Rebirth & The Bodhisattva Ideal in Zen Buddhism

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Dharma Flower
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Rebirth & The Bodhisattva Ideal in Zen Buddhism

Post by Dharma Flower » Tue Jun 20, 2017 3:09 am

The Bodhisattva ideal is pivotal to Zen Buddhism, and most Zen traditions emphasize taking a Bodhisattva vow.

Some Zen teachers in the West downplay or deny the doctrine of rebirth, but I don't see how one is able to save all beings without rebirth. How can we vow to save all beings if our life ends with this present life?

It's being reborn over countless lives which allows us to save all beings, as far as I know. I wonder if there are Bodhisattvas walking the earth today who were Zen masters in a past life.

Another thing that's emphasized in most Zen sects today is sudden enlightenment, which seems contradictory to progressing through Bodhisattva stages over many lifetimes.

Sudden enlightenment and the Bodhisattva ideal, however, are not contradictory if sudden enlightenment is followed by gradual cultivation:
Guifeng Zongmi, fifth-generation successor to Shenhui, also softened the edge between sudden and gradual. In his analysis, sudden awakening points to seeing into one's true nature, but is to be followed by a gradual cultivation to attain buddhahood.[2]

This is also the standpoint of the contemporary Sanbo Kyodan, according to whom kensho is at the start of the path to full enlightenment.[35]

This gradual cultivation is also recognized by Dongshan Liangjie, who described the Five Ranks of enlightenment]].[web 3] Other example of depiction of stages on the path are the Ten Bulls, which detail the steps on the Path, The Three Mysterious Gates of Linji, and the Four Ways of Knowing of Hakuin Ekaku.[36] This gradual cultivation is described by Chan Master Sheng Yen as follows:

Ch'an expressions refer to enlightenment as "seeing your self-nature". But even this is not enough. After seeing your self-nature, you need to deepen your experience even further and bring it into maturation. You should have enlightenment experience again and again and support them with continuous practice. Even though Ch'an says that at the time of enlightenment, your outlook is the same as of the Buddha, you are not yet a full Buddha.[37]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subitism

boda
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Re: Rebirth & The Bodhisattva Ideal in Zen Buddhism

Post by boda » Tue Jun 20, 2017 8:33 pm

Dharma Flower wrote:Some Zen teachers in the West downplay or deny the doctrine of rebirth, but I don't see how one is able to save all beings without rebirth. How can we vow to save all beings if our life ends with this present life?
Simple answer is that if there's no rebirth then you won't need to save any sentient beings.

Dharma Flower
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Re: Rebirth & The Bodhisattva Ideal in Zen Buddhism

Post by Dharma Flower » Thu Jun 22, 2017 7:21 am

boda wrote:
Dharma Flower wrote:Some Zen teachers in the West downplay or deny the doctrine of rebirth, but I don't see how one is able to save all beings without rebirth. How can we vow to save all beings if our life ends with this present life?
Simple answer is that if there's no rebirth then you won't need to save any sentient beings.
Isn't saving all sentient beings the purpose behind taking a Bodhisattva vow? I ask this in all seriousness.

boda
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Re: Rebirth & The Bodhisattva Ideal in Zen Buddhism

Post by boda » Thu Jun 22, 2017 6:27 pm

In all seriousness, you would be saving sentient beings from rebirth, so if there's no rebirth you don't need to save any sentient beings.

Matylda
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Re: Rebirth & The Bodhisattva Ideal in Zen Buddhism

Post by Matylda » Thu Jun 22, 2017 9:08 pm

Dharma Flower wrote:The Bodhisattva ideal is pivotal to Zen Buddhism, and most Zen traditions emphasize taking a Bodhisattva vow.

Some Zen teachers in the West downplay or deny the doctrine of rebirth, but I don't see how one is able to save all beings without rebirth. How can we vow to save all beings if our life ends with this present life?

It's being reborn over countless lives which allows us to save all beings, as far as I know. I wonder if there are Bodhisattvas walking the earth today who were Zen masters in a past life.

Another thing that's emphasized in most Zen sects today is sudden enlightenment, which seems contradictory to progressing through Bodhisattva stages over many lifetimes.

Sudden enlightenment and the Bodhisattva ideal, however, are not contradictory if sudden enlightenment is followed by gradual cultivation:
Guifeng Zongmi, fifth-generation successor to Shenhui, also softened the edge between sudden and gradual. In his analysis, sudden awakening points to seeing into one's true nature, but is to be followed by a gradual cultivation to attain buddhahood.[2]

This is also the standpoint of the contemporary Sanbo Kyodan, according to whom kensho is at the start of the path to full enlightenment.[35]

This gradual cultivation is also recognized by Dongshan Liangjie, who described the Five Ranks of enlightenment]].[web 3] Other example of depiction of stages on the path are the Ten Bulls, which detail the steps on the Path, The Three Mysterious Gates of Linji, and the Four Ways of Knowing of Hakuin Ekaku.[36] This gradual cultivation is described by Chan Master Sheng Yen as follows:

Ch'an expressions refer to enlightenment as "seeing your self-nature". But even this is not enough. After seeing your self-nature, you need to deepen your experience even further and bring it into maturation. You should have enlightenment experience again and again and support them with continuous practice. Even though Ch'an says that at the time of enlightenment, your outlook is the same as of the Buddha, you are not yet a full Buddha.[37]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subitism

In zen nothing from mahayana teachings is downplayed, including 6 paramitas, bodhisattva vows etc.
however what is most important is awakening, kensho, satori, buddhahood... therefore there is some sort of urgency, i.e. all might is concentrated on awakening. there is no progressive mahayana practice as usual it should be. thus zazen is most important, urgent and one is encougared to put all effort to this one task... and it does not mean that zen teaching denyes rebirth or bodhisattva path. it is just opposite. But again to make the feeling of urgency real, true master will say, that one has only this one life to complete the task.. not two or three... and on the top of it everyday there is reminder for practitioners in the zendo, that death comes swiftly, so do not waste time... give oneself totally into practice... do not wait.. it is the spirit of zen practice

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