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For Guo Gu

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For Guo Gu

Postby maaeso on Thu Aug 10, 2017 7:05 pm

Guo Gu I always enjoy your detailed and well presented answers to questions.

Finally I have one to ask!

We know Dogen studied with Rujing who was from the Caodong school of Chan Buddhism.

As far as we know this school had an emphasis on seated meditation. Do we know any details of their approach to seated meditation?

Lately I have been really drawn to places like Gyobutsuji Zen Monastery in America & Antai-ji in Japan because of the emphasis of Zazen.

I have heard though that in some of the ancient traditions of Chan some of the practices of meditation were closer to the absorption states (Jhana) practiced in Theravada.

Thank you for taking your valuable time to help us students :O:
maaeso
 
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Re: For Guo Gu

Postby Guo Gu on Thu Aug 24, 2017 1:49 am

dear maaeso,

sorry for the late reply. i was away leading a retreat in the uk.

actually there are no instructions on the importance of seated meditation in chan master rujing's discourse records. his compiled records consist mostly of short dharma talks to his congregation and comments on old public cases (gong'an), without anything distinctly "caodong" (or soto) about them. in fact, there's nothing unique in his discourse records that stand out above other chan masters at the time, which might suggest that he may not have been a prominent chan master during his time. i'm afraid the only reason he is known is because he was dogen's teacher, so his esteemed status came retroactively.

i think our received notion of "the emphasis on seated meditation" is largely a modern construct coming from 19th-century soto zen. of course seated meditation have always been practiced within the chan/zen schools, but it wasn't singled out to be particularly defining feature of the tradition. in fact, traditional chan position on seated meditation is that one should not attach to seated meditation (it was vehemently criticized in the platform scripture) and that chan must be practiced amidst daily activities. this attack on stagnant seated meditation is part of the emergence of chan as a distinct tradition separate from scriptures and the gradual path. so, absolutely not, chan was not practiced in form like the dhyana or absorption states.... you can find this critique in every generation of chan discourse records from the medieval period to the modern time.

on the other hand, there were good reasons why dogen emphasized seated meditation so much in his home land--it's because at the time even the foundational gradual path of meditation wasn't strong in japanese (tendai) buddhism, which was highly intellectualized, secularized, ritualized, and politicized (tied to the state). in other words, it was necessary to have a stronger foundation in seated meditation before one rejects it. does that make sense?

be well,
guo gu
Founder and teacher of Tallahassee Chan Center of the Dharma Drum Lineage of Chan Buddhism
http://www.tallahasseechan.org/
Received inka from Master Sheng Yen (1930-2009) in 1995
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Re: For Guo Gu

Postby maaeso on Thu Aug 24, 2017 8:06 pm

Guo Gu wrote:dear maaeso,

sorry for the late reply. i was away leading a retreat in the uk.

actually there are no instructions on the importance of seated meditation in chan master rujing's discourse records. his compiled records consist mostly of short dharma talks to his congregation and comments on old public cases (gong'an), without anything distinctly "caodong" (or soto) about them. in fact, there's nothing unique in his discourse records that stand out above other chan masters at the time, which might suggest that he may not have been a prominent chan master during his time. i'm afraid the only reason he is known is because he was dogen's teacher, so his esteemed status came retroactively.

i think our received notion of "the emphasis on seated meditation" is largely a modern construct coming from 19th-century soto zen. of course seated meditation have always been practiced within the chan/zen schools, but it wasn't singled out to be particularly defining feature of the tradition. in fact, traditional chan position on seated meditation is that one should not attach to seated meditation (it was vehemently criticized in the platform scripture) and that chan must be practiced amidst daily activities. this attack on stagnant seated meditation is part of the emergence of chan as a distinct tradition separate from scriptures and the gradual path. so, absolutely not, chan was not practiced in form like the dhyana or absorption states.... you can find this critique in every generation of chan discourse records from the medieval period to the modern time.

on the other hand, there were good reasons why dogen emphasized seated meditation so much in his home land--it's because at the time even the foundational gradual path of meditation wasn't strong in japanese (tendai) buddhism, which was highly intellectualized, secularized, ritualized, and politicized (tied to the state). in other words, it was necessary to have a stronger foundation in seated meditation before one rejects it. does that make sense?

be well,
guo gu


Makes perfect sense :)

Also thanks for the great info on Rujing, is there any online resources for the information you mentioned about him? I'd love to kinda delve into his teachings and understandings.

Even if he wasn't a stand out teacher in his time, if you are the master of Dogen and Dogen holds you in high esteem I kinda think your pretty amazing hah!
maaeso
 
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Re: For Guo Gu

Postby Guo Gu on Mon Sep 04, 2017 4:31 am

maaeso,

unfortunately i don't believe rujing's teachings are translated into english yet. maybe someday.

maybe i should clarify what i meant about rujing... usually a prominent master's work is edited eloquently--even the most terse teaching. yet, the editing of rujing's work needs editing. this would have impacted the circulation of his discourse records--it wouldn't have made him a high profile teacher--and the writing shows that he may not have been well connected. plus his discourse record is short.

in terms of his contents, during southern song period, all the chan masters were commenting on gong'an cases (irrespective of lineage affiliation). so his discourse records also have gong'an comments. this, and the language editing issue, was what i meant by nothing special--just another chan master and his comments on gong'ans. in fact, i remember reading dogen and he was disappointed in reading rujing (his teacher's) discourse record; he felt unjustified. i believe he also felt the awkwardness of the editing and the subject. clearly dogen thought the world of his teacher.

as for what rujing taught... we have no way to access that. all we have is his discourse record (which dogen felt it didn't represent his teacher's teaching) and dogen's recollections.

hope that clarifies what i meant. i replied your earlier query to quickly. sorry.

be well,
guo gu
Founder and teacher of Tallahassee Chan Center of the Dharma Drum Lineage of Chan Buddhism
http://www.tallahasseechan.org/
Received inka from Master Sheng Yen (1930-2009) in 1995
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Guo Gu
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Joined: Fri Apr 12, 2013 8:52 pm
Location: Tallahassee, FL USA


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