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Holding What Am I

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Re: Holding What Am I

Postby Jok_Hae on Mon Jan 11, 2016 3:35 pm

wei wu wei wrote:Keith and others,

I went back and re-read the quote by ZM Dae Kwong and couldn’t quite make out the different application of kong-ans that you were referring to. His quote seems to be about a non-grasping mind, in line with the Huang Po quote. That said, I have been known to miss the forest for the trees (or vice versa!).

But to my understanding, the primary purpose of holding a gong-an/hwadu is not to keep don’t-know mind—that’s probably a secondary “benefit” that could also be achieved by returning to the breath or body—but to push one towards a break through in Seeing.

As I mentioned before, I’ve never really been able to resolve the contradiction between Huang Po’s view (and other non-dual teachers, BTW), that practice is really illusory at best and folly at worst: we are already Buddha, Awake, whatever, but we don’t see it. Grasping for enlightenment starts out as any other strong desire: just grasping. But over time, it may transform.

On another topic, thanks for filling me in about the perceptions of KUSZ. I have to bring up a bit of writing I came across about a year ago that’s attributed to Hyon Gak Sunim. It is a scathing critique of both Zen students in the West and of KUSZ students in particular. It was a rather deflating read and I was wondering if this bit of writing is acknowledged by the KUSZ community. Not acknowledged as legitimate in its criticisms but just recognized as verifiably from Hyon Gak Sunim. I don’t bring this into the discussion to peddle gossip, but I found it, as I said, a pretty controversial and deflating read and wondered what other people make of it. It’s at:

http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/archive/ ... 11535.html


Hi Wu Wei,

ZM Dae Kwang talks about the distinction around minute 23. To be perfectly frank, it's something you just have to experience. I don't see the difference between not grasping and doing kong an practice. As I mentioned before, I just do the practice and see what happens. I don't labor under idea of what the endgame might be. Only go straight, don't know.

Regarding Hyon Gak Sunim's words on treeleaf...that is old news and yes, most Kwan Um folks are aware of his opinions. It is what is. Hyon Gak Sunim's opinions carry no weight with me personally, and really are none of my business. :peace:

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Re: Holding What Am I

Postby Jok_Hae on Mon Jan 11, 2016 6:09 pm

So, at this point I am just edifying myself. As I said, I am grateful for the chance to sort some of this stuff out for myself.

Here is an excerpt from Seongdam Sunim, on the occasion of of ZM Seung Sahn's 49 day memorial ceremony:

One of Zen Master Seung Sahn’s students said to me that Zen Master Seung Sahn is very well known and
respected in the world, but less so in Korea. There are two reasons. Firstly, it is because the practice of Hwal Gu
(the Zen practice of kong-ans and keeping don’t know), which is handed down from Kyong Ho Sunim and Man
Gong Sunim, is still not deeply embedded in our (Korean) practitioners’ hearts.Cham Gu (hwadu practice) is more
commonly known.
Secondly, there is a Western proverb that even the most famous of heroes merely appears as an
ordinary man to his everyday attendant. We also have a Korean proverb: “the light is dark directly under the lamp,”
and the Chinese saying is that even Confucius, who is one of the most well-known and respected philosophers of China,
was simply known as the “old man living on the east side” in his home village. This means that however great one is,
often those closest are ignorant of one’s true greatness.


From here.

So, the technique taught to us in the Kwan Um group is somewhat different from what is thought to be traditional kong an (koan) practice. Folks can debate about it's efficacy, but that's not for me to comment on. That's just background noise. Some people like chocolate ice cream, some like strawberry. :peace:
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Re: Holding What Am I

Postby Jok_Hae on Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:42 pm

And here are some words from Kyong Ho Sunim, where this style of practice originated:

4. ....Just examine and carefully observe your mind at all times. What does
this which is now seeing, hearing and thinking look like? Does this have
any form or not? It this big or small? Is this yellow or green? Is this
bright or dark?

5. Examine and observer this matter carefully. Let your examination and
observation become like a mouse-catching cat; or like an egg-laying hen;
or like a desperately hungry, old, crafty mouse gnawing a hole in a rice
bag. Let your examination and observation be focused at one point and do
not forget it. Keep it before you by raising doubt and by questioning
yourself. Do not this this doubt go away while you are doing chores or
the like. Do not let your question (doubt) escape from you even while
you are not doing anything special. By eagerly and sincerely practicing
in this manner, finally, there will be the moment of awakening to you
own Mind.

6. Study hard by raising your faith. Raising your faith is sincerely
re-examining the matter just mentioned.


From here.

So, this is at least partly where this "what am I" or "what is this?" comes from,
as far as Kwan Um goes. Readers of the Three Pillars of Zen will notice this sounds
familiar. Remember Bassui?

Anyway, as ZM Dae Kwang noted, the kong an (koan) is not used as an object
of concentration in this style of practice. Instead, we investigate our own nature.
From that true nature, we provide answers to questions associated with the
various kong ans.

:)
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Re: Holding What Am I

Postby Jok_Hae on Mon Jan 11, 2016 11:29 pm

Linda Anderson wrote: ....And, it's a delightful surprise when they pop up just when they need to show us something.... too bad all these folks think that there is work to do. You have touched on the effortless part thinking that there is more... there isn't. The hwadu/koan will show you more if you get out of the way.
best
linda


This. If you are holding something, an answer is not possible. Rough stuff...
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Re: Holding What Am I

Postby wei wu wei on Tue Jan 12, 2016 1:49 am

Linda wrote:
WWW,
I'm dizzy reading this bowl of spaghetti. I hear you saying both your truth and your questions.... why do you question. Surely, we don't have the answers. I'll stand up for your observations about Huang Po and onwards.... why do you need or want our experience? .... or try to equate/compare it with other traditions and quotations? As far as I can see, it might be good to stop.... to just be.


Linda, this is a online forum for the discussion of questions related to the practice and philosophy of Zen. Asking for information or feedback or the experiences of others is exactly what this forum is designed for. If you feel that online discussion groups about Zen practice aren't the proper forum to ask about people's experiences, then why bother being here? Why judge someone who is asking questions? And why tell them it's time for them to "stop"?
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Re: Holding What Am I

Postby Seeker242 on Tue Jan 12, 2016 5:46 am

wei wu wei wrote: I have to bring up a bit of writing I came across about a year ago that’s attributed to Hyon Gak Sunim. It is a scathing critique of both Zen students in the West and of KUSZ students in particular. It was a rather deflating read and I was wondering if this bit of writing is acknowledged by the KUSZ community. Not acknowledged as legitimate in its criticisms but just recognized as verifiably from Hyon Gak Sunim. I don’t bring this into the discussion to peddle gossip, but I found it, as I said, a pretty controversial and deflating read and wondered what other people make of it. It’s at:

http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/archive/ ... 11535.html


I haven't seen that before. I like it! I found it the opposite of deflating! I would like to meet this guy one day! He seems fiery! :)
Kill a cat, with a dried shit stick, under a cypress tree in the courtyard, while eating three pounds of flax! Only a cow goes Moooo!
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Re: Holding What Am I

Postby chankin1937 on Tue Jan 12, 2016 12:07 pm

Hello All,
Regarding the post of Hyon Gok Sunim:
wonder how the author would explain the fact that “bliss”, “happiness” and “peace of mind” are regularly referred to as the Zen goal in the scriptures and in the writings of the ancient Masters?

All thinking - all conscious mental activity – is the tool we use to solve our problems.
When we have used it successfully we ideally lay it aside. We would then feel what we describe conventionally as happiness.
Isn’t it enough to point this out to a student without beating him or throwing food at him whenever he starts to use that tool?

I had a physics teacher in school who expected us to answer questions about the lesson before he had taught us about it. When we failed to solve the problems that had taxed Maxwell or other geniuses he would throw his chalk down and storm out of the classroom.
Frankly, he was the worst teacher I ever came across.

Zazen reacquaints us with the common human goal – something which people have lost contact with because they are overwhelmed by the unrelenting demands of modern life.
They suffer with obsessive/compulsive conscious mental activity.
Colin
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Re: Holding What Am I

Postby wei wu wei on Tue Jan 12, 2016 4:34 pm

Keith,
Mind is officially blown here. First by the sources/comments you've pulled together from some pretty distant places, and second by the realization that KUSZ is actually doing something completely different with kong-ans--this hwadu/hwalgu distinction. I finally noticed the link to ZM Dae Kwang's dharma talk, so that cleared up a bit of confusion I'd had: he mentions the "living word" (hwalgu) tradition, lesser know in Korean Zen, and I think I'm getting a sense of what that's about and how that might differ in application. I finally see why there's all the emphasis on don't-know, just go straight, just do it; if you keep that don't-know mind from moment to moment, all kong-ans are open gates; it's when you stop to think that the gears grind.
I do think your work on this subject should be in some sort of a "best-of" or FAQ section, and maybe the moderators could consider doing something like that.
I appreciate your continued engagement with this topic and look forward to reading any other nuggets you might unearth.
For now, back to holding What Am I? And not-knowing!

All The Best,
Wei Wu Wei
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Re: Holding What Am I

Postby desert_woodworker on Tue Jan 12, 2016 4:55 pm

chankin1937 wrote:When we failed to solve the problems that had taxed Maxwell or other geniuses

Well,

"If you don't understand Maxwell, then you don't understand Physics".

Or so it said, scrawled on the inside of the door of a stall in the men's room on the 8th floor of Pupin Hall, the Physics building at Columbia. No, I didn't scrawl it.

:)

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Re: Holding What Am I

Postby another_being on Tue Jan 12, 2016 7:17 pm

Thank you, wei wu wei, for sharing the link to Hyon Gak Sunim's talk.

:Namaste:
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Re: Holding What Am I

Postby Jok_Hae on Wed Jan 13, 2016 12:48 am

wei wu wei wrote:Keith,
Mind is officially blown here. First by the sources/comments you've pulled together from some pretty distant places, and second by the realization that KUSZ is actually doing something completely different with kong-ans--this hwadu/hwalgu distinction. I finally noticed the link to ZM Dae Kwang's dharma talk, so that cleared up a bit of confusion I'd had: he mentions the "living word" (hwalgu) tradition, lesser know in Korean Zen, and I think I'm getting a sense of what that's about and how that might differ in application. I finally see why there's all the emphasis on don't-know, just go straight, just do it; if you keep that don't-know mind from moment to moment, all kong-ans are open gates; it's when you stop to think that the gears grind.
I do think your work on this subject should be in some sort of a "best-of" or FAQ section, and maybe the moderators could consider doing something like that.
I appreciate your continued engagement with this topic and look forward to reading any other nuggets you might unearth.
For now, back to holding What Am I? And not-knowing!

All The Best,
Wei Wu Wei


Thanks so much for your kind words, Wu Wei. It is your questions that have spurred me on to look into this, trying to match my experience with the history of our family technique.

A sticking point for me is this distinction between Hwalgu and Hwadu...some sources and early teachers (particularly Son Master Chinul) suggest they are one and the same, at least according to modern translations. I will poke around and see where that road leads. :)

Good luck and thanks for practicing,
Keith
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Re: Holding What Am I

Postby Jok_Hae on Wed Jan 13, 2016 2:03 am

another_being wrote:Thank you, wei wu wei, for sharing the link to Hyon Gak Sunim's talk.

:Namaste:


He is an interesting character, for sure!

Here is a link to an interview he did with a Korean magazine.
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Re: Holding What Am I

Postby Linda Anderson on Wed Jan 13, 2016 10:58 am

wei wu wei wrote:
Linda wrote:
WWW,
I'm dizzy reading this bowl of spaghetti. I hear you saying both your truth and your questions.... why do you question. Surely, we don't have the answers. I'll stand up for your observations about Huang Po and onwards.... why do you need or want our experience? .... or try to equate/compare it with other traditions and quotations? As far as I can see, it might be good to stop.... to just be.


Linda, this is a online forum for the discussion of questions related to the practice and philosophy of Zen. Asking for information or feedback or the experiences of others is exactly what this forum is designed for. If you feel that online discussion groups about Zen practice aren't the proper forum to ask about people's experiences, then why bother being here? Why judge someone who is asking questions? And why tell them it's time for them to "stop"?


no judgement intended, my experience... I see a "bowl of spaghetti", that is to say so many points of view. I do not know how one translates to another. It seems important to remember that we don't have any answers... that is what practice is all about. I asked my first teach (not Buddhist) who he had studied with so I might meet them.... he said, "find your own way". And, you described your experience very well. How do we sift the grain? I have never been taught a philosophy of zen. I admire Huang Po AND his family for all they teach us by example...
linda
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not this morning;
Melon flowers bloomed.
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Re: Holding What Am I

Postby another_being on Wed Jan 13, 2016 6:10 pm

Jok_Hae wrote:
another_being wrote:Thank you, wei wu wei, for sharing the link to Hyon Gak Sunim's talk.

:Namaste:


He is an interesting character, for sure!

Here is a link to an interview he did with a Korean magazine.


Thanks, Jok Hae. Bookmarked for later. Good to see you again.

:Namaste:
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Re: Holding What Am I

Postby bori on Wed Feb 03, 2016 2:47 am

wei wu wei wrote: I think what I was after, in my initial question, was more input from the personal perspective:

I wrote
Or, is it very normal for you to struggle gaining traction in the beginning?
I'd love to hear from people who have worked with hwadu or gong-an, especially in a KUSZ context.


What was/is your experience generally like? Were you given a gong-an by a teacher? If so, how did it sit with you? Did your hwadu arise naturally? What was that experience like?


All For Now,
Wei Wu


Hi WW,

I've been practicing in Korea for a long while. Not in KU, but I've met some of those good folks.

My "personal perspective" on all of the questions you raise: The answers all rely on a relationship with a teacher. I would not have said that 13 years ago, as I am an independent type who does not easily follow other people. And I remember all the discussions and arguments on E-Sangha and ZFI about 'practicing without a teacher.'

But my experience is that a teacher is essential and in fact the key factor in developing a hwadu practice. In the beginning, I practiced alone for a few years. And I developed many of the same questions you raise. At some point, I began to doubt my progress and finally I began to look for a possible teacher. It took a few years to meet him. He asked me how I practiced and when I answered him the first words he said were, "Start over." He was right (to make a long story short).

It turns out that most of the questions--and insights-- we have all arise from the same source: confusion-- about what the practice is and about what is actually happening in the mind. If I said this to the 'me' of 13 years ago, he would have been a bit unhappy and resistant. Which is why it took him several years of practice to actually begin, including the 8 months I continued on alone after my teacher suggested I 'start over.' Which is all fine.

These days, I feel a deep sense of gratitude to my teacher that is difficult to put into words. The debt is impossible to repay, but I endeavor.

Just my personal experience and perspective, as requested.

best wishes for you on your path,
John
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Re: Holding What Am I

Postby desert_woodworker on Thu Feb 04, 2016 2:25 am

No notion of Kuan Um here. Only of wu wei.

Strong practice!,

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Re: Holding What Am I

Postby cam101+ on Tue Oct 11, 2016 10:57 pm

"Just practice and see what happens."

Your friend was very wise, and struck right at the heart of this practice.
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