Western Myth of Zen

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Meido
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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Post by Meido » Wed Feb 12, 2014 12:34 pm

Hi Matylda,

Thanks very much for those details. I recognize that priests without inka may often teach dharma if they have the ability to do so. My primary meaning was, as you said, that they generally will not be able to conduct sanzen (i.e. fully use the shitsunai of their teacher's line), and so would not have the responsibility to transmit their teacher's lineage (teidai denpo) and the entire practice "curriculum" to student/s of their own, etc.

But I think it's really important you reminded that there are priests today who are very sincerely and enthusiastically engaging in dharma activity, with the support and coordination of their h.q. temples. Actually, I would expect that those priests might even have more time and freedom to have close contact with folks in the general community than if they were, say, shike responsible for training unsui.

:anjali:

~ Meido
Even though you have attained insight into the True Nature (kensho), there is yet the barrier of differentiation, and there is the One Path of Advanced Practice. If you have not yet even seen into the True Nature, what a lot there is yet to do! - 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
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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Post by Matylda » Wed Feb 12, 2014 1:16 pm

Yes, osho-sans from temples are not responsible for carrying dharma transmission or shiho, which is literary the same term as in soto.. inka is not precisely a document of dharma transmission. Anyway even oshos carry kind of shiho which they receive at their respective honzan, without it they cannot become jushoku-abbot.
Anywway what are they responsible for? Well the temple itself.. if it is not abandond temple in some deserted area, then present jushoku-abbot is responsible to pass the temple to the right person. Does not matter if it is son or not.. anyway still some public temples in Japan require single abbots,, i.e. not married.

So one abbot should pass temple to his student, and then it means he is responsible for his education, send young monk to rinzai uni, and for his training so sends him to proper sodo. And then there is a lineage of this particular priest, and it is a lineage of the temple itself. So in older temples often one can see pics or even panited portrets of the past masteres/priests of the temple.

Availability of shike to the public.. fortunately it is not that bad. Many are. I remeber just Engakuji's kancho, [kancho is a highest priestly rank] Adachi roshi who often could give public talks, and one could meet him just doing shopping. Yoshida kancho of Kenchoji used to be available. I think that many are easy going people, just it is matter of public - is it really interested? I do not think so..

so one story... just previous Kancho of Butsuji, one of the oldest and famous rinzai honzans, went really far, giving up completely the position of kancho shike etc.. Actually he was playmate of my elder brother so in a way it was immidiate info I got from the family. HE QUIT! out of the blue :) pretty much shock for Japanese standards so I was really extremely interested what had happened. My bro just talod me that kancho and shike in one, went to med care school (?!) I was really puzzled. And I was fortunate to see him some years later talking on tv. So he went to med school, and became some sort of health care nurse, or whatever, anyway he worked with many different patients. And I saw him having a lecture with a wide audience of students from med uni. Future docs. I was very moved since he was talking from the depth of his heart and also of his human feeling. And really meant to help sick people in their suffering... it was his message to future docs about real pain and fear etc. and how to arise compassion etc. just he tried to change the view of those young students using his zen and human wisdom.

Later I talked to a friend, well established rinzai career person and he was puzzled by Butsuji kancho as well.. then I told him what I could see on tv, and that he really tries hard to get to people with the strong bodhicitta motivation.. well to be closed in the temple behind the screens and to be shike or even kancho, which is a peak of the monk/priest/teachers career may be counter productive. And ex Butsuji man was in plain kind of samugi, shaved head, no brocades person... no fuss and no anything.. I still cannot forget this appearence. Anyway to make this terribly long story short, some of the shike or even kancho are pretty much characters. But generally the system of temples, education shike etc. is pretty rigid.

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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Post by Meido » Wed Feb 12, 2014 1:35 pm

That story made my day!

~ Meido
Even though you have attained insight into the True Nature (kensho), there is yet the barrier of differentiation, and there is the One Path of Advanced Practice. If you have not yet even seen into the True Nature, what a lot there is yet to do! - 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
Madison, WI Rinzai Zen Community [機山龍源寺] - http://www.madisonrinzaizen.org
The Rinzai Zen Community - http://www.rinzaizen.org

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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Post by HePo » Wed Feb 12, 2014 2:22 pm

Matylda wrote:

so one story... just previous Kancho of Butsuji, one of the oldest and famous rinzai honzans, went really far, giving up completely the position of kancho shike etc.
This would be Sokun Tsushimoto Roshi?

The Japan Times did an article on him some years ago
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2009/0 ... -and-soul/

Sometime last year on ZFI there was a discussion about someone in the Netherlands who claimed to have been authorised to teach Zen. The Japanese priest who - supposedly - had done so was Tsushimoto Roshi. (Tsushimoto denied this!)

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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Post by Matylda » Wed Feb 12, 2014 4:57 pm

HePo wrote: The Japan Times did an article on him some years ago
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2009/0 ... -and-soul/
Wow! thanks.. very nice interview. Just as I said before he is very honest person.

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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Post by SunWuKong » Tue Dec 05, 2017 3:42 am

matthewmartin wrote:
Fri Dec 13, 2013 8:58 pm
- if we had to stick to D Lopez or the original Pali, we wouldn't have many new Buddhists, the former is a virtuosos scholar, but sort of hostile to Buddhism, the original Pali (and Sanscrit and Chinese and Tibetan) is hostile to people who don't read those languages or have patience for the ancient, barely readable style.
Attending his lectures at Georgetown I did not get that impression. And reading Lopez history of Buddhism was one of the most illuminating events for me along the path. Addittionally, the western origin of "Logical Buddhism" is simply brilliant. I know a lot of native Buddhists, Asians, and their orientation is very much not in line with the Myth of Western Science, not that they reject it, but in that they don't worship it
"Cast off body and mind" (身心脱落 shēn xīn tuō luò)

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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Post by passel » Tue Dec 05, 2017 4:18 am

Matylda wrote:
Wed Feb 12, 2014 4:57 pm
HePo wrote: The Japan Times did an article on him some years ago
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2009/0 ... -and-soul/
Wow! thanks.. very nice interview. Just as I said before he is very honest person.
I really enjoyed that. Here’s this, if you haven’t seen it:
https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2013 ... ast-call-3

And a movie about the same monk, much more problematic:
"I have made a heap of all that I have met"- Svetonious

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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Post by Lindama » Tue Dec 05, 2017 6:56 am

well.... this is a sicky wicket. I would go so far as to say it (chanting, etc) is meditation.... and I'd go farther and say noticing and awareness is a good start to cooking, tea, prostrations, etc ... but it goes beyond ... to no movement in the mind. how do you know how to add the salt with no movement in the mind? I don't, yet the salt is perfectly done. I'd be lying if I said I was in the present. :stirthepot:

likewise, the idea that ritual is some sort of rational meaningless religous habitual routine just ain't so, even in zen .... whether it be full out Tibetan ritual or simple zen ritual it depends on what we bring to it. OM AH HUNG

lots of misunderstanding leads to lots of myth. I see it in the SFO long body. I see it ppl who can't wait to finish cutting string beans to get back to the real accomplishments in the zendo. There are stories in zen about illiterate gardeners chosen over scholars to lead the monastary. Tea women as sages....

I'm tickled to see what I wrote in 2013... who was she? I don't disagree, yet it's ok nowadays to simply say "hello"

I'd say the western so-called myth of zen has it's roots in consumerism.

in a wider view... we need to re-examine what myth is. Throughout history, myth has served to inform and awaken ppl, served to guide thru example and parable ... Greek Mythology all the way to Joseph Campbell. Nobody takes this as truth in the outer plane, yet it can inform and inspire the inner plane. Myth was never meant in all of history to represent falsehood, which is the way the word is being used in this thread. I'd certainly agree that the examples and mis-understandings are still the case... but the word "myth" is at the end of the day, not accurate.
Astus wrote:
Sat Dec 14, 2013 2:52 pm
seeker242 wrote:Personally, I would not go so far as to say that as chanting, prostrations, gardening, tea ceremony, Oryoki, etc, etc is all itself, meditation.
They are not considered meditation, unless the argument is that "everything is meditation as long as you are aware of what you do", i.e. meditation is "being in the present". They are elements carried on in various communities without much consideration. But of course there is no particular reason as for why wear robes mimicking monks, or why eat like they do (did) in Japan, or why a Zen garden is better than an English garden. However, if those "cultural trappings" were removed completely, Zen would look no different from the Insight Meditation Society or simple meditation groups outside the Buddhist frame. Thus Zen is defined not by what is actually taught but by its outward appearance. Zen is therefore a style.
Not last night,
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melon flowers bloomed.
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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Post by bokki » Tue Dec 05, 2017 9:35 am

Lindama:
I would go so far as to say it (chanting, etc) is meditation.... and I'd go farther and say noticing and awareness is a good start to cooking, tea, prostrations, etc ..
yes, yes..
but:
... but it goes beyond ... to no movement in the mind. how do you know how to add the salt with no movement in the mind? I don't, yet the salt is perfectly done. I'd be lying if I said I was in the present. :stirthepot:
thank u thank u thank u
the tenzo did it again
a zen dish for everyones wish!
a live 1! catch it, catch it, if u can..
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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Post by Wayfarer » Tue Dec 05, 2017 10:18 am

Astus wrote:
Fri Dec 13, 2013 6:52 pm
Buddhism is about meditation. It is not a religion, it only looks like one, but that is a mistake. That's why Buddhists in the West are called 'practitioners' because unless you meditate it is not even Buddhism.
Hmmm. I have learned, it’s religious in the sense you ‘do it religiously’. I mean, it’s said of someone who practises something with dedication and unswerving commitment ‘he or she practices religiously’. It might be calisthenics or piano or schoolwork - but it’s that attitude of dedication that’s important. Then from that flows the various smaller commitments that are required to maintain that commitment - like, if you want to get up to practice, then you can’t stay up late. And so on. So, ‘religious’ in that sense, which is the important sense.

But, there is a religious sense in Zen, although it’s not based on belief, but on constancy of practice and attitude. It’s not practicing to attain something, go to heaven, or even to be a Buddhist. But it imparts a kind of steadiness of aim and sense of unconditional commitment which is religious, even so.

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

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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Post by LastLegend » Tue Dec 05, 2017 12:00 pm

Zen is a concise teaching of Mahayana, Buddhadharma, or Mahaprajnaparamita. For example, if mind is not found anywhere, how can there be any suffering, cause of suffering, or liberation be found anywhere? Initially Buddha pointed out cause of suffering, then Buddha talked about no cause of suffering. That's in Lankavatara Sutra.
NAMO AMITABHA
NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (VIETNAMESE)
NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)

Bodhidharma [my translation]
―I come to the East to transmit this clear knowing mind without constructing any dharma―

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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Post by Matylda » Tue Dec 05, 2017 1:57 pm

passel wrote:
Tue Dec 05, 2017 4:18 am
Matylda wrote:
Wed Feb 12, 2014 4:57 pm
HePo wrote: The Japan Times did an article on him some years ago
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2009/0 ... -and-soul/
Wow! thanks.. very nice interview. Just as I said before he is very honest person.
I really enjoyed that. Here’s this, if you haven’t seen it:
https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2013 ... ast-call-3

And a movie about the same monk, much more problematic:
The movie is removed from YT

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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Post by Meido » Tue Dec 05, 2017 5:48 pm

RE ritual as meditation: what is missing from most discussion (and much teaching) in the West about both ritual and meditation is an understanding of how the body and breath are engaged.

The primary Western myth of Zen is that Zen practice and awakening are psychological affairs.

~ Meido
Even though you have attained insight into the True Nature (kensho), there is yet the barrier of differentiation, and there is the One Path of Advanced Practice. If you have not yet even seen into the True Nature, what a lot there is yet to do! - 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
Madison, WI Rinzai Zen Community [機山龍源寺] - http://www.madisonrinzaizen.org
The Rinzai Zen Community - http://www.rinzaizen.org

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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Post by Malcolm » Tue Dec 05, 2017 5:49 pm

Meido wrote:
Tue Dec 05, 2017 5:48 pm
The primary Western myth of Zen is that Zen practice and awakening are psychological affairs.
This is the primary western myth about Dharma in general.
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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Post by Meido » Tue Dec 05, 2017 5:51 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Tue Dec 05, 2017 5:49 pm
This is the primary western myth about Dharma in general.
You beat me to it: I was about to edit my post to say that.

~ Meido
Even though you have attained insight into the True Nature (kensho), there is yet the barrier of differentiation, and there is the One Path of Advanced Practice. If you have not yet even seen into the True Nature, what a lot there is yet to do! - 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
Madison, WI Rinzai Zen Community [機山龍源寺] - http://www.madisonrinzaizen.org
The Rinzai Zen Community - http://www.rinzaizen.org

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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Post by passel » Tue Dec 05, 2017 6:17 pm

Matylda wrote:
Tue Dec 05, 2017 1:57 pm
passel wrote:
Tue Dec 05, 2017 4:18 am
Matylda wrote:
Wed Feb 12, 2014 4:57 pm


Wow! thanks.. very nice interview. Just as I said before he is very honest person.
I really enjoyed that. Here’s this, if you haven’t seen it:
https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2013 ... ast-call-3

And a movie about the same monk, much more problematic:
The movie is removed from YT
Must have been stolen. May pop up again. The proper title is “The Departures”, trailers available, and the New Yorker article also linked is excellent.
"I have made a heap of all that I have met"- Svetonious

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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Post by boda » Tue Dec 05, 2017 6:37 pm

Meido wrote:
Tue Dec 05, 2017 5:48 pm
The primary Western myth of Zen is that Zen practice and awakening are psychological affairs.
No religion is necessarily a psychological affair because its function isn’t psychological change, assuming the affair referred to is about change.

Contemplative practice can positively effect psychology, which explains why such practices are frequently adopted within a secular framework.

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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Post by Astus » Tue Dec 05, 2017 6:55 pm

Meido wrote:
Tue Dec 05, 2017 5:48 pm
The primary Western myth of Zen is that Zen practice and awakening are psychological affairs.
Aside from Hakuin's incorporation of breath techniques, do you know of any other Buddhist school in East Asia that did something similar?
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: Western Myth of Zen

Post by Meido » Tue Dec 05, 2017 7:06 pm

Astus wrote:
Tue Dec 05, 2017 6:55 pm
Aside from Hakuin's incorporation of breath techniques, do you know of any other Buddhist school in East Asia that did something similar?
The general approach to Zen practice as a yogic or wholly psycho-physical undertaking rather than something purely psychological and intellectual doesn't originate with Hakuin, as I have said before in other threads. The records of early (Kamakura) Zen in Japan clearly show that this emphasis existed strongly in the teachings of the late Song Chan masters (e.g. Bukko) who arrived in Japan.

I can't speak for other E. Asian Buddhist schools, except to say that my experience training with a modern Chan teacher revealed the same understanding.

~ Meido
Even though you have attained insight into the True Nature (kensho), there is yet the barrier of differentiation, and there is the One Path of Advanced Practice. If you have not yet even seen into the True Nature, what a lot there is yet to do! - 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
Madison, WI Rinzai Zen Community [機山龍源寺] - http://www.madisonrinzaizen.org
The Rinzai Zen Community - http://www.rinzaizen.org

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Re: Western Myth of Zen

Post by Malcolm » Tue Dec 05, 2017 7:26 pm

Meido wrote:
Tue Dec 05, 2017 7:06 pm
Astus wrote:
Tue Dec 05, 2017 6:55 pm
Aside from Hakuin's incorporation of breath techniques, do you know of any other Buddhist school in East Asia that did something similar?
The general approach to Zen practice as a yogic or wholly psycho-physical undertaking rather than something purely psychological and intellectual doesn't originate with Hakuin, as I have said before in other threads. The records of early (Kamakura) Zen in Japan clearly show that this emphasis existed strongly in the teachings of the late Song Chan masters (e.g. Bukko) who arrived in Japan.

I can't speak for other E. Asian Buddhist schools, except to say that my experience training with a modern Chan teacher revealed the same understanding.

~ Meido
The arrival of Bodhidharma to China corresponds with an increased incorporation of anatomical and medical understandings of the relation of the human body to practice in India. Depending on when you think he arrived, he arrived either slightly before or slightly after the fall of the Gupta empire. It must be the case that he carried these kinds of instructions with him, though whether they were passed on in any significant way is anybody's guess.

In any case, sūtras like the Suvarnaprabhaṣa, the Nandagarbhavikranti, etc., exhibit a sophisticated knowledge of Ayurveda, and so on. As we know, these trends reached their apogee in the 10th century when Indian Vajrayāna grounded its entire practice in a specific understanding of the physiology and anatomy of the body. However, we also see an approach to this understanding in the so-called lower tantras which date to the 7th century.

In general, Mahayāna yogis began to incorporate these kinds of understandings into their practice, which in my opinion was first promulgated in the form of upadeśas to close disciples. Perhaps these Indian techniques never gained the popularity they experienced in India and the Himalayas because China already had a sophisticated medical system with an elaborate and functional anatomy and physiology. In any case, after the fall of the Gupta, In India we see the evolution of body-based systems of practice and trend away from the intellectual edifices of Madhyamaka and Yogacara, a trend away from intellectual analysis towards yogic experience. It is obvious to me, that this fusion of yogic praxis with local understandings of anatomy and physiology becomes a more prominent feature of Mahāyana practice as time moves on. For example, in Tibet, the vast intellectual edifice of Dzogchen Upadesha teachings (as opposed to the mind series and space series) serves merely to articulate the technical principles of the body-based experience which is crucial in Dzogchen Upadesha teachings, and without which there is no Dzogchen Upadesha practice to speak of. My point is that there is no reason to assume that Chan and Zen practice are not similarly influenced by body-based yogic experience, and that there has been very little translated yet into English that really speaks to such things — since academic scholars are generally more interested in intellectual analysis, even when they dress it up in poetry.
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—Treasury of the Supreme Vehicle, Longchenpa.

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