Shushogi

Post Reply
markatex
Posts: 381
Joined: Fri Nov 06, 2009 1:33 am

Shushogi

Post by markatex » Fri Aug 16, 2019 4:59 pm

Is this text discussed much in American Soto Zen? I don’t remember it ever being discussed at the Soto Zen center I attended years ago. I know it’s held in high regard in Jiyu-Kennett Roshi’s lineage, but outside of that, I don’t recall hearing it discussed much.

I’ve always liked it quite a bit, and find it sort of amusing that Soto Zen’s distillation of Dogen’s teachings for lay Buddhists makes no mention of zazen, shikantaza, or meditation at all and focuses instead largely on repentance, karma, and future births.

I don’t know how that’s reconciled with the secular bent and near-denial of traditional Buddhist teachings on karma and rebirth that’s prevalent in American Zen. Perhaps it isn’t.

User avatar
Meido
Posts: 497
Joined: Mon Mar 21, 2011 2:50 am
Contact:

Re: Shushogi

Post by Meido » Fri Aug 16, 2019 5:34 pm

markatex wrote:
Fri Aug 16, 2019 4:59 pm
...the secular bent and near-denial of traditional Buddhist teachings on karma and rebirth that’s prevalent in American Zen.
Just to say: not all American Zen, by a longshot.

I know you said "prevalent," but really not sure if that's the case (assuming one is including Vietnamese, Chinese, and other groups).

Maybe best to talk about specific teachers or orgs.
It is relatively easy to accomplish the important matter of insight into one’s true nature, but uncommonly difficult to function freely and clearly [according to this understanding], in motion and in rest, in good and in adverse circumstances. Please make strenuous and vigorous efforts towards this end, otherwise all the teachings of Buddhas and patriarchs become mere empty words. - Torei

The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice

Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺] - http://www.korinji.org

markatex
Posts: 381
Joined: Fri Nov 06, 2009 1:33 am

Re: Shushogi

Post by markatex » Fri Aug 16, 2019 5:44 pm

I didn’t say “all,” and no, I’m not including Vietnamese and Chinese Zen groups. I think most people reading this know exactly what I’m talking about.

User avatar
Meido
Posts: 497
Joined: Mon Mar 21, 2011 2:50 am
Contact:

Re: Shushogi

Post by Meido » Fri Aug 16, 2019 6:24 pm

As do I. And I personally think it a serious problem, for those groups that have taken such a direction.

But since Zen is not one school at all but rather a bundle of related teaching lines transmitting often shockingly diverse things, one gets weary of seeing it tarred as a whole with the same brush. Especially on pan-dharma forums like this one where folks not involved with it may not know any better. And "prevalent in American Zen" is indeed a rather broad brush.

As I observe, your generalization does not hold for Rinzai Zen in the West at all. Nor for much of Korean Zen. And certainly not for Thien or Chan, which you clarified are excluded. So...
It is relatively easy to accomplish the important matter of insight into one’s true nature, but uncommonly difficult to function freely and clearly [according to this understanding], in motion and in rest, in good and in adverse circumstances. Please make strenuous and vigorous efforts towards this end, otherwise all the teachings of Buddhas and patriarchs become mere empty words. - Torei

The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice

Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺] - http://www.korinji.org

User avatar
Johnny Dangerous
Global Moderator
Posts: 9813
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:58 pm
Location: Olympia WA
Contact:

Re: Shushogi

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Fri Aug 16, 2019 6:28 pm

I must say, the statement seems pretty accurate to me in terms of Soto and Soto-influenced American Zen.
His welcoming
& rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
Knowing the dustless, sorrowless state,
he discerns rightly,
has gone, beyond becoming,
to the Further Shore.

-Lokavipatti Sutta

User avatar
Meido
Posts: 497
Joined: Mon Mar 21, 2011 2:50 am
Contact:

Re: Shushogi

Post by Meido » Fri Aug 16, 2019 6:33 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Fri Aug 16, 2019 6:28 pm
I must say, the statement seems pretty accurate to me in terms of Soto and Soto-influenced American Zen.
That is sufficient clarification for me. And it jibes with what I have observed.

The subject is actually a quite interesting one, with many factors at play. Looking forward to reading, if conversation develops (and I'll let that happen now!)
It is relatively easy to accomplish the important matter of insight into one’s true nature, but uncommonly difficult to function freely and clearly [according to this understanding], in motion and in rest, in good and in adverse circumstances. Please make strenuous and vigorous efforts towards this end, otherwise all the teachings of Buddhas and patriarchs become mere empty words. - Torei

The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice

Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺] - http://www.korinji.org

Matylda
Posts: 705
Joined: Mon May 14, 2012 3:32 pm

Re: Shushogi

Post by Matylda » Sat Aug 17, 2019 7:24 pm

markatex wrote:
Fri Aug 16, 2019 4:59 pm
Is this text discussed much in American Soto Zen? I don’t remember it ever being discussed at the Soto Zen center I attended years ago. I know it’s held in high regard in Jiyu-Kennett Roshi’s lineage, but outside of that, I don’t recall hearing it discussed much.

I’ve always liked it quite a bit, and find it sort of amusing that Soto Zen’s distillation of Dogen’s teachings for lay Buddhists makes no mention of zazen, shikantaza, or meditation at all and focuses instead largely on repentance, karma, and future births.

I don’t know how that’s reconciled with the secular bent and near-denial of traditional Buddhist teachings on karma and rebirth that’s prevalent in American Zen. Perhaps it isn’t.
Sorry I do not know what is done within American soto zen context with Shushogi but in Japan it is very important text.. it is actually not any distilation for lay, since the text is dedicated to monks and lay respectively.
It has very deep meaning and is not about simple buddhist notions of karma rebirth etc. right from the begining it expalins the view of zen.. so called repentance is taken from important text on developing of bodhicitta, and needs minute explanation. So called impermanence is teaching on buddha nature in detail. One has to know commentaries which explain and clearly show the true meaning of shushogi.

The author of Shushogi in question was very experineced lay discile of Hara Tanzan, who was a great zen figure in the 19th century in Japan.

According to commentaries 5 chapters of Shushogi present 5 ranks of Tozan.. I think that simply there is no knowledge of Shushogi in the West, Japanese commentaries are pretty out of reception of non-japanese speakers. Jiyu Roshi was trained in Japan and her master Keido Chisan zenji was well versed in Shushogi, so there is no wonder that her heirs respect highly Shushogi. It is what she was supposed to bring from Japan.
By the way Keido Chisan was holder of rinzai inka from Nantembo roshi, famous master of Takuju line in rinzai.

Matylda
Posts: 705
Joined: Mon May 14, 2012 3:32 pm

Re: Shushogi

Post by Matylda » Sun Aug 18, 2019 10:29 pm

markatex wrote:
Fri Aug 16, 2019 4:59 pm
I don’t know how that’s reconciled with the secular bent and near-denial of traditional Buddhist teachings on karma and rebirth that’s prevalent in American Zen. Perhaps it isn’t.
In fact this misunderstanding may come directly from teachings of Japanese roshis who did teach in the USA or in the West in general. One has to understand that in zen there is certain immediacy of practice in this life. Therefore there is much less talk about future or past lives. It is not denial per se, however zen is focused on this life, or as some say here and now (btw it is often misunderstood as well).
Zen is concerned in its practice on completely practical point with addressing human condition as it is, again - now, in this life. As for modern zen monks they are mostly first trained on uni level like Hanazono or Komazawa for about 5 years, where they study all basic buddhist tenets, including karma, rebirth etc. and more elaborate pilosophy of cittamatra and madhyamaka of east asian flavor. For sure it is rather missing in zen practice in the West. But once monks enter training hall, or senmon sodo or senmon dojo they are directed to this immediate great matter, which is an imperative to be taken care of.
So I think that Japanese teachers in 60s 70s and so on, concentrated on this zennish thing rather than on general tenets. It could give wrong impression that zen is kind of denial of traditional teachings.

Matylda
Posts: 705
Joined: Mon May 14, 2012 3:32 pm

Re: Shushogi

Post by Matylda » Sun Aug 18, 2019 10:37 pm

markatex wrote:
Fri Aug 16, 2019 4:59 pm
I’ve always liked it quite a bit, and find it sort of amusing that Soto Zen’s distillation of Dogen’s teachings for lay Buddhists makes no mention of zazen, shikantaza, or meditation at all and focuses instead largely on repentance, karma, and future births.
as for this part, we have to notice that hardly any traditional texts were addressing the issue of zazen, shikan taza or medtation. Of course we may find it in Keizan, Gasam or Meiho writings, but thos texts are rather short, and compare to the whole literature of soto zen, they are not even one part-per-thousand.. same it is with traditional Chinese sources. However the view is definitely presented in Shushogi, specaially in opening and closing parts. And in part of precepts or tokudo.

User avatar
Meido
Posts: 497
Joined: Mon Mar 21, 2011 2:50 am
Contact:

Re: Shushogi

Post by Meido » Sun Aug 18, 2019 10:40 pm

Matylda wrote:
Sun Aug 18, 2019 10:29 pm
In fact this misunderstanding may come directly from teachings of Japanese roshis who did teach in the USA or in the West in general. One has to understand that in zen there is certain immediacy of practice in this life. Therefore there is much less talk about future or past lives. It is not denial per se, however zen is focused on this life, or as some say here and now (btw it is often misunderstood as well).
Zen is concerned in its practice on completely practical point with addressing human condition as it is, again - now, in this life. As for modern zen monks they are mostly first trained on uni level like Hanazono or Komazawa for about 5 years, where they study all basic buddhist tenets, including karma, rebirth etc. and more elaborate pilosophy of cittamatra and madhyamaka of east asian flavor. For sure it is rather missing in zen practice in the West. But once monks enter training hall, or senmon sodo or senmon dojo they are directed to this immediate great matter, which is an imperative to be taken care of.
So I think that Japanese teachers in 60s 70s and so on, concentrated on this zennish thing rather than on general tenets. It could give wrong impression that zen is kind of denial of traditional teachings.
:good:

Also translation issues...for example the way shusho (修証) has been commonly mistranslated in English.
It is relatively easy to accomplish the important matter of insight into one’s true nature, but uncommonly difficult to function freely and clearly [according to this understanding], in motion and in rest, in good and in adverse circumstances. Please make strenuous and vigorous efforts towards this end, otherwise all the teachings of Buddhas and patriarchs become mere empty words. - Torei

The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice

Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺] - http://www.korinji.org

narhwal90
Posts: 833
Joined: Mon Jan 25, 2016 3:10 am

Re: Shushogi

Post by narhwal90 » Sun Aug 18, 2019 10:49 pm

Is it not the case that the Shushogi is composed of excerpts from the Shobogenzo?

User avatar
LastLegend
Posts: 3249
Joined: Sat Mar 19, 2011 3:46 pm
Location: Washington DC

Re: Shushogi

Post by LastLegend » Sun Aug 18, 2019 11:38 pm

Any idea why cicada is Zen bug?
Within that state of clarity, there is a knowing that remains unchanged stationary can be seen when looking at an object.

User avatar
LastLegend
Posts: 3249
Joined: Sat Mar 19, 2011 3:46 pm
Location: Washington DC

Re: Shushogi

Post by LastLegend » Sun Aug 18, 2019 11:46 pm

markatex wrote:
Fri Aug 16, 2019 4:59 pm

I’ve always liked it quite a bit, and find it sort of amusing that Soto Zen’s distillation of Dogen’s teachings for lay Buddhists makes no mention of zazen, shikantaza, or meditation at all and focuses instead largely on repentance, karma, and future births.
Repentance is emanation of your nature and sometimes even better than sitting on your ass all day lol 😆. Why do you think prayers of other religions are so powerful?
Within that state of clarity, there is a knowing that remains unchanged stationary can be seen when looking at an object.

User avatar
LastLegend
Posts: 3249
Joined: Sat Mar 19, 2011 3:46 pm
Location: Washington DC

Re: Shushogi

Post by LastLegend » Sun Aug 18, 2019 11:58 pm

Meido sir,

Please forgive me for stirring the pot today. I’ll repent for this later. Correct the quote is correct. Also true that a lifetime of rigorous efforts and practice cannot guarantee that one will pass the gate of samsara. Why?

“It is relatively easy to accomplish the important matter of insight into one’s true nature, but uncommonly difficult to function freely and clearly [according to this understanding], in motion and in rest, in good and in adverse circumstances. Please make strenuous and vigorous efforts towards this end, otherwise all the teachings of Buddhas and patriarchs become mere empty words.” - Torei
Within that state of clarity, there is a knowing that remains unchanged stationary can be seen when looking at an object.

Matylda
Posts: 705
Joined: Mon May 14, 2012 3:32 pm

Re: Shushogi

Post by Matylda » Mon Aug 19, 2019 12:41 pm

narhwal90 wrote:
Sun Aug 18, 2019 10:49 pm
Is it not the case that the Shushogi is composed of excerpts from the Shobogenzo?
Yes it is in fact based on Shobogenzo

friendly
Posts: 11
Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2018 1:48 pm

Re: Shushogi

Post by friendly » Tue Aug 20, 2019 3:19 am

"The Shushogi was written in the 19th century at a time when Soto-shu decided that lay people needed just to undertake the Precepts to express their faith, and that lay folks had neither the time nor inclination for Zazen, so never once mentions Zazen. It is also something of an amazing cut and paste, sometimes joining or editing Dogen mid sentence to create a whole new Dogen quote, and the entire flavor is meant to compete with Christianity.

Jiryu has a good summary here on his blog (https://nozeninthewest.wordpress.com/.../laypeople-leap.../), and a more scholarly treatment is available online from Steven Heine (Abbreviation or Aberration: The Role of Shushogi in Modern Soto Zen Buddhism https://books.google.co.jp/books?id=ajU ... C&pg=PA169...).

Jiryu summarizes: "The text had rather been explicitly designed to establish the doctrinal foundations for a kind of “zazenless Zen” (to use Ian Readers’ term) for laypeople; it was drafted by a lay Soto leader who wanted to find a doctrinal work-around for the basic problem that laypeople had neither the time nor inclination to observe the more profound Soto practices like zazen. This prominent and prolific layman, Ōuchi Seiran, was driven by the fear that if Soto Zen was too hard for laypeople, they’d go join the Pure Land sects or turn Christian instead. ... The Shushogi authors and editors ended up resolving these debates through a Dogen text cut-and-paste job that would have made William Burroughs proud. " I suspect that it is still promoted by the Soto-shu in Japan today because they still feel (probably rightly) that their average temple parishioner in Japan (or in Japanese-American communities in North America, Brazil etc.) is not interested in Zazen at all, but maybe Christian type ethics and some chanting. ""

Matylda
Posts: 705
Joined: Mon May 14, 2012 3:32 pm

Re: Shushogi

Post by Matylda » Tue Aug 20, 2019 4:39 pm

friendly wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 3:19 am
"The Shushogi was written in the 19th century at a time when Soto-shu decided that lay people needed just to undertake the Precepts to express their faith, and that lay folks had neither the time nor inclination for Zazen, so never once mentions Zazen. It is also something of an amazing cut and paste, sometimes joining or editing Dogen mid sentence to create a whole new Dogen quote, and the entire flavor is meant to compete with Christianity.

Jiryu has a good summary here on his blog (https://nozeninthewest.wordpress.com/.../laypeople-leap.../), and a more scholarly treatment is available online from Steven Heine (Abbreviation or Aberration: The Role of Shushogi in Modern Soto Zen Buddhism https://books.google.co.jp/books?id=ajU ... C&pg=PA169...).

Jiryu summarizes: "The text had rather been explicitly designed to establish the doctrinal foundations for a kind of “zazenless Zen” (to use Ian Readers’ term) for laypeople; it was drafted by a lay Soto leader who wanted to find a doctrinal work-around for the basic problem that laypeople had neither the time nor inclination to observe the more profound Soto practices like zazen. This prominent and prolific layman, Ōuchi Seiran, was driven by the fear that if Soto Zen was too hard for laypeople, they’d go join the Pure Land sects or turn Christian instead. ... The Shushogi authors and editors ended up resolving these debates through a Dogen text cut-and-paste job that would have made William Burroughs proud. " I suspect that it is still promoted by the Soto-shu in Japan today because they still feel (probably rightly) that their average temple parishioner in Japan (or in Japanese-American communities in North America, Brazil etc.) is not interested in Zazen at all, but maybe Christian type ethics and some chanting. ""
I am sorry but it is sheer nonsense and lack of information. I do not know who is Jiryu, but what he wrote misses the point completely. Specially when it comes to Shushogi, precepts - jukai etc.

markatex
Posts: 381
Joined: Fri Nov 06, 2009 1:33 am

Re: Shushogi

Post by markatex » Tue Aug 20, 2019 4:40 pm

I think the above is an unfair characterization, however technically accurate it might be.

I think the Shushogi proves that the Soto tradition is more than the secular meditation practice it’s presented as by Brad Warner and others. It’s a religious tradition as heavy on ritual and devotion as Jodo or Nichiren. It also shows pretty clearly that Dogen absolutely taught traditional Buddhism, including literal rebirth/reincarnation and the literal existence of the various realms of transmigration.

Years ago, I happened upon a book by Rev. Jiyu-Kennett and kind of couldn’t believe she was a Zen teacher. I had no interest in the beatnik Zen of Alan Watts, et al. I still do not.

friendly
Posts: 11
Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2018 1:48 pm

Re: Shushogi

Post by friendly » Wed Aug 21, 2019 9:36 am

markatex wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 4:40 pm
I think the above is an unfair characterization, however technically accurate it might be.

I think the Shushogi proves that the Soto tradition is more than the secular meditation practice it’s presented as by Brad Warner and others. It’s a religious tradition as heavy on ritual and devotion as Jodo or Nichiren. It also shows pretty clearly that Dogen absolutely taught traditional Buddhism, including literal rebirth/reincarnation and the literal existence of the various realms of transmigration.

Years ago, I happened upon a book by Rev. Jiyu-Kennett and kind of couldn’t believe she was a Zen teacher. I had no interest in the beatnik Zen of Alan Watts, et al. I still do not.
Yes, you are good to take it that way, because it is religion so you can make it by your heart. However, history is history, and even many Zen people at Komazawa University where study know this, many Japanese priest know this, and no surprise. Conversation here was just a bit unbalanced, but there is no one right way. You like Shushogi, then good for you, and other think it is a created document that lost Dogen, then good for them.

friendly
Posts: 11
Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2018 1:48 pm

Re: Shushogi

Post by friendly » Wed Aug 21, 2019 11:28 am

Also to be clear, yes, Soto Zen tradition has ritual and devotion, and Dogen Zenji believe in rebirth. lt is just that it can come in many ways to suit different people.

Post Reply

Return to “Soto”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 12 guests