A place to share and discuss the practice of Zen Buddhism without teachers. Debates about whether practicing without teachers is possible or desirable are not appropriate here, nor are criticisms of Zen Buddhist practice with teachers.
A place to share and discuss the practice of Zen Buddhism without teachers. Debates about whether practising without teachers is possible or desirable are not appropriate here, nor are criticisms of Zen Buddhist practice with teachers.
It would be difficult to understand why or how someone could practice something without knowing what it actually is - especially when it comes to resolving the great matter of life and death, a task the Zen masters tell us demands wholehearted effort and sincere aspiration.
Here is the best short answer I know of; the guy that said it is supposed to be someone with a good handle on the situation:
Seeing your nature is Zen. Unless you see your nature, it’s not Zen.
–Bodhidharma, The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma, Red Pine
Please treasure yourself.
Do not misunderstand Buddhism by believing the erroneous principle ‘a special tradition outside the scriptures.’ Zen Master Dogen, Shobogenzo, Bukkyo (trans. Hee-Jin Kim)
Ted Biringer Author The Flatbed Sutra
In my eyes...
Yes, Bodhidharma is right!
Although his statement seems to be a little dualistic.
This is Zen and that is not?
Ok, but language is dual.
Bodhidharma also said: “Not thinking about anything is Zen.
Once you know this, walking, sitting, or lying down,
everything you do is Zen.”
So you could also say - only Zen is.
Becoming aware of it,
even Zen disappears.
It is the same.
So is Zen a way, or is it the goal?
Is it maybe both merged into one?
Is it nothing at all?
It could be a means to attain god.
It can not be practiced.
It can not be taught.
Certainly it can be experienced.
Zen is the impossible
Who/what is wondering?
Why you do not understand is because the three carts were provisional for former times, and because the One Vehicle is true for the present time. ~ Zen Master 6th Ancestor Huineng
I once read a definition of Zen the gist of which is:
Zen is the search for enlightenment outside the scriptures.
It gives clues to attaining the goal its aspirants seek.
Some teachers are extremely cryptic.
When Joshu was asked a question relating to Zen he rambled on about a many coloured coat he had once owned.
He gave the perfect answer. The enquiry raised no response in his mind. Any other expert in a specialisation would have thought about the question and produced a reasoned answer.The question raised no such response in Joshu's mind. He was deaf to it, in the best Zen tradition. That is the clue he gave. We must be deaf to all that goes on around us. We must be alert and simply aware of the condition of a mind in which thinking has been temporarily suspended.
The instruction of every Zen Master comes down to this. There are no scriptures to memorise; no convoluted practices to involve ourselves in; no foreign language definitions to learn. Just become aware of what the quiet mind feels like.
The feeling we seek to enhance is happiness - the common human goal. Zen gives us a way to do that.
There is no "zen", really. There is Nature, and Human Nature, which also are not two.
It was Dogen who wrote that Zen is a special transmission of mind, independent of the scriptures, not dependent on words and letters. In this way, "zen" is a means of uncovering the true mind and true nature, by awakening as Shakyamuni did. Thus, Zen is a channel or stream, the following of which, with proper guides and companions, is capable of universalizing Shakyamuni Buddha's experience, and awakening. Buddha said he is "Awake". So can we, given correct practice, and the presence of cooperating causes and conditions.
Joshu had a robe that weighed three chin (three pounds). He did not have a robe of many colors (and would not have had, as a left-home monastic). It was Joseph, in another tradition, who had a many-colored coat.
(it seems that when you tried to reel-out the road-kill, it came out with snags and snarls)
By the way, ...was the "Zen" that Dogen (1200 - 1253) referred to in the 13th Century the same as "Zen Buddhism", when he referred to it? Or, is (or was) Zen different from Zen Buddhism? That's a question that this thread could properly address, for clarity.
And, BTW... nothing "cryptic" in Zen Teachers' utterances. And, no "rambling". Those adjectives are added by commentators who are in the dark, without one eye yet open to Wisdom. That very darkness is what correct practice addresses.
Your "outside the scriptures" is no different than someone insisting "inside the scriptures". You miss the point of that statement.
Zen's entrance gate is pointed out very directly and clearly, and the prior/subsequent path is laid out plainly.
The sayings of the great teachers may seem cryptic. The lack is in oneself.
Joshu's answer was not rambling in the least. But I do not think you have grasped Joshu's mind or its functioning at all here.
No, this is very far from a summary of the instruction of every Zen master. But there are many Zen masters who have warned regarding the misunderstanding you present here.
The "quiet mind" you have presented as the fruition of Zen is nothing more than a temporary cessation of gross (but not subtle) thought activity. It is an experience well-known to beginning practitioners. It may be accompanied by feelings of bliss and of being liberated from a great weight. I do not say it is without use. But it is not the experience of one's empty, luminous nature.
Your position strikes me as similar to that of some who claim that structured practice, inherited forms, samadhi, and awakening experiences all have no importance, and that one need only engage in a practice of "ordinary mind" throughout each day. Such people do not grasp that their "ordinary mind" is not the mind of awakening; it is, after all, just ordinary deluded mind. Going on many years like that - sometimes resting in a stale quietness, sometimes in the arising of habitual thought and emotion - the result is like that of slowly stewing a pot of turd: no matter how long you cook it, it's still useless. It is for such people that Hakuin wrote (quoting also Bodhidharma):
Really, this kind mistaken understanding and conceptual proliferation do a great disservice. It's a shame, really, since the mainstream of correct practice is not hard to enter.
The purpose of Zen is not to enhance any such feeling.
If we grasp what Zen points to, we will know that "happiness" as commonly understood and sought is completely pointless.
Last edited by Meido on Tue May 19, 2015 4:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Really like that one.
Yep, Hakuin's a good companion to have around.
Meido's not a bad fellow either.
Great posts!, in this thread, Meido, ...as usual, around these precincts. But, dynamite!
I thrill to see you're taking no prisoners! Liberating ALL... .
(a hundred-weight of TNT, compared with my New Year's firecrackers. Happy and healthy! Year of the Ungulate -- Sheep, Goat, Ram -- by the way... ).
Nine full bows,
Joining Joe in bows
may you and others continue hakuins good work
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