Intellectualization

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jundo cohen
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Re: Intellectualization

Post by jundo cohen » Mon Apr 11, 2016 7:32 pm

Astus wrote:
jundo cohen wrote:You are trying to have a discussion of Zen leaving the Zen out of the Zen.
What is Zen? (so we don't omit it)
Now you got it!

Nine bows, 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: Intellectualization

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Mon Apr 11, 2016 7:52 pm

That being said, we need ordinary thinking to function, fix the sink, make a society of laws, practice medicine etc. Of course, Sometimes we even try to express Buddhism with it. Often by doing so, we make Buddhism worse (like the whole "Bilss in Zen" fiasco which drags us in the wrong direction).
So, it's ok to say that thread "makes Buddhism worse", but not ok to qualify that? How is that not proliferation? It's also endlessly amusing that you feel both qualified and compelled to over and over again come into these threads, tell people they are making Buddhism worse, yet can't muster any real alternatives to anything they are saying. Those are some pretty strong terms for someone who is advocating an approach of nonproliferation:)
If you try to have a discussion about "intellectualization in Zen" ... then omit or discount as trickery or distraction all the word games that have that "stink of Zen" ... well, you are seeing things from one ignorant side only., You are totally missing the place of "intellectualization in Zen". Otherwise, it is like having a philosophical discussion of humor while leaving out being funny. a discussion of the the solar system while omitting the planets or sun. You are trying to have a discussion of Zen leaving the Zen out of the Zen.
Actually, I'm fine with that kind of discussion, non-discussion, or whatever.. some of the best Dharma teachings I've been to were near non-sequitur in their content, just like a loud pop I felt in my bones in response to all my expectations and crap I'd dreamed up. That's not what you're doing though, you're just repeating Zen slogans to avoid conversation.

Again we come to an interesting question though, which might actually be the heart of the thread: you seem to be saying that Zen is about certain specific, prescriptive uses of words and language while at the same time affirming that Zen is beyond the petty need of language. Is there some reason that Zen cannot be found in intellectual" words? Maybe more accurately, what is it exactly in this prescriptive form of "Zen talk" that makes it more suited than normal language?
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Re: Intellectualization

Post by jundo cohen » Mon Apr 11, 2016 8:48 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Again we come to an interesting question though, which might actually be the heart of the thread: you seem to be saying that Zen is about certain specific, prescriptive uses of words and language while at the same time affirming that Zen is beyond the petty need of language. Is there some reason that Zen cannot be found in intellectual" words? Maybe more accurately, what is it exactly in this prescriptive form of "Zen talk" that makes it more suited than normal language?
Hi Johnny,

Truth can be found in intellectual words, but not as intellectual words as well as no intellectual words and as intellectual words, much as found in Johnny not as Johnny and what Johnny and as Johnny. Truth is expressed precisely in intellectual words (as well as precisely everything else in reality, including silly words, swords and silence), but intellectual words do a terrible job at expressing truth (merely middle fingers pointing to the moon). At worse they mislead, as in the whole "What is Bliss in Zen" fiasco.

That is my answer. You are barking up the wrong tree, and it ain't the Cypress Tree in the Garden.

Your thinking these are "slogans" or my ducking the questions or pulling the wool over your ideas may perhaps indicate that you are not even sure what the questions are that are being asked. My responses are straight (though seemingly crooked to ordinary ways of talking) from a Zenny take ...

At risk of repeating myself (or rather, the late great Daido Loori) ...
Thinking is linear and sequential, a separation from the reality that is the subject of thought, and thus is an abstraction rather than the reality itself. Not thinking is suppressive. It cuts away thoughts the moment they arise, making the mind into a great impenetrable mountain — dead, unresponsive. Non-thinking has no such edges. It is the boundless mind of samadhi that neither holds on to, nor lets go of, thoughts. It is the manifestation of the buddha mind in which the dualism of self and other, thinking and not thinking dissolve. This is the dharma of thusness that is the right thought of all the buddhas in the ten directions.
Your wanting a "straight answer" is, to me, like asking for a "straight answer" regarding the place of bobsleds in Zen. What should I say?

Let me try one more time: We sometimes try to explain stuff, but ultimately it misleads and misdescribes, especially if "linear and sequential" thinking is all one relies on. Thus, the "Bliss in Zen" fiasco. One tries to get closer, ends up farther away. One has to also turn the words on their head, or throw them back into somebody's face (as so many of those old Koan's do, as this easy one) ...

The Emperor said, “Who is facing me?”

Bodhidharma replied, “I don’t know.” The Emperor did not understand.


To that question, I answer:

Who are you?

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: Intellectualization

Post by Grigoris » Mon Apr 11, 2016 8:57 pm

jundo cohen wrote:Truth can be found in intellectual words, but not as intellectual words as well as no intellectual words and as intellectual words, much as found in Johnny not as Johnny and what Johnny and as Johnny.
Bet you didn't see that one coming JD! :tongue:
"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."
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Re: Intellectualization

Post by SeeLion » Mon Apr 11, 2016 9:10 pm

conebeckham wrote:That's a very bare instance of "naming"--it's definitely prapanca, but I don't believe that's what people find fault with.
Well, the problem is the confusion ... In reality, the picture of an orange is not an orange, it's a picture.

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Re: Intellectualization

Post by conebeckham » Mon Apr 11, 2016 9:23 pm

SeeLion wrote:
conebeckham wrote:That's a very bare instance of "naming"--it's definitely prapanca, but I don't believe that's what people find fault with.
Well, the problem is the confusion ... In reality, the picture of an orange is not an orange, it's a picture.
Actually, in reality you only have the mental image of the picture of an orange. Your mental image is neither a picture nor an orange.

:namaste:
དམ་པའི་དོན་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ཆེ་བ་དང་།
རྟོག་གེའི་ཡུལ་མིན་བླ་མའི་བྱིན་རླབས་དང་།
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དེ་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ལ་ནི་ལོ་རྟོག་སེལ།།


"Absolute Truth is not an object of analytical discourse or great discriminating wisdom,
It is realized through the blessing grace of the Guru and fortunate Karmic potential.
Like this, mistaken ideas of discriminating wisdom are clarified."
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Re: Intellectualization

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Mon Apr 11, 2016 9:46 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:
jundo cohen wrote:Truth can be found in intellectual words, but not as intellectual words as well as no intellectual words and as intellectual words, much as found in Johnny not as Johnny and what Johnny and as Johnny.
Bet you didn't see that one coming JD! :tongue:

Yes, it came completely out of left field, I am utterly surprised that he decided to evade the questions in the OP once again, and call it Zen.
Jundo Cohen wrote:Your wanting a "straight answer" is, to me, like asking for a "straight answer" regarding the place of bobsleds in Zen. What should I say
You could start by actually trying to answer the OP questions in good faith.
At worse they mislead, as in the whole "What is Bliss in Zen" fiasco.
So again here we go, you are willing to call us out as "misleading" but either unwilling or incapable of saying how we are misled, or how we are misleading anyone by asking questions.

That is not because of "Zen style" or different traditions, it just lack of respect on your part, or desire to not get involved. If it were the latter though, I'd assume you'd just keep quiet altogether instead of periodically coming in to tell people they are wrong, then ducking when asked to explain yourself.
Let me try one more time: We sometimes try to explain stuff, but ultimately it misleads and misdescribes, especially if "linear and sequential" thinking is all one relies on. Thus, the "Bliss in Zen" fiasco. One tries to get closer, ends up farther away. One has to also turn the words on their head, or throw them back into somebody's face (as so many of those old Koan's do, as this easy one) ...
Everyone has already acknowledged the limits of words and conceptual thought, we all get that. Nonetheless, it's a discussion forum, so...)((&* or get off the pot, IMO.
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Re: Intellectualization

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Tue Apr 12, 2016 2:42 am

Ok, on the advice of some folks I respect, I'm calling it a day. I'll follow the thread, because I think it could go somewhere interesting. In the interest of calming things down though, I'm done personally.
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Re: Intellectualization

Post by jundo cohen » Tue Apr 12, 2016 5:30 am

Dear All,

I wish to apologize to everyone if the method (and non-method) to my madness is not apparent to all here. Let me try to explain in another way.

If a fellow comes to me and seeks to explain Zen with some imitative Zen-koan like non-sequitor, but there does not seem to be any real understanding behind it, I bring them back to earth, ordinary thinking and point them to the cushion and books on basic Buddhist doctrine. One cannot understanding the "word Jazz" of the great Zen masters of the past, such as the old Koans or Shobogenzo, without deeply appreciating and penetrating the Mahayana 101 basics, in my opinion. To do so misses the mark.

On the other hand, if one sees a group of highly educated people extremely familiar with Mahayana 101 basics seeking to have discussions of "X in Zen", they may miss the mark in other ways. It is not that they don't understand Mahayana teachings, and it is not that they may not be deeply realized individuals in their own traditions (I believe there are very many around these forums, although when I see some people getting upset in discussions, well, how profound can understanding of Buddhist teachings be if one shows tension in advocating them? Please stay calm and let's talk through these things even when our language seems to differ. I still don't believe that discussion should occur as it does in this part of the Forum however, where Zen folks should have a little space to talk there Zenny stuff.) Rather, the problem is that this is a discussion of ZEN! One can go to the other extreme of debating "Bliss in Zen" on a very intellectual level, much as if debating "wetness in the ocean" from books, instead of jumping in the water and tasting the salt. Then maybe the Zen fellow like me and comes along tossing a bucket over their heads ... soaking those books. In this case, it is especially appropriate because that bucket (with the bottom dropped out? :tongue: ) is one perfectly appropriate response to a discussion of "Intellectualization in Zen". or "Wetness in the Ocean".

If this were original to me, folks here would have something to complain about. I am not the most talented at bucket tossing, but I do my best. However, for 1000 years Zen folks have been writing page after page about overly intellectual discussions about Zen. Such a discussion is appropriate, but also so is the bucket. Really, some of what you are asking makes no more sense than the questions, "What is the role of bobsleds in Zen." Perhaps the classic "What is X of Zen" question is the famous "Why did Bodhidharma come from the West" Koan ...
A monastic asked Mazu, "Aside from the four propositions and hundred negations1, please tell me the meaning of Bodhidharma's coming from India."2
Mazu said, "I'm tired today. I cannot answer your question.3 Go and ask Zhichang."
The monastic asked the same question of Zhichang,5 and Zhichang said, "Why don't you ask the Master?"6
The monastic said, "The Master has sent me to you."7
Zhichang said, "I have a headache today. I cannot answer your question.8 Go and ask Senior Hai."9
The monastic asked the same question of Hai,10 and Hai said, "Having gotten to this point, I don't understand it."11
The monastic went back to Mazu and told him the story.12
Mazu said, "Zhichang's head is white; Hai's head is black.

The Commentary [by Daido Loori]

This monastic is sad indeed. His questions only succeeded in driving these adepts nostril-deep in muck and water, in an effort to help him, and in the end he still didn't get it. Be that as it may, do you get it? Mazu was tired and sent him to Zhichang. Zhichang tried to send him back to Mazu. When that failed, he said he had a headache and sent him to Baizhang, who in turn said he didn't understand it. These adepts were accomplished Dharma Masters; why would they avoid such a challenge? Is it just that it is inexpressible given the context of the monastic's question, or did they indeed address the matter? If you can see clearly into this you will understand it from the outset. The whole scenario was a redundant disaster up to and including Mazu's "Zhichang's head is white; Hai's head is black." And yet, at the same time, all of it went beyond the four propositions and hundred negations. ...

The four propositions and hundred negations are an aspect of Indian philosophy and analytical logic. The four propositions are the basic terms of: one, many, being, and nonbeing; or phrasing it another way, existence, nonexistence, both existence and nonexistence, and neither existence nor nonexistence. Each one of these conditions has four particular negations, and that makes a total of sixteen permutations; then, by introducing past, present and future, the number of conditions goes up to forty-eight; then these are doubled as having already arisen, or being about to arise, and that brings us to ninety-six; then we add the simple negation of the original four, and we have a hundred negations. In view of this, what the monastic's question asks is how do you directly transcend words and ideas; how do you express the truth of Buddhism? That puts a very clear restriction on how the question can be answered. ...

The commentary to the koan in this case says, If you can see clearly into this you will understand it from the outset. The whole scenario was a redundant disaster... How was it redundant, and what made it a disaster? The redundancy lies in the fact that the same truth was expressed again and again yet the monastic never got it. ...up to and including Mazu's "Zhichang's head is white; Hai's head is black." And yet, at the same time, it went beyond the four propositions and hundred negations. How did it go beyond? How did it avoid falling into one side or the other? Why is it even necessary to abandon the four propositions and hundred negations to see the reality of Bodhidharma's coming from India? ...

His questions only succeeded in driving these adepts nostril-deep in muck and water, in an effort to help him, and in the end he didn't get it. The expression "muck and water" has to do with being involved in delusion, discrimination, and mundane affairs. The adepts' answers put them in the world of differentiation, but all to no avail - the monastic never got it. So, were these Dharma masters avoiding the challenge, or was it just that it could not be expressed given the limitations the monastic put on the whole thing? He said they had to go beyond the four propositions and hundred negations. How can you answer without falling into some kind of philosophical explanation? Did Zhichang's headache explain it? Did Baizhang's not understanding it explain it? Did Mazu's "one head is white, the other's head is black" explain it? What are they talking about? What does this say about the truth of your life? That is what this koan is about. It is not some esoteric question that had to do with Buddhism in seventh century China. It has to do with right now - your life. It has to do with the questions of what is truth, what is reality, what is God, what is life, what is death, who am I?

http://www.abuddhistlibrary.com/Buddhis ... ma's__.htm
Who are you?

Adding to the problem of trying to talk about anything Zen "straight" without falling into the perils of mental wheel spinning philosophy is that, ordinary language represents ordinary thinking which is very much based on delusion. Silence is also no answer. The only option is to bend language (or try) into strange shapes to convey what cannot be conveyed with normal grammatical structures and simple "yes/no" answers. Victor Hori alludes to this difficulty merely in the use of subject-predicate forms in his comment on Vimalakirti's silence (297-299 here, but the whole article is a modern classic) ...

https://books.google.co.jp/books?id=Qs7 ... ic&f=false

So, with all that in mind, let me do my best to address at least some the questions of the OP without resorting to "Who are you?" again:
DGA wrote:
I'd like to know:

1. ... I say this because it didn't read like a tangled mess to me, apart from some well-meaning but repetitive and off-topic reminders that it's a bad idea to seek after bliss experiences in meditation practice (yes, we get it).
In that thread, it was very nicely discussed and settled that some people meant "bliss" in a more ordinary "feeling blissful" meaning, and some meant "bliss" in a meaning that was more transcendent beyond our ordinary human meanings of joy, happiness and jollies. It was also discussed that one should not chase after bliss experiences. Lovely.

But in a conversation about Zen, what was being left out of the discussion? Such matters as that the very act of raising the question is misleading. The very word "bliss" is defining and thus limiting. It is a discussion of "wetness of the ocean" that neither captures the "wetness" nor the "ocean." The whole question in that sense, while very interesting (I learned a lot from the smart people here) is simultaneously an affront and abomination. It has to be. As Daido says, it is an absolute disaster. Bringing in interpretations from other lovely Buddhist Traditions and saying "this is what Zen is getting out" is only adding to the problem, like the French chef cooking mom's soup.
2. what "intellectualization" even means. is it prapanca? If so, then it would have no place in any Buddhist practice; it's not something that would have value in some but not others; and therefore, it seems to be something other than prapanca. But if it isn't prapanca, then what is meant by it?
I believe I address this quite clearly in the opening portion of this post, together with the commentary by Daido. NO PROBLEM TO THINK ABOUT THIS STUFF. THEN THROW YOUR WORDS AWAY, PERHAPS AFTER TWISTING THEM UP AND PLAYING WITH THEM A LITTLE TO GET THE JUICE OUT. You cannot discussion "intellectualization in Zen" without also be willing to burn the books and upset the finely set dinner table.
3. what is it about the discussion on Bliss that might impede realization? It seemed to me that the discussion was oriented around practice and largely constructive. What did I miss in there that was so counterproductive?
It was only half the picture at best. The "can't discuss this" and "let's play with this and squeeze the juice out" is missing.

LET ME PUT THIS DIRECTLY: I may not be the most talented Zen guy around, and I have no poetic genius. But do you realize how silly it looks to come into a Zen forum and say to Zen people "you don't make sense, your words give me a headache or don't look authentic to me, let me put right and straighten out your Zen through logical discussion based on philosophical or other Buddhist traditions disregarding what Zen folks have to say about their Zen"?

The Emperor said, “What is intellectualization in Zen?

Bodhidharma replied, “I don’t know/who are you?.” The Emperor (perhaps a Dharma Wheel member) did not understand.

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: Intellectualization

Post by Grigoris » Tue Apr 12, 2016 7:21 am

Just so we are clear on the issue...
jundo cohen wrote:Truth can be found in intellectual words, but not as intellectual words as well as no intellectual words and as intellectual words, much as found in Johnny not as Johnny and what Johnny and as Johnny. Truth is expressed precisely in intellectual words (as well as precisely everything else in reality, including silly words, swords and silence), but intellectual words do a terrible job at expressing truth (merely middle fingers pointing to the moon). At worse they mislead, as in the whole "What is Bliss in Zen" fiasco.

That is my answer. You are barking up the wrong tree, and it ain't the Cypress Tree in the Garden.

Your thinking these are "slogans" or my ducking the questions or pulling the wool over your ideas may perhaps indicate that you are not even sure what the questions are that are being asked. My responses are straight (though seemingly crooked to ordinary ways of talking) from a Zenny take ...
^^^This is uninformed gibberish^^^
Thinking is linear and sequential, a separation from the reality that is the subject of thought, and thus is an abstraction rather than the reality itself. Not thinking is suppressive. It cuts away thoughts the moment they arise, making the mind into a great impenetrable mountain — dead, unresponsive. Non-thinking has no such edges. It is the boundless mind of samadhi that neither holds on to, nor lets go of, thoughts. It is the manifestation of the buddha mind in which the dualism of self and other, thinking and not thinking dissolve. This is the dharma of thusness that is the right thought of all the buddhas in the ten directions.
^^^This is a straightforward and informed answer by somebody that actually knows what they are talking about.^^^

Quite clearly there is a place for intelligent discussion in Zen. Some are capable of it. Some clearly lack the prerequisite knowledge and capacity to engage in it.

It is also obvious that if a teacher is willing to help to help a student acquire an intellectual understanding of Zen (as well as an experiential realistion), that is allowable and possible. Of course if somebody wants to keep people in the dark in order to bolster their tenuous position, then...

PS The Buddha taught Right View and part of Right View is a correct understanding. Part of understanding require intellectual analysis. So the problem for me is not one of intellecutalising per se (in which case, as somebody pointed out earlier, animals would be realised Zen masters since they do not engage in discursive thought) but of OVER intellectualising. Of focusing on scholarship instead of realisation.
"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

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Re: Intellectualization

Post by muni » Tue Apr 12, 2016 7:55 am

Sorry, as I jump here in between.

Isn't it so that by intellectualizing not the words are a problem, not phenomena are the problem, but the clinging mind? Not-intellectualizing is turning the gaze within, to see how this is and discover silent peace/nothing to grasp. Talk can be then as well, thoughts can be used as tool but we(awareness) are not used by them.

Not sure this makes sense.
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"Relax." nirvana-samsara do not stray from spaciousness.

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Re: Intellectualization

Post by Grigoris » Tue Apr 12, 2016 8:33 am

muni wrote:Sorry, as I jump here in between.

Isn't it so that by intellectualizing not the words are a problem, not phenomena are the problem, but the clinging mind? Not-intellectualizing is turning the gaze within, to see how this is and discover silent peace/nothing to grasp. Talk can be then as well, thoughts can be used as tool but we(awareness) are not used by them.

Not sure this makes sense.
Introspection can very easily lead to chasing after thoughts and feelings, intellectual analysis, etc... Which is why Right View is so important. Without a correct understanding one can sit for 100 years engaging in daydreams, fantasies or discursive thought and come no closer to realisation.

Now, of course, the NATURE of thoughts and feelings is emptiness, but without an initial understanding of this truth can realisation arise?

What do you say Jundo?
"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

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Re: Intellectualization

Post by muni » Tue Apr 12, 2016 8:54 am

Introspection can very easily lead to chasing after thoughts and feelings, intellectual analysis, etc...
This is by misunderstanding, is grasping, therefore there is guidance necessary.

ps The mirrorlike example should also be used in Zen I heard. The reflections are not existing on themselves and the mirror is never chasing them.
“ Only the development of compassion and understanding for others can bring us the tranquility and happiness we all seek. ”
H H Dalai Lama

"Relax." nirvana-samsara do not stray from spaciousness.

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Re: Intellectualization

Post by SeeLion » Tue Apr 12, 2016 10:00 am

Actually, in reality you only have the mental image of the picture of an orange. Your mental image is neither a picture nor an orange.
See ? That's the problem ...

I have a mental picture, and everybody else taking part in the discussion has a different mental picture.

And that's not the problem, the problem is we all think we are debating the actual orange. Or to put it differently, intellectualization is a problem when it loses contact with reality.

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Re: Intellectualization

Post by White Lotus » Tue Apr 12, 2016 12:10 pm

what is intellect?

intellect is understanding.

there are six basic elements of ordinary mind:

perception.
attitude.
understanding. (intellect).
knowledge.
thought and feeling.

intellect or understanding is not as important as perception and attitude; though it feeds both of these.

a buddha is able to see, but most people are lost in their thoughts, clear your mind of thoughts and then you can perceive ''this'' ordinary/universal mind.

intellect/understanding is unable to see the nameless, wordless and conceptless. however there is a role for intellect to point towards the nameless.

when seen in not been seen theres not much to it.

our ability to see the ordinary world and our attitude determine how we live. with a good attitude hell becomes heaven. with a bad attitude heaven becomes hell.

there is an important role for intellect, we should not be afraid of trying to understand things, all the zen masters tried to. however the nameless cannot be understood. ''this'' is it. this is not it. (the nameless is every name, every concept).

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

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Re: Intellectualization

Post by DGA » Tue Apr 12, 2016 1:18 pm

Let's review. This thread emerged when Jundo said something (one particular person--remember, we all speak for ourselves here only) that seemed confusing. So I asked a question about it. To the best of my knowledge, that question has never been answered at all. Instead, we get protestations like this:
jundo cohen wrote:LET ME PUT THIS DIRECTLY: I may not be the most talented Zen guy around, and I have no poetic genius. But do you realize how silly it looks to come into a Zen forum and say to Zen people "you don't make sense, your words give me a headache or don't look authentic to me, let me put right and straighten out your Zen through logical discussion based on philosophical or other Buddhist traditions disregarding what Zen folks have to say about their Zen"?
Speaking for myself: I never said that Zen people don't make sense. I said that one person who says a lot of things about Zen said something that seemed contradictory, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt and asked for clarification.

Jundo, I don't think anyone here is interested in straightening out your beliefs. Believe whatever you want about yourself, about Zen, about the man in the moon--that's your business, and no one cares. That's not at issue. What is at issue? This is a public forum; whatever you say, just like whatever I may say or what anyone else may say, is fair game for questioning, rebuttal, and exchange.

You seem to assume that whenever anyone asks a probing question of you, or challenges any of your claims, that your interlocutor is somehow attacking Zen altogether, or doesn't understand the profundity of the particular patois you speak in. I don't see much evidence for this assumption. Why? Well, go back to the Bliss thread. Remember what happened there? It started with a claim you made ("there ain't no bliss in Zen practice" in sum), which was rebutted by some other Zen practitioners, Meido and Matylda, who pointed out that your claim was just wrong on the face of it. Were they attacking Zen by pointing out that you were mistaken? No, they were doing you and the board a favor by sharing some knowledge. And notice how they did it: straightforward, factual, reasonable public discourse. No problem; everyone gets corrected sometimes, and that's nothing to be ashamed of. A few days pass, and then you come back with the peculiar claim that the Bliss thread was a twisted discussion that somehow occludes realization (hence this thread). No: The bliss thread pointed out that you are not always right, in public, and you freaked out--in public.

If users here at DharmaWheel were really out to get the Zen people, (pearls clutched! in the Zen forum no less!), it would stand to reason that well-informed members on Zen such as Astus, Meido, and Matylda among others would also stir the pot as much as you do? But they don't. Instead, while they sometimes provoke extensive discussion, there's none of the drama that seems to follow you like a cloud. This is because no one here is out to get Zen, no one is out to get anyone. There is no evidence for your assumption that asking Jundo Cohen a question, or even criticizing his typical responses to questions, is somehow pissing on Zen or trashing the tradition of the great Dogen Zenji. When you say that your interlocutors are ignoring what Zen people have to say about Zen, you miss an important point: Zen people have said things about Zen that you yourself have disregarded, and not only at DharmaWheel. As I said before, to disagree with Jundo is not to dismiss or disrespect Zen and its teachers. It's just coffee table talk among equals. Pass the biscotti, would you please?

I have a genuine and longstanding interest in Zen practice, as do many of your interlocutors here. We're trying to have a conversation with you in good faith. When I said I was after reason and accountability, I meant it, but I didn't just mean you personally. I think we will all do well to take responsibility for the things we say as best we can, because how else are we supposed to learn anything from life, from anything?

:group:

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Re: Intellectualization

Post by muni » Tue Apr 12, 2016 2:04 pm

most people are lost in their thoughts, clear your mind of thoughts and then you can perceive ''this'' ordinary/universal mind.

intellect/understanding is unable to see the nameless, wordless and conceptless. however there is a role for intellect to point towards the nameless.
“ Only the development of compassion and understanding for others can bring us the tranquility and happiness we all seek. ”
H H Dalai Lama

"Relax." nirvana-samsara do not stray from spaciousness.

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Post by jundo cohen » Tue Apr 12, 2016 2:15 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:
muni wrote:Sorry, as I jump here in between.

Isn't it so that by intellectualizing not the words are a problem, not phenomena are the problem, but the clinging mind? Not-intellectualizing is turning the gaze within, to see how this is and discover silent peace/nothing to grasp. Talk can be then as well, thoughts can be used as tool but we(awareness) are not used by them.

Not sure this makes sense.
Introspection can very easily lead to chasing after thoughts and feelings, intellectual analysis, etc... Which is why Right View is so important. Without a correct understanding one can sit for 100 years engaging in daydreams, fantasies or discursive thought and come no closer to realisation.

Now, of course, the NATURE of thoughts and feelings is emptiness, but without an initial understanding of this truth can realisation arise?

What do you say Jundo?
Hi SD,

I believe that you are both perfectly right, yet I would like to append a little comment if I may. It may help explain why sometimes it seems like we are talking past each other.

Yes, "intellectualizing" is not the problem, just the clinging mind. When one discovers silent peace (or "bliss") and nothing to grasp, talk can then be as well.

However, what would that talk sound like then? Zen teaching is filled with the insight that words and sentence structure and image to express ideas after they are processed through enlightenment will not sound or be structured or look necessarily like they did before in ordinary language representing pre-enlightenment ordinary (but likely deluded) thinking. Furthermore, the use of ordinary language, sentence structure and images may obfuscate the insight, while the seemingly mysterious or strange language will actually be closer to what the communicator is trying to impart.

For example, if I am trying to convey something very concrete, like how to fix a sink faucet, then it may not be necessary for me to change my language much to convey the information DESPITE my now enlightened insight that the sink does not quiet exist as I though it did, and that the pesky "drip drip" is not quite what I thought it was. Still, the instructions such as ...

... insert washer into cap, attach to end of faucet, tighten clockwise with wrench ...

... need not change despite insight into the emptiness of the drippy sink.

However, in Zen insight, the same cannot be true of attempts to express many aspects of Buddhist doctrine, for to say them "straight" now misleads. Also, the picture discovered in enlightenment that seemingly opposites can be both true AND both false AND neither AND mutually identincal AND AND AND NO ANDS ABOUT IT in a Flower Garland Wonderland of interintimateintrarelationships all at once makes a single, simple answer horribly misleading. When Bodhidharma was asked his name by the Emperor, he could have answered just "Bodhidharma". Or he could have answered "Emperor." Or he could have answered "Buddha." Or he could have answered "Tree in the Garden". Or he could have answered "I Don't Know" (meaning he is content in life's ignornance)". Or he could have answered "I Don't Know" (meaning a super-knowledge transcending ordinary name and form) ... or he could have answered ... or he could have answered ... etc. etc. Which was correct? YES!

(My naive, clumsy and stupid way is to talk of "knowing not knowing" and "muni not muni" and such and Flower Garland Wonderland of interintimateintrarelationships Terribly inadequate, but I ain't no master of words).

Thus, the Zen Master of old would say seek to expressthe meaning of "Zen" (often the meaning of "Bodhidharma's Coming from the West") as "go away" or "the Tree in the garden" or as Dogen here:
The Great Master Xideng ... addressed the assembly, saying, “A person is up a tree above a thousand foot precipice. His mouth bites the tree branch; his feet don’t stand on the tree; his hands don’t hang on a branch. All of a sudden, a person beneath the tree asks him, ‘What is the intention of the ancestral master’s coming from the west?’

... “A person is up a tree above a thousand foot precipiece”: we should quietly investigate these words. What is the “person”? If it is not a column, we should not call it a post. Though it be the face of a buddha and the face of an ancestor breaking into a smile, we should not be mistaken about the meeting of self and other. This place where “a person is up a tree” is not the entire earth, not “a hundred foot pole”; it is “a thousand foot precipice.” Even if he drops off, he is within “a thousand foot precipice.” There is a time of dropping, a time of climbing. Where he says, “A person is up a tree above a thousand foot precipice,” we should realize that this is saying there is a time of climbing. Consequently, ascent is a thousand feet, descent is a thousand feet; left is a thousand feet, right is a thousand feet; here is a thousand feet, there is a thousand feet. “A person” is a thousand feet; “up a tree” is a thousand feet. So far, a thousand feet should be like this. Now, what I ask is, “what size is a thousand feet?’ It is the size of “the old mirror”; it is the size of “the brazier”; it is the size of “the seamless pagoda.”

... “His mouth bites the tree branch.” What is the “mouth”? Even though we do not know the whole mouth, the whole vastness of the mouth, we will know the location of the mouth by starting from “the tree branch” and “searching the branches and plucking at the leaves” for a while. By grasping the branch for a while, the mouth was made. Therefore, the whole mouth is the branch; the whole branch is the mouth. It is the mouth throughout the body; throughout the mouth is the body. The tree stands on the tree; therefore, it says, “his feet don’t stand on the tree,” as if his feet themselves stand on his feet. The branch hangs on the branch; therefore, it says, “his hands don’t hang on a branch,” as if his hands themselves hang on his hands. Nevertheless, his feet still “step forward and step back”; his hands still make a fist and open a fist. We and others sometimes think he is “hanging in space.” However, can “hanging in space” compare with “biting the tree branch”

... Therefore, we should realize that all the buddhas and ancestors who answer [the question of] “the intention of coming from the west” have been answering it as they encounter the moment of “up a tree, his mouth biting the tree branch”; all the buddhas and ancestors who ask about “the intention of coming from the west” have answered it as they encounter the moment of “up a tree, his mouth biting the tree branch.”
https://web.stanford.edu/group/scbs/szt ... ation.html
From such a perspective, to ask and answer a question about Buddhist doctrine in a straight and ordinary way is an abomination, a perversion. It is the crooked that is in fact straight, the straight that is actually crooked. (Thus even to ask a question such as "Is there bliss in Zen" or "silent peace" might need to be answered yes and no simultaneously, something transcending yes/no/bliss ... and possibly even asking the questions is the cause of delusion and terminally misleading).

Zen intellectualization is not, and often just cannot be, like ordinary ways of discussing and explaining fixing a faucet.

Now, SD said ...
Right View is so important. Without a correct understanding one can sit for 100 years engaging in daydreams, fantasies or discursive thought and come no closer to realisation.
I so much agree. One aspect, however, is that the Zen Way (I don't think there is only one. by the way) to express this "Right View" and realization may be a little "multi-faceted and non-faceted", ie, simple but not so simple. Again Dogen (Sanjûshichihon bodai bunpō):
“Right view as a branch of the path” is the inside of the eyes containing the body. At the same time, even prior to the body we must have the
eye that is prior to the body. Though the view has been grandly realized in the past, it is realized now as the real universe and is experienced immediately. In sum, those who do not put the body into the eyes are not Buddhist patriarchs.

"The branch of Right Thought" is the coming forth of all the Buddhas in the ten quarters when we cultivate this mode of thinking. As a result, the coming forth of the ten quarters and the coming forth of the Buddhas is what the time when we cultivate this mode of thinking refers to. When we cultivate this mode of thinking, we are beyond self and transcend other. Even so, at the very moment that we are completely involved in thinking about the Matter, we have directed our course towards Varanasi.20 The place where this mode of thinking exists is Varanasi. The Old Buddha Yakusan once said, “What I was thinking about was based on not deliberately thinking about any particular thing.” An old monk says, “I am thinking the concrete state of not thinking.” “How can the state of not thinking be thought?” “It is different from thinking.” This is right consideration, right thinking. To break a zafu is right thinking
Multi-faceted, non-faceted, facets in facets and non in non ... thinking non thinking.

Gassho, J
Last edited by jundo cohen on Tue Apr 12, 2016 3:12 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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: Intellectualization

Post by jundo cohen » Tue Apr 12, 2016 2:42 pm

DGA wrote:Let's review. This thread emerged when Jundo said something (one particular person--remember, we all speak for ourselves here only) that seemed confusing. So I asked a question about it. To the best of my knowledge, that question has never been answered at all.


Hi DGA.

Gee, all I have been doing for all the posts here (including asking "Who Are You" as my Bodhidharma "I don't know") is trying to answer, while explaining why a "straight" answer may be horribly inadequate or terminal, and trying to clarify why and how old dead Zen folks (from Dogen to Daido Loori) handled such questions besides me.
in the moon--that's your business, and no one cares. That's not at issue. What is at issue? This is a public forum; whatever you say, just like whatever I may say or what anyone else may say, is fair game for questioning, rebuttal, and exchange.


I agree, and we have places in the Forum for that. But it would be wrong to charge into the Nichiren forum and talk over them, no? They need a place to talk their in-house Nichiren beliefs without me or you going there to tell them what they actually mean and setting them straight. It is the Nichiren Forum, not the "overtalk the Nichiren folks and correct Nichiren Forum".

If I did go there, you know what I would do? ASK A RESPECTFUL QUESTION, YIELD TO THEIR BELIEFS (EVEN IF I DISAGREED), LEARN THEIR PERSPECTIVES, THANK THEM FOR TEACHING ME THEIR WAYS and then if I had a reason to debate or question, perhaps go over to an area like "OPEN DHARMA FORUM" and CHALLENGE, COMPARE, DEBATE (respectfully ... I would probably still avoid terms like " uninformed gibberish"), EVEN CRITICIZE (softly and diplomatically) MANO-O-MANO (maintaining friendship and comraderie) if I wish. The NIchiren folks deserves their Nichiren space to hangout with the Nichiren folks and talk Nichiren in Nichirenese.

You want to challenge me? Have at it. I feel I can handle the best of ya. Let's go! :guns: :smile: Just do it in an area that is described as:
Open Dharma
A forum for comparing and contrasting different Mahayana and Vajrayana teachings, including controversial ones, for the sake of deeper understanding. This is the place to discuss 'hot topics' such as rebirth, karma, and differences between schools - but always within the Terms of Service and the guidelines for Right Speech.
Instead what you are doing is drowning Zen teachings in some beautiful, but not-Zen at all, teachings and expressions, and Zen folks like Dharmagoat and me get stamped down. Here, in "Zen", I am happy to talk to Meido about Zen (respectfully agreeing to disagree sometimes), but I would not charge into the Rinzai Section and tell him why I think he is a old shavepate :tongue: and Dogen thought his Ancestors were full of gas etc.

Instead of discussing Zen here, how about we take it outside to Open Forum? Then, let's talk, debate, challenge anything! (Respectfully) no holds barred (within the TOS and Right Speech)

Gassho, Jundo
Last edited by jundo cohen on Tue Apr 12, 2016 3:05 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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: Intellectualization

Post by Malcolm » Tue Apr 12, 2016 2:48 pm

Way too much meta-discussion going on here...
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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