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Texts on Sangha

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Texts on Sangha

Postby Pedestrian on Wed Feb 27, 2013 9:39 pm

What texts contain useful (to the Zen tradition, to you) explications of sangha? Are there sutras in which that particular jewel is explored?
"Buddha, to liberate beings, cultivates practices everywhere." Avatamsaka Sutra.

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Re: Texts on Sangha

Postby Rujin on Wed Feb 27, 2013 9:51 pm

The only true sangha is that which has no boundaries.
Last edited by Rujin on Wed Feb 27, 2013 11:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Texts on Sangha

Postby Nonin on Wed Feb 27, 2013 11:18 pm

The Three Treasures are Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. Sometimes these are referred to as The Three Jewels. All are equally important for those who are practicing the Zen Buddhist Way, or any Buddhist Way for that matter.

No particular source of the importance of sangha in Zen Buddhism come to mind off hand, for the importance of sangha is explored in many, many sutras, and any comprehensive scholarly source on Buddhism will contain a section on Sangha. Also, many ancient Zen Buddhist texts, writings, and koans reference it. If one Googles "sangha," "The Three Treasures," or "The Three Jewels," one will find any number of references, and most will give useful information.

In Zen Buddhism, sangha has three aspects. The first is the immediate sangha of practitioners, like-minded friends, those who are actively practicing Zen Buddhism in all its aspects under the guidance of the teacher, who fulfills the role of the buddha in this situation. These practitioners, including the teacher, practice the dharma, which can mean the way of life of a buddha (an awakened person), the teaching of all the buddhas, or the truth of human existence. The second aspect of sangha is all Buddhist practitioners, no matter what the school or tradition. The third aspect of sangha is all beings, human and otherwise.

In Zen Buddhism, solitary practice is not recommended until the person is thoroughly grounded in the Zen Buddhist Way. This takes many years of practice under the guidance of a teacher (or teachers) and with other like-minded practitioners in a sangha.

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Re: Texts on Sangha

Postby Rujin on Wed Feb 27, 2013 11:28 pm

Wonder what is meant by "like-minded" people.
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Re: Texts on Sangha

Postby Nonin on Wed Feb 27, 2013 11:31 pm

Here is a link to an article by Zen Buddhist priest and teacher Eshu Martin:

http://sweepingzen.com/three-treasures/

Here's one by Robert Aitken, a well-known lay Zen Buddhist teacher:

http://buddhism.about.com/od/takingrefu ... refuge.htm

This one, by John Daido Loori, another well-known Zen Buddhist teacher is about being ordained a Zen Buddhist monastic, but also contains much good information about the Three Treasures and their different aspects:

http://www.mro.org/mr/archive/24-3/arti ... Daido.html

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Re: Texts on Sangha

Postby fukasetsu on Thu Feb 28, 2013 1:02 am

Pedestrian wrote:What texts contain useful (to the Zen tradition, to you) explications of sangha? Are there sutras in which that particular jewel is explored?


The The Tsung Ching Record of the Ch'an Master Ta-Chu Hui-Hai comes to mind (usually here since it's the text I studied most and longest)

At that moment a monk named Fa-Yuan asked: "What is the Buddha? What is the Dharma? What is the Sangha? What is the One Substance of the Precious Three? Would you please enlighten us?"

The Master said: "The mind is the Buddha, and you should not use the Buddha to seek the Buddha. The mind is the Dharma, and you should not use the Dharma to seek the Dharma. The Buddha and the Dharma are not different, and their harmony creates the Sangha. This, then, is the substance of the Precious Three. A sutra says: 'Mind, Buddha and sentient beings are not different from one another. When one purifies one's own body, speech and mind, it is said that a Buddha appears in the world. In contrast, when these three become impure, a Buddha is extinguished.' For example,when you are angry, you are not happy; and when you are happy, you are not angry. Yet there is only one mind, not two different substances. Originally, there is only Suchness; then the outflow appears while Suchness remains unchanged. It is like a snake transforming into a dragon without changing its scaly covering. Also, it is like a sentient being transforming his mind into Buddha Mind without changing his Original Nature. Thus, the Original Nature is pure and is not created by practice. If one thinks he can realize his Original Nature through practice and attainment, he is just a man filled with overweening pride. The True Void is without clinging or obstacles, is inexhaustible and is without beginning or end. Those with keen faculties and profound roots are enlightened suddenly and awakened to Anuttara-Samyak-Sambodhi. This is Supreme Enlightenment, perfect and universal. Mind without form is the Wonderful Form Body (Sambhogakaya), and formlessness is the reality of the Dharmakaya. The fundamental void substance, which is the primary nature of all forms, is as boundless as the infinite body of universal space. The Dharmakaya is adorned by ten thousand meritorious acts. Also, the Dharmakaya is the fundamental reality of all things. Names are created and applied to it expediently according to circumstances. The wisdom it possesses is inexhaustible; thus it is called the Inexhaustible Store. It generates and creates all things; thus, it is called the Fundamental Store of Dharma. It is the source of, contains, and fully endows infinite wisdom and knowledge. Thus, it is called the Store of Wisdom . Finally, because all things return to Suchness, it is called the Store of Tathagata. A sutra says: "'Tathagata' Means the Suchness of all dharmas. Every dharma in the universe, no matter whether it is manifesting itself or going into dissolution, must ultimately return to Suchness."
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Re: Texts on Sangha

Postby fukasetsu on Thu Feb 28, 2013 1:07 am

What also comes to mind is the compass of Zen... it's pretty long so I'll just paste the first few blocks...

The Treasure of Sangha


Sangha is the ethical side of practice, which means cultivating a correct life. Some people call it morality. Correct life comes from our will, our center. This means we try take away bad habits and follow a good way that only helps all beings. If your center is not moving, then it is possible to live clearly and correctly for the welfare of others. We sometimes call that correct direction. That is the Buddha’s basic teaching --- from moment to moment keeping a correct direction in your life that only helps other beings. “Why do I do this?” “Why do I want to do that? Is this action only for me, or for all being?” Sangha helps keep us pointed in the direction of attaining enlightenment and helping other beings.


To keep a correct direction, we need some basic guidelines for our life. These guidelines, or precepts, always keep us pointed in direction of saving all beings from suffering. In Sanskrit, this kind of practicing is called sila. Precepts means living a correct way, or Dharma, because the actual meaning of Dharma is “true way.” So, a correct way is a correct life that from moment to moment helps all beings. It is very simple! When people formally commit to Buddhist practice, they “take refuge” in the Three Treasures of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. There is a ceremony where they take the five Precepts that were established by the Buddha himself. These precepts urge us to refrain from taking any life, lying, stealing, engaging in sexual misconduct, or consuming intoxicants. These Five Precepts are common to all Buddhist traditions. They simply guide us toward keeping a clear mind and living a correct life. Very few can live a correct life on their own, so we must have these precepts to guide us. When the Buddha was about to die, his students gathered around him. Quite naturally, the monks were concerned about who would lead them after his passing into nirvana. One monk asked him, “Who will teach us when you are gone?” The Buddha replied, “Let the precepts be your guide.”

Precepts are not special. They are simply natural rules that help our practice; that is why we call them Dharma. For example, in springtime, there are many flowers on the trees, so in the autumn we can harvest many fruits. If he blossoms do not appear on the trees in spring, we cannot get any fruits. That is a rule of nature. Spring comes, then summer, then fall, and winter. The four seasons always revolve around and around and around. That is this world’s Dharma. In the winter there is lots of snow. That is also Dharma. If it snows one summer, we will have a big problem! Maybe there is snow in South America when it is summer in the United States. But in North America if snow appears during summertime, that is not correct. So this rule or law of nature simply ensures that the natural world always functions correctly. One springtime there are no flowers: everybody knows that is not correct! In autumn there is no fruit for harvest: that is not correct! For the whole winter there is not one flake of snow, but only blazing sunshine: that is also not correct! “Strange weather --- this winter there hasn’t been any snow!” Ha ha ha ha! That is a rule. Winter, snow; spring, flowers; summer, hot sun; fall, fruits appear. Nature has its own precepts, and the natural precepts are always the same. Nobody question these rules.


However, human beings cannot keep rules. One percept says that if we want our meditation practice to bear fruit, we shouldn’t take any intoxicants. Many people say, “Why not? I like that drink. I like cigarettes. I am free!” then somebody may even tell them, “But doing that is bad --- that cannot help your body, it cannot help your mind, it cannot help anything!” “I don’t care! I don’t care about my body! I am free!” Ha ha ha ha! Then they wonder why their meditation practice isn’t wrong. They wonder why their health is bad and their mind is not clear. So this kind of “freedom” creates a problem: people don’t keep certain natural rules, so they make a lot of suffering for themselves and for others, because they cannot keep a clear mind. The trees don’t make suffering. Water doesn’t make suffering everything in this world is not causing itself suffering. Even a dog or cat doesn’t make so much suffering and checking. All animals only follow their situation, which means they follow their natural precepts. If they don’t keep these precepts, they cannot survive. If they cannot get food, they cannot eat. If they do not hibernate they don’t survive the winter. If they don’t act according to their nature, they die. So they only follow their situation.


But human beings are very interesting. Human beings are the smartest animals, yet they make the most suffering for themselves and this world. This is simply because most human beings cannot follow their situation. We are attached to some idea about suffering about freedom, so we cannot follow those rules that are intended to help us. We have a broken situation. Human beings only think about “my” feeling, “my” condition, and “my” situation. This feeling is often not in harmony with the way universe runs, so it is a broken situation. Having a broken situation comes from not keeping their natural rules, or precepts. Human beings only want a good feeling, a good time, a good situation. This is only desire. Bur these come from where? You must decide something, and only do it, from moment to moment. If you can practice in this way, using the precepts as your guide, your mind-energy becomes clearer and stronger. As your mind gets stronger, then a good situation doesn’t move you, ns also a bad situation doesn’t throw you off. You can digest experience and make it correct, from moment to moment. But if you cannot digest your experience, then when a bad situation appears, “Ah haa!”---you get suffering and cannot function clearly for others. When a good situation appears, “Ahhhh,” you feel some happiness, perhaps lose your direction and stop practicing so much, and then get suffering when this good situation changes. So your mind always moving as outside conditions changes.


The most important thing is to keep your correct direction for all beings, regardless of whether you have a good situation or a bad situation. Don’t attach to a good situation; don’t attach to a bad situation. But always perceive how to make a bad situation or a good situation correct, so that you can use whatever situation you are in only to help other beings. Then a true good situation appears: true good feeling, true good condition, and true happiness. That is already Great Love and Great Compassion, the Great Bodhisattva Way.


It cannot be emphasized enough that the Buddhist precepts are not meant for ourselves, to make our own lives peaceful. In Mahayana and Zen especially, precepts are used solely so that we can help other beings. There is a very famous story of a monk who became the National Teacher to the emperor of China because of the great compassion the showed in keeping the precepts. A long time ago in China, there was a monk named Hae Chung. He was a very poor and simple monk who renounced even temple life to follow a wandering existence in the mountain. Hae Chung always helped other people. He was know for his kind and compassionate spirit and his extraordinary love for even the smallest beings.


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Re: Texts on Sangha

Postby Nonin on Thu Feb 28, 2013 1:52 am

Here's one aspect of what Zen Master Dogen had to say about The Triple Treasure:

Respectfully in virtue of the testimonial of Buddhas and Ancestors, you should take refuge in the Triple Treasure and repent. Sincerely repeat these words:

All my past and harmful karma,
Born from beginningless greed, hate, and delusion,
Through body, speech, and mind,
I now fully avow.

As already verified by Buddhas and Ancestors, the karma of body, speech and thought has been cleansed and you have attained great purity. This is due to the power of repentance.

Next, one should take refuge in Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. There are three kinds of virtue in the Triple Treasure. They are called the Single-bodied Triple Treasure, the Manifested Triple Treasure and the Maintained Triple Treasure.

Unsurpassed, Complete, Perfect Enlightenment is called the Buddha Treasure; its purity and freedom from dust is the Dharma Treasure; the virtue of peace and harmony is the Sangha Treasure. These are called the Single-bodied Triple Treasure.

Realization of Bodhi by manifestation is called the Buddha Treasure; that which is realized by Buddha is the Dharma Treasure; learning the Buddha and Dharma is the Sangha Treasure. These are called the Manifested Triple Treasure.

Edifying heavenly beings, edifying humans, appearing in the vast openness of being or appearing within the dust is the Buddha Treasure. Being changed into the Ocean Storehouse or into sutras written on shells and leaves, edifying animate and inanimate beings -- this is called the Dharma Treasure. Relieving all suffering and being free from the house of the three worlds is the Sangha Treasure. These are called the Maintained Triple Treasure.

In taking refuge in Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, one acquires the great precepts of all buddhas. Buddha is your teacher and not one of another way.
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Re: Texts on Sangha

Postby JohnEAngel on Mon Sep 16, 2013 4:31 am

I posit that it is possible to attain a Buddha mind without direct interaction from a teacher. i can conceive however that having a teacher, someone who has answers to your questions, can be an advantage in your awakening. I respectfully say this from personal experience. some can hear the call and fall into realization of the holy way of life. but this awakening must be dutiful and continual. each moment must be lived through the Buddha mind while awake and while asleep. obviously though through our experience, challenges abound and we can put into practice that which we know to be right action.
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