The Benefits of Zen Training

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Dharma Flower
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The Benefits of Zen Training

Post by Dharma Flower » Sat May 27, 2017 9:15 am

For the last year, I've been wanting to take up Zen training, though I haven't yet visited a Zen center. I am looking for a Zen center where the Dharma teachings are given in English, while still maintaining traditional Buddhist teachings like karma and rebirth.

What are the benefits of Zen training for one's daily life, in terms of how it's changed your behavior and your outlook on life? I appreciate your help. :thanks:

Dharma Flower
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Re: The Benefits of Zen Training

Post by Dharma Flower » Sat May 27, 2017 12:29 pm

If I don't find the right Zen center for me, then I won't be disappointed. I've always been more interested in Pure Land practices from a Zen perspective than in Zen Buddhism itself.

I really appreciate the recommendations for books and articles that I got from this thread, since I've been reading them and integrating them into my practice and understanding:
https://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=69&t=24489

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Kaccāni
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Re: The Benefits of Zen Training

Post by Kaccāni » Sat May 27, 2017 2:58 pm

Dharma Flower wrote:If I don't find the right Zen center for me,
Zen centers usually don't care much about making a great job out of being right for you. Either go there, or stay being a want-to-goer. Either is fine.

Best
Kc
Shush! I'm doing nose-picking practice!

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Meido
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Re: The Benefits of Zen Training

Post by Meido » Sat May 27, 2017 5:51 pm

Dharma Flower wrote:For the last year, I've been wanting to take up Zen training, though I haven't yet visited a Zen center. I am looking for a Zen center where the Dharma teachings are given in English, while still maintaining traditional Buddhist teachings like karma and rebirth.
This isn't really what you asked for, but my usual advice is to find and follow the teacher with whom one feels affinity, rather than seek out a particular style, lineage, or type of practice.
Dharma Flower wrote:What are the benefits of Zen training for one's daily life, in terms of how it's changed your behavior and your outlook on life?
In my teens and college years I suffered from crippling depression and night panic attacks. This all disappeared suddenly after beginning to practice.

Additionally, I believe I have gradually become less of an asshole.

~ 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: The Benefits of Zen Training

Post by Dharma Flower » Sat May 27, 2017 6:09 pm

I watched several videos online of a local Zen priest who had converted to Buddhism, who seemed either drunk or hung over in each video. When asked questions at the end of his talks, he would also answer them somewhat belligerently, especially if it was a topic he didn't like, like rebirth.

I then looked up who his teacher was, and his teacher, who came to the U.S. from Japan, was a well-known alcoholic who had affairs with his students. There have been other well-known Zen teachers in the West who violated the five precepts as well.

Is there a way to separate the message from the messenger? I ask these questions because I am trying to find the right teacher, and I want to know what's considered normal in American Zen, which is why I am not naming names. I appreciate your help. :namaste:

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Re: The Benefits of Zen Training

Post by Dharma Flower » Sat May 27, 2017 6:15 pm

Meido wrote: In my teens and college years I suffered from crippling depression and night panic attacks. This all disappeared suddenly after beginning to practice.

Additionally, I believe I have gradually become less of an asshole.
Thank you. I appreciate you sharing your story. Of all the Zen masters I've read, they taught meditation to help others fulfill the Bodhisattva vows, rather than simply meditating simply for the sake of meditation itself. It's good to see it's made a difference in your life.

Mod note: Edit. I am looking for a Zen center that roots itself in traditional Buddhist teachings. May you be happy and well. :namaste:
Last edited by Ayu on Sat May 27, 2017 6:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: It was me editing.

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Meido
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Re: The Benefits of Zen Training

Post by Meido » Sat May 27, 2017 7:02 pm

Dharma Flower wrote:Is there a way to separate the message from the messenger? I ask these questions because I am trying to find the right teacher, and I want to know what's considered normal in American Zen, which is why I am not naming names.
No need to separate anything. One should search for a teacher carefully and patiently.

"Carefully" means to contact and visit any (many) teachers that interest you, check out their writings and talks, attend retreats with them, and so on. Obviously this is something easier to do now than at any time in history.

"Patiently" means to take one's time - a few years - to examine a teacher before committing. Of course during this time one may still receive instruction and practice basic things, so there is nothing lost by not rushing.
Dharma Flower wrote: I am looking for a Zen center that roots itself in traditional Buddhist teachings.
This would be the majority of them.

Which is not to say that you'll always hear much talk of 4NT, 8 fold path, paramitas, etc. at some places. Zen has its own approach which does not negate these things, but does not necessarily rely on them. Largely depends on the teacher's and lineage's style. For example, if you go to a Rinzai place, entering through the body is the crucial point in the beginning; sutra study is considered less a necessary foundation than a method to confirm and seal one's understanding later.

Make a list of places that interest you and contact them directly with your questions regarding details of their paths. Then, start visiting.

~ 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

Dharma Flower
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Re: The Benefits of Zen Training

Post by Dharma Flower » Sat May 27, 2017 7:17 pm

Meido wrote:For example, if you go to a Rinzai place, entering through the body is the crucial point in the beginning; sutra study is considered less a necessary foundation than a method to confirm and seal one's understanding later.
I like that. Thank you. :namaste:

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Re: The Benefits of Zen Training

Post by Miroku » Sat May 27, 2017 7:22 pm

Meido wrote:
Dharma Flower wrote:Is there a way to separate the message from the messenger? I ask these questions because I am trying to find the right teacher, and I want to know what's considered normal in American Zen, which is why I am not naming names.
No need to separate anything. One should search for a teacher carefully and patiently.

"Carefully" means to contact and visit any (many) teachers that interest you, check out their writings and talks, attend retreats with them, and so on. Obviously this is something easier to do now than at any time in history.

"Patiently" means to take one's time - a few years - to examine a teacher before committing. Of course during this time one may still receive instruction and practice basic things, so there is nothing lost by not rushing.
Dharma Flower wrote: I am looking for a Zen center that roots itself in traditional Buddhist teachings.
This would be the majority of them.

Which is not to say that you'll always hear much talk of 4NT, 8 fold path, paramitas, etc. at some places. Zen has its own approach which does not negate these things, but does not necessarily rely on them. Largely depends on the teacher's and lineage's style. For example, if you go to a Rinzai place, entering through the body is the crucial point in the beginning; sutra study is considered less a necessary foundation than a method to confirm and seal one's understanding later.

Make a list of places that interest you and contact them directly with your questions regarding details of their paths. Then, start visiting.

~ Meido
Great advice! :good:
Child, if you are not hypocritical and out of control, that is conduct.
~ Padampa Sangye

You say such clever things to people, but you do not apply them to yourself.
The faults within you are the ones to be exposed.
~ Padampa Sangye

Dharma Flower
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Re: The Benefits of Zen Training

Post by Dharma Flower » Sat May 27, 2017 9:03 pm

This video is on the benefits of Zen practice, which is the same as any Buddhist practice, which is to help us overcome our sense of separateness, so that we may be kinder and more compassionate to others:
https://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f ... 15#p426215

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Re: The Benefits of Zen Training

Post by Dharma Flower » Sun May 28, 2017 2:20 am

Until I find the right Zen teacher, is it possible to have a manual for doing at-home daily Zen practice, with the morning and evening chanting from a Zen temple or monastery, such as the Bodhisattva Vows and the Heart Sutra? I appreciate your help. :thanks:

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Re: The Benefits of Zen Training

Post by Dharma Flower » Sun May 28, 2017 3:11 am

I purchased this book online today:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/291 ... ed-to-life

I may not be interested in leaving my current Jodo Shinshu temple, or adding another Buddhist center to my schedule, since my family would not like me adding that to my schedule. Maybe the best thing is if I incorporate Zen chanting into my daily home practice.

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Re: The Benefits of Zen Training

Post by Dharma Flower » Mon May 29, 2017 7:23 am

I've thought about attending meditation sessions at the local Vietnamese Zen temple. The Dharma talks are not in English, but the priest speaks English and seems friendly. Maybe he could answer my questions about practice, if I got to know him.

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Re: The Benefits of Zen Training

Post by Dharma Flower » Sat Jun 03, 2017 12:26 am

A common misconception reduces Zen practice to silent, seated meditation.

Chanting sutras is Zen practice. Bowing to Buddha statues is Zen practice.

Carrying water is Zen practice. Chopping wood is Zen practice. Washing pots is Zen practice.

Anything which humbles the ego-self to let the Buddha-self shine through is Zen practice.

Even in Soto Zen, Zen practice is one's entire life, in every possible activity. Any activity, when done mindfully.

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Re: The Benefits of Zen Training

Post by Dharma Flower » Sun Jun 04, 2017 7:29 am

What if a person is more interested in Zen liturgy and ritual than silent, seated meditation? Will that person be looked down on by hardcore Zennists? I appreciate your help. :thanks:

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Re: The Benefits of Zen Training

Post by Dharma Flower » Tue Jun 06, 2017 9:54 pm

This what Zen means to me, realizing the aspect of Suchness in every activity of one's life:
Shenxiu was highly educated and studied the Buddhist scriptures assiduously. He re-interpreted the scriptures as metaphors of “skilful means” (Sanskrit: upāya; fangbian 方便) for “contemplation of the mind," (kan xin 看心) advocating the attainment of Buddhahood in all daily activities, here and now. Every act was seen as religious practice. For example, he saw simple activities, like taking a bath, as a religious act. He taught that soap used to clean away dirt “is actually the ability of discrimination by which one can ferret out the sources of evil within oneself.” Cleaning the mouth with toothpicks is “nothing less than the Truth by which one puts an end to false speech.” Overt religious activities such as burning of incense were seen as “the unconditioned Dharma, which ‘perfumes’ the tainted and evil karma of ignorance and cause it to disappear.” [14]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yuquan_Shenxiu#Teachings

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Re: The Benefits of Zen Training

Post by Dharma Flower » Thu Jun 08, 2017 1:40 pm

Historically, Zen masters would give lay people practices to take home with them, that were much simpler than what they would expect of fellow monks. It's only in the last century or so that it's become vogue for lay people to take on full blown Zen training.

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