Traces of scholasticism in (Zen) Buddhism

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MattiV
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Traces of scholasticism in (Zen) Buddhism

Post by MattiV » Tue Feb 13, 2018 6:28 pm

I hope this comment is not considered to be derogatory. I have been reading this board intensely for about a half of year (I know, it's not probably enough). Also, I've read books mentioned in this comment (the third paragraph). I have also practised my own version of just sitting for almost three years.

Now, what confuses a newbie like me is that many of the discussions on this board seem to require a high level of understanding of the Buddhist literature. Quite frankly, a mishmash of English, Pali, Sanskrit, Chinese and Japanese concepts seem to take the centerfold in the discussions of the significance of Buddhism in general, and Zen Buddhism in particular.

So, to put it bluntly, do I really have to spend a lifetime to understand the various distinctions in the (Zen) Buddhist tradition? I'm an retired person, living on the margins of my society, I don't probably have many years to look forward to. All these highly sophisticated, scholastic sounding 'nitpickings' make feel me anxious.

Or is the bottom root of my problem that I haven't publicly taken the three vows. Is that really a necessary prerequisite to embark on a genuine Buddhist path? Is it that simple?

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Fu Ri Shin
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Re: Traces of scholasticism in (Zen) Buddhism

Post by Fu Ri Shin » Tue Feb 13, 2018 7:41 pm

Scholasticism has been interwoven with Zen for some time. Victor Sogen Hori even wrote: "The closest present-day counterpart of the classical Chinese Confucian literati scholar is the Japanese Rinzai Zen rōshi" (Zen Sand, p. 61). However, it is certainly not necessary for practice.

I don't know about publicly taking the three vows, but Zen practice does require a teacher-student relationship. It is really that simple.
Know that in a remote place in a cloud-covered valley
There is still a sacred pine that passes through the chill of ages.

— Taiso Josai Daishi

MattiV
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Re: Traces of scholasticism in (Zen) Buddhism

Post by MattiV » Tue Feb 13, 2018 7:51 pm

Fu Ri Shin wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 7:41 pm
I don't know about publicly taking the three vows, but Zen practice does require a teacher-student relationship. It is really that simple.
Thank you, Sir, for your forthright answer.

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Astus
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Re: Traces of scholasticism in (Zen) Buddhism

Post by Astus » Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:36 pm

MattiV wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 6:28 pm
do I really have to spend a lifetime to understand the various distinctions in the (Zen) Buddhist tradition?
If you want to understand the various distinctions, then most likely. If you want to focus on gaining a foothold in the tradition - entering the gate of no gate - then the quickest way is to follow an authentic teacher's instructions and practise as if your head were on fire.

As for some practical/companion literature for Zen practice:

Yunqi Zhuhong: The Chan Whip Anthology
Seosan Hyujeong: Seonga Gwigam (in vol 3)
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"

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Fu Ri Shin
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Re: Traces of scholasticism in (Zen) Buddhism

Post by Fu Ri Shin » Tue Feb 13, 2018 11:54 pm

MattiV wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 7:51 pm
Thank you, Sir, for your forthright answer.
You are most welcome, my friend.

Returning to your comment about nit-picking, I think this happens because internet fora are textual media that lend themselves very well to nit-picking. It can get to a point where it appears all-consuming, so your anxiety is understandable, and may even prove favorable for your practice. You probably know the saying about Zen being "outside the scriptures." After seeing his true nature, Tokusan burned all his commentaries. Yet, Torei says that we may come to a point where the Sutras' teachings seem to be our own.
Know that in a remote place in a cloud-covered valley
There is still a sacred pine that passes through the chill of ages.

— Taiso Josai Daishi

SunWuKong
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Re: Traces of scholasticism in (Zen) Buddhism

Post by SunWuKong » Wed Feb 14, 2018 4:49 pm

Yeah it’s a typical problem the disjunct between theory and practice doing Zen on a forum.

Astus has the answer, once you get to the point in practice, the theory will become clear
"We are magical animals that roam" ~ Roam

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Meido
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Re: Traces of scholasticism in (Zen) Buddhism

Post by Meido » Wed Feb 14, 2018 8:35 pm

Nice replies in this topic.

To add to suggestions RE a companion text for basic (minimal) conceptual foundation, assuming one is practicing with guidance from a qualified teacher: a nice short text that might be sufficient for this is Torei's Spur for a Good Horse (Legget's translation, found in his Three Ages of Zen). Cleary translated the same text as The Essential Secrets for Entering the Way in his The Original Face: An Anthology of Rinzai Zen. You can find most of both online with a little searching.

On the Rinzai side Torei's Shumon Mujintoron (Discourse on the Inexhaustible Lamp), which I am constantly mentioning ad nauseam, is the classic. But most of it is applicable across the board, not just for Rinzai folks.

~ Meido
It is relatively easy to accomplish the important matter of insight into one’s true nature, but uncommonly difficult to function freely and clearly [according to this understanding], in motion and in rest, in good and in adverse circumstances. Please make strenuous and vigorous efforts towards this end, otherwise all the teachings of Buddhas and patriarchs become mere empty words. - 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

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