Zen Practice

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LoveFromColorado
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Zen Practice

Post by LoveFromColorado » Wed Jun 05, 2019 6:12 pm

Hi all, I am continuing some preliminary readings on Zen. In particular, I am reading Alan Watts' The Way of Zen. I come from several years of serious Tibetan Buddhist studies via books and a couple of different masters. My Tibetan studies were primarily in Dzogchen.

The parallels between Dzogchen and Zen are apparent to me, but Zen "feels" much more natural in my opinion. This is not to slight Dzogchen as I still find good insight in Dzogchen practice but Zen seems simpler and more straightforward to me and aligns with my natural view of life since I was a child.

That said, I am curious as to what Zen "practice" typically looks like. The concept of "practice" feels almost forced - in other words, trying to grasp by "doing". Thus, I am curious if anyone has any input as to what practice typically looks like and perhaps resources to start with to approach this subject.

To provide a simple example, meditation (to me) seems like something one should do naturally and not in a regular forced manner unless that too would be natural. Instead, it seems to simply "be" in a non-dual manner would be "practice" although it is certainly hard to use words to describe it.

Thanks for the help :)

Sentient Light
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Re: Zen Practice

Post by Sentient Light » Wed Jun 05, 2019 6:54 pm

It should be noted that Alan Watts is not a zen practitioner, he was an entertainer, and he colored things in a way to be entertaining. He is not a reliable source on zen, and it might be better to say he is simply an entertainer that has been greatly influenced by eastern thought.

Meido Moore's book The Rinzai Zen Way is an excellent introduction to zen thought and practice.
:buddha1: Nam mô A di đà Phật :buddha1:
:bow: Nam mô Quan Thế Âm Bồ tát :bow:
:bow: Nam mô Đại Thế Chi Bồ Tát :bow:

:buddha1: Nam mô Bổn sư Thích ca mâu ni Phật :buddha1:
:bow: Nam mô Di lặc Bồ tát :bow:
:bow: Nam mô Địa tạng vương Bồ tát :bow:

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Astus
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Re: Zen Practice

Post by Astus » Wed Jun 05, 2019 7:54 pm

Basically there are two types of Zen practices: kanhua/kanna 話頭 and mozhao/mokusho 默照. For a short summary see: In the Spirit of Chan. On kanhua practice see: What is Ganhwa Seon?; and on the mozhao practice: Heart of Zen. Also, as a counter-balance to oversimplification, you might want to read: Chan Practice and Faith.
But there are many variations on them, so Zen practice can actually mean quite a few things.
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"

boda
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Re: Zen Practice

Post by boda » Wed Jun 05, 2019 8:40 pm

Yeah, the understanding you express is not surprising after having read Alan Watts.

Like Sentient Light, I also recommend The Rinzai Zen Way by Meido Moore.

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Wayfarer
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Re: Zen Practice

Post by Wayfarer » Wed Jun 05, 2019 10:28 pm

Astus' recommendations are all excellent, and Meido-roshi's book is also first-class.

But I still like Way of Zen - like many people, this was the book that introduced me to Zen. Yes, Alan Watts had his issues, and he was certainly not a conscientious practicer, but his prose style is lucid and his insights profound. And Shunryu Suzuki, who founded San Francisco Zen Centre, would never hear a bad word against him, because of his role in propagating dharma in the 1960's, even though Watts' habitual drunkenness was well-known.

But, it's still only a book. The whole point about Ch'an/Zen is that it's a practice, something you can only 'learn by doing'. And that's not coming to you from a Zen teacher, but as a long-time home-schooled beginner. Ven. Nonin, a zen teacher on another forum, now long gone, always used to stress 'finding and practicing with a group', and I think it's important. At the time Alan Watts wrote, there were hardly any such groups, but now Zen is well established in the West and there are many centres. Korinji is an excellent example but there are others. But my recommendation is, make the effort to get in contact with one of them either online or physically. (There's a number of well-respected centres in Colorado if that's where you are.)
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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seeker242
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Re: Zen Practice

Post by seeker242 » Thu Jun 06, 2019 3:31 am

LoveFromColorado wrote:
Wed Jun 05, 2019 6:12 pm
Thus, I am curious if anyone has any input as to what practice typically looks like
Typically, it looks like most other Buddhists. Keep the precepts, do meditation, which involves sitting, perhaps walking, chanting and working. Practicing being kind, compassionate, generous, etc. On a day to day basis, not really all that different from anyone else.
To provide a simple example, meditation (to me) seems like something one should do naturally and not in a regular forced manner unless that too would be natural.
Or, one could argue that the whole point of zen practice is to overcome our "natural behavior", which is what keeps us stuck in samsara to begin with. Most, if not all, zen teachers don't teach that you just do meditation whenever you feel like it. But rather, you do it everyday, even when you really don't want to.
One should not kill any living being, nor cause it to be killed, nor should one incite any other to kill. Do never injure any being, whether strong or weak, in this entire universe!

LoveFromColorado
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Re: Zen Practice

Post by LoveFromColorado » Fri Jun 07, 2019 7:05 pm

Thanks all!

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JMGinPDX
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Re: Zen Practice

Post by JMGinPDX » Wed Jun 19, 2019 10:37 pm

LoveFromColorado wrote:
Wed Jun 05, 2019 6:12 pm
The concept of "practice" feels almost forced - in other words, trying to grasp by "doing".
To provide a simple example, meditation (to me) seems like something one should do naturally and not in a regular forced manner unless that too would be natural. Instead, it seems to simply "be" in a non-dual manner would be "practice" although it is certainly hard to use words to describe it.
Yes, that's ultimately what it's all about, but if by "practice" you mean "sitting meditation, chanting, sutra reading, prostrations, etc." then you also cannot discount the benefits of those "forced" activities. Zen is unique in that the forms are there simply to be there, not as required liturgical activities but just as ways to push the mind out of its comfort zones to a degree. Outside of that, there is "nothing to do and nowhere to go."

With your dzogchen background you might appreciate this book on shikantaza, or "just sitting" or "silent illumination."
The Art of Just Sitting: Essential Writings on the Zen Practice of Shikantaza

WesleyP
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Re: Zen Practice

Post by WesleyP » Thu Jun 27, 2019 1:36 am

Thanks.

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kirtu
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Re: Zen Practice

Post by kirtu » Thu Jun 27, 2019 5:47 pm

All of Zen is practicing the way of actualizing Buddhahood in this very moment. This is the whole purpose of the apparent manifest formalities of most of Zen (Chan, Seon, Thien). When we bow, we are recognizing the environment (and hopefully our whole universe) as a Buddhafield. When we sit we are actualizing Shakyamuni Buddha's practice and enlightenment beneath the Bodhi Tree. When we chant we are actualizing the Buddha's wisdom within our heart/mind and voice.

Brief sitting practice is bowing to the Buddhas, bowing to the cushion, opening sutra chanting (Purification, Vandana,refuge, maybe Heart Sutra), sitting (10 mins and more), bowing on the cushion, kinhin (walking meditation practice), bowing to the cushion, second session of sitting, closing sutra chanting (optional Heart Sutra and dedication), closing bows, cleaning up cushions.

Here are some Zen chants/sutras.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"Even if you practice only for an hour a day with faith and inspiration, good qualities will steadily increase. Regular practice makes it easy to transform your mind. From seeing only relative truth, you will eventually reach a profound certainty in the meaning of absolute truth."
Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche

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明安 Myoan
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Re: Zen Practice

Post by 明安 Myoan » Thu Jun 27, 2019 9:28 pm

I like Opening the Hand of Thought, as far as books go.
With a heart wandering in ignorance down this path and that, to guide me I simply say Namu-Amida-Butsu. -- Ippen

The Fundamental Vow [of Amitabha Buddha] is just for such people as woodcutters and grassgatherers, vegetable pickers, drawers of water and the like, illiterate folk who merely recite the Buddha's name wholeheartedly, confident that as a result of saying "Namu Amida Butsu" they will be born into the western land. -- Master Hōnen

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KeithA
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Re: Zen Practice

Post by KeithA » Fri Jun 28, 2019 12:41 am

That said, I am curious as to what Zen "practice" typically looks like. The concept of "practice" feels almost forced - in other words, trying to grasp by "doing". Thus, I am curious if anyone has any input as to what practice typically looks like and perhaps resources to start with to approach this subject.
A good friend was fond of saying "practice and see what happens"

Practice looks the same no matter the tradition. Sit still, back straight, pay attention.

Find a group, Zen if you can, because that's what interests you, but another tradition if that's what is available. Go practice with real human beings. Sangha is one of the Three Jewels, and is every bit as important as the other two. More important actually, imho. And this is coming from a pretty strongly introverted person. You will know straight away if there is a connection.

There are online groups (even in my own tradition), but to my mind that is second best. Different strokes and all.

Good luck and thanks for practicing,
Keith
You make, you get.

New Haven Zen Center

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bokki
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Re: Zen Practice

Post by bokki » Mon Jul 29, 2019 2:56 am

That said, I am curious as to what Zen "practice" typically looks like.
u r a bit confused, r u not?
who cares, if you are curious as to what Zen "practice" typically looks like>>>>?????
so, u would get your feet wet into some zen practice...how nice...
we r all here for u now, just waited 4 u

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LastLegend
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Re: Zen Practice

Post by LastLegend » Tue Aug 20, 2019 4:51 am

LoveFromColorado wrote:
Wed Jun 05, 2019 6:12 pm

That said, I am curious as to what Zen "practice" typically looks like. The concept of "practice" feels almost forced - in other words, trying to grasp by "doing". Thus, I am curious if anyone has any input as to what practice typically looks like and perhaps resources to start with to approach this subject.

I am no expert okay but learn your intention how it behaves. Learn your consciousness its function is to differentiate clearly.

Then learn to completely die a Great Death. 😄
Make personal vows.

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