Question regarding Otokan Lineage actual practice

Post Reply
User avatar
Bruce
Posts: 32
Joined: Sun Nov 12, 2017 11:43 pm
Location: Ontario, Canada

Question regarding Otokan Lineage actual practice

Post by Bruce » Fri Nov 17, 2017 5:01 am

What would you normally practice in Otokan Lineage? Hua Tou? śamatha-vipaśyanā?I am really interested to know more about it.

Matylda
Posts: 575
Joined: Mon May 14, 2012 3:32 pm

Re: Question regarding Otokan Lineage actual practice

Post by Matylda » Fri Nov 17, 2017 12:42 pm

Bruce wrote:
Fri Nov 17, 2017 5:01 am
What would you normally practice in Otokan Lineage? Hua Tou? śamatha-vipaśyanā?I am really interested to know more about it.
Otokan means very intense koan training, though breathing practice like susokukan - counting exhales is often used as well. But main practice is koan. Modern rinzai zen is Otokan lineage. Hakuin Zenji is best known representative of Otokan and all his successors as well. The only rinzai zen in Japan is just Otokan lineage.

User avatar
bokki
Posts: 100
Joined: Tue Nov 07, 2017 11:45 pm

Re: Question regarding Otokan Lineage actual practice

Post by bokki » Fri Nov 17, 2017 4:13 pm

bruce, i would like to say a few words..
1. otokan is japanese rinzai. if im wrong, probably Meido can say. in rinzai u would probably start with counting breaths, susokan, and continue with shikantaza, just sitting, until your teacher gives u the first koan, usually "mu". for layman this is a matter of months, for monks, it can last a few years. rinzai practice of koans is a very steep one, relying heavily on teacher/student meetings, dokusan, where u r questioned, challenged to answer the koan u have took on. it is a serious practice for dedicated students.
2. bruce, ontario and toronto are full of zen practice canters. rinzai, soto, chan, sanbo kyodan..u r lucky. if u want to practice zen, u r in a good place. i think even guo go visits there regularly.
soon, there will start rohatsu sesshins, retreats commemorating buddhas death. all zen practice centers do them...5 or 7 day retreats. practice a bit, contact ur nearest, or the 1 u like center, and enroll into the rohatsu sesshin. it will b a big entrance for u.

thank you, bruce
Another log on the fire,
10,000 frogs singing in the rain,
burst into flames.
- Linda Anderson
Zen Space Forum

Matylda
Posts: 575
Joined: Mon May 14, 2012 3:32 pm

Re: Question regarding Otokan Lineage actual practice

Post by Matylda » Fri Nov 17, 2017 5:18 pm

bokki wrote:
Fri Nov 17, 2017 4:13 pm
bruce, i would like to say a few words..
1. otokan is japanese rinzai. if im wrong, probably Meido can say. in rinzai u would probably start with counting breaths, susokan, and continue with shikantaza, just sitting, until your teacher gives u the first koan, usually "mu". for layman this is a matter of months, for monks, it can last a few years. rinzai practice of koans is a very steep one, relying heavily on teacher/student meetings, dokusan, where u r questioned, challenged to answer the koan u have took on. it is a serious practice for dedicated students.
2. bruce, ontario and toronto are full of zen practice canters. rinzai, soto, chan, sanbo kyodan..u r lucky. if u want to practice zen, u r in a good place. i think even guo go visits there regularly.
soon, there will start rohatsu sesshins, retreats commemorating buddhas death. all zen practice centers do them...5 or 7 day retreats. practice a bit, contact ur nearest, or the 1 u like center, and enroll into the rohatsu sesshin. it will b a big entrance for u.

thank you, bruce
Sanbokyodan cpuld me more r less classified as otokan as well, since they do koan curriculum on the base of Japanese rinzai system. Though originaly born within soto school. But they hardly do shikan taza of modern soto zen.

User avatar
Meido
Posts: 383
Joined: Mon Mar 21, 2011 2:50 am
Contact:

Re: Question regarding Otokan Lineage actual practice

Post by Meido » Fri Nov 17, 2017 8:21 pm

bokki wrote:
Fri Nov 17, 2017 4:13 pm
in rinzai u would probably start with counting breaths, susokan, and continue with shikantaza, just sitting, until your teacher gives u the first koan, usually "mu". for layman this is a matter of months, for monks, it can last a few years. rinzai practice of koans is a very steep one, relying heavily on teacher/student meetings, dokusan, where u r questioned, challenged to answer the koan u have took on. it is a serious practice for dedicated students.
As Matylda said, koan kufu (practice using koan/wato) is a major method. The first koan taken up can be "Mu," but there are several others commonly used, all in the class of hosshin (Dharmakaya) koans. That is, they are to enter the gate of kensho.

There are a lot of misconceptions about koan practice e.g, that it is a fixed curriculum, that there are standard "answers" that one must present, and so on. Most importantly, popular discussion of the practice can't grasp what the teacher's role is. But without sanzen, mutual investigation done in relationship with the teacher, it is not Rinzai koan practice.

Another thing many people don't understand is that koan practice serves also as a kind of "skeleton" or structure for one's overall practice. That is, within koan practice there are places where pointers to other things are made which one will then take up.

As an example, at some point one investigates the go-i (Five Ranks of Tozan) koans. Through these koan, one begins to really understand what is meant by actualizing or integrating the recognition of kensho, and the rapidly ascending path revealed thereby. The oral instruction given at one point during the go-i koans is to secretly practice the hokkyo zanmai (Jewel Mirror Samadhi) and hen sho ego zanmai (alternating samadhis of hen and sho) for at least 3 years. What does this mean? Well, the experience of what those terms signify is grasped through the koan practice, with the teacher displaying and transmitting the essential points. Then, by undertaking the practice as directed, one can begin to actualize kensho as realization; as my teacher said, "this is where you make it your own." It takes a minimum of three years just to stabilize this in a meaningful way that will not regress.

So, that is an absolutely essential part of Rinzai practice...the crux, so to speak, of post-kensho training; but books talking about koan practice, and discussions online like this, usually have no idea about things like this are carried within the container of so-called "koan training." The focus is always on the koan writings themselves, not on the actual function for practitioners. Of course this is understandable, since one couldn't know without going through it.

RE susokukan, it is indeed common for it to be given as a first method in zazen, since most people lack the ability to hold a koan or wato in samadhi for any period of time. If one cannot hold the koan uninterruptedly, it won't work as a method. It will likely lapse into conceptualization about the koan's meaning, etc. So susokukan is a very useful method for working with the posture, breath, and method to remove obstructions, develop meditative stability, etc.

Of course for some people, susokukan could itself be a sufficient method for their entire lives. Not everyone is suited to koan practice.

RE shikantaza, in my experience we don't use that word in Rinzai practice. But I would say that what is signified by practice of hokkyo zanmai, from the Rinzai standpoint, is not different from a genuine shikantaza practice, meaning shikantaza in its actualized fruition as the oneness of practice and its confirmation, the unity of samadhi/prajna, and so on. It is a point where we could understand what is meant by "practice-less practice", and that zazen is not actually a method for anything.

Aside from all this, cultivation of the breathing used in zazen (tanden soku) is important. The energetic cultivation methods passed down from Hakuin were important in my experience. There are many things. Of course the usual other practices one encounters in Zen e.g. ritual practice, walking, prostrations, work practice, integration of arts and physical culture, etc. can all found in Rinzai training. A lot depends on the experiences and interests of past holders of a particular lineage...there can be a lot of variation. Since Zen in general takes recognition of one's nature as the entrance to, and basis of subsequent, practice, really we can't say there are fixed methods at all. But naturally different teachers and students have different expressions, tools, powers, abilities, etc.

~ 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

User avatar
Bruce
Posts: 32
Joined: Sun Nov 12, 2017 11:43 pm
Location: Ontario, Canada

Re: Question regarding Otokan Lineage actual practice

Post by Bruce » Sat Nov 18, 2017 12:15 am

bokki wrote:
Fri Nov 17, 2017 4:13 pm
bruce, i would like to say a few words..
1. otokan is japanese rinzai. if im wrong, probably Meido can say. in rinzai u would probably start with counting breaths, susokan, and continue with shikantaza, just sitting, until your teacher gives u the first koan, usually "mu". for layman this is a matter of months, for monks, it can last a few years. rinzai practice of koans is a very steep one, relying heavily on teacher/student meetings, dokusan, where u r questioned, challenged to answer the koan u have took on. it is a serious practice for dedicated students.
2. bruce, ontario and toronto are full of zen practice canters. rinzai, soto, chan, sanbo kyodan..u r lucky. if u want to practice zen, u r in a good place. i think even guo go visits there regularly.
soon, there will start rohatsu sesshins, retreats commemorating buddhas death. all zen practice centers do them...5 or 7 day retreats. practice a bit, contact ur nearest, or the 1 u like center, and enroll into the rohatsu sesshin. it will b a big entrance for u.

thank you, bruce
Thank you bokki, I will try to look up someone around the area.

User avatar
Bruce
Posts: 32
Joined: Sun Nov 12, 2017 11:43 pm
Location: Ontario, Canada

Re: Question regarding Otokan Lineage actual practice

Post by Bruce » Sat Nov 18, 2017 12:26 am

Meido wrote:
Fri Nov 17, 2017 8:21 pm
bokki wrote:
Fri Nov 17, 2017 4:13 pm
in rinzai u would probably start with counting breaths, susokan, and continue with shikantaza, just sitting, until your teacher gives u the first koan, usually "mu". for layman this is a matter of months, for monks, it can last a few years. rinzai practice of koans is a very steep one, relying heavily on teacher/student meetings, dokusan, where u r questioned, challenged to answer the koan u have took on. it is a serious practice for dedicated students.
As Matylda said, koan kufu (practice using koan/wato) is a major method. The first koan taken up can be "Mu," but there are several others commonly used, all in the class of hosshin (Dharmakaya) koans. That is, they are to enter the gate of kensho.

There are a lot of misconceptions about koan practice e.g, that it is a fixed curriculum, that there are standard "answers" that one must present, and so on. Most importantly, popular discussion of the practice can't grasp what the teacher's role is. But without sanzen, mutual investigation done in relationship with the teacher, it is not Rinzai koan practice.

Another thing many people don't understand is that koan practice serves also as a kind of "skeleton" or structure for one's overall practice. That is, within koan practice there are places where pointers to other things are made which one will then take up.

As an example, at some point one investigates the go-i (Five Ranks of Tozan) koans. Through these koan, one begins to really understand what is meant by actualizing or integrating the recognition of kensho, and the rapidly ascending path revealed thereby. The oral instruction given at one point during the go-i koans is to secretly practice the hokkyo zanmai (Jewel Mirror Samadhi) and hen sho ego zanmai (alternating samadhis of hen and sho) for at least 3 years. What does this mean? Well, the experience of what those terms signify is grasped through the koan practice, with the teacher displaying and transmitting the essential points. Then, by undertaking the practice as directed, one can begin to actualize kensho as realization; as my teacher said, "this is where you make it your own." It takes a minimum of three years just to stabilize this in a meaningful way that will not regress.

So, that is an absolutely essential part of Rinzai practice...the crux, so to speak, of post-kensho training; but books talking about koan practice, and discussions online like this, usually have no idea about things like this are carried within the container of so-called "koan training." The focus is always on the koan writings themselves, not on the actual function for practitioners. Of course this is understandable, since one couldn't know without going through it.

RE susokukan, it is indeed common for it to be given as a first method in zazen, since most people lack the ability to hold a koan or wato in samadhi for any period of time. If one cannot hold the koan uninterruptedly, it won't work as a method. It will likely lapse into conceptualization about the koan's meaning, etc. So susokukan is a very useful method for working with the posture, breath, and method to remove obstructions, develop meditative stability, etc.

Of course for some people, susokukan could itself be a sufficient method for their entire lives. Not everyone is suited to koan practice.

RE shikantaza, in my experience we don't use that word in Rinzai practice. But I would say that what is signified by practice of hokkyo zanmai, from the Rinzai standpoint, is not different from a genuine shikantaza practice, meaning shikantaza in its actualized fruition as the oneness of practice and its confirmation, the unity of samadhi/prajna, and so on. It is a point where we could understand what is meant by "practice-less practice", and that zazen is not actually a method for anything.

Aside from all this, cultivation of the breathing used in zazen (tanden soku) is important. The energetic cultivation methods passed down from Hakuin were important in my experience. There are many things. Of course the usual other practices one encounters in Zen e.g. ritual practice, walking, prostrations, work practice, integration of arts and physical culture, etc. can all found in Rinzai training. A lot depends on the experiences and interests of past holders of a particular lineage...there can be a lot of variation. Since Zen in general takes recognition of one's nature as the entrance to, and basis of subsequent, practice, really we can't say there are fixed methods at all. But naturally different teachers and students have different expressions, tools, powers, abilities, etc.

~ Meido
Thank you Meido Roshi. This is very helpful. Really interested in the "Jewel Mirror Samadhi"宝鏡三昧 which I have read the text for years but cannot apply in real practice. Do you know any one in Canada who teach this or any good Roshi to recommand in Canada? I am also practicing Nyingmapa's Mahayoga, would it be ok if one practice both methods?

Regards

Bruce

User avatar
Meido
Posts: 383
Joined: Mon Mar 21, 2011 2:50 am
Contact:

Re: Question regarding Otokan Lineage actual practice

Post by Meido » Sat Nov 18, 2017 12:49 am

No problem.

I don't know anyone in Canada personally, though there is a Rinzai group in Vancouver led by a student of the late Sasaki Roshi: http://www.zen.ca

From the Zen side there's no conflict or problem to use practices from other traditions, rightly approached. But I couldn't say if it's ok for you to practice in both traditions; you should talk to your guru about that. Certainly if you are doing Nyingma practice there's nothing lacking, and I have no doubt that if you bring that to fruition you will grasp what is signified by "Jewel Mirror Samadhi" in Zen.

~ Meido
Last edited by Meido on Sat Nov 18, 2017 12:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
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

User avatar
Bruce
Posts: 32
Joined: Sun Nov 12, 2017 11:43 pm
Location: Ontario, Canada

Re: Question regarding Otokan Lineage actual practice

Post by Bruce » Sat Nov 18, 2017 4:34 pm

Meido wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 12:49 am
No problem.

I don't know anyone in Canada personally, though there is a Rinzai group in Vancouver led by a student of the late Sasaki Roshi: http://www.zen.ca

From the Zen side there's no conflict or problem to use practices from other traditions, rightly approached. But I couldn't say if it's ok for you to practice in both traditions; you should talk to your guru about that. Certainly if you are doing Nyingma practice there's nothing lacking, and I have no doubt that if you bring that to fruition you will grasp what is signified by "Jewel Mirror Samadhi" in Zen.

~ Meido
Thank you, Roshi Meido! Actually, my guru always use Zen Koan to help us to pint point some important point in MahaAti practice. Certainly, I should have his permission before I can deeply dive into Zen practice.

Regards

Bruce

User avatar
Meido
Posts: 383
Joined: Mon Mar 21, 2011 2:50 am
Contact:

Re: Question regarding Otokan Lineage actual practice

Post by Meido » Sat Nov 18, 2017 5:15 pm

Excellent.

~ 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

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Heruka85, narhwal90, Temicco, Wayfarer, White Lotus and 15 guests