.
Then there are many mutual misinterpretations between traditions based simply on non dharmic, dualistic language, lacking any proper dharma terms... it is all left to the mercy of translators-interpretors, mostly Westerners, though sometimes Easterners [but still using English or any other westbound language]... the we may see very different texts from zen, vajrayana, theravada or hinayana and mahayana, which use so different terminology, that indeed one may wonder if it is same religion or different religions using for some unknow reason the very same name, being in fact different like day and night.
It is often due to language that those different traditions look at each other with surprise and misunderstanding. It does not concern exactly the topic of this thread but it is my impression which I have reading in English texts of different traditions.

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Re: Zen Buddhism?

Post by Astus » Sun Jul 17, 2016 11:50 am

Matylda wrote:almost to the XX century there were no mutual contacts between theravada, zen, tibetan vajrayana etc. Therefore after long ages of very authonomus development of each tradition, often in one country, the new meeting was sort of surprise for each party involved.
That's not exactly true. Chinese and Tibetans lived in the same empire for a very long time, just like they do now, and during the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368) Tibetan Buddhism was actually the state religion. In South-East Asia, similarly to India, Mahayana and Vajrayana were dominant forms of Buddhism until the 13th century. It should also not be forgotten that the whole area was a neighbour of the Chinese Empire, and Vietnam has both a Mahayana and a Theravada tradition in the same country.
Anyway it is best to keep to ones own tradition without attempt to make judgments of what is and what is not 'true' buddhism. It will only involve mundane thinking and operating of worldly dharmas in minds of practitioners. Finally it may end up in sectarianism. This is in my opinion truly non dharmic activity.
Mahayana defines itself by rendering a set of teachings into a lower position. The Abhidhamma Pitaka of the Pali Canon has the book Kathavatthu discussing numerous controversial points to define what is orthodox and what is not. Critical assessments and debates cannot and should not be avoided. The problem occurs when it turns into a personal and emotional matter, and that makes it a fine test for one's Dharma practice.
common language which they use to communicate is mostly.. English.. so basically non dharmic language
The only language that might be called Dharmic is the Pali, as it is used only in Buddhist literature, while all the other languages exist as natural ways of communication.
there are many mutual misinterpretations between traditions based simply on non dharmic, dualistic language, lacking any proper dharma terms
All languages are dualistic. Terminology is simply a matter of an agreed upon glossary.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: Zen Buddhism?

Post by White Lotus » Sun Jul 17, 2016 12:53 pm

Ajahn Cha, a Thai forest monk, was very widely read and had thoroughly studied outside his own tradition. his final attainment was to have realised that the dhamma within was the dhamma without, quite an advanced position. this requires seeing 'own nature' such that the emptiness/mind perceived within is continuous with the emptiness/mind without. this 'emptiness' however is not emptiness of emptiness and a less refined seeing of things. emptiness of emptiness cannot actually be seen, but it can be known as absence of self.

of course none of these gradual experiences are necessary in zen. just dont forget to breathe.

it is important to realise that language is merely a finger pointing towards the moon, it can unite or it can separate. where possible i feel we humans should be uniting and cherishing our different traditions, without abandoning our heritage. words or spelling may be different, however two people using different words may be speaking of the same state or reality.

shikantaza is found in other traditions under different names. meditation of the ksulu, hezychia, wu wei. we all share much in common. i find shikantaza is perfect in its uselessness.

kind regards, Tom.
in any matters of importance. dont rely on me. i may not know what i am talking about. take what i say as mere speculation. i am not ordained. nor do i have a formal training. i do believe though that if i am wrong on any point. there are those on this site who i hope will quickly point out my mistakes.

Justmeagain
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Re: Zen Buddhism?

Post by Justmeagain » Sun Jul 17, 2016 2:51 pm

Hmm. To those suggesting there was some criticism going on here. Did you read the bit in my original post when I said:

"....although not at all critical of the Soto tradition, he did suggest that as legitimate as it is, its 'not Buddhism..."

So maybe we could acknowledge that rather than talk about one tradition 'criticising' another. It wasn't a dig. It was an opinion.

To clarify (again) I think he was suggesting that all that was needed was already within the Pali Canon and to move that far away from it, the point of petitioning deities etc was tantamount to justifying the question "was still 'Buddhism'."?

Its a simple and non agressive stance that I think warrants attention. Or not, I'm happy either way!

Z...

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Re: Zen Buddhism?

Post by Matylda » Sun Jul 17, 2016 3:03 pm

Well Yuan dynasty an Tibetan Buddhism were completely foreign to Chinese and Chinese buddhism altogether. There was no any significant influence on each other. Even the last dynasty of Qing was not Chinese though, governed China for long, and many emperors were followers of Tibetan buddhism which was again very foreign to Chinese.
Though vajrayana was known for some time in China, it had nothing to do with Tibetan form...
As for debates they were known between hinayana and mahayana even in India, however they did spoke same language, using same terms etc.
It is not the case with English translations of texts from different traditions.. There is no standard English dharma language yet...
Wether Pali is the only original dharma language this I might argue, but it is not relevent to the problem I wrote about... therefore it is not the point. Anyway its closeness to sanskrit and prakrit makes not so much problem, as English opposed to those 3 plus Tibetan, Chinese, Japanese dharma language etc.
And I did not refer to historical discussions between different buddhist systems in India or Asia in general, but I have had in mind current situation in the West.. here those different tradition which lost their historical contact or had none before, met on the western ground with one common communication in English however using very different terms.

Yes Vietnam is probably the only country now which has both traditions.. and there is nothing to hear about hinayana-mahayana problem. Again I point, they speak same dharma language and may understand each other very well.. so there is no point of any conflict or remarks that one is true and the other not true..

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Re: Zen Buddhism?

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Sun Jul 17, 2016 3:31 pm

The stance that this tradition is real Buddhism while that one is not is indeed a criticism. While we practice whatever tradition we find affinity with, we should be very careful when attempting dialogue to avoid sectarianism and not take a position of understanding that we do not have.

As for petitioning deities, care should also be taken that one's own notions of what a deity is and means are not conflated with the understanding of the actual people who practice that way.

Clearly some greater generosity of mind towards traditions different from one's own would serve well here.
Namo Amitābhāya

on hiatus since November 2017

Justmeagain
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Re: Zen Buddhism?

Post by Justmeagain » Sun Jul 17, 2016 4:18 pm

Ok. So which way could such a question be phrased so as to avoid hurting someones feeling?? Its a legitimate opinion (IMO) that automatically begs such questions.

It doesn't look like there's going to be a simple response - simple enough for me to understand anyway!

Thanks for your input. Maybe a more academic source would yield a clarification for me.

Best wishes

Z...

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Re: Zen Buddhism?

Post by Matylda » Sun Jul 17, 2016 4:52 pm

soto zen, as legitimate as it is, its 'not Buddhism...

isn't it bizarre?

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Astus
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Re: Zen Buddhism?

Post by Astus » Sun Jul 17, 2016 6:24 pm

Justmeagain wrote:To clarify (again) I think he was suggesting that all that was needed was already within the Pali Canon and to move that far away from it, the point of petitioning deities etc was tantamount to justifying the question "was still 'Buddhism'."?
Here's a traditional response:

The Pali Canon explains how to become an arhat, but does not tell you how to become a buddha. Therefore it does not contain everything one needs if one wants to attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi.

From another perspective:

Mahayana is how Buddhism developed in Northern India and in other countries. It provides an extensive record of answering personal and cultural needs of people over two thousand years and various cultures, implementing and transmitting the Buddha's message again and again. Compared to that, relying only on the Pali canon means limited resources of only a few hundred years. So, even if one says that only the suttas can be the authentic teachings for historical reasons, the Mahayana is on the same level in reliability as the Abhidhamma and the commentaries of Theravada.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: Zen Buddhism?

Post by seeker242 » Mon Jul 18, 2016 12:32 am

Justmeagain wrote:Hmm. To those suggesting there was some criticism going on here. Did you read the bit in my original post when I said:

"....although not at all critical of the Soto tradition, he did suggest that as legitimate as it is, its 'not Buddhism..."
That's a direct contradiction. Saying it's "not Buddhism" is itself a criticism or "dig".
One should not kill any living being, nor cause it to be killed, nor should one incite any other to kill. Do never injure any being, whether strong or weak, in this entire universe!

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Re: Zen Buddhism?

Post by Justmeagain » Mon Jul 18, 2016 6:24 am

seeker242 wrote:
Justmeagain wrote:Hmm. To those suggesting there was some criticism going on here. Did you read the bit in my original post when I said:

"....although not at all critical of the Soto tradition, he did suggest that as legitimate as it is, its 'not Buddhism..."
That's a direct contradiction. Saying it's "not Buddhism" is itself a criticism or "dig".
Dont worry. It's all ok....

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Re: Zen Buddhism?

Post by Justmeagain » Mon Jul 18, 2016 6:41 am

Astus wrote:
Justmeagain wrote:To clarify (again) I think he was suggesting that all that was needed was already within the Pali Canon and to move that far away from it, the point of petitioning deities etc was tantamount to justifying the question "was still 'Buddhism'."?
Here's a traditional response:

The Pali Canon explains how to become an arhat, but does not tell you how to become a buddha. Therefore it does not contain everything one needs if one wants to attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi.

From another perspective:

Mahayana is how Buddhism developed in Northern India and in other countries. It provides an extensive record of answering personal and cultural needs of people over two thousand years and various cultures, implementing and transmitting the Buddha's message again and again. Compared to that, relying only on the Pali canon means limited resources of only a few hundred years. So, even if one says that only the suttas can be the authentic teachings for historical reasons, the Mahayana is on the same level in reliability as the Abhidhamma and the commentaries of Theravada.
Thanks,

Thats a really helpful angle for me to consider. _/|\_

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