Burn Buddha Burn

If you're new to the forum or new to Buddhism, this is the best place for your questions. Responses require moderator approval before they are visible.
User avatar
Wayfarer
Posts: 3836
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 8:31 am
Location: Sydney AU

Re: Burn Buddha Burn

Post by Wayfarer » Thu May 17, 2018 11:04 am

Supramundane wrote:in fact, the cornerstone of Zen is that no texts, sutras or teachings are needed to reach enlightenment
I don’t know about that. I see the parable as being more about attachment, rather than them ‘not being needed’. We do need them, up until the time we really have gone beyond. I think a lot of people nowadays would burn them without even knowing what’s in them. Mind you I don’t think Shoju was guilty of that. When I read that story, I thought Shoju was right to do what he did. It’s like, ‘sentimentality be damned’. Whereas most of the objections I read were all about the apparent lack of respect for elders and for tradition.
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki-roshi

User avatar
Wayfarer
Posts: 3836
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 8:31 am
Location: Sydney AU

Re: Burn Buddha Burn

Post by Wayfarer » Thu May 17, 2018 11:09 am

I suppose, from a classical Chinese viewpoint, it’s one of the ‘Taoist vs Confucian’ parables. The elder represents tradition, the handing down, veneration for established ways - Confucian values. The younger represents spontaneous action and direct insight - ‘thrusts it into the flames right away’ - no pause for thought and ‘no lust for possessions’.

He did the elder a favour, in my view. But it was definitely a harsh lesson.
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki-roshi

User avatar
Meido
Posts: 427
Joined: Mon Mar 21, 2011 2:50 am
Contact:

Re: Burn Buddha Burn

Post by Meido » Thu May 17, 2018 3:01 pm

Actually the kind of documents featuring in that story with Shido Munan and Dokyo Etan (aka Shoju Rojin) are not uncommonly transmitted in Rinzai Zen: the ones i have seen contain the evolving record of the particular lineage's shitsunai (progression of koan study), experiences of past masters in the line and comments regarding same, warnings about common pitfalls, etc. They are precious, often recording the kuden - oral instructions. They are also not public, and i don't think even scholars are much aware of this.

I don't know if Shoju Rojin (who was Hakuin's master by the way) actually burned something he received. Talks, sayings, and poems of Shido have survived, though. This is fortunate because he was a rather incredible master (and not someone we would say harbored petty attachments at all). Torei (Hakuin's famous student) wrote a biography of him...some stuff in English can be found on the Terebess site.

Whether it happened or not, important to look at that story in the context of what was going on: a period of stagnation during which monks often were criticized for being more concerned with scholarly and literary pursuits than with practice. The story drives home its point, and sets the scene for the renaissance usually credited to Hakuin...but made possible by the energetic devotion to practice that Shido and Shoju both also exemplified.

Finally, while it's true that Shoju was the only heir to whom Shido gave inka shomei i.e. responsibility to carry and transmit his lineage, he did have other students to whom he gave certification including permission to teach. The story makes it sound as if it was just those two, but Shido Munan in fact had several worthy students.

~ Meido
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
Wayfarer
Posts: 3836
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 8:31 am
Location: Sydney AU

Re: Burn Buddha Burn

Post by Wayfarer » Thu May 17, 2018 10:07 pm

Thanks Ven. Meido. But is the story re-told to make the point about not relying on written texts? Is it part of the 'teaching repertoire'?

(It is great to have the benefit of your knowledge as many of us only ever read the 'canned' versions of these stories presented in the popular anthologies, and lack knowledge of the true context. I have the feeling that many of them have been re-told so often that they have taken on a pretty peremptory form.)

A couple of years back, I came across an alternative account of the legendary conversation between Bodhidharma and Emperor Wu which I posted here, which I felt provided more depth than the customary re-telling.
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki-roshi

User avatar
Meido
Posts: 427
Joined: Mon Mar 21, 2011 2:50 am
Contact:

Re: Burn Buddha Burn

Post by Meido » Thu May 17, 2018 11:08 pm

To be honest, I never encountered that story in a practice context. It is not used as a koan, for example. I have only read it in the Paul Reps book. Incidentally, the 101 Zen stories he published as Zen Flesh, Zen Bones are often called koan, but that is a misunderstanding. They are actually a class of popular story or parable called setsuwa.

In any case, if the story is true, to me it just reveals something about the relationship and character of those two people. Maybe Shoju burned those papers. But we know he highly valued other Zen writings in his own teaching. So one has to square those things.

"Not relying [or not setting up] words and letters," from the 4-lines that reveal Zen's intent and approach commonly attributed to Bodhidharma, does not mean written texts are negated at all. It means that the fruition of Zen practice takes place primarily within relationship with a living teacher rather than with books, and that the gate of Zen is arriving at a knowledge that is experiential rather than intellectual.

RE the episode of Bodhidharma meeting Emperor Wu, I've seen several versions. But the important one from a Rinzai practice standpoint anyway is as found in Hekiganroku, in which Bodhidharma is asked what the essential point of the Buddhadharma is and answers "Vast emptiness, nothing holy"...followed by the Emperor inquiring, "Well, who are you, then?", to which he replies, "I don't know." Those replies must be penetrated in koan kufu...a practice that, though resting upon texts, really has very little to do with what is commonly understood to be "the study of texts."

~ Meido
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
Supramundane
Posts: 159
Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2016 11:38 am
Location: Jakarta, Indonesia

Re: Burn Buddha Burn

Post by Supramundane » Fri May 18, 2018 1:50 am

Meido wrote:
Thu May 17, 2018 11:08 pm
To be honest, I never encountered that story in a practice context. It is not used as a koan, for example. I have only read it in the Paul Reps book. Incidentally, the 101 Zen stories he published as Zen Flesh, Zen Bones are often called koan, but that is a misunderstanding. They are actually a class of popular story or parable called setsuwa.

In any case, if the story is true, to me it just reveals something about the relationship and character of those two people. Maybe Shoju burned those papers. But we know he highly valued other Zen writings in his own teaching. So one has to square those things.

"Not relying [or not setting up] words and letters," from the 4-lines that reveal Zen's intent and approach commonly attributed to Bodhidharma, does not mean written texts are negated at all. It means that the fruition of Zen practice takes place primarily within relationship with a living teacher rather than with books, and that the gate of Zen is arriving at a knowledge that is experiential rather than intellectual.

RE the episode of Bodhidharma meeting Emperor Wu, I've seen several versions. But the important one from a Rinzai practice standpoint anyway is as found in Hekiganroku, in which Bodhidharma is asked what the essential point of the Buddhadharma is and answers "Vast emptiness, nothing holy"...followed by the Emperor inquiring, "Well, who are you, then?", to which he replies, "I don't know." Those replies must be penetrated in koan kufu...a practice that, though resting upon texts, really has very little to do with what is commonly understood to be "the study of texts."

~ Meido
excellent post. very informative. thank you.

User avatar
Wayfarer
Posts: 3836
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 8:31 am
Location: Sydney AU

Re: Burn Buddha Burn

Post by Wayfarer » Fri May 18, 2018 2:03 am

Myth-conceptions abound :smile:
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki-roshi

User avatar
Meido
Posts: 427
Joined: Mon Mar 21, 2011 2:50 am
Contact:

Re: Burn Buddha Burn

Post by Meido » Fri May 18, 2018 2:24 am

Wayfarer wrote:
Fri May 18, 2018 2:03 am
Myth-conceptions abound
MonkeyReaching.jpg
MonkeyReaching.jpg (36.14 KiB) Viewed 494 times
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
seeker242
Posts: 1297
Joined: Sat Mar 17, 2012 2:50 pm
Location: South Florida, USA

Re: Burn Buddha Burn

Post by seeker242 » Fri May 18, 2018 3:01 am

Supramundane wrote:
Tue May 15, 2018 8:33 am
I wonder how many Zen masters are fed up getting slapped in the face when they present koans to novices, etc.
Probably none as they are generally delighted when someone can swing at them and actually not miss the mark. :smile:
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!

boda
Posts: 1849
Joined: Thu Jul 03, 2014 8:40 pm

Re: Burn Buddha Burn

Post by boda » Fri May 18, 2018 9:29 pm

myth-making abounds.

User avatar
Grigoris
Global Moderator
Posts: 16858
Joined: Fri May 14, 2010 9:27 pm
Location: Greece

Re: Burn Buddha Burn

Post by Grigoris » Fri May 18, 2018 10:13 pm

boda wrote:
Fri May 18, 2018 9:29 pm
myth-making abounds.
What's wrong with myths?
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

boda
Posts: 1849
Joined: Thu Jul 03, 2014 8:40 pm

Re: Burn Buddha Burn

Post by boda » Sat May 19, 2018 1:01 am

Grigoris wrote:
Fri May 18, 2018 10:13 pm
boda wrote:
Fri May 18, 2018 9:29 pm
myth-making abounds.
What's wrong with myths?
Myth can lack substance, and when that happens it's time to "Burn baby burn! - Burn that mother down" After all, if a tradition lacks efficacy then what good is it.

User avatar
Grigoris
Global Moderator
Posts: 16858
Joined: Fri May 14, 2010 9:27 pm
Location: Greece

Re: Burn Buddha Burn

Post by Grigoris » Sat May 19, 2018 7:36 am

boda wrote:
Sat May 19, 2018 1:01 am
Grigoris wrote:
Fri May 18, 2018 10:13 pm
boda wrote:
Fri May 18, 2018 9:29 pm
myth-making abounds.
What's wrong with myths?
Myth can lack substance, and when that happens it's time to "Burn baby burn! - Burn that mother down" After all, if a tradition lacks efficacy then what good is it.
A myth is only a problem for those that fail to delineate between the symbolic and the literal.
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

User avatar
Wayfarer
Posts: 3836
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 8:31 am
Location: Sydney AU

Re: Burn Buddha Burn

Post by Wayfarer » Sat May 19, 2018 8:16 am

A brief excursion into comparative religion.

With respect to the principle of ‘mind-to-mind transmission’ that is fundamental to Zen. It’s interesting that the original definition of ‘mystical’ was associated with ‘initiation into the mystery schools’. This referred to the Ancient Greek mystery religions, such as Orphism, which is to all intents a branch of ancient Indo-European religious culture and has many similarities with Indian religions. So a ‘mystic’ was one who had been thus initiated - which is actually similar to the meaning in Zen Buddhism. [Likewise, the literal meaning of the term ‘Upaniṣad’ is ‘sitting up close’, i.e. teachings which are transmitted from teacher to student.’]

The caveat is that the term ‘mysticism’ has since become debased by being over-used; plus it is practically a pejorative term in secular culture, where it’s shorthand for ‘believer in obscure superstitious ideas’.

Another point that is related is that of the nature of esoteric principles. These too are something that can only be learned in the first person, so to speak - they require a kind of participative understanding, a ‘learning by doing’, which is very different from scientific or technical knowledge which is essentially third-person [i.e. it always must comprise some data which can be reproduced by a third party]. An esoteric principle is one that requires or implies a kind of meta-cognitive shift in which the understanding of the pracitioner is changed by the practice.
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki-roshi

User avatar
Grigoris
Global Moderator
Posts: 16858
Joined: Fri May 14, 2010 9:27 pm
Location: Greece

Re: Burn Buddha Burn

Post by Grigoris » Sat May 19, 2018 2:31 pm

The word mystical (μυστικό) is just the Greek word for "secret". BUT it's root is from the Ancient Greek Μυώ or μυεώ which means to initiate or "to teach secrets to". Secrets here can also refer to "tricks of the trade".
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

User avatar
Meido
Posts: 427
Joined: Mon Mar 21, 2011 2:50 am
Contact:

Re: Burn Buddha Burn

Post by Meido » Sat May 19, 2018 2:41 pm

Wayfarer wrote:
Sat May 19, 2018 8:16 am
[Likewise, the literal meaning of the term ‘Upaniṣad’ is ‘sitting up close’, i.e. teachings which are transmitted from teacher to student.’]
Since we're using Sanskrit: we can say that actual Zen practice rests primarily upon upadesa, not sutra.
Wayfarer wrote:
Sat May 19, 2018 8:16 am
An esoteric principle is one that requires or implies a kind of meta-cognitive shift in which the understanding of the pracitioner is changed by the practice.
"Seeing one's nature" in Zen indeed does not mean that some thing, quality, or concept has been apprehended and intellectually grasped. It means that there is a liberative change in the manner of seeing itself, and a knowledge of the nature of that which sees, apprehends and knows.

"Tricks of the trade": perfect

~ Meido
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

boda
Posts: 1849
Joined: Thu Jul 03, 2014 8:40 pm

Re: Burn Buddha Burn

Post by boda » Sat May 19, 2018 6:42 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Sat May 19, 2018 7:36 am
boda wrote:
Sat May 19, 2018 1:01 am
Grigoris wrote:
Fri May 18, 2018 10:13 pm
What's wrong with myths?
Myth can lack substance, and when that happens it's time to "Burn baby burn! - Burn that mother down" After all, if a tradition lacks efficacy then what good is it.
A myth is only a problem for those that fail to delineate between the symbolic and the literal.
That might be true if we humans were rational beings, but we’re not. A person may fully know that a myth is symbolic and not literal, and nevertheless it may effect them in unexpected ways. Take Seeker’s apparent belief that zen masters are ninjas or whatever. Seems innocent enough, yet it may indicate a kind of guru worship that at best serves no useful purpose and at worst is dramatically counterproductive.

User avatar
Grigoris
Global Moderator
Posts: 16858
Joined: Fri May 14, 2010 9:27 pm
Location: Greece

Re: Burn Buddha Burn

Post by Grigoris » Sat May 19, 2018 7:06 pm

boda wrote:
Sat May 19, 2018 6:42 pm
That might be true if we humans were rational beings, but we’re not. A person may fully know that a myth is symbolic and not literal, and nevertheless it may effect them in unexpected ways. Take Seeker’s apparent belief that zen masters are ninjas or whatever. Seems innocent enough, yet it may indicate a kind of guru worship that at best serves no useful purpose and at worst is dramatically counterproductive.
Or it may lead to a suspension of disbelief that lasts long enough for a glimpse of something beyond rational mind (rationality is kind of overrated at times) that may lead to real change.

There is tonnes of stuff out there that rational mind cannot grasp and yet...
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

User avatar
seeker242
Posts: 1297
Joined: Sat Mar 17, 2012 2:50 pm
Location: South Florida, USA

Re: Burn Buddha Burn

Post by seeker242 » Sun May 20, 2018 12:07 pm

boda wrote:
Sat May 19, 2018 6:42 pm
Grigoris wrote:
Sat May 19, 2018 7:36 am
boda wrote:
Sat May 19, 2018 1:01 am


Myth can lack substance, and when that happens it's time to "Burn baby burn! - Burn that mother down" After all, if a tradition lacks efficacy then what good is it.
A myth is only a problem for those that fail to delineate between the symbolic and the literal.
That might be true if we humans were rational beings, but we’re not. A person may fully know that a myth is symbolic and not literal, and nevertheless it may effect them in unexpected ways. Take Seeker’s apparent belief that zen masters are ninjas or whatever. Seems innocent enough, yet it may indicate a kind of guru worship that at best serves no useful purpose and at worst is dramatically counterproductive.
Dharma Combat with a good Zen Master is like getting in the ring with Mohammad Ali. You're going to need some practice under your belt in order to land a punch. A novice has no chance. Mohammad Ali is not phased by an amateur trying to hit him, he can easily dodge every punch. It's not about worship. You generally don't try to kill someone that you worship. My belief comes from swinging at them hundreds of hundreds of times and missing over and over. :lol: When you can land every punch without any effort, that's when you become the Master. :smile:
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!

Wicked Yeshe
Posts: 151
Joined: Sun Apr 15, 2018 10:42 am

Re: Burn Buddha Burn

Post by Wicked Yeshe » Sun May 20, 2018 12:41 pm

Unless the statue is defiled it should not be burnt. Though it wouldn't surprise me if there came jewels out of the ashes.

I had a ruby Amitabha that i had to get rid of because of unwanted activity around it. A shame, really.

Post Reply

Return to “Discovering Mahayana Buddhism”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests