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Place of faith and belief in Zen

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Place of faith and belief in Zen

Postby zenci on Thu Apr 13, 2017 1:08 am

I have beliefs regarding my practice. I believe that I am enlightened (or at least tasted it - verified by two teachers separately) and that sitting is the way to realize and actualize this enlightenment.

I believe that this is the path for me and is perfect as it is. I believe that this path will lead me to the end of suffering.

I have faith that by just sitting I let the way walk itself. I believe that this is the correct way to walk.

I believe that things do themselves and there is no doer. Therefore there is no free will. All I can do is pray that I stay on the right path.

My questions are:
1-What is the place of faith and belief in Zen in general?
2-Do any of my beliefs contradict the Zen way?

I really appreciate this medium where we can learn from Zen teachers.

Blessings.
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Re: Place of faith and belief in Zen

Postby jundo on Thu Apr 13, 2017 2:49 am

Hello Zenci,

zenci wrote:I have beliefs regarding my practice. I believe that I am enlightened (verified by two teachers separately) and that sitting is the way to realize and actualize this enlightenment.


Well, first, enlightenment is not a stopping place, just a start to actualizing from here and here and here in how you live. It is something like a "black belt" in Karate, I suppose, which is the mark of a true beginner who must then proceed to put her skills into practice. It is not the end of the road. In our Soto Zen way we speak of "practice-enlightenment" which is something like saying "practice is mastery, mastery just practice." To be a true "master" is not a name or title or past experience. It is what you do, how one exhibits mastery in practice now and now and the next moment.

But anyway, how do you know those two teachers were right, or had an eye for it or were any good? What are their names? Anyone can hand someone a black belt who doesn't deserve one. You can buy one online. The only way to tell real mastery is how one does on the mat.

And in any case, what the heck is this "enlightenment" you are referring to? So, what, you experienced some passing dropping of the self/other divide? Some vision of a Bodhisattva whispered in your ear that you are "enlightened." Yawn, no big deal. Been-not-been there-not-there, done-not-done that-not-that. Go wash your bowls and chop some wood. Get on with life. How you live in this world of me and you and this and that is more important than having tasted something. Perhaps you experienced that your "me" is not the only way to perceive "things." Good, but how are you at living now as a me-not-me, with some gentleness and grace, in this world of you me and the other guy? No belt can hold it!

As well, to bring this full circle, we are all already "enlightened" from the start ... even the mountains and trash cans, saints and sinners and bloody killers. Everyone is a black belt. We just don't all know so, especially the bloody killers and others trapped by excess desires, anger and divided thinking. Thus, again, it all comes down to how you live now, what you do with grace on the mat.

I believe that this is the path for me and is perfect as it is. I believe that this path will lead me to the end of suffering.

I have faith that by just sitting I let the way walk itself. I believe that this is the correct way to walk.


If you (not to mention the mountains, saints and bloody killers) are "enlightened", why are we all still suffering? (There is a Koan).

Here is what I usually tell folks about "faith" in Buddhist Practice, at least as I see it: I say that we do need a kind of trust and confidence in the Teachings and Practice before seeing any results (I hesitate to use the word "faith" because it is such a loaded term in the west), much like one must trust and have confidence in the doctor and the medicine prescribed even before the cure. One can look at the diploma and white coat, but one expects to see some results with time (even in a Practice such as ours where the "results" are sought primarily by ... in Soto Zen ... dropping all seeking and thought of "results" ... all to work the Big Cure!

I.e., "trust" the Karate technique and the Karate Teacher for awhile based on the credentials and what you hear by word of mouth, but after some time one should start to see some ability to kick and punch.

I believe that things do themselves and there is no doer. Therefore there is no free will. All I can do is pray that I stay on the right path.


Yeah? Who chose to believe so? (Another Koan)

Reminds me what my friend told me about the high traffic accident rate in Saudi Arabia. Seems that drivers sometimes disregard traffic lights, stop signs and such leaving all to "God's Will" and Kismet. The roadsides are strewn with wrecks.

Gassho, Jundo

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Re: Place of faith and belief in Zen

Postby jundo on Thu Apr 13, 2017 6:12 am

PS - I notice that you changed ...

I believe that I am enlightened (verified by two teachers separately)

to ...

I believe that I am enlightened (or at least tasted it - verified by two teachers separately)


Doesn't really change what I wrote, but sounds just a bit better.

Gassho, J
Founder Treeleaf Zendo, Japan. Member SZBA. Treeleaf is an online Sangha for those unable to commute to a Sangha, w/ netcast Zazen, interaction with other practitioners and teachers & all activities of a Soto Sangha, fully online without charge (http://www.treeleaf.org) Nishijima/Niwa
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Re: Place of faith and belief in Zen

Postby zenci on Sat Apr 15, 2017 4:51 pm

Thank you for your response.
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Re: Place of faith and belief in Zen

Postby Guo Gu on Sat Apr 15, 2017 9:27 pm

dear zenci,

having confidence/conviction is important in practice. believing that you're enlightened is not, irrespective of who verified you. this has no role in practice or awakening.

sitting is not the way to actualize enlightenment. if you believe this, you have not seen your self-nature but have polarized yourself as being here and enlightenment there. now, you might have experienced something, but it is not chan/zen/son.

having faith that this path is perfect as it is useful; believing that this path will end suffering is delusion.

having faith in just sitting and let the way walk itself is useful. this is the correct way.

things do themselves, but free will does count. every condition is interdependent, nothing missing (including your free will, which is one condition among many). as for whether your will to do something will come true or not is another story. on a related note, buddhadharma is not passivity, inactivity, nihilism.

praying that you stay on the right path is useful. vows are important.

faith and belief in practice in general is useful, but faith becomes wisdom. in wisdom, it's not a matter of faith.

as for "Do any of my beliefs contradict the Zen way?" see my comments above.

now a question for you:

how comfortable you are when things are unclear, muddled, confused, contentious?

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

Postby jundo on Sun Apr 16, 2017 3:45 pm

Guo Gu wrote:dear zenci,

having confidence/conviction is important in practice. believing that you're enlightened is not, irrespective of who verified you. this has no role in practice or awakening.

sitting is not the way to actualize enlightenment. if you believe this, you have not seen your self-nature but have polarized yourself as being here and enlightenment there. now, you might have experienced something, but it is not chan/zen/son.

having faith that this path is perfect as it is useful; believing that this path will end suffering is delusion.

having faith in just sitting and let the way walk itself is useful. this is the correct way.

things do themselves, but free will does count. every condition is interdependent, nothing missing (including your free will, which is one condition among many). as for whether your will to do something will come true or not is another story. on a related note, buddhadharma is not passivity, inactivity, nihilism.

praying that you stay on the right path is useful. vows are important.

faith and belief in practice in general is useful, but faith becomes wisdom. in wisdom, it's not a matter of faith.

as for "Do any of my beliefs contradict the Zen way?" see my comments above.

now a question for you:

how comfortable you are when things are unclear, muddled, confused, contentious?

be well,
guo gu


I just want to say how lovely all of the above is to me. Thank you. I feel that it is about just what I was trying to say, but this is much more elegant.

Gassho, J
Founder Treeleaf Zendo, Japan. Member SZBA. Treeleaf is an online Sangha for those unable to commute to a Sangha, w/ netcast Zazen, interaction with other practitioners and teachers & all activities of a Soto Sangha, fully online without charge (http://www.treeleaf.org) Nishijima/Niwa
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Re: Place of faith and belief in Zen

Postby zenci on Mon Apr 17, 2017 11:29 am

Guo Gu wrote:dear zenci,

having confidence/conviction is important in practice. believing that you're enlightened is not, irrespective of who verified you. this has no role in practice or awakening.

sitting is not the way to actualize enlightenment. if you believe this, you have not seen your self-nature but have polarized yourself as being here and enlightenment there. now, you might have experienced something, but it is not chan/zen/son.

having faith that this path is perfect as it is useful; believing that this path will end suffering is delusion.

having faith in just sitting and let the way walk itself is useful. this is the correct way.

things do themselves, but free will does count. every condition is interdependent, nothing missing (including your free will, which is one condition among many). as for whether your will to do something will come true or not is another story. on a related note, buddhadharma is not passivity, inactivity, nihilism.

praying that you stay on the right path is useful. vows are important.

faith and belief in practice in general is useful, but faith becomes wisdom. in wisdom, it's not a matter of faith.

as for "Do any of my beliefs contradict the Zen way?" see my comments above.

now a question for you:

how comfortable you are when things are unclear, muddled, confused, contentious?

be well,
guo gu



Thank you very much for your detailed response. Can you please elaborate on why it is delusion to think that the path will end suffering?

As for your last question, lately I have been feeling very at ease. But I can get attached to this state. When things go the other way I react with desire, trying to control and pushing away. It takes me some time to accept that it is the way it is. When I do that the ease returns.

I hope that answers your question.

Best.
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Re: Place of faith and belief in Zen

Postby Guo Gu on Wed Apr 19, 2017 8:58 pm

zenci wrote: Can you please elaborate on why it is delusion to think that the path will end suffering?

As for your last question, lately I have been feeling very at ease. But I can get attached to this state. When things go the other way I react with desire, trying to control and pushing away. It takes me some time to accept that it is the way it is. When I do that the ease returns.

I hope that answers your question.

Best.


my friend,

to think that the path ends suffering reifies the notion that one is here (suffering; on the path) and one is going toward an imagined end there (i.e., a realm of no suffering). here and there, the path and the end of suffering, delusion and enlightenment, enlightened and unenlightened, gained or lost, are precisely the workings of the samsaric mind. regarding delusion as something to be removed gives delusion substance--this habit of reification (or attachment) is what traps practitioners in delusion; it imputes to it an objective reality that it lacks and only increases delusory tendencies of the mind. to believe one's awakened also reifies it as if it is a thing.

to awake is to see the original freedom of the mind, which entails seeing through the illusory nature of the delusion of solidifying, congealing, reifying this and that (including the notion of awakening). that's why someone who has had a genuine chan/zen/son awakening wouldn't speak in the way you do. the whole "wiring" of his/her cognitive process changes.

haven't you read the heart sutra? the platform scripture (of the chan tradition)?

have no view of attaining awakening or eradicating delusion (and don't try to push/control things), don't entertain gaining or loosing, don't distinguish path and its end, yet practice diligently. as for how to actually practice, it's best to find a qualified chan/zen/son teacher, but you'll have to embody it yourself.

hope this helps.
be well,
guo gu
Founder and teacher of Tallahassee Chan Center of the Dharma Drum Lineage of Chan Buddhism
http://www.tallahasseechan.com/
Received inka from Master Sheng Yen (1930-2009) in 1995
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Re: Place of faith and belief in Zen

Postby zenci on Sat Apr 22, 2017 12:28 am

Thanks Guo Gu.
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Re: Place of faith and belief in Zen

Postby Judy Roitman on Fri Apr 28, 2017 5:33 am

Dear Zenci,

You asked about faith and belief in Zen. And you listed a number of beliefs you have and what you have faith in. But any list will be problematic. Zen is not about what you believe or don't believe. It is more fundamental than that. My teacher used to say "before speech, before thinking." So if you say "I believe X" than already you have speech and thinking. Also, faith that has an object is not true faith. If you say "I have faith that X" than already it is not faith, it is only an idea. Zen practice means cutting through our ideas, our preconceptions. A classic formulation is that to practice Zen you need great doubt/question, great faith/trust and great courage/persistence. This faith/trust is not faith or trust IN something. It is not like faith in God. It is not a belief. It is like when you place your foot on the ground when walking. Your foot does not say "I have faith in the ground!" It just goes up and down and (most of the time) the ground is there to meet it. Right now as I type this my arms are resting on my desk. My arms have no beliefs about the desk. They just rest on it as I type. My fingers do not believe this key is over here and that one over there. They just move across the keyboard and most of the time get it right. It is very direct, very intimate. It's that simple.

Best,

Judy
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Re: Place of faith and belief in Zen

Postby zenci on Mon May 01, 2017 9:31 pm

Thanks Judy.
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Re: Place of faith and belief in Zen

Postby ed blanco on Thu May 04, 2017 3:02 pm

Thank you teachers all in this wonderful thread.

In gratitude,

Seido

:O:
IT SPEAKS IN SILENCE
IN SPEECH YOU HEAR ITS SILENCE

Yongjia Xuanjue
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Re: Place of faith and belief in Zen

Postby zenci on Sat May 06, 2017 4:20 pm

I want to post a quote from Zen master Seung Sahn's Compass of Zen that cleared the issue of belief in zen for me. Maybe it will help others as well.

A not-moving mind gives rise to faith. When your mind is not moving you can spontaneously believe in this world's beauty. You can believe that this world is already truth. The name for that is faith. So, unlike other religions, believing in Buddha as an object of faith means believing in your true self. Faith means simply believing in your true self, your original nature: you are already Buddha.....

Someone once asked me, "Soen Sa Nim, do you believe in God?"
I said "of course!"
The person was very shocked. "You are a Zen teacher. How can you possibly believe in God?"
"I believe my eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind-why not believe in everything? I believe this green tree, the blue sky, a barking dog, the smell of incense-why not believe in Buddha or God?"
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