Is Zen pointless without a teacher?

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jundo cohen
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Re: Is Zen pointless without a teacher?

Post by jundo cohen » Sun Nov 01, 2015 3:15 am

Hi,

I might point-non-point out, from my limtedless limited perspective, that the way of Uchiyama, or my small way of shining a light on Shikantaza, or the words of Daoxin and Ting-chen are not two at all. The differences are perhaps more apparent than real. All arise-non-arise from the same non-source-source: :smile:
Astus wrote:
After that he quotes the Sutra of Meditation on the Bodhisattva Universal Virtue (T09n0277p0393b10-11): "The ocean of impediment of all karmas / Is produced from one's false imagination. / Should one wish to repent of it / Let him sit upright and meditate on the true aspect [of reality]." (tr. Bunno Kato)
One Universal Virtue is to drop (by non-dropping-dropping) all waves of karma, impendiments and thoughts of "true or false" into and as this Ocean, Repent/Atonement as At-One-ment, sitting upright as True Aspect. All thoughts as waves just constantly non-arise and flow.
Astus wrote: Then Daoxin (tr. Chappell) continues:

"The Dapinjing [couldn't find what it actually refers to, but an almost identical teaching is found in the first volume of the Fozangjing T15n0653p785a25] says: "No object of thought (wu-suo-nian) means to be thinking on Buddha (nianfo)."
No object of thought and what thought to object to, not two. What "Buddha" can be thought or not thought and is not all thoughts? Sitting as Buddha is precisely Buddhasticly Buddhasting.
Astus wrote:Why is it called wu-suo-nian? It means the mind which is "thinking on Buddha" is called thinking on no object (wu-suo-nien). Apart from mind there is no Buddha at all. Apart from Buddha there is no mind at all. Thinking on Buddha is identical to the thinking mind. To seek the mind means to seek for the Buddha.
Why is this? Consciousness is without form. The Buddha lacks any outer appearance. When you understand this truth, it is identical to calming the mind (anxin). If you always are thinking on Buddha, grasping [onto externals] does not arise, [and everything] disappears and is without form, and thinking is impartial without [false] discrimination. To enter into this state, the mind which is thinking on Buddha disappears, and further it is not even necessary to indicate [the mind as Buddha]. When you see this, your mind is none other than the body of the real and true nature of the Tathagata."
Sitting as Buddha is thinking no object. Apart from sitting, there is no mind and no Buddha at all. Apart from Buddha, there is no mind of sitting. Sitting as Buddha is identical to the sitting Buddha. To seek the mind or to seek for sitting is to seek for Buddha. The trick is to seek by not seeking, finding what cannot be found. The Form of Sitting is without form, the appearance of sitting lacks any appearance or in and out. What mind is there to calm? Never mind! In simply sitting, no internal or external to grasp or arise, all is without form or discrimination right in and as all form and discrimination ... nirvana is samsara, no nirvana no samsara from the startless start. The sitting mind disappears and re-emerges, what is there to indicate when all the world is free of directions in the pivot point of sitting? Sitting this, body-mind are none other than the real and true Tathagata.

This Ting-Chen says ...
Astus wrote:Lay down all things, and even give up the thought of laying everything down.
How does one lay down without laying down? Open the Hand of Thought. There was never a thing to pick up from the start, nor a thing in need of letting go.
In this way, thinking of neither good nor evil, close your eyes gently and lightly observe where your thoughts seem to issue from. This permits you passively to be aware of your false thoughts as they suddenly come and just as suddenly go, neither grasping at them nor driving them away; thus, in time, you can come to understand profoundly that false thought has no self-nature (is empty) and that it is originally void. When false thought is then illuminated by your mind, a stillness becomes evident, which then becomes suchness. Then if another thought suddenly arises, using the same approach, just observe lightly to see where the thought seems to come from. Do this at least once a day for at least half an hour."
Dropping all thought of good and evil, attraction and aversion, we do not observe (in our way) where thoughts arise or go, but simply do not grasp them as they come and go non-coming-non-going. False thoughts have no self-nature, and the same for true thoughts. There is no thought. Thought-no-thought. As human beings, we do our best (we have no choice so long as we are living beings in a complex world) to live in a world of thoughts, both true and false, doing our best to be free of the latter and to nurture the former (doing our best to be free of greed, anger and divisive thinking, seeking to nurture generosity, peace and unity). Nevertheless, all through all thoughts are no thought from the start. There is stillness to be heard at the heart of the greatest noise. A light shines, illuminating both false and true thoughts.

Think about it! Or you don't. Yet Thinking-Non-Thinking It-No-It You-No-You :shock:

There are many ways to approach that which cannot be approached or fled. One must "non-find" this for oneself, but a teacher can be a great help to "non-point" the way.

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: Is Zen pointless without a teacher?

Post by tingdzin » Sun Nov 01, 2015 11:53 am

To the original poster:

It sounds like you already have some knowledge of Zen, so I hope I will not be misleading you in saying that the posts here have brought into focus that there is a real difference between traditional Rinzai Zen, and Soto as represented here by posters from that school; the latter seems to be more comfortable with individual interpretations of Zen and philosophical discourse, for one thing. My earlier response, to the effect that to explore the most profound aspects of Zen one needs a teacher, is based on my experience with Rinzai, and I should have made that qualification.

I don't know about your personal situation, but if you feel acutely the fear of wasting your life (a very useful fear, practically as opposed to philosophically speaking), it might be that Rinzai Zen is a good choice for you -- IF you can find a teacher who can demand (and get) the utmost effort from you, and is more interested in truly training disciples than, say, being a well-known player on the modern Zen scene. Such teachers are not so common.

But, if this is not your cup of o-cha, just continuing seated Zen meditation, as best you can and as much as you can, while reading quality literature and seeking its meaning deeply, will never be a wasted effort.

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Re: Is Zen pointless without a teacher?

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Mon Nov 02, 2015 12:55 am

Thanks, tingdzin :) :good: I'm not sure if there are any Rinzai temples in Portland, but I'll look into it. The two temples I sometimes go to are both Soto.
Jundo cohen, thanks for taking the time to share your insight, but I don't quite follow. Could you be a bit more direct for thick-skulled ducks? :cheers:

For those curious, I didn't get a chance to talk with a teacher yesterday.
I did notice that sitting and doing other things are pretty similar experiences, as far as the barrage of sensory input and thoughts.
Sweeping the walk outside, sometimes more leaves got blown where I was sweeping and sometimes the wind did the sweeping for me. But it was important to take care sweeping anyway.
I feel like I learned a lot, and fortunately next week will be able to talk with a teacher again.

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Re: Is Zen pointless without a teacher?

Post by jundo cohen » Mon Nov 02, 2015 3:09 am

Monlam Tharchin wrote: Jundo cohen, thanks for taking the time to share your insight, but I don't quite follow. Could you be a bit more direct for thick-skulled ducks? :cheers:
Hi Monlam,

No. It is most direct. :rolleye:

When I posted some of this over at Treeleaf, I included this comment ...
Often around here, I try to explain Shikantaza in a very clear way ... Just Sit, No Other Place to Be, No Other Action in that Moment, Nothing to Add or Take Away, let thoughts come and go without grabbing, drop all likes and dislikes in the completeness of Just Sitting ...

... but Master Dogen spoke of the Clarity of Turning Worlds, such that the straightest is not always Straight, and the Clearest not just clear ...

So, a little riffing on Shikantaza, lest we forget just how radical a "method-non-method" of seeking-not-seeking such is ...
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: Is Zen pointless without a teacher?

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Mon Nov 02, 2015 6:05 am

Regardless, something isn't connecting between us :shrug:
Perhaps a reason to save some questions for a face-to-face teacher.

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Re: Is Zen pointless without a teacher?

Post by jundo cohen » Mon Nov 02, 2015 6:22 am

Monlam Tharchin wrote:Regardless, something isn't connecting between us :shrug:
Perhaps a reason to save some questions for a face-to-face teacher.
Yes, for sure. But do not expect to connect with or understand always what they say either! Sometimes the problem is not their face, but your own. Face-to-face is sometimes right in your face.

Old Story ...

POINTER
Ask one, answer ten. Raise one, understand three. Seeing the
rabbit he looses the falcon-he uses the wind to fan the
flame-he doesn't spare his eyebrows.
This I leave aside for the moment. How is it when entering
the tiger's lair? To test I'm citing this old case: look!

CASE
A monk asked Yun Men, "How is it when the tree withers and
the leaves fall?"
Yun Men said, "Body exposed in the golden wind."

COMMENTARY
If you can comprehend here, then you begin to see where Yun
Men helped people. Otherwise, if you still can't, as before
you'll be pointing to a deer and calling it a horse: your eyes are
blind, your ears are deaf. Who arrives at this realm?
Tell me, do you think Yun Men answered the monk's question,
or do you think he was harmonizing with him? If you say
he answered his question, you are wrongly sticking to the zero
point of a scale. If you say he harmonized with him, this has
nothing to do with it. Since it's not this way, ultimately, how
is it? If you can see all the way through, patchrobed monks'
nostrils are not worth a pinch. Otherwise, if you still can't, as
before you'll plunge into the ghost cave.


Blue Cliff Record 27
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: Is Zen pointless without a teacher?

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Mon Nov 02, 2015 7:28 am

I'll be the first to admit I don't get it, hence seeking a teacher and input on the matter.
It's honesty when I say a lot of contradictions or animal references don't mean much to me.
Teachings should be suitable for the audience, and that may be the challenge of the internet.
It's the same with reading Bodhidharma on the page, where I might as well be trying to read the original Chinese.

Thankfully the few times I've talked to a teacher, they gave me input I still use.
I'm sure the forum format complicates this, so I sometimes wonder about coming on DW for this sort of thing.

I'll go to the temple on Sunday and if there is an opportunity for a teacher interview, pass along what I remember.

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Re: Is Zen pointless without a teacher?

Post by Dan74 » Mon Nov 02, 2015 7:39 am

Your honesty will take you a long way, MT! Don't worry about the details, stick with what you know is good!

_/|\_

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Re: Is Zen pointless without a teacher?

Post by jundo cohen » Mon Nov 02, 2015 7:51 am

Monlam Tharchin wrote:I'll be the first to admit I don't get it, hence seeking a teacher and input on the matter.
It's honesty when I say a lot of contradictions or animal references don't mean much to me.
Teachings should be suitable for the audience, and that may be the challenge of the internet.
It's the same with reading Bodhidharma on the page, where I might as well be trying to read the original Chinese.

Thankfully the few times I've talked to a teacher, they gave me input I still use.
I'm sure the forum format complicates this, so I sometimes wonder about coming on DW for this sort of thing.

I'll go to the temple on Sunday and if there is an opportunity for a teacher interview, pass along what I remember.
Well, I will say this as someone who has practiced for 30 years, leading groups both online and in meat space for 10, that it is not so much online or off, but just the particular chemistry of teacher and student, where the student is in her life and practice and the particular practices that resonate or do not, plus the talent or lack thereof of the teacher. It is a bit like studying jazz but not hearing the music or getting the sound. Sometimes there is click and sometimes not.

Fortunately-unfortunately in Zen and much of the Mahayana, because the required ways of thinking (and non-thinking) are so radically different from our usual yes-no black-white ways of think such that up is sometimes down yet all around, well, it can be a bit tricky. Like trying to understand a new language with words not what they seem. Sometimes the simplest guidance is not necessarily the most useful, though sometimes it is and sometimes it is neither useful nor not.

Hang in there. I am sure you will get good advice from your Teacher.

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: Is Zen pointless without a teacher?

Post by Astus » Mon Nov 02, 2015 5:05 pm

Monlam Tharchin,

Here are my comments to Jundo's comments. What do you think?
jundo cohen wrote:One Universal Virtue is to drop (by non-dropping-dropping) all waves of karma, impendiments and thoughts of "true or false" into and as this Ocean, Repent/Atonement as At-One-ment, sitting upright as True Aspect. All thoughts as waves just constantly non-arise and flow.
Thoughts are just thoughts. Don't imagine them something more or less, then they come and go without hindrance. And even if one tries to turn thoughts into something more or less, they come and go without hindrance. That is, they are impermanent no matter what.
jundo cohen wrote:No object of thought and what thought to object to, not two. What "Buddha" can be thought or not thought and is not all thoughts? Sitting as Buddha is precisely Buddhasticly Buddhasting.
All thoughts are Buddha (impermanent no matter what), thus sitting is Buddha-sitting, and "Buddha-sitting" is the Buddha sitting as Buddha.
jundo cohen wrote:Sitting as Buddha is thinking no object. Apart from sitting, there is no mind and no Buddha at all. Apart from Buddha, there is no mind of sitting. Sitting as Buddha is identical to the sitting Buddha. To seek the mind or to seek for sitting is to seek for Buddha. The trick is to seek by not seeking, finding what cannot be found. The Form of Sitting is without form, the appearance of sitting lacks any appearance or in and out. What mind is there to calm? Never mind! In simply sitting, no internal or external to grasp or arise, all is without form or discrimination right in and as all form and discrimination ... nirvana is samsara, no nirvana no samsara from the startless start. The sitting mind disappears and re-emerges, what is there to indicate when all the world is free of directions in the pivot point of sitting? Sitting this, body-mind are none other than the real and true Tathagata.
That is: don't fuss about sitting. There is nothing to make up or discover, as things are already such. Such, that is, cannot be grasped. Cannot be grasped, because there is nothing to grasp. There is nothing to grasp, because they come and go naturally.
jundo cohen wrote:How does one lay down without laying down? Open the Hand of Thought. There was never a thing to pick up from the start, nor a thing in need of letting go.
Letting go is not an act, it is in the recognition of things being such. And whether recognised or not, things are such anyway.
jundo cohen wrote:Dropping all thought of good and evil, attraction and aversion, we do not observe (in our way) where thoughts arise or go, but simply do not grasp them as they come and go non-coming-non-going. False thoughts have no self-nature, and the same for true thoughts. There is no thought. Thought-no-thought. As human beings, we do our best (we have no choice so long as we are living beings in a complex world) to live in a world of thoughts, both true and false, doing our best to be free of the latter and to nurture the former (doing our best to be free of greed, anger and divisive thinking, seeking to nurture generosity, peace and unity). Nevertheless, all through all thoughts are no thought from the start. There is stillness to be heard at the heart of the greatest noise. A light shines, illuminating both false and true thoughts.
Things are such anyway, so we can freely do our best to be the force of compassionate buddhahood.
jundo cohen wrote:Think about it! Or you don't. Yet Thinking-Non-Thinking It-No-It You-No-You
The X-notX formula of inseparable appearance-emptiness. That is, there are thoughts, just don't make a fuss.
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: Is Zen pointless without a teacher?

Post by MalaBeads » Mon Nov 02, 2015 7:09 pm

Astus wrote:Monlam Tharchin,

Here are my comments to Jundo's comments. What do you think?
jundo cohen wrote:One Universal Virtue is to drop (by non-dropping-dropping) all waves of karma, impendiments and thoughts of "true or false" into and as this Ocean, Repent/Atonement as At-One-ment, sitting upright as True Aspect. All thoughts as waves just constantly non-arise and flow.
Thoughts are just thoughts. Don't imagine them something more or less, then they come and go without hindrance. And even if one tries to turn thoughts into something more or less, they come and go without hindrance. That is, they are impermanent no matter what.
jundo cohen wrote:No object of thought and what thought to object to, not two. What "Buddha" can be thought or not thought and is not all thoughts? Sitting as Buddha is precisely Buddhasticly Buddhasting.
All thoughts are Buddha (impermanent no matter what), thus sitting is Buddha-sitting, and "Buddha-sitting" is the Buddha sitting as Buddha.
jundo cohen wrote:Sitting as Buddha is thinking no object. Apart from sitting, there is no mind and no Buddha at all. Apart from Buddha, there is no mind of sitting. Sitting as Buddha is identical to the sitting Buddha. To seek the mind or to seek for sitting is to seek for Buddha. The trick is to seek by not seeking, finding what cannot be found. The Form of Sitting is without form, the appearance of sitting lacks any appearance or in and out. What mind is there to calm? Never mind! In simply sitting, no internal or external to grasp or arise, all is without form or discrimination right in and as all form and discrimination ... nirvana is samsara, no nirvana no samsara from the startless start. The sitting mind disappears and re-emerges, what is there to indicate when all the world is free of directions in the pivot point of sitting? Sitting this, body-mind are none other than the real and true Tathagata.
That is: don't fuss about sitting. There is nothing to make up or discover, as things are already such. Such, that is, cannot be grasped. Cannot be grasped, because there is nothing to grasp. There is nothing to grasp, because they come and go naturally.
jundo cohen wrote:How does one lay down without laying down? Open the Hand of Thought. There was never a thing to pick up from the start, nor a thing in need of letting go.
Letting go is not an act, it is in the recognition of things being such. And whether recognised or not, things are such anyway.
jundo cohen wrote:Dropping all thought of good and evil, attraction and aversion, we do not observe (in our way) where thoughts arise or go, but simply do not grasp them as they come and go non-coming-non-going. False thoughts have no self-nature, and the same for true thoughts. There is no thought. Thought-no-thought. As human beings, we do our best (we have no choice so long as we are living beings in a complex world) to live in a world of thoughts, both true and false, doing our best to be free of the latter and to nurture the former (doing our best to be free of greed, anger and divisive thinking, seeking to nurture generosity, peace and unity). Nevertheless, all through all thoughts are no thought from the start. There is stillness to be heard at the heart of the greatest noise. A light shines, illuminating both false and true thoughts.
Things are such anyway, so we can freely do our best to be the force of compassionate buddhahood.
jundo cohen wrote:Think about it! Or you don't. Yet Thinking-Non-Thinking It-No-It You-No-You
The X-notX formula of inseparable appearance-emptiness. That is, there are thoughts, just don't make a fuss.
Thank you, Astus

You have defnitely shown how and why plain talk is preferable to fancy zen talk.

Thanks again.
I am well aware of my idiocy. I am also very aware that you too are an idiot. Therein lies our mutuality.

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Re: Is Zen pointless without a teacher?

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Mon Nov 02, 2015 7:24 pm

Astus wrote:Monlam Tharchin,

Here are my comments to Jundo's comments. What do you think?
Lucid, thank you.

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Re: Is Zen pointless without a teacher?

Post by jundo cohen » Tue Nov 03, 2015 2:09 am

Astus wrote:
What do you think?
I don't get all your fancy talk, Astus. Could you maybe be clearer? :tongue:

In fact (and factless :quoteunquote: ), quite beautiful beyond measure. Thank you, Astus.

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: Is Zen pointless without a teacher?

Post by jundo cohen » Wed Nov 04, 2015 4:58 am

For folks who find my sometimes tangled-untangled way of describing Shikantaza maybe a bit tricky to get their brain around ...

... let there be added-non-added the pointless point that expressions of Mahayana teachings sometimes must be so. Zen folks must speak out of both sides of the no-sided mouth. Otherwise, to quote Dogen, "when one side is illuminated, the other side is dark." A good example of this mode of expression is a work I have been slowing reading lately, the "Vajrasamadhi-sutra." Although it is highly likely to be an apocryphal text (aren't all our Mahayana sutras in some way, yet True when True as can be) composed in Korea in the 7th Century CE, it is highly valued in corners of the Ch'an world.

https://web.archive.org/web/20110622012 ... 033129.htm

However, the point is not the writer of the text (like ways of expression are found throughout Ch'an/Zen and Mahayana teachings), but the writing style which is so typical of Ch'an discourse. For example, in this section, the writer is pointing to Buddha Nature which holds yet fully transcends all categories, even "sameness" and "difference." The only way to "reach non-reach" such a "place non-place" is by the path of "non-practice practice" and "attaining by non-attaining" which is, of course, right at the heart of Shikantaza beyond and right thru all gain and loss, aversion and attraction, clinging or not clinging, both movement and stillness, etc etc. Again, the point is the manner of expression what is so tricky to grab onto, explicating that which is-yet-is-not-right-thru-is-or-is-not all difference and sameness and transcendence and the question too.

It is a little hard for folks to fathom who are used to the "common sense" human idea that something can only be found by looking for it (rather than by transcending looking vs. not looking), attained by striving (rather than striving and non-striving at once), either yes or no, etc etc.

Because it is a thicket to free the mind of all its usual ways of thinking, teachers as "friends on the way" have been useful through the centuries. As is seen in this thread, sometimes people will resist what they cannot understand as a challenge to common understanding, and need a bucket of water over the head as the bottom drops out. :smile:

As the Buddha is quoted here, "[If one tries to] create a calm, extinct and non-creating mind, it would be a practice that creates something; not the practice of non-creation ... One does not cherish the realization of any characteristic of calm-extinction; nor does one dwell in non-realization. In non-abidance everywhere, lies the non-formation of all defilements. ... This is noncreation and non-practice."
"This Absolute nature is neither one nor different; neither transient nor permanent. It has neither access nor egress and it can neither be created nor destroyed. It abandons all the four perimeters (fullness, void, both-fullness-and-void, and neither-fullness-nor-void). [In this way] the path-ways of words and speech are being abandoned. The unborn nature of the mind is the same. How can it be said that something is being created or extinguished; or that there is abidance or non-abidance?

"If [a person] says that the mind is capable of attainment, abidance, or perception, that means he has not attained anuttarasamyaksambodhi (complete, perfect enlightenment). [This] prajna (wisdom) is for those who are willing to abandon the 'long night' of the mind and its characteristics. Know that the mind is thus and its characteristics are also thus. This is non-creation and non-practice."

Cittaraja Bodhisattva noted, "Lord! If the mind is basically thus, nothing will be produced out of any practice. All practices, [therefore,] lead to nothing [Accordingly,] when one practises, it [ultimately] produces nothing. This non-production does not need to be practised. This is the practice of non-creation."

The Buddha asked, "Good man, you are employing [the practice of] non-creation [with the intention of] realizing the practice of non-creation."

Cittaraja Bodhisattva replied, "Not so. Why? Thusness (suchness) is beyond mind and practice. Both the nature and characteristics [of the mind] are void and calm, there is no [self-identification with] seeing or hearing, gain or loss, word or speech, perception, images, acceptance or rejection. How can there be any clinging or realization? If one clings to this realization, it amounts to disputation and contention [within the mind]. Only in the absence of disputation or contention lies the practice of non-creation.

The Buddha said, "Have you attained anuttarasamyaksambodhi?" [which cannot be attained or not attained]

Cittaraja Bodhisattva responded, "Lord! I am free from any attainment of anuttarasamyaksambodhi. Why is this? The nature of bodhi (awakening) has neither gain nor loss, enlightenment nor [ordinary] consciousness, for it is free from all characteristics of differentiation. Within this non-differentiation is the pure nature [of bodhi]. This nature is free from any extraneous admixture [such as the dualities of creation/extinction, subject/object]. It is free from words and speeches. It neither exists nor does not exist. It is neither aware nor unaware.

"This is also the same for all the dharmas (techniques) that can be practised. Why? Because all dharmas and practices have neither abidance nor abode. This is their Absolute nature. Basically, they are free from any attainment or non-attainment. So how can one attain anuttarasamyaksambodhi?"

The Buddha replied, "So it is, so it is. As you have said, all the activities of the mind are without form and its body (nature of the mind) is calm and non-creating. It is the same with all consciousnesses. Why is this? Know that the eyes and sight are both void and calm [by nature]. [Eye] consciousness [itself] is also void and calm - free from any characteristic of movement or stillness. Internally it is free of the three feelings (pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral). [Thus,] the three feelings are [already from the outset] calm and extinct. So are the hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, mental (sixth consciousness), discriminating (seventh consciousness), and alaya (eighth consciousness). All of them are also unborn.

[Therefore,] the mind is calm and extinct and non-creating. [If one tries to] create a calm, extinct and non-creating mind, it would be a practice that creates something; not the practice of non-creation. ... One does not cherish the realization of any characteristic of calm-extinction; nor does one dwell in non-realization. In non-abidance everywhere, lies the non-formation of all defilements. Thus, the three feelings, the three formations, and the three moral precepts will not arise. All [these] will be calm and extinct, pure and non-abiding. One does not [need to] access samadhi (mental absorption) or persist in dhyana (static mind-directed meditation). This is noncreation and non-practice."

http://huntingtonarchive.osu.edu/resour ... ra.doc.pdf
An amazing maze to right here where one has been all along even as we keep walking forward. Buddha good in the beginning, good in the middle and good at the end, Buddha in each step by step, even as we keep on Practicing the Path inch by inch. Thus, sometimes a teacher with an aerial view of the Amazing Maze-Non-Maze Mandala can be helpful.

Image


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: Is Zen pointless without a teacher?

Post by boda » Wed Nov 04, 2015 8:57 pm

DGA wrote:
boda wrote:"If you want to travel the Way of Buddhas and Zen masters, then expect nothing, seek nothing, and grasp nothing."

~ Dōgen Zenji
Sure. It takes discipline to learn how to do this, and practice. How does one learn and master this discipline? In what context?
In the context of everyday life of course. Not just when you're trying to solve a maze with your Zen master. :tongue:

We can practice not expecting, seeking, and grasping, but no one masters it in the context of everyday life because everyday life requires these abilities.

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Re: Is Zen pointless without a teacher?

Post by DGA » Wed Nov 04, 2015 9:54 pm

boda wrote:
DGA wrote:
boda wrote:"If you want to travel the Way of Buddhas and Zen masters, then expect nothing, seek nothing, and grasp nothing."

~ Dōgen Zenji
Sure. It takes discipline to learn how to do this, and practice. How does one learn and master this discipline? In what context?
In the context of everyday life of course. Not just when you're trying to solve a maze with your Zen master. :tongue:

We can practice not expecting, seeking, and grasping, but no one masters it in the context of everyday life because everyday life requires these abilities.
Everyone is exposed to the context of everyday life, but not everyone is capable of or directed to learn anything from it. It's also possible to go through life expecting, seeking, and grasping--it's not as though everyday life prohibits these behaviors. Nor is it clear that not expecting, not seeking, and not grasping make one more capable at everyday life. By conventional standards, they may well make one a failure. If you spend your time paying attention and letting go, you're not out there "achieving the dream," so to speak.

Taken from another angle: there are people who learn a lot from everyday life and become great successes in it, master it so to speak, but who are clearly not Zen practitioners much less Zen masters. And there are people who survive everyday life and are really terrible at it, and these people are not necessarily Zen practitioners or Zen masters either. I can think of examples from both categories.

If you are saying that everyday life is a sufficient context for the realization of Zen Buddhism, then I think you are on shaky ground. Something else seems necessary to create the kind of environment that leads one onto and through this mode of practice. (hint and spoiler alert: Lotus Sutra, chapter four, summarizes this pedagogy. it's about being tricked into shoveling animal waste.)

I've never walked a maze with my teacher, by the way, so I can't speak to Jundo's idea about mazes.

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Re: Is Zen pointless without a teacher?

Post by Astus » Thu Nov 05, 2015 12:01 am

jundo cohen wrote:It is a little hard for folks to fathom who are used to the "common sense" human idea that something can only be found by looking for it (rather than by transcending looking vs. not looking), attained by striving (rather than striving and non-striving at once), either yes or no, etc etc.
Teachings are meant to be read, studied and understood. Just like any other writings. Buddhism is not an exception. But to say that just because at first Spinoza or Kierkegaard seems difficult, doesn't mean one should suspend thinking and achieve some special state of mind. Zongmi was of the opinion that Chan is the summary of the Indian sutras and treatises, intended specifically for a Chinese audience to make things easier (see: Zongmi on Chan, p 105). However, already if we move on from the Tang era to the Song, once common colloquial expressions become obscure, and of course it is even more mysterious to non-Chinese. While it is a fine literary achievement to be able to reproduce sophisticated ancient East Asian word plays, it is likely more productive to use today's language, that way one can uphold the maxim of pointing directly.
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: Is Zen pointless without a teacher?

Post by boda » Thu Nov 05, 2015 1:34 am

DGA wrote:If you spend your time paying attention and letting go, you're not out there "achieving the dream," so to speak.
The ability to pay attention and let go would help with any endeavor. And to be clear, if you need to 'let go' then you're still grasping.
Taken from another angle: there are people who learn a lot from everyday life and become great successes in it, master it so to speak, but who are clearly not Zen practitioners much less Zen masters. And there are people who survive everyday life and are really terrible at it, and these people are not necessarily Zen practitioners or Zen masters either. I can think of examples from both categories.

I can't imagine how you go about evaluating success or failure at life. Maybe your examples would reveal your value system.
If you are saying that everyday life is a sufficient context for the realization of Zen Buddhism, then I think you are on shaky ground.
What exactly is the "realization of Zen Buddhism"?
I've never walked a maze with my teacher, by the way, so I can't speak to Jundo's idea about mazes.
Maze walking is an age old spiritual tradition. Maze puzzles must be a game of some sort?

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Re: Is Zen pointless without a teacher?

Post by DGA » Thu Nov 05, 2015 1:45 am

I took the liberty of numbering the points you made in order to respond point by point in a way that my old man eyeballs would allow.
boda wrote:
DGA wrote:If you spend your time paying attention and letting go, you're not out there "achieving the dream," so to speak.
1. The ability to pay attention and let go would help with any endeavor. And to be clear, if you need to 'let go' then you're still grasping.
Taken from another angle: there are people who learn a lot from everyday life and become great successes in it, master it so to speak, but who are clearly not Zen practitioners much less Zen masters. And there are people who survive everyday life and are really terrible at it, and these people are not necessarily Zen practitioners or Zen masters either. I can think of examples from both categories.

2. I can't imagine how you go about evaluating success or failure at life. Maybe your examples would reveal your value system.
If you are saying that everyday life is a sufficient context for the realization of Zen Buddhism, then I think you are on shaky ground.
3. What exactly is the "realization of Zen Buddhism"?
I've never walked a maze with my teacher, by the way, so I can't speak to Jundo's idea about mazes.
4. Maze walking is an age old spiritual tradition. Maze puzzles must be a game of some sort?
1. My point is that you don't have to have any kind of skills at all to survive everyday life. Having skills that "help" (to use your word) or hinder are irrelevant, really--you're stuck in it no matter what.

2. My value system? No, the value system of everyday life, conventional life, samsaric life--the context you prescribe for practice.

3. Liberation. Zen is a Buddhist tradition--a way to practice Mahayana Buddhism, a tradition of Mahayana Buddhism. its objectives are the same as any other Mahayana tradition. The realization of the path is liberation. Capisce?

4. Like everyone, I'm aware of maze walking as a spiritual practice. What it has to do with Zen practice specifically, or Buddhism generally... well, as I said before, you'll have to ask Jundo, because anything I would say would be pure speculation.

Overall: you fail to show that simply living an ordinary life is sufficient to practice Zen, as you claim before. You also fail to rebut any of the objections to your position.

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Re: Is Zen pointless without a teacher?

Post by boda » Thu Nov 05, 2015 2:19 am

DGA wrote:1. My point is that you don't have to have any kind of skills at all to survive everyday life. Having skills that "help" (to use your word) or hinder are irrelevant, really--you're stuck in it no matter what.
We require all kinds of skills, both innate and learned, to survive everyday life.

If you believe that you're stuck, and you want to get unstuck, then you have a purpose which requires skills or help of some sort. It's good to have a MEANINGFUL purpose, but it's not essential of course.
2. My value system? No, the value system of everyday life, conventional life, samsaric life--the context you prescribe for practice.
Everyday life could include any value system. You lost me. Maybe your examples would help.
3. Liberation. Zen is a Buddhist tradition--a way to practice Mahayana Buddhism, a tradition of Mahayana Buddhism. its objectives are the same as any other Mahayana tradition. The realization of the path is liberation. Capisce?
Maybe I should rephrase the question. How would liberation be expressed in everyday life?
Overall: you fail to show that simply living an ordinary life is sufficient to practice Zen, as you claim before. You also fail to rebut any of the objections to your position.
I wrote that "we can practice not expecting, seeking, and grasping," in everyday life. People don't ordinarily practice that in their daily lives. Even Zen folk may fail to practice it in their daily lives.

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