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Losing my religion, and shikantaza

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Re: Losing my religion, and shikantaza

Postby Chrisd on Tue Jan 27, 2015 2:56 pm

klqv wrote:i'm asking if meditation has the answers to my problem.


To answer your question

DEFINITELY!

As life is the answer to all of our questions. But do we understand the answer?
That's why we do meditation.

Possibly that is the philosophy of Soto. I'm no particular Soto teacher though.

Is that in accordance with your satisfaction? :lol2:
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Re: Losing my religion, and shikantaza

Postby littletsu on Tue Jan 27, 2015 3:54 pm

klqv wrote:
Michaeljc wrote:
I have visited a local Soto group, without meeting a teacher there, and enjoyed doing so. The people seemed cool etc., too. But I wanted to ask if Soto meditation has the answers to the rest of my post, or what the answers were. Even what I am asking


I would say go back. Ask to see the teacher, give her/him a thorough briefing then tread carefully forward. There is no such thing as 'Soto Meditation' or 'Shikantaza'. This is just branding to satisfy functions in our brain. There is only your meditation at any one mementless moment in time. We don't need religion on the cushion, or anywhere else for that matter.

All the best

m

hey, i do appreciate the answer but think you misunderstood the question.
i am asking if there is a philosophy behind applying myself to attending this group, which happens to be a soto one.
when i say philosophy i mean specifically: can you explain TO MY SATISFACTION that doing so would or could satisfyingly resolve my dismay.



I think nobody will be able to provide you with a satisfying explanation. There is no satisfaction in "this life". That is the first Noble Truth, if I am not mistaken.
合うは別れの始めだ。
有燈就有人。
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Re: Losing my religion, and shikantaza

Postby Chrisd on Tue Jan 27, 2015 5:01 pm

Umm littletsu I don't think that's a right interpretation of the first Noble Truth :heya: as surely we all experience satisfaction now and then.

If I'm not mistaken this is/was actually a subject of debate, debate on what exactly is the meaning of that truth: that there is dukkha. Whether the idea is "there is suffering" or "life is suffering" I don't know either. Or that dukka means the state of instability, like the wheel that is off axle. Buddhism then continues to prescribe a "cure" without which Buddhism would be quite a depressing happening :PP:

I'd hope some scholar would chime in on this point. By itself I'd enjoy reading a thread about it. Would be nice to be clear as can be on the fundamentals.
Last edited by Chrisd on Tue Jan 27, 2015 5:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Losing my religion, and shikantaza

Postby Anders on Tue Jan 27, 2015 5:14 pm

klqv wrote:OK, there's no answer, that's fine.

your food example is fine, but just an analogy.


There may be an answer to the root of your query, but I think perhaps the question(s) needs some revision to be properly meaningful.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"
--- Gandavyuha Sutra
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Re: Losing my religion, and shikantaza

Postby jiblet on Tue Jan 27, 2015 7:25 pm

Chrisd wrote:Umm littletsu I don't think that's a right interpretation of the first Noble Truth :heya: as surely we all experience satisfaction now and then.

If I'm not mistaken this is/was actually a subject of debate, debate on what exactly is the meaning of that truth: that there is dukkha. Whether the idea is "there is suffering" or "life is suffering" I don't know either. Or that dukka means the state of instability, like the wheel that is off axle. Buddhism then continues to prescribe a "cure" without which Buddhism would be quite a depressing happening :PP:

I'd hope some scholar would chime in on this point. By itself I'd enjoy reading a thread about it. Would be nice to be clear as can be on the fundamentals.


I'm no expert, but I am a student of Sanskrit (Pali - not so much, but I can follow it) and this bothers me, too. I posted something about it a while back. Here's a link to my post. The whole short thread is called "Suffering?":

viewtopic.php?f=6&t=9587&p=146484&hilit=+dukkha#p146484

This is the gist of what I wrote:
The Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta - the earliest written record of the Noble Truths in the canon, or so I've heard - has neither "Life is suffering" nor "Everything is suffering," not in any English translation I've come across. I don't see how the original Pali could support such a translation. Other suttas elaborate the point, but I can't find where the Buddha says *All/Life is suffering.* That statement has a very different impact, as I hear it, from what the Buddha is reported to have actually said.
[...]

(sources given in the post)


- And if you fancy a right royal knockabout featuring Huifeng, Gregory Wonderwheel, Anders and - yes - me! concerning the *meaning* of dukkha, you might enjoy this:

viewtopic.php?f=6&t=5863&hilit=dukkha

[Edit] - which has this from Huifeng (on p4):
Huifeng wrote:
Kojip wrote:
We were taught "there is suffering", not 'life is suffering'. In fact there was a question about Dukkha and Sukha earlier. We were taught life is Sukha (non-Dukkha). This was in a Theravadin context but it especially rings true in a Zen context. There is no scholarly claim here, it's just teachings received from teachers.


This is why duhkha must be looked at in context.

When it is mere unpleasant feeling, contra sukha, then indeed "there is suffering", not "life is suffering".

But when we are referring to the first aryan truth, and / or as the first of the Dharma seals "all conditionings are duhkha", then when can say "life (conditioned by defilements) is dissatisfactory".

One of my early Buddhism / Theravada teachers, Prof Y Karunadasa, always makes a point of this. He says "saying there is dukkha, rather than life is dukkha, is missing the point of the first ariyan truth".

The sensation which is unpleasant is "unpleasant dissatisfaction" (duhkha-duhkhata); the change of the pleasant sensation sukha is "change dissatisfaction" (viparinama-duhkhata); but more importantly and deeply is the underlying dissatisfaction of all conditioned phenomena, which includes the former two and makes up the Dharma seal and also the first truth, "conditioning dissatisfaction" (samskara-duhkhata).



PS Sorry for interrupting the thread, klqv. I've got nothing in the way of advice/observations/answers to your question. Just responding to Chrisd.
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Re: Losing my religion, and shikantaza

Postby [james] on Tue Jan 27, 2015 10:38 pm

klqv wrote:Hello friends :)

I left this post elsewhere, but thought I could throw it open to you good people too :heya:

I was raised in a secular family, went to CofE church a little as a young child, but only to support my mum. Actually I'm way more drawn to Nietzsche now than Christianity, though I cannot see any answers in his work.

I visited Thailand as a teenager, took a few meditation classes, and would say I had a sort of conversion experience upon reading more about Buddhism, in general. But don't feel like there's any reason to keep my faith; it hasn't I think helped my mental health or my life, only got me to where I am today. Almost spiritually exhausted.

In effect, I feel like I have nothing to look forward to and nothing to look back at. I am scared of dying, but not to the extent that I would assume a religion to cheer myself up.

For a long time I believed that I won't be annihilated when I die, but the more I think abuot it, and I have done so alot, the more it seems that this is an irrelevance, something that tells me about my life now not the future.

But, I can sometimes feel good in the present moment, and wondered whether shikantaza might help me feel better about that. I can't find an exact phrase to describe that, but maybe Soto zen might help me to be how I am or want to be, in life and death, even though I am so tired with everything but this fluctuating enjoyment of now. Which incidentally, does not seem very Nietzschean: I don't place much value on happiness as a way of life hedonism etc.

I have visited a local Soto group, without meeting a teacher there, and enjoyed doing so. The people seemed cool etc., too. But I wanted to ask if Soto meditation has the answers to the rest of my post, or what the answers were. Even what I am asking.

Thank you for any encouragement or for any insight.



Short answer: yes
Longer answer: not necessarily
Personal answer: it's entirely up to you

Shikantaza: balanced and resilient sitting stillness, nothing moving but the internal organs and the flickering mind, infused and inspired by unwavering moment awareness. Satisfaction is not guaranteed, in fact it is not even on offer. Religion is not part of it at all, dying is not optional. Of course you may find that you will become satisfied and perhaps even happy. Cherish that and be thankful and then put it aside and carry on. Alike with spiritual exhaustion, happiness, contentment, equanimity and satisfaction are passing experiences. Be aware.

Dear dhamma brother, strive and thrive.
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Re: Losing my religion, and shikantaza

Postby Herbie on Wed Jan 28, 2015 7:53 am

klqv wrote:And Herbie, I have no idea what medicine you think you are providing, but I didn't ask for it. May I ask if you think I fabricated having gone to church, or feeling exhausted with ideas like yours? It's nice that you thought I might read your reply, but your actual reply is both really insensitive and missed the point by some way.

See I listed options of what other people do when they find themselves in situations similar to yours. I do not think that Soto meditation can provide any answer. So I am like Soto meditation: I cannot provide any answer or medicine. Yes, some of your statements make me associate "medicine" but that's the sphere of doctors (one of the options I mentioned).
Although we don't know anything, let's make words! Words are inspiring.
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Re: Losing my religion, and shikantaza

Postby Chrisd on Wed Jan 28, 2015 12:48 pm

(on the noble truth part >thx jiblet, I have a book which says a bit about it at home too, I'll have a look soon.)
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Re: Losing my religion, and shikantaza

Postby TTT on Wed Feb 25, 2015 8:50 am

Hi klqv.

A simple question. What are you losing?
I took some sleeping pills this night. And woke up after a long sleep, feeling fine. Happy with a coffe. I rushed to the forum with a this question in my mind. I think its a good question that i dont know thet anser to myslef. And how do meny kultures andser the question and call for religions and thet practis. Can we ever leave it after entry and how to do it?

When the god Apollo adressed (i think) the Godness Dafne: "So i can´t live without you, nore with you".
In latin: "Sic ego nec sine te nec tecum vivere possum"
This is an anser but its not so good, i think.
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Re: Losing my religion, and shikantaza

Postby organizational on Wed Feb 25, 2015 8:48 pm

When you live the eternity eternally to the end you see that there is an other side - this is Zen

I have said "follow white"May be my spiritual level is not enough to say this.But I have said it with a simple mind.
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Re: Losing my religion, and shikantaza

Postby desert_woodworker on Wed Feb 25, 2015 8:54 pm

Luke,

Nietzsche is a dead guy, and I don't suggest you emulate him! --Joe

Socrates was a neat fellow. He had no answers: but plenty QUESTIONS!

(he STARS in Plato's dialogues, ...before the days of the Oscar movie-awards. Give a look-sie? For you, I recommend Plato's PHAEDO, concerning the last days of Socrates, and ideas of life and death, and facing both. I've mentioned it before with you. I hope you have the Penguin or Pelican paperback, to pick up and read anytime. No batteries necessary).

best,

--J.
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Re: Losing my religion, and shikantaza

Postby organizational on Wed Feb 25, 2015 10:25 pm

one
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Re: Losing my religion, and shikantaza

Postby organizational on Wed Feb 25, 2015 10:27 pm

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Re: Losing my religion, and shikantaza

Postby Herbie on Fri Feb 27, 2015 3:34 pm

Dropping religion is best. Shikatanza however is just another religion. Why? Because it is not "just sitting" but "just sitting embedded in ritual and bla bla (claims, philosophy, tradition, hierarchy, literature, teachings, etc)". If there were "just sitting" without anything else that would be rightly called "just sitting". But people are not interested in "just sitting". They are interested in alleged meaning and alleged purpose, contrived goals, artificiality, narratives and socializing.
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Re: Losing my religion, and shikantaza

Postby desert_woodworker on Fri Feb 27, 2015 4:13 pm

Herbie,

Among other things that it is and does, ritual makes visible the invisible.

And, certainly, shikantaza developed and serves in a tradition of practice. Without supports, even skyscrapers fall down.

Science, too, is growing and serving in a great tradition of lore and practice, and influential cultures.

However, back to shikantaza. One cannot judge its efficacy from the outside. Only within a sangha of practitioners, and with a teacher, can one experience the true blessedness of its practice. Or of koan practice. Or any other of the Ch'an or Zen or Son or Thien Buddhist practices. Within sangha-relations is where methods and practices bear fruit (for all).

"Just sitting" is not something fruitfully to be "interested-in", unless one is an academic or medic in certain areas. For those who learn correct practice, it's a tool, a method. It's also a result! And, a result that has results. Some practice because it seems natural to them to do so. Others, because they are drawn to further minimalism. Check into it with a teacher, if the results interest you? But I'd say the method itself is a little interesting, too. And its practice is good for health.

regards,

--Joe

Herbie wrote:But people are not interested in "just sitting". They are interested in alleged meaning and alleged purpose, contrived goals, artificiality, narratives and socializing.
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Re: Losing my religion, and shikantaza

Postby Herbie on Fri Feb 27, 2015 5:07 pm

:bored:

I stumbled on "secular buddhism" recently which seems to be a contradiction in terms because there is no secular religion.

However I am wondering what might be the corresponding expression in relation to religious speculative"shikantaza" ("efficiency", "result").
Maybe "non-speculative just sit as you like and don't care about anything that arises".

So I guess I will be non-practicing "non-speculative just sitting as you like and don't care about anything that arises" which is extraodinary inefficient and will entail no results at all or all results you never thought of ... however you want to see it. :PP:

This perfect non-practice expresses appropriately that there is nothing and will never be anything ... nothing but creativity. :)
Although we don't know anything, let's make words! Words are inspiring.
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Re: Losing my religion, and shikantaza

Postby desert_woodworker on Fri Feb 27, 2015 8:48 pm

Herbie,

Buddhism may be secular in many ways, if not through-and-through. Some say it's a religion. Some say not. I say it is (this week). Anyway, we know there is no deity credited with anything.

In shikantaza, there is absolutely no speculation. There is just sitting. "JUST" in a very strong sense.

Speculation would be something extra. In shikantaza, there is not even "contemplation". This is why one must learn the method correctly, from a master practitioner (teacher), who knows how to teach (a "Roshi", say). I sense that there are wrong ideas and notions about many Zen and Ch'an and Son and Thien methods, even in Zen schools: but a teacher is there to teach correctly, and to correct false-starts.

If one can't see a teacher, perhaps a teacher here at this Forum can give a pointer, or a reference to a printed text that might carry some instruction. But I doubt there's much of any real help in books. Imagine, for example, trying to learn the t'ai chi forms from a book, with static snapshots of each form, and some description of how to go from one to the other. Wow, would a person get into bad habits! Caution.

I think there should be no "expression" in, or from, any method. Such too would be "extra". The method is just the method. Can you hold it? Can it hold you?

No expression. No creativity. Those front-loaded concepts or aspirations are just attachments, when practicing. They have nothing to do with true practice of a method, while practicing the method. This is a tea that's not polluted with milk and sugar... nor tea.

--Joe

Herbie wrote::bored:

I stumbled on "secular buddhism" recently which seems to be a contradiction in terms because there is no secular religion.

However I am wondering what might be the corresponding expression in relation to religious speculative"shikantaza" ("efficiency", "result").
Maybe "non-speculative just sit as you like and don't care about anything that arises".

So I guess I will be non-practicing "non-speculative just sitting as you like and don't care about anything that arises" which is extraodinary inefficient and will entail no results at all or all results you never thought of ... however you want to see it.

This perfect non-practice expresses appropriately that there is nothing and will never be anything ... nothing but creativity.
Last edited by desert_woodworker on Sat Feb 28, 2015 1:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Losing my religion, and shikantaza

Postby Avisitor on Fri Feb 27, 2015 9:54 pm

desert_woodworker wrote:Herbie,

Buddhism may be secular in many ways, if not through-and-through. Some say it's a religion. Some say not. I say it is (this week).


I believe Buddhism is a religion when faith is involved.
Disclaimer: There is no intent to be offensive in my posts. None was intended and none should be interpreted as such.
Sorry, got a message that I was not being PC.
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Re: Losing my religion, and shikantaza

Postby desert_woodworker on Sat Feb 28, 2015 1:25 am

aV,

That resonates here, too.

But, let's see: some have faith in psycho-therapy, for themselves, let's say. Does that make it a religion?

Is there more than faith that makes a practice, or "way" a religion?

Sorry, I'm off-base; that would be off-topic.

--Joe

Avisitor wrote:
desert_woodworker wrote:Herbie,

Buddhism may be secular in many ways, if not through-and-through. Some say it's a religion. Some say not. I say it is (this week).


I believe Buddhism is a religion when faith is involved.
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Re: Losing my religion, and shikantaza

Postby Herbie on Sat Feb 28, 2015 8:53 am

desert_woodworker wrote:...

In shikantaza, there is absolutely no speculation. There is just sitting. "JUST" in a very strong sense.

...In shikantaza, there is not even "contemplation". This is why one must learn the method correctly, from a master practitioner (teacher), who knows how to teach (a "Roshi", say). I sense that there are wrong ideas and notions about many Zen and Ch'an and Son and Thien methods, even in Zen schools: but a teacher is there to teach correctly, and to correct false-starts.

:bored:
Sorry to say but your words are boring, far from inspiring. Why? Because you are expressing what all religious people are expressing.
Your shikantaza is merely speculation. But that's fine for me since I am not involved in your shikantaza. I have nothing to do with your shikantaza. Actually your shikantaza means nothing to me. Nothing but creativity.

desert_woodworker wrote:I think there should be no "expression" in, or from, any method. Such too would be "extra". The method is just the method. Can you hold it? Can it hold you?

You can say "should" millions of times that does not change that you are expressing yourself continuously.

desert_woodworker wrote:No expression. No creativity. Those front-loaded concepts or aspirations are just attachments, when practicing. They have nothing to do with true practice of a method, while practicing the method. This is a tea that's not polluted with milk and sugar... nor tea.

I see "Those front-loaded concepts or aspirations are just attachments" that is why you need a Roshi to tell you this and that :lol2:

Just continue to express your creativity ... it is getting inspiring :PP:
Although we don't know anything, let's make words! Words are inspiring.
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